Dearborn is making history as Mayor Abdullah Hammoud has made the Islamic holiday of Eid a paid holiday for the city’s employees. The Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Muslims all over the world celebrate the Eid with their loved ones, commemorating the completion of their month of prayer, fasting and reflection.
“I’m taking off with my family; employees tend to take off with their families,” Hammoud said in a Time Magazine report when talking about the Eid. “I think it’s time we modeled that in the city of Dearborn, where we are trying to hire an inclusive and diverse workforce. We should be recognizing their holidays and their faith traditions as well.”
Hammoud is also hosting an Eid brunch that’s free and open to the community. This is the first year this brunch is being held and it allows community members who observe the Eid to celebrate their holiday with a new tradition in the heart of the Arab American capital of North America.
Nearly 50 percent of Dearborn’s population is Arab American and most of them are Muslims. Dearborn residents expressed their support for Eid as a paid holiday.
Hammoud also shared with Time that these efforts are to create a more inclusive city government for all religions and cultures.
In addition to the paid Eid holiday, the city of Dearborn hosted an overnight Ramadan festival along West Village Drive for the first time, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the month of Ramadan.
As the Eid isn’t a federal holiday in the United States, Muslims who celebrate normally have to take it upon themselves to get excused from work or school. Now, in Dearborn, it is recognized as a formal holiday.
Mayor Hammoud said he hopes that these new traditions will become enshrined in the city.
“I think people feel like they’re now a part of the city that they grew up in, that they’re raising their families in and now they can see themselves,” he said.
City Hall offices, public libraries and the 19th District Court will be closed in observance of Eid.
Hamtramck also declares Eid a paid holiday
The city of Hamtramck is following suit as Mayor Amer Ghalib is also making the Eid a paid holiday for the city staff.
“It was long overdue,” Ghalib said. “The whole City Council (and mayor) are Muslims, so it was important to accommodate them and give them the opportunity to celebrate Eid with their families.
“We were able to make the parking meters free for the last 10 days of Ramadan and for the Eid holiday,” he added. “And this comes as a natural outcome of the latest developments that the city has been going through, and the demographic changes over the past several years.”
Ghalib also said the Eid shouldn’t be unlike any other holiday that is recognized as a national holiday.
“If they get paid for the other ones, they would be paid for the Eid, too.”
Tlaib, Dingell introduce resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives recognizing Eid al-Fitr
This week, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor) introduced a resolution recognizing Eid al-Fitr, the observance of the conclusion of Ramadan, and offering best wishes and support to all Muslims for a joyous and meaningful celebration.
“Ramadan is a time for us to renew our faith and reflect on our shared values of unity, generosity and compassion,” Tlaib said. “As we finish this holy month of fasting, I am proud to recognize the beautiful Muslim community in Michigan’s 12th District and around the world with this resolution as we celebrate Eid al-Fitr. From my heart to yours, may this Eid bring you joy, community and prosperity. Eid Mubarak!”
“As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close, this is a sacred time for our Muslim friends and neighbors to recommit to the values of compassion and generosity, and to celebrate the many blessings of life,” Dingell said. “This year, as we mark Eid al-Fitr, I am proud to introduce this resolution recognizing the countless contributions of Muslim Americans to every part of our society, and demonstrating our solidarity and support for the Muslim community.”
The resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), André Carson (D-IN), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Although Eid has long been informally recognized by the U.S. government, it is not designated as an official public holiday. As a result, Americans Muslims seeking to observe the holiday typically have to request time off from their employer or academic institution. While a number of school districts with sizable Muslim populations now offer Eid as a holiday, including in Dearborn and New York City, they are still very much in the minority. For Muslim community advocates, extending the right to observe the holiday to municipal employees is an important next step.
These efforts are only likely to increase as the American Muslim population continues to grow. A 2018 study by the Pew Research Center estimates that there are 3.45 million Muslims living in the U.S., or roughly 1.1 percent of the population. By 2050, that figure is expected to more than double to 8 million.
Several school districts to close for Eid al-Fitr
School districts in Houston and in the Austin suburb of Round Rock, along with those in New York City, Dearborn, Detroit and Fairfax, Virginia are incorporating days off for Eid.
Recently, several cities in New Jersey added Eid al-Fitr as a holiday, starting either this year or in 2024, as did districts in New York and Ohio.
New York City, which has the largest public school district in the country, made the move in 2015. Minneapolis, another major city, decided to start recognizing Eid as a school holiday in 2022, and Houston did the same this year.
In Southeast Michigan, where it is common for Arabs and Muslims to serve on school boards, many districts – including Detroit – have designated Eid as a day off.
The Dearborn School District is believed to be the first U.S. school district to recognize Eid. Advocates said some schools with large numbers of Muslim pupils started closing for the religious occasion in the 1990s, before Eid became a district-wide holiday in the early 2000s.
While Eid recognition at schools has largely been a success story for Muslim American communities, it has not all been smooth sailing. In January, the school district in San Francisco reversed a resolution approved months earlier to have Eid off.
The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) had faced criticism over the move and threats of lawsuits accusing it of improperly favoring one religion over others.
Facing counter-pressure from Arab and Muslim students and activists, the district decided to move its spring break forward next year to accommodate Eid al-Fitr instead.