Muslims of Tulsa: ‘See me, not my scarf”

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In November, Donald Trump said, if elected president, he would consider requiring Muslim-Americans to register in a database, and in December he called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Ahead of the Republican presidential candidate’s speech on Wednesday at Oral Roberts University, The Frontier spoke to and photographed a number of Tulsa Muslims who say they’re merely trying to live, work, and fit in in their community.

Photos by Adam Forgash, for The FrontierHannah 4Hannah Moore, 17, leads the percussion section of the Jenks High School Marching Band as the band prepared for their debut at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. What does she want people to know about being a Muslim? “Two things. One is that our religion is a religion of peace.  The root word ‘Islam’ means peace.” She also wants people to know that Muslims have fun and are just like everyone else. Her schoolmates show some interest in her religion, but she doesn’t proselytize and she doesn’t like being proselytized to either. Hannah said she prays five times a day; it’s important to her.

Ata Golf photo

Ata Elauf is 77, plays golf at the MeadowBrook Country Club in Tulsa. A retired architect engineer and avid golfer, Elauf has five children, 14 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He is originally from Palestine, Gaza. Ata has been here for 50 years.

Akila and the girls

Akila Muhammad, 18, Crystal Isaacs, 32, Tala Zendah, 18. After services, the group sits on benches in the back of the mosque in a little park and explains to a visitor that Muslims actually like to have fun. “We listen to music, we even watch TV, we do silly things and have a regular life, like the rest of us.” The ladies want to get the point across that they want people to “see me and not my scarf.”

Prof Hussein 1

Professor Hussein Khattab, 64, is originally from Cairo, Egypt. The Professor has been teaching math at the Tulsa Peace Academy as well as Tulsa Community College, and has been in the United States for about 40 years. His six children grew up here in Tulsa without problems. He says that Tulsa “is a place where you can raise a family. It’s a supportive community.”

Raja'ee 1

Raja’ee Fataihah, 29is an Army reservist who works at the Department of Human Services in Tulsa. He’s soft-spoken with a kind disposition. He said Muslims have always had a good relationship with the people in Oklahoma. He said he loves Islam and it has a huge impact on his life.

Tala Zendah1st

Tala Zendah, 18, sits behind the Al-Salam Mosque for this portrait.

Imam Praying

Imam John Ederer leads his congregation during Friday prayer at Al-Salam Mosque.

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