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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal

February 16, 1996

Positive Alliances: Part 1

By Ayesha K. Mustafaa

(This interview with Imam W. Deen Mohammed was conducted at the Muslim Journal office in Chicago on Jan. 31, 1996.): Part 1


AKM: As-Salaam-Alaikum. Ramadan mubarak.


Imam Mohammed: Wa-Alaikum-as-Salaam. Ramadan mubarak.


AKM: Brother Imam, since September, 1995, you have been traveling back and forth between the United States and Saudi Arabia. And we have heard much on the impressions of those who have traveled with you regarding these trips. However, we wanted to get from you your impressions and more information on how these trips came about and your intentions in taking them.


Imam Mohammed: First, regarding my impressions, my first visit in 1995 was for personal benefit to myself as a lifetime student of the faith, the religion of Islam. 1 was seeking to have an opportunity to sit with learned people in the Kingdom in the religion to benefit from discussion with them. I also wanted the opportunity to be in an Arabic-speaking environment, for I wanted to strengthen and improve my Arabic conversation and vocabulary.

My impression is in that we had contact with persons who understand our needs that are most important to us as a Muslim community, the needs in education, in improving our schools, and educating our Imams and our teachers in the religion of Islam. This time, I felt very much encouraged because we met there in Mecca and Medinah such persons who I think understand our needs because they, themselves, are in the field of higher education.

On the second visit, I feel that we were able to actually make contact with such persons. We were directed to them by Sheikh Abdullah Al-Turki. who is the Minister of Education and Endowments. With his assistance we were able to sit with experts in the field of Islam — Islamic Studies and Islamic Dawah — and given the opportunity to talk with persons who could assist us with Islamic curriculum for our high schools and for the Clara Muhammad School System in the United States.

A lot was accomplished on that second visit. It was a kind of follow-up on the interest that I expressed to them when I made my private or personal visit to the Kingdom.

Also, as you know, we received gifts presented to me. One was a very special portion of the cover of the Kaa'ba, the dress that goes over the Kaa'ba. It was a piece from one of the corners of the cover for the Kaa'ba with one of the Names of God in gold thread. It is a very special gift that we will treasure very dearly. And I hope that we will have it on exhibit one day in a nice protective glass, so that Muslims coming to the Mosque for prayer will be able to see it, as well as visitors coming to the Mosque will be able to see this very precious gift.

I also received a gift for the community of a very large Qur'an. Both these gifts have appeared in the Muslim Journal, but I would like to mention them again at this time, because they are very special. This Qur'an is a very huge one, about 18 inches by 12 inches and is about 2-1/2 inches thick with gold leafs and gold decoration. It is very expensive, but its value to us is in the fact that it is the Qur'an printed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — the Word of God. And its value is greatly increased because it is such a very expensive and special gift from the King Fahd Qur'an Printing Press in Saudi Arabia.

It was presented to me by the director, whom I have met with three times. He is very much interested in our community, to know that the religion of Islam is understood correctly and is being preached correctly here in the United States of America. He is ready to give any assistance that that printing press or any of its departments can give us to aid us in the propagation of Islam. He is His Excellency Muhammad Saalim Al-Aoufi.

The piece of the Kaa'ba cover that was given was presented to me by a very highly respected sheikh, who has given many years to the service of Islam in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is well known and well admired and is revered by many of the educated scholars in the Kingdom and elsewhere. He is Sheikh Muhammad Bin Abdullah Subair.

These were very special opportunities for us. I think leaders from other parts of the world rarely get the opportunity to meet with such persons and to have the opportunity to sit with them and discuss at length the concerns of their communities in the various parts of the world. We have had that and are very grateful for that opportunity to be the guests of
His Excellency Al-Aoufi and of the Hon. Sheikh Subair. And the other part of your question was?


ARM: I was asking how these visits came about.


Imam Mohammed: I explained it some but did not go directly to the explanation. I requested a personal visit, and it was arranged for me to be the guest of Rabitat, the Muslim World League's headquarters in Mecca. At that time Bro. Ahmed Muhammad Ali was the secretary general of Rabitat, but he was called back to the Islamic Investment Bank to be its president again. And there is a new secretary general to Rabitat whom I hope to meet on my third visit within one year.

