by Brian E. Muhammad and Nisa Islam Muhammad

The Final Call @TheFinalCall

“… I will not suffer the work of any worker to be lost whether  male or female…”

—Holy Qur’an (Al-Imran) 3:194


The Nation of Islam and in its broadest sense, the Original family and all truth-seekers in humanity has lost a valuable treasure with the passing of Minister Jabril Muhammad. Although it is a loss in the physical sense of living, his contribution was incomparable and will continue to live on. Minister Jabril Muhammad was a longtime companion, aide and supreme witness to the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

His Janazah (Islamic funeral service) will be held Sunday, July 30 at 11:00 a.m. CDT at The National Center, Mosque Maryam. Brother Jabril Muhammad’s departure from this life was announced July 16.

An axiom ascribed to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) says: “One learned man is harder on the devil than a thousand ignorant worshippers.” Reflecting on the life and works of Minister Jabril Muhammad and his insatiable acquisition of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as a student and follower of Elijah Muhammad, he fits the description of such a learned man.

“The Nation of Islam has lost a great minister, a great teacher, a great brother, a great friend, and a great helper to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and to me, personally. Words will never be adequate enough to describe what this man has meant to our Nation, to The Messenger, to me, and to the Cause of Islam,” Minister Farrakhan stated in an announcement regarding his dear brother and helper (See The Final Call, Vol. 42 No. 41).

Minister Jabril Muhammad, affectionately referred to as “Brother Jabril” served the Nation of Islam faithfully and tirelessly for decades since the 1950s. 

In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education, stating that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. That same year, the average cost of a new house was $10,250, Nat King Cole’s Answer Me, My Love is a Billboard top hit and Bernard Cushmeer, later known as Jabril Muhammad, attended Temple No. 7 in New York City where Malcolm X was a minister.

“He was just out of high school,” Brother Thomas Jehad told The Final Call. “He was a very brilliant young brother, very inquisitive. 1954 was the year after I came in and a year before Minister Farrakhan came in.  Brother Jabril was always very inquisitive,” said Brother Thomas Jehad.

“We got to know each other while I was in New York.  I was living with (F.O.I.) Captain Yusuf Shah. I left the next year for Hartford, Connecticut and Brother Jabril lived there too.  I worked at Donohue Appliance Store and recommended him for a job when I was leaving.  Even when I went to Hartford to be the minister we would always talk.”

The young Brother Bernard was attracted to the Teachings delivered by Minister Malcolm X in New York.  Brother James (Dawson) Najiy wrote on social media, “I met Min. Jabril in 1954.   He accepted that year from the hard-working Min. Malcolm.  Min. Jabril would visit my wife and I often when he was still young as a Muslim.  He ate at my table and helped me do things around the house.  After we would take walks around Mt. Morris Park which is called Marcus Garvey now,” he added.

Nation of Islam Archivist, Student Minister Abdul Salaam Muhammad told The Final Call, “Later in 1955 while working in the Temple No. 7 Luncheonette, Brother Jabril (Bernard) met Brother Louis (Farrakhan) for the first time and became instant friends.” That friendship would later prove pivotal in the growth and development of the Nation of Islam. 

Brother Bernard Cushmeer (Minister Jabril Muhammad) was an instant success in the Nation of Islam.  His dedication and commitment were rewarded.  He left New York in 1956 and served as Fruit of Islam (F.O.I.) Captain of Temple No. 16 in Lansing, Michigan, under Minister Philbert Omar, a biological brother of Minister Malcolm X.

His next stop was the West Coast in 1957. “Malcolm sent him to California. He was in San Francisco, and then he went to jail for draft dodging the Korean War,” Nation of Islam International Representative Abdul Akbar Muhammad told The Final Call.  “He would come back regularly to New York to teach.  His death is the loss of a great Nation scholar.  He could always be found with his notes on what was happening in the Nation.  His early focus was the impact of Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” he said.

“He was constantly studying and sharing everything he learned. We understood the Teachings better because of Brother Jabril.”

Brother Bernard Cushmeer traveled to San Francisco with a group of brothers from the East Coast (mainly from Temple No. 7) and Chicago (Temple No. 2).  Their goal was to help establish new Temples, as they were called at the time. He served as the Minister of Temple No. 26 (San Francisco) and helped establish other Temples on the West Coast.

His final location was Phoenix, Arizona. “In 1965 Brother Jabril became the new minister of Temple No. 32. He lived in the Phoenix residence of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad for six years (1965-1971),” Student Minister Abdul Salaam Muhammad said.

In 1975, the Nation as most knew it fell with the departure of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and the community was divided.  Some went with the new Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, a son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, some went to other Sunni communities and others waited to see what would happen. During these trying times, the name and work of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was erased from history.

Longtime companions and comrades, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Brother Minister Jabril Muhammad.

