and Anisah Muhammad
DETROIT–From being referenced on radio, TV, in music videos and movies from icons such as Chuck D, BeyoncÃ© and Nipsey Hussle, the influence of The Final Call and its founder and publisher, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, are forever imbedded in Black life.
But those references are tied to the newspaper’s mission: The spiritual resurrection of Black and oppressed people, sounding the trumpet of truth, and offering divine guidance in the midst of a falling nation and a world plagued by racism, wrongdoing, corruption and injustice.
Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Nabaa Muhammad, formerly known as Richard B. Muhammad, industry leaders, political leaders, well-wishers and members of the Nation of Islam took a moment Feb. 21 during the movement’s annual Saviours’ Day convention 2020 to commemorate 40 years of publishing and the commitment and sacrifice that has made the paper a successful, respected Black-owned journal.
The evening banquet inside the TCF Center grand ballroom, which was packed with almost 1,500 was an opportunity to recognize those who have served the Nation’s Number One Program.
The Minister and members of his family were honored for their work in the early days as The Final Call was housed in the basement of the family’s home in Chicago. His daughter, Donna Farrakhan, served as the newspaper’s typesetter, while wife, Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, helped oversee the nascent operation and other Farrakhan children played roles with the newspaper and in creating what has become an incredible multi-media library of messages and wisdom from a man who has served Black people for over 60 years.
Current and former editors along with current staffers, columnists, contributors, supporters, volunteers, and the Mighty Fruit of Islam who distribute the paper–the FOI–were saluted for their great work.
The evening emcee was Student Minister Nuri Muhammad and the program included the presentation of awards, acknowledgements, city and Wayne County proclamations, words of congratulations from the National Newspaper Publishers Association-The Black Press of America and the National Association of Black Journalists.
The program began after dinner with words of honor and recognition from the city of Detroit. District 2 Councilman Roy McCalister Jr. welcomed and thanked the Nation of Islam for bringing Saviours’ Day 2020 to Detroit. Steven Muhammad, chief of staff for Brenda Jones, who is president of the Detroit City Council, presented a testimonial resolution. This is the highest honor that can be awarded by the Detroit city council, explained Steven Muhammad.
“Whereas The Final Call newspaper has been providing truthful and relevant news stories, information on nutrition, health and wellness, thought provoking editorials and a message of hope for the Black community and oppressed people worldwide. As the official newspaper of the Nation of Islam and founded by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan who also serves as publisher, the award-winning newspaper’s mission and purpose is to perpetuate the survival of the Black nation,” he read from the official document.
“And whereas, launched in the basement of Minister Farrakhan’s Chicago home in 1979, The Final Call gained a reputation for fearlessly printing truthful articles and capturing stories that may have never been told, save for its courageous journalists who looked for unique facts and penetrating personalities,” the city salutes The Final Call for its outstanding contribution, he said.
The Final Call follows in the tradition of the legendary Muhammad Speaks newspaper of the 1960s and 1970s, offering hard-hitting national and international news and perspectives. It remains Black America’s sole nationally distributed print newspaper. The first Nation of Islam newspaper was The Final Call To Islam, which was published by the movement’s patriarch, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
The evening’s first honoree was Mustapha Farrakhan, student Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam, who was given a crystal award in recognition of his leadership and role in the distribution of The Final Call. The men under his charge take the print edition of the newspaper to the streets, front doors and into the hearts of people walking in a society beset by spiritual darkness.
He spoke of the commitment needed to deliver Black people and the love found in the men who love and are loyal to his father, Minister Farrakhan.
With him were nine members of the FOI from across America who were recognized for outstanding service to The Final Call over the past four decades. Hashim Hakim, Angelo Muhammad, Joseph Muhammad, James A. Muhammad, Sylvester Muhammad, Stephen Muhammad, Shaheed Muhammad, Halim Muhammad and Anthony Muhammad were the honorees.
The Khalil Muhammad Award was presented to Mustapha Farrakhan by Final Call General Manager Abdul Rasul Muhammad.The award, explained the program, is named in honor of “Lieutenant Khalil” who represented an incredible commitment to distribution of The Final Call in Chicago, and those who share his spirit, his drive and his consistency, love for the Nation of Islam and the resurrection of Black people.
