November 22, 1996
John Arnold Welcomes Imam W. Deen Mohammed to Radio Talk Show in Detroit
By Mary'yam T. Muhammed and Darrina D. Rashad
DETROIT, Mich. - Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Spokesman for Human Salvation, arrived at Metropolitan Airport in Detroit from Chicago, Friday, Sept. 20, 1996. He was on his way to Radio Broadcast WCHB in Inkster, Mich., to respond to an invitation from talk show host John Arnold.
Imam W. Deen Mohammed was greeted by representatives from the committee, Muslims United for Progress, who are associated with his leadership in Detroit. The representatives were: Osman Almanza, Chairperson of Muslim Men In Fellowship; Mujahid Malik-Ul-Mulk, Imam W. Deen Mohammed's contact person in Detroit; Harold D. Muhammad; Abdul Tarlib-Deen; Sister Mary'yam T. Muhammed, Chairperson of Imam W. Deen Mohammed's radio broadcast and Director of Public Relations in Detroit for Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
The interview follows.
Host John Arnold: Ladies and gentlemen, Adolph Mongo, Political Consultant is with me this afternoon as well, Imam Wallace Deen Mohammed. Is it Emam or Imam — which one, ho w do you pronounce your title?
Imam W. Deen Mohammed: It is pronounced Emam .
JA: Imam Wallace Deen Mohammed, welcome back to the radio station.
Imam: Thank you, John.
JA: What's it been, a couple of years?
Imam: That's right.
JA: I thought we were going to do something a little more regularly?
Imam: I would like to.
JA: Adolph, I would like you to meet Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
Adolph Mongo: As-Salaam u -Alaikum.
Imam: Wa-Alaikum-As-Salaam, I've been listening and you sound very convincing there.
AM: Thank you.
JA: What brings you to town?
Imam: We are going to have a meeting. We meet once a month here. We are trying to raise funds to build a school, to build a private Muslim school. And we are trying to reach more of our Muslim members to give them a feeling of a more sense of unity, a more sense of belonging together. We are going to be addressing the public. The public is invited. The subject is "Islam the Future of America."
JA: That will be when?
JA: This Sunday coming up?
Imam: One o'clock, this Sunday.
Imam: Well, it is going to be on the campus of Mercy.
JA: University of Detroit Mercy?
Imam: That's right.
JA: What Time?
Imam: The doors open at 12 p.m., but we will begin the program at 1 p.m.
JA: Okay, we will talk about that some more. You are my CO-host this afternoon you know?
Imam: Well thank you.
JA: I feel very honored, I have Adolph Mongo here on the telephone, and I have Imam W. Deen Mohammed here in the studio with me this afternoon. I'm in the cotton today, huh?
Imam: Well, we are too.
JA: Let's get back to the phone lines on AM 1200 WCHB News Talk Radio in Detroit. Well Imam, you get a good idea, a good flavor of what's going on in Detroit?
Imam, you get a good idea, a good flavor of what's going on in Detroit?
Imam: Yes I am. I am very interested, too, because I used to belong to the auto workers union.
Imam: Yes, I used to be a welder. Yes, 1 welded for the US Steel and a few other places. So I can identify with the language, with the spirit. But, I am interested in our big courageous vision that we have for our business people.
JA: Why what is that?
Imam: We believe that our business people have the desire, and also the ability to help bring about changes for these blighted areas in our cities, our big and small cities. We have gone back to what Marcus Gar-vey and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (Nation of Islam), and perhaps many others of the Black nationalist groups wanted to bring about. They wanted to see material change come about and they wanted to see it come about from the result of our own effort. Our own planning. Our own vision. We have a lot of faith in our business people that they are going to be able to make a big change, a big material change for us, in our neighborhoods. In time, we will start a company together, a private business effort. It's called CPC (Collective Purchase Conference).
It's a limited liability company that allows us to do what these other groups are trying to do. That is, bring people together to pool their small resources, until those resources become very big, and then to invest those resources directly. Then to purchase from factories in the United States or outside of the United States and supply our business people, our wholesaler, our retailer, etc. It's a big plan, a very big plan. The end goal is to really make a change in the neighborhoods. If we see a store that is vacant, we won't say that they went out; we know that they went out. We'll just say how much does it cost us to get that store. We think we can revitalize the neighborhood.
JA: Adolph, you know you can jump in the conversation anytime you get ready.
AM: Yes, I was just listening, because this is what we need to hear. Because our cities have come to the point where only the poor call these big cities home. Now the money has moved across 8 Mile Road, as in Detroit and other places. We need to put a new infusion of life back into the neighborhoods. I know that when I was a little boy you could go on any street and you would see a neighborhood store, and someone in that neighborhood would own that store. You went to that store, it stabilized that community. When you had that store you also had a movie theater. You had a lot of shops and that was in all different parts of that city. Now you don't see any of that any more.
Imam: That's true here in Chicago.
