“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.”
Psalm 133, Verses 1 and 2, King James Version
Something had been missing. And that something returned with the full physical reopening of Nation of Islam mosques and study groups that had been closed because of the Covid-19 pestilence.
It had been a long time coming.
Under almost two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nation of Islam’s work never stopped. There were inspiring weekly lectures and study sessions over the internet, the unrelenting work of the men of the Fruit of Islam in the streets through the distribution of The Final Call newspaper, and food giveaways. Thousands of masks were sewn by the women of the Nation and given away along with an informative book on how to clean and sanitize homes during the pandemic. There were social media posts and Zoom calls.
There were online forums and conferences and individual to individual acts of service alongside Muslim peacemaking and community building.
But it just wasn’t the same as being in the same space devoted to a sacred purpose, engulfed in a spiritual experience that was shared with people in the same place and time. It wasn’t the same as seeing the women of the Nation, angelic in their beautiful white garments, seeing the strength of the Fruit of Islam in their uniforms or Black, crack and exact in suits, bow ties and shined shoes.
It wasn’t the same as seeing Black men, women and children welcomed, actually welcomed and wanted and invited in somewhere. It wasn’t the same as families, Believers and guests, children in tow, entering mosques and study groups. It wasn’t the same as the spirited lectures, the witness bearing, and peaceful refuge found in a world and community often fraught with conflict and danger.
It wasn’t like the smiles, most often hidden behind Covid-19 safety protocol demanded masks, that somehow you could still see. It wasn’t like the squeals of delight, the laughter, the hearty greetings of “As Salaam Alaikum!” (Peace be unto you!)
We were back home. We were in a place where we could come as we are to be edified, fortified, uplifted, inspired and equipped to deal with the challenges of our lives and families. We could experience and we could see a high level of civilization, good manners, courtesy and kindness. We could exhale without fear of harm. We could bump into one another and smile, apologies extended from all sides. We were in a place of refuge with one another and we could be ourselves. We could be our very best selves.
Even if we could not fully embrace, we could rub elbows and share the spoken and unspoken joy of brothers and sisters dwelling together in harmony. There are no strangers here, no outcasts, no unwanted. All were welcome in the houses of Muhammad created for the exact purpose of bringing us together as part of a wonderful process of spiritual, mental, moral resurrection. We were in a place that gives life and the energy of life flowed between us like electricity.
We were welcomed home to the Nation of Islam, live and in-person.
As Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, of Mosque Maryam in Chicago, noted when announcing the reopening: “You can come to your local mosque and study group in the cities where you live, that we may embrace you, welcome you, receive you and continue this great work of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the transformation of our lives.”
“Though we could reach people electronically through social media, it has been proven there is no real substitute for human contact. So, we find that the community is at its strongest when the righteous community can convene,” observed Student Minister Rodney Muhammad with the opening of the Nation’s historic mosque in Philadelphia.
The pandemic-driven, physical closure of mosques had been unprecedented in the NOI’s 91-year history, observed Student Minister Demetric Muhammad, who is also a member of the Nation of Islam Research Team. The only possible exception was the government incarceration of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam, and many of his male followers in the 1940s during World War II, he said.
“It’s good that the mosques are opening because from the perspective of the Believer, you know, Allah (God) says in the Holy Qur’an that the Believers are friends of one another, and humanity is referred to as social beings,” he continued. “So ultimately among spiritual communities, when the building is no longer open, there is a longing and a yearning for community life, where co-religionists can assemble in a place of shared values, a shared culture, shared belief system, which strengthens each other to go through difficult periods.”
And what a difficult period this has been. We have lost so many.
But here we were as if a beautiful sun was rising after a long, dark night. We thank Allah (God) for preserving us, for protecting us and for allowing us to come together again. We thank the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, a modern Aaron to the modern Moses, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. We are blessed. We are grateful. We are glad. We are home and enjoying a sign of the world to come. A world of eternal peace, love and happiness that begins at this moment and at this time. Welcome home, it’s all for you. It’s all for us.
—Naba’a Muhammad, editor-in-chief, The Final Call