As world Muslims anticipate `Eid Al-Fitr later this week, Muslim students at the City University of New York (CUNY) are petitioning to cancel classes during the Islamic holiday.
Samia Ahmed, a junior who is part of the Scholars Program, is one of the Muslim students who must decide whether to attend class or use a religious exemption to celebrate the holiday.
With her exams only two weeks later, she has asked her physics teacher for a religious exemption next week, so that she can celebrate `Eid.
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“`Eid prayer is usually 8 o’clock in the morning, and that’s also the time of my classes,” Ahmed told NY1.
“That four hours is really crucial just because we’re coming to the end, with finals. We have a lot of projects and labs.”
Marking the end of Ramadan fasting, `Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
After special prayers to mark the day, festivities and merriment start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.
Ahmed met with a dozen Muslim students attending CUNY to discuss the `Eid holiday, which comes during the spring semester this year.
“We talk a lot about diversity inclusion this year, this school year specifically,” Ahmed said. “I just wish we were included and our faith was included in the academic calendar.”
To find a solution, students began a petition earlier this week that has already attracted more than 9,000 signatures, calling for CUNY to make `Eid a system-wide holiday.
“Despite efforts of following up,” Salwa Najmi, a junior at Hunter College and the driving force behind the petition, said, “we haven’t heard back from the chancellor, but we are more than happy to meet with him any time now to talk about what this could look like this year and all years to come.”
A spokesperson for CUNY wrote in a statement to NY1, “CUNY values the rich diversity of its students and the wide array of cultures and traditions they represent. The University’s policy on religious accommodation enables any and all students to request scheduling accommodations for classwork and finals that interfere with their religious beliefs and customs.”
The Islamic Hijri Calendar is a lunar one, thus the observance of `Eid Al-Fitr revolves throughout the seasons.
A growing number of American school districts have begun to recognize the Muslim holidays.
Earlier this year, Lewiston Maine added the Islamic holidays to the public schools calendar, allowing Muslim students to celebrate their holiday normally.
In April 2019, the Detroit school district announced it would be recognizing the Muslim holiday of `Eid Al-Fitr during its adoption of the 2019-20 school year calendar.
The Baltimore County Board of Education approved unanimously in November, 2019, to close public schools for students on `Eid holidays when they land on a school day.