Longtime St. Louis activist Anthony Shahid (middle) works with young people through the Tauheed Youth Group. In photo on right: Mr. Shahid speaks with men in the community. Photos: Cartan X
ST. LOUIS—“If the mountain doesn’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain,” said Anthony Shahid, president of The Tauheed Youth Group. The 35-year-old youth organization has impacted the lives of thousands of young people and families throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and across America.
During the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan blessed members of the Tauheed Youth Group and several thousands of others throughout America and world by sharing a beautiful message on the group’s prayer line. The prayer line consists of reading and recitations from the Holy Qur’an, the book of Islamic scripture.
During the special broadcast young people from the Tauheed Youth Group recited ayats (verses) from the Holy Qur’an in Arabic. The Minister was moved to tears after hearing Mr. Shahid’s granddaughter, eight-year-old Laylah Shahid, and beautiful recitations by his two goddaughters, 15-year-old Taylor Shahid, seven-year-old Melah Shahid and other children reciting verses from the Qur’an.
“There is no ayat (verse) of the Qur’an that the children recited that was not in my mind this morning. It is as though Allah (God) knew what the children were going to say, and He communicated the same scriptures and words before I got on this line. I want to say what is on my heart to you, Brother Shahid, to your beloved helpers and to the children. Pardon, please, my emotions,” shared Minister Farrakhan during the April 17 prayer line.
The Minister explained how Islam and the Arabic language had been stripped from Black people who were kidnapped from Africa and enslaved in America, but hearing young, Black children embrace and recite from the Holy Book was so impactful and important.
The slave masters and their children were frightened that Islam would once again instill the knowledge of God into the Black man and woman. “This morning I heard our ancestors. I heard them rejoicing because the name Allah (God), the verses of the Qur’an are being recited again by their children,” said Min. Farrakhan.
Minister Farrakhan was very passionate as he spoke to the listeners and gave instructions to the youth that were listening.
“Now to the youth: You must not allow yourselves to fall victim to the enemy who knows this is the time of our rise, and a rising force pulls apart and destroys a falling force. America is falling. White power is disintegrating, and Black people are rising all over the world now because it is our time,” the Minister stated.
A mission to save Black youth
The original Tauheed Youth Group was headed by a group of Muslim men and women, but after struggling to galvanize youth in the community, it dismantled. But the name and purpose was not lost.
“Ever since I was a youngster, I watched our people suffer in my community. So, when my brother Mark introduced me to the Nation of Islam and the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I knew that was the answer to all of our suffering,” explained Mr. Shahid.
However, after the 1975 departure of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam fell, Mr. Shahid said he “didn’t see any more efforts to save our people.”
Years later in 1988 alongside his friend and companion, Sultan Al Hajj Muhammad, the two worked diligently to build a strong foundation in the streets.
Mr. Shahid recalled his humble beginning before the Tauheed Youth Group was established.
“I started to go around to the different projects and within three months, Brother Sultan Muhammad, who is 91 years old now, asked me, ‘What you up to?’ I told him, I’m going around in the streets talking to the brothers.”
Mr. Sultan Al-Hajj Muhammad insisted on accompanying his friend and brother. “Within 15 minutes, we had about 35-40 brothers and Allah blessed me. After I spoke, he told me he would stick with me for five years, but he can’t count, because that was 35 years ago,” he smiled as he spoke about Sultan Muhammad.
The Tauheed Youth Group not only provided a safe haven and place where youth can be taught life skills, the organization also provides opportunities in the trade industry, with painting, carpentry and other trades to help sustain the livelihood of youth.
“My brother Anthony had a determination to help our brothers, I think because of his background. What I mean by that is out of the three of us brothers, he got in the most trouble,” said Mark Shahid, co-owner of A&M Paint company, the eldest brother of Anthony Shahid
“I think Anthony saw in himself what he saw in the young brothers, so his sentiments were with them. Anthony took them under his wing and sometimes that would fill a void in their life,” shared Mark Shahid.
Khaleel Munir, 46, is also a member of the Tauheed Youth Group. He met Anthony Shahid in 1993 when he was 17. “He greeted me with a strong voice, stern handshake, and I joined the youth group immediately and began attending the weekly meetings at the Cochran Community Center on Wednesday and Saturday. This was the beginning towards changing my life,” said Mr. Munir.
“I learned the knowledge of myself, my culture, history and how to treat my parents and women. I learned of the Holy Qur’an and most importantly I learned how to pray. All praise is due to Allah for Brother Anthony Shahid, Brother Sultan Al-Hajj Muhammad who had the obedience to Allah when they were instructed to start the group,” he added.
