IL: DECATUR’S MOSQUE EVOLVES
“In the name of Allah, most merciful” were the chants heard inside the Masjid Wali Hasan Islamic Center.
A place that has brought two factions of Muslims – blacks and those from the Middle East – together for worship.
During a recent service at the local mosque, more than 20 men, some wearing the traditional scull cap, bowed and prayed several times.
A few of the male children stood behind them, and a handful of women and girls formed a line behind the boys; everyone bowed and prayed at the same time.
But for those who remember, the mosque evolved during a time of uncertainty as the country was still winding down from the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
In 1972, a black man named John Mohammad came to Decatur from Chicago, remembered Ramon Portee, one of the founding members of the mosque.
Portee said he ran into Mohammad and some other men on the street and was invited to a meeting they had. He found out they were with the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
“The brothers had shiny heads, shiny faces, wore bow ties and asked me to hear them speak over on Oakland Street,” Portee said.