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Drexel should observe Eid as a holiday | The Triangle

Drexel should observe Eid as a holiday

Photo by Lucas Tusinean | The Triangle

Last week, over a billion Muslims around the globe began preparations for Eid al-Fitr, one of the religion’s biggest holidays. A long-awaited holiday celebrating the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset to focus on spirit and community by being God-conscious and attending communal iftars. As the holiday approaches, it is common to see members of Muslim households flock to the markets and clothing stores to not only serve good food but also look their best for the guests. As my family did the same last week, there was one worry lingering in the minds of myself and many other students: having classes on Eid.

Naturally, there was some initial confusion over which classes I would be able to miss and whether I would arrive home early enough to not miss the main event. Luckily, I was able to speak to my instructors and only had to commute to campus to take a recitation quiz. But for many others, it was not as easy. For one student in mechanical engineering, the concern was falling behind in classwork: “Attendance was mandatory for my class,” she explained. “Since it was a hybrid, missing that one day felt pretty significant to me even if it was excused.” When talks about the university’s involvement and the possibility of giving the day off came up, she brought up the idea of an official statement regarding the holiday’s recognition, “I would’ve appreciated having off on Eid or even just felt more comfortable asking to be excused with the university’s support.”

Having such a significant holiday fall on a school day puts students in a difficult position of having to choose between their classwork and their religious practices. Sure, they may be able to take the day off by requesting an excused absence from their instructors, but they then return to being behind on classwork, especially if it is for something as important as unrecorded lectures or labs that can run three to four hours long and have to be remediated asynchronously. 

Last Friday, the Drexel Muslim Student Association (DMSA) worked alongside the Middle Eastern and North African Club as well as the Saudi Student Association to host a festival for Eid. The event was held at Lancaster Walk, where various group activities such as obstacle courses, henna tables, art workshops and educational talks took place. 

The event flourished with ethnic clothing and countless “Eid Mubarak” greetings, but students did not miss the fact that the holiday was being celebrated on the wrong day. Marham Mohammad, a third-year interior design major, expressed her concerns, saying, “We’re not able to celebrate with everyone on the same day. Eid fell on a Wednesday, and we had to push this celebration all the way down to Friday, and some of us still aren’t able to attend because they have classes and quizzes.” Like other students, Mohammad shared worries about making up classwork, and she also pointed out the contrasting treatment of other holidays: “I think the university should have off. It would be different if no religion was recognized, but we get a huge break for Christmas, and Muslims have to risk falling behind and facing added stress for Eid. I think it is detrimental to students’ ability to even want to be in school.” It’s no surprise that certain religious holidays are prioritized over Muslim holidays by not just our university but many other American institutions. That should not be the case, especially since Islam is the world’s second-largest religion.

If Eid was to be labeled a university-wide holiday, students could come together to perform special Eid prayers on the official day and host celebratory events throughout campus, strengthening community involvement and purging anxiety about missing courses. With the day off, the educational aspects can also be a great opportunity for many students who may not observe the holiday to get out and let their curiosity pave the way. Of course, on-campus students can also plan trips home to celebrate with their families, knowing that they will have off instead of waiting on excusals.