By Richard Muhammad
Contributing Editor

Alif Muhammad and his brothers and sisters thank the Muslim community, family and friends for kindness following the death of their father Jabir Herbert Muhammad. Photos: Richard Muhammad

CHICAGO ( – Jabir Herbert Muhammad, a son of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, was fondly remembered as a father, friend, businessman, but most of all as a Muslim by family and friends who attended an August 30 memorial service at the Salaam Conference Center.

Among those assembled in the ballroom were former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali and his wife, Lonnie, as well as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Chicago Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, members of the Muhammad family, the Muslim community and guests from across the country.

With his son Alif Muhammad presiding over the memorial, story after story was shared that reflected Jabir Muhammad’s commitment to his faith–whether serving as editor of the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper and handling business affairs for the Nation and his father, to his building of a mosque in Chicago, sending 250 Muslims to hajj in Saudi Arabia and other good deeds.


The family said Jabir Muhammad was a world traveler and guest of world leaders, including U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, Col. Muammar Gadhafi of Libya, and was part of a delegation that went to Iraq to ask Saddam Hussein to free American citizens before the first Gulf War.

He also made his pilgrimage to Mecca several times and assisted with the publication and production of Islamic books. He conceived and built Masjid Al-Faatir on the southside of Chicago, which was erected on land that he also donated.

“Jabir did much for the cause of Islam and it is the good that we do in the cause of Allah that lives,” said Min. Farrakhan. “We celebrate Bro Jabir’s life and we should not think of him as dead,” he continued, reciting a Quranic injunction that those who die or who are slain in Allah’s way are not dead, though we may perceive differently.

Everyone needs God’s mercy and forgiveness, but if we look at the life of Jabir Muhammad, his parents and the Muhammad family, it is an honor to be here, the Minister said.

Min. Farrakhan shares words about the life of Jabir Herbert Muhammad and the sacrifices of the family of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad to establish Islam in America.

“What have we done that didn’t come from the Muhammad family? What do we have that did not come from a father and a mother and eight children who sacrificed much that many today can say, ‘As Salaam Alaikum,’” said Min. Farrakhan. They paid a price to bring Islam and little thanks is given to the family from Muslims in America, he said.

The Muhammad family, starting with Elijah Muhammad and Clara Muhammad, sacrificed and suffered to establish Islam in America, he said. The girls of the family were scorned for wearing long dresses when it wasn’t fashionable and every Muslim woman in America owes a debt of gratitude to Mother Clara Muhammad, said Min. Farrakhan. The Muhammad family carried the name and endured for the sake of the faith, he said.

We rejoice in the return of Bro. Jabir to his lord, we rejoice in his life and how we benefitted from it and we rejoice in the family he left behind, said the Minister.

Jabir Muhammad’s daughter, Zarinah recounted how her father never failed to mention lessons from Allah or the Holy Qur’an and prayer. His spiritual devotion and generosity was a constant theme of stories shared during the memorial.

Sultan Muhammad, of St. Louis, shared in an interview how Jabir Muhammad offered support to an Islamic youth group in the city. He was always willing to offer to visit and help, said Sultan Muhammad, who came to Chicago for an Islamic Janazah (funeral) prayer service and returned two days later for the public memorial. Other Muslims shared similar recollections, whether representing themselves or Islamic organizations.

Bennett Johnson, of Third World Press, told the audience about the connections between the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He told the audience he acted as a go-between for a historic meeting between Dr. King and Mr. Muhammad in 1966. The meeting was memorable, he said. “It was a fascinating meeting and ended with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad saying, ‘You know, we should get together more like this to keep them guessing–even if we don’t do anything but eat chicken,’ ” said Mr. Johnson. Jabir Muhammad played a role in putting that meeting together, but was a behind the scenes get-things-done person, he said.

Attorney Clarence B. Jones, a confidante of Dr. King, flew in from Oakland to attend the funeral on behalf of himself and boxing promoter Don King, who was in Germany. “Jabir Herbert Muhammad’s life was a hero’s journey,” said Mr. Jones, who noted that he was a Christian and Dr. King’s personal lawyer. There was mutual respect and love with Jabir Muhammad, said Mr. Jones, who is a visiting professor at the Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

While Dr. King was on one side of the struggle, progress came from support from an array of people including the Nation of Islam, he said. There may have been different beliefs on strategy, but there was not division in the goal of freedom, he said.

Jabir Muhammad was ecumenical and helped entrepreneurs outside the Nation, Mr. Jones added.

Jabir Muhammad died Aug. 25 following heart surgery. An Islamic funeral service was held at Masjid Al-Faatir on Aug. 27. After the service and burial, a repast was held at the Salaam Conference Center.

Lonnie Ali, who arrived with her husband, spoke of the long friendship between Muhammad Ali and Jabir Muhammad. Jabir said that he only managed Muhammad Ali because Muhammad was enough, she said, as the audience laughed. He also urged Muhammad Ali to keep aware of his spiritual state, she added. The men had visited with each other in recent years, said Mrs. Ali.

The friendship had endured over the years, said Mrs. Ali. Tears came to her eyes as she shared her worries about how telling her husband about the death would affect him. “It was a friendship made of stone to the end. No matter what their differences were, they were friends to the end–like brothers, like blood brothers,” she said.

“It just goes to show you how much he was loved and how much he loved his fellow man. He was a very generous man, very jovial and hospitable to everyone and I think this is a reflection of how he was received,” said Elijah Muhammad III, Jabir Muhammad’s eldest son. “He was a very giving, warm and kind person.” The son also offered heartfelt thanks for all the support his family had received.

Alif Muhammad closed by inviting his family to the stage, where they stood next to a portrait of Jabir Muhammad. He thanked those gathered for their support and said his father left a big family and a loving community. “We, like my father, will help our community grow in the way of the prophet,” he said.

Jabir Muhammad is survived by wife Aminah Antonia Muhammad and children Elijah Muhammad III, Isa Muhammad Ali, Safiyya Muhammad-Rahman, Alif Muhammad, and Mourad Muhammad. His former wife Patricia Spaulding Muhammad and their daughter Gina Muhammad-Driskell. His former wife Bahiyyah Muhammad and their children, Omar Muhammad, Samirah Muhammad, Saeedah Muhammad-Hamahouallah, Salimah Muhammad-Zahid, and Saniyyah Muhammad-Sepanik. His former wife Ameenah Muhammad Reed and their son Jabir Muhammad. His former wife Azizah Muhammad and ther daughter Samiha Muhammad. His former wife Ramona Muhammad and their daughter Zarinah Muhammad.

He is also survived by sister Lottie Muhammad; his four brothers, Nathaniel Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad II, Imam W.D. Mohammed, and Akbar Muhammad, Ph.D., as well as 45 grandchildren; 21 great grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.