Students miss school for religious holidays

religous_holidays_infographicBy Ben Liu and Roland Li, Staff–

Inside the Davis Islamic Center, multiple chandeliers hang from the ceiling and light blue symbols decorate the otherwise plain white walls. As six men pray, the only sound from inside is the ticking of the clock and the occasional voice of the prayer leader, Ahmed Youssef.

“I think it would be difficult for the government to accommodate for all religions,” Youssef said. “The main worship day is Friday for Muslims, Saturday for Jews and Sunday for Christians.”

One of the men attending the prayer is UC Davis student Rafay Syed. Syed takes part in the daily prayer at the Davis Islamic Center whenever he can.

​“For the lead prayer, people skip class,” Syed said. “It’s not usually a big deal unless there is a midterm or something like that.”

​The different worship days rarely cause problems for Davis High students, but it is a different case during holidays.

Christmas, Eid al-Adha and Yom Kippur are the major holidays of the year for Christians, Muslims and Jews, respectively. However, only one of these holidays is observed by many schools: Christmas.​

For Muslim sophomore Ali Buzayan, being devoted to religion can sometimes causes problems at school.

“Some religious activities conflict with school,” Buzayan said. “I have to miss school sometimes, but I’m OK with it. I have to make up school stuff, but its only a day’s worth. It’s not that bad.”

Buzayan isn’t the only one with conflicts between religious activities and the school schedule. After taking a day off of school for Rosh Hashanah this year, Jewish sophomore Skyler Mikalson was bombarded with three makeup tests when he came back.

“It’s not fair that there is a two-week Christmas break for one big commercialized holiday, but not my religion,” Mikalson said. “I didn’t make up a test in time. My chemistry teacher had already passed back the tests and he had to write a new test for me. He seemed mad.”

The school schedule doesn’t only affect Muslims and Jews; observant students from all religions may have to decide between their education and their religious activities.

According to the Interfaith Calendar, there are seven Islamic holidays, eleven Hindu holidays, five Buddhist holidays and thirteen Jewish holidays that fall on a school day this year, as well as dozens more major and minor holidays of several other faiths.

​Sophomore Marissa Wong attends the Sacramento Buddhist Church regularly. As a part of the Junior Young Buddhist Association, she goes to temples to attend seminars, but these are not held during the school week.

​“I don’t really have any problems during the school year,” Wong said. “The only Buddhist holiday I really celebrate is Obon, which is during the summer.”

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