Adam Soltani, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma chapter, recently talked about the future of Oklahoma City’s religious community.
Q. What will the biggest change be in the Oklahoma City metro area, in terms of the religious community?
A. I believe one of the biggest challenges facing the religious community in the Oklahoma City metro area is how can we work together for a better future, not only for our faith groups and congregations, but for Oklahomans of all faiths or lack thereof. We have to learn to see past our differences and realize that we must work together to form a better state and not allow our differences to divide us. Resources are becoming more and more limited, therefore, our strength as a religious community only lies in cooperation.
Q. How do you define progress and what would you like to see in the Oklahoma City faith community in order to see progress made?
A. I would define progress as inclusion. Individuals of all faith groups need to feel welcomed in the state of Oklahoma, a state that is rich with cultural and religious heritage. When I was asked this past September what were Oklahoma Muslims seeking 11 years after the tragic events of 9/11, my answer was simply acceptance. Therefore, I believe if we want to see progress in the Oklahoma City faith community, we have to learn to accept our faith differences and work together on the issues, concerns and justices that we can all agree upon. God Almighty states in the Holy Quran that he created mankind into different nations and tribes so that they can get to know one another. Let us allow our differences to be an opportunity to get to know one another and hopefully this will lead to greater acceptance.
Q. Where is the most potential?
A. I believe that truly the most potential lies in two areas. The first area is to recognize and continue to build upon the rich cultural and religious history of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is a state thriving with a diverse population that should be recognized and encouraged to grow. The second area is the continued growth of interfaith cooperation. I have seen interfaith cooperation increase exponentially in the last ten years, and although this is a great achievement, our work is far from over. We must learn to look past any differences we may have (and) support one another on issues pertaining to social justice, religious freedom and equality.