Adam Soltani remembers the anti-Muslim rhetoric that seemed heightened during the 2016 presidential election.
Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said his agency has created a new guidebook that was purposely timed, in part, to counter another possible round of such rhetoric in the months leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
CAIR-OK's first "Guide to Islam and Muslims in Oklahoma" is a 32-page resource that includes a glossary of Muslim terms, Oklahoma Muslim demographics and information on Muslim social and civic involvement. The guide also include Islamic theology and how it relates to other faiths, plus commentary on "Islamophobia" and its effect on Oklahoma.
In a listing of Islamic centers and schools, the guidebook shares information about a new mosque, the Crossroads Islamic Center of Oklahoma's Masjid Al-Madinah, that recently opened near the former Crossroads Mall in south Oklahoma.
"We realized there was no proper resource to hand to people," Soltani said of the new booklet.
"The goal is to keep this book updated on an annual basis so it can be a continuous dynamic resource for people to use."
Imad Enchassi, one of the most well-known Muslim leaders in the state, said the new guide came to fruition at a good time.
"I am a firm believer that Muslims themselves ought to tell their story. They must identify themselves, otherwise someone else will identify us," Enchassi, senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said recently.
The imam also serves as chair of Islamic Studies at Oklahoma City University. He said he was happy that CAIR-OK took the initiative in creating the new good book "as we struggle to get a seat on the table in our state.
"As a contributor to this guide, I am happy that we are not only telling our past and present story, but we are also planning our future," Enchassi said. "We are as American as everyone else. We are a vital organ in our state of Oklahoma, and we are here to build a bridge of love and understanding."
Soltani said a crucial part of the premise behind the guide is to help dispel myths about Islam and Muslims.
He said CAIR-OK has seen an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric in recent years, and they expect it to increase as the presidential election ramps up.
He said non-Muslims consistently have requested more information about Islam, and the guide is a good way to get such information to them. Many of those seeking information had favorable opinions about Muslims, but they wanted something they could give to others who had no knowledge or insight about their Muslim neighbors.
"Although there are still many myths and misconceptions surrounding Islam and Muslims, we hope that this guide will serve as a resource to halt the spread of Islamophobia and to broaden the public's understanding of what it means to be a Muslim in Oklahoma," the guide said.
Soltani said he is hoping those interested in the Muslims in their midst or in Islam in general will pick up one of the books. CAIR-OK printed 2,500 and hopes to distribute each one, he said.
"This is an easy way instead of handing someone a copy of our Holy Quran," Soltani said.