Holidays: The Muslim Teen Perspective
November 11, 2020
The Muslim Holidays are celebrated by more than 1.8 billion Muslims in countries all over the world.
Ramadan is a time of reflection to show self-discipline, as Muslims, who are able, fast from sunrise to sunset every day for 30 days. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Every year the starting date of Ramadan typically moves back 11 days. Ramadan entails Muslims giving back to their communities and going to the Mosque for prayer.
Marking the end of the 30 days of fasting comes Eid-ul Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan in the form of family and friends gathering for feasts and festivities.
Then comes Eid-ul Adha, a holiday that celebrates the obedience that Muslims show to God. Muslims typically buy livestock (not including pigs) and give the meat of the animal to family, friends, and to the less fortunate.
Unfortunately, these Muslim Holidays are not labeled as national holidays in the United States. Children are forced to choose between their faith and their education.
Ever since I was a young boy, I’d always have to make the decision between going to school or staying home in order to celebrate holidays that would come around once a year. My mom always encouraged me to go to school. I can’t help but feel like I missed out on some experiences that would have defined my childhood. In the most recent years, fasting while attending school during exam periods has been difficult. Even though Muslim holidays are based on the phases of the Moon, I still feel that the school district can provide some assistance to young Muslims that wish to celebrate their festivities.
I always enjoyed Eid-ul Fitr and Eid-ul Adha when I was younger. In recent years, it has gotten more difficult for me to celebrate these days because of going to school and the homework I have to do. After a month of fasting, it is amazing to look forward to celebrating with my close family and friends, but I also have to think about school. Luckily for the past two years, both of the Eid holidays fell in the Summer so I could relax more and focus on the people around me. However, Ramadan begins 10 days earlier than the year before it. This results in Ramadan falling during exam season; fasting while studying can be very tiring and stressful at times. It is frustrating to have to choose between my education and my family when it comes to Eid.
Growing up I looked forward to the food and festivities of Eid and that love still holds a special place in my heart. Being at school takes away from the special experience we get after a tough month of fasting. I feel like having to concern myself with what lessons I missed and making up any missing homework or assignments is an unnecessary stressor. Although Eid falls on a different day every year because Islam follows the Lunar calendar, so do Jewish holidays which are given days off.
The Eid holidays have always been my favorite days of the year. There are so many different memories, traditions, and celebrations tied to those days, so near and dear to me that most American kids will never get to experience. In the same way, however, there are so many days of school that I’ve missed out on because my parents have encouraged me to enjoy Eid to the fullest all my life. It puts a strain on my holiday as well when I think of all the material I’m missing and all of the homework I need to catch up on when I get back. When I was little, I thought that it was normal for us not to have a day off on the few major religious holidays we get although there’s a nationwide fortnight in December and a week in Spring off for other religions. Now that I’m older, I see how unfair it is. There was a school year where I was fasting for Ramadan the entire month of finals. The teachers would say, “Make sure to get a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast!” and I’d think, “Yup, sleep it is!”