Muslim Members of Congress Host Historic Congressional Iftar

Reps. Carson, Omar & Tlaib Celebrate Ramadan with Congressional Leadership in the Capitol Building

WASHINGTON, DC — On Monday, May 20th, Muslim Advocates hosted a historic iftar celebration at the U.S. Capitol building along with honorary co-chairs Representatives André Carson, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. This is the first ever iftar, a meal that takes place at sunset and marks the end of a daily fast during Ramadan, to be hosted by three Muslim members of Congress and attended by congressional leadership.

The iftar included remarks from House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera and Muslim Wellness Foundation President Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad. The evening was moderated by award-winning journalist Amna Nawaz. Among the more than 100 attendees were Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Mayor Sadaf Jaffer of Montgomery Township in New Jersey. Imam W. Deen Shareef also recited the call to prayer. Imam Shareef serves as Imam at Masjid Waarith ud Deen in Irvington, New Jersey and is the convener of the Council of Imams in New Jersey. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was scheduled to attend but could not.

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Click here for license-free video of the event.

Quotes from the co-chairs and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the Congressional Iftar:

Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said, “We are honored to host the first-ever iftar with Muslim members of Congress and congressional leadership. Ramadan is a time for not only spiritual renewal, but a time to open doors to friends, neighbors and anyone who wants to commune and reflect. This evening, at a time of unprecedented levels of anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes, together we showed that we will not be intimidated or cowed by those who wish to demonize and marginalize American Muslims. We will express our faith, our dignity and our commitment to caring for each other and our nation.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), stated, “The Holy Month of Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and joy, when millions of Muslim families gather with friends and neighbors to reaffirm their faith and celebrate their proud traditions. As we come together to give thanks for the blessing of this sacred season, we celebrate the rich traditions and remarkable contributions that Muslim Americans bring to our communities, making America more American.”

Rep. André Carson (D-IN), said, “The 116th Congress has ushered in historic levels of diversity, and tonight’s similarly historic iftar, which I am honored to co-chair, is a prime example of the increased representation that Muslims are experiencing in the halls of Congress and all across America. Our work to secure greater visibility and respect is far from done, but tonight’s event is a step forward that should make Muslims and allies of the faith very proud. My thanks goes out to Reps. Omar and Tlaib for joining me in leading tonight’s iftar, and to Muslim Advocates for its ongoing and tireless work to uplift our community. Ramadam Kareem!”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), said, “This was a historic night. For the first time, three Muslim-American Members of Congress hosted an iftar in the United States Capitol during the holy month of Ramadan—joined by leaders of both Houses of Congress. It was a reminder that we are a nation founded on religious liberty, where people seeking opportunity and a better life can find it, regardless of their faith. And it demonstrated that Muslim-Americans are a vital part of the American fabric, worthy of representation at our highest levels of government. In the United States, our project in self-government should not be limited by religion, race or any of the other qualifiers that so often divide us. With action and effort, we can create a society where all people are truly free to practice their faith.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), added, “It’s important to take a moment to recognize how historic this iftar is. My existence, along with the other dynamic Muslim members of Congress go beyond the lines of our districts, our presence challenges the narrative of who’s at the table and who deserves to have a voice in our government. This event lifts an entire community that has felt unseen for far too long. We have been unjustly targeted to ignite fear and promote an agenda of hate. Tonight, we recommit to being rooted in justice, inclusivity, and a sense of belonging.”

Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.