Special awardees included the late Mother Tynnetta Muhammad and Jabril Muhammad, whose columns have run weekly for decades, providing spiritual and religious insights into the Teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad found nowhere else on the plant. Abdul Akbar Muhammad, author of the award-winning “Africa and the World” column and longtime companion of Minister Farrakhan; Black nationalist leader and educator Conrad Worrill, who was a regular Final Call guest columnist, and Ali Baghdadi, who wrote on international affairs and the Palestinian struggle for Muhammad Speaks prior to the advent of The Final Call were honored for their contributions. Dr. Ava Muhammad, National Spokesperson for Minister Farrakhan, was given an award in appreciation for the insight and analysis she offers the newspaper as a voice of the Nation. Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, a former Supreme Captain, was honored for his outstanding role in expanding Final Call sales and distribution. Minister Sharrieff Muhammad is now Southern regional minister for the Nation of Islam and is based in Atlanta.
Donna Farrakhan, in passionate words, thanked her father for allowing her to help him and thanked the FOI for their boldness in taking the word of truth to the people. The strength of the FOI is reassuring and inspiring, she said. She paid homage to Chuck Green, who was not present, for his role as a strategist in the rebuilding of the Nation and for encouraging her to go to school to learn to be a typesetter.
Joshua Farrakhan, another son of the Minister, and Hassan Muhammad, a Final Call audio expert, were given awards and recognized for laying the foundation for an incredible audiovisual library and a storehouse of Supreme Wisdom and knowledge.
Andy Sanchez, the president of TopWeb, a Chicago-based company that prints The Final Call was welcomed, called a friend and presented with a crystal obelisk in appreciation for his work with the newspaper for nearly a decade.
The night was highlighted by Nabaa Muhammad’s announcement of the Abdul Wali Muhammad Journalism Scholarship, which will be an annual scholarship supporting Black youth studying journalism or a related field. The initial $1,000 contribution was donated by an anonymous donor, said editor Nabaa Muhammad.
The late Final Call editor Wali Muhammad will never be forgotten and we will carry on his work and commitment, Nabaa Muhammad told a Final Call writer. Editor Wali Muhammad died under mysterious circumstances in 1991. “We want his family, the Nation and our people to know a giant walked among us, and we want to produce more like him,” said Nabaa’ Muhammad.
Videos captured historical snapshots of Final Call history and FOI dedication, reflections from those involved in the early and ongoing work of the newspaper, and a special segment focused on Minister Farrakhan and his devotion to his teacher and the newspaper that carries his weekly column and a weekly message from the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.
“I want to thank my wife and my family. I have never been in any place at a time where my family was so honored,” said the Minister in brief remarks to close the program.
The Minister thanked everyone involved in the evening effort. He also admitted much of what he heard he did not remember because his was always focused on the next thing that needed to be done.
“I was taught by my wonderful teacher. Listen to these words: ‘what are you doing today for yourself? Your brother from the east wants to know and hear from you at once.’ Any time people are living in yesterday, that means they are doing nothing today. No follower of Elijah Muhammad is like that. We don’t worship yesterday. We did great work yesterday, now we are trying to do greater work today until God says come in,” said Minister Farrakhan.
The Minister expressed joy in standing for the Hon. Elijah Muhammad despite slander and evil forged against him. Elijah Muhammad is the man to stand for and no other leader can hold a candle to his work, the Minister thundered as the crowd roared its approval.
In addition to recognizing the work of one of his daughters and two of his sons, the Minister’s wife was given a crystal sculpture with a double-inscription and flowers. It was a show of gratitude for her work and sacrifice in the cause of truth.“Mother Khadijah is a perfect help meet. She is the one that put the love of the mission and our father deep within us and it was her that he could rely on. So, when she was at the helm of The Final Call, not one penny came up missing,” said Mustapha Farrakhan during a special video presentation.
Naeema Muhammad, the Student National MGT&GCC captain who oversees the development of Nation of Islam women, was given flowers in appreciation of her work.
