“Masjid Bilal of Cleveland ‘a monument to our history.”
Masjid Bilal began with a vision that belonged to the renowned Islamic reformer Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
Cleveland’s late Imam Clyde Rahman was present at a meeting in 1980, during which Imam Mohammed indicated to his supporters that it was time they began to think and plan for the construction of new places for worship designed to meet the needs of Muslims, particularly those in the United States. At that point the vast majority of mosques were converted churches, storefronts, or similar facilities.
Imam Rahman took the words to heart and returned to Cleveland, determined to put a plan of action around Imam Mohammad’s words. A location for mosque was identified at the corner of E. 75th Street and Euclid Ave. and was purchased by Imam Mohammad’s brother, Jabir Muhammad, who also was the manager of Muhammad Ali, perhaps the greatest heavyweight boxing champion of all time.
Imam Mohammed also made a significant financial contribution to the new mosque, and the members of the community contributed whatever they had to make it a reality – their funds, expertise, and labor during the construction phase.
A few years later, Imam Mohammed’s vision became a reality when Masjid Bilal formally opened on June 3, 1983. It was the first mosque built from the ground up in Greater Cleveland and the first mosque built by a predominately African American congregation in the United States. Imam Mohammed led the first Jumah prayer service at the new mosque.
In a visit to Cleveland several years ago Imam Mohammed’s son, Wallace D. Mohammed II, president of The Mosque Cares, Inc., noted:
“We all knew what was happening here in Cleveland. There was a pride and a great feeling that many of us experienced due to what was happening here. This building is a historical landmark that our young people should cherish until the end of time. We should have a special place in our hearts for Masjid Bilal. This physical building should be preserved as a monument to our history.”
Before constructing the new mosque, the community at Masjid Bilal was previously known as Masjid Willie Mohammed, under the leadership of Imam Mohammed, and as Temple No. 18, under the leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Its history dates back to the early 1950s.
Under the leadership of Imam Rahman and current Imam Shafeeq Sabir, Masjid Bilal has gained widespread recognition in Cleveland for its efforts to work with and unite various religious communities and people for the betterment of the entire community. Civic, political and business leaders have spoken and/or worshiped at Masjid Bilal, as well as members of local and national law enforcement agencies.
Shortly after taking office when then-President Donald Trump attempted to ban Muslims from immigrating into the United States, Masjid Bilal was host to “A Circle of Peace,” a large protest rally that included all segments of Cleveland’s religious, civic and political communities.
Finally, Masjid Bilal also is renowned for the cultural programs it has hosted, in particular, those that showcase local and nationally significant jazz musicians.