The Western Hemisphere's largest mosque will not be built on the South Side of Chicago -- at least not in the foreseeable future because donations promised by several Muslim nations have not materialized:
Wallace D. Muhammad, son of the founder of the World Community of Al-Islam in the West, formerly known as the Nation of Islam, has confirmed that plans for the construction of a 14 to $16 million religious center in the Woodlawn neighborhood have been shelved, at least for the time being.
During a wide-ranging interview on the status of the Muslim group, Muhammad said the World Community has a building fund of $1.5 million made up of donations from the United Arab Emirates, the federation of oil-rich states along the Persian gulf.
Muhammad said architects for the project, which has to be built on an 11-acre site in Woodlawn, "say we can't go with that" unless the World Community wants to construct the religious center a little at a time. Muhammad said that alternative is "not attractive to me at all."
The additional funds needed for construction had been pledged by the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, but nothing was in writing, he added.
Construction plans here announced in January 1977 at a City Hall press conference at which Mayor Bilandic said the mosque: with its 200-foot minaret, would be "one of the most significant architectural and religious building in the city."
Discussion with outsiders about the inner working of the sect, particularly its finances, were unheard of while Elijah Muhammad, Wallace Muhammad's father, was alive and preaching his philosophy of racial hate. For 40 years the movement-whose members were then known as Black Muslims -- was shrouded in mystery. But in the nearly four years since Elijah Muhammad's death, Wallace Muhammad has steered the Muslims on a more moderate course.