Passing of Pivotal Muslim Leader, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed

Posted on September 10, 2008


From the MSA website, (Washington, DC 9/9/08)

MSA National mourns the passing of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. A much loved and admired Muslim leader, Imam W.D. Mohammed died today at the age of 74.

Imam W.D. Mohammed was the pivotal figure in leading followers of the Nation of Islam to mainstream Islam, creating the largest demographic of Muslims in the United States. His subtle leadership, strong work ethic, and unshakeable faith inspired millions of people in the United States to break the divisive barriers of ethnicity and religion; a goal he quite literally dedicated his entire life to achieve. He succeeded in breaking down many barriers; Imam W.D. Mohammed was the first Muslim to give an invocation speech to the US Senate in 1993. He also led the Interfaith Prayer Service on two separate occasions during the Clinton Administration.

During his life, MSA National was privileged to work with Imam W.D. Mohammed on several occasions. In the 1970’s MSA National established The Islamic Teaching Center, with a focus to train African American Imams. MSA National also worked with Imam W.D. Mohamed to facilitate access to Qur’ans and other materials for African American Muslims. Sr. Asma Mirza, current President of MSA National, met with Imam W.D. Mohammed this summer. “He spoke fondly of his experience with MSA National,” she stated, “He was happy to see Muslim youth still working for a better tomorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Character reflects actions, and Imam W.D. Mohammed was no exception. Aside from his high profile life of public service, the Imam touched lives and led by example on a personal level. Dr. Jamilah Karim grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and attended the Islamic school built in his name. “I grew up hearing about his legend,” she said, but didn’t fully appreciate the Imam’s contributions until pursuing her graduate courses in Islamic Studies, where she became “a student and an observer”. She also discussed with fervor how he “showed me what it meant to be a Muslim in America”. When Dr. Karim began attending lectures by the Imam she was taken back on how he carried himself in such a humble way, but at the same time “had a certainty and faith about the special role he had leading his community.”

Imam W.D. Mohammed was a man who did not rest easy at night knowing the challenges faced by his community. He worked with all his heart and soul to bring together not only the Muslim community, but the American people. His influences will be far reaching, and not limited to the history books. Imam Warith Deen Mohammed will be dearly missed, and his example not soon forgotten.

Inna lillahiwainnailayhi raji’un. Verily we come from God and to Him we return.

Note from Rafik Beekun: May Allah spare Imam W.D. Mohammed from the trials of the grave and grant him Jannah.

The janazah for Imam Mohammed is planned for this Thursday at 1:45 p.m. at the Islamic Foundation of Villa Park, 300 W Highridge Rd., Villa Park, IL 60181, followed by internment at Mt. Glennwood Cemetery, 18301 E Glenwood and Thornton Rd., Glenwood, IL 60425.

A community memorial service is planned for this Saturday at 2 p.m. on the community’s property across from 2979 W. 167th St., Markham, IL.

CONTACT: Ayesha K. Mustafaa, Muslim Journal or Sultan Muhammad, family member at: (773) 540-6001 or

Posted in: Leadership