President  |  Vice President  |  First Lady  |  Mrs. Cheney  |  News & Policies 
History & ToursKids  |  Your Government  |  Appointments  |  JobsContactGraphic version

Email Updates  |  Español  |  Accessibility  |  Search  |  Privacy Policy  |  Help

Email this page to a friend

Over the phone, we asked Ali some questions about Ramadan and Iftaar from the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. The following is the transcript.

Ali Tulbah served as the Chief of Staff for the Council for International Coordination at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. Ali is a Muslim-American who was raised in Houston, Texas.

What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a month in the Islamic calendar that has been specifically designated for greater religious adherence and reflection. People are most familiar with the fasting that takes place during the month. And that is certainly an important aspect of it. Just as important is greater religious adherence and greater goodwill towards other men and women.

Why do you fast?
It is an example set by prophet Muhammad and an obligation commuted upon by all observant Muslims. The meaning behind it is to strengthen one's self-discipline as well as remind people of the experience of those less fortunate than themselves.

Before sunrise you have a meal called "Sahoor." From dawn to sunset one is to abstain from eating food and drinking water.

At sunset you break your fast traditionally with a date and water. You pray and then you have a full meal, called "Iftaar," and it starts all over again the next morning.

When did Ramadan start this year?
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and so in a geographic area Ramadan does not start until the new moon is officially sighted. Different places have different visibility so it could vary a day or so. It started here in Iraq yesterday (October 27).

Tell me about Iftaar?
The Iftaar is the evening meal that breaks the fast. It is usually a time of congregating with friends and family - inviting folks to your house or going over to someone else's house. It is a time of increased friendship and brotherhood.

The meals vary - anything goes.

We stop and remember our friends. You receive a lot of invitations from people you haven't seen in a long time. It revives the feeling of spirit in the Muslim community. It brings people together.

What is the mood in Iraq during this Ramadan?
Well, people are spending more time with their families. You can walk right outside now and hear all the voices of the imams coming from the mosques. You can hear the call to prayer and the verses of the Koran coming from all around Baghdad - it is very beautiful.

There are many Muslims that work here at the CPA. Ambassador Bremer has circulated information for those people who aren't Muslim that helps enlighten them about its specific meaning and be sensitive to those Muslims who will be fasting during this month.

Tell me about your experience in Iraq?
It is difficult to meet somebody and talk to them and not feel very warmly toward them.

It is humbling because they immediately refer to you as brother and consider you part of the family. There is an immediate bonding. The people that I've talked to are very warm, loving and receptive. It doesn't matter if you are talking to a government official, the young guy who cuts my hair, or the old man who operates the coffee shop I went to the other day - they are saying the same thing - words of great welcome, great affection and brotherhood, gratitude and a hope for a future relationship.

Just the other day I went into a restaurant I'd been in only once before, three months ago - and they greeted me by name. I've made some great friends here over the last five months - friends I hope I will stay in touch with over time.

Email this page to a friend

Issues In Focus

More Issues more issues

  |   News Current News Press Briefings Proclamations   |   Executive Orders   |   Radio   |   Appointments   |   Nominations Application   |   Offices   |   Freedom Corps   |   Faith-Based & Community   |   OMB   |   More Offices   |   Major Speeches   |   Iraq Transition   |   State of the Union   |   Saddam Capture   |   UN Address   |   National Address   |   Iraqi Freedom   |   National Address