Warith Deen Mohammed Condemns the Nation of Islam
Posted: August 14, 2007
A longtime African-American Muslim community leader with roots in the Nation of Islam (NOI) criticized the organization for its record of bigotry, calling on it to embrace more traditional Islam.
Addressing reporters after his August 10, 2007, lecture at the Clinton Presidential Library, Imam Warith Deen (W.D.) Mohammed said, "The time for those leaders who had that hate rhetoric has come and passed and they know it." He added, "For the last 10 years or more, they've just been selling wolf tickets to the white race and having fun while they collect money and have fancy lifestyles."
During the event, organized by the University of Arkansas' Clinton School of Public Service, the former leader of the American Society of Muslims (ASM) also reiterated the widely held belief that Ishmael Muhammad is among the likely contenders for NOI leadership. Mohammed stated that Ishmael, who is Louis Farrakhan's assistant minister at Mosque Maryam in Chicago and is also a son of Elijah Muhammad, is poised to "clear up the destruction of the religion in the Nation of Islam." Farrakhan relinquished his leadership role in September 2006 due to illness, but has since remained the public face of the organization.
Mohammed predicted that any future leader would likely struggle to promote Farrakhan's radical principles in his absence and that a shift in ideology might occur: "I think there's a merger coming, a quiet merging of leaders of the Nation of Islam and leaders in my community." He added that the group has "a strong desire to see religious change," and that NOI's student ministers have been already begun studying the Koran with orthodox Muslims.
Despite speaking out against Farrakhan and the NOI from time to time over the years, Mohammed has at times been very supportive of Farrakhan. During the ASM's annual convention in September 2002, Mohammed voiced solidarity with Farrakhan, vowing to "work with the Nation of Islam for economic development and calling for a united Muslim community in America that would show the true brotherhood of Islam regardless to race or ethnicity."
During the NOI's annual Saviours' Day celebration in February 1999, Farrakhan, weakened by illness and unable to attend the event, extended an invitation of unity and brotherhood to Mohammed and his followers. Mohammed told the audience that the time had come for his followers and those of Farrakhan to be one community, and expressed hopefulness that Farrakhan would "be around for a long time to help bring us to the… great destination of being a united ummah [community] on this earth." Mohammed's speech and public embrace of Farrakhan's son, Mustapha, and other sons of Elijah Muhammad, led to reports of a rapprochement between the two groups; Mohammed responded to the reports by stating, among other things, "I haven't lost my friendship with Minister Farrakhan."
W.D. Mohammed is the son of former NOI leader Elijah Muhammad. Following Elijah Muhammad's death in 1975, W.D. Mohammed rejected his father's racist ideology and steered a new course away from hatred, intolerance and separatism, moving instead toward a more traditional interpretation of Islam. In response, Farrakhan formed a group to uphold Elijah Muhammad's original separatist beliefs, taking many members—and the Nation of Islam name—with him.