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Pentagon Hosts 17th Annual Iftar Dinner as Part of Ramadan

By Cheryl Pellerin
United States Department of Defense

July 2, 2015 - Muslims, their family members and guests gathered here last night to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan during the 17th annual Pentagon iftar dinner.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and fasting and exercising other forms of self-control during the month is one of the five pillars of Islam. From dawn until sunset, Muslims traditionally refrain from eating, drinking and other activities, breaking the fast each evening with family and friends at a dinner called an iftar.

Participating in the iftar were Defense Department officials and service members, foreign military officers, diplomats and the daughter of a member of Congress.

Gold Star mother Elsheba Khan was there, as were Korean War veteran Ghayth Nur Kashif, World War II vet Sheik Nazeem Karriem, and Amirah Ellison, daughter of Minnesota Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the House of Representatives.

Ambassadors from Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lebanon, Oman and Turkey also attended.

Holy Month

Air Force Lt. Col. Jawad Farooq narrated the celebration and, before attendees broke the day’s fast, Maha Witherington read a letter written by President Barack Obama on June 18, the beginning of Ramadan this year.

“As the new crescent moon brings in the holy month of Ramadan, Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those observing the month of fasting in the United States and around the world,” the president wrote.

During Ramadan families and communities come together for iftars and prayers in festive gatherings that demonstrate the rich and diverse traditions of Muslim societies and cultures, Obama noted.

Reflection, Renewal

“It is also a deeply spiritual time of reflection and renewal meant to increase thankfulness and consciousness of God's mercy. Muslims honor each day of Ramadan as a day of patient endurance through fasting, and each night as a night of gratitude through prayers,” he said.

Here in the United States, Obama said, “American Muslims join their fellow citizens to serve the less fortunate, hosting inter-faith activities that build understanding and remind us that we stand together as one American family.”

Obama hosted an iftar dinner at the White House June 22.

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