‘A redemption’: Muslim leader gives prayer in Oklahoma Senate

Oklahoma Muslims celebrated a historic moment Monday when a Muslim faith leader gave the daily prayer in the state Senate.

Thought to be the first Muslim invocation in the Oklahoma Senate, Imad Enchassi’s prayer was years in the making

The senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City applied to lead the daily prayer in the Oklahoma House in 2017, but his application was denied with no explanation — spurring controversy. 

Following the denial, a House lawmaker who no longer serves in the Oklahoma Legislature changed the rules of the House chaplaincy program at the time to effectively eliminate non-Christians from participating

“Standing there, performing the prayer for the Senate, felt like a redemption,” Enchassi said. 

Imad Enchassi, senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, walks with Sen. Carri Hicks before giving the daily prayer Monday in the Oklahoma state Senate. Enchassi is likely the first imam (Muslim faith leader) to offer a prayer on the Oklahoma Senate Floor.

The nearly five-minute prayer Enchassi recited in the Senate chamber was written four years ago, when he first anticipated leading the Oklahoma House in prayer.  

Enchassi said Monday’s prayer was intended to convey a message of community, tolerance and love — all things he has preached throughout his life.

He felt as though the senators, who bowed their heads in quiet reflection, were listening. Some senators embraced Enchassi as they entered the chamber for the afternoon legislative session. 

“I’m your brother from a different mother,” he said afterward. “We pray to the same people. We have the same God, and we’re all Oklahomans.”


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