CHICAGO—After years of disrepair and abandonment, the former home of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, is getting a well-deserved renovation.
“We are standing on sacred ground,” said the home’s owner Sajdah Wendy Muhammad while standing on the newly paved driveway in the backyard of the home during a recent fundraiser she hosted. “This ground was graced by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, our eternal leader. He walked out here often after dinner. On this back porch he had a swing where he would just be out here relaxing and swinging,” she said.
The event—which attracted Muslims, politicians and entrepreneurs—provided an opportunity to donate, purchase memorabilia such as t-shirts, get a sneak peek at the exterior of the home, get samples of Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream’s new Sajdah House inspired flavor and get samples of a variety of 100 percent non-alcoholic wine provided by Magnolia Crescent Orchards and Non-Alcoholic Winery.
With roughly 80 percent of the work complete, Sajdah Muhammad, a real estate developer, entrepreneur, and her team—like a hive of busy bees—push to complete the restoration and renovation of the former home of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, also known as the Sajdah House.
“It’s been three years and nine months of painstaking, very detailed work to bring this beautiful, historic and important home back to its former glory, and we are now in the final phases,” said Sajdah Muhammad. “It’s a $4.2 million dollar project and we have put in roughly $3.5 million and we need about another million dollars to complete the project,” she said.
The home, located 4847 South Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago, turned 119 years old this year. “This is not a gut rehab. It is a sacred renovation and restoration. We removed only about 10 percent of the wall in order to install our electrical, plumbing and HVAC work. We were very careful not to disturb the original integrity of the house. We have been very careful to preserve the various species of wood and the historic architecture,” she explained.
Now recognized by the Illinois Historic Preservation Society, the Sajdah House will soon be ready to receive the public in very special ways. “It’s an honor that the Illinois Historic Society recognized the significant influence of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the areas of religion, social history and ethnic heritage and nominated his former home for inclusion on the National Historic Register,” explained Sajdah Muhammad.
“That the property retains enough integrity and is nationally significant for its association with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who is recognized as a religious leader of the Nation of Islam who was an important figure within the African American community and the Civil Rights Movement,” stated the State Historic Preservation Office. Appropriately, the national registry recognition was solidified on October 7, 2021, the day observed as the birth anniversary of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
“This will be a living space because He lives,” said Sajdah Muhammad referring to the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. “We are developing this into a house museum so that through place-based education, people can come here and experience the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We have several exhibits we are putting together and we will be broadcasting shows that talk about The Teachings.
There will be a show for teens called “Fireside Chat,” a “Cook Talks” show teaching people how to eat to live and in collaboration with Nation of Islam’s National Imam, Sultan Rahman Muhammad, there will be a “Table Talks” show, explained Sajdah Muhammad.
“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Table Talks in partnership with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad House Museum is committed to establishing a continuous state-of-the-art historical exhibit from the Table Talks audiovisual archive including never before heard intimate recordings documented in this very home, which chronicle historic meetings with officials, dignitaries and more,” said Imam Sultan Muhammad, who attended the fundraiser and offered a toast to the project with a very popular nonalcoholic champagne. Imam Sultan Muhammad is also a great-grandson of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.
“We are here to do our part to support the ongoing efforts to complete the restoration of the home of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” said Anthony D. Muhammad who, along with his wife, Karriemah Muhammad, own Magnolia Crescent Orchards and Non-Alcoholic Winery. They provided samples of their curated assortment of 100 percent nonalcoholic wines including the debut of a special treat just for the occasion.
“Our gift to our beloved sister and the home of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad is to debut the 24 Karat gold champagne alternative, which debuted in 2014 as the very first, halal certified non-alcoholic champagne in the world,” said Karriemah Muhammad.
It’s notable that the project is being completed without any federal or corporate grants. In fact, determined to complete the project in the spirit of self-determination and pooling resources, Sajdah Muhammad decided to raise additional funds by repurposing a portion of the home that could not be restored in a fundraising effort.
“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan blessed me with a story where he said that as he walked up the driveway with the Messenger, the Messenger pointed at a tree and said, ‘When they find out who I am they will rip the bark off the trees.’ I love and believe in the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Everything he touched, walked on or possessed is sacred to me and many believers and followers around the world,” continued Sajdah Muhammad.
“I am humbled that Allah has entrusted me with this sacred endeavor. We are focused on preserving as much of the history as possible. So, we are repurposing many original materials such as, converting original copper gutters and downspouts into coins, old fireplace mantels into tables and limestone fragments into benches.”
Additionally, there will be old windows and doors available for a donation and there are also areas in the home that will be available for sponsorship for individuals or businesses. Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream supports the project with the creation of a new gourmet ice cream called Sajdah Bean Pie Infused Ice Cream, which is a rich creamy gourmet ice cream that has no fillers or preservatives. Samples were provided to attendees to the July 9 fundraiser.
“We are excited about the renovation and restoration of the former home of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and we wanted to find a creative way to support the project and honor it’s proprietor, Sajdah Wendy Muhammad,” said Yahya J. Muhammad, owner of Shawn Michelle’s along with this wife Nataki Muhammad.
“This type of collaboration is what I believe is the beginning of an ecosystem, run by conscious entrepreneurs, that supports projects that are important to our community. I was humbled beyond words when Brother Yahya and Sister Nataki, told me that they felt a bean pie infused ice cream was most appropriate for this collaboration because of my commitment to infusing the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in my work as a Muslim woman in business,” said Sajdah Muhammad.
“It is important that we own and monetize our culture. It’s time for us to tell our story,” she added.
Event attendees included 28th Ward Chicago Alderman Jason C. Ervin; CBS producer Stacia Crawford; Jen Mason, vice chancellor for City Colleges of Chicago; Clyde El Amin, former president of City Colleges of Chicago; TV writer Sylvia Jones; Student Minister Jason Karriem of J. Karriem Photography; Mandene Muhammad of the Coalition for the Remembrance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Arron Muhammad of Top Notch Training Fitness and many more.
For more information visit SajdahHouse.com and to make a donation, visit SajdahHouseDonations.com.