Anthony Shahid’s commitment to the liberation of Black people and young people has given him an opportunity to travel with and become a trusted brother and friend to Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
It was in 1995 during the Million Man March, that what he had developed with the Youth Group was put to the test. “We traveled to 20 cities hitting the streets and talking to the brothers about the March. The Minister asked Sultan and I to go in the streets where our brothers were and we did,” he reflected.
“Whenever the Minister calls on us, we stop what we are doing to answer his call. Because he is the one given to us to save our people and we are committed to this mission with him,” said Mr. Shahid.
Servants in action
Latifah Shahid, daughter of Anthony Shahid, has observed her father’s work for many years.
“When I was a kid, I used to do street patrols with my dad and the brothers of the Tauheed Youth Group. I had to watch from the car with an elder brother and I remembered seeing gang members with drugs on them, weapons, etc., be receptive of my father and the brothers, just because they knew they genuinely cared about them and wanted to help them change their life,” said Latifah Shahid.
“To be a daughter of Anthony Shahid is not always an easy task, but is a very adventurous and priceless relationship,” she added. “My father is a God-fearing Muslim, and very proud of where he comes from, his community, his prayers, and most importantly his family. It took me to become an adult to finally understand his position as an activist and why my siblings and I had to selfishly share him with the community for many years.”
As the organization continued growing, they partnered with Ajuma K. Muhammad, former president of the Association of African-American Role Models. Together the two groups were able to work with nine community centers in St. Louis within a span of seven years.
“We went into areas that everybody else was scared to go into,” said Ajuma K. Muhammad, a licensed psychotherapist and trauma specialist. He expressed his appreciation for the work of the group.
“An organization like the Tauheed Youth Group is important because it gives hope to many who have lost hope while empowering them to believe in themselves,” he added.
“With a focus on Black male development and empowering at-risk Black boys with a sense of awareness and personal self-confidence, that enables them to see value in themselves,” explained Ajuma Muhammad.
Antanika Shahid is another daughter of Mr. Shahid and is mother of Laylah Shahid. She told The Final Call that her daughter Laylah is an eight-year-old honor roll student who is on a swim team and a self-taught fashion designer of doll clothing. Laylah was one of the young people who recited for Min. Farrakhan on the prayer line.
“She is an avid reader and loves reading the Qur’an and making her own notes. She and her best friend Nia Mujahid fell asleep while reading the Qur’an the other night,” she added. “Nia Mujahid is 10 years old and one of the top students at Muhammad Islamic Academy in St. Louis. Nia enjoys reading, writing, and participating in ballet. This Ramadan, Nia and Laylah have been reading the Qur’an regularly, said Antanika Shahid.
Testimonies of good works
There are many supporters of the great works of the Tauheed Youth Group.
Felicia Hampton, secretary of Anthony Shahid, said when her husband died, her sons were eight and nine years old. “I was lost without direction on what to do because he was the disciplinarian and my sons’ friend. Then I met Brother Shahid when they were 11 and 12 and what they received from the Tauheed Youth Group was unmatched,” she said.
“I met Anthony about 20 years ago. He is my superhero. I made that man my godfather, my pops. Not only does he impact young boys to be better, but he also has a positive impact on women; he’s a strong man of God,” said Rhonda Mack.
Sami Mohsen, owner of EMS Wireless, told The Final Call, “Brother Shahid is truly a genuine, caring and loving person. A person that would go out of his way and take the time to help someone, even to put a smile on their face if they seem to be down. The world needs more people like Brother Shahid,” said Mr. Mohsen.
“His belief in God and the religion of Islam is too powerful. I admire him for pushing religion into the hearts of people, especially the youth so they can be on the right path growing up,” he said.
Jeffrey E. Carson first met Mr. Shahid in August 2014. Mr. Carson at the time was the new superintendent of the City Justice Center.
“I transferred to the Medium Security Institution in 2017, where Brother Shahid continued to bring speakers and provide services for the inmates. He brought Brother Akbar Muhammad (International Representative of the Nation of Islam) to bring prayer to men and women residents in the gym,” he said. They also brought Brother Akbar Muhammad’s books for the men in attendance.
“Brother Shahid was so faithful in his ministry to the jails that I authorized him to have a badge to come into the jail anytime unescorted. He affected and pushed for the changes at MSI with the renovations of showers with doors for privacy, toilets with privacy stalls, new floors and a 24-hour housekeeping program,” said Mr. Carson.