Saturday, November 13, 2004
Wappingers recognizes Muslim holy day
Students are allowed time off
By Erikah Haavie
WAPPINGERS FALLS -- For Muslims, it was the holiest of Fridays.
And for the first time, Muslim students in the Wappingers district had the
day off and were able to use the day for prayer.
The last Friday of Ramadan -- the holy month marked by fasting from sun-up
to sunset -- is one of the top five holy days for Muslims, said Aziz Ahsan, a
Hopewell Junction attorney and spokesman for the Mid-Hudson Islamic
The importance of the day prompted Muslim parents to approach Wappingers
school officials about giving students the day off.
The Wappingers district, the largest in Dutchess County, did so and
acknowledged the two Muslim festivals, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha, on the
district calendar for the first time this year, Ahsan said.
District officials could not be reached for comment. While students didn't
report to school, Friday was used as professional development day for
Father, son attend
Shakil Syed and his 9-year-old son, Shayan Hasan, participated in a
35-minute prayer service at Masjid al-Noor on All Angels Hill Road in
Wappingers Falls. Hasan attends Sheafe Road Elementary School.
''All prayer is important,'' but it's especially important during Rama-dan,
Ramadan is a month for ''more blessings,'' said Farah Baksh, a 15-year-old
who attends Roy C. Ketcham High School.
It is also a good time to reflect on those less fortunate, said Baksh's
mother, Bibi Yasui.
''When we are fasting, we especially try to enlighten ourselves,'' Ahsan
Cousins Falasteen Jamal of John Jay High School and Rhaida Jamal of Rhaida
Jamal of Ketcham High School came together to the Friday prayer service with
about 700 others at the Wappingers mosque.
With the day free, the two cousins prayed, listened to the Koran on tape
and bought clothes and gifts for family for Eid-ul-Fitr.
Ramadan culminates in Eid-ul-Fitr, a festival that marks the end of
Eid-ul-Fitr for Muslims could be likened to what Christmas is for
Christians, Ahsan said. It's a time for prayer and also a time to get together
with family, eat and exchange gifts.
''Every single day (of Ramadan) is important,'' said Akhter Shareef, who
brought his three sons with him to the mosque for Friday prayer. ''It brings
you closer to your religion.''
Erikah Haavie can be reached at