The traditional Muslim call to prayer echoed across USIP’s atrium yesterday evening as the institute ushered in its third annual Iftar, marking the breaking of the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan. But it wasn’t just one imam’s voice. Instead, five Muslim clerics and a poetry reader from six traditions—Senegalese, Syrian, Pakistani, Iranian, Turkish and Moroccan—represented the theme of the event: The Islamic Mosaic.
Anwar Khan, chief executive officer of Islamic Relief, noted that “Muslims came to this country 400 years ago in slave ships.”
“I remember after 9/11 when somebody wrote somewhere, `a Muslim-looking man,’” he recalled. “I don’t know what a Muslim-looking man looks like. He could be white, he could be black, he could be tall, he could be small, he could be fat, he could be thin. That’s the diversity, that’s the beauty.”
Representative Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota who is one of only two Muslim members of Congress, had planned to attend the Iftar before his flight was delayed due to weather, but he sent a message to the gathering via staff member Hassan Ali: “During this month, it’s clear that our commonalities are far stronger than the things that divide us,” Ali said. “More than a third of the world’s population is part of the Muslim community. While the stereotypical Muslim is from the Middle East, we know better: Indonesia, India and Pakistan host the world’s largest Muslim communities. Our brothers and sisters are spread across Africa and right here in the United States.”
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