QUESTION: Brother Imam Earl Abdulmalik Mohammed I appreciate your teaching and leadership. I have been trying to reach you. I hope this message and question gets to you and you will be able to answer it. I think I am speaking for a growing number of people in Atlanta that we understand what you are doing and we are with you. I was a supporter of Imam W.D. Mohammed and I am your supporter. I have spoken with many people and they recognize who you are, and they recognize that your leadership and teaching is needed. You are truly his Representative and the leader for our community now. Everything you are saying it is as if the Imam is speaking to us. There is not really any dispute about that. The dispute is that they didn't want Imam Mohammed over them and they don't want someone now teaching like him. Everyone knew who you would become when the Imam was with us and you have proven it beyond any question now. I have a question about something happening here in Atlanta. The Atlanta Masjid is the site for a national program associated with Imam Jamil El-Amin's group. I don't know if you know about this, but if so can you give me your opinion on this please? If you can answer it in a way that others will see it that would be very good.
IMAM EARL ABDULMALIK MOHAMMED: Praise be to Allah. I do greatly value your words of support. Greetings to the Believers in Atlanta. I am aware of what you are speaking of. I do have an opinion, or maybe it is better to say I have a conviction. It is a firm conviction. However, this question has some very far-reaching implications, not only for our people in Atlanta. So, I don't want to answer you on this specific matter. In this instance I think it is better to address a related concern that is more general in scope but I hope will give you and others some support in your concern. Your question is expressing a very serious concern, so I want to address your concern and not the question directly.
In one of the years of the late 1950's or early '60's, I am not sure of the exact year, but it would have to have been before 1962, one of the annual gatherings of the Temples of Islam or what we call the Nation of Islam under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's leadership that was then known as the Savior's Day, was officiated by Minister Malcolm X and Minister Wallace D. Muhammad. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was not able to attend because of health concerns and he asked his son Minister Wallace D. Mohammed and Minister Malcolm X to officiate. I am telling this story as Imam Mohammed told it to me in a conversation between him and I. The Imam asked me did I know anything about this, and I mentioned to him that I had read about this occasion in Malcolm's autobiography, and another book by a Ph.D. candidate who had written a dissertation on the Nation of Islam and had interviewed the Imam and Malcolm. The Imam explained to me that Minister Malcolm X had invited George Lincoln Rockwell, who was then the leader of the American Nazi Party -a racist, white-nationalist, white-supremacist organization, to attend the Savior's Day and to participate in it.
The Imam explained to me that this was not an invitation that came from or was authorized by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Imam said to me, and I am sure he told this story to others and he may have spoken about it or referred to it in some of his addresses, that he was offended by Mr. Rockwell's presence at the meeting, and he was not comfortable with Malcolm inviting him. He said that his father had put him and Malcolm in charge of the program, and that when it was his opportunity to address the audience he made clear that his father had no agenda to destroy human lives, or to even destroy the white race, or to encourage any bitter confrontation between the races. He told me that he said to the audience that his father's agenda was to promote a Muslim identity that fostered pride and commitment to excellence and the building up of black people in America who had been and were being oppressed. He told me that he told the audience that the Nation of Islam and his father had a real commitment to the upliftment of the black people, and that they were not an organization trying to build credibility on cheap public relations tricks, and that what Mr. Rockwell represented was not welcome by his father or his father's following.
The importance in this is to point out the fact and to understand that there were major differences in the thinking and emphasis of the majority of the ministers as compared with Minister Wallace D. Muhammad, in how they interpreted the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's teaching and emphasis. Minister Wallace understood his father to be emphasizing and working for something much broader, much more important, much different than what Malcolm and the overwhelming majority of the ministers understood and were devoted to, as evidenced by his inviting George Lincoln Rockwell to the Savior's Day meeting. This is not disparaging Malcolm Shabazz and his importance. It is a fact of history that cannot be disputed, and it is to point out that there are many who identify as Muslims, but negotiate Muslim life for political expediency or some other causes which if you look closely at it will reveal conflicts with pure and legitimate Islamic teaching.
Mind you, when Malcolm was out of the Temple, he started his religious organization and his political organization. He invited Minister Wallace to head his religious organization, but the political organization was the authority. Imam Mohammed told me he was insulted that Malcolm asked him. He said he told him "How can you ask me to go with you against my father?" Muslim identity and an Islamic faith and social destiny are what Minister Wallace saw as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's hope for black people in America. Unlike what Malcolm understood and what many now want to project, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was not pursuing a black nationalist agenda. He was pursuing an agenda of complete dignity and establishment for black people in America in a Muslim identity under the authority of faith in G'd, with the Holy Qur'an as the highest teaching, above any political teaching.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed's opinions were not ever emotionally-motivated or silly-minded. He was not serving Muslim unity or some notion of Muslim progress or black people's progress, as an interest above right and wrong, or above truth and falsehood. He was for right and truth above a so-called Muslim unity or a unity of black people. His opinions and positions were always informed by solid Islamic principle, easily found or identified in the Holy Qur'an and Prophet Muhammed's teaching. From where did these convictions in him form? From what influence in his environment? How did he come to have the mind that he had, the thinking that he had? His mind formed in the Temple of Islam under his father's teaching. His father's teaching did not lead him to communism, or socialism, or armed-struggle revolution against the American political or social establishment, or a "burn baby burn" mentality. His father's teaching led him to the Holy Qur'an and Muhammed the Prophet and a love for humanity and a hope for a Muslim-African-American destiny in America, with all well-meaning people embracing and accepting that vision.
Imam Mohammed did not have political leanings or agendas to push forward a Muslim political platform. He didn't speak of a political Islam. We don't have that as a part of his teaching or language. His faith and teachings formed his moral convictions which informed his political opinions. But he did not speak in the language of politics. He spoke in the language of faith. Neither did he allow himself to be recruited or used for political causes. He taught me that political causes that were not linked to human progress and a moral interest in building a just human order were not worth our attention, other than to guard against them. He supported candidates for public office, not based on any political leaning, but based on principles of moral decency, justice, honesty and fair-dealing between all human communities. He supported decent individuals and their interests in justice, no matter what race or religion. He supported a coalition for "good government", not a coalition for a political destiny.
There is an old saying that I am sure was influenced by ancient wisdom and perhaps influenced by Muhammed the Prophet's teaching. The saying is "those you sit with are those you stand with." This saying helps me a great deal when I look at the conduct and decision-making of our leaders in this community today. They "sit" with and under different people with different emphasis and different minds. Different minds have influenced what they believe is the direction they should go and we should go as a community. They loudly claim to be with Imam W. Deen Mohammed, just as Malcolm said he was with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad when he invited George Lincoln Rockwell. What I can say is that their minds and my mind are not the same. To me, they have a very strange, almost abnormal perspective on al-Islam and its teachings. I cannot see Prophet Muhammed's love for humanity and the human destiny characterized by his teachings in what they emphasize.
My soul wants the destiny that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad pointed to, and that his son Imam W. Deen Mohammed educated us to understand, embrace, and realize. Anything other than this is not satisfactory for my human soul. I want this for all of our people. My children and their mother, who is a daughter of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, are in Atlanta, so I take this matter very seriously. And, I am the leader Imam Mohammed prepared to lead his People after him, and this strong conviction I have is why he trusted me to do the job, and do it upon right and truth.