A new short documentary from EthicsDaily.com tells the story of an Oklahoma imam shaped by mercy.
“There is only one race – the human race,” says Imam Imad Enchassi of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City in the 15-minute documentary. “And if grace comes to us or mercy comes to us from different people, regardless of their tag, that’s awesome. I was cloaked with mercy all around me.”
Enchassi, a Palestinian refugee whose father and grandfather left Palestine for Lebanon in 1948, was born in Lebanon in 1964. There, he attended schools run by the Middle East Council of Churches and the United Nations.
One of his early teachers was a Catholic nun from Lebanon named Samiera Abou Rahma. Rahma means “mercy” in Arabic.
“Imam Imad Enchassi’s life is an example of faithful resolve,” says Mitch Randall, EthicsDaily.com’s executive director. “Faced with oppression and brutality, Imad’s teacher – Ms. Mercy – and his family instilled the strongest of ideals into his young heart and mind: Love triumphs over hate. They paved a way for a young Muslim man – who could have easily walked another path – to walk with peaceful steps filled with mercy, love and grace.”
A significant part of Enchassi’s personal story is his survival of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut in September 1982. The massacre, in the refugee camps where Enchassi lived, was conducted by a Lebanese Christian force known as Phalangists.
EthicsDaily.com is releasing the documentary now to coincide with the 36th anniversary of the killings.
“Still, what haunts me to this day, more than anything else, is a mom looking for her children,” says Enchassi in the documentary. “Moms would grab anybody. ‘Here’s a picture of my child. Have you seen him?’”
Randall traveled with Enchassi back to Lebanon in July to film portions of the trip, including Enchassi’s visit to a Syrian refugee camp, Enchassi’s elementary school and the church where Enchassi’s influential teacher, “Ms. Mercy,” is interred.
“EthicsDaily is excited to provide this free resource for churches, educators and organizations as they address responses to evil,” says Randall, who has known Enchassi for more than a decade. “We are also hopeful this short documentary provides a positive example of how Baptists and Muslims are working together for the common good.”
Enchassi appeared in the EthicsDaily.com documentary, “Different Books, Common Word,” which aired on ABC-TV stations in 2010. That film is also available to watch for free online at EthicsDaily.com.
Randall and Enchassi were profiled in a Sept. 1 story for The Oklahoman.
Randall wrote a two-part reflection on their trip for EthicsDaily.com.