Muslims Define Themselves Through Outreach

March 2, 2009

Author: William F. O'Brien

Source: The Edmond Sun

“None of you truly believe,” the Prophet Mohammad told his followers, “Until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

President Obama recently quoted that statement at the National Prayer Breakfast. The president said in his Inaugural Address that the United States is reaching out to the Muslim world in a “spirit of mutual respect and mutual interest.”

In that address the president paid tribute to Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus, peoples who comprise part of what he described as our national “patchwork heritage.”

The Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), has an Oklahoma chapter headed by Edmond resident Razi Hashmi, who attended the inauguration. An Oklahoma CAIR board member, Sheryl Siddique, also attended.

Hashmi recently said the president’s words are indicative of the increasing role Muslims are playing in American society. He recalled the excitement and sense of history he felt as more than 2 million people gathered in our nation’s capital to hear the president’s words, and the chill they felt in the crisp January air.

CAIR’s national office is located close to the inaugural site, and during and after the ceremony it held an open house that provided hospitality and refreshments to those attending the event.

Hashmi also reported that later that evening, he attended the Southern Presidential Inaugural Ball where he was surprised to see a young Muslim man from Stillwater in attendance.

Hashmi said Muslims from throughout the world began to emigrate to the United States several decades ago, and they devoted most of their efforts at that time to establishing businesses and professions. Oklahoma City and Tulsa were the destination of choice for some of those immigrants, and followers of the Prophet’s message are now found throughout the state, where they are physicians, engineers, college and university professors and business people.

It is clear that American Muslims have been successful in their professional endeavors, and the Oklahoma CAIR director points to Pugh Research Forum on Religion surveys that indicate Muslims on the whole are among the most educated and prosperous members of American society.

Now, the nation’s Muslim community is beginning to construct institutions to serve the spiritual needs of its members. Hashmi speaks of the mosques that now exist in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Edmond, Stillwater and Norman as part of that effort.