Imam W.D. Mohammed
Imam W. D. Mohammed Islamic Center is named after and affiliated with the leadership of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, born Wallace D. Muhammad, October 30, 1933-September 9, 2008. Also known as W. Deen Mohammed or Imam W. Deen Mohammed, he was a progressive African American Muslim leader, theologian, philosopher, Muslim revivalist (Mujeddid), and Islamic thinker (1975-2008). W. D. Mohammed disbanded the original Nation of Islam (NOI) in 1976 after becoming its leader upon the passing of his father, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. 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. He transformed the NOI into an orthodox mainstream Islamic movement. It was known as the World Community of Al-Islam in the West which later became the American Society of Muslims. This change sparked the largest mass conversion to Islam in the history of the United States.
Mohammed was intent on strengthening bonds between his movement and the wider American Muslim faith community as well as with followers of Islam abroad. It was his goal to align American Muslims with Sunni Islam. In 1976, he took a delegation to Guyana on an official state visit to meet with Prime Minister L. Forbes Burham, and the President of Guyana Arthur Chung, during which he forged ties with the Muslim communities in the region. In 1985, he met in Geneva, Switzerland with Dr. Muhammad Ahmad Al-Sharif, Secretary General of the World Islamic Call Society of Libya and Dr. Abdul Hakim Tabibi, an Afghan mujahid, to discuss areas of future cooperation with the World Islamic Call Society and the Muslim Community of America. 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. In 1999, he was elected to the Islamic Society of North America’s shura board. That same year during Ramadan, he pledged to work with the Grand Mufti of Syria. He was also the special invited guest and keynote speaker at the “Inaugural Conference on the Growth of Islam in America, held at Harvard University on March 3-4, 2000.
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.” In 1977, he participated in a Muslim-Christian dialogue in Fort Worth, Texas with Dr. Jack Evans, President of Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas. In February 1978, he gave a historic address before more than 1,000 Jews and Muslims at the Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, DC., under the leadership of Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman. This was a focus that would persist throughout his career.Additionally, throughout his ministry, W.D. Mohammed remained politically active domestically and internationally. He was the only American invited and the only American to attend the 10thAnnual Islamic Conference of Ministers in May, 1979, in Fes, Morocco. In 1988, he was among 100 leaders in religion, government, business, law philanthropy who gathered in Williamsburg, Virginia during the Williamsburg Charter Foundation “First Liberty Summit.” During the month of November 1999, he attended two peace conferences one in Tiberias, Israel, and the other in Amman, Jordan.
He was a prominent political speaker. Mohammed gave the first invocation in the United Sates Senate ever by a Muslim in 1992. That same year, he became the first Muslim to deliver an address on the floor of the Georgian State Legislature. 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. In 1996 he was invited to Egypt by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to address the Supreme Council of Affairs in Cairo on the theme “Islam and the Future of Dialogue between Civilizations.”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. Also, in 1995, he was selected as the President of the World Conference of Religions for Peace and addressed its governing board in Copenhagen, Denmark. In January 1997, he was appointed to President Clinton’s Religious Advisory Council. In 2000, he was named to the Executive Committee of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP). He was also a political activist. On July 4, 1976, he started the New World Patriotism Day celebrations which were conducted on Independence Day in major cities across America. 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. On December 23, 1989, he spoke at the Annual Conference of the Islamic Committee for Palestine on the plight of the Palestinians. 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. 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, California on June 30, 1990. On September 11, 2001, he denounced the terrorist attacks as un-Islamic. In closing, Imam W. D. Mohammed has led us to become responsible Muslim American citizens, and we are honored to have been influenced by his leadership.