Ramadan wasn’t recognized in the White House with an iftar or Eid celebration for the first time in nearly two decades, The Washington Post reports.
A holy month of fasting between dawn and dusk, prayer and introspection for Muslims, Ramadan was observed from May 26 through June 24 this year. Muslims break their daily fast by sharing meals with family and friends before dawn and after sunset, referred to as iftar, and the end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day festival known as Eid al-Fitr, one of Islam’s major holidays.
“Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity,” a statement from the White House read. “Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbors and breaking bread with people from all walks of life. During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values. Eid Mubarak.”
President Thomas Jefferson started the tradition in 1805 when a Tunisian envoy to the United States, Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, was in the U.S. during America’s conflict with the Barbary States. Mellimelli was observing Ramadan and Jefferson invited guests to join him for a dinner served at sunset. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had also recognized Ramadan.