The Legacy of Imam W. Deen Mohammed
When we speak about the legacy of a human being we talk in terms of what they did in the world and the impact of the work that did prior to their passing. However, we in the Community of Imam W. Deen Mohammed do not think of his work as his past achievements only. We believe that his legacy is still being written, because his work was the kind of work that sets the stage for future accomplishments and achievements. We believe that when the story of his work unfolds in the future, then we will be able to better assess the legacy of Imam Mohammed.
Now, there is no doubt that this work of preparation for the future has had a lasting and profound impact on the present. He did indeed change America and its people during his lifetime. The 1970s was a time of upheaval and radical change in America and when He came to leadership in 1975, he inherited the leadership of an organization that was at the apex of a black power movement that had the nation shaking in its “boots” and the FBI and other enemies working to disrupt and halt the progress of African-Americans in general and the Nation of Islam (NOI) in particular.
The history of the period is readily available; we won’t recount it here. Let us simply point out that during this volatile and militant period, Imam Mohammed came onto the American scene as a sober-minded, middle of the road, leader. For the next 10 years he carefully and skillfully transformed his organization into a community and he redirected his following from the edges of revolt and revolution to the center of societal life.
He took the radical theology of the NOI and brought it into harmony with the Qur’an and compatibility with the International Muslim world. He redirected the psychology of his following from seeking black power to finding human and moral power. He enlarged the role of the African-American people from one of simply trying to catch up with everyone to a duty to lead society back to human and moral values in accord with G-d. He infused a vision of human life that enabled the despised and rejected African-American person to take ownership of his life and world and his society as a person equally responsible for upholding and protecting its well-being. He forged new patriots.
All of this changed the atmosphere in our country and warmed the environment so that Al-Islam could take root in America (largest conversion of indigenous Muslims in the Western Hemisphere) and grow and welcome immigrant Muslims from the world over to its shores. These and many other profound changes were made during the life of Imam Mohammed and our nation averted a race and religious war because of his actions.
But, while all of these transformations were occurring, there was an even larger underlying transformation underway. The individuals listening and learning from Imam Mohammed were consuming a diet of knowledge that was transforming their mental and emotional makeup. They were being transformed into a new people with a new mind and new heart, and while this was happening, Imam Mohammed was continuously constructing a profound body of knowledge that will serve as well of Zam Zam for human and religious understanding that pave the way for that hoped for renaissance or resurrection of African-Americans that many have been waiting and hoping for.
Out of a people with a new knowledge comes a people with new thoughts and new emotions about the world they find themselves in. From these new thoughts and feelings will come a new expression of culture, business, politics, and education and all of the stuff that makes up human life and society.
After the passing of Imam Mohammed in 2008, a growing number of individuals in the community are beginning to manifest the seeds of productivity that were planted in them long ago by the Imam and laid dormant while more knowledge was sought. But, now, more and more people are producing and doing. In time, these students of Imam Mohammed are going to physically manifest in the society the many ideas that have sprung from the Qur’anic knowledge as taught by the Imam. In time, his students and the friends they make are going to remake the culture and help remake the world.
When this truth begins to emerge, the true legacy of Imam Mohammed will become visible. He lives through his students and adherents and they have vowed to give him a great future in the world they will help to shape.