Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad makes a point during address Feb. 28 at Mosque Maryam He delivered the keynote address closing NOI weekend conference and celebration. Photo: Haroon Rajaee

CHICAGO—The 40th annual observation of Saviours’ Day since the rebuilding of the Nation of Islam in 1981 was a “bearing of witness” to the foundational teaching of the Nation of Islam—“that Allah (God) appeared in the person of Master Fard Muhammad, July 4, 1930; the long-awaited ‘Messiah’ of the Christians and the ‘Mahdi’ of the Muslims.”

Min. Farrakhan shared his joy over the Saviours’ Day weekend and Feb. 28 keynote by Ishmael Muhammad. Photo: Haroon Rajaee

Printed on the inside back page of every issue of The Final Call newspaper, Point Number 12 of “What the Muslims Believe” further states: “We believe further and lastly that Allah is God and besides HIM there is no god and He will bring about a universal government of peace wherein we all can live in peace together.”

It was and continues to be one of the most controversial aspects of the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad; and it is one upon which the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan reestablished the Nation after its fall. Saviours’ Day celebrates the birth of Master Fard Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam.

“The enemy attacked this foundation, and he was successful in part in doing so when the Nation fell,” said Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, the national assistant to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. “The Nation fell because we fell away from the foundation that God is a man.”


The Feb. 26-28 Saviours’ Day 2021 annual convention was a virtual event due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a few workshops held in person at Mosque Maryam and attended by a small number of masked and socially-distanced Believers.

It also was the first time ever that the main message was carried by someone other than Min. Farrakhan since the rebuilding of the Nation in the late 1970s and the first keynote Saviours’ Day address delivered in Chicago in 1981.(L) Student Min. Ava Muhammad national spokesperson for Min Farrakhan speaks Feb. 28 as part of the closing of Saviours’ Day 2021 in Chicago. Photo: Haroon Rajaee (R) Student Minister Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad spoke Feb. 28 as part of keynote address program in Chicago. Photo: Haroon Rajaee»

Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad’s keynote address, “How Strong is the Foundation: Can We Survive?” was delivered before a small group of Muslims at the mosque and viewed by thousands more worldwide via the internet.

Giving more evidence of God’s human characteristics, Min. Ishmael Muhammad quoted scripture that speaks of God having hands and feet; He walks and talks. Yet he’s not a man, asked the son of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad?

The Bible says Adam and Eve heard God’s footsteps in the garden; they were hiding themselves from the presence of a human being, he said.

(L) Student Min. Ava Muhammad national spokesperson for Min Farrakhan speaks Feb. 28 as part of the closing of Saviours’ Day 2021 in Chicago. Photo: Haroon Rajaee (R) Student Minister Abdul Malik Sayyid Muhammad spoke Feb. 28 as part of keynote address program in Chicago. Photo: Haroon Rajaee

“If he’s not human, then why don’t you say ‘it’? But you run into trouble because ‘it’ don’t talk. ‘It’ don’t walk. ‘It’ don’t speak. ‘It’ is a description of an inanimate object,” he said.

The enemy wants people to believe that God is a “spook” or a “mystery” that you can’t explain; he does this to keep you from the reality of God so he can continue to rule you, Min. Ishmael Muhammad continued. The Muslim minister described a 2007 meeting with Muslim leaders, some of whom were former members of the Nation, where questions about Master Fard Muhammad came up and the misinformation that had been spread about the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s teachings.

“Did the Honorable Elijah Muhammad ever tell us that Master Fard Muhammad was the Originator of the heavens and the earth?” Min. Ishmael asked the group. “Did he ever tell us anything other than Master Fard Muhammad is the manifestation of the mind and will of God?”

“It disturbed me that you would take that which the Honorable Elijah Muhammad never ever taught us. Master Fard Muhammad is a human being like you and I, born the 26th of February 1877, how could he be the Maker of the heavens?” he said.

(L) Student Minister Wesley Muhammad was among speakers to open Mosque Maryam keynote address program. Photo: Haroon Rajaee (R) Daniel Muhammad opens program in Chicago. Photo: Haroon Rajaee

‘They corrupted our minds’

Pacing his message, Min. Ishmael Muhammad pointed out that the Qur’an declares man as “khalifah,” or one who stands in the place of God. Why does Allah say in the Qur’an that He made the sun and moon subservient to man, he asked?

