BY NIRAJ WARIKOO • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • August 30, 2008
Thousands of African-American Muslims from across the United States are gathering in Detroit this weekend for an annual convention that’s returning to Michigan for the first time in more than a decade.
They are followers of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, a Hamtramck native who now lives in Chicago. He is the son of Elijah Muhammad, the former leader of the Nation of Islam, founded in Detroit almost 80 years ago. Given metro Detroit’s sizable Muslim and African-American communities, the convention has special significance for many locally.
After Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975, Mohammed took over and reformed the black nationalist organization into a group that preached a more orthodox Islam that opposed any racial or ethnic divisions. A few years later, Minister Louis Farrakhan broke off and formed a new Nation of Islam he felt was more in line with Elijah Muhammad’s teachings.
While Farrakhan is the leader who gets more media attention and is most often associated with Islam among African Americans, Mohammed is thought to have more followers. In contrast to Farrakhan, Mohammed is low-key and speaks more like a scholar than a preacher.(MORE)