July 6th, 2010
11:18 AM ET

Should New York schools close for Muslim holidays?

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/07/05/muslim.school.holidays.cnn%5D

After Imam Khalid Latif, a chaplain for New York University and the New York Police Department, wrote a Belief Blog piece arguing that New York schools should close for important Muslim holidays, CNN invited him on air.

Latif makes an interesting case in the interview: that American Muslims are trying to develop their own contemporary identity and that steps like closing schools for major Muslim holidays would help that process. The implication is that an Americanized Islam–modern and moderate–would benefit all Americans.

Latif was interviewed over the weekend by CNN's Don Lemon.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Leaders

soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. christine

    i have no problem with a muslim holidays being recognized, as long as they start to recognize christian holdays again and throw in some jewish holidays. we stopped a long time ago recognizing christmas as a christian holday, now it is all about santa, reindeer ,shopping and the fact that teacher don't want to give up 2 weeks off. spring break is no long associated with easter in fact in our school district the 2 are about 3 weeks apart. i don't remember ever getting a day off from school for a jewish holday or getting a day off for any other religion. if church and state are to be separate then no school holidays should be associated with a religion

    October 11, 2010 at 6:31 am |
  2. Alan

    Very interesting article on "Muslim" vs "Moslem": http://hnn.us/articles/524.html

    September 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  3. mytictac

    I wonder how all you people who seem to be embracing the muslim ways, will react if they ever succeed in taking enough control to tell us how to live. If they told your daughters that they had to cover themselves, forced people around them to live under Sharia laws instead of the laws that give equality to women, how long would any of you agree to their precepts? When a group of people come to another country they generally KNOW that they are subject to that countrys laws. Sharia law is so totally ingrained in their faith that to embrace one is to embrace both. Be careful people.

    August 19, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  4. Mogdaork

    Nope but they should excuse them, actually they need to cut more holidays out of the schedule because American kids need more time in class because we are falling behind the rest of the world.

    August 19, 2010 at 6:49 am |
  5. Alex

    Since New York has a staggering Muslim population some people feel the urge that schools should implement Muslim holidays into their school system, however, others such as New York’s Mayer believe otherwise.
    To start off with Khalid Latif states "consequently thousands of students miss exams and important activities because they are scheduled on Muslim holidays." Now what are two extra days off the school year really going to help out for a religion that is supposed to pray 3 times a day? That likely being the reason Muslims miss so many school related functions. Also many students miss way more then three weeks a year but with some dedication and hard work end up totally fine even when being in advanced and honor classes. In high school you are required to be there everyday of the “work week” which can be fairly demanding but I have skipped school plenty of time’s to go surfing or do something else because I feel that is crucial to my well being. But I do not expect schools to be changing their schedules just to accommodate my needs. I am also in Significantly AP and Honors classes and I have been able to achieve what I want to in school.
    Another issue is that Khalid Latif points out that “About 12 percent of New York City students are Muslim,” and that should be a reason why New York public schools should celebrate the Muslim holidays. I live in Florida and it seems in our school almost more then half or 50 percent of the people are from Hispanic descent. The schools here have no holidays in regard to any of their religions or customs. I am also a foreigner and I had to adapt to the American culture. There was no Oktoberfest, Nikolaustag, or Tag der Deutshen Einheit here where I could have time off to celebrate them. The schools here don’t have those holidays and I don’t expect them too, this is a different country and that’s something that is very important to think about before you move here from another place. The American population is far too diverse to accommodate everyone’s specific needs and American schools can’t make exceptions in certain areas so it would fit the needs of a specific group of people. That would be prejudice to the other 88 percent of people would be missing school to something they don’t have any enthusiasm for.
    Khalid Latif also writes “Yet these students are forced to choose between their education and their faith”. Nobody is forced to make any decision here. This is American and that’s why many people choose to move here for hundreds of years. It is the people’s decision to do, what they want to do, and are left alone to peruse their American dream.

    July 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  6. anonymouscitizen

    How ridiculous that would be except that if Saudi Arabia would permit roundeyes to celebrate Christmas.

    July 15, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  7. Zaina

    YES !! I believe 100% that New York Schools should close for Muslim holidays since they close for all other religions holidays. We are people too but maybe just have a different religion or different beliefs but we are still there and I believe they should think about us also.
    I love Islam and I believe we need to teach the world about it and its hard having to go to school on your holiday when everyone else is celebrating.
    I believe it should be changed and the schools should close for the Muslim holidays.
    Allahu Akbar.