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said he who has no knowledge of Himself has no knowledge of his lord. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said we must have a knowledge of self and the knowledge of self is a knowledge of God, Ishmael Muhammad said.

Electricity is not known without a physical conduit, he continued. When the discoverers of electricity were able to harness the unseen current, they needed copper or some physical material to bring forth what was unseen.

“But what was unseen was not unreal because you have lights today” from the current of electricity. So it is with the human being, he said. The Originator set up a law of procreation, that everything reproduces after itself.

“The crowning jewel of the Originator was to reproduce Himself. The Christians say man is the Glory of God. The Qur’an says, if you were angels, we would have sent you an angel,” he said.

But the slave master robbed African slaves of the knowledge of self and God. “They deleted our hard drive. They corrupted our minds,” he said.

(L) Nyah Muhammad speaks Feb. 28 at Mosque Maryam. Photo: Haroon Rajaee (R) Student Minister Nuri Muhammad takes part in Feb. 28. program at Mosque Maryam. Photo: Haroon Rajaee

Min. Ishmael asked why have the U.S. government, the Arab world, the Jewish world and other corrupt forces targeted the Nation of Islam for destruction?

“Is there something your enemy doesn’t want you to get that the Nation of Islam offers to Black people?” he said. “God has chosen you, me, us. He saved Himself for us. If it were not for our condition, God would have never come to the scene.”National Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad and his family following historic lecture to close Saviours’ Day 2021 convention. Photo: Haroon Rajaee»Muslims enjoy keynote address while socially distancing and using safety protocols necessary during Covid 19 pandemic. Photo: Haroon Rajaee»

Farrakhan: The cornerstone

There is something missing in the preachers’ teachings today because they lift scripture in the past tense, what God did, Min. Ishmael Muhammad said, adding, the question should be asked, what is God doing for us today?

The Bible speaks of a people in bondage in Egypt, but here we are “strangers in a strange land” enslaved for 400 years, he said. Is there a Moses, an Abraham and a Jesus for us, he asked?

There are two men who would come at a certain time to seal the work of the prophets. They are called Mahdi from the Islamic perspective and Messiah from the Christian perspective, Min. Ishmael Muhammad said. Master Fard Muhammad came wearing two hats … the functions and roles the two men would play. They serve as His arms. They serve as His hands, he said.

“As a student of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I can’t thank Allah enough for answering the cry of Black people in America by His personal intervention in our affairs in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, our Saviour, our Deliverer, the one who’s birth we celebrate this day,” Min. Ishmael Muhammad said.

In raising the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Saviour already knew Elijah would need a helper even as Min. Farrakhan was being formed in the womb in 1933, a year before Master Fard Muhammad’s departure, he said.

“Master Fard Muhammad’s hands, mind, heart, spirit, were all in the making of Louis Farrakhan. Not after his birth … not after high school … He’s the reason for his being,” said the assistant minister at Mosque Maryam, the Nation’s flagship mosque and headquarters.

But today, Min. Farrakhan has faced persecution and doubt like no other. He has been banned from Facebook, Twitter and many other social media platforms. “What have we done?” Min. Ishmael Muhammad asked. “[The enemy] will answer, ‘You didn’t do nothing. It’s what you said of the truth,’ ” Min. Ishmael Muhammad explained. “This is a world of deception, a world of lies that hates the truth.”

The Nation was built on one man’s faith, he said of Min. Farrakhan, and we are now known all over the world because we returned to that foundation. If you don’t understand [Min. Farrakhan’s] words, understand his works, he said.Socially distanced Muslim women applaud a powerful address. Photo: Haroon Rajaee»

Declaring Min. Farrakhan’s selflessness, commitment and unwavering love for Black people and suffering people throughout the world, Min. Ishmael posed: “I understand why Jesus was silent in the final days. The trial was not his. The trial was for the people he taught.

