This 91-Year-Old Imam Was Also the ‘First Muslim’ in Saginaw, Michigan
by Nadine Arab
A 91-year-old retired Imam opened up, about how he found his way to Islam, during a podcast interview.
Imam Abdur-Rahim Rashada, the first Muslim in Saginaw, Michigan, said that it all started when he got invited to a meeting by Nation of Islam, a political and religious group that preaches black liberation, separatism as well as pride in race and ones’ self. The moment he heard the intro was the moment he got hooked. As an African American, the message of freedom, justice and equality was all what he was looking for.
“I was not looking for religion, but religion was in the package”, he said. As soon as he went back home after that meeting, he threw away all the alcohol and pork they had, his wife went crazy. He converted to Islam in 1958, and he has been a dedicated Muslim ever since. Rashada added, “Islam, that’s what it did for us. Catapulted us into a big brotherhood that we didn’t know nothing about.”
The retired Imam has lived long enough to witness a lot in his life before all of this. He served in the Navy during World War II, survived the Jim Crow South and saw GM’s rise and fall in Michigan as he worked in its factory in Saginaw. Rashada also wrote a book where he told his story, it’s called A Seventy-Five Year Old School Boy: Still Finds Joy Sitting in the Classroom. “If one reader finds one sentence that benefits them, then the purpose of writing this book is complete,” Rashada said.