Cloud Miles – By Imad Enchassi
I was viscerally aware of my overlapping identities. I am a Palestinian Arab, raised with the narrative that Jews and Israelis are the enemy of my people and not to be engaged with in discourse. I am Muslim and an imam who holds every word of the Qur’an in my brain and spirit. I have verses seared into my consciousness telling me to respect and dialogue with those following the Abrahamic traditions. These are “people of the book,” and we worship the same God. I am an American. This identity is deeply sacred to me because this is the one I chose. I am an immigrant who fell in love with Lady Liberty and ran to her shores, leaving everything and everyone I knew and cherished behind, just so I could have this identity, so I could hold this blue passport in my hand. I am seen as a traitor by some for having this citizenship.
All three identities of my being struggle against one another. I am canvas stretched over frame. But these quarrelling parts cannot be separated. Perhaps on this trip, I thought, they will find peace with one another. There are so many lines drawn by humankind to define each other. Yet I am crossing them all, one cloud mile at a time.
Enchassi is the founder, imam and president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. He also serves as the chair of Islamic Studies at Oklahoma City University, and as visiting professor at Philips Theological Seminary and Saint Paul School of Theology. He is a founder of several educational, social, religious and charitable organizations, including Mercy Mission in Oklahoma City. Learn more about Enchassi on his author page.