Generational wealth was a foreign concept to Aminah Muhammad when she was struggling as a single parent with three children. Toiling to make ends meet, one day she had an opportunity to build a home. That home changed her family’s life. Her son, then a young Faheem, witnessed his first of many real estate transactions. For his namesake son’s recent 13th birthday, the father gifted him with 40 acres.
While it seemed the natural thing for Faheem Muhammad—now an entrepreneur—to do, the gift reached national attention because of its rarity. News stories nationwide reported about a Black father who gifted his teen son land. However, what the stories failed to understand was the context in which Faheem and his siblings grew up.
Their home was infused with the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam, who taught the Muslims and the Black community to do for self or suffer the consequences.
“Watching my mom build a home removed the fear or maybe made me feel like it’s very possible. Los Angeles is a notoriously expensive place to live. At the time, I didn’t understand everything, but to see my mom put it together and get that done was inspiring. She also had a Muslim contractor. It was very impactful. I’ve used that same contractor on four other homes, two built from the ground up,” Faheem Muhammad told The Final Call.
“The Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave us the importance of land and ownership. As my son was turning 13, he’s into all of the regular stuff—like shoes that his generation craves. We give him some of those things. But my thought was, he’s turning 13 during a serious, critical time. I wanted to prepare him for being a man. I want to instill the right principles in him.”
He also wanted to have a rites of passage ceremony for his son’s birthday and got his brother involved to plan it. The plan was to take his son to the close to 200 acres that he owns near the Mexican border and speak about the power of land ownership. It was while they were planning the rites of passage event that Faheem Muhammad looked at the land and decided to give 40 acres to his son.
Rahkim Sabree writes for Forbes Magazine on the intersections of wealth, mental health and race. He explained that systemic and racial exclusion has created a gap in Black wealth through practices like redlining (originated in the 1930s when banks refused to approve mortgages in so-called risky neighborhoods) where Black homeownership was not permitted in certain appreciating areas.
The November 2022, “State of U.S. Mortgage Fairness,” research report analyzed more than 350 million mortgage applications submitted between 1990 and 2021. The report found that “mortgage fairness” is no better now for Black applicants than it was 30 years ago. U.S. Attorney for Central California, Martin Estrada, explained that L.A. is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse cities in America. Unfortunately, it’s also a city that has yet to solve its longstanding residential segregation problem.
What Faheem Muhammad has done, while rare, is what families should do.
Dr. Aminah Al Deen is Chair Emeritus of DePaul University’s Islamic World Studies Department. “Generational wealth is what we’ve been encouraged to do as Muslims because one of the things that holds us back is the fact that our children have nothing to inherit,” she told The Final Call.
“I think he chose 40 acres because that’s what we were promised as freed men and women, 40 acres and a mule,” Dr. Al Deen continued. “To return that failed promise into our consciousness, I think is just great. Everybody might not be able to buy 40 acres and gift their children, but they should think of what they can do to provide a basis for that intergenerational wealth.”
The property given to the younger Faheem is part of nearly 200 acres. Currently, parts of it are used as a Muslim camp. The goal is to provide a space for Muslim youth to experience nature while being away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The last camp they did had nearly 150 young people who participated.
Faheem Muhammad II was surprised when he learned about his gift. Was 40 acres on his wish list? “I like to be surprised because my family knows what I like. They’ll give me stuff and I’ll be grateful for it. There’s nothing I really wanted on my birthday,” he told The Final Call. “I was surprised. I didn’t know about the gift until my auntie told me. Everyone was shocked.”
That shock was felt nationwide.
“I put it on my social media,” the elder Faheem Muhammad said. “I did one post and it got a lot of traction. People started reaching out to me. Then a brother I know put it on his Instagram. Once he did that, it caught a lot of traction and media outlets reached out.”
The San Diego News contacted him and toured the property. After that, the story went viral.
“Good Morning America reached out. I think that is what took the story national. Once Good Morning America did a story, other platforms picked it up, Yahoo and Essence.”
What plans do the younger Faheem have for his land?
“I want to do a camp too. I feel like it would be fun to have like our own private ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) camp where you could rent them for the day and ride around the land because it’s pretty big. You would have a lot of space. It’ll be fun.”
His inspirational grandmother Aminah Muhammad is thrilled with her son and grandson’s plans.
“They’re doing exactly what I want to see done. I also want an area to grow our own food. I want space to bring the youth from our community onto the land,” she told The Final Call. “I think it’s important that everyone gets away, to get away from the noise of the city and all the confusion. To be able to escape all that’s going on and go to a land that’s extremely peaceful.”
The land is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Los Angeles.
Abdul Akbar Muhammad is the International Representative for the Nation of Islam. “In the past we didn’t know about generational wealth. No one taught us how to pass on wealth so that our children would not have to start where we started from or where our parents started from. The Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad changed that. We saw what others were doing and learned how we could duplicate their efforts,” he told The Final Call.
“This generation sees the benefit of generational wealth and can see it in practice. Families should talk about it; make it a dinner table discussion. Otherwise, it goes nowhere,” he said. “Help them understand that one of the things I should do differently is pass on whatever little or much wealth that I have.”