| Hugh Fitzgerald: No, Thomas Jefferson did not host the first Ramadan iftar dinner at the White House
| Friday, May 18, 2018
Jihad Watch : “America’s First Ramadan Break-Fast Was Hosted by Thomas Jefferson,” says Atlas Oscura,
a site that says “our mission is to inspire wonder and curiosity about
the incredible world we all share.” The article yesterday by Natasha
Frost attempts to suggest that the “tradition” of the Iftar Dinner goes
all the way back to Thomas Jefferson who, as is well known, was asked by
a visiting Muslim envoy of the Bey of Tunis, one Sidi Soliman
Mellimelli, to postpone the dinner to which Jefferson had invited him,
along with others, until after sundown, which Jefferson, as a matter of
courtesy, did.Frost states:
Observing this holy month and its daily
fasts in such a foreign environment must have been a challenge.
Newspaper commentators at the time thought of him contemptuously,
variously “depicting him as a sex-crazed barbarian, or associating Islam
with licentiousness,” writes Jason Zeledon. But in Thomas Jefferson, he
had an unexpected ally. Despite facing criticism for his hospitality
from Federalists in Connecticut and Vermont, Jefferson looked after his
Muslim visitor graciously, going so far as to rearrange a dinner party
around Mellimelli’s fast. In doing so, America’s third president became
the country’s first ever host of an iftar meal.
What actually happened is clear for those without an insensate need
to make Islam, as Barack Obama repeatedly claimed it was, “always part
of America’s story.” Jefferson was not putting on an Iftar dinner. A
little history will help: Mellimelli came to Washington as the envoy of
the Bey of Tunis. The Americans had blockaded the port of Tunis in order
to force the Bey to halt his attacks on American shipping. Mellimelli
was sent to make an agreement that would end the blockade.
Jefferson to a dinner at the White House set for 3:30 (dinners were
earlier in those pre-Edison days of our existence), he requested that it
be held after sundown, in accordance with his Muslim practice, and
Jefferson, a courteous man, obliged him. There is no hint that the
dinner had changed in any way; no one then called it, or thought of it,
as an “Iftar dinner.”
Mellimelli himself did not describe it as an
“Iftar dinner.” There is no record of it being anything other than the
exact same dinner, the same menu, with wine (no removal of alcohol, as
would have been necessary had it been a real Iftar dinner), the only
change being that of the three-hour delay until sunset.
Read it all here................
|posted by D Swami Gwekanandam @ 8:13 AM