Dora Muhammad, the first female to hold the editorial reins of The Final Call, was emotional in her remarks. Saying she felt honored to be given an award, the former Final Call managing editor, shared how the Minister made her the youngest editor over the newspaper and wanted to show women must rise as high as their potential.
Askia Muhammad, the first Final Call editor and the first Muslim editor of the Muhammad Speaks, described the Minister’s consistency as incredible and impeccable. Minister Farrakhan is the same man all the time and a good man, said Askia Muhammad, who serves as Final Call senior editor and writes from Washington, D.C.
James G. Muhammad shared how the editor’s position is a demanding job and how technology has continued to shape the paper. But, he said, there were many long days, long drives and long nights to bring the paper to where it is. Like other Final Call editors and those singled out for special recognition, he received a crystal obelisk. James G. Muhammad remains a contributing editor and proofreads and comments on Final Call content almost every week.
Abdul Arif Muhammad said the newspaper and its integrity were wrapped up with the Minister’s integrity. Our people trust The Final Call because the Minister has never lied to them and they believe The Final Call to be the truth, said Minister Arif Muhammad.
Abdul Allah Muhammad, an early Final Call editor and author of the column “11:59,” was honored but was unable to attend. Aishah Muhammad accepted the award on his behalf and on behalf of his family.
The Final Call is literally a lifesaving tool an instrument of salvation for the Black man and women in, not only America, but around the world, said Starla Muhammad, Final Call managing editor.
Final Call General Manager Abdul Rasul Muhammad made sure to give the credit to Allah (God) and to the publisher, Minister Farrakhan.
“It really was his night. Forty years of publishing, he shared it with us. For that, I’m eternally grateful,” he said. “If we don’t tell our story, no one will. We’ll be written out of it. And so by Allah’s grace it was a blessing from us to have an opportunity to share to express our truth. It’s unfiltered.”
“Just imagine, he’s been on the battlefield, just The Final Call, for 40 years by God’s grace and mercy. That’s a lifetime. That’s generations and he is in no ways tired,” he said.
All current Final Call staff were acknowledged at the banquet. One of the younger staff members, Tariqah-Shakir Muhammad, said her award reassured her that she was working towards the mission of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, which is to resurrect the mentally dead Black man and woman of America and the world.
“That is the greatest gift that I could ever experience or anyone could ever experience. Just the fact that the Minister sees that we are helping,” the 22 year old said.
Zainab Muhammad, 22, said it’s important to recognize The Final Call Newspaper because it represents hard work and dedication.
For 22-year-old Qiyamah Muhammad from Houston, Texas, The Final Call is the bold face of truth.
“It represents our Nation and all the work we’ve done. One of the ministers said it goes places where we can’t go,” she said.
Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad, the Student National Imam of the Nation of Islam, commented on the spiritual significance of 40 years. “It really, for The Final Call, represents for us a milestone that we cannot underestimate as it relates to the impact it has had on our community, our people and the changing of lives,” he said.
Imam Rahman Muhammad noted that the paper has been used as an organ, through the FOI, to deliver good news. “We are thankful to Allah for The Final Call, which has not only broken stereotypes, but it has established Black excellence in the field of journalism and in the field of transforming lives, and that’s what news should be,” he said.
“It is not a sensational media outlet. It’s not controversial in that it is not just bringing information to people to excite or tickle the ear, but it’s informational, and it’s like there’s a message and a teaching from God Himself,” the national imam continued.
Terri Muhammad, wife of Student Minister Nuri Muhammad of Mosque No. 74 in Indianapolis, described The Final Call as great outreach for the word.
“The Final Call has an extension of arms where it reaches all over the world. So we are very thankful to have The Final Call newspaper. It helped save me!” she said.
Faith Muhammad from New Brunswick, N.J. sees a publication that deals with truth.
“The Final Call deserves to be celebrated after 40 years and counting. There’s just no other publication that I know of that has fans the world over,” she said.
Sharien Muhammad from Mosque No. 15 in Atlanta would like to see leather-bound volumes of The Final Call one day. “That is the true Black history that is not dependent on anyone else’s opinion but our own. And when the brother talked about the integrity of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, absolutely without a shadow of a doubt we must have that in leather-bound that we can pass on to our children,” she said.
(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)