Photo credits: Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press
“The difference between religion and spirituality is that spirituality is human and divine. It is human that [Allah] created us to be — spiritually pure…innocent…unblemished and that’s human. But [Allah] also created us with an appetite for divine will.”
— Imam W. Deen Mohammed (as told to Valerie Linson, a producer for PBS’s This Far by Faith)
On October 30, 1933, Warith Deen Mohammed (pictured) was born in Hamtramck, Michigan.
He was Elijah and Clara Muhammad’s seventh child. Known historically as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Warith Mohammed’s father led the Nation of Islam (NOI) from 1934 until his death in 1975. The NOI was founded in 1930 by Wali F. Muhammad. Wali Muhammad was an enigmatic Saudi or Afghan-born man. Obscurity has always surrounded his early life and legitimate national origin. He arrived in Detroit, Michigan the same year he founded the NOI.
Elijah Muhammad took over as the NOI’s leader four years later following Wali Muhammad’s mysterious disappearance. Warith Mohammed (born Wallace Dean Muhammad) experienced childhood being attentive to his father’s sermons. As a boy, he trusted the Islamic interpretations professed in his father’s message. However, Mohammed began maturing as a number of years went by. Eventually, he developed a raised level of consciousness.
Mohammed (known professionally as W. Deen Mohammed) discovered that there were differences allying his father’s Islamic teachings and what was upheld in the Q’uran, which was read and studied in Mecca, Saudi, Arabia. Mecca is revered by those in the Sunni branch of Islam to be the religion’s birthplace. However, the Shi’ite and Sufi branches of Islam are subscribed to by over one billion Muslims today throughout the world.
The global body of Islam’s Muslim followers is called the Ummah, according to the Q’uran.
Isolating himself from the powerful man who fathered him, and becoming an expatriate of the NOI, was a torturous experience for W. Deen Mohammed. He experienced a wide range of emotions. Feuding with his stern and influential father took a toll on Mohammed. It made a range of thoughts cloud his mind and it deeply affected what he felt in his heart. Many thought he had disavowed a noble and righteous man who meant well for Black America.
However, not only that, going against his father could have cost Mohammed his life.
The latter statement of this biography does not insinuate that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, his eventual successor who leads the NOI today (The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan), another key NOI leader, or any members of its well-armed security apparatus (The FOI) have ever ordered physical harm against, or the execution of the late Imam W. Deen Mohammed. The key aforementioned statement also does not insinuate that any of the referenced entities were ever asked to carry out a harmful or grave order on behalf of any other person, entity, or governing institution.
However in a 2003 interview with Valerie Limson, a producer for the PBS show “This Far by Faith,” W. Deen Mohammed said that after he made statements, which gave harsh criticism of his father’s theocratic doctrine, he became fearful — knowing that those statements would go public.
“I believe much of the Nation of Islam’s theology was intentionally made ridiculous so that we would one day be too smart for it, and would look for something better, and would search for our own way to freedom. That’s what I think my father wanted,” said W. Deen Mohammed in his PBS interview.
He was dishonorably discharged and conditionally reinstated to the NOI five times over the course of his adult life. In between those adverse eras of full manhood, W. Deen Mohammed was also indicted and convicted in a U.S. district court of evading the “selective service system (aka the draft).”
Under the law, the U.S. government could essentially try to force young men into military service under its capricious wartime provisions. W. Deen Mohammed’s belief system would not allow him to cooperate with a policy, which requires him to gain eligibility to assist an overaggressive and reckless military superpower — at the behest of an agenda enforced by godless infidels.
After his father’s 1975 death at the age of 77, W. Deen Mohammed was already reunited with the NOI and was teaching in its temples. He was reinstated by the NOI during dire straits when his father became ill a dozen months before passing away. Known by this time as Imam W. Deen Mohammed, he took over the NOI after the death of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
However, the NOI splintered subsequently after other influential leaders had stiff disagreements with the new policies enforced by their new supreme minister. Imam W. Deen Muhammad’s World Community of al-Islam in the West organization became a separate Sunni-identified, which was not a part of the NOI. Its current leader, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan assumed leadership of NOI in 1981.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed died on September 9, 2008, in Chicago, Illinois at 74 years of age. He fathered eight children by two former wives.