Imam W. D. Mohammed and The Third Resurrection by Dr. Sherman Jackson

It is my pleasure to present a most erudite article regarding not only the passing of Imam WD Mohammed [may Allah grant him Paradise] but a clarion call to the entire America Muslim community as to the milestone we’ve reached and where we ought to be heading. Enjoy.

Imam W. D. Mohammed and The Third Resurrection
by Sherman Abd al-Hakim Jackson

The passing of Imam W.D. Mohammed, may God have mercy upon him and grant him Paradise, has brought the Blackamerican Muslim community face to face with a reality that it has been more comfortable with ignoring than coming to terms with. Imam Mohammed’s death has signaled the end of the era of charismatic leadership in which the rank and file can look to a single leader to settle all major questions and chart the Community’s course for the future. Rather than being decided by a single voice, that future will have to be negotiated by the collective understandings and perspectives of the Community’s learned. This implies, of course, general agreement on who is learned and what the rules of engagement are. If the criterion is set too high, it will marginalize valuable voices and confirm an already widespread distrust of religious knowledge and those who claim to represent it. If it is set too low, it will open the Community to the ravages and abuses of those who think that the role of religion is to sanction their and or the dominant culture’s every undisciplined whim and passion.

In the years leading up to his death, Imam Mohammed strove mightily and with great farsightedness to empower his Community to carve out a dignified existence for themselves, to transition to what I have referred to as the “Third Resurrection,” whereby, individually and collectively, the Community is able to negotiate American reality in light of the Qur’an and Sunna. For the most part, however, the Imam had to go it alone, with few contributions from Blackamerican Muslim scholars outside his own movement.

Here we come to an embarrassingly sad fact about the state of Blackamerican Islam. For decades, Blackamerican Muslims have been venturing abroad to learn Arabic and the Islamic religious sciences. Yet, this has translated into little benefit and even less interfacing with the Community of Imam W.D. Mohammed – despite that community’s historically unique role in indigenizing Islam among Blackamericans. When we think across the spectrum of the most noted Blackamerican Muslim scholars – from myself to Zaid Shakir, from Aminah Wadud to Aminah McCloud – what we see is a veritable brain-drain out of the Blackamerican community into discourses and activities whose primary beneficiaries are not Blackamerican Muslims and or whose primary focus is not Blackamerican Muslim problems or concerns. Of course, there are exceptions, both in terms of individuals who contradict this description and in terms of some of the activities of the scholars named. But the fact that these are exceptions points to the reality that I am trying to describe: Blackamerican Muslim scholars have a closer relationship with the immigrant community than they have with the community of Imam W.D. Mohammed.

To be fair, there are understandable reasons for this: 1) it is easier (and safer) to direct the Islamic sciences to the realities of the Muslim world and by extension the perspective of Muslim immigrants; 2) Muslim immigrants have more financial wherewithal to support such activities as lecturing, teaching and writing; 3) the immigrant community has a greater ability to validate scholars as scholars; and 4) the media (which plays an enormous role in setting the Muslim agenda in America) tends overwhelmingly to focus on immigrant issues. Beyond all of this, however, there lurks a far more subtle, sadder and less talked about reality that has for decades plagued the relationship between the followers of Imam W.D. Mohammed and the rest of the Blackamerican Sunni community.

I remember Philadelphia in the late 70s and early 80s, when Imam Mohammed was in this midst of his history-making transition. Those of us converts who had been blessed with greater access to (what we thought was) traditional learning would deride the way members of the World Community of Al-Islam in the West recited al-Fatihah, joke about how they gave salaams and relish their inability to keep up with us on all of the irrelevant minutia on which we so self-righteously prided ourselves. We were better than them; for we were real Sunnis, not half-baptist wannabes. For all our – knowledge, however, we were completely devoid of wisdom and even more ignorant of the Sunna of Muhammad (SAWS). Of course, our high-handed arrogance would produce over time an understandable counter-arrogance. To the Imam’s community, we were confused, self-hating Negroes, wannabe Arabs, fresh off the back of the bus onto the back of the camel. If what we displayed was what the so-called Islamic sciences were supposed to be about, they would have little use for them. Ultimately, this would lead to a quiet resentment, mistrust and even hostility, not only towards us but also towards the so-called Islamic tradition that we so dismally (mis)represented. Of course, there were those from Imam Mohammed’s community who managed to transcend some of this alienation. But this was far more the exception than it was the rule.

