Today is the first day of the Islamic month of Ramadan, a time of fasting, prayer, and charity in Muslim communities around the world. It brings with it a sense of new beginning, of promise and possibility, of re-examination and renewal. I have made many Muslim friends here in New Zealand, and I wish them all the best at this special time of year.
Secretary Clinton has remarked that “Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and sharing. American Muslims make valuable contributions to our country every day, and millions will honor this month with acts of service and giving back to their communities.” The same is true here in New Zealand. I know that service, sharing, and personal reflection will be the focus this month for the more than 40,000 Muslims who call Aotearoa home.
Each evening during Ramadan, families gather at sunset for a fast-breaking meal called the Iftar. In many places Iftars take the form of large banquets or festivals. A couple weeks from now I very much look forward to attending my first Iftar in New Zealand, hosted by The Pearl of the Islands Foundation.
For today, August 1, I am pleased to wish all my Muslim friends here and elsewhere Ramadan Kareem.