Sunday, 22 February 2015


             BLACK    SOCIAL    HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                              

Warith Deen Mohammed

Warith Deen Mohammed
Warith Deen Mohammed.png
Leader of the Nation of Islam
In office
February 26, 1975 – 1976
Preceded byElijah Muhammad
Leader of the American Society of Muslims
In office
1976 – August 31, 2003
Director of The Mosque Cares
In office
2003 – September 9, 2008
Succeeded byWallace D. Mohammed II
Personal details
BornWallace Delaney Muhammad
October 30, 1933
DiedSeptember 9, 2008
(aged 74)
ChicagoIllinois, U.S.
Resting placeMount Glenwood Cemetery,
Thornton, Illinois, U.S.
Spouse(s)Shirley Muhammad
Khadijah Siddeeq-Mohammed
RelationsDr. Akbar Muhammad, PHD,Jabir Herbert Muhammad
Alma materMuhammad University of Islam
OccupationImam, Religious Reformer, Muslim Scholar, Businessman
ReligionSunni Islam
Warith Deen Mohammed (born Wallace D. Muhammad; October 30, 1933 – September 9, 2008), also known as "W. Deen Mohammed" or "Imam W. Deen Muhammad", was a progressive African American Muslim leader, theologianphilosopherMuslim revivalist and Islamic thinker (1975–2008) who disbanded the original Nation of Islam in 1976 and transformed it into an orthodox mainstream Islamic movement, the World Community of Al-Islam in the West which later became the American Society of Muslims.[1][2][3] He was a son of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam from 1933 to 1975.[4][5]
He became the national leader (Supreme Minister) of the Nation of Islam in 1975 after his father's death.[6] As a result of his personal studies and thinking, he had led the vast majority of the members of the original NOI to mainstream, traditional Sunni Islamby 1978.[7] With this merger, he oversaw the largest mass conversion to Islam in the history of the United States of America.[8] He rejected the previous deification of Wallace Fard Muhammad, accepted whites as fellow-worshippers, forged closer ties with mainstream Muslim communities, and introduced the Five Pillars of Islam into his group's theology.[3][9]
Splinter groups resisting these changes formed after Elijah Muhammad's death, particularly under Louis Farrakhan, who revived the name Nation of Islam for his organization.[3][10]


Early life and education

Mohammed was born Wallace Delaney Muhammad on Yeman Street in Hamtramck, Michigan in 1933.[5][11] (In 1980 he would change his name to Warithuddin Muhammad, Warith Deen Muhammad, which translates to 'Inheritor of the Religion of Muhammad'.[3][12]) His parents were Clara and Elijah Muhammad, both highly active in the Nation of Islam (NOI), the organization that preached a form of Black nationalism and its own version of Islam.[13] From 1934 until his death in 1975, Elijah Muhammad led the Nation.[14]
Named to honor Wallace Fard Muhammad (Fard), the founder of the Nation of Islam, Mohammed grew up in Chicago, one of seven siblings.[15]His early education came from the Muhammad University of Islam school system now known as the Clara Muhammad Schools, or Muhammad Schools.[16] He studied Arabic as a youth under Professor Jamal Diab, a Palestinian who had been hired by his father to teach at the M.U.I. in Chicago.[17]
Mohammed became a minister under his father in late 1958 and served in Philadelphia during the late 1950s and early 1960s.[5][18][19]
In 1961, on his 28th birthday, Mohammed began a term in federal prison for having refused induction into the United States military. He could have served community service, but his father pressed him to accept the jail time.[5] He spent most of that time studying the Qur'an, the scriptureof Islam.[20] He became convinced that the Nation of Islam had to change. In 1963 he was released from prison.[21][22] Close to Malcolm X, who was also questioning the NOI, he found that by this time his viewpoints deviated significantly from those of his father, whom he no longer believed was a prophet.[5][23] Because of this conclusion, he was excommunicated five times, but by 1974, he was returned permanently to NOI.[5]

