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News Code: 690


Islam Shaped US Character: Obama

"As the Qur’an teaches, whoever does an atom's weight of good will sees its results," Obama said in remarks before the iftar and cited by The Hill congressional newspaper. 

"Muslim Americans and their good works have helped to build our nation, and we've seen the results," he added. 

Obama, who has hosted five Iftar dinners, said that these events celebrate diversity that defines the country. 

Ramadan is “a time of reflection, a chance to demonstrate ones devotion to God through prayer and through fasting, but it’s also a time for family and friends to come together”, he said addressing the gathering. 

The US president added that Islam has contributed to the character of America. 

“Throughout our history, Islam has contributed to the character of our country, and Muslim-Americans, and their good works, have helped to build our nation – and we’ve seen the results,” he said according to a White House pool report. 

“We’ve seen those results in generations of Muslim immigrants – farmers and factory workers, helping to lay the railroads and build our cities,” he said. 

The White House iftar is a tradition that began annually under President Clinton and was continued by President George W. Bush. 

The invited guests include elected officials, religious and grassroots leaders in the Muslim American community, and leaders of diverse faiths and members of the diplomatic corps. 

Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar. 

In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset. 

Most dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through self-restraint, good deeds and prayer. 

Obama has urged American Muslims to contribute in building better economic ties with the Middle East, focused on entrepreneurship during much of his speech. 

“Every day, Muslim Americans are helping to shape the way that we think and the way that we work and the way that we do business," he said. 

"And that’s the spirit that we celebrate tonight -- the dreamers, the creators whose ideas are pioneering new industries, creating new jobs and unleashing new opportunities for all of us.” 

Obama recognized three entrepreneurs, including Shazi Visram, the founder and chief executive of Happy Family Organic Superfoods, Aunim Hossain, chief executive of Tista Games, and Iya Khalil, who co-founded GNS Healthcare, a biotech research company. 

“So Shazi, Aunim, Iya, and so many of you who have travelled here tonight -- each of you have travelled your own path, but each of you have also lived out an American story. 

“And of course, this isn’t just the American Dream; it’s the aspiration of people around the world. It’s the basic human desire for progress, to find dignity that comes from work, to give our children something better.” 

The United States is home to from 6-7 million Muslims.