Oral History Interview with Imam Tauheed Rashad on August 5, 2020


Oral History Interview with Imam Tauheed Rashad on August 5, 2020



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Rashad, Imam Tauheed


Sadid, Abdul-Zahir; Perkins, Dr. Alisa (Research Director)


Oral history interview with Imam Tauheed Rashad conducted by Abdul-Zahir Sadid on August 5, 2020. Interview written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Abdul-Zahir Sadid. Imam Tauheed Rashad was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to parents who hailed from Mississippi and Arkansas. He grew up in the segregated South and attended an all-Black elementary school. Imam Rashad moved to Ohio with his family when he was a child, and then to Detroit in his teenage years. After graduating from high school, he obtained a vocational studies license. Imam Rashad reverted from Christianity to Sunni Islam in the late 1970s, becoming part of the Masjid Wali Muhammad community, which is now known as the Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad community. He blended his continuing education in Islam with his other post-secondary studies when he enrolled in Wayne County Community College, where he combined a program of Muslim World Studies courses with a focus in social sciences. After obtaining two associates degrees, he became the first person in his family to graduate college, earning a Bachelor's degree in Arabic and Near Eastern Studies from Wayne State University. In the 1980s, Imam Rashad began a career as an engineer at Detroit Public Schools and has continued working as an engineer over several decades. In the 1990s, he began volunteering in Michigan prison ministry, and in 2017 he began serving as imam of Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad. He also continued his education in Islamic Studies, earning a graduate certificate in Muslim Community Leadership from Hartford Seminary. Imam Rashad is currently enrolled in a graduate program at Chicago Theological Institute/Bayaan Islamic Graduate School. In the interview, Imam Rashad discusses the role of education in his life and celebrates the new opportunities available to Muslim Americans for Islamic studies, both in the United States and abroad. He elaborates on the legacy of Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad and reflects on its influence on other local Muslim institutions. Imam Rashad also discusses his role as imam and his commitment to serving local Muslims and Detroit residents through teaching, religious leadership, prison ministry, and community-building.

Date of Interview


Location of Interview

Detroit, MI (Interview conducted over Zoom)


African-American community, Imam Nadir Ahmad, Al-Ikhlas Islamic Center, Al-Ikhlas Training Academy (ATA), Muhammad Ali, Imam Dawud Alim, Arabic language education, Arkansas, Imam Abdul Latif Azom, Bachelor's degree, Bayan-Chicago Theological Seminary, Black Lives Matter (BLM), Block clubs, Boiler operations, Capitol Hill School, Career Day, Chaplaincy, Charter schools, Christianity, Cleveland, Clyde X, Community advocate, Community building, Community rehabilitation, Community rejuvenation, Connecticut, Conversion to Islam, Counselor, COVID-19 pandemic, Department of Corrections, Detroit, Detroit Detention Center, Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Reentry Center, Detroit Riots of 1967, Detroit Uprisings of 1967, Do for self, Dream of Detroit, Duke University, Eastern Michigan University, Economic aid, Education, Egypt, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Engineer supervisor, Facility engineer, First-generation college student, Food distribution, Food pantry, Four birds philosophy, Fundraising, Imam Shukri Abdul Ghani, Hamtramck, Hartford, Hartford Seminary, Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Museum at Historic Masjid Wali Muhammad, Housing rehabilitation, Huron Valley Complex, Iman Islamic Complex, Inkster, Interfaith outreach, Intergenerational relations, International travel for Islamic education, Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic community, Islamic funeral rites, Islamic parochial school, Jackson, Janaza, Little Rock Central High School, School integration, Little Rock Nine, Philbert Little, Malcolm X, Marriage counseling, Masjid Al-Falah, Masjid Al-Haqq, Masjid Al-Nur, Masjid Bilal of Cleveland, Masjid Mu'ath bin Jabel, Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master plumber, Mecca, Mental health care, Milan Federal Correctional Institution, Mississippi, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Mound Road Correctional Facility, Elijah Muhammad Jr., Burnsteen Sharrief Muhammad, Dr. Akbar Muhammad, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Muslim Center expansion, Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center, Muslim chaplain, Muslim Community Leadership graduate certificate, Muslim World Studies Program, Nation of Islam, Nation of Islam Fish Program, Nation of Islam newspaper program, Near Eastern Studies, North Africa, Ohio, Orthodox Islam, Peace officers, Phillip X, Police brutality, Power engineer, Prison ministry, Production engineer, Prophet Muhammad, Qur'an, Qur'an memorization, Racism, Minister Clyde Rahman, Reversion to Islam, Role of imam in America, Ryan Correctional Facility, Sacred activism, Saudi Arabia, School segregation, School supply distribution, Segregation, Separatism, Service leadership, Wilfred Shabazz, Dr. Abdul-Mumin Shakir, Sister Clara Muhammad Schools, Skilled trades, Social justice, Social programs, Soup kitchen, Stationary engineer, Steven E. Howe Middle School, Sunni Islam, Sweat equity, Systemic racism, Tchula, Temple No. 1, Tradesman, Transatlantic slave trade, Transitional programs for formerly incarcerated citizens, United States Air Force, Vacation Bible school, Vocational training, Volunteerism, Wayne County Community College, Wayne State University, Wilfred X, Yemeni Americans


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


Interview conducted online over Zoom by Abdul-Zahir Sadid. Written by Dr. Alisa Perkins (Research Director) and Abdul-Zahir Sadid. Facilitated by Dr. Alisa Perkins. Video Edited by: Rebecca Kyser. Transcribed by: Lori Diehl. Transcription edited by: Dr. Alisa Perkins. Metadata by: Hannah Cole. Metadata edited by Dr. Alisa Perkins and Sophia Wimberley.



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Rights Statement

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

Length of Video


Oral History Interview with Imam Tauheed Rashad on August 5, 2020