“And for every nation there is a messenger. So when their messenger comes, the matter is decided between them with justice, and they are not wronged. And they say: When will this promise be fulfilled, if you are truthful? Say: I control not for myself any harm, or any benefit, except what Allah pleases. Every nation has a term. When their term comes, they cannot put it off an hour, nor can they bring it before (its time).” –Holy Qur’an, Surah 10, verses 47-49
Throughout the course of my many journeys to New Zealand, which began in 1990, perhaps the strongest spiritual connection has been made with the Ratana Church and society in New Zealand. Many parallels have surfaced and truly exist between the history of its founder and leader, the late T.W. Ratana. and that of the rise of the Nation of Islam in America. He is identified as the last and most prominent spiritual guide in the line of a century of Maori prophets raised for the guidance of the Maori people.
As in most histories of our people around the planet who came under the rule and domination of the Western powers, out of God’s Mercy, He always raised leaders to address their grievances and deplorable condition of injustice. In the history of the people of New Zealand, in the farthest Western horizon of the Pacific Rim, it is no different. The personality of Ratana was prepared through several powerful tests and experiences to finally announce his mission on November 8, 1918.
His message would represent the culmination of a century of ordained prophets that rose among the Maori people under the dominant rule of the British crown. Thirteen years later, he made the following statement to the members of his church, “My message to you is–Have courage, have great courage. Satan is still moving among you to spoil you and your work. Verily, he is also fighting to overcome me and my work, but let me tell you, he will never overcome me! If he overcomes me, then you will be overcome also. If I am victorious over him, so will you be.”
It was during my second visit to New Zealand, in 1991, when the young couple of the Jackson family, lyricist and performer Moana Maniapoto and Willie (William) Jackson, arranged a journey for me to visit the grounds of the Ratana Church and Temple complex. During that same trip, a meeting was also arranged for me to interview the last remaining relative in the immediate family of Mr. Ratana, Mrs. Huda, his daughter, who also served as the official head of the Ratana Church.
Ratana also gained prominence in his spiritual work as a famous healer and performed extraordinary feats, among them healing the infirmed and the blind and even to the raising of the dead. Of those particulars, I don’t have a detailed account. One of the most impressive signs and observations at the site of the church is the carving of the crescent and the star on two entrance pillars. The crescent is tilted in a downward position in the form of a cradle, with the star set above it. This symbol also appears everywhere inside the church and on the rooftop.
I also noted a painted mural on one of the upper walls outside of the inner sanctuary, displaying men wearing their official apparel, which were business suits with bowties, and some carrying attachÃ© cases. This is also identified as the official apparel of the men in Islam called F.O.I. (meaning Fruit of Islam).
The story behind the youths and meaning of the crescent and star come from two sources. One, his daughter, Mrs. Huda, explained to me in her interview at her home and the other comes from a long-time member of the Ratana society, traced back through the lineage of his father who served as secretary of the movement under the late Mrs. Huda. He is currently active in publishing research papers from the archives of T.W. Ratana and the church history.
It is interesting to note that Ratana’s work and travels correspond to the period of a timeline of when Master Fard Muhammad was traveling back and forth to America for a 20-year period before making
Himself known in 1930.
According to Mrs. Huda, while traveling with her father and a delegation on a world tour, they were sailing aboard a ship crossing the Mediterrean Sea in the Middle East near Palestine, when another ship approached them going in the opposite direction. He called for all those who were below in their cabin to come to the top level and made the following statement.
He told them that there was a man on board that ship who has a mission similar to his own on his way to America. In the same evening, a cloud overshadowed the appearance of the moon. But as the cloud dissipated, there appeared a sliver of the moon in an upside-down position and above it was the appearance of a star. This was later taken as the symbol of the church and of the Ratana Movement.
During my last visit in February, once again Moana and Willie reached out to contact one of the prestigious representatives of the church history, who is in the Research and Publication Department of the historical archives. His name is Rua, and he had listened to my interview conducted by female talk host of the Maori Urban Radio Station, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait. When he heard me speak, he knew that it was time to make a renewed contact with someone from the Nation.
When we met, he presented me with three valuable manuscripts translated from the Maori language into English, which detailed some of the historical teachings and sayings of Ratana. He also confirmed what Mrs. Huda had shared with me about her father’s experience on board the ship, because she was an eyewitness.
His additional words were to the effect that they have recently found written words from Ratana that identified this unknown person on board the other ship that was headed for America as being a leader of the Nation of Islam.
As we continue our journey on the Divine Path in Search of Knowledge, we will begin to understand more fully the reality of God, His Oneness and His Divine Plan, which is uniting all of us back again to the purity and unification of the human family on our Planet Earth. The secret working and Divine Teachings given to the Nation of Islam by the mysterious world traveler, Master Fard Muhammad, was to initiate us into the Resurrection of the Truth and Reality of God and self.
I close with the following words of T.W. Ratana, taken from one of those manuscripts, delivered to an audience in 1934: “Here I am, your servant, explaining the sayings, knowledge, and other precious things revealed to me by the One Who sent me. May you all be cleansed to be as White as snow and as sinless as a dove.”
“Then, after him We sent messengers to their people. They came to them with clear arguments, but they would not believe what they had rejected before. Thus do We seal the hearts of those who exceed the limits.” –Holy Qur’an, Surah 10, verse 74
To be continued.