Religious leadership and Ministry

Reforming the Nation of Islam

Upon the death of his father on February 25, 1975, Mohammed was unanimously chosen as the leader of the Nation of Islam and introduced to the NOI membership as such at the annual Saviours' Day convention on February 26, 1975.[2][24][25] Among the first changes Mohammed instituted, he dropped the title Supreme Minister and took the title Chief Imam, or simply Imam, in 1976.[26][27] The same year, he unveiled a new flag for the NOI community.[28][29]
These were just two of the many reforms Mohammed introduced.[3] Among others, he eliminated the NOI dress code, disbanded the military branch of the NOI, clarified the concept of the devil, and, through his Muhammad Speaks newspaper and public speeches, introduced and explained Islam's Five Pillars.[5][25][30] He stated that Fard was not divine and that his father was not a prophet.[23] All of the over 400 temples were converted into traditional Islamic Mosques. He also renamed the community several times before finally settling on the American Society of Muslims to reflect the new thinking.[22][31] Mohammed was frank about his intentions to evolve the movement. On November 19, 1978 he spoke on the "Evolution of the Nation of Islam" at the American academy of Religion in New Orleans, Louisiana.[32]
Mohammed's changes reached deep into the philosophy of the movement his father had led for so long. He rejected literal interpretations of his father's theology and Black-separatist views and on the basis of his intensive independent study of Islamic law, history, and theology, he accepted whites as fellow worshipers.[33][34] However, he also encouraged African Americans (Bilalians) to separate themselves from their pasts, in 1976 calling upon them to change their surnames which were often given to their ancestors by slave masters.[12][35] He forged closer ties with mainstream Muslim communities, including Latinos.[36] He also decentralized power. On September 10, 1978 in an address inAtlanta, Georgia he resigned as Chief Imam and appointed a six member council to lead the Community.[37][38]
Mohammed felt quite keenly his role in reform. In an interview published in the Muhammad Speaks newspaper and conducted by his brother Jabir Herbert Muhammad, Mohammed described his role as successor to their father as that of a Mujeddid,[39] one who would watch over the new Islam or community.[40][41] In 1979 he used the title Mujeddid (Mujaddid) on his byline in his weekly articles for the Bilalian News (the new titles of Muhammad Speaks).[42]
Warith Deen Mohammed gained widespread support among the international Muslim community, but his changes to the Nation of Islam were not universally accepted.[43] A number of dissident groups resisted, most notably those who followed Louis Farrakhan in breaking ranks with Mohammed. This group revived the name 'Nation of Islam' in 1977.[23][44] In 1995 Mohammed released a statement expressing concern about Farrakhan's motivations and the racial divisiveness of his ministry.[40][43] The pair embraced publicly and declared reconciliation at the annual Saviours' Day convention on February 25, 2000, but in August 10, 2007, Mohammed repeated his frustration with the separatist stance of the current Nation of Islam, stating that its leaders had, "for the last 10 years or more,...just been selling wolf tickets to the white race and having fun while they collect money and have fancy lifestyles."[45] He predicted a quiet evolution in the NOI towards unity with the mainstream American Muslim community.

Building ties within the Muslim community

Mohammed was intent on strengthening bonds between his movement and the wider American Muslim faith as well as with followers of Islam abroad. It was his goal to align American Muslims with Sunni Islam.[15] In 1976, he took a delegation to Guyana on an official State Visit to meet with Prime Minister L. Forbes Burnham, and the then President of Guyana Arthur Chung, during which he forged ties with the Muslim communities in the region.[46] In 1985, he met in GenevaSwitzerland with Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Al-Sharif, Secretary General of the Islamic Call Society of Libya and Dr. Abdul Hakim Tabibi, an Afghan mujahid, to discuss areas of future cooperation with the Islamic Call Society and the Muslim Community of America.[47] He hosted Grand Mufti Abdullah Mukhtar, the leader of an estimated 60 million Muslims at Masjid Bilal, during his first visit to the U.S. in 1994.[48] In 1999, he was elected to the Islamic Society of North America's Shura Board.[49] That same year, during Ramadan, he pledged to work with then Grand Mufti of Syria, Shaikh Ahmed Kuftaro an-Naqshbandi(raa) for the advancement of Al-Islam during a meeting with Kuftaro and Shaikh Nazim al-Haqqanian-Naqshbandi.[50][51] He was the special invited guest and keynote speaker at the "Inaugural Conference on the Growth and Development of Islam in America", held at Harvard University on March 3–4, 2000.[52]

