Saad Mohammed was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up as a Methodist Christian. He spent six years in the Navy as an Aviation Electrician, He converted to Islam on Easter Sunday in 1996 and has a wife of twenty-two years and three sons. Mohammed is a founding and current board member of CAIR Oklahoma, as well as Director of Islamic Information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. Mohammed received the ‘Outstanding Muslim of the Year’ award for community service from the Governor’s Ethnic Advisory Council in 2009. Mohammed has also been an active member of the interfaith community having had served on the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma board from 2002 – 2010 and the Religions United committee from 2004 – 2010. Mohammed resides with his wife and their 3 children in Moore, Oklahoma.
Over the years you have been a pillar of the Oklahoma City interfaith community, what motivated you to get involved in interfaith work?
First off, my wife of 22 years, is Roman Catholic, therefore interfaith conversations have been a part of my personal life before I ever got involved in community outreach. Additionally, I wanted to teach people the truth about Islam and give the true picture of our religion through networking and being involved in the interfaith community. When the Muslim community of Oklahoma started growing, I felt the need to get involved beyond our own community and build bridges of interfaith understanding. It was March of 1998 that I joined the outreach committee of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (ISGOC). Imam Suhaib Webb, the spiritual leader at that time, encouraged me through his open house projects at the mosque, inviting our neighbors of other faiths to come and learn about Islam. In December of 2001, I was appointed Director if Islamic Information at ISGOC and I have been in this position ever since.
How does being involved in interfaith service and community outreach enhance your understanding of your own faith?
Before I lecture, or visit with a group, I get a chance to refresh my understanding and knowledge of my own faith. Every time I prepare to meet with an interfaith group or be a part of a discussion, I discover something new about my own faith I may not have known before. It also shines a brighter light upon my own faith my making me reflect on the teachings of my religion along with my daily practices. In addition, having the opportunity to listen to individuals of other faiths tell their stories and reflect on values that we have in common is an incredibly uplifting and rewarding experience.
Who have been some of the influential individuals in your life that have helped you grow spiritually, and personally and helped motivate your outreach efforts?
One of the most prominent influences in my daily life, is my close friend, and spiritual leader, Imam Imad Enchassi, whom I have known since 1998 when I first joined the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. Imam Enchassi and I have had the privilege of working together on almost a daily basis to continue to build interfaith bridges in the Oklahoma City community. Imam Enchassi’s example is a daily reminder for for myself, and many other Oklahomans, that hard work and dedication to what you believe in is the best example of your faith.
Another major influence would be my dear friend, the Reverend Jeff Hamilton. Rev. Hamilton and I served alongside each other on the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma, and in fact he is the one that asked me to join the organization in the first place. Rev. Hamilton taught me that no matter what faith you adhere to, be strong in your faith and that we all come together, not to try and convert one other, but to do our best to understand each other.
What is the overall message of your work that you would want individuals to remember?
I would have to say what we have been saying every since I converted to Islam: Islam is a religion of peace, not a religion of terrorism. Islam took a young, African American, lost soul from Brooklyn, New York, and transformed him into someone who lives life with a purposes and ambition. Islam taught me what peace is, how to love my fellow American, and how to better serve my country as an American Muslim. Islam made me a better American, a better husband to my wife, a better father to my children, and a better son to my mother. Without Islam I would not be the man I am today, and would have probably not have been blessed to be in the company of so many amazing and talented individuals that I have had the oppotunity to know if my lifetime.