“My dream is the same as faithful and loving
Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist leaders.
Our dream is the dream of Scripture.
We want to see human society be the best it can possibly be.”
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
October 30, 1933 - September 9, 2008
Wallace D. Mohammed, born Oct. 30, 1933, son of Elijah and Clara Mohammed, passed on Sept. 9, 2008. At a very early age, Imam Mohammed developed a keen scholastic interest in science, psychology and religion. He began his education, from elementary through secondary school, at the University of Islam in Chicago. Further educational pursuits took him to Wilson Junior College, where he concentrated on microbiology and to the Loop Jr. College where he studied English, history, and the social sciences. He was also a welder by trade. However, his primary education has come from and through his continued pursuit of religious and social truths.
Known to many as W. Deen Mohammed, he is the leader and international spokesman for the largest constituent of Muslims in America. His clear representation of true Islamic faith and practice, humanitarian service, and leadership for the establishment of Muslim life in America are well documented. He is a tireless laborer for the interests of peace and justice in our world. He has worked for and realized direct and genuine dialogue between people of all races and religions. With concrete plans into the next millennium for the strengthening of families, neighborhoods, and communities, Imam Mohammed’s leadership and vision continues to build upon a solid religious foundation.
In February 1975, upon the passing of his father, Elijah Mohammed, he was unanimously elected the new leader of the Nation of Islam by its leaders and general membership. With over 33 years of emphasis on the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and tradition of Muhammad the Prophet, he transformed the Nation of Islam. Through a strategy of gradual and moderate change, a program was designed to correct erroneous religious ideas and satisfy the requisites of true Islamic identity. Thus, the once volatile “Black Muslims” became a progressive and stable society of Muslim Americans. He opened the Nation of Islam membership up to all races of Muslims and encouraged Muslim Americans to register to vote and become full participants in the politics and economics of America.
In 1977, he led the largest delegation of Muslim Americans, most former members of the Nation of Islam, on Hajj, pilgrimage to the sacred house in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The same year he toured China with “American Friends of China”. He has represented Muslims at the World Parliament of Religious Leaders for the survival of the Earth, in Oxford, England. He signed the Williamsburg Charter at Williamsburg, VA celebrating the First Amendment/First Freedom of the U. S. Constitution. Following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, in 1990 at the invitation of Saudi Arabia´s King Fahd Bin Abdul-Aziz, Imam Mohammed and a delegation traveled to Saudi Arabia in a consultative role to discuss the concerns of Muslims over the Gulf War.
In 1992, he delivered the first Invocation in the U.S. Senate to be given by a Muslim. He toured the Pentagon and addressed Muslims in the U. S. Militaryand its Chaplains. He delivered an address on the floor of the Georgia State Legislature - the state of his father´s birth, the first ever given by a Muslim.
In 1993 he gave an Islamic Prayer at President William Jefferson Clinton’s first Inaugural Interfaith Prayer Service, and again in 1997 at President Clinton’s second Inaugural Interfaith Prayer Service. In December of 1994, Imam Mohammed was presented the "Cup of Compassion" Award from the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. His strong interest in interfaith dialogue led him to deliver the keynote address at the Muslim-Jewish Conference on March 6, 1995, with leaders of Islam and Reform Judaism in Glencoe, IL and in the same year, Forbes Magazine officials hosted an address given by Imam Mohammed in Naples, FL on the topic "How Do We Save Our Youth"
In 1996, Imam Mohammed visited Malaysia at the invitation of Dr. Mohammed Nuir Manuty, President of the Muslim Youth Movement, which resulted in a Muslim American student exchange program, for several years. He met privately with Malaysia´s Deputy Prime Minister and was interviewed on Malaysian national television. In 1996, he also led a delegation of Muslims to The Vatican in Rome, Italy, where he met with Pope John Paul II and with Cardinal Francis Arinze, The Vatican´s Chief of Staff for Inter-religious Affairs.
