The Providence of W. Deen Muhammad

بسم الله الحمد لله و صلاة و سلام على سيجدنا محمد و على آله و سلم

In 2008, the American Muslim community wept as Wallace Deen Muhammad returned to Allah. I’ve met many famous people in my life, but amongst the most memorable was meeting W. Deen Muhammad. It was Fall 2003, and I was a beardless 19 year old sophomore in college. I took a trip to North Carolina with some older African-American Muslim gentlemen to meet and schedule him to deliver a talk for our Muslim Students Association (MSA). He had striking blue eyes and a glow of wisdom that only comes with experience written on his face. He was glad to meet a member of the MSA, even a skinny 19 year old, happy we were continuing the tradition, and briefly mentioned how they helped him when his community had expelled him.

…But who was W. Deen Muhammad and why am I writing this on a blog about Ahmadiyya?

To understand who he was, you have to understand the history of the African-American community. By the early 1900s, in the throes of racial injustice and paradoxical increased freedom, the African-American community was searching for its identity. Knowing one’s lineage and ancestral customs is important to a person’s identity but the sharp lash of racial slavery eliminated all but a few remnants. To fill the void, many subcultures, movements and religions arose. Examples include the Moorish Science Temple and the Black Panthers. But the largest and one with the most profound impact on American culture was the Nation of Islam.

The Nation of Islam (NOI) was founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad (herein referred to as Fard). Fard was not an African-American. Even to this day his exact roots are clouded in mystery. But, what we do know is that he was the genesis of the “Nation of Islam”. The faith he created was a mixture of traditional Islam, Moorish Science Temple teachings and his own unique ideas. As I was personally told by a elderly African-American Muslim who used to follow his faith, the emphasis was not on specific beliefs. Instead, people were attracted to it because it was “not the religion of our slave masters” (Christianity) and gave them something to uplifting themselves through. The NOI preached morality, hard work  and community. It helped members stop the cycles of alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, gang violence, and other dysfunctional behavior.

One of the prominent early members was Elijah Muhammad (herein referred to as Elijah). Elijah joined the NOI in 1931 and rose to become the “Minster of Islam” for Detroit.

In 1934, while on a trip to Chicago, Fard completely disappeared. Though many theories exist, to this day no one knows what became of him. Following his disappearance, the movement found a new leader in Elijah. In the absence of Fard, Elijah became the de-facto leader of the Nation of Islam and led the movement forward from 1934 until his death in 1975.

Under Elijah, the movement grew many folds, including many new Temples, the newspaper Muhammad Speaks, a womens’ auxiliary organization, growing financial power and The Fruit of Islam, their security force. Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz رحمه الله) joined the movement during this early period and was instrumental in attracting new members. (Malcolm X would later departed from the NOI and converted to Islam, but was assassinated in 1965.) With a large membership base and increased national recognition, by the ’50s and ’60s the movement was a force to be reckoned with in African-American community.

They did great community work, but what were the beliefs of the NOI? This sums it up:

We believe there is no God but Allah (God) and Muhammad is the Messenger of God. We believe that Allah appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard Muhammad on July 4, 1930, the long awaited Messiah of the Christians and the Mahdi of the Muslims.

The faith shared many common terms with Islam, such as Allah, Qur’an, Islam, Muslim, Muhammad, etc, but the beliefs were radically different. Tenants included Black Supremacy, that white people were a creation of Yakub, an evil scientist 6,600 years ago and other such quackery. Congregational prayers were held on Sunday, and services resembled American Protestant churches. It had little to do with Islam, other than name.

As the movement grew and members increased, little by little, members became aware of Islam – not Nation of “Islam” – but Islam. This was likely due to early Arab immigration to the US, mostly from Syria, Egypt and Lebanon. To investigate the origins of the faith, Elijah sent his son, Wallace Deen Muhammad, to Egypt to study Islam. He returned to become a Minister but was twice kicked out (ex-communicated) of the NOI for his “Unorthodox beliefs” – or in reality – his orthodox beliefs, specifically, that he did not accept that Fard Muhammad was Allah, and that Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم was the last prophet. He was later strategically readmitted.

In 1975, Elijah Muhammad died. So taken back were the NOI members that some of them were literally waiting for the world to end. At the national NOI conference to decide on the future of the movement, Wallace son of the “prophet”, came on stage, dressed in the Fruit of Islam uniform, and assumed leadership. What the Ministers did not know was that Wallace was now firmly a mainstream Sunni Muslim. One by one, the national minsters pledged allegiance (bay’at) to Wallace, including Louis Farrakhan, the current leader of the NOI. For two years, from 1975 to 1977, Wallace taught Orthodox Islam as the official belief system of the Nation of Islam. He introduced the five pillars, promoted mainstream Islamic belief through the Muhammad Speaks newspaper, introduced ‘Eid al-Fitr as a religious holiday instead of Saviors Day, and even led a delegation on Hajj. None of this was part of the previous NOI. He was taking the NOI from the religion of his father to the religion of Saydinaa Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم.