I may be wrong, but I suspect that Philadelphia was no anomaly in this regard, that this was a fairly widespread phenomenon across the country. The death of Imam Mohammed, however, has now forced us all to take collective responsibility for this toxic state of affairs. Imam Mohammed may be succeeded by another leader; but he is not likely to be replaced; for who could fill his shoes? The new leadership, therefore – not unlike Blackamerican Muslim leadership in general — will have to find ways to spread greater Islamic literacy among the rank and file, to empower them to engage the religion on their own, in order to enable them to sustain their commitment to it. As for the rest of the Blackamerican Sunni community – especially the scholars – I pray that Allah will inspire us and show us the way to mend this relationship. And I ask Allah (and the followers of Imam Mohammed) to forgive me for whatever I may have contributed to our mutual estrangement.

This is not time for a blame game; there is enough blame to go around – on all sides. The time now is for us to put all our “hidden differences” aside and come together to work for the glory of God. In concrete terms, perhaps this year’s MANA conference in Philadelphia could be the starting point of a broad-based dialogue. And if not the MANA conference, perhaps the conference held by Imam Mohammed’s community next year could be the forum. The important point is that we find a way to move beyond where we are now, that we come together in safe space where we can air our differences, establish bonds of mutual respect, identify our common objectives and strengths and renew our commitment to upholding the truth, as Allah says, “even if against ourselves.”

In the meantime, may Allah shower his mercy upon our beloved Imam W. D. Mohammed. May He keep him firm in the grave and raise him among those who have earned His pleasure. May He reward him richly for all that he has done and sacrificed for Islam in this land. And may He bless and guide us to overcome our insecurities through strengthening our bond with Him. May He empower us to conquer the evil whisperings of our souls and grant us the resolve to resist the temptations of Satan. And may He gift us the wisdom to prepare ourselves for a Day on which neither wealth nor progeny will avail, and none shall be spared save those who come to God with a purified heart.

Dr. Sherman Abd al-Hakim Jackson is the author of Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection. He is a co-founder, Trustee, and Core Scholar of the American Learning Institute for Muslims (ALIM). ALIM is an institution dedicated to empowering Muslims through the development of Islamic Literacy; the application of critical thinking to the building blocks of Islamic Knowledge, Thought, and Character. ALIM currently provides intensive instructional programs targeted at those desiring a critical understanding of their faith and the place of that faith in modern world. Dr. Sherman Jackson is the King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity .

34 Replies to “Imam W. D. Mohammed and The Third Resurrection by Dr. Sherman Jackson”

  1. Alhamdulillah!

    What a piece! Thanks for sharing this dear brother. Dr. Jackson really lays the truth out on the table. To be very honest, many of the followers of Imam Mohammed have been very cautious since his passing for those nominal leaders who make intentions to pick away at Imam Mohammed’s community for their personal benefit. I feel however that Dr. Jackson’s plea is one that is sincere and efforts to put those “hidden differences” behind us really began at last year’s MANA conference.

    I personally believe that the younger generations are less hindered by those old stigma’s. Those stigmas will die out with the times as long as we continue on the paths that we are on. Allah knows best.

  2. MashaAllah,
    May Allah reward Dr. Jackson for his courageous step forward. And may He(swt), through His boundless Mercy, cause other leaders to come forth in a similar reconciliatory and unified fashion. Ameen! At this point, we go forward all together, and become stronger. Or we go in our separate ways, and altogether dissolve. Undoubtedly, our children will take the brunt of the latter.

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  4. Salaam alaikum and Ramadan Mubarak,
    Dr. Jackson has so many hard hitting points, I’m still sitting here saying wow. He eloquently and concisely stated what I have long struggled to put into words. So many thoughts are churning, I’m having a hard time putting something coherent to the keyboard.

    The life and death of W.D. Muhammad, Allah Yarhumhu is a great reminder about the promise and fractures in the American Muslim community. We turn the chapter into a new era of Islam in the Black American community and frankly some developments over the past decade have concerned me. So Dr. Jackson’s intervention gives me a ray of hope.

    I’ve spoken with children of the W.D. community and after its complete decentralization, some of noticed how the communities are slowly dying with no infusion of new blood. What has happened to the new generations? Perhaps it is the refusal of the older generation to address the needs of the youth.

    One important issue that Dr. Jackson brought up is that we need a new model for leadership. So many leader vying for gaining a national following, hitting the lecture circuit, while not taking care of their flock. My mentor mentioned that many of the new class of leaders who were educated in the MIddle East have taken on the role similar to Christian religious specialists. They have made the religion a professional endeavor while making claims of authentic traditionalism. But what many fail to realize is that these traditions are embedded in social and cultural processes. Many of the classic scholars had jobs, whether with the state or in society. They were merchants, scribes, qadis, they mediated disputes, or as instructors. But many leaders are they out of touch with the needs of the people in their local communities.

