President Obama issued a statement marking the Islamic month of Ramadan, which begins at sundown:
As the new crescent moon brings in the holy month of Ramadan, Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those observing the month of fasting in the United States and around the world.
Ramadan is a time in which families and communities come together for iftars and prayers in festive gatherings that demonstrate the rich and diverse traditions of Muslim societies and cultures.
It is also a deeply spiritual time of reflection and renewal meant to increase thankfulness and consciousness of God’s mercy. Muslims honor each day of Ramadan as a day of patient endurance through fasting, and each night as a night of gratitude through prayers. It is a time to reinforce faith, compassion and forgiveness, and perseverance through adversity. In this month of giving, Muslims around the globe reach out to assist those afflicted by conflict, hunger, poverty and disease. And here in the United States, American Muslims join their fellow citizens to serve the less fortunate, hosting inter-faith activities that build understanding and remind us that we stand together as one American family. The diversity and patriotism of America’s religious communities give strength to all of us, and our freedom to worship reminds us of the values we share.
I once again look forward to welcoming American Muslims to the White House for our annual White House iftar dinner to honor the month of Ramadan and recognize the service of American Muslims from across the country. From my family to yours, Ramadan Kareem.
During the month, Muslims abstain from food or beverages from sun-up to sundown. The iftar dinner breaks the daily fast.
The Institute for the Study of War warned earlier this month that ISIS has staged offensives the past three Ramadans.
“ISIS can also be expected to commemorate its declaration of a Caliphate on the first full day of Ramadan 2014 by trying to build upon or surpass its declaration of the caliphate last year. ISIS could do so by accomplishing new military objectives, striking religious targets, or announcing a new political milestone. Regardless, ISIS is likely to begin and end Ramadan with attempted spectacular military offensive actions in Iraq and Syria.”
The one-year anniversary of the caliphate is June 29.
UPDATE: Secretary of State John Kerry chimes in with his Ramadan wishes:
Ramadan is a season for heightened reflection, worship, compassion, and community. For Muslims everywhere, this special month provides spiritual nourishment and reinforces appreciation for the universal value — and values — of humanity. It is also a time to reflect on awareness of the responsibility of people of all faiths to help those in need, including those stricken by poverty and the victims of conflict in such countries as Burma, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Ramadan underscores the beauty in community — one that eats, prays and works together – and that answers the sacred call that we desire for others what we desire for ourselves.
Along with many of our embassies around the world, the Department of State will once again host a celebration in honor of Ramadan. In the months to come, we will remain in constant dialogue with the governments of Muslim-majority countries and with Muslim communities at home and abroad. One of the great strengths of our nation is the diversity both of its citizens and of its overseas partners; and one of the core elements of our diplomacy is our desire to communicate clearly with others in support of the fundamental rights and dignity of every human being.