July 7th, 2010
10:04 AM ET

Your views on schools closing for Muslim holidays

Comments on whether New York schools should close for some Muslim holidays, as a recent Belief Blog guest poster argued, are coming from Muslims who don't want their kids to miss class, from Christians who don't want the state to sanction Islamic traditions and from strict church/state separationists who want government to stop observing all religious holidays.

Here's a somewhat representative sampling.

From a Muslim:

In response to the question: YES! Let the Muslims have Eid off. It doesn't have to be the full amount of days for both Eids but it is frustrating year after year when my children and my husband have to miss or be late to work and school to attend prayer only to rush back to the daily grind. Christians and Jews get to "take a break" on some of their holidays, it would be really nice if for a change if we could, too.

From a strict church/state separationist:

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.

From someone who sees the U.S. as a Christian nation:

The Jews can celebrate any holidays they want in Israel. The Muslims can do the same in Saudi Arabia. The US was founded on Christian principles, so we celebrate Christian Holidays. Too bad for the rest.... go to another country if you don't like the traditions this country has.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • New York • Schools • United States

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Thomas Sullivan

    Being Irish, I am familiar with Christian holy days. Religious holy days of any faith do not need to be on the calendar as official holidays. They can be added to any calendar for namesake and recognition. These days should not be granted official days of recognition resulting in missed school or closing state and federal offices. Students can observe these holy days on their own volition. As with any student, if they miss so many days of school, they will have to make them up. The same principle should apply to adults. If they miss so many days at work, they could be flouting company policy. In other words, people should be froo to practice their religions without federal, state or public status as being a distinct holiday of recognition without being all inclusive of all major religions. Christianity was and is the dominant religion parcticed in America. This should not afford them a unique status as to calendar holidays.

    July 14, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  2. Redhog

    A resounding NO to any and all so called Muslim holiday. They see Ameica as a door mat to wipe on. Give them this and will want more .. They have a grand plan and items such as this is step number one towards the more demands.

    Our sons are fighting and are being maimed my those of this religion when they come home what have we done to show we value their fight?

    If we are so foolish as to fall for this Muslim ploy then we are a nation of fools!

    When they are no longer trying to hurt our boys and when they show respect for others in Muslim nation then maybe but never before then

    July 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Joseph

      Have you not realized that the only muslims we are fighting are EXTREMISTS? the rest of America has grasped this concept except for ignorant people who refuse to believe it. Where is all this "america is a doormat" crap coming from. Ever met an american muslim? I sincerely hope so because your views are so opiniated it pisses me off. We though this way about black slaves before, and look what large contributions they have made to our society. We thought this way about Jews, and look how they've assimilated perfectly into society. AMERICA IS A MIXING POT! Straight from the beginning this has been known.

      August 10, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  3. niffnay

    in new york, schools are closed for christian and jewish high holidays christmas, yom kippur, rosh hashanah, and usually a combined easter / passover recess. one year, we had a week for easter and another for passover, and our february break was eliminate. of course, new york also has large numbers of jewish teachers and students. if schools were kept open those days, there's a good chance the schools would be half empty in many neighborhoods.

    i don't see why the same shouldn't be granted for eid if there is a large enough population of students and teachers to warrant it. give up columbus day.

    July 10, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • Redhog

      Soon they will out number you then you opinion won't count but since you don't gebit no maybe in the future you I'll be on of them.

      As a woman your opinion means nothing anyway in Islam s don't be too quick to embrace them.

      Is the world so cluless????????

      July 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
    • Joseph

      Redhog, you are extremely ignorant. Assimilated Muslims are obviously changing, if you didn't know. That is a stereotypical view, because Muslim women are becoming more and more independent, and while Muslim extremists denote this, most muslims in america are moderate and laid back about that. Besides, thats not a part of the religion, simply the lifestyle in the middle east hundreds of years ago, which has carried onto today. LEARN YOUR FACTS.

