ATLANTA—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said in a message on how to deal with the loss of a loved one: “The Qur’an says the term is fixed. Well if there is no set term for us to die, how is the term fixed, you fix it by the way you live the life that God gave you.”
The great work, life, legacy and impact of Sister Captain Emeritus Sharrieffah Muhammad is immeasurable. She was a wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, Believer, soldier, servant, Muslim and a follower of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad under the leadership of Minister Farrakhan.
Her loving family, friends and members of the Nation of Islam gathered Sept. 11 for her janazah (Islamic funeral service) at Willie Watkins Funeral Home in Atlanta to share reflections and honor a life well lived. Sister Sharrieffah was fighting ongoing health challenges with her kidney and heart and returned to Allah at 4:58 a.m. September 8. Her passing sent shockwaves throughout the Nation of Islam and world as people mourned the loss of a loving sister.
Most people shared, in words, that if you look up the word “love,” you would see Sister Sharrieffah because she was kind and loved with everything that she had.
Naeemah Muhammad, the Student National MGT & GCC Captain of the Nation of Islam, said, “I cannot thank Allah enough for the precious and invaluable gift that He gave us all in Sister Sharrieffah Muhammad. As the Student National MGT Captain, I am particularly grateful for the blessing of her life. Sister Sharrieffah Muhammad was to our Nation a beloved sister and a mighty soldier whose love, work and sacrifice helped blaze a trail for the MGT Vanguard and the entire class of the MGT & GCC. She is among those upon whose shoulders we stand today. Her profound work among us lives on and will impact our lives for many generations to come. May Allah be pleased with her. May Allah continue to bless, strengthen, and comfort her husband, Brother Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad, her children and entire family.”
Devoted to her family
Sister Sharrieffah’s daughters shared beautiful reflections of their mother. “My mother’s favorite song was ‘I’m Every Woman’ by Whitney Houston and she is every woman. I never saw my mom leave the house without her hair being covered, she was a devout Muslim,” her daughter Naeemah Muhammad told those gathered at the service, that was streamed online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Her daughter Miriam shared, “My mother was the forefront and foremost in every aspect of her life. Every morning, she would ask us, ‘Did you thank Allah for another day?’ When she was in the hospital, the hospital staff would say that she was the sweetest, most kind and patient person and she definitely loved her grandchildren. My mother, surely her prayer, her sacrifice, her life and her death was all for Allah.”
Sister Sharrieffah was born Stephanie Lenora Ball to her parents, the late Marion and Lenard Ball in Cincinnati, Ohio. She joined the Nation of Islam in 1979 at the young age of 18 in Washington, D.C. She received her holy name, Sharrieffah, in the 90’s, which translates to the feminine expression of Sharrieff, the name given to her husband, Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, Southern Regional representative of Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. The couple was married for 39 years.
She devoted her life to the Nation of Islam and always honored those who came before her. She leaves behind her husband, her brother Jamil and good friend and former sister in law Jamilah Muhammad; six children (Joshua, Miriam, Naeemah, Rashaad, Valencia and William, Jr.); a host of grandchildren, family and friends.
According to her brother Jamil, she “embodied the balance between the expression of highly civilized femininity and intensely cultivated focus.”
Sharrieffah is a Muslim female name that according to Islamic scholars, means Noble, Holy, Modest and Humble. She embodied all of those attributes and devoted her life to aiding Min. Farrakhan in the establishment of Islam, particularly among women. She lived by and encouraged the sisters to always make Allah (God) sufficient.
As a young child, she grew up very shy and her mother thought she would benefit from being involved in performing arts. Her mother put her in ballet and she loved it. Gradually she grew to love theater and acting in plays. She loved to read books, poetry and naturally it led her into participating in pageants, being captain of her high school cheerleading team, becoming prom queen, performing with James Brown and much more.
Her son Joshua shared: “My mother believed in the power of art and culture because it freed you to be who you are.”
She left home after graduating from high school to attend Wilberforce University, an HBCU. She studied political science/liberal arts and during those college years her brother introduced her to Islam. She started attending Mosque No. 4 in Washington, D.C., and immediately fell in love with the Nation of Islam and the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
She and her proud brother Jamil grew up very close. He affectionately called her “Dete,” a childhood nickname. “She was a natural leader, an exemplar, a dynamic personality with charisma.”
