The passing of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed today is the passing of an era. We extend our condolences to his family and to all of his loyal followers This is no ordinary day, but a watershed moment which should cause us all to reflect on the legacy of this man’s work, and the unfinished business he left behind.
Whether one agreed with him all the time or not (and this is not really the place to discuss those matters), one cannot deny that his impact on the growth and development of Islam in America has been enormous. Over the past 35 years, it has been impossible to discuss the reality of Islam in America without mentioning the leadership of Imam Mohammed. His place in American history is secure, and the impact of his ministry can be seen in the thousands of young adult Muslims who were raised making salat, fasting the month of Ramadan, performing the hajj, going to college and raising stable Muslim families. I must admit here that I did not always see the wisdom of certain policies he implemented, but then again God did not give me the responsibity he gave Imam Mohammed. As an older man, I began to realize that he had it more right than I did.
I believe the more important aspects of his legacy will be that,
1) He was the architect of the largest mass conversion of westernized people to the religion of Islam in history. This achievement alone is monumental and ensconced his name in the canon of the world’s great men.
2) At a time when he could have easily exploited the tremendous love and admiration (bordering on worship) of his father’s followers to amass great wealth and luxury, he instead chose to live a very simple and humble life, one not given to extravagance.
3) And finally, he taught African American Muslims how they could be both good Muslims and good Americans, and to do so without becoming arabized in the process. This to me, after teaching the people tawheed (the oneness of God) and correct worship, is his singular achievement. Given the incessant propaganda of the immigrant Muslim establishment – what I call the “syndicate” – this was no mean feat. Imam Mohammed was very wisely able to fuse together the three different indentities into a composite whole, thwarting all efforts of the”syndicate” (and their Black American surrogates) to co-opt his movement for their purposes. It is our prayer that his followers always keep this fact in front of them as even now power hungry wolves plot and scheme to pick off his community.
To Allah we belong and to Him is our return.