Religious leaders met in 9/11 remembrance
Abrahamic faiths gathered Sunday on the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 to promote a peaceful community in a violent world.
Leaders of the Jewish, Islamic and Baptist communities, religions that trace their origins to Abraham, provided faith-based insight on Sept. 11, the years following and the future of America after tragedy.
OU religious studies professor Barbara Boyd moderated the event, asking numerous questions about the possibility of international peace, violence and religion, the despair after 9/11 and the children of 9/11.
The word for “peace” in Hebrew is shalom. What many may not know is the same word also means “wholeness,” said Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
Hirschfield said finding peace can be a mighty task, but in the long run a desirable one.
The Rev. Mitch Randall of North Haven Church was reminded of his 9/11 experiences in Fort Worth, Texas, where his appearance seemed to be all that defined him.
Randall said he was taken aback by a young man who pulled up beside him, stared at him and based on the color of his skin called him one of “them,” offering a one-finger salute.
“Peace is not a destination, as much as a difficult road to travel,” Randall said.
One word often used to describe the feelings associated with the Sept. 11 attack is grief, but Imam Imad Enchassi, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma, said his immediate feeling was that of having his faith hijacked.
Enchassi said his mosque received many letters of encouragement and hope after 9/11 that said, “You’re American just like us.”
But not all were so kind, and violence can be part of many religions.
“I’ll admit, there really are violent sides to every religion,” Hirschfield said. “It’s hard to fix a problem you don’t recognize exists.”
Randall described his aspect of greatest despair as when others villainize and ostracize Muslims, concentrating on differences in faith rather than similarities.
“You can take these acts of violence and put them to use,” Enchassi said, “or you can take these acts of violence and be angry.”
Despite the hate and anger that many still feel, Enchassi still finds hope.
“Yes, peace is possible,” Enchassi said.