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Why don’t we get off on Muslim holidays?


Lida Ehteshami, DeBakey High School for Health Professions, 2019

Dear HISD,

I am a Muslim, and ever since I was in elementary school, I had to miss a day every year for religious purposes. This day missed was insignificant when I was in elementary school, but as I grew up, I saw that I was missing vital information from all my classes simply because of my religion.

My Jewish and Christian friends did not have this problem, because school is out on their religious holidays. Now, I would understand this if HISD had a low Muslim population, but throughout all my years of schooling in HISD, one third of the people that attended these schools were Muslim.

I would like to push for a day off for all students on Eid-al-Adha, which is a major, extremely holy Islamic holiday where Muslims pray and distribute meals to friends, family, and the poor. This would show that HISD encourages diversity and supports people of all faiths. I should not have to miss a day of valuable class time and fall behind simply because of my religion, and neither should all other Muslim students in the district, especially when people of Christian and Jewish faith do not have to experience this.

When you miss a day of class time, you have to put in additional time after school to make up tests or quizzes missed. You have to attend tutorials to fill in the gaps of information you missed; you have to do an extra amount of homework on top of your already heavy load; and you have to give up your only social period (lunch) to catch up on work. Once again, Muslims should not have to experience this just for their religion. It’s almost punishment for faithfully practicing one’s religion.

Thank you, and I hope you take this into consideration to push a bill in which Eid-al-Adha is a recognized holiday off.

2 comments on “Why don’t we get off on Muslim holidays?

  1. Stephen Brinson
    October 10, 2015

    I can see no logical reason to disagree with this. After all, if we are to have Yom Kippur and Good Friday (though masked under the terms Fall Holiday and Spring Holiday), there’s no reason not to do so other than to lower the number of holidays. And although I can’t find any demographic data on this topic, so I’ll have to resort to anecdotal evidence and circumstantial evidence, I am fairly certain that HISD has more Muslim students than Jewish students, so from a utilitarian standpoint it’s only rational.
    Ideally everyone would be able to choose their holidays, so that no-one would have to choose between going to school and fulfilling their religious or other obligations, but this is impractical for various reasons. Another option would be some kind of referendum on the issue, or a yearly ballot of which holidays to include, but I think that suggestion has more to do with my psephological leanings than anything else.

  2. Stephen Brinson
    October 10, 2015

    NOTE: Since I posted that, I went back and looked at demographic data for Houston overall, which should serve as a proxy for HISD. According to the only source I could find, there are over five times more Muslims in the Houston area than there are Jews. Admittedly, the source seems a bit odd (it doesn’t cite any source, can’t manage to use proper grammar, and it claims that less than 60% of Houstonians “affiliate with a religion”, which doesn’t sound right – however, the Texas Almanac’s Muslim estimate fits with it, as do several other bits of data – although some other sources disagree with it – basically, it’s really hard to get religious demographic data to agree), but, nevertheless, the data seems to fit with my hypothesis.

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This entry was posted on September 25, 2015 by .

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