      August 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  4. KC

    I think the idea of what holidays should be given should decide on where you live and the population of the people in the area. Growing up in New York City, we got off days for Christian and Jewish holidays, as we had large populations of kids of those religions in our schools. And we should have received Muslim holidays too, as there were many Muslim kids in our classes too. Now, I don't think an area of the country, perhaps out in the Midwest, that has a very low number of Jewish or Muslim students, should even consider it. Many places don't give the Jewish holidays because the Jewish population is low. Makes sense. And it would make since in large cities like mine, to give days off when there is a high population of that particular religion. It would only extend the school year by 2 days or so. Not a big deal. BTW, secular Muslims celebrate the big holidays too, just like secular Jews celebrate Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah. It's not about not assimilating to a American culture. It's about respect for your religion and your family, even if you celebrate nothing the rest of the year.

    July 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
    • Joseph

      You are perhaps one of the most open minded people on this forum, and i honestly respect your views. It obviously makes complete sense. In an area with a .05% Jewish population, why take two or three days off of school for 5 or 10 students. Those students will not disregard the holiday, but take the day off and contact teachers previously in order to let them know.

      August 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  5. Loully

    In our school district, winter break usually coincides with Christmas falling somewhere within it. I don't mind getting a week off in the winter. Sometimes Channukah falls within that, sometimes not. There are days we take our daughter out of school; Yom Kippur being the main one. I contact her teachers a few days ahead of time so arrangements can be made about any tests falling on that day, and we make up the homework and work done in school that day during the week or on weekends the same as an absence due to illness or any other cause. It has not been a problem for us. Her teachers have always been cooperative. What does bother me sometimes is is special events being schedulered for those days. The every day school and work stuff we can work around. I don't think Muslim holidays should be factored into the school year schedule as official time off for everyone. I do think special events should be planned to avoid all major religions' major holidays.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:37 am |
    • Joseph

      I think only one day a year should be alloted for Muslims:Eid al Fitr, because the entire 30 days before, many of the teenagers have been fasting while at the same time juggling schoolwork, so this one day of celebration should definitely be taken off.

      August 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  6. Worreid person

    well okay i guess but Easter is a actual holiday for Christians its the day Jesus rose form the dead

    July 8, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  7. For Fun

    This has been one of the most non-attacking discussions in a long time. Keep up the good work, people. As a further expansion of the idea....why not eliminate the government as the prime dispenser of learning from the education equation. This all argues for a set amount of money to be spent by people on whatever school they wish . With whatever holidays they wish. I call for freedom.

    July 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • Thorrsman

      Control at the local level rather than at the State or Federal level, you mean? Sounds good. The "customer"–the parents–need to be allowed more direct say, if they choose to take part. As for holidays, those should remain the same federal holidays with nothing added...or subtracted.

      July 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  8. Katie

    Not if I get to vote on it. All religious holidays should be banned. Separation from church and state. Do your praying on your time and in your own homes.

    July 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • Thorrsman

      For the believer–of any faith–"their own time" is anytime. And there is no legal or moral way to restrict prayer just to homes or churches.

      July 8, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
    • Joseph

      If you haven;t realized, Muslims have to pray at 5 specific times a day, and they are already compromising that by going to school. Your statement is full of flaws, and no offense, blatant ignorance.

      August 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  9. Nonimus

    Two points
    1) I think the issue is getting official days off, rather than just pulling your kids out separately, which causes disruption/hassles for students and teachers. Same issues for the suggestions of floating holidays (pick your own holiday) mentioned.
    2) What holiday is it exactly? and when? minor issue but isn't the actual day of Eid al-fitr (?), the one at the end of Ramadan, kind of difficult to pinpoint.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
    • Joseph

      Eid al Fitr changes every year, going backwards approximately 1 month at a time. Not too hard a concept to understand...

      August 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  10. Goreczky

    America needs to stop celebrating religious holidays all together. That or we need a Atheist holiday. "Sinner day"? Anyone have any Idea what we would call it?

    July 8, 2010 at 11:36 am |
    • Nonimus

      Agreed. But I would go with "Reality Day" or "Human Day". "Sinner" implies too much.

      July 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • Goreczky

      Reality day would be too....middle finger to religious people. Unless thats what we want.
      I do like Human day.

      July 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • Goreczky

      It couldnt be somthing Religous people could turn into a religious day tho.

      July 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • Colin

      How about, 'Day of Reason?'

      July 8, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • Thorrsman

      But what would Atheists celebrate? Forcing others to their will?

      July 8, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      Thorreson-I am an atheist, but I don't force my ideas on others. I am more than happy to let you believe what you want to believe–in fact, I would fight beside you for your right to believe those things and to keep the government out of your religion.