    I agree, this is not time for the blame game. But we must hold each other and our leaders accountable. A few years back, I wrote a paper about the Sudanese leader Abdur al-Rahman al-Mahdi. And one of my central arguments is that leaders often meet the needs, demands, and expectations of their followers. In light of that, I think that our leadership has responded to our demands for rock stars or figure heads in what they see as a movement. Once we began to re-conceptualize community leadership and focus on local needs and human interaction, we will have very different expectations of our leaders. These critiques are not meant to dog our leaders out. But rather, these reflections are an opportunity to reflect upon what is working and what is not working in our communities.

  5. an interesting response. I agree with most of what’s been and in the responses. I too think that we need to decide what “kind” of Muslims we are going to be or are we so bold enough as to eliminate the “kind” and just be the Muslims that Allah intended and that Prophet Muhammed(salallah alayhi wa salaam) instructed and exampled us to be. This includes all of us, immigrant and non-immigrant, the absolute entire populous of Muslims. We need to teach and live qur’an and sunnah because the world’s condition, to include that of Muslims, has taught and shown us what happens when we don’t. For the most part we don’t read the qur’an, including Arab and non-Arab speakers, therefore we miss out on Allah’s critical instructions for mankind because we don’t understand it. We are negligent in our learning the language of the qur’an, we become too satisfied with translations into the various world’s languages which many feels exonirates them from learning to read themselves. This attitude opens and has opened the door for centuries, since the death of our beloved Prophet, for us to be lazy and follow those among us who aspire to take on leadership roles who have in many cases, been more widely quoted than Allah and his Prophet on the conduct and the affairs of not only Muslims but for all humanity. Our deen is not ethnic, it’s not geograhical and it is not the sole possession of Muslims, it is indeed a quidance for all Mankind. We need to get back to basics, learn and teach our deen, not only for our sake (Muslims) but for the sake of all humanity. May Allah have mercy on us all, forgive us our many transgressions and give to us the courage to follow the Qur’an and sunnah of Rasullullah (pbuh) and unite as one Ummah under the same. May he also have mercy on Imam Muhammed, forgive him his sins, make his grave spacious and grant him success (Jinnah) AMEEN!! RAMADAN MUBARIK!!

  6. As always, Dr. Jackson cuts to the core of the issues. I have been reluctant to involve myself in any substantive discussions about these issues since Imam Mohammed’s passing, as it seemed more appropriate to simply celebrate his legacy.

    Fortunately for the ummah, I am not a person who will be key to determining any of these issues, but I hope people that are will be committed to moving quickly and seriously.

    The outpouring of emotional reaction to the passing of Imam Mohammed was both heartwarming and inspiring to see as well as being a little bit jarring in comparison to what seems at least from one perspective to be the tremendous lack of serious activity in addressing these issues that was going on in the last decade or so of his life. I know that there were many efforts of all kinds from both sides and that there was always effusive verbal praise that was rarely backed by any substantive activity coming from the immigrant Muslim leadership in the last few years for Imam W.D. Judging from the outside, Imam W.D. seemed to be in some sense struggling to prepare his community for change, but often seemed frustrated in the attempt. The community also seemed to be visibly struggling to connect with and flourish in a younger generation, since the unity of that particular community was largely based around a sensed of an amazing shared history that the younger generation did not live through and attachment to the charismatic leader whose charisma often escaped those of us who did not live through that history — as much as we could understand the tremendous legacy of his father and the Imam’s achievement in moving a whole community in a different direction, we couldn’t really “feel” it.

    I have many more thoughts, but I think it must be said at the outset that it seems the type of direction forward that Dr. Jackson is outlining would have beeen much easier if done while the Imam was still alive. (And I know that many people were making efforts, and there was at least some success and I know that saying, we should have done this in the past is perhaps not a productive or even relevant response to a push to move forward in the future.)

    The source of authority in the community was the personality of Imam W.D. and his views with regard to methodology and strategy for practicing Islam in this country. The community’s leaders seem rhetorically committed to moving forward based upon his example, but it is unlikely based on past experience that such a commitment to follow the “vision” of a certain leader, when not attached to a specific organizational or successor leader is unlikely to stay together. Different interpretations will emerge, and in the absence of someone to “settle” such disputes, it seems hard to see why splitting would not occur.