However, just a short time later, in 1977 as Minister Farrakhan was agonizing over the condition of Black people and the departure of his Teacher, his brother and friend connected with him in California. He gave Minister Farrakhan a book. “And after reading what Brother Jabril put in his hands, he woke up.

“And then the next morning after reading the book in the night, (Minister Farrakhan told Brother Jabril) ‘the operation was a success, the scales have been removed.’ And from that moment, when I say moment, I mean, the Minister immediately stood up and began the rebuilding work of the Nation of Islam and bringing back the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” said Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, National Assistant to Minister Farrakhan.  

The other witness to this divine encounter was Brother Abdul Wahid Muhammad who was there when Minister Jabril came to see the Minister at the hotel in Los Angeles. Brother Abdul Wahid had remained in contact with Minister Farrakhan.

Brother Jabril had a brown paper bag with literature inside that he gave Min. Farrakhan to read, Brother Abdul Wahid stated in a previous Final Call interview. On a Sunday, Brother Abdul Wahid returned to the hotel to see the Minister, however, Min. Jabril was already there.

“When they opened the door, I knew something happened because they both had tears coming out of their eyes. His whole spirit was totally different. I said he’s a totally different person now,” Brother Wahid recalled.

The arduous rebuilding efforts of the Nation of Islam and restoration of the name and work of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad by Minister Farrakhan included Bernard Cushmeer—whom Minister Farrakhan renamed “Jabril” Muhammad after the angel who revealed himself to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)—as a constant companion and helper.

Brother Jabril wrote a weekly column in The Final Call Newspaper, “Farrakhan The Traveler,” penned study guides for the believers and crisscrossed the country teaching and helping to reestablish and rebuild the Nation of Islam. Over the years he wrote several books that delved into the depths of the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. 

Those impacted by Minister Jabril’s journey reflected on the meaning of such a figure whom they described as unique and rare.

“It’s self-evident, that there’s something special about that man,” said Brother Cedric Muhammad, economist, an aide and longtime friend of Minister Jabril Muhammad.  “But he ran from anything that will enable people to become distracted by that, and not see the leader or that one who it was most important that we understood, which was the two men, the Father that raised him and the big brother who sits in the Father’s seat,” he said, referring to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan.  

From left, Minister Farrakhan, Brother Jabril and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad on November 26, 1967, at the Phoenix convention center. Photo: Lowell Riley

Brother Cedric, who among others aided Minister Jabril with his publications like his seminal book, “Closing The Gap: Inner Views of The Heart, Mind & Soul of The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan” and wrote the book’s forward said Minister Jabril was “humble” and “exquisitely concerned” about nothing interfering with the sight of Minister Farrakhan, and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Minister Jabril would almost hide from any spotlight highlighting the power that was present in himself, neither broadcasting nor seeking a platform for it, he said.

When persons of consequence pass off the scene through the irrevocable Will of God, many who were touched by their lives often ponder why, and why now?

“Now the world will get the benefit of that in the beauty of a perfect—in my estimation—witness and expression of sacrifice and love for the Two Messiahs, he said.  “So his mind is more present, more available and more accessible than ever before,” he added.

“If ever there was a human being who could see the fusion of the father and the son, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan, and who himself was fused in love with both of them—that’s him,” Brother Cedric told The Final Call.

As the Holy Quran informs the living not to speak of those who die in the cause of Allah (God) as slain or dead, they live, though we perceive not.

The impact of Minister Jabril Muhammad will be felt for generations. Many members of the Nation of Islam shared their reflections and sentiments on this “Angel” among men via social media.

“I thank Allah because Bro. Min. Jabril went out of his way personally to make sure that I had every question I could think of answered,” posted Sister Letitia Muhammad on Facebook. “Then he would turn around and give me these massive homework assignments (that I could never finish by the way). He stretched our minds to accommodate and understand as much of the deep wisdom of Allah (God) as we possibly could, then he made us go even further in our understanding.” 

Brother Jabril always put our minds on the time, the need to get to our work and our roles in this most important work (the resurrection of the mentally and spiritually dead,” stated Sister Angela Muhammad on Facebook. “Brother Jabril’s methodological way of teaching made me want to study more, be a better student as well as a better person.

He is a true example of dedication to the resurrection of Black people and all people in need of light. He never let you just talk. He made us source our words and get to the root and meaning of words.

You had to not only watch what you said around Brother Jabril, you had to watch what you thought around him! There is not enough space on this platform to express the impact of the Brother and his true value as a frond to Our Nation. May Allah Be Pleased with our Beautiful Brother. Long Live Muhammad.”

The Final Call will continue with extensive coverage of the life, legacy and impact of Minister Jabril Muhammad in an upcoming edition. Final Call Staff contributed to this report.