Ritual Ramadan Dinner Becomes an Opportunity for Muslims to Reach Out
By Nathan Guttman
Sep 25, 2008
IFTAR is the meal that ends each day of Ramadan fasting. It provided an opportunity for Muslim leaders to meet with President Bush.
Washington — It has been a busy month for some Muslim Americans. According to Muslim tradition, the holy month of Ramadan is marked by fasting from dawn to dusk, ending each day with a festive meal known as Iftar. According to an emerging American tradition, Iftar is a great opportunity to show respect to the Muslim community. The result: an increasing number of official Iftar dinners held by government agencies, local communities, universities and interfaith groups.
Ziad Asali, who heads the American Task Force on Palestine, has been to three such events already — at the White House, the State Department and the Department of the Treasury. Last year he had to choose between two government Iftar events taking place at the same time.
“It’s become a tradition,” Asali said, “but why not? This country accepts Christmas, it accepts Hanukkah, so why not add Iftar?”
Within less than a decade, Iftar dinners have become a popular way to reach out to the Muslim community at a time when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have deepened the need for dialogue. “It’s an easy symbol and a way to show how Muslims are part of the American fabric,” said Marshall Breger, a law professor at The Catholic University of America. “Just as World War II brought the notion of a Judeo-Christian civilization, now we see the emerging notion of the Abrahamic civilization, which includes Christians, Jews and Muslims,” said Breger, who served as an adviser during the Reagan administration.
Read it all here.