By Askia Muhammad and Eric Ture Muhammad
CHICAGO–A new day in Islamic history dawned over America Feb. 27.
The nation’s principal Muslim leaders–Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam and Imam W. Deen Mohammed of the Muslim American Society–embraced before a total capacity crowd at the Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day observance, then pledged to spread the word about the universal appeal of their faith throughout the United States and beyond.
“I am full of joy because our family is coming together. Where differences separated us yesterday, we enter the new millennium as a united family,” exclaimed Minister Ishmael Muhammad of Mosque Maryam and coordinator of this year’s Saviours’ Day convention. “We are one family, one ummah, one community, one nation serving one God whose proper name is Allah.”
Deafening cheers of “Allahu-Akbar” and “Long Live Muhammad” filled the United Center as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan emerged from the center of a stage length, five-story high motif of the historic Million Man March, crowned with the official logo of this year’s Million Family March. The rostrum he spoke from replicated the marble railings on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, where two million men gathered in 1995. The stage design came from Min. Ishmael and the Million Family March logo was designed by the Minister’s son, Louis Farrakhan, Jr.
It was an inaugural gathering set for a head of state. Dozens of international and local Islamic and Christian scholars, and ministers representing Min. Farrakhan in over 200 cities across North America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe were present. Retired Mayor Marion Barry and wife Cora were seated on the dias, as was U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.). In the VIP area of the arena, hundreds of dignitaries from all walks of life–political, entertainment, cultural and revolutionary–were all present to witness the return of Min. Farrakhan and the end of a quarter of a century division between the two foremost representatives of Islam, Qur’an and Blacks in America.
For his part, Imam Mohammed emphasized unity built on enduring respect between the two leaders. “This is truly a sign that Allah (God) has always been with the sincere ones, the ones who kept faith. We are a family. God has made us to know that the human family is one family. So let us work as Muslims to work to serve one God.”
Rabbis stand with Muslims
Tears and cheers continued as Min. Farrakhan, dressed in a dark brown, pinstripe suit and gold bow tie, bolted onto the stage after a six minute video clip introduction of the leader’s 1997 World Friendship Tour III, detailing for many in the American public for the first time the Minister’s representation of Islam and Black people outside of America, the world’s reception of him and insight into the sufferings of countries under inhumane and unlawful sanctions initiated primarily by U.S.–and United Kingdom–led United Nation resolutions.
As cameras flashed, Min. Farrakhan and Imam Mohammed fell into each other’s arms repeatedly kissing and hugging, a public show of unity that nailed the coffin shut on a 25-year separation. “Muslims are one nation,” commented Dr. Akbar Muhammad, a son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Mother Clara. “We all belong to it and I think we all individually and as organizations must keep that unity. For those who don’t like it, to hell with them,” he concluded.
Saviours’ Day 2000 proved to represent more than just the crowning event of Black History month. It establishes the “close the gap” agenda of Min. Farrakhan and ushers in the “Year of the Family.”
With an English translation performed by Min. Rasul Muhammad, Sheikh Ahmed Tijani opened the program with prayer. Next, Reverend Willie Wilson, of Union Temple Baptist Church of Washington, D.C., gave greetings and welcome to the sold-out, standing room only audience of 28,000.
“I am here and we are here today because we are one family, one people” with one God, aim and destiny, he said. “We are together with you today in unity and solidarity. May Allah bless all of you.”
Another development, which came as a surprise to many in attendance, was the participation of several orthodox Jewish rabbis of the Neturei Karta community. Spokesman Rabbi David Weiss repeatedly declared before convention attendees that Judaism and Zionism are not synonymous and that Min. Farrakhan is not guilty of anti-Semitism.
“To our precious Arab cousins worldwide who are with us via satellite, I am truly grateful to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. May he have long, healthy years to come for giving me so graciously this wonderful opportunity,” Rabbi Weiss said.
“Zionism was a rebellion against God,” he said. “Although you have never heard of us because of the power of the media and the Zionist control, we get beaten in Israel for protesting against the state of Israel,” he added as he urged a new unity between Muslims and Jews, who he said historically were friends before the creation of Israel.
Dr. Munir El Kassem of London, Canada, on behalf of the 2nd International Islamic Conference scholars, led a delegation which read a nine-point resolution drafted by the conferees, reaffirming several sacred principles and several policy objectives (see page 5).
The weekend weather was tremendous. Clear skies, mild winds, and warmth filled the air throughout the confab, which began Feb. 24 with an opening and welcome from Min. Farrakhan.
“Being here, you can think more about self. It also brings you closer to God,” said Sharon Smith from Hartford, Conn. “I think what Minister Farrakhan is doing for his people is a good thing,” she added.
