August 20, 1993
Interview with Imam W. Deen Mohammed in England: Part 1
IWDM: We identify with our brothers in this religion of one brotherhood or one ummah. Whatever affects one should affect the other. That's the way Muslims are. We are growing fastly to be that way, and many of us are already that way.
Q: What is the view of the American people towards the Muslims?
IWDM: The American people have always had an appreciation for certain things that they saw in the African American Muslims or "Black Muslims," even when the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was teaching his brand or his idea of Islam. They appreciated that there was no smoking, no drinking, respect for women.
When I became the leader, I received more opposition from some Muslims than my father received. I think it is because of U.S. connected developments in the Islamic world. The press has started to report more accurately of Muslims and particularly on our religion. That may be owing to my constituency and to our trying to be decent Muslims. We try to cooperate with everybody in America who is decent. That has brought American people to have a real appreciation for us, and I think we have a real good situation in America.
Q: What is your view of Malcolm X?
IWDM: The Malcolm I knew made it his business to go from city to city and find young men and tell them to get busy, to do something, to be aware of the Nation of Islam, and Malcolm inspired others to be like him. We had more ministers studying under him than under any other minister in the Nation that I know of. He was full of energy, full of enthusiasm and very sharp.
When we look at the history of the African American community in America, perhaps the one factor that stands out as a reason for popularizing Islam in America would be Malcolm's joining the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as his national spokesman. Malcolm was aggressive and knew how to get in where others could not get in. He knew how to play the media and he was very skillful.
Perhaps only with the exception of Muhammad All, it was Malcolm who made the religion popular. Muhammad Ali made for the second most important factor in popularizing Islam in America.
The first day I met Malcolm was in the home of my father, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He was just released from prison and was interested in being a minister for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He looked at me and said, "You are Wallace." He said it in a way to say to me, "Remember you are Wallace, the son of Elijah Muhammad," and a friendship developed almost instantly.
Malcolm had a big broad smile and smiling eyes, and he could win you with his smile. He was a person with a lot of warmth. Malcolm could be cutting people down, but his smile would just melt them. Malcolm and I developed a relationship because of two reasons. One reason was Malcolm was sociable and I was a lonely man by nature. I loved his company. The other reason was that my father, Elijah Muhammad, encouraged Malcolm to have an association with me. My father knew that I was spiritual, and I think he wanted Malcolm to have a balance for his political aspirations.
Q: You were excommunicated from the Nation of Islam.
IWDM: Yes. Three times I was "put out" of the Nation of Islam, and that is the language of the Nation. The first time I was charged with giving Malcolm information on the private life of Elijah Muhammad. I was charged with telling Malcolm about secretaries the Hon. Elijah Muhammad had taken on as wives and about charges of having illegitimate children. Although I never used that kind of language, for I never thought any human (birth) could be "illegitimate"
The first time I was rejected, I think the charge was pretense. The real reason for rejecting me then was because of a different idea of God. I was not buying any more the idea that God was a man. And the second time it was for differing with the idea of God in the Nation of Islam. I was asked, "Do you disbelieve in Fard as our Saviour and God?" There was a hearing and court.
I said, "Daddy, I believe he is your saviour." He asked, "But do you believe he is your saviour?" I said, 'No, daddy. I would rather believe you than believe him."
He said, "You know what that means, son." I said, "Yes." He said, "You are put out of the Nation of Islam. You are not to have any association with us, with your mother..." He knew the pain I was going to suffer. I said, "Yes sir," and I left. My mother came to the door with me and she was almost in tears.
My mother said, "Son, how can you disbelieve in our saviour, knowing how he took us from the streets and we had nothing? Your father was a miserable man, and he did not like to come home. He would drink. How can you say this?"
I asked her, "Momma, did Fard tell you he was God?" She thought and said, "Well, no." I asked, "Did you ever hear him tell anybody that he was God? He didn't tell you he was God. so why should I say he is God?" I could tell that she was feeling a little better, and with her expression she was saving, "Go on son, I feel differently. "That was the second time I was put out.
The third time was for the same reason. The rule was that if you differed with the Nation of Islam, in order to get back in you had to acknowledge your wrong before the congregation. I was never asked to acknowledge any wrong. Even being put out, I would not obey the put-out rule. I would write to him. I even tried to call a couple of times. When his convention came around, I would write to him and say, "I hope you have a successful convention. I know there is a lot of burden on you now." And that would get me back in. He would tell my brothers, "If you see Wallace, tell him to come on back."
Only one time did he tell me, "Wallace, you are going to have to say something this time." I knew what he meant. I asked to come to the convention after the assassination of Malcolm. He said, "You know what you will have to do this time? You will have to come before the people and admit you were wrong." I said, "Yes sir." That was the last time, and I was back in.
One other time I was charged and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad judged in my favor. I was not yet allowed to go about preaching in the community. But I had an opportunity to speak on a radio station which was small. Some of the Fruit of Islam got the tape and gave it to my father and charged me with teaching something different. My father didn't listen to the tape until I was there present. It was a Sunday after the meeting, and his staff and top leaders were there.
My father said, "Son, we have a tape here for you." He asked my nephew who has passed, Sultan (may Allah forgive his sins and grant him paradise). "Sultan, get that tape and put it on. "So they put the tape on and my father heard it for the first time. I was comfortable. Everyone knew my father was sick and physically weak. But after hearing a part of the tape, he stood up and applauded the tape. He looked at my mother who was sitting a distance from him at the other end of the table and said, Clara, isn't this what
we wanted?" She smiled with that big wide smile of hers. She was black skinned with very white teeth, and whenever she gave me that smile it just did everything for me. She said, "Yes."
He then looked at his staff and said, "My son can go anywhere he wants to and preach. "He looked at me and then said, "And son, preach that gospel." I really wasn't teaching Islam, but I was avoiding any problems by talking about something common and universal. And he appreciated it. He knew that Wallace would find a way to continue his father's good works and not cause any problems.
(To be continued)