By Mother Tynetta Muhammad
[Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from Volume 32, No. 36 and The Final Call will continue to reprint articles written by our late and dear Mother Tynnetta Muhammad.]
“And they wonder that a warner from among themselves has come to them, and the disbelievers say: This is an enchanter, a liar. Makes he the gods a single God? Surely this is a strange thing. And the chiefs among them say: Go and steadily adhere to your gods: surely this is a thing intended. We never heard of this in the former faith: this is nothing but a forgery.” —Holy Qur’an, Surah 38, verses 4-7
I have died a thousand times to live again,
In the cycle of rounds, I come and go and never end.
I don’t remember those many times long ago,
Where the light of day emblazons the sun,
Like torches lit in the heavens always known,
Where horizons are aglow with rainbow domes of arcs,
Sewn with purple skies, illumined with crystal stars in sight,
Displaying gilded gardens of magic in sparkling array,
Where time sleepeth not but is always day.
I have died a thousand times of lifetimes even now,
Can I ever know death while it is yet day?
Emerge your soul with the continuous breath of the Almighty,Resting on the bosom of thy Lord, there is only peace and never strife.
Since I was a child, as far back as I can remember, I have always loved poetry and storytelling as my mother held me close. I enjoyed entering worlds beyond worlds, even to this day. I have journeyed from the unknown to the known from an ancient past knowing only the Eternal Presence of my Lord. Through sweet sound, my soul has captured the mystical music of the spheres.
Enduring memories of my youth brings un-relentless joy to my heart from flowering graves. In my abode, I can only behold the Eternal Face of God. Now, I remember those lingering days of tempest tossed from my silent retreat, enraptured by the mystical sounds that form me and shape my soul captured by the Night of Majesty leading to the dawn of a new day.
What need I more to quench my thirst than the Presence of God,
Blossoming everywhere in every place at once;
Here am I in every world of celestial space.
What food need I to fill my taste;
As hunger rises and suspends me in this great love affair,
To have no need of sun or moon or stars,
I find no rest, nor sleep,
But in my Lord I find peace of mind and contentment wedded into Eternity.
Being born in the dank and lonely, strange environment of Detroit, Michigan, in the early 40’s and 50’s, ten years after the Nation of Islam was founded and proclaimed on July 4, 1930 in America by the Great Master Fard Muhammad, I found my heart enlightened. He found a way to knock on the doors of our hearts in Black Bottom Detroit. I found no peace or contentment in the days of my youth until, I too, was agitated in our Night of Ignorance, and accepted the call to Islam 27 years later in 1957.
As a senior in Central High School at the age of 16, I had been raised in a home with both my parents in a respectful and loving manner shared with other siblings, relatives, and friends. My father, named Omega, on the one side, was a simple, relatively peaceful man, who didn’t talk much but who loved the outdoors and sports even wearing his fishermen’s gear; and with his own boat, was oft times found catching fish across the border in Canada. He was encouraged by my mother to learn a trade in furniture upholstery and repair and ultimately setup his own furniture business.
On the other side, my mother, named Rhobena, was well-educated, an artist, singer, dancer, writer and painter, who instilled in me the love and influences of cultural refinement and artistry. She, along with my grandmother, Irene, was also well-educated, a trained nurse and kindergarten teacher by profession, led us in the flowering of the performing arts. She had a knack for puppetry making, as well as other arts and crafts and was a millinery hat maker.
It was to her nursery school that both my younger sister, Karlotta and I, were taken early in the morning, while my mother was employed in the housing commission as a caseworker in the City of Detroit. All was well until years later after my father had been discharged as a war veteran of World War II with arthritis and began an emotional bout with drinking on the weekends. He became very abusive in that condition and began throwing my mother around. She seemed so defenseless that when this would happen, I found myself running to her aide. This I did to the best of my ability until things settled down and all was calm again until he went back to drinking.
In spite of the ill-effect this had on me growing up, I continued my studies and my uninterrupted longing for God and was particularly drawn to reading the Bible. Our family later joined the Central Congregational Church and youth organization and I often spoke on Youth Sunday at the church under the late Rev. Albert B. Cleag. He later changed the name of his church to The Shrine of the Black Madonna and he became known as Jaramogi Menelik Kimathi .
This is a story, the details of which I have yet to explain, on how he met the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad at his church and invited my minister at that time, Brother Wilford (one of the brothers of Malcolm Shabazz) to speak at his youth fellowship many weeks at a time. I believe it was under this influence that Rev. Clegg was inspired to change his name as well as the name of his church to the Shrine of the Black Madonna.
I filled my days with the reading of many books and loved visiting the library and began writing short stories and poetry and was engaged in theatre and dance, and attend art classes at the Detroit Institute of Art. I often wrote about my mystical links to ancient Egypt which I expressed in the form of poetry and essays at the age of 12. In these dialogues, I was conversant with the guardians of the temples and the pyramids of Giza, along the banks of the Nile and asked the Great Sphinx to reveal to me its mysteries, and to help me to find my husband from whom I had been tragically separated and left all alone.
Perhaps this was why I was constantly searching to remember the forgotten days of my past and to be reunited again some day. The turning point of my life experiences occurred in my senior year of high school at the age of 16. Here I was in Detroit, Michigan, running along the Detroit River with a view to the banks of Toronto, Canada on the other side. I am also reminded that during my centennial graduation held at Central High School in 1958, I was chosen as one of seven valedictorian speakers to address our graduation class.
Each one of us was given a letter corresponding to the spelling of Central. I was given the letter “R” from which I chose Religion as my subject. In my speech, I quoted words from the mystical writer, prose-poet and artist from Lebanon, Khalil Gibran, from his famous book entitled, “The Prophet.” I had just come to embrace Islam under the Divine Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. At the same time, I had came into contact with an unusual student in school who claimed that he was only there taking classes to make contact with certain people and was much older than he appeared to be.
I will share a little of this experience in the upcoming article, Insh-Allah, God willing.
“Has the Reminder been revealed to him from among us? Nay, they are in doubt as to My Reminder. Nay, they have not yet tasted My chastisement. Or, have they the treasures of the mercy of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Great Giver? Or is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is between them theirs? Then let them rise higher in means. What an army of the allies is here put to flight. The people of Noah, and Ad, and Pharaoh, the lord of hosts, rejected (prophets) before them.” —Holy Qur’an, Surah 38, verses 8-11
To be continued.