by Azizah Muhammad
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Matthew 24:37 (KJV)
ATLANTA—The spirit was high as a flood of love and unity flowed from the entryway of a building called “The Ark.” The building of businesses parted its doors to the public in a historic grand opening. It was a day filled with the visual pleasures of desired freedom and unpretentious love. Crafted by Nation of Islam Southern Region Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, “The Ark” was created in response to the economic instructions of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, “Do for Self or Suffer the Consequences.” Saturday, July 10 marked the beginning of The Ark’s destination toward a divine demand.
Keeping Covid-19 precautions in mind, the group of visitors who graced the building adhered to the rules of social distancing and wearing face masks. Despite having to keep proper distance, the day was filled with closeness of heart as guests from various organizations and religious denominations bonded over the grand opening of The Ark. Banners, balloons, and a variety of visually appealing decorations surrounded the building in an eventful celebration. The eyes of all guests enlarged as they witnessed the independent Black-owned businesses, services, and additional features included in The Ark.
The day began with a word from various guest speakers. Southern Region Student Assistant Minister David Muhammad greeted guests with peace as he prepared them to receive the visionary experience of The Ark. “The Ark is something that is akin to people of all faiths,” Student Minister David Muhammad stated. “The visionary of The Ark (Student Regional Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad) has taken this great symbol of scripture. The Ark is something that houses life that is to survive the natural disasters, all of the plagues, and all the widespread death and destruction that fills our communities and fills the world,” he explained.
Guest speakers used the microphone to voice their views of Atlanta’s modern-day ‘Ark.’ Their words exemplified a model of gratitude, appreciation, and enthusiasm. Some of the guest speakers included: Reverend Charles Steele of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Imam Furqan of Masjid Al-Muminun in Atlana, Ga.; Reverend Connie Moran of United Sankofa Church; Betty Muhammad of G.R.I.E.V.E. (Grieving Relatives in Every Violent Event); Student Minister Hashim Muhammad of the Southern Region youth ministry staff; Southwest Region Student Minister Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad of Houston; and Rashad Muhammad of Chicago.
Reverend Steele expressed his honor to be present for the great occasion. He explained the importance of good leadership and vocalized love and appreciation to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. “I’m very close to the Nation of Islam,” Reverend Steele stated. “Had it not been for the Nation of Islam, SCLC would be out of business,” he explained.
Imam Furqan of Masjid Al-Muminun thanked Minister Farrakhan and Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad. “I’m grateful to Allah that I’m here,” he said. “This is a grand occasion. We should support anything that’s good…goodness is on the rise,” he continued.
Representing Reverend Rice and United Sankofa Church, Reverend Connie Moran said, “It’s an honor to be here today.” Reverend Connie explained the importance of unity. “I stand here in support and celebration of what is happening here today because I know, we all know, that together…the ant can eat the elephant.”
Betty Muhammad thanked Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad for bringing into fruition the vision of The Ark. She described the building by using an acronym. “Actions, resurrection, and kindness; that’s what I call it,” Betty Muhammad stated.
Youth Student Minister Hashim Muhammad spoke about the driving force that ignites the youth of the southern region. “All the youth that are here currently working and striving is because of the influence of Student Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad and his perfect representation of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” he explained. Student Minister Hashim spoke about his experience witnessing The Ark being built stage by stage. “It’s really something when a man has a vision and he has so much faith in Allah (God) that he takes that vision and he begins to plan, then he begins to pool people together to work on that vision, then it finally comes into fruition,” he said.
Rashad Muhammad, a helper of Min. Farrakhan from Chicago, brought scriptural examples to the scene as he stated similes between Noah’s Ark and the modern-day ‘Ark.’
“I’m honored to be here today at The Ark,” he stated. “A ship built with planks and nails … a ship of shelter and safety for the believers in God,” he continued. “As we come into The Ark, we know that Noah was the builder of the Ark and we know that Noah was not a man that was known for building ships. He was a man of faith, a man that believed in God, a man that obeyed God, and as we know, our brother, Brother Minister Sharrieff, he has walked with a man (Min. Farrakhan) that has walked with God … and God has blessed him to produce an Ark.”
Rashad Muhammad warned the gathering with words of wisdom. “I’m telling you brothers and sisters, don’t hesitate, come to The Ark where you may find refuge, where you may find peace, where you may find your salvation. Know that you have been commissioned by God—not to do business—but to do His business, which is the resurrection of a people who have died.”
Southwest Region Student Minister Dr. Abdul Haleem advised those gathered around to seek refuge in Allah (God) from envy. “If Allah blesses you, there is no one that can take away that blessing,” he stated. “But I will tell you what will sink the Ark,” he continued. “It is envy.” Student Minister Haleem Muhammad encouraged everyone to learn from the advancement of a fellow brother or sister. “I love my brother, Sharrieff. … I don’t mind righteous competition because steel sharpens steel and iron sharpens iron,” he stated.
“We need to build our own houses, we need to clothe ourselves, we need to feed ourselves. The Ark is that opportunity,” added Student Min. Haleem Muhammad.
After guest speakers shared words, Student Minister David Muhammad introduced Student Min. Sharrieff. “We thank Allah for giving the vision of The Ark to Student Regional Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad,” he stated. “I would like to bring before you a man that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan described as ‘The driver man,’” said Student Min. David Muhammad.
Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad thanked the guests and shared a few words. “It’s time now. It’s time for all the organizations to come together despite our differences,” he said. “Our people are dying in the streets every day from a lack of unity.”
Referring to the example of the Minister and Messenger, Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad stressed the importance of our unity. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that the unity of Black people is more powerful than a hydrogen or atomic bomb, he said.
“Why does our enemy fear our unity? It’s time to go to work,” said Student Minister Sharrieff Muhammad. “The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has given us all the words we need to have. Now let’s go to work,” he said. The Ark was built with the intention of being a demonstrative example of unity and collective success.
After the cutting of the ribbon, guests were welcomed inside The Ark for a tour of its economic treasures. Guests left with boxes and bags from stores they can call their own. In the evening, dinner was served to the special guests who visited from out of town. The day ended with a fullness of mind, stomach, and spirit. The doors of The Ark officially opened, showing that our unity is a factor that will keep this boat afloat.
The Ark is located at 3638 Campbellton Rd., SW, Atlanta, Ga 30331. For more information and to find out how you can support, call 404-963-1078.