The PJ Tatler

Obama on Eid: Pilgrimage to Mecca 'Reminiscent of Principle Upon Which This Country Is Built'

After a morning with Pope Francis at the White House, President Obama marked Eid al-Adha with a lengthy statement noting that “regardless of race, religion, and gender we are reminded that our rich diversity is what strengthens our nation.”

Eid al-Adha — the “Feast of the Sacrifice” — begins this evening.

“As more than 2 million Muslims from around the world and across the United States mark the end of their holy pilgrimage of Hajj in Mecca, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to Muslims around the world celebrating Eid al-Adha,” Obama said.

“This pilgrimage and Eid is about sacrifice, almsgiving, and equality. Thousands of Muslims around the world travel to Mecca and Medina, leaving behind all that is valuable and dressed in a simple white cloth – all standing shoulder-to-shoulder and equal before God. This experience signifies that no single person is more worthy than another. It is reminiscent of the principle upon which this country is built: e pluribus unum – out of many, one.”

Obama said the Islamic holiday “is also a time to give food, shelter and health services to those in need.”

“Muslim Americans have always joined with other faith communities and entities to assist those suffering from hunger and conflict here at home and abroad,” he said. “Once again, at a time of such desperate need, Muslim American organizations are among those at the forefront of attending to victims in this refugee crisis.”

“May the prayers for peace from those on pilgrimage as well as those of all beliefs be heard and answered. For all those celebrating, Eid Mubarak from my family to yours.”

Secretary of State John Kerry issued his own statement calling Eid al-Adha “a special time when Muslims pause to appreciate the importance of sacrifice and devotion.”

“It provides an opportunity for renewed spirituality, prayer, and reflection, and for families and friends to gather in celebration and thanks for the many blessings of God,” Kerry said. “But it is also a time for charity and for helping those who are less fortunate including the many adults and children forced to flee violence in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.”

“Eid reminds us all of our common humanity and of our obligation to help one another whenever and wherever we can. The true spirit of these holy days can be found in the efforts of people of all faiths who sacrifice to provide humanitarian relief and assistance to those who need it most.”

Obama marked Yom Kippur yesterday by noting “the Day of Atonement is a time for humility, reflection and repentance, a chance to be honest with ourselves and one another about our shortcomings.”

“Through our prayers and through our actions, as individuals and as a community, we can better bridge the realities of our world with the ideals and values we share,” he said.