“The people were given a choice even though the Jews brought all the false witnesses, but Pilate offered to the people a choice between the criminal, the thief Barabbas and the good righteous man that was Jesus. The people who knew the goodness of this man … they were complicit because they chose a criminal, a thief, Barabbas, over the good man Jesus,” he said.

Quoting a saying in the mental health field that if you want to feel better, take a pill, but if you want a change, then face the truth, Min. Ishmael said, “That is what the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan have presented to us—real truth that can produce real change.

“The foundation and cornerstone of the Kingdom of Heaven has to be built on an absolutely solid foundation and the foundation that God uses is a human being,” he said.

An Unexpected Appearance

To the audience’s surprise, Min. Farrakhan closed the keynote address with a few words of thanks and guidance. Entering through two golden gates on the mosque’s stage and dressed in a blue suit, shirt and tie, the 87-year-old leader sat at a table and praised Min. Ishmael’s preparation and delivery of the word.

“I feel so honored and happy to hear the wonderful representation of Brother Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad. I thank Allah so much for what we have experienced in a virtual Saviours’ Day,” he said.

He added that the respect for and handling of the teachings will keep the Nation of Islam thriving through “the darkness of the upcoming hour.”

He advised other student ministers and laborers to follow the example of preparation that Min. Ishmael Muhammad put into his message.

“It’s wonderful for a teacher to see a student in the classroom doing so well. Never be ashamed to call yourself a ‘student’ minister,” he said.

Min. Farrakhan also thanked the Nation’s Executive Council, the laborers and all who helped to make the three days of virtual workshops and other events a success.

He related stories of how the Hon. Elijah Muhammad would test him to make him strong enough to be a foundational stone in the eternal Kingdom of God, and how the Honorable Elijah Muhammad eased him into recognizing that it was him who would be his chief helper.

Message well received

Viewers and guests at Mosque Maryam for the keynote message and those who experienced the three-day convention applauded the experience.

“Min. Ishmael’s message was really a strong lesson in ‘despookification’ for all faiths. He had us to look deeper into the truths that are presented in the scriptures. I thought he did a wonderful job of that. I think it also was a good example, a good opportunity to show that he can carry the day, and he more than held his own. He did an excellent job,” said Fadil Muhammad of Macon, Ga.

Michelle A. Muhammad of Philadelphia has been in the Nation of Islam over 30 years. “And this was the first time I actually was able to attend all the workshops that I wanted to attend. The Separation workshop has shown me that we are prepared. In being in the relationship class, Minister Ishmael hit on things that Believers need to be aware of when they are in courtship,” she said.

Speaking to The Final Call prior to the Sunday address, Barney Muhammad of Chicago said: “This has to be one of the greatest Saviours’ Days of all time because you can see all the workshops and be able to enjoy them. In workshops you learn from what presenters are saying but they also enhance what you already know. As the Minister prepares to depart, I’m not going to worry about the things I’m strong in, I’m going to look at the bricks that may be out of place and help put them in place so the Minister will find us working when he returns.”

Jamil Muhammad of Baltimore added: “This virtual Saviours’ Day is what the old folks would call a blessing in disguise. It’s an opportunity for the message to reach a captive audience—in their homes, virtually, on the internet with the ability to press rewind and review it again, instead of the flurry of a live convention. Yes, we miss the fellowship, but we certainly have the opportunity to hear the Minister directly and make decisions in these crucial times. I think the foundation is strong; the question is how strong is our faith in that foundation? We’re strengthening our faith here at Saviours’ Day 2021.”

“Saviours’ Day was the best in recent memory,” said Vernon Muhammad of Atlantic City, N.J. “With the shutdown of everything due to Covid-19, and not being able to travel this year to enjoy the comradery of the Believers, we had the opportunity to enjoy the pure essence of the workshops without the noise, mass movements of the crowds and the time restraints put on the presenters.

“As we were advised by the Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan to go into our chamber to work on self, we were already in the mode of study so what we received from these magnificent workshops with the beautiful and pregnant words of the Minister are enough mental and spiritual food that if we had to be shut in for another year, we have enough homework to keep us occupied,” he said.

(Michael Z. Muhammad contributed to this article.)