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Muslim Leader Addresses Jews

June 19, 1999

MIAMI (AP) _ The son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, who disbanded his father’s group after finding it too militant, told a Jewish congregation Friday night that he felt ``very much at home in soul″ with them.

In a rare address by a Muslim leader during a Jewish service, Imam W. Deen Muhammad visited the Temple Israel of Greater Miami to deliver his message of unity and understanding.

``This is a sacred day,″ Muhammad said in brief remarks near the end of Erev Shabbat services. ``I feel very much at home in soul with you. I feel your purity and your peace.″

Muhammad, 65, heads the Society of Muslim Americans based in Chicago. He said Friday’s appearance was the second time _ and the first in more than a decade _ that he has participated in Jewish Sabbath services.

About 150 people attended Friday’s service, including more than two dozen Muslims who mingled with temple members in the sanctuary and later for punch and sweets at a social.

Linda Datko, a Temple Israel member, brought her 13-year-old son, Joseph.

``When they get older in Sunday school, they get to (studying) comparative religion,″ she said. ``This was a good opportunity to learn and not just take it out of a textbook.″

Elijah Muhammad led the Nation of Islam to prominence by preaching militant black nationalism. After his death in 1975, his son took over and soon disbanded the group upon rejecting racial separatism.

He since has worked to support interfaith dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Louis Farrakhan revived the Nation of Islam in 1978 and has been criticized for driving a wedge between blacks and whites.

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