NY: Holidays Present Dilemma for Muslim Students


Anbreen Khan is glad she'll have her two children -- 12th-grader Sarah and eighth-grader Ali -- home for Eid this year.

The family will go to the mosque, open presents and feast with friends and relatives, all traditional customs of the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the month of Ramadan.

The celebrations begin Saturday. But Eid ul-Fitr can fall on any day of the week from year to year, including a school day. And those weekday holidays leave the Khan family with a dilemma -- either their kids miss the prayers and celebrations, or they skip school.

"She definitely feels she's missing out on a major holiday," Anbreen Khan said of her daughter, a student at Herricks High School. "It's like not being off on Christmas."

When Sarah Khan attends school, she misses the important morning prayers, her mother said, while Khan's son leaves Herricks Middle School for half a day to go to the mosque, and returns later. On those days, the family will have a special dinner together.

Khan doesn't have a problem with how the school district handles Eid, she said. But she said it would be better if the school was closed for the day.

"The teachers are very accommodating, and they do allow them to make up their tests, but because the school is open I think they feel compelled" to go, Khan said.

In New York City, where an estimated 11 percent of all students are Muslim, community groups launched an effort earlier this year to make the two major Muslim holidays -- Eid ul-Fitr, and Eid ul-Adha, which marks the end of the holy pilgrimage to Mecca -- official school holidays, like the Christian holiday of Christmas or the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. (MORE)

 


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