Islamic Relief USA Thanks Members of Congress, and Vice Versa, During Ramadan Ceremony
An evening of empowerment
Islamic Relief USA held its 10th annual Capitol Hill Ramadan Welcoming ceremony Monday evening, April 12.
Brother Anwar Khan, president of the organization, wished the participants Ramadan Mubarak. The holy month of fasting officially started for many Muslims on April 13.
Khan said the month is about so much more than abstaining from water and food.
“We will be fasting from some of the habits that are not the best habits,” he said.
Muslims are encouraged to be nicer, donate more to help people in need, and feed those who have little access to food.
“Ramadan is like a boot camp for Muslims,” he said. Their actions help all of society, show more mercy to others.
While the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was a difficult chapter in American history that threatened our foundation of federal government, Khan praised the work of members of Congress for passing impactful legislation in the “same building.” They included legislation that provided financial help for those who lost their jobs or fell behind on their house payment, as well as curbing child poverty.
“This is God’s work if we can reduce child poverty,” he said.
Pointing out that this is the second consecutive year IRUSA has had to hold a Ramadan event for U.S. Capitol members virtually, Khan said he hopes in-person events resume next year.
“We miss you. We look forward to seeing you again, and being together,” he said. “We have hope for the future. May the peace and blessings of God be with you.”
The work continues
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) sent a video message, wishing that the month provides tranquility and spiritual enlightenment.
She thanked Islamic Relief for all its food security and anti-poverty projects, especially in her 13th Congressional District, which she said is the third poorest in the nation.
Sharif Aly, the organization’s chief executive officer, said the Ramadan is a time to “recharge, reconnect, and to reflect on the past year.”
He noted the amount of suffering many of our friends, family members, community members who witnessed since the start of the pandemic.
Millions of people have lost jobs, as well experience food insecurity and mental health challenges.
Islamic Relief USA, he said, is trying to alleviate the suffering, providing food, clean water, and hygiene kits in some 38 countries.
In the United States alone, it has administered $5 million worth of programming through the help of 247 partner organizations, helping some 607,638 people in 145 cities.
IRUSA has also worked with FEMA to provide 30,000 water containers.
“This is the kind of work that Muslim communities are capable of doing.”
Christina Tobias-Nahi, director of public affairs, said while the on-the-ground work is essential, just as crucial is the advocacy involved in generating support from lawmakers, coalition partners, federal agencies.
Through this support, she said the groups can tackle even larger problems and issues, such as climate and gender justice.
Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indiana) said the work of all Muslims must be recognized. Too often, he said, people often overlook the history of indigenous and African-American Muslims.
“So, we’re here to wave that flag.”
While this is the second Ramadan taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic, “it hasn’t changed the unity we share.”
He credited IRUSA with the services to the most vulnerable populations, here and internationally.
“We all have to work together for the common good,” he said. “Islamic Relief has taken that lesson to heart.”
Carson said lawmakers must engage with Muslims, since they’re making up a larger portion of constituencies. Many Muslims work in hospitals, courthouses, their own businesses, or in city government.
“This community is critically important as we talk about jobs, about infrastructure,” Carson said. “You’re talking about engaging with society.”
He added the Muslim community’s cooperation with law enforcement has prevented future attacks.
“We’ve been able to do great things, thanks to the grace of God.”
Dr. Nancy Khalil, who recently announced her retirement from the Islamic Relief USA Board of Directors, said she appreciates the support various members of Congress have provided to the organization. She also praised the workers within it.
“You all embraced the ethos of Ramadan,” she said. “May your work continue to be blessed.”