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Sunday, September 19, 2021

New commentary on the Qur’an by an African American Muslim

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Qur’an 18:54 — “We have explained in detail in this Qur’an, for the benefit of mankind, every kind of similitude: but man is, in most things, contentious.” 

The 550-page book entitled “Commentary (Tafsir) on Qur’an by Imam Warith Deen Mohammed” is scheduled for release in September, published by WORDS-MAKE-PEOPLE Inc. A team of African American Muslims from around the United States, under the leadership of Imam Nasir Ahmad of Miami, have compiled this historical collection of tafsirs (Qur’anic commentaries) as given by the late Imam Warith Deen Mohammed; “Wallace,” the son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Imam W. Deen Mohammed succeeded his father as the leader of the Nation of Islam in 1975 and he led the largest indigenous group of Muslim Americans until his passing in September 2008. Now his students have compiled from his 30-plus years of commenting on the Qur’an this new hardbound publication.

Very many African American Muslims greatly welcome this publication, seeing it as a “return home” to a great legacy that was stolen from Africans by the evils of American slavery. Often Imam Mohammed quoted the great African American theologian Dr. C. Eric Lincoln, who said he believes strongly that there is an Islamic genetic memory in Black people. Building upon Dr. Lincoln’s beliefs, Imam Warith (Wallace) Mohammed said, “That’s why you have an interest in Islam, many of you; not all of you. That’s why you are happy when you become Muslim and you can’t wait until you learn Islam. You don’t mind that inside your body the genes are shouting, ‘I’m back again where I was before; in Islam.’”

This publication is historical. The “Commentary (Tafsir) on Qur’an by Imam Warith Deen Mohammed” is the first Qur’anic publication produced by African American Muslims that is based on the Qur’an itself, specifically for learning the deep insights into the Qur’an. It is a book written for all people of all faith traditions. There is something good for everyone in this commentary of selected verses from the Qur’an.

An excerpt of the book, explaining an important portion of the Muslim daily prayer that is recited in Arabic, reads: 

“Then you say, ‘As salaamu alainaa wa alaa ibaadullaahi saliheen, Peace be on us because of you and on the righteous servants of G_d’. ‘Alainaa,’ aren’t we the righteous servants of G_d? Why do we say, ‘Wa alaa ibaadullaahis saliheen’ (and on the righteous servants of G_d)? It is because there are righteous servants out there among the Christians, among the Jews and other people and we wish them peace, too. Isn’t that beautiful? When you really know what you are practicing, it is salvation. It is beauty. It is what will make us comfortable with other good people all around the world and make them comfortable with us. If you just take them my commentary, it will open up the world to you. People won’t fear you. They will love you.”

Imam Warith (Wallace Deen) spent his 33-year leadership uniting and reconciling the human family. His commentary on the Qur’an — while strongly maintaining traditional Islamic values — connects scriptural language from various faiths, namely the scripture of Jews and Christians.

Another excerpt that relates to Chapter 30 verse 30 of the Qur’an reads:

“It is said that if a Muslim does not believe in Christ Jesus, he is not truly a Muslim. He is ignorant of his own identity, because to believe in Jesus Christ is to believe in yourself. It is to believe in the possibility for your own self if G_d puts His Spirit and His Word into you. You should be able to become Christ-natured and we agree in that. But we do not call it Christ nature. We call it fitraa, the original life pattern and discipline that G_d established in creating human beings for them to evolve into it, to hunger for it, to struggle and work hard for it, until you arrive there.”

The “Commentary (Tafsir) on Qur’an by Imam Warith Deen Mohammed” is coming to you soon via all the major book outlets and at your local masjid (mosque) for $45 (wholesale price TBA). At this time we ask for your supportive prayers for the success of this historical African American Muslim publication. Ameen!

Michael “Mikal” Saahir is the resident Imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center. He can be reached at nur-allah@att.net or at 317 753-3754.

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