No matter what, Christmas always falls on December 25. The same cannot be said for other important holidays throughout the year. For Khalid Alshammari, a junior at Robert Morris, the lunar calendar of his Islamic faith tells him when the official Muslim holidays of Eid Al-fiter and Eid Al-Adha occur, which both fall on different dates in the Western Calendar each year.
“Muslims have two major religious observances each year, Ramadan and Hajj, and corresponding holidays connected with each one,” Alshammari said. “For Eid Al-fiter, at the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate ‘The Festival of Fast-Breaking.’ Eid al-Adha [is celebrated] at the end of the annual pilgrimage.”
As a native of Saudi Arabia, Alshammari also recognizes the founding of his country on Saudi National Day, which is celebrated on September 23 of each year. As president of the Saudi Club, he takes part in the annual celebration here at RMU. This year’s event was one of his best memories of the celebration.
“As a leader for the Saudi Club, I felt I reached my aim [of changing people’s view of] my religion and country by having more than six hundred faculty, students and staff attend the celebration,” Alshammari said. “In addition, I saw how the Saudi Club members worked hard to present our country very well.”
A unique aspect of the religious holidays is the amount of time that they last. Eid Al-fiter takes place over three days at the end of Ramadan, and Eid Al-Adha spans four days after the annual pilgrimage or Hajj. Both of these holidays are full of family traditions for Alshammari where they dress nicely in new clothes purchased for the occasion, visit family and friends, and they give candy to children and food to the poor.
“[The most important part of the holidays is] helping the poor people and seeing all my cousins, friends and neighbors who I did not see for a long time,” Alshammari said.
Holidays are celebrated all over the world by people, religions and countries as a way to remind people of important events and ideas. Alshammari hopes that learning about the holidays and traditions of other cultures will help correct some of the misunderstandings that people have.
“The most misunderstood concept about my religion is people do not know what real Islam is,” Alshammari said. “They watch the news and judge from that. The true Islam is about peace and help, and everyone should at least read about it before they judge. It reminds me of myself before I came to the US because I was judging it from the movies.”