The Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
December 5, 2002
2:25 P.M. EST
Thank you very much, sir. It's good to be with you again. And it is my honor
to visit the Islamic Center of Washington once again.
For half a century, this beautiful mosque has served as a place of worship for
Muslims and has helped to advance understanding between people of different
faiths. Millions of our fellow Americans practice the Muslim faith. They lead
lives of honesty and justice and compassion.
I am pleased to join you today in the celebration of Eid, the culmination of
the Holy Month of Ramadan. I appreciate so very much Dr. Khouj, and I want to
thank the other distinguished imam from the Washington, D.C. area. Thank you
all for being here. And I enjoyed our visit. I also appreciate the Muslim schoolchildren
who are here, telling me stories and reading poems and showing the art work.
Please tell them thanks again for their hospitality.
Islam traces its origins back to God's call on Abraham. And Ramadan commemorates
the revelation of God's word in the Holy Koran to the prophet Mohammad -- a
word that is read and recited with special attention and reverence by Muslims
during this season.
Over the past month, Muslims have fasted, taking no food or water during daylight
hours, in order to refocus their minds on faith and redirect their hearts to
charity. Muslims worldwide have stretched out a hand of mercy to those in need.
Charity tables at which the poor can break their fast line the streets of cities
and towns. And gifts of food and clothing and money are distributed to ensure
that all share in God's abundance. Muslims often invite members of other families
to their evening iftar meals, demonstrating a spirit of tolerance.
During Eid al-Fitr, Muslims celebrate the completion of their fast and the blessings
of renewed faith that have come with it. Customs vary between countries -- from
illuminating lanterns in Egypt to lighting firecrackers in Pakistan, to inviting
elders to traditional feasts in Niger. Around the world, families and neighbors
and friends gather to share traditional foods, and congratulate each other on
meeting the test of Ramadan.
The spirit behind this holiday is a reminder that Islam brings hope and comfort
to more than a billion people worldwide. Islam affirms God's justice and insists
on man's moral responsibility. This holiday is also an occasion to remember
that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefitted
Here in the United States our Muslim citizens are making many contributions
in business, science and law, medicine and education, and in other fields. Muslim
members of our Armed Forces and of my administration are serving their fellow
Americans with distinction, upholding our nation's ideals of liberty and justice
in a world at peace. And in our Nation's Capital, this center contributes greatly
to our spiritual and cultural life.
On behalf of Laura and our family and the American people, I bring our best
wishes to all who worship here, and to Muslims throughout the world for a joyous
Eid, and for health and happiness and prosperity in the year to come.