Did you know that Detroit is the Birthplace of The Nation of Islam?
Welcome to the Castle Theater, First Official Temple of The Nation of Islam
Did you know that Detroit, MI is the Birthplace of the Nation of Islam (N.O.I.)? In the very early period of the Nation of Islam, Master W.D. Fard Muhammad, founder of the N.O.I., would meet with early followers in their homes to spread his unique message to the "Black Race." Eventually their number grew, their first official meeting space or Temple was located in Paradise Valley (a.k.a. Black Bottom) in Detroit. Meetings were held in a space over the Castle Theater at 3412 Hasting Street, where W. D. Fard taught about this new religion, "Islam."
The Castle was a movie theater that catered to black audiences during the time of segregation in the 1930's. This building was torn down to make room for the state's new Interstate 75. This project displaced may African American businesses and homes, negatively impacting the African American community. According to cinematreasures.org, "The Castle Theatre opened in 1914. It seated 1,350. The theatre closed in the early-1960’s. The site is now an empty lot."
The Nation of Islam moved to a number of locations before finding its permanent home at 11529 Linwood in Detroit in 1959. Mosque Temple #1, is now named Masjid Wali Muhammad. Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad still operates as place of worship for Muslims and is now registered as a City of Detroit and State of Michigan Historic Site.
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DETROIT-MUSLIM CAPITAL USA, DEEPLY ROOTED BY "BLACK MUSLIMS"- A Call to Preserve American Islamic History
I was inspired to write this blog post because of Sis Hazel Gomez de Crain post on Facebook concerning individuals doing the work for our community versus those who just criticizing others effort's and I was also inspired by the wonderful video clip on facebook from Slate “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail about the "Bean Pie". So, for those who don’t know me my name is Sabreen Hanifa and I am the Administrative Assistant of Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad (Formerly Mosque Temple #1) in Detroit, MI. We are one of the oldest Masjid's/Mosque's in the USA with a rich history that was established by The Hon. Elijah Muhammad and birthed many world leaders such as our Dynamic Communicator Malcolm X and the Greatest Boxer of all time Muhammad Ali.
Because Masjid Wali Muhammad is an active Masjid and is readily available I don’t think that many in the Detroit Metro Area appreciate the historic jewel that is right in our back yard. Inside the Masjid dining hall we have a very old stove that baked all the delicious bean pies sold on street corners by Muslim Brothers of the Nation of Islam in Detroit. In this very building at 11529 Linwood you can walk the halls that Malcolm X walked and sit in the Musalah where he taught as a minister here! In this very building housed the Nation of Islam's first Islamic School – University of Islam, where many of the children of the believers of the Nation of Islam were educated. Here in the city of Detroit is where Sis. Clara Muhammad (wife of Elijah Muhammad) heard Fard Muhammad's teachings first and she invited her Husband, Elijah (Poole) Muhammad, to meet the man who would teach him this new religion of Islam. It was in the neighboring city, Hamtramck, where our Islamic Leader Imam W.D. Mohammed was born. Later Imam W.D. Mohammed (then Supreme Minister) became the Leader of the Nation of Islam, he helped the believers of this very Masjid and "Black Muslims" across the nation, convert to Al-Islam. It was in this very Masjid where the Athan (call to prayer) was called out over loud speakers into the neighborhood. Do you know Wakanda existed in real life up and down Linwood Ave, where there were many Muslim Neighbors, Business and Professional that serviced our community. Wow we have such an amazing history!
I write this post out of concern for our Historic Masjid, the population of the Masjid is rapidly declining with many of our pioneers taking this valuable history with them after passing. I have served the community as Administrative Assistant for over 7 years now and this work is not for the weary. I must say that I have worked tirelessly to promote, have educational and Islamic programs to gain the attention of our young adults and youth. This work lays a heavy burden, especially when you are one of a few Young Adults active in this Masjid community, but with faith I do my best to continue my work and I work with my elders who inspire me and encourage me to move forward. Because this job of preserving our legacy is a great task, I need your help! I need the help from my fellow youth and young Adults to keep our great legacy alive.
This October our Community Service Members, who are mostly elders, have gone through the process with our state to declare Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad a Michigan State Historic Site and we will receive an historical marker, this is not a small feat by any means, THIS IS A BIG DEAL! God willing, we plan on having a big celebration to acknowledge this historic moment, so stay tuned! But we are not stopping there we plan on applying for national status in which I believe Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad and our whole Metro Detroit Muslim Community deserves.
So what kind of help do we need? Of Course we need funding, that is always a need! But we badly need human capital! We are looking for sharp, committed, and strong-minded individuals that have a passion to see our history told thoroughly and correctly from ourselves, our minds, and our hearts! With this historic declaration this immediately changes our status in the State of Michigan and through out the Nation. This task is so much bigger than you or me. Masjid Wali Muhammad represents the beginning of a movement that introduced the American Public to the word Islam on a national stage. It was the movement of the "Black Muslim" that paved the way for many of the religious freedoms we have today as Muslims in America. So I feel that it is my calling and my duty to see this through as long as Allah-God (SWT) calls me to do this work! If any of this that I have written speaks to you and you would like to join me on this historic journey I will gladly have you.
I am open to comments and suggestions, however I much prefer those who would like to put in the work with us!
If you are interested in volunteer opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, please include your name, phone number, and email address. If you would like to donate, you may mail your donation at 11529 Linwood St. Detroit, MI 48206 (Make checks payable to Masjid Wali Muhammad), or you may donate at our website by clicking the link below!
We appreciate and thank all those who have worked before us and we pray God will reward them for their wonderful efforts.
Al-Quran: An-Nisa Chapter 4 Verse 1
"O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you."