Alabama Muslims Plan Sunday Funeral Prayer for Nathaniel Woods

With his shoulders and head elevated, Nathaniel Woods sat upon his gurney with clenched fists and mouthed inaudible words. His right index finger was stuck out in “an apparent sign of his Islamic faith.”

Nathaniel Woods, 44, was executed by lethal injection at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama on March 5, 2020.

Woods was pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m. local time, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. His local imam was expected to be present for him at his scheduled execution.

Advocates, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Kim Kardashian have argued the innocence of Nathaniel Woods, as he was convicted in the murder of three slain police officers in 2004 but had no active role in the actual slaying of these individuals.

Kerry Spencer, who is also currently awaiting execution on death row, admitted to being the sole gunman and shooter of the three officers. This confession caused a national uproar, which led to over 91,000 people signing a petition to stop the execution. On the day of his execution, a temporary stay was granted by a Supreme Court Judge but was subsequently lifted several hours later. 

Final Wishes

Soon after the announcement of his execution, news spread about his final wishes and faith practices.

In a statement provided by ICNA Council for Social Justice, “We have been in touch with Imam Yusef Maisonet who assisted Nathaniel with his shahada 10 days ago and is the imam who prayed with him hours before his execution.” 

Nathaniel Woods chose the name Ali when he took his shahada (or declaration of faith) with Imam Yusef Maisonet on February 24, 2020.

His Janazah will be held at Mobile Masjid of Al–Islam in Mobile, Alabama and he will be buried at Salaam Memorial Cemetery in Atlanta, GA on Sunday, March 8, 2020. 

Equal & Fair Justice System

Alabama Muslims Plan Sunday Funeral Prayer for Nathaniel Woods - About Islam

This story touched the hearts of people all over the world but it truly disturbed the hearts of American Muslims.

American Muslims who desire to believe in an equal and fair justice system, have a difficult time understanding the true implications of the outcome of this case.

Although there was no evidence that remotely proved Nathaniel Woods had a gun or was even a participant in the murder of the slain officers, he was convicted of murder, sentenced to death, denied adequate legal representation, and denied a final stay of execution. 

Alabama Muslims Plan Sunday Funeral Prayer for Nathaniel Woods - About Islam

After his murder, there were large attempts made by his Imam and the local Muslim community to obtain possession of his body, which is critical for a timely Muslim burial.

A call to action was posted via social media by several Muslim organizations to contact the warden to release the body on Friday, March 6th.

According to a Facebook post by Shaun King, civil rights activist, his body was eventually released but not before the State of Alabama insisted on performing a forced autopsy on Nate’s body, which went against the family’s wishes and the practices of his Islamic faith.

In Nate’s final days, he wrote a poem to be released after his death titled, “The Man He Killed.”  An excerpt from his poem is written below. 

In conclusion, we honor our Brother Nathaniel on this day with a beautiful statement written and posted by Imam Ghazali Institute

“Whoever’s final statement is ‘There is nothing worthy of worship but God and Muhammad ﷺ is His Messenger, that person will enter Paradise,” the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

May God have mercy on him and unite him with the Messenger ﷺ in the highest levels of Paradise. God doesn’t take from us in this life except He grants us better in the next. This injustice in this life is painful to see and weighs heavily on our aching hearts, but the promise of reward for the patient keeps us going.

Make dua for our brother Nathaniel.

About Sabria Mills
Sabria Mills is the Co-founder and Executive Director of MACE - Muslims Advocates of Children with Exceptionalities. She is an Educational Leader and Social Advocate, who partners with educators, community leaders, and activists to advocate for inclusive spaces for people of all abilities. After spending nearly a decade working in education and addressing the needs of non-profit organizations, Sabria knows what truly drives social reform, equality, and education—and it’s not mastering the social advocacy flavor of the week. It’s how well you connect with the heart-beating people you’re trying to help and communicate your understanding back to them.