Oral History Interview with Imam Dawud Walid on October 5, 2020 and October 25, 2020


Oral History Interview with Imam Dawud Walid on October 5, 2020 and October 25, 2020



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Walid, Imam Dawud


Walid, Zayd; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


All video segments are in the same file. Oral history interview with Imam Dawud Walid. The first segment of the interview was conducted by Zayd Walid on October 5, 2020, and the second segment was conducted by Zayd Walid on October 25, 2020. Interview written by Zayd Walid and Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director). Imam Dawud Walid was born in Detroit, Michigan on November 22nd, 1971 to parents who hail from Virginia and Michigan. He moved to New Jersey and then Virginia as a child, returning to Detroit in his adulthood. Imam Walid reverted from Christianity to Islam in his late adolescence, after being influenced by “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and Muslim American artists in the conscious rap movement. After high school, Imam Walid joined the Navy through the Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty (MGIB-AD), and remained in the service over the course of four years. Through his travels with the Navy, he gained first-hand exposure to issues confronting Muslims across the world, such as those in Bosnia, Iraq, and Palestine. After returning to Detroit in 1998, Imam Walid began attending Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad. He embarked upon a lifelong devotion to the study of Islam and Arabic language, pursuing learning with many renowned teachers both locally and abroad. In Detroit, Imam Walid taught classes at Al-Ikhlas Training Academy and Wayne County Community College. He also reported for newspapers such as “The Muslim Journal” and “The Muslim Observer.” Over time, Imam Walid has taken on leadership roles in many Muslim and interfaith institutions, including the Bosnian American Islamic Center in Hamtramck, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, and the Michigan chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Most notably, Imam Walid serves as the first African American Executive Director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan chapter. As an internationally recognized scholar and teacher, Walid often travels to give lectures and classes. He has published several scholarly books about Islamic history and theology, including “Towards Sacred Activism” and “Blackness in Islam.” In the interview, Imam Walid discusses the history of Muslims in Detroit, America, and West Africa. He elucidates his ideas about sacred activism, and the development of concepts pertaining to race and anti-racism in Muslim societies. Throughout the interview, Imam Walid elaborates on the history of institution-building and community-development work by African American and African-born Muslims in Detroit, and discusses his vision for continued cooperation and community revitalization.

Date of Interview

Fall 2020

Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Interview conducted over Zoom)


