Muslim leaders held a highly-anticipated prayer rally in Washington, D.C., Friday, but the attendance was far below expectations.
Organizers called the event "A Day of Islamic Unity" and they anticipated some 50,000 Muslim worshippers to gather at the U.S. Capitol. Their Web site even read "our time has come."
The reality, though, was far less impressive. An estimated crowd of about 3,000 people showed up to pray and listen to a speech from the rally's organizer, Hassan Abdellah.
CBN News spoke with Pastor Fouad Masri of the Crescent Project, who says the prayer rally is evidence that Christians need to spend time ministering to Muslims. For the full interview with Pastor Masri, click here.
Abdellah runs Dar-ul-Islam mosque in Elizabeth, N.J., and is a controversial figure. As an attorney, he's represented Islamic terrorists in federal court. He called on Muslims at the prayer rally to spread their faith.
"I call on all Muslims in America to remind each and every one of us," he urged the crowd. "That there is nothing to be worshipped except Allah."
The diverse gathering included Muslims hailing from North America, Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. CBN News did not come across many native Arabic speakers. But there were several people present who converted to Islam from Christianity, including one New York City woman we spoke to who was raised Irish Catholic.
"I had read the autobigraphy of Malcolm X and I read about his journey to Mecca," Malika Rashdan told us. "And when he talked about praying next to red skin, white skin, brown skin--and everybody was the same. And that's what drew me to Islam."
Rashdan argued that the concept of Islamic jihad--or holy war--has been taken out of context by critics of Islam.
My jihad is raising my children as Muslims in this country and keeping them away from drugs and alcohol and gang violence," she said.
CBN News asked another Muslim convert from North Carolina whether his loyalty came first to Islam or to America.
"My loyalty first is to Islam," answered Jibril Hough. "But with that said if I'm loyal to my religion, I'm going to be loyal to America. If I practice my religion like a good Muslims, I'm no threat to America--I'm going to make America better."
One New Jersey man at the rally had a message for Americans.
"Our message is, Islam is on the rise in this country," said Sham l'deen Mohammed.
Mohammed said he would like to see America become an Islamic country, but not through violence.
"We're not one to turn the other cheek. put it that way," he said. "But we're not going to instigate, we're not gonna initiate violence against nobody."
There were some protestors outside the event and several Christians handing out Bibles and DVDs. Some of them were former Muslims who did not want to be interviewed on camera out of fears for their safety.