By Sadie Allen (Guest Column)
It’s past time Riverside make accommodations for Muslim students. It’s not fair for Christian students to get off of school for Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter, while Muslim students get nothing.
I believe Muslim students should get at least the week of Eid-al-Fitr off, a separate room or location to go during breakfast and lunch, and a program that allows them to leave class to do their wudu and pray. Muslims are expected to do wudu and pray year-round, which is time-consuming during a regular school day. During the month of Ramadan, they are expected to do even more by fasting, which is difficult in itself considering they cannot even drink water. We should be more considerate of those with different beliefs.
Ramadan is a very important month for Muslims. “Muslims believe that some of the first verses of the Islamic holy book, the Qu’ran, were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during the month of Ramadan.” If you know anything about Islam, you know Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is an essential prophet and the messenger of God. This is an essential month for Muslims everywhere, so we must respect that and be sure they can properly celebrate their holiday. For this to happen, Riverside must let them have at least the week of Ramadan off so they can properly celebrate.
Just think of Christmas, no one wants to go to school the week of Christmas right? Most Christians the week of Christmas go see family and friends, buy gifts and decorate. Muslims do the same things for Eid-al-Fitr. It is not fair that children have to miss out on their education simply because our school won’t accommodate them. Just think of how outraged people would be if Riverside did not give us a spring break, even though it’s not an essential holiday!
Another thing we must consider for our Muslim students is that most have to fast for hours upon hours. I know how I get when I am hungry and people are eating around me, so I can understand how frustrating it can be to watch people eat in front of you when you cannot eat until sunset. It would be great if Riverside could designate a special place for our Muslim students to go during breakfast and lunch. Maybe they could play games, watch movies or just socialize to get their minds off of food. We also need to be thinking about Muslims in sports or physical activities. They cannot drink water during their fast so we need to be considerate and not make them participate in the activities, especially if it is hot outside.
The last thing I believe Riverside should do is create a program where Muslim students can go and do their wudu and pray year-round. Wudu is a process of cleansing the body with water before prayer, so it requires a bathroom break. If the student’s prayer time is during school, Riverside must think of a way they can let students go to the bathroom (and a designated place to pray) during school, without them having to miss class time. A good way to do this is how elementary schools do it with AIG students. AIG is a program for academically or intellectually gifted students. I remember back in elementary school when the AIG teachers picked us up to go to AIG during class, and afterward, my regular teacher would catch me up on what I missed. It is a very simple concept and it would help out our Muslim students a lot. It would also help them not to be ashamed to pray. It would let them know Riverside cares.
In conclusion, I believe Riverside should make these accommodations to our Muslim students to make them feel more supported when practicing their religion. They already get the hate out in the real world, so we must make them feel welcomed and cared about in our school.
Editor’s note: Eid-al-Fitr was Wednesday, May 14.
Sadie Allen is a Freshman in high school who believes in equity.