"Iftar dinner offers appreciation for veterans" - Islamic Relief USA

Imam Talib Sharif and Assal Ravandi were among those who spoke at the Community Unity Equality Dinner sponsored by Islamic Relief USA on June 1, 2018. (Photos by Fareeha Amir)

The following is an excerpt from an article posted in the in June 2018: 

Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) joined forces with the Academy of United States Veterans (AUSV) on June 1 to host an iftar, the dinner that marks the end of the fast each day during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The Community Unity Equality dinner, which took place on the rooftop of the AUSV offices on North Glebe Road, provided an opportunity for both nonprofit and advocacy organizations to show appreciation to veterans and their families for the sacrifices they made in helping keep America a beacon of freedom.

Sharif Aly, chief executive officer of Islamic Relief USA, said the holy month of Ramadan provides an opportunity to reflect and ponder all the blessings that God has bestowed on individuals and the community.

Ultimately, it is a month where people grow, develop and become closer to one another, Aly said, thanking veterans for their service.

Assal Ravandi, founder and CEO of AUSV, said the event shows that different groups can come together, have respect for one another, and feel a sense of inclusivity.

“In today’s climate, it’s important to take a step forward,” she said.

The veterans reciprocated the kindness.

“We’re so grateful to be with you all,” said Imam Talib Sharif, a retired Air Force veteran and vice commander of the Muslim American Veterans Association. He presently serves as the presiding imam at the nation’s oldest mosque.

The imam joked that while he may be out of the service, he is “not served out.” He said during Ramadan, it’s important see oneself as connected with every individual in the world, through love, compassion and mercy.

“It’s human-first,” Sharif said.

Sherman Gillums, a Marine veteran, said Ramadan is a time to heal, a time to focus on equality and inclusion.

He praised IRUSA and AUSV as organizations that work “in making those who’re broken stronger.”

Ravandi, a military veteran herself, said that both IRUSA and AUSV have been on the front lines in their advocacy for civil rights and human rights, providing assistance of various forms to people of all walks of life.

Gillums said that even though he has four paralyzed limbs, he still has something that remains strong.

“What mattered was my soul,” he said. “Our soul is what binds us together, more than any other characteristic.”

Aly said it’s that spirit of togetherness that’s so essential to achieving major goals.

“We can’t do it alone,” Aly said. ‘The only way to accomplish change is through partnerships.’ ”


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