By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
Mother Tynnetta Muhammad honored in street-naming ceremony
DETROIT– More than 100 Muslims at one point, and a modest, steady flow throughout the day, flocked to the Martin Park neighborhood to witness and celebrate the unveiling of “Tynnetta Muhammad Avenue,” named in tribute to writer, artist and scholar Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, dearly departed wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and a Nation of Islam Mother of the Faithful.
“That’s powerful,” said Pamela (Zaimah) Bahar, Mother Tynnetta’s sister, as she gazed at the street sign above. “I’m absorbing this,” she said tearfully.
Ms. Bahar, the youngest surviving member of Mother Tynnetta’s immediate family, wore hand crafted jewelry her sister made for her. “She thought I didn’t wear it,” she said, laughing and reflecting.
Ms. Bahar detailed some of Mother Tynnetta’s history, growing up on Lasalle Blvd. and attending Custer Elementary (now Thurgood Marshall Elementary School) and then Central High School, both on Linwood St. in their hometown of Detroit.
“It’s an honor to have that love of my sister through the City Council,” Ms. Bahar told The Final Call before the ceremony began. “When it was made known that it was going to really be done, no words can describe that feeling. It’s a powerful, emotional feeling, and then to see it. Oh my God,” she marveled.
Brenda Jones, Detroit City Council president, promised last year she would sponsor a resolution to honor the beloved Muslim scholar. During Saviours’ Day 2017 she proudly announced “Tynnetta Muhammad Avenue” as a reality.
The new street graced the intersection of Linwood and Puritan in Mother Tynnetta’s childhood neighborhood. Linwood is the path she took to school every day as young Tynnetta Alethea Nelson. It also intersects the street named after her husband, although the sign was taken down, according to Ms. Jones. She vowed to work to ensure it goes back on the corner where it was.
“There is a connection in those two signs in that one is at one intersection of Linwood and the other is at the other intersection of Linwood, so they come and bring everything together,” Ms. Jones stated.Muslims crowded to witness, photograph and videotape Mother Tynnetta’s family during the ceremony.
After Jon Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 1 in Detroit blessed the ceremony with a prayer and recitation of Surah 113 (“The Dawn”) of the Holy Qur’an, Student Minister Troy Muhammad also of Mosque No. 1 welcomed and thanked everyone for attending.
“We all know the contributions of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad to this community and to our people, and we know and we understand the contribution of the Muhammad family to this community and to our people, so this is a small sign of our appreciation of that,” he said.
“But our greatest appreciation is following the word and the teaching and the guidance that has been given to us by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” he said, before introducing Stephen Grady Muhammad, Ms. Jones’ chief of staff.
“As-Salaam Alaikum! Welcome to the corner of Mother Tynnetta Muhammad Avenue,” he said, igniting applause and chants of “Allah-U-Akbar,” which means “God is the Greatest” in Arabic.
He shared that after Mother Tynnetta made her transition on Feb. 16, 2015, police officers who assisted with escorts during her á¹¢alÄt al-JanÄzah (Islamic burial service) said they had never seen police entities unite to transition and escort anyone in the manner in which they did her.
He and Min. Troy spearheaded efforts toward the permanent reminder of her impact on Detroit and the world.
Stephen Muhammad thanked Mother Tynnetta’s children Madeeah Muhammad, Ishmael Muhammad, Rasul Muhammad and Ahmad Muhammad, and family, and said Detroit appreciates everything she has done there and in the world.
“This is just a small way that we can capture her impact forever,” Stephen Muhammad said.
Thunderous applause erupted as a city worker hoisted on top of a and truck and removed the covering to display “Tynnetta Muhammad Avenue.”
Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, national assistant to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, thanked the City Council on behalf of Min. Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam for honoring one of Detroit’s finest daughters. He was flanked by his children, siblings, Ms. Bahar, and his mother’s cousins, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
“This is just the beginning of many institutions in the field of art, culture, music and education that will bear the name of Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, full of grace, an extraordinary woman, and an example of a woman of God,” Min. Ishmael said.
“Her virtue, her righteousness, and all that she contributed to this community and to humanity will live forever, so we cannot express enough our deep gratitude for this street naming that will memorialize such a great icon,” he said.
Min. Ishmael concluded, “As the days, weeks, months, years go by, more and more people will come to know her as an extraordinary woman, the wife of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Student Minister Rasul Muhammad brought a moment of levity as he expressed joy in being in Detroit, particularly as the city honors his mother.
“Detroit, as it is right now, weather-wise is a little cold, but it’s always warm at heart,” he said. “I love you Detroit. Thank you for giving birth to my mother. Thank you for giving birth to my ministry, and thank you for being you with all the ups and all the downs,” he said.
“We love you, too,” many replied.
His brother, Ahmad, said it was such a great honor. “We want to thank the City of Detroit for honoring our mother, and honoring ‘our’ Mother Tynnetta Muhammad on this day. And as my brother said, it may be a little cold, but it’s unseasonably warm, and the sun is out and there is not a single cloud in the sky, so we thank Allah,” he said.
Madeeah Muhammad expounded on the gratitude expressed by her brothers. “To have her name on the street is beautiful. I thank all of you for honoring her, and I thank Allah, because my mother loved Allah. She loved the Messenger, and she loved Islam, and she showed it. She proved it. She went from end to the end, all over to prove Islam and the love that she had for the Messenger of Allah.”
Ms. Bahar said the experience was beautiful and overwhelming. “If Tynnetta was here, in person … she’d be very honored … she would probably be, well not speechless; not Tynnetta. She would say, wow! for me? She’d be very pleased. She might be speechless for this. This is really something,” said Ms. Bahar.
She said Mother Tynnetta might also be tearful to know that people love her so much, and that she was honored, revered and appreciated for all the things she’s done throughout the world.
Her sister made a great impact on the world, Ms. Bahar said. “Making a lot of people aware of the women in Islam and Islam in general … aware where they might not have ever had an inkling of an idea of it. I love her. I miss her,” she said.
“Alhamdulillah! Allah-U-Akbar,” she rejoiced. The words she spoke in Arabic means All Praise Is Due To Allah (God) and Allah Is The Greatest.
Ms. Jones said the resolution naming Tynnetta Muhammad Avenue will remain on file forever. “Your great-grandchildren will be able to go to the archives of the City of Detroit and read about Mother Tynnetta Muhammad’s accomplishments and the impact she had on Detroit and the world,” she stated.
Mother Tynnetta was the first Muslim woman columnist in several newspapers including the Pittsburgh Courier and Muhammad Speaks and her highly popular weekly column in The Final Call newspaper was titled, “Unveiling The Number 19.” The author of several books Mother Tynnetta was also an accomplished business woman, fashion designer, composer and musician.
(Akeila R. Muhammad contributed to this report.)