    In any event, I truly look forward to the discussion and of course much more so the positive activity that might be sparked by something as insightful and timely as Dr. Jackson’s piece.

  7. Very thoughtful as usual Dr. J. I look forward to your next book. As a convert into Imam Mohammed’s community as a college student, I had the unique experience of always being in the company of Muslims from 20+ countries. Imam Mohammed stopped me from leaving Islam when those who didnt respect or understand the African American experience nearly pushed me away. So I have a microcosmic experience of what his older followers must have felt in 1975. I like to tell people that I converted because of Malcolm X and stayed because of Imam Mohammed. He made sure that we entered the house of Islam as residents and owners, not guests. I’ve had the pleaseure of interfacing with scholars such as yourself and Imam Zaid and others. We have to be vigilant and unapologetic about sharing the knowledge of this deen with our people. Islam in America cant represesnt yet another case in point in which our people pave the way and make the sacrifices and watch others reap the benefit of that historical/cultural space that has been opened up. w/peace

  8. As Salaam Alaikum Ramadhan Mubarik ,

    I believe you will find the community of Muslims educated by the recognized Mujjedid( The Honorable Imam WD Mohammed rm) of our history sure footed,clear thinking, right down to the modern times.If they were blessed to think outside the limits of white supremacy and Arab nationalism and come to an authentic Al Islam certainly an appeal as Dr, Jackson has made will be appreciated by the intelligentsia of that community. The Imam WD taught us that Al Islam is not for sometimes but for always. The same Quran that produced Imam WD can and will produce minds greater than his in the future. The keys belong to Allah.

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  10. As-Salaam Alaikum Ramadan Mubarak

    May Allah Bless Imam W.D. Mohammed and grant him Paradise.His character was of tremendous accolades.He didn’t leave us leaderless in-
    stead he made us all leaders.Those of us that were devout followers learned the Qu’ran and
    Sunna and hadith with right interpretation.I am
    here to tell you we as an ummah has an should
    not miss a beat.When someone passes on will you lose heart and turn away? No. we must not allow ourselves to fall victim to racism by category and separatism. We must continue to
    help each other remember the “Keys To The Language” taught to us by Imam W.D. Mohammed.
    Where would we be without it? Huh? can the blind lead the blind? Allah has made us The Light of the world. Qu’ran and Sunna is what we all agree on there is no confusion.

    Your Bro. in Islam
    Taquiyy Malik

  11. ASA&RM My dear believers, It has been a wake up for me two(2) reasons.1st reason being he was my leader Imam WD Mohammed was like a blessing or an actual sign for humanity to not just see but to engage him because he took away Shaytan out of the equation that the Muslim world tends to keep in the equation.So with that wisdom we have to take what we were given without any doubt it will last us for another 100yrs Inshal-allah. The 2nd reason is that this great man reminded us of the previous scriptures ,which help his students to study the previous books along with the glorious Qu’ran to understand our christian brothers much better and to work along with G-d fearing people to establish a city of G-d , to me isn’t that how it suppose to be. Grass root initiative is what all G-d fearing needs to adhere to because without the word of G-d in our communities Satan,or Shaytan runs and we hide . So this great man has given us a insight of true brotherly love that many have claim with their lips but very little action. To close out is to say this this Great man said the Muslim world along with the christian world is waiting on the coming of Christ but the resurrection has already arrive.

  12. Salaams
    Brother Hassan, where did this thing of not writing Allah’s known and using G-d as in the Jewish tradition come from? Just curious. I’m not trying to be preachy or anything, but I don’t find anything like that in the Qur’an or sunnah.

  13. ASA and Ramadan Mubarak,To answer the question is to say that i should have said or mention Allah`s known people and would have been correct but for some reason i didn`t say it that way . I truly hope my point came out of what was said and not my clerical error.Imam WD Mohammed has explained that in order to show due reverence to the Name of G-d Almighty, that we not use any spelling that could in the reverse mean “dog”. Again keeping shatan out of the equation irregardless if its not found in our Holy Qur`an ,its taking this language to its logical conclusion.

  14. as-Salaamu Alaykum wa RahmatUllaah,

    It is a shame that all that those Muslims of disparate orientations and various political aspirations keep missing the point…even with their grandiose claims of the level of their “Islamic (i.e orientalist)” education and their schismatic “community” activities.


    Any other method of “unification” is pure folly and is doomed to failure…as to which history has attested.

    Allaah guide us all to that which He loves and is pleased with.