      It would be very hard to pick a date to celebrate that could not be co-opted into a religion. Everyday is some Saint's day. Perhaps St. Jude's Day? Patron of lost causes? Of course, I'd rather stay lost, thanks.

      July 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      Everyday in America is a "sinner day", so it makes no sense to celebrate sin. Even on christmas, p orn and nudity is all over TV and casinos and bars are open for business. I would argue the exact opposite. What America needs is a "Sinless Day" where everybody stops sinning and takes a break!

      August 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  11. TheRationale

    The Muslim is quite understandably frustrated. She shouldn't have to worry on her days if other people don't have to on their days.

    The secularist has the fairest plan. Religion is your deal, so you can fit it in when you want. The important thing is that you should be able to do so when you want and not have to "waste" time off for other people's holidays and then not get it when it really matters to you. I mean, let's not go overboard with rearranging government holidays quite yet, as that doesn't seem to be the issue here.

    That Christian commenter is not only ignorant, but very ethnocentric and not very empathetic.

    Give people their days off. Let people choose how they want to spend them. No religious holiday should be a government holiday, but if you want to close shop or take some time off, go ahead. I think a good mentality if "You scratch my back I'll scratch yours" would work, provided someone doesn't come up with a religion that demands 48 weeks off a year.

    And by no means should having a religion be a prerequisite to getting to have those days off.

    July 7, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
    • Thorrsman

      You do understand that the Muslims want the entire school to be on holiday during THEIR religious holidays, right? They are not asking for "time off" just for their children, but for school to be out for everyone. They want to make THEIR Holy Days school holidays as once some Christian Holy Days were holidays.

      July 8, 2010 at 11:05 am |
    • Joseph

      Thorrsman, you forget that the entire school is off on Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday. You do realize that the amount of Muslims in the world is rapidly increasing, and the amount of Christians is declining, and that within the next 50 years, Islam will surpass Christianity? So why shouldn't holidays be accomodated for Muslims, especially with such a large population i n the US already?

      August 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  12. Colin

    Once again, Secularists come up with the most reasonable, sane solution to the problem. However, it's not perfect. Parents aren't wanting days simply excused for their kids, they want school to be let out for all children. Just because they're excused doesn't mean the other kids still won't be taking a test on that day, etc. that the excused child will now have to make up. It introduces a lot of problems.

    And while I like the idea of an allotment of days for kids/parents to use, you need to take a good hard look at a lot of the parents out there. I can see it already, they plan a big two week vacation early on in the year, or their child complains to get days off and the parents give in, using up all their child's days off early on. Now, when the "traditional" break times come along and all the other kids are leaving school, you're left with a handful still stuck in school. Do you staff a whole school for those few kids? Grant them more days off? Then you have the other kids complaining about more days for them. As you can see, it could spiral out of control easily.

    I do agree though, separation of church and state is of the utmost importance. It should be important to everyone, whether religious or not.

    And as far as taking government out of schools and giving control you parents...spoken like a true parent, rather than educator.

    July 7, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  13. TL

    Would schools in islamic countries close for christian holidays? No. So why are we bending over backwards for the muslims who clearly aren't interested in assimilating to western practices or traditions?

    Mind you I am all for separation of church and state. I think religion should be kept to one's self however I am all for upholding our western traditions of closing for christmas and easter.

    July 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • Umme Omar

      Because you are not a Christian country. You are all for separation of church and state right? So let each school district decide which way they want to go.

      July 7, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • MahJ

      Do you find it admirable that these alleged schools do not close for Christian holidays? Must we really be tit for tat with say the Iranian regime? That really would kill our ability to point fingers at them, eh?

      Your argument is flawed.
      And by the way, numerous Christians live in numerous Islamic countries. They pretty much have free reign because they are excused from sharia – as long as a crime is not committed.

      July 7, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
    • Faiz the Dirty Paki, Margalla Hills, Pakistan

      I live in Pakistan and ALL of the schools and businesses are closed on Christmas.