Interfaith cooperation

Just as Mohammed sought to be racially inclusive, he also focused on cooperation between multiple faiths. On May 23, 1976, he conducted a massive interfaith Spiritual Life Jubilee in Los Angeles, California and spoke on the subject "A New Heaven and a New Earth".[53] In 1977 he participated in a Muslim-Christian dialogue in Fort Worth, Texas with Dr. Jack Evans, then President of Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas.[54] In February 1978, he gave a historic address before more than 1,000 Jews and Muslims at the Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C., then under the leadership of Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman.[55]
This was a focus that would persist throughout his career. In 1993 he spoke at the Interfaith Roundtable National Conference of Christians, Jews and Muslims in Detroit, Michigan.[47] In March 1995 he gave the keynote address at the Muslim-Jewish Convocation in Glencoe, Illinois.[56] From October 1–6, 1996 he met with Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Francis Arinze at the Vatican in Rome.[57] On August 17, 1997 he was presented the Luminosa Award for Unity from the Focolare Movement.[58] On September 9, 1997 he addressed the Baltimore Jewish Council speaking on themes of world-wide justice and fairness.[59] On May 18–20, 1998, he attended the Conference on Religion and Peace sponsored by the Center for Christian, Jewish Understanding of Sacred Heart University in Auschwitz, Poland.[56] In June 1998 he addressed the Muslim Friends of the Focolare conference in Rome, Italy,[60] in October of the following year, along with a 92 member delegation, he spoke before a gathering of 100,000 people in the Vatican.[61][62] Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama were both in attendance.[63] On October 29, 2001, Mohammed participated in an "Evening of Religious Solidarity" joined by Minister Louis Farrakhan,Reverend Robert H. Schuller, and members of the Parliament of World Religions at The Mosque Foundation in Villa Park, Illinois.[64]

Political and social activities

Throughout his ministry, Mohammed remained politically active, domestically and internationally. Early meetings with prominent political figures included Egyptian PresidentAnwar Sadat in 1975, Sharjah ruler Sheik Sultan bin Mohamed Al-Qasimi in 1976, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1977.[31][65][66] But Mohammed would attend many events around the world focused on the advancement of Islam, racial unity and world peace.
He was the only American invited and the only American to attend the 10th Annual Islamic Conference of Ministers in May, 1979, in Fez, Morocco.[67][68] In April, 1988, he participated as the representative of Muslim Americans in the "Political and Religious Leaders Campaign for Planetary Survivor" in Oxford Town Hall. Later that year he was among 100 leaders in religion, government, business, law and philanthropy who gathered in Williamsburg, VA during the Williamsburg Charter Foundations "First Liberty Summit".[69] In 1995, he participated in the Forbes Forum on Management in Naples, Florida.[70] The following year, he participated in the "National Discussion on Race & Reconciliation" sponsored by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.[71] In late 1997, he attended the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Teheran, Iran,[72] and he participated in The Religious Community and Moral Challenge of Poverty Round Table Discussion convened by former U. S. Senator Paul Simon fin1998 in Carbondale, Illinois.[73] During the month of November 1999 he attended consecutive World Peace Conferences. The first conference, Jubilenium Interfaith Conference for World Peace, was an invitation-only event held in Tiberias, Israel. The second was the 7th World Assembly of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, held in Amman, Jordan.[74]
He was a prominent political speaker. Mohammed gave the first invocation in the U.S. Senate ever by a Muslim in 1992[75] That same year, he became the first Muslim to deliver an address on the floor of the Georgia State Legislature.[75] In 1993, he gave an Islamic prayer during the first Inaugural Interfaith Prayer Service of President Bill Clinton, and again in 1997 at the second Interfaith Prayer Service.[76] In 1996 he was invited to Egypt by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to address the Supreme Council of Affairs in Cairoon the theme "Islam and the Future of Dialogue between Civilizations".[77]
He sat on a number of councils and committees, domestically and abroad. In 1986, he was selected to serve on the World Supreme Council of Masajid (Mosques) as one of only three representatives of the United States.[68] Also in 1995 he was selected as a President of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP) and addressed its governing board in Copenhagen, Denmark.[63][78] In January 1997, he was appointed to then President Bill Clinton's Religious Advisory Council.[77] In 2000, he was named to the Executive Committee of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP).[79]
He made his opinions on political matters known. On July 4, 1976 he started the New World Patriotism Day celebrations which were conducted on Independence Day in the major cities across America.[29][31][80] In 1984, Mohammed went against the mainstream African American political establishment and opposed Reverend Jesse Jackson's run for the Democratic nomination for President.[81] In 1985, to protest the Chicago Probate court handling of an American Muslim Mission case, he organized a "Walk for Justice" that drew 500,000 participants.[82] On December 23, 1989 he spoke at the Annual Conference of the Islamic Committee for Palestine on the plight of the Palestinian people.[83] In 1990, Mohammed supported and endorsed Neil Hartigan for Governor of Illinois.[84] He gave his support to the peacemaking and humanitarian efforts of Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia.[78]On September 10, 1990 he participated in the International Conference on the "Current Situation in the Gulf", where he made his opposition to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait a matter of public record.[85] On behalf of the Muslim American Community, he donated $85,000 to Nelson Mandela to aid his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa during a personal meeting in Oakland on June 30, 1990.[70] On September 11, 2001, he denounced the terrorist attacks as un-Islamic.[56]

