On June 18th, Rumi Forum in partnership with the Turkic American Alliance hosted their annual Signature Ramadan Dinner with over 100 guests in attendance in celebration of the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

The annual joint dinner has become a tradition for both organizations bringing many guests from various parts of the community together. Those in attendance were government officials, diplomats, academics, media, civil society, community leaders, clerics and many more.

It was a full house at TAA’s headquarters in Washington D.C, where guests heard from several different speakers throughout the evening. President of the Turkic American Alliance, Faruk Taban began the event by welcoming the community to the first dinner of Ramadan, followed by Rabbi Jack Moline (Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance) who joined the event as the keynote speaker, emphasizing the role these dinners play in promoting mutual understanding and love and peace within the community. He later asked the audience to join with him in a moment of silence for the victims of the horrific Charleston, South Carolina shootings that occurred just two days prior to the dinner. This became the underlying topic of concern throughout the evenings guest speakers who asked for prayers for the families and loved ones of the victims and wishing the community of Charleston the utmost strength in these difficult times.

Kareen Shora (Advisory Council for the Department of Homeland Security), took the opportunity to thank both organizations for their tireless efforts to build bridges and noted that the DHS was committed to working with the communities across the nation to enable it to serve the public better.

Dalia Mogahed, former adviser to President Obama and current Director of Research at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding, also took the stage and talked about the importance of Ramadan with respect to being an exercise of impulse control and self-restraint.

President of the Rumi Forum, Emre Celik concluded the event saying that the Hizmet movement has brought a deep love to the deep south (quoting an Alabama woman), remarking that peace and harmony can be achieved and events such as the South Carolina tragedy avoided through the continued efforts of communities to provide education and intercultural/interfaith communication.

Guests were then served served a traditional Turkish meal to break fast and afterwards enjoyed Turkish coffee, traditional Turkish apple tea, and baklava. A short clip from the documentary Love is a Verb; an examination of a social movement of Sufi inspired Sunni Muslims that began in Turkey in the 1960s and now reaches across the globe, was shown to the audience.

The Rumi Forum would like to thank all of the guests, speakers and the Turkic American Alliance for attending and supporting this event.