By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
BLOOMINGDALE, Ill. (FinalCall.com) – In a historic movement of young women, the class of all classes, the National M.G.T.-G.C.C. Vanguard, flocked in great number to this suburb of Chicago on Sept. 8-11 for a national retreat, education and rejuvenation.
Typically, large gatherings of screaming and crying women and girls can be found in big arenas to hear the likes of rappers like Lil’ Wayne and Drake or see the antics of female music artists like Beyonce or Nicki Minaj: But approximately 1,300 women and girls, appearing as a sea of tranquility, unity, and strength for the retreat. They were young, vibrant, attentive, resurrected, as they answered the call and invitation by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to receive his divine guidance on the role and power of the woman.
The young women gathered at the Hilton-Chicago Indian Lakes Resort under the theme, “The Rebirth of a New Generation Vanguard” and attended activities under the care and watchful eye of the Nation of Islam’s Student National M.G.T.-G.C.C.Captain Sandy Muhammad and her staff, which included an overview of the history of the establishment of the Vanguard.The staff worked for months to empower the women through sisterhood building activities, self-defense training and study.
“We wanted to honor those who have laid the foundation, thank those who have soldiered and sacrificed, and remember those who have made their transition,” Capt. Sandy Muhammad said. She thanked Min. Farrakhan, the head of their class, and his wife, Mother Khadijah, for allowing the MGT and GCC to host the historical retreat, which she said will serve as a catalyst for the development of scores of trained and dutiful Vanguard.
Indeed, it was a weekend dedicated to the woman and to all who could sacrifice to make the journey, Min. Farrakhan spoke plainly, purely, and sternly during a private visit to his farm in New Buffalo, Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 10.
“God and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad set up the Vanguard for the future of the Nation of women. … I wanted you to see each other; to connect with each other; to greet each other; to talk to each other; to make friends with each other,” Min. Farrakhan told his female followers, some whom traveled from as far away as the United Kingdom.
Muhammad’s Vanguard Class
“M.G.T. and G.C.C.” stands for Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class, a class designed in part to retrain Black women and girls into the thinking and will of God through the study of seven training units set up by the founder of the Nation of Islam, Master W. Fard Muhammad, the Great Mahdi.
Muhammad’s Vanguard Class, the warrior class of the M.G.T.-G.C.C., was divinely established by God through the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the eternal leader of the Nation of Islam, to develop and prepare young women of child bearing ages to become the women of God.The class is for women and girls between the ages of 16-35 and there is an M.G.T. Junior Vanguard class, which consists of girls between ages of 12-15.
“We need a rebirth because we need to reinvigorate the spirit of the class to lay the foundation for something that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan wants us to build for the future of the young women who belong to the teachings under the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” Kabasa Muhammad, of the MGT Vanguard at the Nation of Islam headquarters mosque in Chicago, told the participants.
Ever attentive to her duties, she paused for a moment and told The Final Call she was excited because her Muslim sisters were excited.
At various times throughout the retreat, members of the Vanguard expressed excitement about learning more about their role as the foremost group, and experiencing an unforgettable weekend of events–complete with a fitness obstacle course featuring oversized jumpers, bungee jumping, and rock climbing.
Hours before their dinner on Saturday, the women dressed in red and white fitness gear, filled two banquet rooms and received self-defense training from martial arts Grand Master Anthony Muhammad and his staff. The session also included kick boxing and a physical workout.
Next were breakout sessions on their training units, which focused on sewing, rearing children, taking care of husbands, and how to keep house.
Quickening of the spirit
The activity and excitement of the retreat increased each day, from the registration reception to the welcome address by Capt. Sandy Muhammad, and the visit to Min. Farrakhan’s farm, which was the highlight of the weekend, followed by a special address on the “The True Divine Nature and Value of Women.”
It appeared the goal of rejuvenation was accomplished as the events, especially Min. Farrakhan’s message on Saturday, quickened the Vanguard’s spirits.
