- Festivities included speeches and a reading of Rumi’s “The Promise” by Pakistani American singer and recent Grammy winner Arooj Aftab.
Several prominent South Asian Americans attended the Eid al-Fitr celebration hosted by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at the White House on May 2.
Pakistani American singer and recent Grammy winner Arooj Aftab read “The Promise” by Rumi, a 13th-century Sufi mystic and poet. “Posting the moment to Instagram, Aftab jokingly captioned, “I am the president now.”
The Brooklyn, New York-based Aftab won a Grammy in the Best Global Music Performance category for her song “Mohabbat.” The 36-year-old who became the first Pakistani woman to win a Grammy was also nominated in the Best New Artist category but lost to singer-songwriter and actress Olivia Rodrigo.
Guests at the End celebration included Cambridge, Massachusetts Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and New Jersey Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer, among others.
Siddiqui is currently serving her second term as mayor, and third on the Cambridge City Council. “Thanks President Joe Biden for inviting me to celebrate Eid at the White House today,” she wrote on her social media handles on May 2.
Jaffer, an educator and activist, recently completed two terms as mayor of Montgomery Township, New Jersey. In January of 2019, she became the first South Asian woman to serve as mayor of a municipality in New Jersey, and the first Muslim woman to serve as mayor of a municipality in the United States.
In his speech, Biden noted that last year’s Eid event had to be held virtually because of the pandemic. “This year, thanks to the progress we’ve made fighting the pandemic, we can fully honor my promise,” he told the gathering. “And it’s in no small part thanks to the courage and commitment of many Muslim frontline workers and first responders — many of them.”
He lauded “the incredible stories of the indispensable contributions of Muslims all across this great nation,” and described Muslim Americans as “a diverse and vibrant part of the United States, making invaluable cultural and economic contributions to communities all across the nation.”
He concluded by saying that he’s “proud to serve this community” and is “humbled by all the amazing accomplishments reflected in this room in front of me. And I’m grateful to have this opportunity to join together today to renew our common commitment to shared values,” he said. “Our differences should not be obstacles that divide us but opportunities to learn from one another,” he noted.