Imam W.D. Mohammed, who succeeded his father as leader of the Nation of Islam but abandoned its teachings of black supremacy and moved thousands of its followers into mainstream Islam, died Tuesday. He was 74.
CHICAGO — Imam W.D. Mohammed, who succeeded his father as leader of the Nation of Islam but abandoned its teachings of black supremacy and moved thousands of its followers into mainstream Islam, died Tuesday. He was 74.
Mr. Mohammed died at his home in Markham, Ill., according to a family statement issued late Tuesday.
The Cook County Medical Examiner said he was pronounced dead Tuesday. Mohammed went by both Warith Deen Mohammed and Wallace Muhammad. An autopsy was planned for today.
When Mr. Mohammed’s father, Elijah Muhammad, died in 1975, his son was named leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, which promoted self-reliance and black supremacy, a belief that mainstream Muslims consider heretical.
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Mr. Mohammed quickly abandoned that teaching and led the Nation toward orthodox Islam, emphasizing the faith’s message of racial tolerance.
Minister Louis Farrakhan, who broke with Mr. Mohammed over the move to orthodox Islam, separately revived the old Nation of Islam.
Farrakhan and Mr. Mohammed reconciled in 2000 through meetings and a joint public appearance at a Friday prayer in Chicago. Still, Mr. Mohammed remained critical of many Nation of Islam leaders.
In 1990, Mr. Mohammed was the first Muslim to open the U.S. Senate with prayer.
No one knows the size of his movement, which was decentralized with many leaders and many entities, including The Mosque Cares. However, the number of his followers is believed to be in the tens of thousands.
The movement includes mosques nationwide and many business projects, which reflect the continued emphasis on black economic self-reliance.
In 2003, he unexpectedly announced his resignation from his organization, the American Society of Muslims, saying he was frustrated that many of its imams had refused to adopt mainstream Muslim thinking.