CHICAGO—Several thousand enthusiastic men met in the Grand Ballroom of the McCormick Place Convention Center Feb. 26 for the Nation of Islam’s annual F.O.I. (Fruit of Islam, the men of the Nation of Islam) class to honor the best example of an F.O.I.
The men were dressed in their brown uniforms trimmed in gold, with spit-shined shoes, brown bow ties, and the red and white emblem of their national flag of the Sun, Moon and Star on their shoulders. Other men wore neatly pressed and clean suits, white shirts, bow ties and straight ties.
Nation of Islam Student Supreme Captain Mustapha Farrakhan encouraged the men to hold fast to their faith and not let anything take them off course. “Many of us who are dealing with loss, and dealing with issues, I say whatever issues that you have, I pray to Allah that it does not deter your faith,” he said.
“We are standing in a time to settle the score of all of our ancestors … that made us what we are today. We, the Nation of Islam, the mighty F.O.I., will transform this country, and transform our people and settle the score for what has happened to us.”
Terrence Jones, 16, from Las Vegas, shared his joy and excitement with The Final Call about his graduation day. “I started the day with cornrows and had to cut my hair off so I can graduate and it was worth it. It means a lot to be part of the Nation, and I’m proud of myself to be a member now. I look up to Minister Farrakhan. He’s the kind of man I want to be like,” he said.
The Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day convention is held to commemorate the birth anniversary of Allah in Person, the Great Mahdi, Master Fard Muhammad, who was born on February 26, 1877.
Every year there is usually one top performer in the F.O.I. recognized per region in different categories. However, due to the high level of performance by an abundance of men this year, recognition of top performance was awarded to more than just one high achiever in various categories.
Joey X of Greenville, N.C., experienced his first Saviours’ Day and was one of the awardees for the top fisherman (recruitment of new members) from the Mid-Atlantic region. “I was in the Nation the whole time I was in Federal prison for seven years and eight months, but when I came home three months ago, I officially registered,” he said.
“It’s so real. I can’t explain the feeling, It’s a spirit that came all over me and it feels good to be in the presence of all the believers. I’m so happy I’ve waited all these years just for this.”
Clarence X, 75, from Fort Lauderdale Fla., said the nation has given him hope. “This is what I’ve been looking for all my life. When my brother gave me the ‘Message to The Blackman’ book by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I couldn’t read past 10 pages before I started to holler at the top of my voice. I couldn’t contain it. I said thank you, Lord, thank you, thank you,” he added. “This morning’s graduation class was magnificent. The love and the unity in the Nation of Islam is what I needed.”
“It was really a great joy to be able to congregate and commune with the believers of the Nation and share our F.O.I. class that we have not had the opportunity to be together,” said Brother Abdul Arif Muhammad, Nation of Islam General Counsel.
“The spirit of the brothers was high, the message delivered by our Supreme Captain was superb, and the joy of seeing the F.O.I., the men getting their awards for fishing, selling The Final Call and getting their awards as F.O.I. of the year, it’s good to see the believers be celebrated,” he said.