Biden hosts Eid al-Fitr reception at White House
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted a reception to celebrate Eid Al Fitr on Monday afternoon in the East Room of the White House. The move brings back a tradition that Trump had halted.
Biden opened the ceremony by quoting the poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran, saying: “Your joy is sorrow unmasked. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Guests included Talib Shareef, president and imam of Masjid Muhammad, the Nation’s Mosque, in Washington; Pakistani vocalist and composer Arooj Aftab; Muslim-American congressman Andre Carson; and Madinah Wilson-Anton, state representative of Delaware and manager of academic affairs at the Biden Institute.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who tested positive for coronavirus last week, was absent, though she had been scheduled to attend with first gentleman Doug Emhoff, who attended the event alone.
Shareef opened with an invocation and then thanked the president for hosting the event.
“Being hosted here is an important statement for our nation and for the world, a statement that Islam is a welcomed part of our nation, as are all the other faith traditions, and that the highest office in this land is committed to our nation’s foundational values — and laws protecting religious freedom,” he said.
Former president Bill Clinton started the White House tradition of celebrating Eid, though this ended during Donald Trump’s administration.
“Eid Mubarak! Welcome to the White House,” Biden said during the event. “One of the promises that I made when I was running for office was restoring this celebration.”
Biden also jokingly compared fasting during Ramadan to his Catholic faith and observation of Lent, during which he had to “go 40 days” with “no sweets and no ice cream”.
“Through their fast, Muslims demonstrate empathy for the suffering of others, strengthening and renewing their resolve to give generously and make the world a better place,” said Biden.
“Muslims make our nation stronger every single day, even as they still face real challenges and threats in our society, including targeted violence and Islamophobia that exist — I mean, it’s just astounding.”
In addition to restoring the Eid White House tradition, Biden has also been working to follow through on his campaign promise of building an administration that values diversity and “looks like America”, nominating two Muslim Americans to the federal bench.