A local imam discussed the misconceptions of Islam Thursday night in the Oklahoma Memorial Union to a small audience of about 30 students.
Imad Enchassi, professor of Islamic Studies at Oklahoma City University, informed the audience with basic teaching and facts of Islam, starting with the fact that Muslims are not violent people.
Fighting is only allowed in situations of self defense and to combat persecution and oppression, Enchassi said.
“The word ‘peace’ is encompassed all around (Islam),” he said. “Islam promotes peace between nations based on justice and self respect.”
Bouncing off the first misconception, Enchassi said Muslims do not fight their enemies for the sake of their religion. The word “Jihad” means to strive and exert oneself, he said, not Holy War.
“When you go to college or work every single day, you are actually performing Jihad,” Enchassi said. “When my daughter tells me ‘I made a C-minus [in school] I tell her to exert some Jihad.”
Enchassi also addressed typical stereotypes given to Muslims by outsiders, including associating all Muslims with responsibility Twin Towers bombings on Sept. 11, 2001.
He said those comments are due to a lack of knowledge and understanding, and he actually made jokes in light of that stereotype in particular.
“I’m not responsible for 9-11,” he said. “7-11 maybe,” he joked, referring to the popular gas station.
Enchassi dished out other facts, including that the prophet Muhammad could not read or write and that African American is the most Muslim-populated race in the U.S.
But for Samir Elneser, a former OU student and former member of the OU Muslim Student Association, the most eye-opening segment of Enchassi’s lecture was his speech about how women are treated in Muslim culture.
“In Muslim culture, men have to treat their wives according the expectations of the wife,” he said. “I’m glad that he pointed that out.”
Enchassi was grateful students took time out of their schedules to watch his lecture and he hopes this will make attendees look at the religion in a more positive light, he said.
“I would always like for people to actually go out and meet a Muslim,” he said. “Once you get to know a Muslim… on a personal level, all these huge walls of misunderstanding and fear will collapse.