Thoughts for Searchers is dedicated to Muslim American leader, Imam W. Deen Mohammed. He was called in the beginning, “Chief Minister” and eventually, “America’s Imam”. But for 33 years he was simply, “Imam Mohammed”, to his devoted students and followers many of whom were the harvest of the followers his father, the Honorable Elijah Mohammed, who led the Nation of Islam from 1933-1975. Ronald B. Shaheed initially, was a devoted follower of his father but was among the exuberant proto-Islamic mass of “Black Muslims” who, in 1975 left the isolation of the Nation of Islam and followed Imam W. Deen Mohammed onto the path of classical Islam that was established by Muhammed, the Prophet (prayers and the peace be on him), more than 1,400 years ago.
Author Ronald B. Shaheed was blessed to travel with him to Rome, Italy and the Vatican on several occasions as he worked to promote interfaith cooperation and understanding with Catholics and other Christians of the world. Shaheed accompanied Imam Mohammed (in a delegation) to Saudi Arabia, where he was the guest of the ruler, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz in 1995 and to Palestine (Jerusalem, Gaza, Jericho, Bethlehem, Hebron, etc.) to dialogue with the Palestinian people and to meet with President Yassir Arafat in 1996. Imam W. Deen Mohammed also sent Imam Shaheed to Germany in 2003 to represent him at a youth camp hosted by the Focolare community of Ottmaring, Germany and attended by young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 from quite a number of European nations. In all of these experiences, he observed and met people who expressed great love and abiding respect for America’s Imam.
In the latter part of 2007 and early 2008, Imam W. Deen Mohammed met in Chicago with representatives of the Presbyterian Church USA to establish a four year dialogue between his associates and representatives from the Presbyterian Church USA. This dialogue was initiated one month after his passing in October 2008 in Chicago, IL, and was conducted over the next four years in Chicago, IL, Louisville, KY, Indianapolis, IN, Atlanta, GA, Saint Louis, MO, Philadelphia, PA, Oakland, CA and Charlotte, NC.
On an initial visit with Imam W. Deen Mohammed to the Vatican to dialogue with Pope John Paul II and other Vatican officials (October 1996), the party travelled with him to Castel Gandolfo, Italy and the international headquarters of the Focolare Movement headed by its founder, the blessed lady, Chiara Lubich. For the next twelve years Lady Chiara and Imam Mohammed worked to develop an interfaith relationship between their communities that continues to be the envy of the international interfaith community.