Mohammed, W. Deen

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Mohammed, W. Deen

W. Deen Mohammed (Warith Deen Mohammed), 1933–2008, American Muslim leader, b. Detroit as Wallace Dean Muhammad. The son of Nation of Islam (Black Muslim) leader Elijah Muhammad, he attended religious schools and junior colleges in Chicago. He became minister of a Philadelphia temple in 1958. While in prison for resisting the draft (1961), he read the Qu'ran and became aware of contradictions in his father's theology; his support for more traditional, nonracially based Islamic tenets led several times to his excommunication. After his father's death in 1975, he was chosen to succeed him, and a year later changed his name amid long-term moves toward mainstream Sunni Muslim practice. Disagreements led to a split within what became the American Society of Muslims, and some Black Muslims left to follow other leaders, most notably Louis Farrakhan. Mohammed resigned as the society's leader in 2003.

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