Ramadan 1999

December 4, 1999

Source: The Seattle Times

On December 4, 1999, The Seattle Times published an article on how Seattle Muslim students from other countries are allowed to practice Islam throughout the school day and observe Ramadan. The Seattle School District's Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center serves approximately 340 immigrant and refugee teens, many of whom have come from war-torn countries of Africa where Islam is prevalent. The Center was established to accommodate those students who aren't proficient enough with English to handle most high school studies. Abdirahman Ahmed, a 15-year-old from Ethiopia, finds it difficult to practice Islam with all of the distractions in American society, though Ahmed states that, "our teachers really help us." At the school, one of the teachers stays in her room and allows devout Muslims to conduct midday prayers. Girls have been allowed to take physical education classes with modest clothing and head scarves. Despite the daily accommodations, it is still difficult to maintain Ramadan observance. Azam Junejo, an 18-year-old Muslim-American senior at Nathan Hale High School, stated: "When you're in this country, there's a lot of distractions to Ramadan - cars, making money...The majority of my friends and classmates are more into having fun, so it's hard staying focused." Junejo continued: "Ramadan is very important to me...It's a time for me to purify my heart, to think really hard about improving my morals and what's important." Abdirahman Ahmed maintained that it is difficult to observe Ramadan in America but possible: "It would be very easy to break the Ramadan here...There are many bad things you could do here. But if my friends told me to do something I can't do during Ramadan, I would apologize and say this month I cannot go with you anywhere."