and Dora Muhammad
Interfaith women’s conference puts spotlight on healing, marriage and raisng God-fearing children
ATLANTA (FinalCall.com) – Close to 500 women from around the country gathered here August 4-6 to be a part of the first Women Working Together conference, “In Search of a Sisterhood.”
The purpose of Women Working Together, according to founder Carmen Muhammad, is “to create an organization that includes a unique network of women dedicated and committed to creating positive alternative programs that will address the overall needs of women as it pertains to their spiritual development, health, education and economic growth.”
The weekend, which included two days of workshops, a talent showcase and play “Looking for My Sisters,” a fashion show and a Sunday morning keynote lecture by Minister Donna Farrakhan Muhammad at Muhammad’s Mosque No. 15, culminated with an awards ceremony, Honoring Women of Substance, where many from various walks of life received accolades for their dedicated service in their particular field of endeavors.
For many, the conference was a life-changing event. Laura Denis, 20, from Montreal, Canada told The Final Call, “The love that is in the sisterhood is very amazing. I never saw that in my life. In Montreal, I would like to present the same thing, on how the woman is important to the world.”
The importance of women and what they do for their communities was highlighted at the awards ceremony.
The honorees included Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, wife of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan; Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad; National Vanguard Captain Sharrieffah Muhammad, Dorothy Johnson of Mothers in Charge, Simone Alisa of Been There, Done That Interior Design; and Fashion Designer Suad Sabree.
“No one knows like the woman what her duty is to God,” explained Carmen Muhammad. Speaking to the honorees, she said, “I thank God for each and every one of you. You have shown us how to be better wives, better daughters and better sisters.”
“Tonight, you are part of a legacy, because we have accepted to do His will and His will alone. I love you, all of the honorees. We are women working together. We are co-creators with God. Our work isn’t finished yet.”
The awards ceremony was hosted by Minister Jamil Muhammad, a national spokesman of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. With great care and precision, he introduced the honorees with such praise and power that some didn’t even know who he was talking about in their introduction.
“I really didn’t know Bro. Jamil was talking about me,” said Mother Tynnetta Muhammad as she accepted her award. “I am very honored that Sis. Carmen invited and chose me to be a recipient of this award,” she shared. “This is a birthing moment right now.”
To the men in the audience, she said, “Put your woman on a pedestal and allow her to manifest her glory of God. She is much more than what you take her to be.”
Sharrieffah Muhammad thanked every Muslim woman who rose in the morning and prepared to come to the mosque ready to work.
“I accept this award on their behalf, on behalf of my husband, my children, my parents Marion and Leonard and my brother Jamil.”
The honorees also included Nation of Islam Chief-of-Protocol Claudette Marie Muhammad, Millie Muhammad, National M.G.T. Captain A’ishah Muhammad, Maria Farrakhan Muhammad, Actress /Model Minnie Foxx, Captain Emeritus Alice Muhammad, Sonya Muhammad, Jennifer Muhammad, Minister Ava Muhammad, Chandra Salaam Gibson and Whitney Houston.
In the place of her father, Minister Farrakhan, who was unable to attend, Min. Donna continued the fire she set at the mosque that morning when she talked about the special quality of women who provide service.
“It takes a special woman to give service to her people. She loves God, she loves herself and she sees her people in herself,” she explained. “She loves her people as she loves herself. So when she sees another Sister’s child, she sees her child.”
She likened the honorees to salt because of their ability to season their environment.
“You are the salt of the earth but, if you lose your savor, you will be trampled by the foot of man. Don’t lose your salt. Don’t loose your savor,” she cautioned. “Keep God in the forefront of your lives. Each of you has your own special gift.”
It was a night to remember.
From healthy kitchens to healthy relationships
The weekend started Aug. 4 with a daylong schedule of workshops, that continued the next morning. The schedule offered practical tips, inspiring personal accounts and Sisterly criticism to encourage healing and improvement in the daily lives of the wives, mothers and Sisters that listened, took notes and asked questions. From how to start your own business to finding and keeping a man, the presentations and panels covered the spectrum of a woman’s world, including hair care, real estate investment strategies, family and career balancing, fashion and style, and a town hall-styled discussion centered on healing.
“Today, we will have a spiritual fight with ourselves until we knock the daylights out of everything that is not good and has held us hostage to ourselves,” insisted Carmen Muhammad in her remarks opening the town hall meeting.
The first workshop set a positive and inspiring tone with “A Healthy Woman’s Kitchen” presented by Dedra Muhammad, a registered nurse and culinary student who has her own catering business in Los Angeles.
