Muslims in Australia were reinforcing their faith at a Twins of Faith conference.
The Melbourne conference, whose name refers to the twin concepts of "faith" and "good deeds" -- was hosted by Mercy Mission.
The conference attracted an international guest list, greeting Richmond footballer Bachar Houli, the first practicing Muslim to play in the AFL, like a rock star.
International speakers included young US speaker Omar Suleiman and young Canadian performance poet Boonaa Mohammed, who tried to use his poetry to speak of injustices and to "bridge the gap between communities".
Sheikh Suleiman from New Orleans said Muslims had become "the new Boogie man", but associating a terrorist with Islam was as unjust as associating the Ku Klux Klan with Christianity.
"I have seen people strung and burned on crosses, crosses burned on people's lawns, hatred that is supposedly done in the name of Christ (peace be upon him), but I know that is not Christ, I know that is not what Christianity preaches," he said.
"Ignorance can do so much harm. We are just like anyone else. We are trying to live family lives, we are trying to be prosperous and enjoy a day in the park with our families, we are trying to be good citizens and if people see that and interact with us and we build those bridges, we can eradicate that, we can overpower the sense of hatred."
Sheikh Suleiman spoke to a large audience of Muslim men and women about the "paralysis" that comes of focusing on the negative.
He said what caused people to resort to terrorism and extremism was not faith, but "their ignorance of the faith".
Sheikh Alaa Elsayed, a member of Canadian Council of Imams, and public relations director for the Mercy Mission, said ignorance was the "No 1 enemy" of Islam.
Source: Stuart Rintoul, "Bridging gap between Islam and Christianity" The Australian April 9, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today