Bro. Lionel Muhammad and Student National Prison Reform Minister Abdullah Muhammad with the “Spirit of Detroit Award.” Photos: Haroon Rajaee

Student Minister Troy Muhammad and Brother Karl X of Detroit, along with formerly incarcerated individuals, hosted an invite only fundraiser which also recognized the positive and impactful work of the Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry.

The event themed, “One Man. One Stage. One Mic” was held at the Hype Recreational Center located in Wayne, Mich. There were 200 attendees, including former inmates, “the Real Freeway” Rick Ross, hip-hop artist Royce Da 5’9, state representatives and four mayors, including Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad.

Keeping with Covid-19 guidelines, everyone was socially distant and wore masks.

The Nation of Islam’s Prison Reform Ministry was recognized for their hard work, dedication, and for successfully assisting formerly incarcerated men and women become positive, productive citizens.


Student National Prison Reform Minister Abdullah Muhammad was awarded the “Spirit of Detroit Award” from the Detroit City Council. Brother Lionel Muhammad traveled to the event from Chicago to accept the award on behalf of Brother Abdullah at the Aug. 1 event. Bro. Lionel is a dedicated helper in the prison ministry.

From left: Student Min. Troy Muhammad, “The Real Freeway” Rick Ross and rap legend Rakim

“Student Minister Troy, who is formerly incarcerated himself, and a lot of brothers who did time with him, reported in to Detroit Mosque Number 1, some of them joined and some of them didn’t, but they remained supportive,” said Student Min. Abdullah Muhammad. “So, Student Minister Troy came up with the idea to put on an event, a fundraiser, and invite the rapper Rakim. He wanted to show the formerly incarcerated what can be accomplished with the pooling of our resources,” he explained.

“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said to me, ‘Allah allowed you to go to prison, brother, to study men because you have work to do with the men.’ and that was in 1980,” said Student Min. Abdullah Muhammad. “Before the pandemic put the jails on lockdown, I was conducting religious services inside the county jails.”

Bro. Lionel Muhammad was incarcerated for 23 years. During that time, he decided to dedicate his life to prison reform. Once he was released, Bro. Lionel Muhammad began working in the community and inside jails and prisons, educating and teaching inmates Islam.

“We need to be out there. We need to be in every home. I’m always thankful, I’m thankful to Allah (God) that Allah blessed me. Allah gave me my mission, my assignment. My mission and assignment is to serve those that are incarcerated and those that’s coming home. This is what I do all day, every day. When I go to sleep, I’m thinking about those brothers and sisters that’s locked up,” he said.

The Prison Reform Ministry point person in Michigan, is Brother Karl X. “The objective of the event was to bring people together to show them the power of pooling our resources,” he said. The goal of the gathering was also to raise funds and resources for the prison ministry and for former inmates, Bro. Karl X continued.

“This also gave the former incarcerated an opportunity to network with people they may have not had a chance to network with before this event.”

From left: Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad, Student Minister Troy Muhammad, Bro. Lionel Muhammad, Student FOI Captain Sharrieff Muhammad, Bro. Malik Muhammad and Bro. Karl 3X at Aug. 1 event in Detroit honoring and recognizing the work of the NOI Prison Reform Ministry

Student Minister Troy Muhammad explained that a lot of community organizations depend on government funding and funding from the city, which many times never comes. “What I wanted to do was expose some of the community groups to the teachings of the Nation of Islam, which is to ‘Do for Self.’ I thought bringing in hip hop artist, Rakim, could be used to bring in money and that money could be used to fund our local organizations,” he said referring to the hip-hop legend.

“I started with former inmates to make the initial investment to bring Rakim to the event, because I felt that if they could do it, anybody should be able to do it,” said Student Min. Troy Muhammad.

The event was well attended by a broad section of people and groups who signed on to support community efforts of doing for self and to teach those exiting prison how to create jobs for themselves.

“We chose to honor Student Minister Abdullah Muhammad because he stands as an example that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has put in front of us as prison reform,” continued Student Min. Troy Muhammad.

He credited Brother DeMarco X, Brother Eric X, Brother Eric Bonner, Brother Robie X, Brother Anthony, and Brother Karl X for their big part in organizing the event.

“Rakim did an unplugged set, he confirmed that he would help us do similar events across the country to help fuel some of our community organizations,” he added.

Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at: [email protected]