She stressed that our eating habits begin with our thinking patterns. Giving alternatives to fast food because “cheap is going to give you cheap health,” Sis. Dedra centered her guides on “How To Eat To Live” books by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
“We must start in moderate change, so that our bodies do not go into shock and then we say that we cannot do it and go back to our negative habits,” she encouraged. “We must be kind to our digestive system and give it time to rest,” she added, stressing the diet of one meal a day as directed by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Her advice included keeping an honest food journal, integrating exercise into our daily lives, and overcoming sugar and caffeine addiction.
Chicago resident Tatiana, 13, told The Final Call, “The workshop was very important for us because if we don’t follow the guidelines of How To Eat To Live, then we will be killing ourselves. We need to eat properly to live longer.”
On the economic development side of life, Atlanta-based interior designer Simone Alisa of Been There Done That, along with her business partner Ursula Lee from Rococo Designs, outlined their step-by-step process in developing their prosperous business and successfully maintaining their clientele.
Their checklist included the ability to negotiate, problem-solve, time management, technical proficiency, simple and complete contracts, ability to be a team leader and team player, manage paperwork, meeting deadlines and good interpersonal skills. But the most essential ingredient to successful entrepreneurship: “stepping out on faith and doing what was in my heart.”
A unique take on parenting tips came from a panel discussion of youth in the workshop, “How To Keep Your Children From Going Straight to Hell,” with eight youth who have grown up in the Nation.
Their presentation focused on three critical issues parents struggle with, and are in many cases failing, as identified by consensus from the young adults: prayer, communication, and talking about sex.
“Prayer bathes the soul. It gives you a sense of protection in a world that has gone mad,” said 18-year-old Khalid Muhammad from New York. “How can you guide children to a God who commands us to pray when most parents don’t see the value of prayer,” he admonished.
As far as the subject of sex was concerned, the overall consensus was that parents wait until it is too late to broach the sensitive subject with their children.
“If we are the future, why are you not talking to us? You wait until we are 18, but by that time the world has already made us who we are,” shared 15-year-old Maryam Farrakhan. “You are late. Really late.”
Solutions for mothers included getting involved in their children’s activities, hosting youth socials, starting a business with their children, and meeting the parents of the peers of your children.
Terrell Muhammad, a 21-year-old morehouse college student from New York, offered the necessity for parents to make a checklist on issues that they need to discuss with their children. “Your home is our reference point for everything. If it’s left out, it leaves room for others to tell us misinformation.”
As mothers in the audience raised questions out of their frustration with children who have gone astray, 20-year-old Miriam Muhammad, a third-year student attending Louis University, offered some comforting words out of her experience.
“Struggle is ordained. You must make our homes more appealing than the world, Sisters. Don’t give up on your children. It will be appealing to them one day because there is nothing else out there for them.”
Participants loved the workshops and wanted more.
“It’s a great experience and we need to have more of them because there are more issues that need to be addressed,” Shanee Ivy of Martinsville, Va., told The Final Call. “It’s just a warm feeling that you get when you’re in an environment of women like this.”
On the clothes and fashion workshop, Miri Muhammad of Atlanta, told The Final Call, “It definitely gave us some good information. Some of the things challenging us as women in the world is walking down the street and having men hawk at you. So dressing more modest would help.”
She added, “Your style of dress says how you carry yourself and shows who you are.”
After a full day of workshops, conference participants were treated to a talent showcase featuring musicians, singers, poets and comedians. The day culminated with an inspiration play “Looking For My Sisters,” which was written, produced and directed by Captain Emeritus Alice Muhammad of Los Angeles, Calif.
Another highlight of the conference was the fashion show extravaganza. As a result of Sis. Carmen’s participation in the annual fashion showcase at the recent Al-Islam Convention in Chicago, Ill., Suad Sabree, co-producer of the Women Working Together fashion showcase, introduced Sis. Carmen to the various designers from the Al-Islam community.
It featured the work of 12 designers committed to producing fashion for the modest woman and teen, while the charismatic Debra Crossland, an acclaimed moderator from Chicago, emceed the high-class event. The designers included the Newell Apparel fashions of Mother Khadijah Farrakhan and Fashahnn designs by Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, as well as designs from Madam Butterfly of Atlanta, Ga.; Talking Threads of South Carolina; Exclusive Designs, Inc., of Chicago, Ill.; Al-Nisa Designs of Chicago, Ill.; Marlina of Philadelphia, Pa.; Naima of Indianapolis, Ind., and others.
With lights, a runway, music and models that were clearly dressed to impress, participants were treated to a show to rival the best New York’s fashion week has to offer. For those women who attended the weekend’s events from start to finish, it was a blessed event.
(Nubian Muhammad contributed to this article.)