ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: In a video message posted on the White House website President Obama extends his “best wishes” to Muslim communities in the US and around the world for Ramadan.
“Today I want to wish Muslims across America and around the world a blessed month as you welcome the beginning of Ramadan, may God’s peace may be upon you.”
Obama said that he knows this is a “festive time” but also a time of “intense devotion and reflection” when Muslims fast during the day and perform Tarwih prayers at night, reciting and listening to the entire Koran over the course of the month.
These rituals remind us, the President says, of the principles that different faiths have in common.
“Fasting is a concept shared by many faiths, including my own Christian faith, as a way to bring people closer to God. And to those among us who cannot take their next meal for granted.”
The White House says the President’s message is part of an “on-going dialogue” with Muslim communities – starting with this inauguration day, his statement on Nowruz, during trips to Ankara and Cairo, and with interviews with media outlets such as Al Arabiya and Dawn TV.
“At this time of renewal, I want to reiterate my commitment to a new beginning between America and Muslims around the world,” Obama repeated in his message.
The new beginning, he said, must be one of sustained effort to listen, learn, respect and seek common ground.
“I believe an important part of this is listening. And the last two months American embassies have reached out not just to government but directly to people in Muslim majority countries. And from around the world and we have received an outpouring of feedback about how America can be a partner on behalf of people’s aspirations. We have listened.”
The President said they will focus and team up on the areas that make the most difference in people’s lives – on education, jobs and increasing collaboration on science and technology.
“We’re also moving forward with the OIC member states to eradicate polio and working with the international community to confront the common health challenges like H1N1 which I know is particular concern to many Muslims preparing for the hajj.”
Citing the broader “challenging times” for the world – the President reaffirmed his commitment to the problems beyond just America’s borders – as a way to make a build a peaceful and secure world
“That’s why we’re responsibly ending the war in Iraq. That’s why we’re isolating violent extremists while empowering people in the places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. And that is why we strongly and actively support a two-state solution that recognizes the right of Israel and Palestinians to live in peace and security.”