By Islamic Horizons Staff
President Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to restore the annual commemoration of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr at the White House. After a hiatus, this in-person celebration, held on May 1, was historically meaningful to both those in attendance and Muslim Americans nationwide.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden presented a thoughtful welcome.
Also present were Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Dr. Talib Shareef (president and imam, Masjid Muhammad), a veteran who offered the invocation.
In his remarks, Biden recognized the Muslim Americans’ diversity, vibrance and the multitude of ways in which they continue to contribute to the nation’s collective future. The president acknowledged the important contributions made by Muslim American frontline workers and scientists to respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said, “This year, as we mark Eid al-Fitr, we hold in our hearts the millions of displaced persons and refugees around the globe who are spending this sacred holiday separated from their families and unsure of their future, but still hoping for a brighter tomorrow. As a nation we must always keep faith with those seeking a better life and uphold our commitment to serving as a beacon of hope for oppressed people around the world. And, [as] Muslims across the United States celebrate Eid, let us renew our dedication to our foundational commitment to respecting all faiths and beliefs.”
The president reminded the audience that the “tradition of religious freedom for all strengthens our country, and we will continue to work with Americans of all beliefs and backgrounds to safeguard and deepen our collective commitment to this fundamental principle. This year, we will resume the tradition of celebrating Eid at the White House, and of honoring the inspiring Muslim Americans who are leading efforts to build greater understanding and unity across our nation.”
Those in attendance reflected the rich diversity of Muslim Americans across multiple sectors including elected officials and public servants, entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as community-based social sector leaders. Several Muslim appointees and members of the administration were also present at the celebration.
Farhan Latif (president, AlHibri Foundation) noted, “You [Mr. President] reiterated your promise to make your administration look like America, and we thank you for continuing to deliver on that promise. Your administration has made significant appointments of American Muslims to the federal bench, in the area of international religious freedom and other branches of the administration. Our regular and ongoing engagement with the Office of Presidential Personnel has helped to connect public service opportunities with highly qualified candidates from our communities. We know that American Muslims will continue to work within and alongside your administration to tackle the climate crisis, rebuild the economy, safeguard our health, and restore our alliances.
“We welcome your remarks seeking renewal of our common commitment to shared values, so that we may realize an equitable and more inclusive society that helps us all live up to the potential of forming a more perfect union.”
He also appreciated the president for acknowledging the suffering that many Muslim communities face across the globe due to religious discrimination and stated his support for religious freedom at home and abroad. “It did not go unnoticed” he added, “that you also recognized our domestic challenges of targeted violence and Islamophobia impacting Muslim communities in America.”
Latif offered his appreciation to the White House Office of Public Engagement, the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the National Security Council and the many team members within the administration who facilitated the planning and execution of the Eid celebration.
ISNA president Safaa Zarzour, along with former ISNA presidents Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Imam Mohamed Magid (All Dulles Area Muslim Society) and Azhar Azeez (Muslim Aid USA), attended the event.
Among the other attendees were public officials such as Abdullah Hammoud (mayor, Dearborn, Mich.), Hala Hijazi (commissioner, City & County of San Francisco), Dr. Sadaf Jaffer (New Jersey Legislative District 16) and Sam Baydoun (commissioner, Wayne County, Mich.).
They were joined by representatives of various Muslim organizations: Jawaid Kotwial (Afghan-American Foundation), Arsalan Suleman (America Indivisible), Salmah Rizvi (American Muslim Bar Association), Ghada Khan and Arshia Wajid (American Muslim Health Professionals), Tarek Elmessidi (Celebrate Mercy), Mark Crain (Dream of Detroit), Uzma Syed (Eid Holiday Coalition Inc.) and Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, Nada Al-Hanooti and AJ Durrani (Emgage); Farooq Kathwari (CEO, Ethan Allen), Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi (Faiths4Vaccines), Nashiru Abdulai (Global Deaf Muslim), Sayyeda Mirza (Hub Foundation), Dr. Dilara Sayeed (Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition), Petra Alsoofy (Institute for Social Policy and Understanding), Dr. Imrana Umar (International Interfaith Peace Corps.) and Jaime Mujahid Fletcher (Islam In Spanish); Dr. Marium Hussain (president, Islamic Medical Association of North America), Maha Elgenaidi (Islamic Networks Group), Anwar Khan (president, Islamic Relief USA), Iman Zawahry (Islamic Scholarship Fund), Ayman Kabire (Islamic Society of Greater Houston), Nausheen Rajan (Ismailis Rise Up), Rahmah Abdulaleem (KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights), Dr. Asifa Quraishi-Landes (Muslim Advocates), Dr. Ihsan Bagby (Muslim Alliance of North America) and Ahmad Maaty (Muslim Americans in Public Service); Margari Hill (Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative), Aniqa Nawabi (Muslim Community Network), Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (Muslim Girl), Salam Al-Marayati (Muslim Public Affairs Council), Dr. Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad (Muslim Wellness Foundation), Sehrish Siddiqi (National Association of Muslim Lawyers), Rima Meroueh (National Network for Arab American Communities), Aziza Hasan (NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change); and Amin Aaser (Noor Kids), Haris Ahmed (OPEN Chicago), Rahat Hussain (Shia Muslim Foundation), Karim Farishta (The Asian American Foundation), Alex Kronemer (Unity Productions Foundation), Dr. Parvez Shah (Universal Muslim Association of America) and Dilnaz Waraich (Waraich Family Fund).
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