She and Sharrieff Muhamad married December 28, 1982. She always shared that it was a blessing to be married to her best friend and to be on life’s journey with him. They shared the same dedication to Min. Farrakhan and the mission of the resurrection of Black people. They took care of each other, they soldiered together, they weathered storms together and stayed faithful to their vows.
Sharrieff Muhammad recalled a special memory of traveling with Min. Farrakhan. “When she gave birth to our daughter, Miriam, two days later I left the country to travel and be a companion to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, a three-month trip that turned into a six-month trip. When I returned back to the country, when I saw my children, they showed me so much love,” he said.
“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told me that a woman could put love or hate, for you, in your children, and my wife instilled nothing but love for me in our children. I will love her forever for that. She always uplifted me, no matter what.”
When Sister Sharrieffah started having children she loved taking them on road trips to different cities to visit museums, historical Black sites and much more. On those trips she enjoyed listening to music from Denise Williams, Maxwell and John Legend. Her son Rashaad shared: “She took us on many trips because she wanted us to know that this world was ours, all 196,940,000 square miles is mine.”
During school breaks, the children would learn more about Black history by visiting the museums. Sis. Sharrieffah’s daughter Valencia said that is where she learned that a Black man, Alvah Roebuck, originally founded Sears, formally known as Roebuck and Company, but the company was stolen from under him by a Caucasian man and they later named it Sears.
Valencia went to school and students were learning about the history of Sears but left out Roebuck. She shared what she learned at the museum and the teacher put her out of the class. When she called home, Sister Sharrieffah told her: “Do not worry, as long as you know the truth.” She always wanted her children to tell the truth regardless to whom or what and they will cherish that forever.
Sister Sharrieffah’s mother, Marion, was a great influence in her life, helped rear her children and aided her whenever she needed. Her mother helped her balance her work as a mother, wife and sister. Sister Sharrieffah once shared, “I was blessed that my mother was there to help me and also I had a supportive community of sisters.”
Being the only daughter in her family, she was always daddy’s little girl and cherished her relationship with her father as well.
In her last days she enjoyed spending time writing, acting in her son Joshua’s plays, spending time with her grandchildren, children and family. She was totally committed to her family throughout her life. Her children recalled that she would wake up every morning and say: “There is no God but Allah.” She told them that there were three things they had to do to be true disciples: deny yourself; pick up your cross and follow Min. Farrakhan.
She would also assist her husband, Sharrieff Muhammad, in the Male & Female Relationship Series hosted at Muhammad Mosque No. 15 in Atlanta which they had been doing for years to encourage healthy marriages and courtships in the Nation of Islam. She shared many jewels with the believing community that helped many people improve their marriages and family relationships. Student Southern Regional MGT Captain NuSaybah Muhammad said: “She was one of the most creative thinkers that I have ever met, she never did anything mediocre. She demanded excellence from all of us around her.”
A sister soldier and trainer of women
After her brother introduced her to Islam and she joined the Nation of Islam, Sister Sharrieffah attended her first MGT Class in Washington, D.C., at Sister Minerva Muhammad’s home. That circle of women taught her wisdom that she used on a daily basis.
At Mosque No. 4 in Washington, D.C., she rose through the ranks. She was made MGT first officer, a position that helped the mosque captain in the training of women. She was effective in her role because of her heart, fierceness and there was not a sister she did not try to relate to. She met Min. Farrakhan as a young Believer when he traveled throughout the world and would often visit D.C. With the help of the sisters in D.C., she was given the honor of preparing dinners and serving Min. Farrakhan. She took pride in sharing with the sisters, “We are MGT first.” She often described the sisterhood in D.C. as unique and knew no matter where they were, they were always sisters! They worked together and focused on culture and refinement.
She so loved the sisterhood. Many shared how Sister Sharrieffah was always positive and uplifting. She loved to host events with the Muslim sisters, who would visit each other’s homes and have “sister” gatherings where they would dance, be happy and free in the sanctity of their own space. Her very close friend and Muslim sister, Najimah Muhammad, said, “She built everyone’s self-esteem, under the umbrella of Islam. We wanted people to be attracted to us for the right reasons.”
She enjoyed having the opportunity to spend time with Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, wife of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. She loved traveling with Mother Tynnetta and eventually started the Mother Tynnetta Scholarship Fund. She shared in an interview with her son Joshua: “Mother Tynnetta taught me to go to the mosque, get juiced up, and take it out to the world and become an ambassador to the world.”
