Recognizing Muslim Holidays
Posted: 5 Safar 1422, 29 April 2001
Since 1776 the United States has grown from a nation of fairly few
religious differences to one of countless religious groups. Although, Islam is one of the
major minorities, with around 10 million Muslims in the US, it is greatly misunderstood
and usually regarded foreign.
At school, especially during the holiday season, students are taught
about the background of Christmas and Hanukah, but Islamic holidays are usually
overlooked. Islamic holidays should be recognized and accommodated exactly as Christmas
Most calendars have various Christian, Jewish, and other holidays
mentioned, but Islamic holidays are never stated. Calendars should note Islamic holidays
as well as the others.
There are many ways in which public schools can recognize Islamic
holidays. The study of Islamic holidays may be included in elementary and secondary
curriculum as opportunities for teaching about religions. Such study serves the academic
goals of educating students about history and cultures as well as about the traditions of
Islam. Muslim speakers should be invited to give a lecture about Islamic holidays.
Information about the holiday should be posted on the bulletin board. Assembly programs
could also be held.
To avoid penalizing students for religious observance, school
calendars should be prepared as not to conflict with Islamic holidays. A sincere attempt
should be made to avoid scheduling graduation, assemblies, tests, and other special school
and student events on Islamic holidays. If conflicts occur, teachers and administrators
should exercise sensitivity and flexibility in resolving them. A student should not suffer
adverse or hurtful consequences from an excused absence for Islamic holiday observance and
should be allowed a reasonable opportunity to make up the schoolwork missed due to the
absence. Consequences to school records should not be forced upon students who are absent
for Islamic holidays. Students should not feel pressured to choose between school
attendance and religious observance.
Muslim students should also be excused from classroom discussions or
activities related to secular holidays, for example, Halloween and Valentine's Day. In
addition, Muslim students may also make requests for excusals from discussions of certain
holidays even when treated from an academic perspective. If focused on a limited, specific
discussion, such requests may be granted in order to strike a balance between the
student's religious freedom and the school's interest in providing a well-rounded