Dr. Maher Hathout (ha-TOOT'), a prominent interfaith leader hailed as the father of the American Muslim identity, has died at age 79.

Salam al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council that Hathout co-founded, says Hathout died Friday after a yearlong battle with liver cancer.

Hathout was widely credited with ushering in an era of civic engagement for Muslim Americans when he co-founded MPAC in 1988. It gave them a unique sense of identity as they weathered the backlash from the 9/11 attacks.

He also worked tirelessly over four decades in Los Angeles to build bridges with other faiths, and he was close friends with prominent Christian, Jewish and other leaders.

Hathout was buried Monday and will be honored by the city of Los Angeles on Saturday.