Ramadan Around the World| Obama’s Ramadan Speech
Obama Honors Muslim 9/11 Service During Ramadan
Muhammad ‘Abd al-Haqq
Obama delivers a speech during the iftar of the White House’s Ramadan Dinner, a long-standing tradition, a month before the 10th Anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and I am completely ambivalent about the idea. The struggle in my mind this Ramadan deals with Muslims in serving Western militaries and other law enforcement agencies, especially intelligence agencies. I understand how non-Muslim Americans might appreciate their sacrifices, but what of the larger question of assimilation versus integration for Muslims. Should Muslims be serving in these agencies, and is this something that we need to do in order to be accepted in American(also Western) society-at-large? How for does integration go before it become assimilation? I would think that as a Muslim, for political as well as religious reasons, as Muhammad Ali(the famous boxer born as Cassius Clay) before us, we should refrain from such service.
My ambivalence brings me to the fire-firefighters, EMT’s and other first responders on the scene in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy and how proud I was to hear that some of these first responders were Muslims. My ambivalence about Obama’s gesture (and those U.S. presidents before him) also makes me notice the uncovered Muslim women who would be in hijab if this iftar was in a masjid.
Obama in his own words:
“In one month, we will mark the 10th anniversary of those awful attacks that brought so much pain to our hearts. It will be a time to honor all those that we’ve lost, the families who carry on their legacy, the heroes who rushed to help that day and all who have served to keep us safe during a difficult decade. And tonight, it’s worth remembering that these Americans were of many faiths and backgrounds, including proud and patriotic Muslim Americans.
“Muslim Americans were innocent passengers on those planes, including a young married couple looking forward to the birth of their first child. They were workers in the Twin Towers — Americans by birth and Americans by choice, immigrants who crossed the oceans to give their children a better life. They were cooks and waiters, but also analysts and executives.
“There, in the towers where they worked, they came together for daily prayers and meals at Iftar. They were looking to the future — getting married, sending their kids to college, enjoying a well-deserved retirement. And they were taken from us much too soon. And today, they live on in the love of their families and a nation that will never forget. And tonight, we’re deeply humbled to be joined by some of these 9/11 families, and I would ask them to stand and be recognized, please.”
Here is a blurb of his speech from last year:
A little light-hearted satire