    July 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  8. Anthony

    Please ask yourself this question. Would it be patriotic to nationally celebrate "holy days" for a religion that is sworn to eliminate any and all religions contrary to itself. You can say what you want but the Great Prophet left little room for those that do not convert. I can't believe so many people are falling for the clerics who cloak Islam as a peaceful religion. Our ability to see through their guise is apparently crippled. I challenge any of you who wish these "holy days" to be celebrated to visit an Islamic country and simplly take a small add out in a local paper that suggests that the "Great Prophet" was not a "Great Prophet" but just a man with an idea and following. (just like an atheist is free to say about Christianity in the U.S.) Put your money where your mouth is and see if you are willing to sacrifice your life to prove your point.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:05 pm |
    • KS_WIS

      Well said. I don't think there will be any takers. I find it quite contrary for a religion to expect tolerance without bestowing the same tolerance on non-believers.

      July 10, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  9. natasha

    If they want to take the day off fine. Should the US schools be closed – NO! Why are we bending over backwards to provide relief for other countries when we are having an issue keeping our head out of water. Do you think if you went to ANY other country – they would honor YOUR beliefs & close for Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, 4th of July, Memorial day?

    July 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  10. Cheryl

    Insofar as I am concerned, all the holidays of religious nature (read: Easter, Christmas, Passover, etc.) should be removed from the "official" US Government calendar. That said, those persons who wish to celebrate those holidays should be allotted a certain number of holidays annually to celebrate as they feel appropriate. If you want to celebrate Kwanza, go ahead. If you want to celebrate Arbor day, feel free. Think your birthday or anniversary outweighs President's Day, you should have the right to take that day instead. Just allot a specific number of "personal" holidays for all federal employee (and private industry) work schedules. Religion is a very personal conviction – the government has no business selecting what is "appropriate" to celebrate.

    July 8, 2010 at 5:49 am |
    • Cheryl

      Have it this way and it would be fair to everyone. Religion should be kept separate from Government anyway ! Can you imagine a majority from one radical religion having power in Washington? I think that would take away our FREEDOM. We could see violent punishments for being Gay, drinking alcohol, wearing a bathing suit or having an affair. Iran wants to stone a mother of 2 for having an affair! We could see groups that call themselves the "Moral Police". They have groups of youth in Europe that call themselves "the Moral Police" and harass and threaten people. We must keep religion out of government or we could end up looking at a future like this. There are radicals in all religions, we must keep them out of government.

      July 8, 2010 at 6:02 am |
  11. alfuso

    All religions get holidays off, or NO religion gets a holiday off.

    July 8, 2010 at 2:38 am |
    • Cheryl

      Agree................plain and simple.

      July 8, 2010 at 5:48 am |
  12. Autoteester

    Get the **ck out of our country!!!! Enough said.. go live in your own countries and have all the freaking holidays you want..this is freakin ridiculous!!!!!!!!!

    July 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • proud muslim american

      I was born in this country and I am a WHITE AMERICAN MUSLIM!!! So I am living in MY COUNTRY why dont you grow up and let everyone be themself....

      July 7, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • Reality

      Why we cannot allow Muslim males to be themselves:

      Many verses in the Qur'an can be read as supporting violent warfare against unbelievers; notably:

      "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!" (Qur'an 3:151)[16]

      "How many a township have We destroyed! As a raid by night, or while they slept at noon, Our terror came unto them. No plea had they, when Our terror came unto them, save that they said: Lo! We were wrong-doers." (Qur'an 7:4-5)[17]

      "Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): 'I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.'" (Qur'an 8:12)[18]

      "Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly." (Qur'an 8:60)[19]

      "Lo! those who disbelieve spend their wealth in order that they may debar (men) from the way of Allah. They will spend it, then it will become an anguish for them, then they will be conquered. And those who disbelieve will be gathered unto hell,"(Qur'an 8:36)[20]

      "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."(Qur'an 9:5)[21]

      "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." (Qur'an 9:29)[22]

      "He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it conqueror of all religion however much idolaters may be averse."(Qur'an 61:9) [25]