  15. Salaam’Alaikum & Ramadan Mubarak:

    @ Marc Manely

    Salaam Alaikum brother! I’m glad to see you back blogging. I appreciate and “savor” the theological, spiritual, political, and social perspective you share on the blogsphere–especially your attention to eliminating the ego, and focusing on reforming ones-self. Thank you for making this article available to the rest of us.

    @ Margari
    Salaam Alaikum sister! How are you these days? I wanted to but my big behind in to respond to the question you asked some one in this discussion. I was taught that we should use “Allah s.w.t.” or one of Allah’s names. If we do use “God” it would be better to use “G-d” as God can become:


    I personally didn’t see your question as preachy or negative at all–let’s face it we all understand and implement Islam differently!

    Allah s.w.t. knows best! : )

    Concerning the article:

    Dr. Sherman Jackson nailed it on the head! May Allah swt bless him too! : )

    My only concern is the MANA part of this: The middle class BAM Muslims I’ve met IRL and OL don’t want to financially or politically support any group that has leadership serving the IMM community? It will be interesting to see how this all plays out…

  16. We have to be vigilant and unapologetic about sharing the knowledge of this deen with our people. Islam in America cant represesnt yet another case in point in which our people pave the way and make the sacrifices and watch others reap the benefit of that historical/cultural space that has been opened up. w/peace-Kyle

    SS: Salaam brother Kyle, just wanted to let you know I enjoyed every word of what you wrote including what I highlighted above. Only a people who are mentally unstable will allow others to deficate on them and abuse civil rights.


  17. Thanks Hassan and sister seeking for explaining where that comes from. I’ve encountered people online who have used G-d and when I asked them about it, they didn’t respond.

    Dear sister seeking,
    I get lost in acronyms. What exactly is IMM? Is that Inner city Muslim mosques, I’ve been trying to guess for awhile. Maybe I just missed it earlier. As for how I’m doing? I’ve been good alhumdulillah. I’m happy to be back home. Busier than ever, but I think that’s a good thing. I’m going to give you a call as soon as I catch my breath over here.

  18. Salaam Brotha,

    I don’t generally post things but my spirit was hurt as I read your words. I knew this would happen once our beloved Imam passed.

    It appears that you deem this as the absolute true, I’m pretty certain Imam would dis-agree with how you have choosen to put this inforation out publically.

    There are not secrets in AL-Islam, yet Allah instructs us to hide our faults.

    You referr to Imam as if you were not cut from the same cloth.

    Maybe it’s your deemed scholary wisdom.

    I’m sure you are well versed in this Religion as you should be.

    although what you stated is a reality for many people within the African American Muslim community it is equally the same for other Muslim nations across the world.

    If this religion is about speaking Arabic, wearing traditional Muslim clothes, having relationships with Muslims over seas and gaining their acceptance and approval, making Salat, learning the Qu’Arn and the rest of the Islamic rituals then brotha we havn’t inherited much at all and in fact we are still very lost.

    The rituals are very important but not more important than being upright.

    Allah has blessed Imam Mohammed with un doubted wisdom that not even the Pope of Rome can deny, so how can we?

    Imam has never been comfortable with dictatorship? he helped set his people free, has produced great leaders within his community with national and international relationships, has increased his peoples status by leading us to become Bilalians, provided monitary success for his people, established a farm, businesses, housing, professional networks and now in the process of bulding a library and more.

    Many of us speak Arabic and almost clearer than those who’s native language it is.
    Most importantly Imam has taught us to lead ourselves, to identify with ourselves because we have just as much qualifications as anyone else tolead in this religion.

    We are not challenged by those who deem us incompetent or Muslims in training.

    Imam has taught us that Islam is our nature given to us by Allah not some ethnic group who deems themselves the best of knowers in this religion.

    If we are supposed to look to the Muslim world overseas for guidance then we don’t hae much to look forward to with all of the Kaos happening right now and has been for decades.

    My intent is not to be disrespectful, yet to be clear that we have made significant progress here in America establishing Al-Islam.

    There were Muslims here before the Honarable Elijah began teaching some of it’s concepts, yet they were in hiding.

    We established the first Masjids (Then Temples), we created the Islamic infastructure here as youknow and we will continue to lead ourselves as Allah see’s fit. This has to be recognized in the best of light whenever you mention Islam here in this country. This is how you were inroduced into Islam and if you were not, this movement made it more a reality for you to be Muslim here.

    Allah says he raises a leader from amongst yourself. That tells me that my people are qualified to lead ourself because Allah has qualified us, not some shake who can’t seem to keep his own back yard clean.