That third visit is coming up very soon and, in fact, I was due to leave the States just a few days before Ramadan. I was not able to do that because of difficulties with my passport, which was used up. I had been so busy, I had not realized that it was used up. Then when I went to get the visa, I was told by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., that my passport had no space at all for a visa. So I had to go and then arrange to get a new passport or get extra pages for my passport, which I have done and I am ready to go now. So there was that delay.

Since I was not able to begin the month of Ramadan in Venerable Mecca and in Medinah, the city of our Prophet, the prayers and peace be on him, I was not so much urged to spend more weeks there in the Kingdom during the month of Ramadan. I had so many heavy obligations on me here for my family and to the work that I do, which is propagation of the faith and work for the community, I decided that I would only try to get at least two weeks stay in Saudi Arabia — a week in Mecca and a week in Medina, insha-Allah. I hope to celebrate the Eid with them, which I believe will be on the 19th of February and then return to the States. Those are my plans.

What brought the visits about, as I said, was my request for a personal visit, for my personal benefit and gain in knowledge, to have discussion with learned people and experts in higher education. As a result of my personal visit, we received an invitation from His Majesty King Fahd to visit as a delegation. So a delegation of us went on the second visit, and the delegation had the opportunity to meet with very special persons in the field of Islamic education.

We made a request also for five experts in the Arabic language and in Islamic education. Four of them are to come and give assistance to four schools that will be selected as the most scholarly and most impressive of our schools. We want these four experts to be working with the staff and the directors of education for those schools and with their principals, to assist us in forming a curriculum that we all can be proud of for the Clara Muhammad Schools, the elementary and high schools. Progress was made for that.

As you know, Sis. Safiyyah Shahid, the principal of the Atlanta schools, sat in discussion with them herself. And she has prepared now a curriculum outline for me to take back with me on my third visit for them to review and to get their comments on. I don't think the work that needs to be done can be done by them separately, but these experts should sit down with our professional and trained people and work out a curriculum together. That is what I feel is necessary.

For a few more words on this, I believe that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in that the invitation was from the King himself - King Fahd, is itself committed firstly to the protection of the religion of the Muslim people. I think that the custodian of the two holy places has a very special interest in the propagation of Islam for America, as he does for the whole world. He has an interest in the propagation of Islam in the international community.

We are in a very special land, in that it is regarded as the leading nation in the world when it comes to being an industrial power, a military power, and perhaps in its commercial knowledge and services. This country is really valued by the nations of the world. That makes it very special and we are in these United States and have been given the respect of a legitimate religious group from all levels of government, in my opinion. So the Kingdom would have a very special interest in knowing how we are doing as a Muslim community and would be willing to assist us in our needs.


AKM: We want to also acknowledge that King Fahd has been ill recently and that he has turned over the daily running of the government to his brother, Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz. Are you acquainted with the Crown Prince also?


Imam Mohammed: Yes, I have had two audiences with the Crown Prince. And we thank God for the opportunity to have met him. Now that he is carrying the responsibilities of the kingship for his brother, His Majesty King Fahd, that makes him very important to the Islamic world, to the international community of Muslims. And I hope that when I return to the Kingdom that I can get an audience with the Crown Prince, insha-Allah.

I have read a brief description of him, but I have met with him personally. And my personal opinion is that he is a wonderful person, of great character, and strongly committed to serve Islam in the international community just as his brother, His Majesty King Fahd. I think he will do a great service until his brother returns to good health.

We have been praying many prayers for the health of King Fahd. If that responsibility is too much for the King to bear again and his doctors advise him of that, I am sure that the Crown Prince will carry out the duties of the office of King in a very excellent way that all Muslims will be proud of. That is my opinion.


AKM: One other thing brought out on the trip with the delegation was your interest to work closer with the Muslim World League Office, the local office for Rabitat.


Imam Mohammed: Yes, I requested to be put in touch with the Muslim World League Office here in the United States, in New York. I offered to assist them. I was told that we could perhaps select one or two persons to work in the office in New York. I am considering that, but before making dny steps to try to select persons to work with that office, I am hoping to meet with the persons there and talk with those in charge. Together, I hope that we can find some way for us to be of assistance to Rabitat in the United States.


AKM: What about the personal classes you mentioned that you were taking?


