American Muslim Leader Imam W.D. Muhammad dies
Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, a major Islamic leader in the U.S. who led thousands of African-American Muslims to orthodox Islam, died today in Illinois, according to local Muslims and his nephew. He was 74.
Born and raised in Hamtramck, Mohammed, also known as Imam W.D. Mohammed, was the son of Nation of Islam leader and Michigan native Elijah Muhammad. After his father's death, Mohammed transformed the Nation from a black nationalist organization into a group that embraced a more mainstream Islam that rejected racial and ethnic divisions.
He was considered to be the biggest Muslim leader in the U.S. among African-Americans and probably had more followers than any other Muslim leader in the U.S., say Muslims.
In metro Detroit, Muslims were stunned to hear of his death. He had just spoken ten days ago at a Detroit convention of his followers. During his Friday sermon, he repeatedly praised Jesus and stressed the importance of living a moral life.
"To us, he was more than just an imam and a teacher. He was a father figure for us," said Dawud Walid, an assistant imam at Masjid Wali Muhammad, which was named by Mohammed after he left the Nation of Islam. "History will show that he has been thus far the greatest Muslim leader in the history of America."
Walid was a student of Mohammed and was shocked to hear of his death.
"From God we come, and to him we return," said Mohammed's nephew, Sultan Muhammad. "Imam W.D. Mohammed's passing is a great loss not only to Muslims in America and around the world, but in particular to his family. We would ask for prayers for him."
"He was a reviver of the religion," said Imam Abdullah El-Amin, head of the Muslim Center in Detroit. "He saved a lot of lives, including mine...He brought a whole lot of people to the correct worship of Islam, almost with just a wave of his hand."
Kyle Ismail, 35, a Muslim leader from Chicago, said he spoke today with Mohammed's daughter, Laila Mohammed, who told him that her father had died.
"He gave us everything," said Ismail, who just saw Mohammed on Saturday.
After Mohammed broke from the racial teachings of the Nation of Islam, Minister Louis Farrakhan then later broke away from Mohammed and formed his own separate group. While Farrakhan often got more media attention, Mohammed attracted a greater number followers, according to his supporters.
On Aug. 29, Mohammed spoke to thousands inside a hall in Cobo Center.
"He's a superb leader," said Nadir Ahmad, 58, of Detroit, before his lecture. "He has a sober message of good morals, but also a commonsense approach to life and religion."
In his talk, Mohammed urged personal responsibility and praised Jesus and Muhammad, Islam's founder, saying both were great teachers.
He stood on the podium slightly hunched over, a compact man with glasses and a modest brown suit who spoke in measured tones.
"We all ... should be trying to be Christlike," he said.
Ahmad said Mohammed "has always called for cooperation between faiths."
Niraj Warikoo writes for the Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at [email protected]
Topics: American Muslims
"Images of the Middle East, Foreign Countries and International Relations Among U.S. Black Muslims (Warith Faction)"
by Dr Dennis Walker, Monash Asia Istitute, Monash University, Australia 3162
__Warith and Israel's 1978 Entry into Lebanon__
Chief Imam Wallace's solidarity with the Palestinians in 1978 showed the contradictory aspects of the transformation he had wrought in the Nation of Islam. On one hand, his religious changes had given Islam's Arab heartlands unprecedented centrality in the minds of his followers, who were increasingly learning to read some Arabic. Checking this, the increased accommodation Warith required with the American political system would limit how far his adherents could adopt stances of political hostility to the lsraeli state that was an inherent part of America's network in international relations.
Warith's pan-Islamic solidarity with the Palestinians in March 1978 was much more tightly bonded to Middle Easterners and events there than the sect's leaders had ever been in the much more parochial era of his father, Elijah. Nonetheless, he was still identifying with victimized Arabs as an American Negro from within an advanced industrial life, and from a surrounding white Anglo-Judaic popular culture, far removed from the Middle East. There was in 1978 still a substantial gap, both economic and cultural, between the Western World and the Arab peoples --- one, though, that Warith, as a Westerner, exaggerated. Wallace/Warith in 1978 integrated (a) motifs of substantial Palestinian nomadism parallel to racism-tinted American and also Zionist themes with (b) his sympathy for the Palestinians and Southern Lebanese as a traditional Muslim people uncorrupted by the modernity of the West. The boasts of the Zionists that they had achieved a victory in Southern Lebanon were, he told his Chicago mosque congregation, fraudulent. Israel's overwhelming, mod
Imam WD Mohammed was a trailblazer. He was ahead of his time in the stances that he took. He was right when he raised the US flag a encouraged his following to get involved with American society especially politics. Many of us who were still in the Black Nationalist mode did not understand but as time would tell the Imam was as we used to say in the "Nation" right and exact. After leaving Farrakhan's leadership then Imam Jamil's, I ended up following Imam WD Mohammed (for the past 13 years). I appreciate the work he did for Islam, America and the entire planet. He would be hard to replace. May Allah have mercy on his soul and grant him paradise.
