The Oklahoma State University Emeriti Association hosted a night of religious tolerance discussion Monday at the Conoco Phillips Alumni Association.
The night started with dinner and a normal emeriti business meeting, and was followed by presentations and a question and answer section with three distinguished guests.
The speakers were Charles Kimball, who is the director of the religous studies program at the University of Oklahoma, Imam Imad Enchassi, who serves as a chaplain at Oklahoma City University, and William Tabbernee, who is the executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches.
All three speakers spoke to what they referred to as a great problem in American culture, and that is the ignorance toward Islam and Muslim people.
Kimball started the lectures by ackowledging the progress made in Jewish/ Christian relations in the past 50 years, and how they now need to start making strides in mending relationships with the Muslim people.
He laid out two essential areas the U.S needs to focus on to make that change.
Education and intentional inter-faith dialogue.
“Our ignorance of Islam is so deep we keep making these assumptions that all Muslims are the same as these extreme factions,” Enchassi said.
Enchassi was next and he started by talking about his child hood growing up in a refugee camp in Lebanon.
He then went on to tell the story of Genesis, in which Abraham fathered two different sons, Ishmael and Isaac, from two different women.
He then stated how Muslims are historically brothers from anoher mother to Christians in that Islam can be traced back to Ishmael and Christianity back to Isaac.
He continued by listing off the similarities between Islam and Christianity.
“As a Muslim I believe in the virgin birth, I believe in the resurrection and second coming of the Messiah Jesus,” Enchassi said.
Enchassi went on to tell a story of how a photo of him holding a sign saying ‘Isis doesn’t represent me’ was seen all over the world and he him self has received threats from Isis.
“As we here at home are trying to explain our faith, for the firsst time ever my mom had to install a metal gate in front of her house,” he said.
He then jokingly desribed the everyday struggles he faces.
“At the airport I’m still treated as a VIP…that of course stands for very islamic person,” Enchassi said.
Tabbernee finished the presentations by bringing the problem home with stories of ignorance he sees on a daily basis.
“We have a problem. The problem is the ignorance of people who hijack Christianity for their own needs in the same way Isis hijacks Islam for its own needs,” Enchassi said.