by Mary E. Muhammad and Waliyyah Muhammad
- 90:12 And what will make thee comprehend what the uphill road is?
- 90:13 (It is) to free a slave,
- 90:14 Or to feed in a day of hunger
- 90:15 An orphan nearly related,
- 90:16 Or the poor man lying in the dust.
- 90:17 Then he is of those who believe and exhort one another to patience, and exhort one another to mercy.
- 90:18 These are the people of the right hand.
- —Holy Qur’an, Surah 90: Al-Balad: The City
SAN DIEGO—Student Minister Abdul Waliullah Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 8, also founder and chief executive officer of I Am My Brother’s Keeper CDC, hosted a celebratory event on commemorating two years of consistent, active engagement in food distribution services to the San Diego community.
Honored with civic proclamations declaring the date “I Am My Brother’s Keeper CDC Day In San Diego,” Bro. Waliullah and his wife Sis. Waliyyah—an integral helpmeet in the operation and oversight of I Am My Brother’s Keeper—welcomed community partners, sponsors, supporters and local officials.
The well-wishers came to acknowledge the community organization’s valuable service received by thousands of San Diego households weekly since the mandated shutdowns two years ago.
“After the Covid-19 pandemic began, and the shutdowns were put in place in San Diego, I had a personal conversation with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. He told me to (A): look out for the Believers, and then, (B): look out for the community,” Bro. Waliullah said.
“That is what we have been striving to do, with the help of Allah (God), for over two years in operating what grew into one of the largest weekly food distribution programs in this area. We have literally distributed the makings for hundreds of thousands of meals, and impacted roughly 250,000 households by providing, in partnership, a basic necessity of life-quality, wholesome food. All praise is due to Allah!”
Sis. Waliyyah stated, “Jesus’ disciples asked, ‘when did we find you hungry and didn’t feed you, when did we find you in prison and we didn’t minister unto you, or when did we find you naked and didn’t clothe you?’ Jesus said, ‘if you have done it unto the least, you have done unto me.’ This charge from the Master is what led my husband to start IAMBK by providing these services and more 20 years ago.”
Formerly the Western Regional Student Fruit of Islam Captain, and still affectionately known as “Capt. Hugh” by many, Bro. Waliullah started I Am My Brother’s Keeper in 2002 by offering a variety of services aimed at improving the quality of life of community members. The greatest offering to date is the group’s weekly food program, where approximately a quarter of a million families from all over San Diego County and beyond have benefited from receiving two bags of groceries that feeds a family size of four every week.
Executive Council member and Student General Counsel of the Nation of Islam, Student Minister Abdul Arif Muhammad and his wife Sis. Sharon Muhammad visited San Diego, and witnessed first-hand the operations of the food distribution in this city.
Bro. Arif was present in 2010 and can bear witness to Student Minister Waliullah operating a food giveaway program back then, using funds out of his own pocket, to help feed the community. Now, 12 years later, to see how the project has expanded from feeding a few hundred to now feeding thousands, especially during the time of a pandemic, demonstrates the Hand of God.
“It was a true joy and honor to see the food distribution. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, during his address to us at Eid Al-Fitr mentioned the feeding of 1,000. His Student, Bro. Waliullah, following his example, is feeding the multitudes in San Diego—regardless to creed, class, or color,” said Bro. Arif.
“Bro. Student Minister Waliullah, his staff, volunteers and partnering organizations have been recognized by city leaders for their work in feeding the poor during such a time of food insecurity. I thank Allah for his leadership, and his obedience to the instructions given by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to help make our community a safe and decent place to live,” he added.
Recipients of this life-sustaining program have expressed gratitude to Bro. Waliullah and his team of dedicated staff and volunteers, made up of members of Muhammad Mosque No. 8 and a diverse group of local residents. The leadership of the Bay Terrace Fil-Am Senior Association stated, in part, “… finding access to healthy and affordable food for elderly, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) communities that are already disenfranchised and historically marginalized was already challenging,
But especially harder … we thank you for your love, for your fellow humankind and recognize the courage it takes to serve on the front lines during a pandemic. We know that you are doing God’s good work. … As the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, ‘It doesn’t matter what you call yourself. You are what you practice, not what you believe.’ Thank you for being a living example of what you practice.”
The spirit of gratitude is also prevalent among the volunteers who sacrifice to work the program every week. When asked why she participates in such a robust program to help feed her community, volunteer Lisa Flanagan became choked up as she shared: “It’s fantastic to know that people really do care.”
Longtime volunteer Charles 3X became involved with I Am My Brother’s Keeper in 2012 as a center director in charge of food distribution, and also volunteered with youth-directed school programs. He’s currently outreach coordinator, tasked with building relationships between the Black and Brown communities and picking up to 10,000 pounds of organic meats, fruits and vegetables weekly.
“We’ve been able to help out communities in the Los Angeles, Rialto and Moreno Valley … other cities. What keeps me coming back—Mosque No. 8 is the first mosque to open up in America west of the Mississippi; it’s my duty as a Believer for us to be first in delivering something to God’s people. So we have been able to deliver to churches, communities of other cultures, schools, homeless shelters, rehabilitation centers, halfway houses and more,” he added.
Brenda Muhammad is the volunteer in charge of fruits, vegetables and produce for the distribution, ensuring the bags are uniform and always containing the best. What keeps her coming every week is the need to serve our people and our community: “The need is so great! The joy I get out of serving is a wonderful feeling! Praise Be To Allah! I wish I could do more.”
Volunteer April Muhammad said, “everyone works as a team, like a family … it’s a wonderful thing to help feed people. What keeps me coming back is just the joy of doing it all. People are very thankful for the food they get. I’m glad that our Student Minister Waliullah and his wife Sis. Waliyyah, who are so very nice, keep us going. It’s just a godsend.”
A former food distribution volunteer, Haidee Cortes, is now an I Am My Brother’s Keeper staff member (volunteer coordinator), helping to feed neighbors on an ongoing basis.
“It brings me purpose to help bring quality food in a community that needs and appreciates it. The clients are the reason I enjoy going to work day after day,” Ms. Cortes said. “It all started when the whole world got hit with this deadly virus known as Covid-19 … I wanted to help in some way. I came across IAMBK and asked how I could help and here I am, two years later serving our community.”