Islamic beliefs and ideology


While emphasizing unity within the Muslim community, Warith Deen Mohammed called upon the American Muslim community to establish a new school of "Fiqh", a code of conduct for the observance of rituals, morals and social legislation in Islam.[86] He told ISLAMICA magazine in 2008 that he felt that the Madhhab—the schools of thought within Fiqh—were geographically influenced and should be regionally developed, suggesting that "I think we are gradually getting a sense of madhabs in America, especially those like me. We are getting a sense of madhabs. And with the coming generation I think that we will be getting a much stronger sense of it. It is coming more and more.[87]

Imagery and color symbolism

Mohammed was sensitive to the potential impact caused by the use of images and symbols in religion. In a 1975 article, he explored this topic and in 1976 published the first article on the subject in the Bilalian News (later the Muslim Journal). Titled "A Message of Concern", this article has run in every copy of the publication since.[88][89] He spoke about the subject, as well. For instance, in a June 17, 1977 Friday service, he taught on "The meaning of colors in Scripture and the Natural Powers of Black and White", describing ancient scriptural symbolism and its effect on modern-day scriptural and religious interpretation. He also elaborated on how colors in scripture have triggered racist influences in religious societies.[31] In 1977 he formed the Committee for the Removal of All Images that Attempt to Portray the Divine (C.R.A.I.D.).[90][91]

Personal life

Warith Deen Mohammed's first wife was Shirley Mohammed, with whom he had four children.[92] By 1994, according to The Los Angeles Times, Mohammed had been married four times and had fathered eight children.[15] Mohammed married Khadija Siddeeq in 2004 [93] Mohammed's eldest child Laila Mohammed stated that Warith Deen practicedpolygamy.[94] However this polygamy assertion is disputed within the community.[95]
Beyond his public role in religion and politics, Mohammed was involved in real estate, import clothing and skin care.[15] During his excommunications from the Nation Of Islam in his 30s, he served as a laborer.[23]


W.D. Mohammed died in Chicago in early September 2008 of a likely heart attack.[96] His body was found on Tuesday September 9, at which point—according to the medical examiner's report—he had been dead for several days. In addition to cardiovascular disease, Mohammed suffered from diabetes.
According to the Final Call newspaper, "The Janazah prayer service was delayed for close to an hour so the huge crowd that had assembled could be organized and situated."[97]The Chicago Tribune wrote that 8,000 Muslims attended his funeral.[98] His funeral was held at the Islamic Foundation Masjid in Villa Park, Illinois


On his 44th Birthday October 30, 1977, Mohammed received the Key to the city of Detroit, Michigan from the then Mayor of Detroit Coleman Young, along with a Proclamation declaring October 30, 1977 Wallace D. Muhammad Day in Detroit.[99]
Then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton proclaimed March 26, 1983 "Economic Dignity Day" in the state of Arkansas. In doing so he stated the following: Whereas, through the leadership and efforts of Warith Deen Muhammad, the American Muslim Mission is on the path of economic progress and achieving growth through unity...(I) urge all citizens to engage in activities which promote economic progress.[100] On July 4, 1983 Imam W. Deen Muhammad shared the Reviewing Stand for the 1984 New World Patriotism Day Parade in Chicago with then State Senator Emarald Jones, State Representative Howard Brooks, parade Grand Marshal Harold Washington the then Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and many other dignitaries. Mayor Harold Washington issued a Proclamation declaring July 4, 1984 as New world Patriotism Day Coalition Parade Day in Chicago.[101]
In 1988, King Hassan II of Morocco, invited Mohammed to participate in the traditional devotions during Ramadan, stating: Through you Imam W. Deen Mohammed all the people in America are represented.[102]
In 1992, 1992, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt honored Warith Deen Mohammed with "The Gold Medal of Recognition" for his religious work in the United States.[103] He received the Focolare Movement "Luminosa Award for Unity" in 1997.[104] On May 17, 1999, he received a Certificate of Appreciation from the United States Department of State.[105] In 2002, Ebony Magazine selected him as one of its "100 Most Influential Black Americans".[106]
On December 9, 1994 he received the Cup of Compassion from the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn.[70]
On April 6, 2002, Mohammed was made a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and his portrait was hung in the International Chapel there.[79]
On Sat., Sept. 3, 2005, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) presented an award to W. Deen Mohammed in recognition of his outstanding leadership role in the American Muslim community at The Mosque Cares sponsored Annual Islamic Convention.[107]
In eulogizing Mohammed on CNN blogs, the Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, Ahmed Rehab, called him "America's Imam."[8]


