Pentagon Observes Muslim Holy Month

Sara A. Carter, Washington Times, October 3, 2007

Navy imam Chaplain Abuhena M. Saifulislam lifted his voice to God as he called to prayer more than 100 Department of Defense employees Monday at a celebration of Ramadan at the Pentagon.

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Uniformed military personnel, civilians and family members faced Mecca and knelt on adorned prayer rugs chanting their prayers in quiet invocation to Allah.

“We do all we can to help meet the religious needs of our soldiers,” said Deputy Pentagon Chaplain Army Maj. Alan Pomaville, a Christian, who attended the iftar alongside the Muslim chaplains. “The leadership in the [Defense Department] wants to care for the body of the whole soldier.”

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“President and Mrs. Bush host an iftar dinner every year because they want people around the world to know how much they respect Islam and the many Muslims living in the U.S. who are free to worship as they want, and are an integral part of our society,” said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

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Defense officials could not readily provide current estimates on the number of Muslim service members, but said the department works diligently to provide spiritual counseling and guidance to service members of all faiths.

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The first Muslim U.S. congressman—Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat—also attended the iftar, along with Imam Sheik Rashid Lamptey, executive director of the Muslim Association of Virginia. Sheik Lamptey also served as the deputy imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Virginia.

As the night’s festivities concluded, Col. Oldenburg presented Sheik Lamptey with an American flag that flew over the Pentagon on Sept. 7.

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