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W. Deen Mohammed Weekly Articles
Reprinted from the Muslim Journal


Muslim Journal

American Islamic Leader Building A Mainstream Base
An Interview With Imam W. Deen Mohammed


Q. - Reading the new biography of your father ("An Original Man" by Claude Andrew Clegg III, St. Martin's Press, $25.95, I learned that you were jailed in the early '60s for resisting the draft. Was that time in jail a period of spiritual transition for you?


A. - Yes, it was. I was released in 63, January 10th, 1963. You don't forget freedom day! And I didn't stay out long before my father began to have pressure put on him by some staff people-Fruit of Islam officers, the militant unit of the Nation of Islam.

..."His mind is not the same, and he's saving things that are disturbing," they told my father. So he brought me and questioned me and had like a little court hearing. And you were pronounced innocent or guilty. They pronounced me guilty and put me out. (Mohammed later rejoined the Nation for a number of years. He then dissolved it after his father's death).


Q. - What were you saying .that   disturbed   your father?


A. - That Mr. Fard is not that's what I was saying. I didn't say that "the white man is not the devil." I thought that if I said, "Mr. Fard isn't God," that would begin the movement toward better reasoning (laughter).


Q. - As you look back at that .period, what did your ' father teach that you discarded? What remains with you to this day?


A. – Well, what stuck with me was the innocence. My father was innocent. He believed in this teacher, Mr. Fard. He really believed that he had met God in the flesh. And he believed that he was the messenger of that man, so he was a messenger of God. And he was very sincere and serious about getting us to be better people. More decent, in terms of principles. Clean language. Truthful tongue. Respect for each other. Respect for our women. Respect for the family. Respect even for the white man, as a manager of the society.

...My father's emphasis on the honest work and hard work, 'all of that stayed with me. And more importantly his emphasis on using the rational mind. To be curious. Now it might seem strange that the man who put us in a world of myth, also told us to use our rational mind. And to be curious and search the darkness -search beneath the cover, look under the surface language for more meanings ...

It sounds kind of strange that the man who gave me myth and confusion is also responsible for me taking .the path toward rational understanding, you see. But that's true. So that's what stuck with me. And his belief that he and his followers were chosen by Almighty God to be a new people, an independent-thinking people, in Islam. A "new Muslim," that's what he called it. I am a new Muslim. I don't quite identify with the thinking of the Islamic world. I identify with the beliefs of the Islamic world , but not necessarily with the thinking of most of the voices I'm hearing.


Q. -  Which voices?


A. -  There's still a belief that .you don't touch Judeo-Christianity, you don't touch the Bible, you don't listen to those ideas. There are exceptions ... but this is the general picture... This kind of thinking hurts us, because the great beauty of Islam can only be seen if we see Islam as a kindred religion with Judaism and Christianity.

And we have to see it as an expression of what God gave to the Jews, and what God gave to the Christians. It's another expression of that. It's being expressed again, and it's called Islam. We believe that it's the complete expression, the pure expression, of what God said to the Jewish prophets and what God said to Jesus Christ."


Q. - Do you think the Nation .of Islam will ever fully embrace Orthodox Islam?


A. -  Yes, I do as we realize a .better and better America for all citizens. And as the mind, the intellect, of the African-American professional class grows more sober and embraces universals more - as we see that, we're going to see changes. ... I think we're isolating ourselves now.

Because, even among our intellectuals our professional people, there's a desire to have this separation — separate from the whites, to have a strong black awareness and black pride and, well, I hate to put it this way, but to still see white society as the enemy. There's still this tendency in the professional class of African - American people. So I think as change happens, we're going to be able to realize a very good life in America.


Q. - The attitude of looking .at whites as the enemy is going to change?


A. - Yes it has to change. .Because the whites are not the enemy. Ignorance is the enemy. Falsehood is the enemy. Blindness is the enemy. Selfishness that doesn't respect the rights of other people, that's the enemy. ... The enemy was never any one people. The world is not going to be helpful to the little fellow down on the bottom if we are going to continue to say, "There is no change and world is evil and the white man can't be trusted." We just make that little fellow's life more miserable. We have to give him hope. We have to say, "No, there's a new reality here and there's hope now. Come out of the darkness. Come from hiding under the beds and in the dark rooms of your neighborhood. Come out. Come out into the light and let's go to work. This is a new day." That's what I think we should be saying.