As a year and a decade closes, it is fitting to reflect on decisions made, work done and unfinished business ahead.
For The Final Call newspaper, this time of year brings an additional somber recollection as 28 years ago, on December 26, 1991, our beloved editor-in-chief Abdul Wali Muhammad departed this life.
In the life of institutions and nations, it is important to honor and remember those who are the builders, the visionaries who inspire others with the will and commitment to build.
Brother Wali, as he was called, was both a builder and an inspiration. The circumstances of his death, and our belief that he was poisoned only cement his place as a martyr in the cause of Islam and one who gave his life as he breathed life into The Final Call.
The son of legendary civil rights era journalist Simeon Booker, Brother Wali was fiercely and unapologetically devoted to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the global liberation of Black people.
Though he attended Cornell University, where he was introduced to Islam through the Five Percenters or the Nation of Gods and Earths, Brother Wali was always proud to declare he held no degree from “the devil’s institutions,” but was educated through the Supreme Wisdom of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the guidance of Min. Farrakhan.
He entered the Nation of Islam in Washington, D.C., served as a captain of the Fruit of Islam, and later became a Muslim minister when Min. Farrakhan asked him to come to Chicago to play a bigger role in the rebuilding of the Nation.
Brother Wali was blunt, sometimes brusque, hard charging and fearless. He was demanding and commanded obedience. He gave no excuses and he accepted none.
With his commitment and his drive he fostered a spirit in those who labored under him to accept the challenge to make an intermittent journal an award-winning bi-weekly and then weekly publication. His work would also produce two editors in chief after his death, past editor James G. Muhammad, who remains a Final Call contributing editor, and current editor Richard B. Muhammad.
Along with his sharp mind and candid speech was a deep, hearty laugh and a great sense of humor. There was also a kindness in his steel-handed glove that engendered respect, admiration and love.
And, if love is duty, and it is, Brother Wali loved deeply and his efforts and accomplishments showed it. Early on he pushed The Final Call into the world of technology when few had personal computers and cyberspace meant connecting with bulletin boards and e-mail addresses were assigned numbers, not names you necessarily assigned yourself.
He deeply loved his beloved wife Zenobia and their children and was proud of her sacrifice in homeschooling the children prior to the reopening of the Muhammad University of Islam in Chicago during the late 1980s. Vital to Brother Wali’s life were his loving and faithful wife, his sons Akmal, Luqman and Farrakhan and daughters Crescent, Amira and Zainab. He was a devoted son to his mother and loved his siblings, a brother and a sister.
Min. Farrakhan gave him the name Abdul Wali Muhammad, which means servant of the Protecting Friend and is an attribute of Allah God. After assisting others with the newspaper, he became editor-in-chief in 1984.
Brother Wali had a heart attack and was 37-years-old at the time of his death. It was believed that he may have been slowly poisoned over time through something added to his coffee.
“The Nation mourns the passing of one of its brightest stars, Minister Abdul Wali Muhammad,” Minister Farrakhan said at funeral services for Brother Wali on December 31, 1991. “His brilliant mind reflected in his speech and in his pen will be greatly missed among us. I personally have lost a brother, a companion, a friend and a son in the most difficult of all endeavors, the transformation of the lives of our people here and throughout the world. I thank Allah (God) for the privilege and honor of having known him. His memory shall be with me to my dying day and his work shall endure in the history of the Nation of Islam.”
As the 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of The Final Call, we honor the memory of a man devoted to the cause of freedom, justice and equality and pledge our commitment to stay the course. Long live Abdul Wali Muhammad!