ST. LOUIS—On a recent beautiful sunny day, 200 family members and friends gathered in front of Al-Masjid Tauheed to honor and celebrate the 90th birthday of Sultan El-Hajj Muhammad. The youthful Nation of Islam pioneer walked uphill with 20 men mostly dressed in all black. Approximately 100 men from the St. Louis community stood six feet apart then saluted Brother Sultan Muhammad and his entourage.
Some of the men chanted, “Long live Muhammad,” and others could be heard saying, “Go ahead soldier!” and “Allah -u Akbar” (God is the Greatest). Bro. Sultan Muhammad stopped with tears in his eyes and pointed to a section where several women were standing and cheering. “Look over there, look at them, they are the reason we do what we do,” he said. “You all mean the world to us, without you we would be nothing. We are nothing without you, so we salute you sisters.”
Sultan El-Hajj Muhammad helped to establish Islam in St. Louis, Missouri, under the guidance and leadership of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He came to the Nation of Islam in 1958 at the young age of 27 after living a life “in the world,” he explained. Bro. Sultan told The Final Call, that he was very moved by the surprise event dedicated to him. “I’ve been around many events in my life, but never in my wildest mind, I ever thought anything like this would have happened with me.”
Anthony Shahid, president of the Tauheed Youth Group, organized the celebration for his dear brother and friend. He commended Bro. Sultan for being a hardworking, loving and a no-nonsense man that loves Black people unapologetically. “What I love and respect about Brother Sultan is his commitment and consistency. We were taught in the Nation of Islam that we had to go get our people who were seen in the bowels of America, in the gutter. But we had to get them and bring them these life-giving teachings,” he said.
“That’s what I saw in Brother Sultan, a brother that wanted for his brother what he wanted for himself and he has never stopped being my friend and brother. It’s been 52 years since I’ve known him,” said Bro. Anthony Shahid, a longtime activist.
“His contribution is that he stood up as a pillar in Islam in the old days when it was hard to be a Muslim. Islam wasn’t popular and the way the Messenger was laying it down, it really wasn’t popular [but] blessed is he who forges the way for others, and that’s what he did.”
Guests and well-wishers from across the country sent cards and letters expressing appreciation to Bro. Sultan. Among those that traveled to the celebration was Nation of Islam Student Assistant Supreme Captain Abdul Azziz Muhammad and his wife Sister Azziza who came 300 hundred miles from Chicago.
Bro. Azziz presented Bro. Sultan with a special lapel pin representing a soldier of arms and shield of the faith. He also gave the same pin to Anthony Shahid for being a committed helper in the cause of truth and being a soldier side by side with Bro. Sultan. Bro. Sultan was also given a crystal with an inscription of versus from the Holy Qur’an.
“I came this morning to celebrate our brother who made 90 years old, and he is a pioneer in Islam and the Nation of Islam in particular and I am always honored. I have to always raise my hat and bow my head to those who have fought hard, and I stand on their shoulders. He is a pioneer in our Nation. I am just very thankful to Allah that I was able to come on down and be with him,” said Bro. Azziz Muhammad.
Bro. Anthony Shahid also read a letter from Abdul Akbar Muhammad, international representative of the Nation of Islam. He has known Sultan Muhammad for almost five decades.
Landa Shahid, the daughter of Bro. Sultan, praised her father for always being a Muslim leader at home and abroad. “Everybody sees my father as a community leader, but he’s a father to me and he was leading us way before he got out to the world. He’s a firm believer in teaching that you learn from your mistakes and you keep it moving, that’s what my father is about,” she said.
Imam Jihad Mu’min, of Masjid Al-Mu’Minun also shared remarks. “What we saw here today is that people love him and appreciate him for all the works and sacrifices he has done for the Deen of Islam,” said Imam Mu’min.
Alderman John Muhammad of the 21st Ward in St. Louis, read a proclamation declaring March 6, Sultan Muhammad Day in Missouri.
“This was a very befitting occasion to honor Sultan Muhammad a longtime pioneer of the Nation of Islam and a longtime follower of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. To see people that are part of the St. Louis community come out in unity to recognize him for all he has done for us individually and as a people. This was a sight to see and him turning 90 years old and still fighting the same fight and still serving his people in any way and any capacity that he can is an honor to be here to witness it and see it,” said Ald. John Muhammad.
“I don’t chill. I don’t sit around doing nothing. I always got something to do” said Bro. Sultan Muhammad “I eat the navy bean like the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said we should do. I also eat more fruits and vegetables since I’ve gotten older and I eat one meal a day,” he shared.
“I am thankful to my grandfather for making my dad and then he had me. I am thankful for him for teaching us Islam. I am also thankful for him for being a good grandfather,” said his 13-year-old granddaughter Elam. (Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad contributed to this report.)