      July 10, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
    • Joseph

      First of all, are look at the percentage of Muslims in Muslim countries.... compared to the 7,000,000 Muslims in america it's absurd to compare the two countries. Second of all, why bring assimilation into this? Muslims are assimilating just as well as any other race, except for sticking to their religious traditions, which we all do:case and point, church every sunday. And if you are all for seperation of church and state, why make the excpetion for Christmas and easter, and not Hannukah and Eid-al-Fitr?

      August 10, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  14. Reality

    And again, why are we beating this topic to death??

    July 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  15. akaGaGa

    The only rational approach to this issue is not to take religion out of schools, but to take government out of schools. It would solve a host of problems and return control of education to the parents.

    July 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  16. common sense

    Why not simply afford every student X amount of excused days off. The student, or the family of the student could decide for themselves which days to take off whether they be religious holidays or simply to rest and relax.
    Seems like an easy way to allow people to celebrate whatever holiday they find important, without needing to include or dis-include particular religions. This is pretty easy stuff, why must people make it more complicated than necessary?

    July 7, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • TL

      I think that is also a good idea. I like the idea of 14 days off per year per student, to be taken when they like, or something like that.

      July 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  17. Ddubbya

    I see no reason to not allow Muslim children to miss school or be excused for tardiness for their religious holidays. The same consideratin is extended to Jewish followers while there is also no "offical" recognition of their holidays. Even Christians can take off Good Friday if desired (that is if it not offered as an already designated holiday).
    It's about religious fairness. I certainly do not want anyone to restrict my participation in my religious holidays. I can not see how it is right or just to impose such a thing on anyone else.

    July 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • ScottyJ

      Very good point!

      July 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
    • MSFF

      All through elementary through high school, no Jewish children could get a Perfect Attendance Award ... we were marked Absent for our Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur).

      I'm in my 70s now and it's nice to see that the Christian holidays have been extended to include other religions. Remember, too, that Jesus celebrated Chanukah, not Christmas.

      I'd like to see all people to respect their roots and other people, no matter what religion or non-religion is followed.

      The only way for schools to get paid for educating children is for a certain number of days in school. So, if all holidays are to be honored, the school year might have to be extended - which lots of families wouldn't like because it would interfer with vacations for working parents. Oh hum

      Shalom and Salaam, friends!!

      July 9, 2010 at 5:59 am |
  18. Bejnamin Franklin

    "As the government of the United States of America is not founded in any sense on the Christian religion" – Treaty of Tripoli (Benjamin Franklin)

    Why do people still insist the US is a 'Christian Nation'? must be there wishful thinking clouding reality.

    July 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • Mark B.

      You are a deniar of the greatest order. I will point to the Declaration of Independence as evidence "...all men are endowed by their Creator..." a direct reference to the Judeo/Christian God. In Congress and as our nation formed the first question of any point, principal or legislation was if it was based in scripture. Read a history book, will ya?

      July 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • ScottyJ

      I totally agree!!

      July 7, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • MahJ

      Mark B.,
      Why do you say Judeo/Christian God? How about Judeo/Christian/Muslim God? And in that sense, if you are saying Jews and Christians have recognized holidays because of their recognition of the Creator, then that argument could be applied for Muslims as well. Whadya think?

      July 7, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Yep, I agree. "Creator" isn't reserved for the Christian god. Good catch!

      July 8, 2010 at 6:19 am |
    • Paul

      The treaty of Tripoli was written during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800s. Benjamin Franklin died in 1790 and did NOT make the statement attributed to him by this blogger; it was Thomas Jefferson who did. The CONTEXT of the statement was in reply to a treaty negotiation with Muslim pirates in Tripoli and other areas in North Africa, who were simply being instructed that America had no fixed "establishment of religion" as a Christian country. But America was in fact a nation established on Judeo Christian principles, just as the pirate state of Tripoli reflected its Muslim "founding characteristics". There is no "separation of church and state" in the constitution, simply a restriction against establishing a specific denomination as a formal state church religion, like they did in England with the Anglican church.

      July 8, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  19. Thorrsman

    No, of course not. Take a look at what holidays the schools take now. The only one that can even be considered a religious holiday is Christmas, and that has been so secularized that we mostly hear, every year, how little of Christ there is in Christmas–no troubles there, as the time of year and most of the trimmings come from Roman and European Pagan beliefs anyway. No special recognition of Muslim holidays at all.

    July 7, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
    • Joseph

      and easter....

      August 12, 2010 at 5:52 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.