      "On the Day when (some) faces will be whitened and (some) faces will be blackened; and as for those whose faces have been blackened, it will be said unto them: Disbelieved ye after your (profession of) belief ? Then taste the punishment for that ye disbelieved."(Qur'an 3:106)[26]

      "Lo! Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. Lo! Allah is ever Mighty, Wise." (Qur'an 4:56) [27]

      "And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do." (Qur'an 8:39) [28]

      "O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred (steadfast) they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence." (Qur'an 8:65)[29]

      "Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings."(Qur'an 98:6)[30]

      "Say: (It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place!" (Qur'an 18:29)[31]

      "These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads,Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted;And for them are hooked rods of iron.Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning." (Qur'an 22:19-22)[32]

      July 8, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  13. KS_WIS

    How would this benefit me? According to extremist Muslims, any non-believer of the Muslim religion is an infidel and should convert or die. How is this showing tolerance?! I myself don't want to be Muslimized.

    July 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
    • John

      It benefits you by giving you a day off to spend with you family.

      July 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
    • proud muslim american

      as you say ,,,According to extremist Muslims, any non-believer of the Muslim >>>> what about me i am not either on of them //// I am a Muslim and proud of it I dont not agree with extrmist on bit but I still am a Muslim

      July 7, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  14. KS_WIS

    NO WAY! This country was founded on Christian values; that is what makes this country a great place to live. If you don't like it, then leave it. I agree with some other posts; when are Muslim countries going to allow other non-Muslim religions to establish their religious holidays in Muslim countries? As for extremist Muslims, if you give them an inch they will take a foot...literally!

    July 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  15. LRoy

    There really IS a Easter Bunny. He's brown, with a little white cottontail, very cute.

    Seriously, I believe rabbits (aka bunnies) are associated with Easter it was the first thing Jesus saw when he left the tomb. At least that's what I've been told by nuns.

    July 7, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
    • John

      haha, seriously... i believe rabbits represent fertility and spring, as a bow to pagan beliefs.

      This is from Wikipedia: The Catholic Encyclopedia says: "The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility"[6] Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox.

      July 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  16. LRoy

    Absolutely!!! I also think that children in private schools should be able to take Muslim religious holidays off without punishment or penalty of any kind. Of course, if the entire student population was Muslim, then the school would be closed anyway.

    In fact, they can take the whole year off. Not to be outdone, Catholics should be given the same consideration.

    It was SO much fun going to the mall on Holy Days of Obligation while "publics" were in school. I just wish we had each feast day off too (if you know what I mean).

    July 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  17. John

    Personally, I don't think we should recognize any religious holidays. If people want to take those days off they can use a personal day or a vacation day. That doesn't mean we can't have a "winter break" or a "spring break" but having Christmas as a holiday, and not recognizing Passover or Eid el Fitr as well... seems like we are failing to separate church and state.

    July 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  18. John L


    I agree with you 100%, however the issue is still this, as a person who knows missionaries that have gone to central Asia is that Muslims rarely reciprocate good will when it comes to religious expression. They will come to the West and expect to practice Islam as they do in their old country while refusing the same consideration to other faiths once they become the majority faith. Europe has finally awaken to this reality with their large Muslim populations. Britain has more Muslim holidays then Christian holidays and their Muslim poplulations are still amongst the most radicalized. If we do not hold them accountable or question their transgressions as we do other faiths they the Muslims will never reciprocate and they must be challenged in the name of Reason. That is why Pope Benedict gave that famous speech which the secular West didn't understand but was clearly understood by people of all other faith and that is why Christians get upset over the facilitation of Islam in this country by the secular left.

    July 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  19. Pirogi

    Sure, let's have some days off for Muslim holidays. As long as I get my pagan holidays off as well ...

    July 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  20. Where to draw the line

    I think at some point a line needs to be drawn as to all the holidays kids get off. When are they going to get an education? Perhaps an alternative solution is to have "floating" holidays, so Muslims can take their important holidays off, Christians can take theirs, and the Jewish can take their holidays off.

    If we closed down all the schools over every religious holiday, kids wouldnt be getting an education, they'd be home all the time.

    July 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
    • John

      I was thinking the same thing, floating holidays make more sense. However when it comes to school days, it causes a problem in that some kids will be gone certain days when others are at school. it leaves some kids behind on that lesson, etc. There does need to be uniformity when it comes to school days off, but when it comes to work holidays, then the floating holiday could work.

      July 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.