The leader of the largest Muslim community in America said Friday that Muslims here live in harmony overall with people of other religious backgrounds and Muslim nations abroad are taking note.
"I believe that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and perhaps many other Muslim nations, are really studying (Muslim) life here in America to see how they can benefit from what's our strategies over here and our embracing one another over here," Imam W. Deen Mohammed said Friday at the Clinton Presidential Center.
Mohammed is the son of the late Elijah Muhammad, who led the Nation of Islam until his death in 1975. While his father's teachings included the belief white people are "devils," Mohammed publicly opposed his father and after his death dissolved the organization. He established a new Muslim American Society, declared it part of the orthodox worldwide Sunni Islamic community and taught tolerance.
Since then, Louis Farrakhan has re-established the Nation of Islam under its original teachings, but Mohammed said the organization is starting to shed its intolerance and align with orthodox Muslims.
"The time for those leaders who had that hate rhetoric has come and passed and they know it," Mohammed told reporters after a question-and-answer session with the audience.
His appearance was part of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service fall lecture series.
"I think there's a merger coming," Mohammed said, noting that student ministers in the Nation of Islam have been studying with orthodox Muslims. "A quiet merging of leaders of the Nation of Islam and leaders in my community."