US Ambassador hosts Iftar reception
The new ambassador of the United States to Manila, His Excellency Harry K. Thomas Jr., hosted an Iftar reception last night at his official residence in Forbes Park. I was fortunate to have been invited to be among Filipino and foreign dignitaries in an Islamic tradition that has long been held by the American government. Present as well were some fellow Mindanaoans: Amb. Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, Datu Paglas Municipal Vice-Mayor Datu Ahmed Paglas, and Edgar Bullecer of the Paglas Group of Companies.
The American Ambassador delivered President Barack Obama’s message, which reads in part as follows:
On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I want to extend our best wishes to Muslims in America and around the world. Ramadan Kareem.
Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world reflect upon the wisdom and guidance that comes with faith, and the responsibility that human beings have to one another, and to God. This is a time when families gather, friends host iftars, and meals are shared. But Ramadan is also a time of intense devotion and reflection — a time when Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night; when Muslims provide support to others to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere. For all of us must remember that the world we want to build — and the changes that we want to make — must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities.
These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings. Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity and racial equality. And here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.
It was good to have met new people at the reception, and it was heartening to touch base once more with old friends from the embassy’s Public Affairs Office (the good people who helped me prepare for my trip to the U.S. last January). I do hope to be involved with them again in future events.