Faith & Beliefs: Warith Deen Mohammed, A Giant of Islam, Left a Legacy of Unity

September 18, 2008

Author: Vern Barnet


Last week the world lost one of the most transformative figures in the recent history of Islam, Warith Deen Mohammed, sometimes called “America’s Imam.” He was the first Muslim to offer the invocation for the U.S. Senate.

He had been scheduled speak in Kansas City last May but at the last minute was called to an international consultation.

I cherish a photo I have when he was here in 1997 for the dedication of Al-Inshirah Islamic Center at 3664 Troost. He and the center made a point to invite non-Muslim leaders to the event, and I wrote a column about that.

I had lived in Chicago when his father, Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, was regarded as a separatist Black Muslim leader.

But his son, who changed the spelling of his name, brought members of his father’s group into mainstream America and mainstream Islam, and spoke not about separation but about relationships.

At the dedication, Mohammed said, “We are connected with all human beings. We all came from the same parents. God wants us to respect each other.”

See also: Islam