AM: Now you have these megga malls, and I say it as a joke but it is not a joke. If they took all the movie places and moved them to the Upper Peninsular instead of us opening up our own movie theater we will be taking buses and caravans to the Upper Peninsular.
JA: Imam W. Deen Mohammed, you said it is the same in Chicago?
Imam: Yes, we have experienced the same thing here in Chicago. I think all the big cities have experienced the same.
JA: Is that indicative of or is it something in our genes or has it been socialization training. I mean why have we been so eager to go spend money outside of your own community? Do you have any idea?
Imam: Well I think just living as an African American in this environment that most of us live in, where the home can't give you much faith in the future, and the streets don't give you much faith in the future except for a future in the streets, and the churches too, they can't attract. When I say churches I mean mosques too. We are kind of at a disadvantage because what's happening in the streets, what's happening in the culture, the cultural atmosphere, the thinking, the music, what turns people on is just a power that is too much for us to deal with unless we do something that is very serious and profound, and that is to have a spiritual change in our lives. And most of us can't handle that and most of us don't have that spiritual rebirth. So we find ourselves at the mercy of these new tunes.
I think that is the main reason why we can't think for ourselves. If we could think on our own we would not do that. We would say: Hey, it doesn't make much sense for me to take my money outside of my neighborhood. Let us get together. Let us get the neighborhood together and see what we can do about this.
JA: Imam W. D. Mohammed, I imagine that this is what you are going to be talking about this Sunday? We are talking about business. People putting their money together, spending money with one another.
Imam: Yes, exactly John. We have some small cities or satellites with the Chicago area. We have Harvey, Illinois; we have Gary, Indiana, and the same problems are there. We don't have a real financial area that's alive. You say downtown here, we don't have it. Not that we can do everything, but we think that we can make a big contribution toward bringing a real financial life to these areas.
JA: You will talk about it on Sunday?
Imam: Yes, the main talk will be on "Islam in the Future Of America." How we think Islam will affect the future of America and. contribute to the future of America.
JA: That's at University of Detroit Mercy at 2 p.m. on Sunday?
Imam: Islam in the future of America. Islam in a global religion. It's a religion of the world. The Islamic nations especially in the gulf area — Saudi Arabia, the gulf area, are very important to the economic stability of the world, not just America. We will be talking about this future, this religion. Not as a political power because we don't see Islam as a political power and not as an economic power. We don't see it that way. Although the nations of Islam have a big percentage of the wealth of the world, we see it as an idea, for the future of mankind.
I guess all religions make that claim. The claim that they have the idea for the future of mankind. Our religion makes that claim also. We believe as Muslims that the idea, if not Islam, is really going to in the long run be recognized by most of the nations of the world and by most of the decent people of the world. We can see that there are changes in the world that tell us that Islam is becoming more and more a religion that the people of the world can look at and appreciate and welcome into their society.
JA: I am wondering, since I have you here, the question that I have for you is with all this Qadhafi, not Maummar Qadhafi, the other guy. What's the other guy's name?
JA: Yes, Saddam Hussein. As African American people, what kind of position should we have not suggesting that we are monolithic. It is kind of hard to figure stuff out. What's your opinion on that situation?
Imam: Well I have my opinion. But I don't want to bring up my differences with Sadaam or of the people of Iraq, because they are religious differences. I believe that they have been under the baath (bath) idea of how they should socialize their country. To me it is not communism. It is far from communism. To me it is not compatible with Islam. It's something that they shouldn't have with their Muslim nature. That's one problem for me. The real problem is that Sadaam is a strong man. He is a very strong man. He controls his people. No nation loving real democracy can be comfortable with one man controlling millions of people.
So there is a real religion there. But Islam, the real religion of Islam is the same wherever you find it. If it is not the same, it can easily be looked at and brought back in line with what Islam should be because we have one bible, one Qur'an. Our Holy Book tells us what Islam is. So really we don't have a religious problem. But many of your callers, I am sure, will be wondering about this religion, the religion of Islam.
The belief in the Black nationalist religious organization called the Nation of Islam or the black Muslims really was designed for bringing about the sense of respect for yourself, pride in your race; building the crushed ego of the Black man who didn't have hope in this country. It was designed for that and we confuse that with Islam because we were called Muslims, Black Muslims, and it was not Islam at all. So Americans are now just becoming acquainted with Islam as a religion. When they become acquainted with it, they find it to be very close to Christianity and Judaism.
JA: Well Adolph, I figured you had a two part question here?
AM: No. He has answered my questions. To be on the same program with Mr. Mohammed is a real honor. I've read a lot about you and a lot about your family.
Imam: Well thank you Adolph.
AM: When your father started the Nation of Islam, he brought pride back into the community. Pride when Black people needed it, in the 30's, 40's, 50's; we need it now. It's a pleasure, John, for having me on the same show with Mr. Mohammed.