Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Imam WD Mohammed, American Muslim leader, affirms religious unity

http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/2008/01/02/news/top_news/doc541b4b60b478d58a862573c40010777d.txt

Muslim leader affirms religious unity
BY KASS STONE
Times Correspondent | Wednesday, January 02, 2008

GARY | Iman W.D. Mohammed, a leader in the African-American Muslim community, offered a message of unity among Christians, Jews and Muslims at the 47th annual Emancipation Proclamation Program of Freedom on Tuesday at Western Christian Community Church.

The Interfaith Clergy Council of Gary and Vicinity's program was held to mark the 145th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Before Mohammed's presentation, speakers spoke about Frederick Douglass and read from the proclamation.

Mohammed is the son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad and took over as its leader in 1975. He is responsible for bringing the Nation of Islam more in line with mainstream Sunni Muslim beliefs and opening up membership to nonblack Muslims, which led to a long period of acrimony between him and Louis Farrakhan.

He has spoken before presidents, popes, the Dalai Lama and other world leaders on issues of faith. On Tuesday, he spoke to an audience of Gary church leaders and representatives of the city's Islamic and Jewish communities.

"The first freedom of the United States is freedom of religion. ... Religion is what binds us together. Faith in one God. We all believe in a god and don't believe that this world is without a designer who designed it," Mohammed said.

Mohammed continued to point out connections that the faiths have with each other, including common origins and prophets.

"We have the same prophets. We have the same God and we believe God made all of this world for human beings. Isn't that wonderful," Mohammed said.

He went to great lengths to point out the role Christianity played in forming the Islamic faith, relating a story of how the religion's founder, Mohammed, was given refuge by a Christian Ethiopian king.

"That begins our history with Christians, when we are given protection by a Christian king. ... And here we are now in the United States, and without the protection of the president and Christians or somebody, we would be in trouble.

"So we are still being protected," Mohammed said.

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