    The best thing that we can do is build on the most positive of our success here in this time that we are living in.
    No we can not ignor our issues but somethings need to stay in house and addressed at home, not in the public and the perspective must be very clear and balanced if you are going to put it out there.

    After reading your message, it appeared that Muslims from Imam’s community do not want to engage the larger Muslim world and are not Islamically educated about the rituals of this Religion.

    That’s a great insult to Imam and I pray that Allah has mercy on your soul.

    I’m sorry brotha, I am very hurt right now by your statements.

    Because Islam is Logical I will be fine but I felt very compelled to write this. I do not intend to be disrespectful to you, nor to teach you anything that you do not already know, seeing that you are the scholar that you are.

    As Salaam Alaikum,

    Sister Kenya
    Minneapolis, MN

  19. Sister Kenya,

    Salaams and Eid Mubarik. Could you, for the sake of the long discourse in these comments, clarify who you meant by brother

    Salaam Brotha,

    I don’t generally post things but my spirit was hurt as I read your words. I knew this would happen once our beloved Imam passed.

    Without a first name/proper name the s/he’s get lost as to who you’re referring to.


  20. Sister Kenya,

    You’re gonna be alright. I don’t think this was meant as a personal attack. And some of the critiques of the community are reflected in the imam’s words:

    “On September 6, 2003, The Sacramento Bee reported that ” [Imam W.D.] Mohammed resigned…saying he was frustrated that some of his ministers have not fully embraced the religious teachings of mainstream Islam. Although he had scuttled old racial rhetoric, changed the group’s name and moved his followers into line with traditional, or Sunni, Islam, Mohammed, 69, told the crowd at the annual convention of the American Society of Muslims in Chicago that he wants to take his message to a wider audience.”

    Sep 11, 2003
    “I have tried over the last 10 to 12 years to encourage them to get more religious education, but I have made no progress,’ he told the Chicago Tribune. ‘American Society of Muslim leaders don’t support me, but the followers do.’

    I too am a little lost on who you have a problem with and some things in your writing aren’t entirely clear. But what I understand, you are arguing that Muslims should cover up the shortcomings of the W.D. community and celebrate its accomplishments. What private forum will we have? If that is the case, then why air dirty laundry about the cleavages between immigrants and Black Americans? Which leads me to my next contention. I a gather that you interpret the desire of some Muslims to build bridges with immigrant Muslims and maintain linkages with Muslims abroad as seeking their approval. Am I correct? It is rather simplistic. I think most commentators on this blog disapprove of pandering to immigrants, but rather seek open dialog and exchange. As the Qur’an verse says, we are created from tribes and nations so that we may know each other.

    You seem to present W.D. community not only as if it is completely coherent and unified, but as almost like a monolith. It was dismantled and the quality of leadership in each community varies from place to place. Yes, there may be some erudite imams, but you also have in a number of local communities people putting more weight on personal charisma and oratory ability, rather than on understanding of Islam and ability to interpret Islamic texts and practices to meet the modern challenges of American Muslims. I’ve prayed in the mosque behind imams with limited knowledge of the Qur’an, really butchering it. Now, as a sister in the back, I would feel way out of place from having to shout out some corrections. Now, unless there was some rapid transformation in leadership in the last 5 years, these interviews with W.D. Muhammad, conversations with numerous individuals who have worked with the community, as well as my own personal observations over the past 15 years confirm that we need better trained imams who insert some fresh blood in the community.

    We all have our own realities and experiences, and maybe from your experience the trajectory of the W.D. community is going in the right direction. Me, on the other hand, think its time for self reflection. This is not just our Deen, but this is a universal religion. We have to train the next generation of leaders so we can speak on our own affairs authoritatively. Equipped with both Western and Islamic education will empower us to take the mic back. . But nativism is just not going to cut it. We have to engage both with our fellow Americans and the broader Muslim world.

  21. As Salaam Alaikum Family,

    My apologies for the delay. Insha’Allah you all had a blessed EID.

    Thank you all for bringing different things to my attention. May Allah reward you.

    Marc: To clarify,
    My response was in reference to Dr Sherman Jackson. My apologies I didn’t actually think about the fact that I was actually posting on a blog that was not necessarily directly connected to the Aurthor of this article, other wise I would have posted differently.

    Margari Aziza:
    Greetings sister,

    Amin, Islam is a beautiful human identity that is universal and belongs to whom ever Allah deems.

    I may have been in my human emotion when posting the comment, so I apologize if it was not very clear.

