Hertz and Pelavin: “Imam Mohammed’s perseverant struggle to guide his followers in traditional and open-minded Sunni practice garnered worldwide respect not just from Muslims but from people of all creeds.”
WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 10 – In response to the death of Imam W.D. Mohammed, former leader of the Nation of Islam, Judith Hertz, co-Chair of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism and Mark Pelavin, Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs, issued the following statement:
Today we mourn the loss of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, a powerful advocate for peace and unity amongst all races and religions. Following the death of his father in 1975, Imam Mohammed took over as leader of the Nation of Islam, then known as a racial supremacy organization that adhered to ideas of black separatism. Under Imam Mohammed’s leadership, however, many of the organization’s followers instead refocused their efforts on Islam’s teachings of racial tolerance, striving to promote understanding and harmony.
In 1995, the Union for Reform Judaism and the National Council of Mosques convened in Glencoe, IL, for one of the first major Muslim-Jewish dialogues in the country. Imam Mohammed, a keynote speaker, spoke alongside Rabbi Alexander Schindler, former President of the URJ, and the two became fast friends, publicly dialoguing about the need for Muslims and Jews to work together.
Imam Mohammed’s perseverant struggle to guide his followers in traditional and open-minded Sunni practice garnered worldwide respect not just from Muslims but from people of all creeds.
With admiration and esteem, we remember Imam Mohammed’s devotion to pursuing racial and spiritual harmony. May his memory be a blessing, and may we, as a nation, continue to make progress toward the ideals to which he dedicated so much of his life.