By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
DETROIT–Truly the crowning event of Black History Month, Saviours’ Day 2016 offered something for everyone during the annual convention supported by thousands of Muslims, supporters, activists and leaders as the Nation of Islam returned to its roots in Detroit–where the Muslim movement began in 1930.
As the Nation marked its 86th year, the convention was everything but a “Muslim-only” affair–it was a place for Black America to meet, think, plan and unite around a common agenda and common actions for progress.
Panel discussions and workshops were comprised of Muslims, Christians, artists, politicians, activists, and healers from all walks of life.
Youth were at the forefront of the activities. They helped to put the N.O.I.’s way on display. It was evident in art, culture, intellectual offerings, and in social and family values, such as when young Muslim activist and educator Salih Muhammad of Mosque No. 26B in Oakland got down on one knee before the Nation and world, via live stream, and proposed to Jalillah Muhammad of Mosque No. 27 in Los Angeles.
The youth, right down to teens and preteens–such as the Muhammad University of Islam student who recited Surah 36 of the Holy Qur’an in Arabic several times during the weekend–were poised to receive and follow the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s “Divine Commands and Instructions for 2016 and Beyond,” delivered during his highly anticipated keynote address on Feb. 21.
Min. Farrakhan’s commands and instructions were indeed woven into the very fabric of the weekend, starting with his live call-in to Dr. Ava Muhammad’s special Saviours’ Day radio edition of “Elevated Places” on Feb. 18 to discuss the Flint water crisis.
His treasured presence continued when he personally saluted the Farrakhan Twitter Army during the #FTA100, a special Saviours’ Day award ceremony on Feb. 19.
The overall weekend, from the fellowshipping, to workshops, Mother Khadijah Farrakhan’s Children’s Village, and foremost Min. Farrakhan’s message shattered myths and lies about the N.O.I., said Mark Muhammad, one-third of the Los Angeles, California-based singing group AKNU.
“No matter what people say and no matter what people put out as a perception, the reality and communication and affinity is this is just all love,” he said.
“And it’s all friendships in all walks of life, and it’s just a peaceful, organized event that brings the world together and brings the truth out,” he stated.
He urged people to keep working hard and watching Min. Farrakhan.
At 82-years-old, Min. Farrakhan traveled overseas to Iran, returned just before Saviours’ Day, and delivered powerful instructions loaded with love for his people.
Nineteen-year-old Jah-el X journeyed straight out of Compton to attend his first Saviours’ Day. He became a registered member in December 2014 after being introduced to Islam by his uncle. It was an unforgettable moment in Detroit. What remains etched in his memory is the pride the Muslims exuded throughout the weekend, he said.
“I really enjoyed seeing all the Believers, because there’s so many testimonies about how the brothers and sisters (joined the Nation). I believe that this is the best thing for our people, but I just have more pride for the Nation of Islam,” he shared.
He traveled from Southern California with five other young men in the Fruit of Islam. His eyes bright and a broad smile crossed his face as he reflected on his experience.
“I was just a young brother, looking for a reason to live,” he said.
It was the first time that Michael Brown, Sr. and his wife Cal Mays-Brown attended the annual convention. During the opening plenary and several other activities, various speakers uplifted his family and his son, Michael Brown, Jr.
The 18-year-old was killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. The shooting ignited worldwide protests, a scathing condemnation of the city’s extortion and exploitation of its Black citizens through traffic and municipal fines, and ultimately a federal lawsuit by the Justice Department, but no indictment of Darren Wilson.
Min. Farrakhan highlighted the injustice of the teen’s killing during his keynote address.
“It’s all love. I love the people. The people love me. The Muslim family and Minister Farrakhan, I love you all,” Mr. Brown, Sr., told The Final Call.
Many things stood out about Saviours’ Day, he said. “The step dance (Drill Competition), the Minister’s preaching, and I had a few words Friday. I had a nice time. I’ll be back,” Mr. Brown promised.
As for Min. Farrakhan’s address, “No justice, no profit. All of it stood out,” he continued. “He always talks highly about Michael and the other situations. He helps me keep it alive and all of the other families. It’s just a blessing to have him in our corner. We love the Minister.”
His wife shared that it was truly an honor to attend Saviours’ Day. She was surprised by all of the events held. “It made me more knowledgeable about the Nation of Islam, but the drill team really stood out to me yesterday amongst all things, seeing the youth so precise and just disciplined. It’s truly a great event,” she stated.
“Everything was wonderful,” said Rev. Alfreddie Johnson of the World Literacy Crusade and the Church of Scientology.
“I love the part when he talked about the rappers and BeyoncÃ©. That was real tight and to the point, but the Justice Party and the political party, I guarantee you just like they have the Tea Party, and the Freedom Party, if we form the Justice Party, that will be a groundswell to resurrect the whole hip hop culture to form our own political party no matter what,” Rev. Johnson said.
Rev. Johnson said he enjoyed the workshops, which began the morning of Feb. 19 with a focus on the N.O.I. Atonement Commission’s Ministries of Information, Agriculture, Education, Housing & Community Development.
After the Muslims observed their afternoon prayer, Salat-al-Jumu’ah, workshops for the Ministries of Justice, Arts & Culture, Science & Technology, Spiritual Development, and Prison Reform completed the day’s strategizing.
The studious conventioneers were back in session the next day for the Ministries of Health & Human Services, Commerce, Defense, and Justice workshops.
Carmen Perez of the Justice League NYC, a diverse organization of advocates which works to reform the criminal and social justice system in New York City, knows all too well the enemy of which Min. Farrakhan spoke.
The activist traveled to Saviours’ Day fresh off a humanitarian mission with her colleagues to deliver clean water and other essential supplies to nearby suffering Flint residents.
In an effort to save money, Gov. Rick Snyder and other state and city officials switched water routes from Lake Huron to the polluted Flint River.
“We’re here today. We received the message. We received the charge. We’re really grateful for the Minister and his support of the Justice League, but also knowing we have the support of the Nation of Islam who’s constantly showing up for us, and we’re here to serve as well,” Ms. Perez said.
Min. Farrakhan’s message about service resonated most with her.
Min. Farrakhan’s declaration of the Justice Party is not just on time, but ahead of time, said Student Minister Abel Muhammad, Latino representative of the N.O.I. and Min. Farrakhan.
“You saw the response of the people. You can see by the apathy in the election process that there’s the desire for some alternative, and the Green Party is not enough. We need something that represents us, so I think it’s something that we have to pick up immediately,” Min. Abel Muhammad continued.
Student Minister Abdul Hafiz Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in New York, noted Min. Farrakhan has always encouraged people to vote in their own self-interest, however, no parties adequately hold Black self-interest on their platforms.
“The calling for the Justice Party is the fomentation of the Minister’s instructions from the 2005 Millions More Movement of an independent party. He’s now given a name to that party, so we must now go to work with him to bring that into existence, along with the other commands that he gave that he will continue next week as well,” Min. Hafiz Muhammad said.
(Edited by James G. Muhammad, a Final Call newspaper contributing editor.)