    Yes, it’s true that Imam W.D. Mohammed is not in support of Imams proclaiming to follow his leadership and other followers who did not follow the proper ways of Al-Islam as we have been given and taught.

    My position is that the Dr Jackson in my oppion not only exposed some of the faults of what he calls W.D. Mohammed’s community but he clearly seperated the community by relating this issue specifically to Imam Mohammeds community aposed to an issue within the African American Muslim communities period.

    This is a shared responsibility. Seeing Imam Mohammeds community as seperate from the entire African American Muslim community in my oppinion is a great dis honor to the work of Imam Mohammed. Again how information or knowledge is used is more important than the language it self at times.

    Further the doctor stated that African American Muslim scholars have a better relationship with Muslim leaders overseas than Muslims here in America, again relating it back to Imam Mohammeds community.
    His veiw may be true on many levels for the entire African American Muslim community, yet I wanted to make the point that this is not an issue soley with Imam Mohammeds community due to Imam Mohammeds early work around establishing international relationships and moving African American Muslims to the broader veiw of Al -Islam prior to the work of the great Imams of Al Islam today in American.

    He helped insire that thought.

    I just didn’t simply agree with how he used his information and knowledge.

    My focus is not to cover the faults of any community, yet in the Qu’Arn is reads that we should cover the faults of our brothers and be a soft as milk towards one another.

    Focusing to much on the era’s or faults does not strentgthen the forward movement of a nation. We know our faults and yes we need to celebrate the best of ourselves because we have come a long ways and have a long ways to go.
    Yes our Imams should continue to correct themselves as we continue to move forward, yet the community has to assist the Imam in his quest to lead the community.
    Allah has inspired many great Islamic leaders in the world including America, this is very true and we should be in the habbit of recognizing te truth and the best of humanity where ever it is.

    Certainly there’s understanding that we are responsible for what we know now more than ever. Every great leader undertands the times that we are living in.

    Yes it’s true that Al-Islam does not just belong to us as African Americans and that it is a universal way of life that can extend to anyone who Allah wills to subscribe to it. Islam is for the benefit of humanity period.

    These are the teaching of Imam W.D. Mohammed inspired by Allah him self so I am not in dis agreement with you on most things i’m simply stating again that I was not in agreement with how the information and Knowledge was used in Dr. Jacksons article.

    And because Allah is the only source that knows all intentions, we have a responsibility to communitcate our intentions as clearly as we can.

    I’m sure we could both go on and on so I will end here sister.
    Again thank you for your response.

    As Salaam Alaikum,

    Sis Kenya
    Minneapolis, MN

    Imam has also taught us to be independant thinkers. The reason Knowone suceeded his as his family has stated is because we are qualified to lead ourselves

    Islam instructs us to cover the faults of our brothers. Not in the sense that you cover up a serious crime that our brother commits but to not put your brothers business all out in the streets.

    To be responsble with the information that you have because the power of words, information and how it’s used can do more harm than the actual language or words it’s self.

    Again I apologize for not being clear before because you were not aware that my response was not to the blog posters but to Dr Jackson.

    I can not say what the Muslim community that post on this blog thinks because I haven’t built with anyone to come to the conclusion.

    What I can say is that I Yes I have great respect to Imam W.D. Mohammed and all that Allah has blessed him to bring to humanity perriod. He has been and always will be significant to my life and to this path of Al-Islam in the time that we live and beyond.

    I am open for discussion anytime, yet It appears to me that you are questioning my school of thought or my understanding of this deen as if I am void of something you blieve I need to understand.

    That’s not the purpose of my post nor is it my focus. I’m just sharing my thoughts from the article.

    However I will say this,

  22. Sorry I was supposed to delete the bottom but since it’s out there I will say that based on the article it appeared that Dr. Jackson was overly critizing the commnity of Imam W.D. Mohammed as if it was a seperate intity of African American Muslims and seeing Imam’s community as a stuck movement who did not wat to move forward by learnign the religion and it’s cultural laguage and other customs which mad eit difficult for African Muslim scholars to have a relationship with them or Black muslims period.

    I simply dis agreed with that notion period and do not think it paints a full nor fair representation of what Imam Mohammed stood for.
    I had the sense that some how he didn’t see us as qualified to lead ourselves in this religion as if our experience does not add value to AL-islam in the modern times. We bring great perspectie to this religion without the approval or acceptance of ithers.

