ATLANTA (FinalCall.com) – The life and times of Minister Abdul Rahman Muhammad will be celebrated with a weekend of events featuring a special tribute January 31 in Atlanta, with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan who serves as the honorary chair of the planning committee giving special remarks that night.
“We want to recognize our brother for his great work. He belongs to the Nation and it is our duty to honor his contributions,” Minister Farrakhan told The Final Call.
The Call to Islam
The year is 1956. Jazz great Duke Ellington is on the cover of the September 15 Time magazine; Arthur Mitchell, future director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem becomes the only Black dancer in the New York City Ballet; and Samuel Saxton from Atlanta, Ga., finds the Muslims in Los Angeles, Calif.
“I had heard Islam in the summer of 1955, but didn’t join for another year when I settled in Los Angeles with my wife. At that time, my wife was one of few Black teachers with a degree in education,” Min. Rahman told The Final Call. She wrote a letter to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad saying that she was a teacher. He wrote her back and sent her a ticket to Chicago. So, off we went.”
“My job was inside the mosque. I put men on front rostrum post and as usher. I heard everything that the Messenger said for three years. The brain is a computer and I remember today things that he said,” explained Min. Rahman.
Becoming a lieutenant under the late former Supreme Captain Raymond Sharrieff, Min. Rahman also served as part of the special security for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad known as the Honor Guard. It was a responsibility that he would hold for the next 10 years. After staying in Chicago for three years and six months, it was off to Miami in March of 1961 at the request of his leader for help.
“Bro. Rahman was one of the best captains I had,” Lucious Bey, former minister of Miami, told The Final Call. “He knew how to handle the brothers and get things done. He was honest and sincere. That was important to making progress.”
One of the brothers Min. Rahman had to handle in Miami was a young Cassius Clay. The soon-to-be heavy weight champion was in Miami training with Angelo Dundee and that chance meeting was the beginning of a great relationship.
“I was out selling papers and I heard this voice across the street say to me, ‘Why are we called Negroes?’ I looked up and asked him his name. He said, ‘I’m Cassius Clay and I’m going to be the next heavy weight champion.
“I started teaching him Islam every day and advising him on boxing. I went to training camp with him and taught him the street life. I protected him and nursed him on Islam right up to his championship fight with Sonny Liston,” recalled Min. Rahman.
The relationship moved from just brotherly love and concern to a place on the fighter’s payroll.
The movie Muhammad Ali, starring Will Smith, makes no mention of a Rahman Muhammad or a Captain Sam as he was also known. The movie also makes it look like Malcolm X was influential in the conversion of Muhammad Ali to Islam, which according to Min. Rahman is not true.
The Rock of the South
In 1969, Min. Rahman became the Southern Regional representative for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad headquartered in Atlanta. His territory covered everything south of Washington, D.C. and all the way to Texas.
“I was a builder of a strong mosque. While I was minister, we had four restaurants, three fish markets, one bakery, a haberdashery, boutique, and a sewing center. We had two tractor trailers trucks and a refrigerated unit to transport fish. We sold 100,000 pounds of fish a month,” said Min. Rahman.
The Messenger bought a building that served as a mosque and school on Bankhead Highway. That was the first mosque. A second mosque they acquired later sat on six acres of land. The school went to the 12th grade and had 18 teachers that never missed a paycheck. Mosque attendance was 1,100-1,500 every Sunday at both mosques.
“For many years, Minister Rahman has exemplified the caliber of leadership that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said we should have. The Messenger said we should all be ambassadors of his Divine Word as we journey through our life, and Minister Rahman has certainly proven to be one of Allah’s best ambassadors. Minister Rahman has certainly been the handle that never breaks for so many of us,” said Imam William Abdur-Rahim, founder of the Majlis-As-Shura Islamic Ecumenical Council of Mosques, Atlanta, who came to Islam under Min. Rahman.
Min. Rahman got the name “Rock of the South” because of his vigilant position on Islam. In 1972 the Atlanta police attacked 10 brothers selling the Muhammad Speaks newspaper.
The bad blood between the brothers in the nation and the police continued until 1974 when A. Reginald Eaves came to town to be the new Commissioner for Public Safety, Police, Fire, Corrections and Civil Defense.
“Min. Rahman was extremely loving and wise in the way he handled things. He wasn’t the devil that the police were trying to make him out to be. We became friends. I was amazed at how he handled the men. He is a significant leader,” Mr. Eaves told The Final Call.
That friendship ran both ways. “We honored the chief with Super Chief Day. We had entertainment, food and a big bazaar. We gave the chief a new suit, shirt, cuff links and shoes. We wanted him to look good because we always looked good. I really appreciated what he did to better relations between us and the police,” said Min. Rahman.
Flowers while you live
“It’s my prayer that this tribute planned for Min. Rahman will serve as a spiritual stimulant to the Believers in Muhammad Mosque No. 15 and around the Nation to begin honoring those who have paved a way for us to Islam,” said Vaughn Hassan of the group Flowers While You Live that is sponsoring the tribute.
Beverly Muhammad, who is working closely with various aspects of the community to celebrate Min. Rahman’s life, is planning the weekend program.
“We are celebrating the life journey of Minister Rahman, but in so many ways we are celebrating the life journey of a nation who has survived through many years of growth and struggle and can now boast of generations of membership,” she said.
Joining the numerous people coming from around the country to celebrate his life will be Min. Rahman’s 90-year-old mother, Rose Saxton.
“Before Islam, my son was out in the streets doing whatever. People criticized him for joining, but I told them, I don’t care what they are or what they do—they changed my son.”
“They got him to stop drinking and smoking. We didn’t have to worry about him anymore. We knew he was in good hands. It was a relief off of me and his daddy’s hands.”
Min. Rahman, whose name means “Beneficent,” received his name from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1974. He will be recognized with various citations and proclamations from the city of Atlanta who will recognize his work, which includes campaigning for Mayor Shirley Franklin.
Those who walked with him and those who came behind him will also be there to honor him.
“He is truly ‘the legendary Min. Abdul Rahman Muhammad.’ He is a towering figure in my development as a servant of Allah, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Min. Louis Farrakhan,” Jamil Muhammad, a national spokesman for the Honorable Minister Farrakhan, told The Final Call.
“He is valuable because of his wealth of experience, his indefatigable singularity of purpose of living, breathing and existing to be a helper of Muhammad in the resurrection of the dead and his undeniable love of the word of God,” he said.
“His legacy and sacrifice is a testament to his dedication to this work. It is time for us to say thank you and we appreciate you, Min. Rahman,” said Min. Ray Muhammad, the current Southern Regional Minister who will help pay tribute.
The weekend promises to be an overwhelming event for Min. Rahman. What does he think about all of the plans in his honor?
“Minister Farrakhan came looking for me to help him when he began rebuilding the Nation in 1978. This work is what I know how to do and what I love to do.”
“I am thankful and proud of the love I received from the Messenger and Min. Farrakhan. When I speak of one, I speak of both. I want people to know I came this way and I wanted to be everything I could in the Nation of Islam. I did everything I was told to do without question. When I’m gone, I want people to know there was a man named Rahman,” said the honoree.