Reflections on an Interfaith Jumah Prayer

by Lani Habrock, Government Affairs DirectorFeb 22, 2018

Gold and burgundy tapestries faded from thousands of prayers laid reverently on opposite sides of the second floor Capitol rotunda. Religious leaders and observers filtered in. Some sitting comfortably on the rugs, some timidly taking a seat on foldout chairs. Kufis sitting next to kippahs, black and white collars of clergy peeking out serenely next to vibrant hijabs; a mecca of Oklahoma’s spiritual titans coming together for one purpose. Peace.

For a small span of a Friday afternoon, we forgot Republican vs Democrat. We didn’t think about the wars that divide us. For a moment we were people remembering we are all just people. Standing together in prayer and solidarity we reflected on what it meant to be human; to help one another, to fight for each other. Our history books reminded each of us how we were once singled out for oppression and that discrimination against one is a threat to the freedom of all.

Different Texts, Same Message

The afternoon opened up with a diverse set of speakers including; Rev. Lori Walke of the Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ, Rev. Shannon Fleck of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and Dr. Carl Rubenstein representing Temple B’nai Israel.

The traditions and sacred texts of each speaker were different, but the message was the same. We are here for each other. We will not stand for discrimination. We will fill these halls of power with peace.

Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, echoed through the rotunda.

Imam Enchassi took to the podium and gave a moving message on Islam’s commitment to community despite often being portrayed in a negative light. He told of a man protesting Islam and spitting ugly slurs, only to be met with love and an invitation to get a much needed free health check-up at the Muslim Community Clinic- which ended up saving his life. He told of current discrimination in the House Chaplain program. How after being nominated to be Chaplain of the Day and denied by a House vote set into motion a discriminatory policy disallowing any non-Christian religious leader from leading the House in prayer at the beginning of Session. 

Building Bridges of Peace in Our State

Representative George Young closed out the afternoon by presenting Imam Enchassi a much deserved Oklahoma State Citation, publicly recognizing the work Imam Enchassi has done in building bridges of peace in our state. In a moment of raw authenticity, Representative Young embraced Imam Enchassi in a hug. It was a powerful display of commonality and democracy beyond politics.

The event was as sweet and textured as the baklava and tea served afterward.