I remember hearing of Brother Wallace coming back to the
community. There was much buzz of excitement and
anticipation about his return. I was blessed to be able to be
associated with Imam W.Deen Mohammed's ministry from then
until his recent return to Allah Subhana Wa Ta'aala. This gentle
and most humble servant of G-d, in my estimation, was the
most enlightened servant of G-d in our midst for the last 34
years. His dedication to serving G-d and humanity, by delivering
clear and "inspired" understanding of revealed knowledge was
truly exceptional! His devotion to freeing all people (African-
American in particular) from incorrect worship of G-d perhaps
will never be matched, Allahu-Akbar! May Allah Ta'aala, grant
this great champion of service to G-d and humanity a cherished
play in His presence. It was through the tireless efforts of Imam
W.Deen Mohammed, that members of all the faith communities
began to become much more tolerant of each others' views and
beliefs. May we all as Jews, Christians, and Muslims, continue to
strive for that "human excellence" that our Imam W.D.
Mohammed taught us about. I will always love you brother
Imam, may Allah, G-d, grant to you the Jannah, you have earned
This is a sad day for the Muslim Ummah in North America & abroad. May Allah reward this great Imaam faseeha janaatih.
"..Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon"
Allah spoke the Truth!!!
I pray muslims continue hisw mission to reform souls in the deen of islam according to the sunnah of prophet mohommed pbuh
may ALLAH grant Imam Mohommed paradise
a member of the Nation of Islam hearing of the return to the
community of brother Wallace during the early 70's. For over 30
plus years, Imam W.Deen Mohammed gave to the American-
Muslim community the essence of his life. We who have come to
know and love his unwavering stand for "truth" and right
guidance in religious teaching will surely miss our leader and
teacher! Imam Mohammed never was one to crave the attention
of the media. However, if Allah, G-d, had created anyone in this
day and time to be worthy of the medias attention it was surely
Imam W.Deen Mohammed! For his tireless efforts in search of
religious tolerance between all faiths, for his stalwart stance for
correct understanding of revealed knowledge, and for his efforts
to awaken in the minds of African-American Muslims, our place
int the worlwide Muslim Ummah, may Allah Ta'aala, grant to this
Noble son Adam a cherished place in the Jannah! We will always
love you brother Imam...shukran jazeelan Imam W.D.Mohammed
for the picture you took with my sons Na'im and Tariq in 1994
at a banquet at the Atlanta Hilton. May Allah Ta'aala, G-d, instill
in each of us who has associated with your leadership since
1975, the determination to go forth with the mindset that you
have given to all of us brother Imam. I thank the "Lord of all the
Systems of Knowledge" for blessing me to have been alive and
listening during your time among us brother Imam. I will always
love you, and I will always love Allah Ta'aala and His Messenger
Mohammed (PBUH). Thank you for teaching me about the
religion of Al-Islam brother Imam...As Salaamu Alaikum Akhi
As far as the article is concerned, we need to be careful about what we write. Muslims do not worship Jesus (as). We worship only Allah.
As far as death is concerned, we should never be surprised or shocked as far as anyone dying. The holy Quran states that we shall all taste death. We should all pray as though it is our last.
We should always remember Allah in everything we do and in everything we say.
May we all keep on the Mustakeen, and keep striving to make it into the Jenah. I for one want to see Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)and want to drink milk and honey from him.
May Allah have mercy on W.D. and all of our Muslim brothers and sisters who have died in this Holy Month of Ramadan. May Allah keep us all on the Mustakeen.
Wazir & Aneesah Shaheed
Imam W.D. Mohammed is a world leader. He told me that if I would just stick with him and his teachings; I would understand Islam better than Prophet Mohammed (peace be unto him).
Imam led so many to Islam. May Allah (swt) be pleased with his work and may we meet again, insha'allah