But with any movement towards Truth there are those who oppose it, which manifested in the person of Louis Farrakhan. In 1981, he revived the roots of the NOI, abandoned Orthodox Sunni Islam, and led the movement back into its original beliefs. This created a split between the communities of Wallace and Louis, as Louis went on to re-found the modern Nation of Islam.

What about Wallace? Allah put Wallace in the right place at the right time for a specific purpose. Wallace founded The World Community of Islam in the West. It was through Wallace that large numbers of NOI members left the beliefs of the NOI and embraced mainstream Islam. He reached out to the immigrant Muslim communities to build bridges and ties, which was unthinkable in the NOI. Wallace took a community deeply entrenched in absolute disbelief, claiming a man was Allah and in a new prophet, and led them to real Islam. This could not have been done by anyone but the son of the “prophet”.

To this day, 10th of Muharram 1433, the largest racial contention of Muslims in the US are not Arab of Desi, but African-American. This is through the work of Wallace Deen Muhammad. Though there are still hard-line believers of original NOI teachings, they are slowly but surely being pulled in the direction of mainstream orthodox Sunni Islam. Louis Farrakhan publicly declared his Shahada, they introduced Salah (Namaz) as Muslims perform it, changed the Nation of Islam’s day of worship from Sunday to Friday, and many other advances. Alhumdu lillah, they are slowly coming our way.

So we thank Allah for his providence. He was very merciful when he guided Wallace to Islam, and through him, guided many others.

What does any of this have to do with the Ahmadiyya…?

In order to know where you are going, you have to know where you came from. When we look at the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, though he accepted their Islam of the common person, he focused his energy on the leadership. When he went to Ta’if, he spoke to the leaders (which later led to Du’a al-Ta’if). It was the leaders of Aws and Khazraj who accepted Islam and through them the common folk followed suit. It was a leader, Wallace Deen Muhammad, who accepted Islam and through them other NOI members shifted towards the Sunnah.

This is in no way to belittle the commoners who embrace Islam. In the past few years, we have witnessed an increasing number of Ahmadis leaving Ahmadiyya to embrace mainstream Islam. The vast majority silently depart and tell me not to disclose who they are. We are also happy for the likes of Shahid Kamal Ahmad, who started this site, or Sr. “Findings” who manages Cult Girl Confessions. But what we need are more national leaders, more spokesmen, more murabbis, and more missionaries to revert to traditional Islam. They can use their authority and influence to guide their community, if not all at once, then slowly through small hints and suggestions. And this is not without precedent, notable reverts include:

  • Hassan bin Mahmood Odeh, Former Director General of the Arabic Section in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community;
  • Miklos Molnar, General Secretary of the Ahmadi Jama’at in Hungary;
  • Ismail Babatunde Jose, Former President of the Ahmadiyya movement in Nigeria;
  • I personally know Jamia Ahmadiyya students and Waqf-e-Nau leaders who accepted mainstream Islam and are slowly and secretly working in their communities;
  • And many others

Perhaps one day, even their “khalifah” will have departed from Ahmadiyya to lead his followers towards mainstream Islam, after the example of Wallace Deen Muhammad. Before ‘Umar bin al-Khattab رضى الله عنه accepted Islam, the Muslims were weak and scattered. His conversion gave them strength and courage. May Allah give us an ‘Umar from the Ahmadiyya community.

This takes patience, courage and conviction. Dealing with the stubborn “Desi uncle mentality” can be a challenge. It will start off slow, and be difficulty convincing others. But a breakthrough in a few will result in others joining the fold. And we ask Allah for success.

و صلى الله على سيدنا محمد و على آله و صحبه و سلم

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18 thoughts on “The Providence of W. Deen Muhammad

  1. Thank you for another good article 😀

    I doubt very much that the “khalifah” would embrace Islam, where will he make a living!

    Was Macolm X part of NOI at one time?

    • Yes, Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) was originally part of the Nation, but after some disputes left and accepted Islam, and departed for Hajj.

      The following is a part of the letter he wrote to his wife while on Hajj. But before you read it, you have to understand how severe and extreme the racism was in the US:

      Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all other prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.

      I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca. I have made my seven circuits around the Ka’ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad. I drank water from the well of Zem Zem. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al-Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.

