Secretary of State Colin L. Powell hosted a Ramadan "Iftar" dinner this evening for representatives of the American Muslim community. Dinner attendees included several Muslim fire department and police personnel who took part in the relief efforts following the recent terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.
(Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. An Iftar is the meal that comes after the sunset prayer. Dinner attendees first broke their fast with traditional dates and water before offering their prayer.)
Powell told the gathering that there still remains "much ignorance and confusion" about Islam. He encouraged American Muslims to reach out and educate others about their faith. Secretary Powell also noted that, as a member of a minority community, he had to deal with the same kind of profiling that many Muslims and Arab-Americans have experienced since September 11. SEE: http://www.state.gov/secretary/
"Secretary Powell is to be congratulated for his efforts to reach out to American Muslims. Muslims have unique perspectives on many important policy issues that need to be considered as the war on terrorism goes forward," said Council on American Islamic-Relations (CAIR) Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, who attended tonight's dinner. Hooper presented Powell with Ramadan greeting cards made by local Muslim students. The cards wished him a happy Ramadan and asked that America help feed the hungry in this country and in Afghanistan.
"American Muslims can play a valuable role in the fight against terror by serving as a bridge of understanding to the Islamic world. Events like these offer a good opportunity to let policy-makers get to know Muslim leaders on a personal level," said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.
Fasting (along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. (To download CAIR's "Ramadan Media Kit," go to http://www.cair-net.org/ramadan2001. The kit includes "Ramadan Facts," "Ramadan Q&A" and "Q&A About Islam and American Muslims.")