Posted by George Selim, Director, Office for Community Partnerships
Last night, Secretary Johnson and I attended an iftar dinner in celebration of the fast of Ramadan. Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for Muslims, and those who observe Ramadan fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking their fast with the iftar—which literally means “breakfast.” I was honored to take part in this tradition with them.
For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a time for restraint, for reflection, and for remembrance of those who are less fortunate. It’s a time when many Muslims rededicate themselves to charity and compassion, giving food to the hungry, while they go hungry themselves. They go without food and water by choice to better empathize with those who are without food by circumstance.
It’s also a time of community. No matter who they are, the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims spend this month together in prayer, in sacrifice, and in celebration. Friends and family come together with neighbors and strangers for the iftar meal.
Within this country alone there are about three million Muslims. They include African Americans, Egyptian Americans, Indonesian Americans, Iraqi Americans, Syrian Americans, Iranian Americans, and many others of different races and skin colors.
But most of all, they are Americans.
American Muslims are not just members of our communities or our fellow citizens. They serve in our nation’s military and in State and Local Law enforcement across the country, in addition they are some of our most distinguished authors, doctors, lawyers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and athletes. One of our greatest athletes, Muhammad Ali, was laid to rest recently. Americans of all backgrounds came together to celebrate the life of an American Muslim champion. Thousands of people from all over the world attended an interfaith service in Louisville, Kentucky, including a former President and two heads of state.
“I am America,” Ali once said. “I am the part you won’t recognize.” Today, thanks to American Muslims like him, millions of people around the world recognize him as America. They recognize his faith as part of America.
The holy month of Ramadan is a time when Muslims across the country will invite their friends, co-workers, neighbors, and religious leaders to celebrate with them. Many Muslim-Americans will open their homes and share their tables with friends and neighbors.
Ramadan is a time when the bonds of community grow stronger. Not just between those who share the same faith, but between all of us who share the same values.
As Director of the Office for Community Partnerships at DHS, I look forward to continuing to partner with the American Muslim community on issues affecting our homeland. Ramadan Kareem.