Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, a major Islamic leader in the U.S. who led thousands of African-American Muslims to orthodox Islam, died on September 9th in Illinois. 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.
Born October 30, 1933, Wallace Delaney — later Warith Deen — Mohammed was tapped by the founder of the Nation of Islam, Wali Farad Mohammed, to be his father’s successor. But, trained from childhood in Arabic and in the Koran, he early came to reject the Nation of Islam’s racial theology and loopy accounts of the creation of the white race by a mad scientist. He also rejected his father’s contention that Farad, originally W.D. Fard, was divine.
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.
“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.”
Imam Warith Deen Mohammed died on September 9, 2008, the 9th day of Ramadan, in Illinois Chicago.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun. From Allah we came and to Allah we shall return. May Allah bestow His Mercy on Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, and rest his soul among the Prophets, the Truthful, The Martyrs and the Pious Ones, Ameen.
I had to honour of speaking to Imam Warith Deen many years ago to invite him to Singapore. The visit did not materialised, but he was certainly a nice person and he was thinking about his community all the time.
My takziah and condolences to his family and loved ones.