CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab Delivered the Keynote address at the annual Islamic Foundation Iftar held at the Mosque’s banquet hall in Villa Park, IL.
The event was attended by hundreds of Muslims and friends and neighbors of other faith backgrounds from the surrounding churces, temples, and institutions. A number of public officials were also in attendance. This was one of the best attended iftars and most diverse to date.
Rehab reflected on 9/11 – this being its 8th anniversary – and the challenges set before the American Muslim community since that fateful day that educators and activists have since risen to meet. He spoke of the event as doubly tragic for American Muslims since it was an attack on not just their nation, but their faith. Of the anti-Muslim backlash, Rehab said that it was a very dark cloud with a thin silver lining in the form of a wake up call for American Muslims to organize, mobilize, and be a more active part of the civic and democratic institutions of the US, not just to protect themselves, but to contribute their voices, and be better known outside of reactionary frames.
Rehab spoke about Ramadan as well and the meaning behind the ritual of the fast stressing that to understand Islam is to understand the spirit behind the act. Rehab stressed that for Muslims, fasting teaches the soul self-restraint, empathy for the poor, and gratitude to God for the simplest yet greatest of his blessings.