recently reported a record turnout for the 2008 presidential election, 89% voting for President-elect Obama.
This invigorated sense of the community claiming America for itself was drastically accelerated after the negative fallout and the proliferation of Islamophobia after the tragedy of 9/11. Just over a decade ago, there was much conversation within the community questioning the benefit of interfaith collaboration or the permissibility of engaging in the political process in America. Such conversations quickly shifted due to a mixture of necessity and awaking, calls for Muslims to become more involved in America besides collecting American dollars and having the freedom to build bigger masajid. This leads to the vision of Imam WD Mohammed and perhaps the most important aspect of his legacy.
Imam Mohammed is often cited as leading the greatest mass conversion of people, with the permission of Allah, to mainstream Islam in American history, yet his method and its effect of mainstreaming a significant portion of Muslims into society based upon the Islamic goal of elevating humanity, not simply for the purpose of assimilation into the dominate culture, represents the true genius of his leadership.
It is no accident that a large percentage of American Muslim civic and political leaders come from his tutelage. America's first two Muslim congressmen Rep. Keith Ellision (D-MN) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) were his followers. From Adam Shakoor, America's first Muslim judge and Detroit's first Muslim Deputy Mayor to Yaphett El-Amin, Missouri's first female Muslim legislator, Imam Mohammed's "language" going back to the mid-70's enforced the idea within a multitude of his students that there was no conflict between being a obedient Muslim and being a productive citizen of these United State of America.
In speaking at a CAIR-MN fundraiser along with the Director of the NAACP-Minneapolis and the Director of NAACP-St Paul, who also was a student of Imam Mohammed, I stated that I shudder to think about where the American Muslims' political situation would be in post 9-11 America if it were not for the likes of those stated above who had cultivated relationships and thoroughly woven themselves into the socio-politically fabric of the USA. I stated that the Imam's leadership had in fact been a shield for all American Muslims, even those who had once been highly critical of him.
Therefore, it is a mistake or perhaps an over-sight when those among us state that the American Muslim community did not understand the importance of civil engagement until after 9/11. Under Imam Mohammed's leadership, there always had been a sizable amount of the Muslim community that was involved, which should be recognized in our current discourse and for the sake of being historically honest.
After the passing of Imam WD Mohammed, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab on CNN referred to Imam Mohammed as "America's Imam". As we head to the MANA conference and engage ourselves in other conversations relating to the empowerment of Muslims in America, I urge us all to reflect upon and study the methodology of Imam Mohammed's leadership that not only took, with the permission of Allah, hundreds of thousands away from the false teaching that Fard Muhammad was divine to Islamic monotheism, but also his strategy, which played a significant role in our current socio-political awareness as Muslims in America."/>