African American Islamic Institute of Medina-Baye Senegal, African-American history, African-American Muslims, Imam Nadir Ahmad, Dr. Na'im Akbar, Al-Ikhlas Islamic Center, Al-Ikhlas Training Academy, Shaykh Dr. Muhammad bin Yahya Al-Ninowy, Sayyid Hassan Al-Qazwini, Imam Al-Shafi'i, Muhammad Ali, Shaykh Ali Suleiman Ali, American Jewish Committee (AJC), American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCL), American Society of Muslims (ASM), Ann Arbor, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Anti-hate organization, ‘Arab American News’, Arabic grammar, Arabic language education, Arabization, Archery, Arkansas, Ashura board, Atlanta, Shaykh Amadou Bamba, Bangladeshi Americans, Baptist Christianity, Baseball, The Beacon Institute, Bean pie, Black Bottom, Black History Month, Black Lives Matter (BLM), Black Nationalism, Black-owned business, ‘Blackness in Islam’, Board President, Bosnian American Islamic Center, Bosnian Americans, Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian refugees, Bronx, Brooklyn, Bullying, Burlingame Street, President George W. Bush, Business administration, Carrot cake, Shaykh Momodou Ceesay, Celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Character building, Chesterfield, Chicago, Christianity, Shaykh Ahmad Tijani Ali Cisse, Shaykh Mahy Cisse, Chicago, Civil rights, President Bill Clinton, Conscious Rap, Conversion to Islam, Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) banquet, COVID-19 pandemic, Custodial work, Damascus, Dawah, Dead Sea, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Dress code, Drug epidemic, Drug gangs, Early Arabian society, East Side Detroit, Education, Egypt, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Imam Abdullah Bey El-Amin, El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Elder respect, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Facebook, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Fatherhood, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Female scholars in Islam, Five-Percent Nation, Football, Ford Field, Fruit of Islam (FOI), Fundraising, Kevin Gates, Gele, Genealogy, Genocide, Georgia, Global humanitarianism, Grand Mufti of Syria, Great Lakes, Haifa, Halal food, Imam Sulaimaan Hamed, Hamtramck, Harlem, Hate crimes, Headscarves, Helping Hand, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Hip-hop Music, History of Islam, President J. Edgar Hoover, Saddam Hussein, Illinois, Imam's role in America, Intercultural community, Intergenerational relations, Intergenerational faith, Intermarriage, International travel, Iraq, Islam, Islam in America, Islam in prison, Islamic Center of America (ICA), Islamic chivalry, Islamic Community of As Salaam (ICASMI), Islamic Institute of America, Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic parochial school, Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), Islamic studies, Israel, Israeli military, Ivory Coast, Jamaican Americans, Jim Crow laws, Journalism, Kool Keith, President John F. Kennedy, Khimar, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, Kuwaiti Americans, Lansing, Linwood Street, Long- distance learning, Madina Institute, Mainstream culture, Malaysia, Malcolm X, Masjid Al-Fatihah, Masjid Nasrullah, Master's Degree, Mawlid An-Nabi, Mayo Clinic, Medina Activity Center, Melvindale, Meridian, Michigan, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion (MRDI), Mississippi, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD), Mosque governing board, Mosque vandalism, Mosque youth groups, Clara Muhammad, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Nadir Muhsin, Imam Salim MuMin, Muslim Americans, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslim Community of Western Suburbs (MCWS), Muslim Girls Training (MGT), ‘The Muslim Journal’, Muslim leadership, ‘The Muslim Observer’, Muslim philanthropy, Muslim Student Association (MSA), Muslims, Dr. Abdul S. Raheman Nakadar, Nation of Gods and Earths, Nation of Islam, National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), New Jersey, New York, Nigerian Americans, President Barack Obama, Oklahoma City bombing, Online education, Outdoor retreat, Palestine-Israel conflict, Palestinians, Paradise Valley, Plantation, Police brutality Praise poetry, Prophet Muhammad, Public perception of Islam, Queens, Qur'an, Qur'an memorization, Qur'an recitation, Racism, Racism in the military, Imam Salim Rahman, Ramadan, Rap music, Red Sea, Relief projects, Representing Islam, Reversion to Islam, Richmond, Rochester Hills, Sacred activism, Segregation, Senegal, September 11 attacks, Serbian Army, Mitchell Shamsud-Din, Sharecropping, Shi'ism in America, Signification of Muslim names, Sister Clara Muhammad Schools, Slave names, Social justice, South Carolina, Southern decorum, Steve Spreitzer, Star International Academy, Sunday school, Sunni Islam, Syria, Systemic racism, Temple No. 1, ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’, Tijaniyya tariqa, Touba, ‘Towards Sacred Activism’, President Donald Trump, ‘The Urdu Times’, U.S. Navy, Ultramagnetic MC's, University of Islam, University of Medina, University of Michigan, University of Southern California (USC), US Military, Violent crime, Virginia, War on Drugs, Warren, Warrendale, Washington DC, Wayne County Community College, Wayne State University Islamic Center of Detroit, West Africa, Westwood, White Plains, Williamsburg, Yemeni Americans, York County, Yugoslavia, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Zawiya, Zaytuna College


African American Studies | Africana Studies | American Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Digital Humanities | Inequality and Stratification | Islamic Studies | Nonprofit Administration and Management | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Religion | Urban Studies and Planning


All video segments in the same file. Interview part 1 conducted by Zayd Walid online over Zoom. Interview written by Zayd Walid and Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director). Facilitated by Dr. Alisa Perkins. Video Edited by: Alexis Collis. Transcribed by: Nyala Ahmed. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata prepared by: Hannah Cole. Metadata edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley. Interview part 2 conducted by Zayd Walid online over Zoom. Interview written by Zayd Walid and Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director). Facilitated by Dr. Alisa Perkins. Video Edited by: Alexis Collis. Transcribed by: Jillian Glasser. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata prepared by: Hannah Cole. Metadata edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley.



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Dream of Detroit Interviews were made possible by funding from the Pillars Grant and Whiting Foundation. Content is for educational purposes only and non-reproducible; interviews are not to be duplicated, but may be linked through ScholarWorks with appropriate attribution. Please direct any questions about copyright to scholarworks@wmich.edu.


Pillars Fund and Whiting Foundation


Dream of Detroit

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Oral History Interview with Imam Dawud Walid on October 5, 2020 and October 25, 2020