I am pleased to send greetings to all of those celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the culmination of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan commemorates the revelation of God's word in the holy Koran to the prophet Mohammed a word that is read and recited with special attention and reverence during this season. In the past month, Muslims have fasted from food and water during daylight hours, in order to refocus their minds on faith and redirect their hearts toward charity.
Muslims worldwide have stretched out a hand of mercy and help to those most in need. Charity tables, at which the poor can break their fast, line the streets of cities and towns. And gifts of food, clothing, and money are distributed to ensure that all share in God's abundance. Muslims often invite members of other faiths to their festive meal at night, known as the iftar, demonstrating a spirit of tolerance.
During Eid al-Fitr, Muslims celebrate the completion of their fast and the blessings of renewed faith that have come with it. Customs vary between countries, from illuminating lanterns in Egypt, to lighting firecrackers in Pakistan, to inviting elders to traditional feasts in Niger. Around the world, families, neighbors, and friends gather to share traditional foods and congratulate each other on meeting the test of Ramadan.
The spirit behind this holiday reminds us that Islam brings hope and comfort to millions of people in my country, and to more than a billion people worldwide. Ramadan is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind.
Here in the United States, Muslims have made many contributions in business, science, law, medicine, education, and other fields. Muslim members of our Armed Forces, and of my Administration, are serving their fellow Americans with distinction, upholding our Nation's ideals of liberty and justice in a world at peace.
Laura joins me in sending our best wishes to Muslims across America, and throughout the world, for a joyous holiday. May the blessings you received during this Ramadan be with you in the year ahead.