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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

W. Deen Mohammed, 74, Top U.S. Imam, Dies

It is with great sorrow and acceptance of Allah's will that I mourn the passing of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed.

I had the honor of meeting with him on several occasions and experience his wisdom, humility, compassion to all people, and deep spirituality. It is difficult for one not to be touched by such a great man and leader.

He sure will be missed not only by his family and loved one, but also by all Muslims and our country. Imam W.D. Muhammed was a rare voice of reason, unity, and moderation.

May Allah accept all his good work and forgive him and all of us for our shortcomings. I pray to Almighty Allah that Imam W.D. Muhammed be entered into His Gardens of Eden, and that Allah grant all his loved ones the patience and the reward for aceepting Allah's will.

As Allah reminds us in the Qur'an:
"To Allah we all belong and to Him we shall return."


W. Deen Mohammed, 74, Top U.S. Imam, Dies

New York Times
Published: September 9, 2008

Imam W. Deen Mohammed, a son of the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, who renounced the black nationalism of his father’s movement to lead a more traditional and racially tolerant form of Islam for black Muslims, died on Tuesday in Chicago. He was 74.

The death was confirmed on the blog of Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Michigan, where Imam Mohammed had recently led a convention. The Associated Press reported that no cause had been determined.

Imam Mohammed emerged from the cauldron of religious politics and internal rivalry that characterized the Black Muslims, as the Nation of Islam members were called, in the 1960s and 1970s.

Following Malcolm X, who was drifting away from black separatism toward traditional Islam when he was assassinated in 1965, Imam Mohammed increasingly favored a nonracial approach to religion, without categorizing white people as devils, as Elijah Muhammad did. His father excommunicated him several times for this dissidence.

The son was nonetheless unanimously elected supreme minister of the Nation of Islam after his father’s death in 1975. He pushed his followers toward a more orthodox faith, emphasizing study of the Koran and the five duties of a Moslem: faith, charity, prayer five times a day, fasting during Ramadan and pilgrimage to Mecca. A major change was rejecting the divinity of the founder of the Nation of Islam, Wallace D. Fard; a lesser one was relaxing the religion’s strict dress code.

Eventually, the Black Muslims splintered, with the fiery Louis Farrakhan leading the faction favoring racial separatism. Imam Mohammed, soft-spoken and scholarly, led what is thought to be a far larger flock that appeals, in general terms, to middle-class blacks, according to Contemporary Black Biography, an online reference book. Over the years, estimates of the group’s size have ranged from 500,000 adherents to more than 2 million.

In 1976, Imam Mohammed dropped the Nation of Islam name in favor of the World Community of al-Islam in the West; that was also the year he adopted the title of imam.

Two years later, he changed the name of his organization to the American Muslim Mission. Later, he encouraged each mosque to be independent under the leadership of the Muslim American Society, or the Ministry of W. Deen Mohammed.

Imam Mohammed moved decisively toward the religious mainstream. In 1992, he became the first Muslim to deliver the invocation for the United States Senate. He led prayers at both inaugurals of President Bill Clinton. He addressed a conference of Muslims and Reform Jews in 1995, and participated in several major interfaith dialogues with Roman Catholic cardinals. He met with the pope in 1996 and 1999.

Imam Mohammed worked to bring American Muslims into the world’s largest Islamic orthodoxy, the Sunni branch. He met privately with Arab leaders like President Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and received a contribution of $16 million from a sultan in the United Arab Emirates.

His leadership position in the American Muslim community was evident two years after he succeeded his father when he led what was then the largest delegation of American Muslims on the pilgrimage to Mecca. It was major news in the African-American press when Imam Mohammed and Mr. Farrakhan appeared together in Chicago in 2000.(MORE)

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