Sidi Soliman Mellimelli installed himself for six months at a Washington hotel, for which the American government apparently picked up the tab. And as to that request for “concubines,” apparently Jefferson asked the Secretary of State, James Madison, to attend to the matter. (…)
During the six solar months Mellimelli was here, the lunar month of Ramadan occurred. And as it happens, during that Ramadan observed by Mellimelli, but naturally unobserved, hardly noticed, by the Americans, President Jefferson invited Sidi Soliman Mellimelli for dinner at the White House. He probably during that six-month period had done it more than once.
Mellimelli replied that he could not come at the appointed hour of three thirty in the afternoon (our ancestors rose much earlier, and ate much earlier, and went to bed much earlier, in the pre-Edison days of their existence). That time fell, for him, but not for Thomas Jefferson or anyone else in the United States of America, during the fasting period of the month of Ramadan. He replied that he could not come at the hour set, that is, at half-past three, but only after sundown.
Jefferson, a courteous man, simply moved the dinner forward by a few hours. He didn’t change the menu, he didn’t change anything else. And moving the dinner forward by a few hours hardly turns that dinner into a soi-disant “Iftar Dinner.”