Muslims in Oklahoma celebrated a historic moment last Monday when an imam offered daily prayers in the state Senate.
Considered the first Muslim invocation to the Oklahoma Senate, Imad Enchassi’s prayer had been preparing according to The Oklahoman for years.
The senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City asked to lead the daily prayer at Oklahoma House in 2017, but his request was rejected without explanation – causing controversy.
Following the denial, a House lawmaker who no longer sits in the Oklahoma Legislature changed the rules of the House chaplaincy program at the time to effectively eliminate non-Christians from participation .
The nearly five-minute prayer that Enchassi recited in the Senate Chamber was written four years ago, when he first planned to lead Oklahoma House in prayer.
Enchassi said Monday’s prayer was meant to convey a message of community, tolerance and love – all of which he has preached throughout his life.
He felt that the senators, who bowed their heads in silent reflection, were listening. Some senators kissed Enchassi as they entered the chamber for the afternoon legislative session.
Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called Monday’s events “historic” and said Enchassi’s prayer was a step towards healing Oklahoma as the The state was beginning to embrace its full religious diversity.