Iftar meals in the United States and Canada are often held at mosques, households, and Islamic community centres. An annual Iftar dinner is held at the White House and hosted by the U.S. President and the First Lady to celebrate the Muslim month of Ramadan. On 9 December 1805, President Thomas Jefferson postponed dinner at the White House until sunset to accommodate an envoy from Tunis, an event considered by many to be the first White House iftar. Since 1996, the United States Department of State has held an annual iftar dinner for local and national community leaders and faith groups as well as foreign policy officials.
Iftar (Arabic:’breakfast’) is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. For Sunnis, the fast can be broken at the time of the call to prayer for the evening prayer; for Shias, it is only after the evening prayer.
Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. Iftar is taken right after Maghrib time, which is around sunset. Traditionally but not mandatory, three dates are eaten to break the fast in emulation of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, who broke his fast in this manner. Many Muslims believe that feeding someone iftar as a form of charity is very rewarding and that such was practised by the Prophet Muhammad.