As an international humanitarian, Imam Mohammed supported the Peacemaking and Human Rights Efforts of Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia and traveled to San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas), Mexico, as a member of The Peace Council to hear concerns of the Chiapas Rebels. He also led a delegation of Muslim Americans to Jerusalem and areas under rule of the Palestinian Authority led by Palestinian leader, President Yasser Arafat, visiting Palestinian cities, government agencies, hospitals and homes throughout the West Bank. The visit culminated on Christmas Eve with a meeting in Gaza City with President Arafat at his headquarters,
In 1997, President Clinton, in his re-election Inauguration, invited Imam Mohammed to the White House for the 1st Annual Ecumenical Breakfast, and requested Imam Mohammed to read from the Holy Qur´an at the Presidential Inauguration Day National Prayer Service. Later that year, Imam Mohammed attended the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Tehran, Iran and in 1997 the Focolare Movement presented him with the “Luminosa Award”, for promoting Interfaith Dialogue, peace, and understanding in the U.S.
He also accepted the invitation of the Honorable Chiara Lubich,
a Catholic Sister and World War II Survivor, to come to Rome, Italy to a
ddress the Muslim Friends of the Focalore Conference, which brought
together representatives from 24 nations.
In 1999, with Pope John Paul II and The Dalai Lama present of
stage, Imam Mohammed addressed a gathering of 100,000 atThe Vatican. He participated in the Jubilennium Interfaith Conference for World Peace held in Israel and the World Conference on Religion and Peace Assembly VII in Amman, Jordan. There, he was elected as an International President in the U.S. for WCRP. In 1999, Imam Mohammed also served on the Advisory Panel for Religious Freedom Abroad, formed by Secretary of State Madeline Albright. He assisted in promoting religious freedom in the United States and Abroad.
In 2000, he was appointed to the executive Committee of Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP). On September 11, 2001, Imam Mohammed, in the strongest terms, immediately denounced the Terrorists Attacks on the United States as un-Islamic and evil. Later in the year, Imam Mohammed participated in an "Evening of Religious Solidarity," joined by Dr. Robert H. Schuller, Minister Louis Farrakhan and members of the Parliament of World Religions at the Mosque Foundation in Villa Park, Illinois. The same year, Imam Mohammed attended the Contribution of Religions to Peace Conference in Assisi, Italy, at the invitation of Pope John Paul II, for religious leaders to gather to pray for world peace.
In 2002, he was ceremoniously inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia, where his portrait hangs in the International Chapel of Non-Violent Religious Leaders at Morehouse. As an International President of WCRP, he participated in the Conference of Religious Leaders Addressing the Devastation on Africa from HIV/Aids held in Nairobi, Kenya.
In April, 2005, Imam Mohammed sent a delegation of Imams to a Muslim-Christian Dialogue First Symposium given by the Catholic based Focolare Movement. The focus was, “Who is G-d for us? “ This program occurred after the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI. During the same month and year, Imam Mohammed participated in a program that featured, “A Conversation with Imam W. Deen Mohammed and Cardinal George of the Catholic Archdiocese. It was a historical event which was enlightening and illuminating.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed lectured at Universities and Colleges throughout the United States, among them have been Yale University´s School of Divinity, Fordham University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Emory University, Washington University (St. Louis), Duke University, North Carolina Central University, Harvard University and numerous others.
Imam Mohammed’s life works resonate and reflect the ideals of peace, universal human acceptance, establishing interfaith relationships, and a cherished appreciation for America and her guarantee of Freedom, Justice and Equality. His honorary doctorates, mayoral, and gubernatorial proclamations give testament to his recognized voice and the benefit of his leadership to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
In 1998, Imam Mohammed traveled to Auschwitz, Poland, where he participated in the Conference on Religion and Peace hosted by the Center for Christian and Jewish Understanding of Sacred Heart University. From there, he went to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to explore business opportunities for the Collective Purchasing Conference (CPC), which he established as a member organization of distributors and investors, in order to strengthen the economic status of the Muslim Americans and to enhance the buying power of small businessmen and women throughout the economically strained African-American communities in the United States.