Muslims end fast with bitter and sweet

Miami Herald Editorial Board

In this 2011 file photo, Hyder Huzri waits as his father and others pray during Ramadan at the Islamic Center of Greater Miami.
In this 2011 file photo, Hyder Huzri waits as his father and others pray during Ramadan at the Islamic Center of Greater Miami. Getty Images

For Muslims worldwide, today marks the end of a month of spiritual reflection, of public service, of prayer, of fasting each day from sunup to sundown.

And from the 30 days of sacrifice during Ramadan come many lasting rewards: a greater sense of religious clarity, gratitude, empathy, self-discipline. Allah is magnified, the people are humble.

In South Florida, those rewards benefited people far beyond just the believers, including interfaith dinners open to all. Like others, Islam is a religion of sharing, goodwill and good works.

We wish the faithful a bountiful Eid al-Fitr. The holy month will close with renewed faith and feasting that will end the 30 days of fasting, the naans and kebabs and biryanis and dumplings and, of course, the honeyed desserts.

All this, however, comes at a time when those sweet delicacies will leave a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Muslim Americans across the country will observe the end of Ramadan amid an atmosphere of suspicion — and outright hostility — from too many of their fellow Americans.

And it’s most unfortunate that much of that attitude emanates from the top, the Oval Office.

As reported by The New York Times, President Trump last week hosted an iftar dinner, the meal that breaks each day’s fast during Ramadan. This iftar was Trump’s first; he didn’t host one last year. The dinner is a tradition started by Hillary Clinton in 1996, when she was first lady, and continued through the Obama administration.

Credit the president for resuming the event. But as is Trump’s self-centered habit, it was all about him. The invitees featured “a who’s who of diplomats from the Middle East,” representing countries who have leaders with whom he wants a cozier relationship.

However, not one representative from any Muslim American organization in this country was at the dinner. They were shut out, which is shameful. Unfortunately, it is neither a surprise nor a shock. Rather, it likely was a deliberate rebuff to a group of people that Trump has unjustly vilified every bit as much as he has Hispanic immigrants and kneeling African-American football players.

It is impossible to decouple the president’s graceless language — “I think Islam hates us” — and FBI statistics showing hate crimes targeting Muslims rose by almost 20 percent in 2017 over the preceding year. And who can forget his harsh words for the Muslim parents whose son died fighting America’s war in Iraq?

Last week’s iftar was not just a snub of Muslim Americans, but another shameful slap in the face to a diverse and contributing group of Americans who deserve far better from this nation’s leader.