Eyes widened and lit up as some 20 tour buses approached the Farrakhan farm and the conversation of the travelers elevated too, as seen with the Junior Vanguard on bus number 7.Chants of “Allah-U-Akbar! Allah-U-Akbar! (God is the Greatest)” permeated the bus as it turned onto a small two-lane road, drawing nearer to the property.
As the caravan of precious cargo passed corn fields and acres of open land with roaming horses and beautiful greenery, the sisters broke into song and evoked tears and sniffles from many: “We’re the MGT and the GCC, Muslim Girls in Training, we are striving to be … We’re determined to gain respect. Rear our children, make them the best… E-E-E-Elijah Muhammad. Oh! Elijah. Elijah’s Class. Oh! Elijah. Elijah’s Class!”
“The moment struck me, that we were experiencing something bigger than ourselves,” one young Vanguard was overheard saying amid the singing.
Word on the ground after deboarding was that the spirited activities of bus number 7 had taken place on other buses, too.
The anticipation of Min. Farrakhan’s address heightened with each minute and long lines of eager young women in white and green t-shirts, caps and black pants talked and giggled quietly as they graciously awaited their turn to enter security check points. That was all that stood between them and a massive white tent where they would hear from God’s representative on earth today.
Betsy Jean Farrakhan, the eldest child of Min. Farrakhan and Mother Khadijah, and a host of others she thanked publicly, worked tirelessly to coordinate the Vanguard’s farm visit.
After she led a tour of the property, the caravan headed back to the resort to prepare for Min. Farrakhan’s public address Sunday, Sept. 11, titled, “The Divine Nature and Value of Women.”He delivered the message from the Nation’s flagship Mosque Maryam in Chicago.
As the buses were leaving the farm, the Muslim sisters waved profusely to Min. Farrakhan, his family and the delegation that served them. They cheered and applauded when they saw members of Min. Farrakhan’s security team saluting as buses rode by.
BraNica Muhammad, a 20-year-old newlywed, attended the retreat with her sisters Bra’Keya, 14, and Aaliyah, 11, her cousin Rachelle, and her mother, Nayyirah, who is also the Student M.G.T.-G.C.C. Captain in St. Petersburg, Fla.Nayyirah Muhammad said she has been in the Nation of Islam since 2000 and she has served as student captain since 2002.
“It gives me hope.It gives me great joy.It gives me inspiration. It gives me fortitude to know that we have something that we’re fighting for,” she responded when asked about having her daughters and niece beside her in the Nation of Islam.
She is grateful that her daughters have accepted Master Fard Muhammad’s way of life and the ways of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Min. Farrakhan in their actions and not just with words.
“I’m loving the retreat so far, being here to see the man of God, going to the meet and greet to see all my sisters that I have not seen, meeting new people and just to know that I have other sisters in the ring just like me, struggling to come out of this world and striving to be a better person, I just love it,” said BraNica Muhammad, who was honored for achieving excellence in one of her training units. The young woman was singled out as an example of how to take care of a husband based on a beautiful letter submitted to the retreat organizers. He bore witness to the joy and strength his wife has brought his life and saluted her for faithful striving to be a wonderful Muslim and helpmeet.
‘Hidden Treasures of Our Time’
Why does the Vanguard dress as it does? Who were the early dutiful ones that laid the foundation for their existence today? What sacrifices are required to ensure the future of young women? These questions were answered during a special tribute dinner on Sept. 9 in the Hilton’s Trillium Grand Ballroom.
Carmin Abdullah Muhammad, served as the mistress of ceremonies, and Vanguard and M.G.T. officials from various regions presented awards to those who paved the way.The banquet theme was “Hidden Treasures of Our Time.”
