Not until he began preaching did he pick up the Bible, he said, and then he read it cover to cover "from the first word of Genesis to the last word of Revelations" without stopping. "I came to believe the Bible was a holy book and a sacred book," said Mr. Mohammed, leader of the nation's largest African-American orthodox Muslim group. "I decided we should be a friend of Christians."
Mr. Mohammed will lead a conference Sunday that will not feature dialogues between Christians and Muslims to deal with theological differences. But Christian visitors will join Muslims from throughout the nation in attending speeches and workshops on the role of youth, preserving the family, improving education and safeguarding Muslim civil rights since Sept. 11.
The faith teaches, he said, "that you try to avoid causing any loss to people who are not armed against you. . . . Even in war Muslims are ordered to be decent, to have compassion and be merciful. . . . The face of terror is not the face of Islam." Muslims, he said, are obligated to lead a model public life in the community.
Ayesha Mustafaa, editor of the Muslim Journal, said that until Sept. 11, converts to Islam were seen as model prisoners. Now, she said, they're all under suspicion. "President Bush has made it plain to the American public that the face of terror is not the face of Islam," Mr. Mohammed said. Still, he said, "The big guys are whipping on the Muslims all over the world. We are the little guys. It makes us wonder if things have got out of hand."
Mr. Mohammed said he hopes to see more Christian-Muslim events and joint projects to address social problems.