Obama’s Ramadan Message

obama-ramadanOn August 21st, with Ramadan beginning in most countries the following day, President Obama issued a Ramadan message to Muslim communities around the world. This is another gesture by the President to work on the relations between the United States and Muslims worldwide. For me, though, this message was unique. Growing up as a Muslim American, Ramadan was never formally recognized by the larger American community, except on a local level. President Obama’s more visible efforts to fully incorporate the Muslim American community have led to more awareness–positive awareness, I should say–of Islam and the commonalities that it shares with other faiths.

This message, in particular, impressed me because I never imagined hearing an American president actually reach out to the Muslim community using their language and drawing on the spirit of the month to further his message of connections. By beginning with the greetings of Ramadan–Ramadan Kareem–the President brought Ramadan into the realm of other faiths on the American landscape. Now “Ramadan Kareem” joins other common holiday greetings in the US vernacular.

President Obama also talked about the revelation of the Qur’an during the holy month and the message of reflection and responsibility towards other human beings that the holy text emphasizes. This last point tied into his larger message of working as community to alleviate problems and to move towards a more peaceful world. Like in his Cairo speech on June 4th, President Obama underlined the importance of locating a common ground. The fact that he used Ramadan, specifically fasting, as an example of common ground was for me one step towards that future. It means so much for the Muslim American community to receive the recognition accorded to other major faiths and to see an opportunity to build more connections.

To learn more about Ramadan, please read the series of blog posts on the topic and  join us on Here on Earth, on Tuesday, September 1st for the next Inside Islam Radio show.
[audio:http://insideislam.wisc.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/inside-islam-promo-090901.mp3]
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