      There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue eyed blonds to black skin Africans. But we were all participating in the same rituals, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had lead me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.

      America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have considered ‘white’ — but the ‘white’ attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.

      You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to re-arrange much of my thought patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experiences and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

      During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed, (or on the same rug) — while praying to the same God — with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the same words and in the actions and in the deeds of the ‘white’ Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.

      We were truly all the same (brothers) — because their belief in one God had removed the ‘white’ from their minds, the ‘white’ from their behavior, and the ‘white’ from their attitude.

      That literally brought tears to my eyes. And I’m happy that Malcolm X became a Muslim, and not an Ahmadi

      • When i was an Ahmadi youth, about 12 years old, I was impressed after watching the movie Malcolm X.

        I began asking questions to the Ahmadi Murrabis about the NOI…..I was told by one of the rare African-American-Ahmadi-Murrabis (there are only 2 in 100 years), that Malcom X was almost an Ahmadi. I actually believed that for a loooong time.

        I now realize that this was wishful thinking at its best. Furthermore, Ahmadiyyat was here in the USA and simply was a turn-off to most African Americans. Consequently, they started their own religion.

        Has anyone read Amina McClouds book on, “African-American Islam”?

        Here is an extract:

        “One major community of Ahmadis was headed by Wali Akram from 1934 to 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio. He established a “10-year-plan” for a financial base for the community that involved a savings plan where money was kept in a savings and loan institution. He networked this plan to affiliated masajid (the preferred Arabic word for Anglicized mosques in Akron, Youngston, Dayton, Columbus, Ohio and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). By the 1940’s there were 200 people in the masjid in Cleveland. Records were kept of every member including their birth names, name changes, addresses and the date they became Muslim. Interethnic marriages, although not the norm, were frequent. The international character of the community lent itself to the Islamic stance against racism and social division. Families were close knit, using the masjid as the base for class and social interaction.

        As the 20th century progressed, the direct personal influence of the Ahmadi missionaries declined. Early members left the movement for a variety of reasons. Dissensions arose due to the fact that African Americans were never appointed as missionaries 28. The title of sheikh acknowledged their accomplishments in Islamic studies, but did not give them any authority over communities. Surviving original members of this community complained that the effects of colonialism also came with the missionaries, who insisted on Indian customs and interpretations, rather than seeing African American culture as having something to offer American Islam. Islamic study also raised questions over the Ahmadi notion of prophethood, prompting others to leave the community”

        (African American Islam by Aminah Beverly McCloud, 1995, page 21)

        28— This information was gathered from letters written by Wali Akram complaining that African Americans were not appointed to positions of leadership, and that was the reason that he and several other black men were severing their relationship with the community. His sons and grandsons have continued the legacy established in this community. As of this writing this community is still vibrant and possibly even growing. Members are very warm and outgoing, providing a wealth of historical information.

        • Another excellent book on this topic is “A History of Muslim African-Americans” published by the Islamic History Project Group.

          Very true, they DO insist on Desi culture/customs. I prefer Shalwar Kameezs, but there’s nothing inherently more holy about Desi or Arab clothes over, say, West African clothes. The clothes of Islam are loose and cover the body. These are all the beautiful traditions of Islam and we respect them all.

          Imam Zaid has a very good talk on this topic. If anyone is interested in it, send me a message!

  2. Nice work akhi!!!

    I would like to add that it was the Quran of Muhammad Ali (Lahori Ahmadi) that was used by Elijah as he promoted and spread his religion. It was Ahmadiyyat that spawned a splinter sect that was more dangerous that Ahmadiyyat itself.

    I once asked my father: Do you know that the NOI used Ahmadiyya beliefs to make Fard into a God and make Elijah into a prophet?

    His answer was NO.
    Furthermore, the NOI, like the Lahoris, deny the miraculous birth of Esa (as).

  3. No matter how many people leave the Ahmadiyya Jamaat, it would not change Allah’s decision to keep His promise in Surah An-Noor 24:56 that He has made HMG Ahmad of Qadian, India as His Successors (Khalifah Allah) in the earth, the Mahdi dan Promised Messiah in the early 14th Century of the Hijriah (Islamic Calendar).

    Allah has bestowed His grace upon HMG Ahmad of Qadian, India became the Ummati Prophet due to his perfect obedience to Allah and his devotion to the Holy Prohet of Islam, Muhammad Rasulullah saw (Surah An-Nisa 4:70). This grace is from Allah, the All-Knowing, and no one has the capacity to oppose Allah.

