Muslims around the world are observing Ramadan, which began earlier this week with the new moon marking the start of the holy month. It is a special time in Islam, distinguished by prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting, acts of charity, and feasts for family and friends.
In a written statement, Secretary of State John Kerry wished Muslims in the United States and across the globe a happy and blessed Ramadan. He noted that U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world recognize the important Ramadan values of hospitality and charity through events which demonstrate U.S. commitment to promoting social cohesion, diversity and welcome within communities.
A recent study estimates that there are about 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States. They include doctors, lawyers, scientists, politicians, teachers, athletes, and actors. Earlier in June, one of the most famous American Muslims -- heralded as the greatest boxer of all times, Muhammad Ali -- died at age 74. His influence outside the boxing ring – including his advocacy for equality, his legal battle to protect religious freedom, his commitment to justice, and his acts of charity and philanthropy – outshine his early years unmatched physical prowess as a champion boxer.
In a statement marking the beginning of Ramadan, President Barack Obama noted that in the United States, “We are one American family.” He declared his solidarity with Muslim Americans in rejecting “voices that seek to divide us or limit our religious or civil rights.” He reiterated his commitment to “safeguarding the civil rights of all Americans no matter their religion or appearance.”
In this month of reflection, President Obama said, everyone should also remember the millions of lives that have been displaced by conflict and struggle and who will be unable to observe Ramadan in their homes with their families.
“We must continue working together to alleviate the suffering of these individuals,” said President Obama. “This sacred time reminds us of our common obligations to uphold the dignity of every human being. We will continue to welcome immigrants and refugees into our nation,” he added, “including those who are Muslim.”
President Obama said he is looking forward to opening the doors of the White House again this year for an Eid celebration marking the end of Ramadan: “I can think of no better way to mark my Administration’s last celebration of Ramadan as President than to honor the contributions of Muslims in America and across the world.”