Name Games

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book on the Nation of Islam.

For a ten-year period from 1975-85, W.D. Mohammed’s organization underwent a series of name changes including: The Nation of Islam, The Bilalians,[1] The World Community of Al-Islam in the West,[2] and The American Muslim Mission.[3] His community’s newspaper in fact, underwent so many name changes that according to librarians, library cataloging systems were thrown off trying to keep pace:

  • Muhammad Speaks, a.k.a. Bilalian News[4]
  • World Muslim News,[5]
  • American Muslim Journal[6]
  • Muslim Journal[7]

Yet the bulk of changes could be seen at the leadership level, where W.D. Mohammed himself underwent and was referred to by a curious multiplicity of titles and monikers, most of which suggest a proclivity toward divine and prophetic pretensions linked to his own official declarations upon assuming leadership:

  • “Brothers and Sister, we’re telling you plain facts. Divine Mind has brought into birth for the whole world a messiah, a Christ, a Saviour, A Son of Man, an anointed, a king, a caliph. Never will there be a time coming that will be greater proof of the return of Jesus than this present time.”[8]

These messianic claims continued with his 1990 title of “Spokesman for Human Salvation” and with similar titles up to his death in 2008. The following list of titles and name changes however, are all documented from his own works and those of his personnel; it includes names and titles he has used in speeches, radio promotions, etc.

  • “The Chief Minister”[9]
  • “The Supreme Minister”[10]
  • “The Honorable W.D. Muhammad”[11]
  • “The Manifestation Of God”[12]
  • “Spiritual and Administrative Leader”[13]
  • “World Saviour”[14]
  • “The Divine Mind”[15]
  • “Crown of Creation”[16]
  • “Christ”[17]
  • “Bilalian”[18]
  • “Coming of the Son of Man”[19]
  • “The Boss”[20]
  • “King”[21]
  • “Caliph”[22]
  • “The Mujeddid”[23]
  • “The Man with the Master Plan”[24]
  • “Prophet”[25]
  • “Big Daddy”[26]
  • “His Excellency”[27]
  • “Our Beloved Mujaddid Imam”[28]
  • “The Chief Emam”[29]
  • “Masih-Mahdi”[30]
  • “Bilal’s Spirit”[31]
  • “Jesus Christ’s Spirit”[32]
  • “Muhammad the Complete Prophet”[33]
  • “WCIW[34] Leader and President”[35]
  • “The Head Imam”[36]
  • “Leader of the American Muslim Mission”[37]
  • “Imam”[38]
  • “World Islamic Leader”[39]
  • “America’s Leading Islamic Scholar”[40]
  • “One of the foremost Islamic and Quranic teachers”[41]
  • “Doctor”[42]
  • “World renown Muslim savant and historian”[43]
  • “The leader of the Muslims in America”[44]
  • “Muslim-American Spokesman for Human Salvation”[45]
  • “Muslim Spokesman for Human Excellence”[46]
  • “Spokesperson for the American Muslims”[47]
  • “Social Reformer”[48]
  • “Sheikh/Imam”[49]
  • “Noted scholar and major spiritual leader of Muslim Americans”[50]
  • “Son of the Late Hon. Elijah Muhammad”[51]



[1] 1975-?

[2] 1976-1978.

[3] 1978-1985.

[4] Muhammad Speaks newspaper became Bilalian News on Nov 21, 1975, and remained so until 1981.

[5] 1981-82

[6] 1982-85

[7] 1985-Present

[8] See The Teachings of W.D. Muhammad, p. 218. W.D. Mohammed’s studies of the techniques of Ghulam Ahmad Al-Qadiani and theosophists like Alice A. Bailey have obviously played a great role in his own writings. Ghulam Ahmad states: “But stranger still is the fact that there comes the promised meseeh, the awaited one, the one Imam and the Judge of the world and the last of the Caliphs… ” See Al-Qadiani and his Faith, p. 25.  Bailey writes, “… the Heart of God–impelled by the Law of Compassion–sends forth a Teacher, a world Saviour, an Illuminator, an Avatar, a transmitting Intermediary, a Christ.” See The Reappearance of the Christ, p. 10.

[9] 1975.

[10] See Muhammad Speaks, March 21, 1975.

[11] ibid., April 4, 1975.

[12] Philadelphia, PA. April, 1975.

[13] See Bilalian News, November 19, 1975.

[14] See The Teachings of W.D. Muhammad, p. 23. Observe the Christian definition of the term ‘Saviour’: “A title of “Jesus who gave his life for the salvation of mankind.” See Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend, p. 222.,

[15] ibid., p. 62.

[16] ibid., p. 63.

[17] ibid., p. 181.

[18] ibid., p. 188.

[19] ibid., pp. 212-219.

[20] ibid., pp. 217.

[21] ibid., p. 218.

[22] ibid., p. 218.

[23] 1975-Present? Some followers still refer to him by this name. In fact, WD’s usage of the term ‘Mujeddid’ had an impact upon other cults, particularly the now defunct Ansar cult. Ansar cult leader Dwight York (aka ‘Isa Al Hadi Al Mahdi’) in 1979 adopted the title ‘Mujeddid’ to compete with WD Mohammed. See The Ansar Cult in America, p. 9-11.

[24] WOL radio announcement, Washington, DC 1976.

[25] See Bilalian News, May 23, 1976.

[26] “Emam Muhammad stated that he has assumed the role of “Big Daddy” to bring people back to high standards of faith.” Bilalian News, April 15, 1977, p. 2. Compare this title he gives himself to what he says on p. 133 of Al-Islam, Unity & Leadership: “We have no “father divines”, no “big daddy,” no “boss” upon any merit not accessable (sic) to all of us (the people).”

[27] See Bilalian News, June 24, 1977, p. 30.

[28] See Bilalian News, April 21, 1978, p. 9.

[29] ibid., 1977-79. In late 1978, he declared “I resign as Chief Imam”; yet the following week he promoted himself to ‘the Mujeddid.’ See Bilalian News, Nov. 3, 1978, p. 17 & Nov. 10, 1978, p. 3.

[30] Chicago, Ill., March 25, 1979.

[31] ibid.

[32] ibid.

[33] ibid.

[34] i.e., World Community of Islam in the West.

[35] See Bilalian News, 1979.

[36] Early 1980’s.

[37] See Bilalian News, World Muslim News, 1981.

[38] Mid-1980’s-Present.

[39] See A. M. Journal, November 4, 1983.

[40] 1985.

[41] See Muslim Journal, July 24, 1987, p. 31.

[42] See Al-Haras Al-Watani, Rabi Al-Awal, 1411/October, 1990, p. 35.

[43] See Symbolism, Holidays, Myths & Signs, p. 4.

[44] See Muslim Journal, April 20, 1990, p.1.

[45] 1990-Present.

[46] See Muslim Journal, February 15, 1991, p. 17.

[47] Broadcast interview with American Public Radio, Sept. 4, 1991.

[48] ibid., January 10, 1992, p. 25.

[49] ibid., October 2, 1992, p. 1.

[50] ibid., Sept. 10, 1993, p. 10.

[51] ibid., May. 13, 1994, p. 21.

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