Sister Sharrieffah loved the Nation of Islam and Min. Farrakhan and his family. Her children would watch her work. “She wanted the women to be soldiers, be women, rear their children in Islam and teach them to be faithful. Teach them to take care of their families and follow the Honorable Louis Farrakhan,” her son Rashaad said.
She eventually became the National MGT Vanguard Captain and continued to be an ultimate trainer of women in Islam.
In a previous interview that Sister Sharrieffah did with her son Joshua, she was asked, “What is a Vanguard?” “Vanguard is a Saint, Scholar and Warrior. She is a young woman between the ages of 16-35, who has dedicated her life to Islam and dedicated her life to making herself better through study, through the practice of the military and through the practice of the seven units of the MGT and GCC,” she answered.
Sister Sharrieffah received her first influence from the first National Vanguard Captain Porsha Pasha, who was trained by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. She learned to love the spirit of the Vanguard and loved military activity such as drill and security.
The FOI loved her as a sister. Brother Abdul Muthakkir Muhammad, who performed at her wedding, stated: “Sister Sharrieffah always had a military, warm posture that allowed her to be patient with the sisters. She was very inspiring to me when I first joined the mosque.”
She was asked to be National Assistant Vanguard Captain to A’ishah Muhammad, former National Vanguard and MGT and GCC Captain. She also served under Betsy Jean Farrakhan, also a former National MGT Captain, and Donna Farrakhan, former National Directress of the Vanguard.
Sister Sharrieffah once said their goals for the MGT Vanguard was “to be beautiful, deadly flowers, lovely but ladies. We were warriors but women.” When her husband became the Supreme Captain of the Nation of Islam, and they moved to Chicago to Mosque Maryam, she would become the National Vanguard Captain of the Nation of Islam.
Sister Sharrieffah loved to create training mechanisms like curriculums to aid in the development of Muslim women. She always bragged that she was surrounded by the most intelligent and competent women. They all wanted to work together to be better servants and helpers to Min. Farrakhan. They were all well organized and mobilized and traveled the country to teach and train women. A’ishah Muhammad shared that Sister Sharrieffah had a great sense of humor which allowed her to always keep a humble spirit. The Muslim sisters loved her because she would never ask anyone to do anything that she was not willing to do.
“She always told the sisters, never to allow nothing or no one to stand in your way of being great. Vanguard were ones that could do everything but it started with us accepting and recognizing the fact that we were MGT. So now it is our obligation to lift her legacy,” said A’ishah Muhammad.
Some of the sisters’ greatest memories of Sister Sharrieffah were the Vanguard Retreats hosted annually in different parts of the country where the Muslim women would undergo rigorous training in self-defense and other areas of security.
Even though she had children, Sister Sharrieffah always found balance in home life and mosque life and the sisters had each other’s backs in times of need. Sister Sharrieffah will be most remembered as “a kind and genuine spirit that always saw the best in everyone and encouraged us to see the best in ourselves by using encouraging words of wisdom,” said Sister Dorothea Muhammad.
Outpouring of love on social media
Former and current Vanguard from throughout the world took to social media to salute the work and legacy of Sister Sharrieffah Muhammad. Her family received thousands of written condolences, tributes and appreciation posts for the sacrifices that Sister Sharrieffah made throughout her life.
Kimberly Muhammad of Mosque No. 36 in Charlotte shared: “The guidance she gave me is priceless! She was always accessible. The countless amount of advice she gave me helped me be successful as a MGT, Vanguard, Officer, Wife, Mother and Sister! She taught us how to be balanced.”
Buronda Muhammad, of Mosque No. 15 in Atlanta, shared: “You are a Monarch in our Nation and you left your training in so many sisters. The strength of a soldier was always in her voice when she spoke.”
Brenda B. Muhammad, also of Mosque No. 15 posted: “I could never repay you for teaching and training me to have and to keep a sisterly spirit with my squad. She helped guide me to be the best Lieutenant that I could be.”
“I love you, you make me want to be the best Muslim I can possibly be!” Aseelah Muhammad of Mosque No. 15 shared.
After the janazah service, Sister Sharrieffah’s remains were transported four hours south to Brunswick, Ga., her husband’s hometown, where she was laid to rest on a private plot where you can find over three generations of their family members.