He first felt the urge to convert religions when listening to the rhetoric of hip-hop lyricists such as south Bronx native KRS-One and the fiery-tongued Chuck D of Public Enemy.
The rhythmic Islamic references in those seminal raps, mostly asides, caught his attention, he says, and inspired him to dig further.
And so the black kid born in Detroit and raised in the South did convert from a southern Baptist to a northern Muslim.
He’s now a spokesman for Islamic causes of every shade.
Dawud Walid’s search for spiritual direction saw him skipping from college to college as a 20-something until he read Malcolm X’s best-selling autobiography. The work traces Malcolm X’s journey from Michigan to Mecca.
Walid’s journey, though of course less celebrated, is not too far off from that one.
The 35-year-old is just over a decade removed from his conversion to Islam, and just 3 1/2 years from his first hajj, or religious pilgrimage to Mecca. Yet he’s swiftly becoming a powerful presence in U.S. Muslim leadership.
For two-plus years, Walid has been the executive director of the Michigan office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Southfield; CAIR is headquartered in Washington, D.C., has 32 offices in the United States and Canada and is considered the leading civil rights group in the United States for Muslims.
Walid is everywhere, it seems. His eloquence and charisma have him speaking throughout metro Detroit and even nationwide, including appearances on CNN and C-SPAN. (MORE)