Imam Warith Deen Mohammed
By Yusef Maisonet
As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatullah,
Warith Deen Mohammed (October 30, 1933 – September 9, 2008) was a scholar and a reformer.
A world traveler and known to all from Pope John Paul II to the President – all the way to Jerusalem, his opposition against his father’s teachings is widely known. His father was Elijah Muhammad who was the leader of the Nation of Islam from 1933 to 1975. Although excommunicated several times, the love of father and son are very strong and the deep respect that he had with his father was profound and that deep love and respect is what kept them in touch with each other.
He refused induction into the military and spent fourteen months in a Minnesota prison in 1961. He made the most of his time by studying the Quran. His entire life was about change, about a progressive way of life. After taking leadership of his father’s organization in 1975, we saw the biggest conversion to Al-Islam in America, numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
He rejected the NOI belief about the divinity of W.D. Fard, which stated that he was God on earth. However, W.D. Mohammed is better known for rejecting Black supremacist ideology. Schools were opened for the seekers of knowledge and for the hardliners that refused to give him due credit.
Most people fail to realize his significant influence on the Latino community. Many Latinos became Muslim through his teachings and not just Latinos on the East Coast or West Coast but from Chicago to every big city in America. How many brothers, including myself, came to believe Islam would have a bright future in America because of his teachings? I took advantage of his teachings and hit the international circuit of knowledge by going as far as China to seek knowledge.
The imam stressed that it is incumbent upon all people to acknowledge that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and Muhammed is the last Prophet, the seal of the Prophets. He emphasized that we must do our best to make this a better society to live in for all, regardless of what they believe in. Allah makes Muslims, and all we do is propagate Allah’s message of unity, His Oneness.
The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) led by example. I am blessed to be able to have acquired some insight to his teachings. As an American Latino Muslim, I am proud and committed to spreading the word of Allah (SWT) in the most beautiful way possible – by staying positive and optimistic about the future of the Latino Muslim community in America and the world.
I have been a Muslim for over 40 years and the last 20 of those years I have been a student of W.D. Mohammed. You could say being one of his students has given me what some might call freedom of religion. I have the freedom to summit to Allah alone, and this knowledge ensures that I do not have to worry about whether or not what I’m doing is right or wrong.
Because Allah gives man what he strives for, be careful for what you strive for. I’ve even returned to college. I’m just pointing out these things to show the influence that the imam’s teachings have had upon me as a Muslim. There has never been a point that I didn’t acknowledge that I was Latino, that I spoke Spanish, or that I was born in New York. I took traveling around the world seriously. I have developed serious relationships with people of different cultures.
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into tribes and nations that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that believer who has At Taqwa, he is one of the Muttaqun (pious). Verily Allah is all knowing, Well Acquainted (with all things).” -Surah All Hujurat 49:13.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Shall I tell you who a true believers is? A person with whom others entrust their money and lives. A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands others are safe. A true fighter in the path of Allah is one who strives against the inner yearnings of his self in order to obey Allah, and the true emigrant (one who leaves a land of disbelief and emigrates to a land of belief) is one who leaves sins and wrongful acts.” (Ibn Hibban).
And, this was within the teachings of the imam. Although he’s not with us physically, his teachings will remain with us forever.