Syed Raza is a senior at Mercy Islamic School in Oklahoma City. He is 16-years old. He will be enrolling at the University of Oklahoma this fall, and he has already attained at least 36 hours of college credit due to the advanced placement classes that he has taken while in high school.

He reports that he speaks Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, and Spanish in addition to his unaccented English . He intends to be a physician and says that he has chosen that field in part because his Islamic faith requires that he help and serve others.

On weekends and after school he works at a restaurant and store operated by his father , Sayed Hazan, who is an immigrant from Pakistan And Raza’s dedication and accomplishments are not unique among the Muslim youth in the State of Oklahoma. At gatherings of young people of that faith in Oklahoma City one hears talk of GRE preparation, and medical and graduate business school applications.

Like Syed Raza, many young Muslims are the children of immigrants who have come to Oklahoma and now operate small businesses. National statistics indicate that both Muslim men and women in the U.S. have higher levels of education and income that most of their fellow Americans and it would seem that that is the case in Oklahoma as well.

In accordance with the one of the major requirements of Islam that mandates that one assist the less fortunate, Muslims of various ages and ethnicities in the Oklahoma City area have volunteered at local food banks and homeless shelters and provided assistance to those whose homes were destroyed in the Moore tornado last year.

Every Friday afternoon Muslims gather in the mosque that is located on St. Clair Street adjacent to the 39th Street Expressway in Oklahoma City where they hear a sermon delivered by Imam Dr. Imad Enchassi.

The Imam is a gifted speaker and he often tells the attendees of their duty to be involved in the lives of their children, their obligation to help the less fortunate , and their need to forgive those who have hurt or offended them. Enchassi’s homilies are filled with references to Moses, Abraham, and other Old Testament prophets and he often takes events and occurrences from the Old Testament to make a point relevant to current day life. Much of his presentation could be made in any church or synagogue in the Oklahoma City area.

It is for those reasons that U.S. Sen. James Inhofe’s recent statement (see here) that he hears from his constituents that they believe that President Obama is encouraging Islamic values and denigrating Christian values is so perplexing. One wonders what Oklahomans have been telling him that. Certainly not Oklahomans who have had dealing with Muslims.

It would seem that the values expressed through the lives of most of Oklahoma’s Muslims are in accordance with the Judeo-Christian’s precepts and ethics. In fact, most adherents to the Islamic faith in the state share the social conservatism of the majority of their fellow Oklahomans. There is a small minority of Christians in the state who insist that Obama is secretly a Muslim, despite the fact that he has attended Christian services throughout much of his life. It is probably from those misguided people that Sen. Inhofe receives those messages.