“Even though I am not a Muslim, I enjoy the truth,” said Tiffany Daniels of Chicago. “It is the truth. That is what will set us free.”
“I brought all four of my children,” said Wanda Ratcliffe of Richmond, Calif. “I’m elated. I can’t believe so many of us were able to come together like this.
The reunion signaled the end of a sometimes tense, 22-year rift that developed at the departure of Hon. Elijah Muhammad Feb. 25, 1975. He was the spiritual patriarch of the Nation of Islam and led its progress for more than 40 years. Imam Mohammed was named “Chief Minister” the day after his departure. The Imam then instituted a number of doctrinal as well as ideological changes moving the organization into full orthodox Islamic observation and practice.
In 1977, Min. Farrakhan announced that he would re-build the work of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad in America.
Since returning from several tours of Africa and the Muslim world–first in 1986, and then a succession of World Friendship Tours in 1996 and 1998–Min. Farrakhan began directing change among his following in America, as he simultaneously defended the primacy of Mr. Muhammad’s role, and the role of his teacher, Master W. Fard Muhammad, and the spread of Islam in the Western world.
Despite emotional, sometimes bitter differences between the two groups over the years, there was never so much as “a bloody nose” between members of the competing movements. This can also be attributed to the great anticipation of believers in both communities of one day reuniting.
“I am very happy to see the reunion, it is fantastic,” commented Soussan Ray, visiting from Monaco, a city in France that borders the Mediterranean Sea. “The whole problem of the world is the disunity of religion. We should all meet at a common place.”
Comparing this year’s 2nd International Islamic Conference to the first in 1997, Professor Muhyyiddin of Ghana declared the weekend a great turning point. “Unlike the first International Islamic Conference, more dignitaries and delegations from all over the Muslim world have attended. We can regard this as a miracle. The Nation of Islam has been reunited.”
In 1999, though his spirit and voice were strong, Min. Farrakhan was tremendously ill a year ago at Saviours’ Day. This year and by his own admission he is not completely healed, yet he looked robust, healthy strong and rested. He seemed to burst over with energy, spilling that spirit into every room he entered.
Good family lives, as well as public policies which are good for families was another important aspect of the weekend conference.
On Oct. 16, this year, the fifth anniversary of the Million Man March–just three weeks before the U.S. presidential, senatorial, and congressional elections–Min. Farrakhan has called for a Million Family March.
“Saviours’ Day 2000 is a historic manifestation of Allah finding favor on us as we continue to struggle for freedom justice and equality,” commented East Coast Regional Representative Min. Benjamin F. Muhammad. “It is a call for all families to put God back in the center of our family life and transform the United States of America into a more just society for all people.”
Min. Benjamin, who opened the meeting with the official announcement of this year’s Million Family March, declared the gathering will represent the most pivotal, transforming moment in this new millennium. He also introduced the 200-page Million Family March “National Agenda,” a treatise of public policy issues, analyses, and programmatic action designed to govern the Nation’s programmatic thrust for oppressed peoples in America from 2000-2008.
Not only was the theme of family reflected in the workshops, it resonated throughout the weekend festivities.
The much anticipated Dinner Tribute to The Family of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the International Delegate Dinner and Reception, a dinner and reception hosted for the wives of the ministers under Min. Farrakhan’s leadership by First Lady Khadijah Farrakhan, the ribbon cutting at the opening of the Nation’s children’s fair; the drill competition, martial arts exhibition and the Qur’anic recitals buttressed the call for the celebration of family.
Eighteen year-old Britiney McIntyre of Austin, Texas, explained, “I’ve never witnessed an environment of so many nice people. I really admired the women’s clothing. The sisters looked very elegant and conducted themselves in a lady like way. The men were very respectful.”
Another tremendously electrifying moment occurred during Minister Farrakhan’s declaration to the world that the Islamic world must respect the guides that Allah (God) has put in America in the personage of both he and Imam Mohammed. “We need your help. But you can’t guide us. You don’t know how to guide us to wake up the man in America. That’s not your job. Your job is to help those of us whom Allah has guided and given that message,” Min. Farrakhan insisted.
Before asking Imam Mohammed to close the program with a supplication (prayer) and Qur’anic recitation, Min. Farrakhan introduced long time Muslim, Imam Mohammed Siddique, his wife Fareedah, and four of their 15 children.
The Minister presented them a plaque honoring the accomplishments of this extraordinary family and said The Final Call would feature the accomplishments of this extraordinary family. “Find out what he did and how he did it so we can publish it because we need to do what he has done,” he said.