WASHINGTON, DC: Tributes were paid to Muslim women leaders from different eras and different parts of the world at the second annual Iftar party hosted by the US Institute of Peace on June 25.
Scores of diplomats, government officials, academics and community leaders attended the event, which was held at the organization’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom.
“From Malaysia to Egypt, Yemen to South Africa, I have witnessed firsthand…the power women have been able to tap into through their faith, and Islam is no exception,” Manal Omar, acting Vice President at USIP’s Center for Middle East and Africa, said, delivering keynote address. “The most powerful Muslim leaders have invested their faith and tradition as a source of influence to make change within their communities.”
Other prominent speakers who spoke at the event included Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indiana, and USIP President Nancy Lindborg. Carson, one of the two Muslim members of Congress, praised the “inspiring work” the USIP is doing to “make the world a better place.”
USIP is an independent organization established and funded by the US Congress to increase the country’s “capacity to manage international conflict without violence.” At the moment the organization is facilitating conversations, through its regional centers, advocating women’s rights and equality within the framework of Islamic constitutionalism in a number of Muslim countries.
Thursday’s Iftar event was sponsored by Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Foundation and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates.
“I firmly believe we need to build bridges of understanding and cooperation with other faiths,” Islam, an Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist, told The American Bazaar. “During the time of Ramadan — a deeply spiritual time of reflection and recommitment and a special time for giving, it is our chance not only to be grateful for all the blessings we have been allotted, but also it gives us an opportunity to give to those who are less fortunate.”
Islam, a longtime USIP donor, said his faith is one of the reasons he is involved with USIP. “Being a Muslim has taught me many things — but the most important is the whole purpose of religion is to provide justice and a path to justice for all of us,” he said. “My faith firmly believes in equality, dignity, respect, tolerance, justice and peace for other faiths.”
In keeping with the diversity of the guests’ list, the Iftar menu included food items from across the globe: from the Subcontinental vegetable pakora and potato samosas and Middle Eastern falafel to braised halal Moroccan chicken and roasted halal lamb loin.