Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering Imam W.D. Mohammed

Remembering Imam W.D. Mohammed
1. Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam 2. Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center 3. Rabbi Michael Lerner Chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives 4. Obituary, Chicago Tribune
Official Statement from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam on the passing of Imam W. Deen Mohammed
Sep 9, 2008
( - The following statement was released today by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam regarding the passing of Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
CHICAGO - We mourn the loss of our brother Imam W. Deen Mohammed. We thank Allah for him and his great contribution to the ongoing work of Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah (P.B.U.H) and his work of helping to create a better understanding and image of Islam in America and throughout the world. Our prayers and our thoughts are with the Mohammed family, with the followers and all those who feel our great loss.
The Shalom Center mourns the death of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, may the memory of this righteous and loving leader be a blessing to us all.
This national leader of the American Muslim community died yesterday in Illinois.
Imam Mohammed, 74, was the son of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the "Nation of Islam." After his father's death in 1975, Imam Mohammed led his community to mainstream Islam. Those who followed him took a path similar to that of El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz ("Malcolm X" ) in his last months after his pilgrimage to Mecca, leaving racial and ethnic animosity behind in the true spirit of Islam.
The communities that followed W. Deen Mohammed are both more numerous and more deeply rooted than the "Nation of Islam" -- while it became better known in white America because of the animosities expressed by some of its leaders.
May his following continue to grow in numbers and in spiritual depth, and may other Americans learn to practice a loving and people-healing ministry, as he did and they do.
Asalaam aleikum, shalom aleichem - May peace rest upon
Arthur (Rabbi Arthur Waskow)
The Shalom Center: A prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and American life
We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) mourn the death of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, a leading voice of rationality, love and goodness in the Muslim American community.
The account below from the Chicago Tribune gives some sense of his history in building positive interfaith relations and in providing a powerful alternative to the voice of the notorious anti-Semite and homophobe who heads the Nation of Islam: Rev. Farrakhan.
I was personally grateful for the several opportunities I had to work with Imam W. Deen Mohammed. I found him to be a man of great wisdom and compassion. He was a strong supporter of Tikkun Magazine and the Network of Spiritual Progressives and we had hoped to have him speak at our 2009 convention in Washington, D.C. and we were simply waiting to find a specific location and date for that event before finalizing the arrangements with him. Imam Mohammed provided me personally with important protection when Cornel West and I wrote our book together (Blacks and Jews: Let the Healing Begin) and found ourselves facing hostile audiences of Black Muslims who were repeating some of Farrakhan's hateful teachings and expressing hostility toward me that verged on overt violence.
It was a tragedy, though typical, that the American media gave far more attention to Farrakhan, because his hateful teachings were provocative and attention- grabbing, than to W. Deen Mohammed whose teachings of love and cooperation were largely unknown beyond the Muslim community.
We at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives are saddened and mourn our loss of this inspirational
leader. Baruch Dayan Emet.
--Rabbi Michael Lerner Chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives
Imam W.D. Mohammed, African-American Muslim leader, dies at 74; son of Elijah Muhammad
By Ron Grossman and Margaret Ramirez
Chicago Tribune
September 9, 2008,0,1809841.story
Imam W. Deen Mohammed, one of the most prominent African-American Muslim leaders in the nation and the son of the late Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, died Tuesday, sources told the Tribune. "Brother Imam,"
as he was affectionately known, was 74.
There was no immediate confirmation of his death by his family. The Cook County medical examiner confirmed that a Wallace Mohammed was pronounced dead at his home in the 16100 block of Cambridge Drive in Markham, a spokesman said. Muslim community leaders said Mohammed was scheduled to speak Tuesday in Chicago, and many grew concerned when he did not appear. His last speaking engagement was at the monthly 1st Sunday Address he gave on Sept. 7 in Homewood. Mohammed inherited from his father the Nation of Islam, a religious movement crafted out of black nationalism and bits and pieces of Muslim practice. He immediately tried to move its followers toward mainstream Islam, eventually leading to a split between those who agreed with Mohammed's approach and those who joined a revived Nation of Islam under Louis Farrakhan.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed Photos Mohammed was a spiritual wanderer who was banished several times by his father for filial impiety?once for remaining close to Malcolm X, Muhammad's prized disciple who turned into a critical voice within the Nation of Islam before he was slain. In 1961, Mohammed refused to serve in the U.S.
military and went to prison in accordance with his father's teaching that African- Americans shouldn't defend a land of lynching and segregation. While incarcerated, Mohammed studied the Quran and found its teachings at considerable variance with his father's.
After his father's death, Mohammed in 1975 took the bold step of aligning the Nation of Islam with mainstream Muslim beliefs and giving the movement a new name, the first of several. In 1976, Mohammed made a public appearance carrying an American flag. He proclaimed the time had come for black Americans to celebrate America. The following year, Farrakhan broke away to revive the Nation of Islam and its traditional teachings.
Mohammed's lifestyle was markedly different from that of his father, who presided over a religious empire from a family compound he constructed amid the historic mansions of the Kenwood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Muhammad was surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards, dubbed the Fruit of Islam. Mohammed also rejected his father's sometimes overtly anti-white preaching?a rhetorical style continued by the fiery Farrakhan, Mohammed's rival for leadership of African- American Muslims. Farrakhan and Mohammed long traded barbs and theological jabs before publicly reconciling at a joint worship service in 2000.
"For me, [Islam] is too big a cause for our personal problems and differences to stand in the way," Mohammed said.
Mohammed was also deeply committed to building bridges between African-American Muslims and the increasing numbers of immigrants from the Middle East and Asia. In 2003, Mohammed unexpectedly announced his resignation from his organization, the American Society of Muslims, saying he was frustrated that many of its imams had refused to adopt mainstream Muslim thinking. During his final years, Mohammed lived quietly in a modest home in south suburban Markham. He headed a charitable organization, Mosque Cares, and spoke to congregations across the nation. His lectures were reprinted in the movement's newspaper, the Muslim Journal. But he had no mosque of his own.

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