Autopsy: Mohammed died of heart disease, diabetes

By: AP
By: AP

HOMEWOOD, Ill. (AP) -- Heart disease and diabetes caused the sudden death of Imam W.D. Mohammed, the former Nation of Islam leader who abandoned some of its teachings decades ago to embrace mainstream Islam, authorities said Wednesday.

The Cook County medical examiner's office released the autopsy results for Mohammed, 74, who died Tuesday at his Markham home.

Laila Mohammed said her father had been in good spirits Saturday when she last saw him.

"He seemed to be well," she said Wednesday. "He was happy, I know that."

She remembered him as a caring father and a leader who "stood on moral courage."

"He believed in a force that is greater and stronger than us," she told reporters. "... God willing our leader, our father, my father is in paradise."

After Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, W.D. Mohammed, his son, succeeded him. The Chicago-based movement promoted self-reliance and black supremacy, a belief mainstream Muslims don't espouse. Mohammed soon abandoned that teaching and led a movement toward orthodox Islam.

He moved thousands of blacks into mainstream Islam and became one of the most important Islamic leaders in North America.

Minister Louis Farrakhan, who broke with Mohammed over the shift, separately revived the old Nation of Islam.

The two had a difficult history but reconciled in 2000 during a public prayer service.

In a statement released late Tuesday, Farrakhan said he mourns Mohammed's passing.

"Our prayers and our thoughts are with the Mohammed family, with the followers and all those who feel our great loss," Farrakhan said. "We thank Allah for him ... and his work of helping create a better understanding and image of Islam in America and throughout the world."

Mohammed's movement, which was highly decentralized, included mosques around the country as well as business endeavors. His daughter said Wednesday that a successor to Mohammed's movement would not be named.

"He had given us what we need to be leaders and to be followers," Laila Mohammed said. "He never said there would be (a successor), so we know this is his decision."

"They have people on the corporate board, just like any business. The ministry has directors and officers," she said.

Family members plan a Muslim prayer service Thursday. Additional community memorial and prayer services are planned for Friday and Saturday.

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