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12/10/02 - BUSH ON RAMADAN OBSERVANCE - 2002-12-12

Muslims around the world, including the United States, celebrated Eid al-Fitr marking the completion of Ramadan. During this Islamic holy month, Muslims fast during daylight hours to focus on the obligations of their faith. Each night, the fast is broken with food, games, and celebration with family and friends.

Ramadan marks the time when the Koran, Islam’s holy book, was revealed by God. Islam traces its origins back to God’s revelation to Abraham, the patriarch of three of the world’s great religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Eid al-Fitr customs vary. In Egypt, Muslims celebrate by lighting lanterns. In Pakistan, they set off fireworks. In Niger, elders are invited to traditional feasts. Around the world, it is time when Muslims reaffirm their faith.

Eid-al-Fitr is also an opportunity for non-Muslims to get acquainted with their Muslim neighbors. In the United States, in Pleasanton, California, Muslims gathered at local fairgrounds to observe the end of Ramadan. Usana Canon, a volunteer at the Zaytuna Institute, a Muslim educational facility, told reporters the Eid-al-Fitr celebration allows her fellow Americans to see that Muslims “are a peace-loving and peaceful people who live and celebrate like everybody else.”

President George W. Bush commemorated Eid al-Fitr when he visited the Islamic Center of Washington, D-C. “The spirit behind this holiday,” said President Bush, “is a reminder that Islam brings hope and comfort to more than a billion people worldwide. Islam affirms God’s justice and insists on man’s moral responsibility.” As Mr. Bush said, “This holiday is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind.”