Award Recipients included Mother Khadijah Farrakhan (Humanitarian Award of Lifetime Achievement), Mother Tynnetta Muhammad (Humanitarian Award of Lifetime Achievement), Betsy Jean Farrakhan (Vanguard Visionary Award), Donna Farrakhan (Guardian of the Vanguard Spirit Award), Maria Farrakhan (Honor Guard Award), Fatima Muhammad (Vanguard Faithful Servant Award), A’ishah Muhammad (Vanguard Leadership Award), Sharrieffah Muhammad (Vanguard Legend Award), Tadarah Muhammad and Fabraye Muhammad (Vanguard Service Award), and Rashidah Ena Muhammad (Excellence in Military Training Award).
Dressed in various soft lilac-colored garments, the Vanguard dined on vegetables, fish and chicken as the honorees gave acceptance speeches, which brought many to tears because they were so humbled by the acknowledgments.Many honorees said they were happy and felt privileged to serve their Nation.
“It is an honor to be recognized and receive your flowers while you live,” said A’ishah Muhammad, Student Emeritus National M.G.T.-G.C.C. Captain.
Though fresh off a grueling trip to Mongolia, Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, a wife of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, attended the banquet and thanked Capt. Sandy Muhammad and her staff for remembering her on such an occasion.
As Maria Farrakhan accepted her award, she electrified the banquet hall with these few words:“I am a Muhammad Vanguard.I am a Muhammad wife. I am a Muhammad Vanguard mother. I am a Muhammad Vanguard grandmother. I am a Muhammad Vanguard Muslim and you can become all of these by staying in your Muhammad Vanguard class and honor what you have. Thank you.As Salaam Alaikum!”
Before Capt. Sandy presented Mother Khadijah’s award to Maria Farrakhan, her daughter and steady companion, Haniyyah Muhammad of Los Angeles performed an original dance to the R&B artist Kem’s song, “A Mother’s Love.”
As Haniyyah gracefully and soulfully moved across the stage and around the hall, she blew kisses and re-enacted tender moments shared by mother and child.
Capt. Sandy shared that Mother Khadijah was blessed with nine children, 34 grandchildren, and 28 great-grandchildren.
“She is the most special woman to walk the face of this earth and let us never ever, ever, ever take her for granted.Let us lift her and her family up in prayer every time we hit the prayer rug,” Carmen Muhammad said.
According to Haniyyah Muhammad, before she walked on stage, she had studied the lyrics but had no idea of what she would create.“Allah made it easy for me.I went in the bathroom and I cried because Master Fard Muhammad is so real and this has truly been a divine revelation and it’s truly renewed my spirit and I feel like I’m just coming in the mosque,” she told The Final Call.
Inspired by moving, serious message
“Auntie! Auntie! As soon as I get home, I’m burning these pants!” declared Khairah Rose Muhammad to one of her chaperones, as she held up a pair of beige “skinny” jeans.The 13-year-old Junior Vanguard from Long Beach, Calif., traveled to the retreat with nine other teens from the Western Region’s Los Angeles-area mosques.
“This is ridiculous,” Khairah Muhammad said.“I don’t know what got into me but that’s it.I’m done!”Immediately after her declaration, she deactivated her Facebook account, but lamented when she realized that the page could not be deleted entirely.
“I thought Min. Farrakhan’s address was overpowering.He totally went over the basics that we should all know–dress code, boys, everything.When I get home, first, I’m going through all my clothes.I’m going to start with that,” Akeila Muhammad said.
The girls said that what got into them was the seriousness of the message that Min. Farrakhan conveyed to them.It was plain, in their language, and put the spirit of God in them, both said.
“I felt like his message was meant for us and it was a lecture that I needed to hear right now, especially going back to school, and not having too many Vanguard around, it really helped to keep me inspired, focused, and ready to work.It really let me know what it means to be a M.G.T. Vanguard,” said Krystina Muhammad, from Wilmington, Del..
Former Student National Vanguard Captain Sharrieffah Muhammad of Atlanta viewed the Minister’s words as a call to duty and a call back to discipline.“He’s really asking us to discipline ourselves to follow the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and his teachings and to do that in a real way, that it’s real in our lives, so that if we don’t do it, we will actually suffer real consequences,” she told The Final Call.