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Abdulalim Abdullah Shabazz, Famed Mathematician, Dies

6/30/2014, noon
Dr. Abdulalim Abdullah Shabazz, a former minister of Masjid Muhammad and mathematician who trained many of the U.S.'s African-Americans in ...
Courtesy of draas.info

Dr. Abdulalim Abdullah Shabazz, a former minister of Masjid Muhammad and mathematician who trained many of the U.S.'s African-Americans in the field, died June 25. He was 87.

Born May 22, 1927 in Bessemer, Alabama, Shabazz was the fourth minister of the Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad (prior to its transition to mainstream Islam) having served from 1961 to 1975. Shabazz graduated from historic Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. with honors in 1945. After graduating, he went on to become a well-respected mathematician earning his undergraduate degree in Math and Chemistry from Lincoln University (1949), Masters in Mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1951) and his PhD in Mathematics from Cornell University (1955). In 1956, he was appointed an Assistant Professor of Mathematics by Tuskegee Institute.

Over his illustrious career as a Mathematician and spending most of it in the academic field, Shabazz is credited with having trained directly or indirectly half of all African-Americans with a PhD in mathematics. He received numerous awards among them are The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Mentor Award in 1992 "for his leadership in efforts to increase the participation of women, minorities, and individuals with physical disabilities in science and engineering."

He received the National Association of Mathematicians Distinguished Service Award for his years of mentoring and teaching excellence. In September 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Shabazz a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The following year, 2001, the Association of African American Educators awarded Shabazz with its Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding work with African-Americans in mathematics.

In 1961, while serving as head of the Mathematics Department at Atlanta University (Clark Atlanta) Shabazz shocked the mathematics community when he announced that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. Upon joining the Nation of Islam his record of academic excellence was well known and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad appointed Shabazz as the Director of Education for The University of Islam #4 in Washington, D.C. He held this position and the position of Minister of Temple #4 now Masjid Muhammad until departing in 1975. He left D.C. under the leadership of Muhammad’s son W.D. Mohammed to become the Director of Education for the University of Islam now Sister Clara Muhammad School in Chicago, Illinois and later became the Imam of the Masjid in Detroit.

From 1975 until 1986, Dr Shabazz taught in Chicago, Detroit, and in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In 1986, Shabazz returned to Clark Atlanta University where he served as Chair of the Mathematics Department from 1990 to 1995. From 1998 until 2000, Shabazz was Chairman of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

At the time of his passing, Shabazz was a professor and endowed chair in mathematics at Grambling State University.

Funeral services and a memorial are being planned for Sunday, July 6.