    I don’t think we need to be excluded from othe rMuslim nationions yet I think it’s important for us to understand that our experience shapes our perspetive of this Deen and allows us to put the Deen in a context that works within our lives again because of our realities.

    That’s it for now.

    Be well,


  23. Reading the comments has got me wondering if I read the same article.

    I didn’t see Prof Jackson as inditing Imam Mohammed’s community, but more so hi lighting the failures of Muslims who were orthodox Sunnis from the jump to integrate with them.

    Either way, he makes a good point, I am firm believer in the need for dialogue between Asian (east, west, and south) Muslims and those of African decent, I guess the Imam Mohammed-orthodox Sunni blackamerican Muslim distinction further complicates this theme and demonstrates just how diverse the blackmuslim community is (even though it may not seem like that to some).

    Finally, I guess I am a bit saddened by the lack of traction that his comments get. Maybe because I took a class with him, but I have heard these ideas before, but I don’t feel like there’s any real deal effort to put this reconciliation into fruition…

    and yeah maybe I am complicit in this as well 🙁

  24. Brother,I have a lot to say, but we need to at leat know what
    we are saying. There is no third Ressurection. That terminology is not of our community of Imam Mohammed, and we need to respect that. It is hard enough trying explain our-selves to the public. You should ask around and get the true
    language we use. And ther is more. Makes me wonder if you were around when the Imam was alive. Reply please.
    We are a dignified Muslim American Community, not owning up to other communities of Muslims from anywhere in the world.


  25. It would seem to me, an outside observer, that one of the issues that plague this dialog is the Manichaean overtones. That if one studies from sources other than that which Imam Muhammad [r.A] designated [if indeed he did such a thing – there is also conclusive evidence from his own mouth that he was not quite so doctrinaire as many in his community believe he was], then you are either branded as being outside his community or two, you ostracize yourself from his community, feeling it necessary in order to further one’s study of the religion.

    It would seem to me, after having this topic with a few members of his community, that this would not have been his wish. I believe Imam Muhammad saw the need to steer his community away from the cloistered and even xenophobic tendencies that threaten to plague it today. Indeed, many in his own community felt that this attitude was not in the best interest of fostering a new generation of Muslims from the W.D. Community, who may honor his legacy but do not feel the need to be tied down by that very same history.

    In many ways, this yoke of history, is very similar to the struggles immigrant Muslims face – forging ahead and charting new ground, inspired by their history, yet charting a course that best suits the current generation, not the old guard. The trick for both will be to change the bathwater without tossing out the baby. The consequences of not doing so will be not simply disastrous, but in fact will be the end of Islam in America.

  26. I read Dr. Jackson’s article, and I strongly agree with his comments. I believe it is an important step in the right direction. I was once a follower of Imam W.D. Muhammad.

    If I can use the phrase “Islamically dumbing down”, What I intent by it is Muslims from the community of Imam W.D. Muhammad, who discurage other members from studying with non-member or studying classical texts.

    Many of the brothers and sisters I know personally considered studying with Arabs or Indian Muslim as leaving and not trusting the Imam. Many believed there was no need for any other knowledge than what was being taught by the Imam.

    I remember clearly the nasty things brothers and the sisters called me when I decided to move from the south side of Chicago to the north side.

  27. In the cosmic forces of the universe Nho Deus Allah Ali Aziz even peace in its own turmoil
    of peace,and if we truly understood the the plight and the flight of the action and in action
    positive or negative has nothing to do with the language we speak or the name that has been giving to man made religion and or many different philosophies man made knowledge.

    All have fallen short of perfection and in the many languages the the word grace and mercy and beneficent translated is the same meaning. Good conduct and kindness is the ultimate for peace,dignity and integrity. No more no less. The humility of knowledge of the reality and actuality is the truth which is the guide to a straight path for peace.

  28. This is old information. Those muslims that worship Imam W.D. Muhammad know that he has passed away, and he has left a body of knowledge that is a text to help his followers to keep their minds open and clear from foolishness of these people that think we need other people to control our thinking. My name is Abdullah H Salahuddin, and I adhered to the wisdom of IMAM W.D. MUHAMMAD and his taasir, of Qur’an and Hadith. Sorry, I do not follow Arab culture. Our leader and teacher has explain that African Americans have and identification problem of who we are as a people. We want to be everybody else but our self. We have many Muslims who are free to explain Al-Islam to you, without anybody to watch over their back to help them explain Al- Islam.


  30. Imam WD Mohammed invited us all to Remake the World. And it’s a big world, with enough challenges for all of us. So, “Go forth, whether equipped lightly or heavily”.

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