Ever Vibrant

Article excerpt

Imam WD Mohammed set the course for Muslim African Americans to establish themselves here at home in the US.

Imam W. Deen Mohammed (1933-2008) was born out of the need to advance the Muslim African-American community beyond its origin during the days of the African-Americans' oppression by the strong arm of white supremacy that dominated the country's political, social, and religious life.

Although racism and oppression did not start with the transatlantic slave trade, this river flowing through the African-Americans' history has its birth there. Herded onto slave ships through the "Door of No Return," which still stands on the west coast of Senegal's Goree Island, millions of men and women and some children were deported from such Muslim strongholds as the Ghana Empire and the Ivory Coast.

As the process of restoring the freed slaves' human dignity began with many historical players, their ancestors' religion - Islam - also emerged through several channels. The most outstanding process was that directed by the person known as Master Fard Muhammad, a member of the Muslim Indian community who introduced Islam into the AfricanAmerican communities. Cloaking Islam between the pages of a mythology that was as much about breaking the yoke of white supremacy as it was to bring the new authence of African-Americans to the proper worship of God, he fought fire with fire by creating a black supremacy movement. At the same time, however, he pointed to the purity of the Qur'an and what it embodied as humanity's Final Destination. His star student, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, was left to build the Nation of Islam (NoI) with the ever-present objective of restoring the exslaves' human dignity and put them in touch with their glorious past in Africa. In addition, he set up a scenario in which even Elijah Muhammad's successes would be concluded by passing his leadership on to Wallace D. Mohammad, the one son who was raised to differ with him and the black supremacy theology he had brought in the first place.

Named by Master Fard, from his very birth Wallace was set on a course to overcome the flaws in the Nol's teachings. Later known as Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, his father arranged for him to learn Arabic from Dr. Jamil Diab, a Palestinian refugee. Although other children of the NoI were among these students, Wallace, just as Master Fard had predicted, was the quickest among them to grasp Arabic and, ultimately, the Message of the Qur'an, or "Islam proper," as it was referred to by those who transitioned with him out of the Nol's racist teachings and into the Prophet's (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) message.

From the onset of his leadership on 26 Feb. 1975, Imam Mohammed deciphered the messages, ideas, and direction left by Master Fard embedded in the Nol's original teachings. Thus he formulated a safe passage for many thousands of his father's followers to the salvation awaiting them in the Qur'an, to be purified of false worship and to see God as having no partners or equals, the Creator, the One Supreme, All Knowing God of all the systems of knowledge, over the heavens and Earth, and over all worlds of which we do and do not know. Given that Muslims the world over, for the most part, distanced themselves from the Nol, the credit for this transition goes to one person only - Imam Mohammed. As he methodically moved his father's followers away from the dangerous ideals of black supremacy and God embodied in a person, Imam Mohammed began to build upon the best ideals brought by Master Fard and promoted by the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. One such ideal was the dignity and business concept to "do-for-self." He dignified his father's memory by referring to him as the greatest of "social reformers," for from Elijah's teachings the African Americans began to hold their heads high, shake off the inferiority complex heaped upon them, and even proclaim: "I'm Black and I'm Proud!" The Hon. Elijah Muhammad had taken a people who bore the names of their slave masters and told them to replace those names with an "X" until they could fully identify with their past heritage, thereby giving rise to such great men as Malcolm X Shabazz and Muhammad Ali. …