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Muslims In Unity

Saturday, February 24, 2007Brother Mustafaa

Muslims gather in unity

Leading scholars of the faith travel to Detroit for Nation of Islam event and to promote unity.

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- For seven decades, many Muslims have looked largely askance at the Nation of Islam, often considering it not the true faith, at best, and even heretical.

But amid signs that ranking members of the Nation of Islam, including its leader, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, are hoping for unity within the faith, leading Muslim scholars traveled to Detroit for the organization's annual convention and joined in the important Jumu'ah prayer Friday at Cobo Center.

The event came on the first day of the Nation of Islam's annual Saviour's Day Convention.

"This is the first time that they invited a Spanish representative to come to the Nation of Islam," said Mansur Escudero, president of the Islamic Commission of Spain, as he and about 5,000 others completed the prayer.

"This is for the unity of all Muslims."

Some Christians also attended the prayer, which was billed by the Nation of Islam as an interfaith event.

After ranking members of the Nation of Islam, including Ishmael Muhammad, Farrakhan's assistant and the son of Elijah Muhammad -- who led the Nation for 40 years -- traveled to meet with him, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an internationally known Islamic scholar based in Lexington, Ky., agreed to deliver the Jumu'ah sermon.

Wahhaj's prominence in two large Muslim groups in the United States, the Muslim Association of North America and the Islamic Society of North America, added significance to his appearance, especially because he said he consulted with the leadership of Sunni Islam in the United States before accepting Farrakhan's invitation.

"I believe one day soon, you will see the masses of the Muslims coming together," said Wahhaj, who 30 years ago was known as Jesse 12X and was a member of the Nation of Islam.

"I believe it. I always thought that some of the greatest followers of Islam would come out of the Nation of Islam."

When Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, some of his followers stayed in the organization under Farrakhan's leadership. Others followed another of Muhammad's sons, Warith Deen Muhammad, to a closer embrace of Islam, which is recognized by many Muslims.

You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or gkrupa@detnews.com.

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