Books authored

  • The Teachings of W. D. Muhammad, Muhammad's Mosque #2, Chicago, Illinois, 1975
  • The Lectures of Emam W. D. Muhammad, Muhammad's Mosque #2, Chicago, Illinois, 1976
  • Book of Muslim Names, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Mosque #2, Chicago, Illinois, February 1976
  • The Man and the Woman in Islam, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Mosque #2, Chicago, Illinois, February 1976
  • As the Light Shineth from the East, W.D.M. Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 1980
  • Prayer and Al-Islam, Muhammad Islamic Foundation, Chicago, Illinois, 1982, Library of Congress Card Number: 82-61077
  • Religion on the Line, W.D.M. Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 1983
  • Imam W. Deen Muhammad speaks from Harlem, N.Y. Book 1, W. D. M. Publications, 1984
  • Imam W. Deen Muhammad speaks from Harlem, N.Y.: Challenges That Face Man Today Book 2, 1985
  • Meeting The Challenge: Halal Foods for Our Everyday Needs, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Masjid, Chicago, Illinois, 1986
  • An African American Genesis, M.A.C.A. Publication Fund, Chicago, Illinois, 1986, Library of Congress Card Number: 86-63266
  • Focus on Al-Islam: Interviews with Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Zakat Publications, Chicago, Illinois, Dec. 1988, Library of Congress Card Number: 89-090728
  • Al-Islam: Unity, and Leadership, The Sense Maker, Chicago, Illinois, 1991, Library of Congress Card Number: 91-061449, ISBN 1-879698-00-5
  • Worst Oppression Is False Worship "The Key Is Tauheed-Oneness of Allah," W.D.M. Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 1991
  • Growth for a Model Community in America, W.D.M. Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 1995
  • Islam's Climate for Business Success, The Sense Maker, Chicago, Illinois, 1995, Library of Congress Card Number: 95-071105, ISBN 1-879698-01-3
  • Mohammed Speaks, W.D.M. Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 1999
  • Blessed Ramadan - The Fast of Ramadan
  • Plans for a Better Future: Peace, Inclusion and International Brotherhood
  • The Schemes Of Satan the Enemy of Man
  • The Champion We Have In Common: The Dynamic African American Soul Books 1, 2, 3, & 4, The Mosque Cares Publications, August 2005
  • A Time for Greater Communities Vol. 1-4
  • Securing our Share of Freedom
  • Prayer in al-Islam, A Learner's Guide w/Instructional CD, WDM Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 2007
  • Return to Innocence: Transitioning of the Nation of Islam, The Sense Maker, Chicago, Illinois, 2007
  • Life The Final Battlefield, W.D.M. Publications, Chicago, Illinois, 2008


  • A Look At W. Deen Mohammed: Muslim American Spokesman for Human Salvation, A Ministry of W. Deen Mohammed Publication, Chicago, Illinois, 1993

Video and audio presentations

  • Imam W. Deen Mohammed: "Systems of Knowledge", Muslim News Magazine, recorded as a television special by MNM during the 1994 Islamic Convention in Washington, DC. This classroom lecture was delivered in front of more than 200 Imams and scholars at the Renaissance Hotel. "Systems of Knowledge" is a classroom presentation on the essence of Quranic Arabic and its meaning to all mankind. This presentation marked the only time that Imam Mohammed allowed cameras into one of his private Imam classes. RT: 60 minutes. 1994.[citation needed]