    Only those among you who believe and do good works will obey the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad Rasulullah saw: “Anyone who saw him, allegiance to him, although it should be crawling on the snow, because he is the Khalifah of Allah, the Mahdi” (Sunan Ibnu Majah & Sunan Abu Daud).

    What about you?

    • I’m thinking of doing an article on the last hadith you cited
      It would be really short, just giving the full hadith, not just the excerpt they teach Ahmadis.

      • I believe this is long hadith but ahmadis like always take just part of it… and try to fix it on MGA

    • You have had 100 years and you still dont have any political authority.
      Your messiah boasted he would have a victory like Fateh Makkah, yet he did not convert India, or punjab or even Qadian.
      Even today qadian has be deserted by ahmadis and is full of sikhs and hindus.
      Ahmadis are so brainwashed that even though their ship is sinking they think they will sail the seven seas.
      There is only one thing worse than being trapped in a cult, that is paying money to be trapped and misguided

      • That hadith has 3 parts.

        They’re only taught a snippet of it.

        I’ll have to dig up the full hadith, shouldn’t be too hard.

      • According to the saying of the Holy Prophet pbuh in a hadith, “Allah sent the Imam Mahdi, among others, is to eliminate jizyah” (Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal) which means Imam Mahdi and the Ahmadiyya Jamaat will not pursue any political authority.

        It is impossible paying zakat, infaq (chandah) and shadaqat is trapped and misguided, as the Ahmadiyya Jamaat uses the proceeds for the propagation of Islam all over the world. If the Ahmadiyya Jamaat divert it for other personal perposes, then Allah alone will seize the Khilafat. The facts show that Khilafat of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat continue to prevail which means Allah pleases with it.

        Remember the following verses of the Holy Qur’an:
        “Certainly those who oppose Allah and His Messenger are among the most abject. Allah has decreed: ‘Most surely, I will prevail, I and My Messengers’ Verily, Allah is Powerful, Mighty. (Surah Al Mujadilah 58:21-22).

        “Alif Lam Mim Ra. These are verses of the perfect Book. That which has been revealed to thee from thy Lord is the Truth, but most men believe not.” (Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:2).

  4. When I look at some Ahmadis, there are definitely things I cannot help but respect. I could probably talk about their numerous positive qualities for hours. And I’m reading this book that mentions the NOI. They really did do a lot of good things. Some of the stuff Clara Muhammad did were unbelievable and she demands respect.

    But as much as I can respect them, that does not mean that they are theologically correct.

  5. Great Post Akhi,
    Malcom X was an inspiration!!!! This post really opens ones eyes to the guises of shaytaan and the Shirk he is trying to promote. There is always that defining time period where these imposters crossover, can you point me to any info you may have on the how MGA came to proclaim he was a prophet I am after specific scriptures and not just “he start preaching in the villages” I am after circumstances and dates. Who were the British commanders and Governors at the time of MGA? I need this for my dawah. All praise and glory be to Allah and peace and blessings be on his slave and FINAL messenger Muhammed (saw)

  6. In conclusion,

    One fitna (Ahmadiyya) spawned another fitna (NOI) and many many others. This should be enough proof for any Ahmadi to see the light. Furthermore, Ahmadiyyat has been in the USA since the 1920’s, however they were totally silent in terms of the “civil-rights” movement. They were also reluctant to give African-Americans positions of rank in the Ahmadiyya Heirarchy. Moreover, only 2 African-Americans have ever achieved the title of Murrabi. Thus proving that the “A” has a major cultural-bias towards non-Pakistanis.

    Growing up as an Ahmadi, I would always feel uncomfortable when Ahmadis would speak Urdu around those Ahmadis who didnt. However, since all of their Khalifas spoke this language it has had a negative effect on converts. Moreover, the culture of Ahmadiyyat is highly “pakistani” and doesnt transcend the message of Islam globally. And Ma-Shalla, this self-preservation technique by the Ahmadis had moved more of its children away from the “A” here in the west.

  7. Funny thing what I found pat Robertson calling this name cult for so many years for Islam. It is not what this is for. Also I watch x Muslim have same tone as this site.why grapes go sour and bitter after leaving old blv. Wounderfull

    • @ iRFAN

      The difference is this. In Islam, we are all custodians of this grand blessing to humanity. However, in the “A”, the Mirza family has monopoly control over the fiqh and direction of the movement, not to mention the proceeds.

      The Mirza family is trying to impress upon the Muslim world that only they understand the true purport of Islam. On top of that….they called the Brits a blessing and Dajjal. Their logic is totally flawed and furthermore they fooled punjabbees and poor africans who were under the onslaught of British colonialism.

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