By Yusef Salaam
Imam Alfred Mohammed was recently sworn in as a Councilman in Linden, New Jersey, a town of 40,499 denizens, 10,888 African Americans. A representative of the Fourth Ward, he was one of the two freshly elected members. The Imam-the city’s first Muslim Councilperson – placed his hand on the Holy Qur’an as Mayor Derek Armstead recited the oath of office.
Linden residents, out of towners, family, and friends crowded the Municipal Building’s Council Chambers to witness the ceremony. Councilman Mohammed thanked all who assisted in his successful campaign to upset incumbent Monte Brooks.
“I campaigned till I was literally almost sick,” he noted. “Mayor Armstead has especially been supportive. He not only persuaded me to run for office and officially nominated me, he also campaigned with me.”
Mohammed was raised as a Christian in Lynchburg, Virginia before his conversion to Islam in 1960 as a member of the Elijah Muhammad-led Nation of Islam in New York City; later in 1975, he transcended the proto-Islam of the NOI to Orthodox Islam under the leadership of Imam Warith D.
Mohammed, the son of Elijah Muhammad, leader of The Mosque Cares, Inc. He was a loyal and trusted companion of Imam Warith D. Mohammed who died in 2008. The leader appointed him Resident Imam of the then-Masjid Muhammad in Baltimore. He was the Imam’s emissary to the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he was a personal guest of King Khalid , and when world leaders like the Chief Rabbi of Israel visited the United States, Imam Alfred was the special ambassador to greet, share, and engage them.
Today, he remains loyal to The Mosque Cares, Inc. under the Chicago-based leadership of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed the 2nd. He is scheduled to address Mosque Cares members and the general community in February and is also the host of the 2018 Mosque Cares National Convention in Newark, New Jersey.
A former Baptist childhood preacher, his scholarship in both the Christian and Islamic faiths empowers him to use those experiences as a reference point of compassion, a tool beneficial to speak and to reach and unite interreligious listeners.
While his interests and activism varies, his main focus is to inspire Fourth Ward inner city youths to self-actualization, to obtain a do-for-self mindset, and to vigorously maintain healthy family relations. He related,
“I intend to use my position as a platform to leverage power for our goals for economic development.”
He said, too, that he will work along with his constituents to improve the school system, which has “challenges” for example, the students in the Fourth Ward are of majority African descent, yet the teachers are mostly non-African Americans and live outside of the district.
The Linden Public Schools serve 6, 291 students in pre-kindergarten through 12 grades. Most recently, the Councilman along with the Mayor led a campaign to increase the membership of African Americans on the school board. “We are now one member away from being the majority” he reported.
Councilman Mohammed said that he remembers his grandmother’s narratives of her struggles during the Holocaust of Enslavement. “Her name was Lulu Nowling and she was in Appomattox, Virginia when General Lee surrendered. Her stories gives me a passion for freedom, justice, and equality that runs in my blood.”
Imam Al Hajj Dr. Talib Abdur-Rashed of the Harlem, New York City-based Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood remembers Councilman Mohammed’s work in the Village of Harlem: “Imam Alfred Mohammed is
an energetic and talented member of the Muslim community who’s dedicated to the upliftment of his people and humanity. I’m sure that his constituents in Linden will benefit from his leadership in the civic sphere.” © firstname.lastname@example.org Yusef Salaam’s latest book is the “Devil & Elijah Muhammad”. Xlibris.com