Muslim Center of Detroit co-founder Imam Abdullah El-Amin dies at 78

El-Amin worked to unite diverse Muslim communities and collaborated with interfaith leaders across the state of Michigan.

Imam Abdullah El-Amin

Imam Abdullah Bey El-Amin, a prominent faith leader in Detroit and co-founder of the Muslim Center of Detroit, died March 10 at the age of 78.

El-Amin’s daughter, Zarinah El-Amin, says her dad was known as a gentle giant in the community.

“He worked in loud and also quiet ways. A lot of people I don’t think realized the magnitude of the relationships that he built over the 40 years that he came into this way of activism and Islam and community work,” says Zarinah.

El-Amin was the first executive director of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, now known as the Michigan Muslim Community Council. He worked to unite diverse Muslim communities and collaborated with interfaith leaders across Michigan.

Zarinah says the community will miss his big hugs and infectious smile.

Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Chapter Executive Director Dawud Walid says El-Amin was a mentor and leader.

“He was responsible for bringing together Sunni and Shia Muslims under one umbrella to talk about common concerns and issues far before the tragedy of 9/11,” Walid shares. “Muslims were organizing themselves to be more of interfaith dialogues and intra-community cooperation. He’s really like a pioneer.”

El-Amin served as the Neighborhood City Hall Manager under former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer between 1994-2001. He ran a bid for city council in 2009.

Walid believes El-Amin will be remembered for his good sense of humor and courageous nature.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made a proclamation in honor of El-Amin’s passing.


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A post shared by Zarinah El-Amin (@zarinahofgold)

Zarinah says her father’s legacy is serving Allah, those around him and giving charity.

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  • Nargis Rahman
    Nargis Hakim Rahman is the Civic Reporter at 101.9 WDET. Rahman graduated from Wayne State University, where she was a part of the Journalism Institute of Media Diversity.