Imam Mohammed: This upcoming visit will be in the time of Ramadan, and I hope that my special classes will continue even though it is Ramadan. I hope to have an opportunity to sit with persons like those I sat with earlier and discuss our concerns over here for Islamic education and propagation. Also, I would like to have my own education improved while I am there.


Sayyid Muhammad Qutb is well known; he is the brother of the martyr who was hanged in Egypt during the time under President Nassar's rule. The whole Islamic world was saddened by that, and we are still saddened when we recall that. His brother has served Islam in a very dignified and excellent way and his knowledge and his kind of expressions, the way he expresses himself, to me is the kind of contribution we need in the United States even for Americans and English-speaking people.

I have read his book, In the Shade of the Qur'an, that he gave to me while I was there. I met him and we sat and talked and he expressed great concern and interest in the Muslim community over here. He said he had been aware of us since the time of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, and he had paid a visit to the Hon. Elijah Muhammad while he was a student in the United States and also a member of the Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada. He (Mr. Qutb) was expressing great joy over the fact that he had that long time acquaintance with us. He is too looking to see us in the future do more for the propagation of Islam.

So when I return, I don't know if I will meet with him or not; but there are others whom I would say are equally as attractive to me who could assist me personally and perhaps even more than Mr. Sayyid Muhammad Qutb. And I am looking forward to meeting with such persons in the month of Ramadan, during those two weeks, and perhaps I can get a lot of benefit from hearing them express themselves and respond to my questions .They can also give us their feelings on how best we can improve the image of Muslims in America and improve the propagation or preaching- of the message of Islam.


AKM: Brother Imam, while we have this opportunity, I wanted to ask you about some of the current events in the news. In the context of your early teachings during your ministry, you talked to us about forming alliances and reaching out to other people. But we would like to get your general feel for the alliance we see forming between Minister Louis Farrakhan and Colonel Qadhafi and the recent reported statements from Qadhafi of what that alliance was, if those reports are true. That Qadhafi wants someone to represent Lybia within the United States and that he would put up $1 billion to that effort.


Imam Mohammed: Yes, I am aware that supposedly he wants someone to represent Qadhafi's Lybia. Well, that disturbs me, and I am sure that it disturbs most of the Muslims in America and the American people. If Qadhafi is not interested in restoring or having good relation with the United States, in spite of what he may think of the treatment he has received so far from the United States — if he is not interested in seeing improved relation for Lybia and the United States, then I would not want any citizens of America to represent his interest in these United States.

And for a person who is saying that he is a Muslim leader to represent Qadhafi, I think he is very stupid. And it is also very dangerous. The citizens of the United States will not be at ease with someone who claims to be a citizen and is living in the United States as a citizen and also claims to be a Muslim and then is representing Colonel Qadhafi's interest in changing the United States to please him. The United States is not going to change to please any ruler of any country by them interfering with the affairs or life of the American people. If they want to change the country, they should respect the country first, and then they should seek to change the country as friends — not as enemies of the country.

I think that was a very dangerous statement that came out. It was dangerous for Qadhafi and even more dangerous for Minister Farrakhan and for Muslims who support him, if he is going to represent Qadhafi's interest in the United States.


AKM: There are some concerns being expressed among African-American Muslims that this is going to intensify the uneasiness about us in particular and that it might bring under scrutiny the majority of African-American Muslims because of the legal ramifications of someone representing a foreign government in that nature.


Imam Mohammed: Certainly, I would think so. We know how the Intelligence Department has handled problems of that seriousness. And if they handle it the way they have in the past, then even innocent groups and innocent organizations of Muslims in the United States will not be looked upon as innocent anymore. Unless those groups take an open stand against that kind of involvement by one of the citizens of the United States with Qadhafi.

We know that agents are all human, too, and there are a few agents in the Intelligence Department, the FBI and the CIA, who are enemies to Islam already. They have not been convinced that Islam is a religion that they should respect. So such agents will also be working to make trouble for all Muslims. So this is a very serious thing and a very dangerous thing that has happened.

I am hoping that the statement is not correct. And if it was correct, I am hoping that Minister Farrakhan will make a statement here in the United States that he will make it clear that he himself  did not accept to be Qadhafi's representative in the United States.

(To be continued)