Move early release to Friday sign now

January 7, 2009


School Board Members
Bellevue School District
12111 NE 1st Street,
Bellevue, WA 98005

Subject: A request for moving the early release day from Wednesdays to Fridays

Dear School Board Members,
The Muslim Parents of the Eastside (MPOE) is requesting that the early release day be changed from Wednesdays to Fridays. The MPOE represents parents of students in the Lake Washington, Bellevue, and Issaquah school districts. About 1,500 Muslim families and 800 Muslim students live on the Eastside and are attending public school.

Rescheduling the early release day from Wednesday to Friday will address the requirement for Muslim students to offer their mandatory Friday (Jumua assembly) prayers in congregation. The time for Jumua prayers is 1:30 PM in spring and 12:30 PM in winter time. However, the Jumua prayer could be offered until 1:00 PM in winter and 2:00 PM in spring.

One of the core pillars of Islam is Prayer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salah) which is mandatory for Muslim men and women when they reach the age of puberty. The Friday (Jumuah) prayer which must be observed in congregation at a mosque offers great opportunities for these young adults to know their religious community, have social interaction, and become responsible citizens.
Today, parents of these young adults are presented with the following options, none of which are practical:

1- Either pull the students from school early on Fridays so that they can attend the mandated Friday prayer on time which puts them at a disadvantage from a scholastic standpoint,
Or
2- Students do not go to their mandated Friday prayer in congregation, which causes them to not adhere to their mandated religious requirement and to be disconnected from their community cultural affairs, and family bonding during Friday prayer.

One of the great advantages of the Friday prayer is to help Muslims develop a better sense of community, better understanding of their religion, be more responsible adults and to inculcate in them great values of becoming more responsible citizens.

Moving the early release day from Wednesday to Friday will eliminate these difficulties for Muslim students and parents and will allow them to adhere to their core beliefs.

Other religions have their assemblies on Saturdays or Sundays and are not faced with these difficult decisions. We trust that changing the early release day from Wednesday to Friday will not have an unfavorable impact on the school district staff, teachers, and other students.

We request your kind consideration and are willing to support your decision in any way we can. Please let us know if you have any questions or need more information. Please feel free to call us or write us at the above address and we will be more than happy to meet with you and other interested officials to answer any questions or address potential concerns that you may have.

Muslim Parents of the Eastside is charted to represent all Muslim organizations on the Eastside. We have attached signatures of some parents as a token of support for changing the early release day that we collected within a short time window. Given the time, and if it helps the School Districts decision, we can collect thousands of additional signatures to go with this application.

To learn more about Islam, please check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Pillars_of_Islam
To learn more about the mandatory Friday prayer, please visit: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/pillars/prayer/prescribed/pp2_30.html
In addition, you can learn more about the basic pillars of Islam at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Pillars_of_Islam
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely,



Wassim Fayed,
Executive Director

Supporting Muslim Organizations:
Islamic Center of Eastside, Bellevue
Islamic Center of Redmond, Redmond
Muslim Association of Puget Sound, Redmond; and
Sammamish Muslim Association


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Justine DeckerBy:
Justice, rights and public orderIn:
Petition target:
EastSide Muslims Of the NW

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