To reflect on the life and works of Brother Minister Jabril Muhammad, one must examine his insatiable acquisition of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as a student and follower of the Most 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 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 Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
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 who wrote the book’s forward, said Minister Jabril was “humble” and “exquisitely concerned” about nothing interfering with the proper view of the Messenger and the Minister. His scholarship and ability to plumb the depths of the wisdom taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan were unmatched.
“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.
Brother Cedric characterized Minister Jabril as a “model of conduct” and a “most sensitive human being” who cared deeply about people’s immediate needs as well as their long-term interests. Although he was constantly consumed with high spiritual matters and three essential human beings, Master Fard Muhammad, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and Minister Farrakhan, he was also grounded in everyday conditions impacting people’s lives.
“The union of those two domains existed in his mind, heart and soul at all times,” said Brother Cedric. “I’ve seen him in the same conversation, deal with some of the most profound elements of our Teaching, and then immediately moved to help somebody who had a financial problem,” he said.
Others spoke about Minister Jabril’s role as the vessel Allah (God) used to reawaken Minister Farrakhan in September 1977 in Hollywood, California, after the dismantlement, fall and ruin of the Nation of Islam beginning in 1975. Fundamental to Minister Farrakhan’s rise was the realization that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is physically alive—a truth that Minister Jabril knew.
“People ask me what is Cushmeer’s role in all of this because they hear that Cushmeer woke me up,” said Minister Farrakhan in remarks during the early rebuilding years, concerning Minister Jabril, who was then known as Bernard Cushmeer.
“Let me tell you what his role is. When Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, wanted to see his people free, wanted to see his people out of this condition; he would go up, climb up in a mountain and sit in a cave and pray. One day while he was in this cave, the angel Gabriel met him and the first words he heard was ‘read in the name of thy Lord.’ I’m saying to you that as the cave of Hira is on the western side of Mount Hira, I was on the western side of the United States of America in a cave-like state, in the darkness of ignorance, hopelessness, and despair,” the Minister continued.
“And this brother came to me with a book and said, ‘read!’ And when I read in the name of our Lord, read with the help of Almighty God, I came up to begin the work of rebuilding the Nation of Islam under the guidance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. So if you really want to know who Cushmeer is, he’s the angel of the Lord. He’s the angel of our father, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” said Minister Farrakhan.
“He moves in and out among you. You look at him and you don’t count him for nothing. That’s the way angels are, they’re men and women of superior knowledge that function on a high plane. He was made by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wise enough to do this job at the right time and under the right circumstances. Now I’m up by the Grace of Almighty God, Allah.”
‘Never forget this Servant of Allah’
Brother Minister Jabril Muhammad’s vital and critical role as an “Angel” to his brother and friend, Minister Farrakhan, cannot be dismissed.
“Had not that happened, I would not be a Muslim today, maybe I would not be alive … and countless others would not be Muslim today,” said Sister Iman Ali, who also aided Minister Jabril in his labor.
Sister Iman, who was formerly known as Sister Latonja Muhammad, credits him with being the person she is and said, “mentor” is too cheap of a word to describe his impact on her life.
“Allah certainly placed him in my life,” said Sister Iman.
Even before becoming a registered Muslim in the Nation of Islam and later directly assisting Minister Jabril with many of his published and unpublished works, she read his articles in The Final Call as a young college student.
“I always could tell the time by reading his article and the time that we were living in. … and I was very intrigued with that,” she recalled.
Not long after joining the Nation of Islam, she worked as an editorial assistant at The Final Call, which presented the opportunity to work with Minister Jabril’s articles and meeting him in February 1995 at the Nation of Islam National House in Chicago.
“I don’t think that if it were not for him, as the Minister (Farrakhan) has said, we would not have a Nation of Islam as we know it today,” said Sister Iman.
By the mid-1970s under the United States Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), Black organizations that fought to liberate Black people were destroyed and their leaders either marginalized, jailed or killed. “They thought that they had gotten rid of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad ‘non-violently’ and the Nation of Islam, but they did not calculate Bernard Cushmeer aka Jabril Muhammad,” Sister Iman said.
“I am honored beyond words to have had him assigned to my life as a young Muslim in the Nation of Islam,” said Sister Iman. “No one has poured more into me personally than Minister Jabril Muhammad in my growth and development in the Nation of Islam.”
She prays to advance and do a proper bearing of witness to his legacy. “We should never ever, ever forget or be ungrateful for this servant of Allah,” she said.
An exemplar of Elijah’s classroom
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught and presented bold truths from the Mouth of Allah, Who appeared in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, with the conviction and full clarity of what He was presenting to the world of His people and mankind. Not only did He represent truth, but He raised students to teach, represent and defend that truth. Minister Jabril Muhammad excelled in the class.
As a scholar, theologian, author, minister, and angel in the spirit of the Angel Gabriel, tasked with awakening Prophet Muhammad—peace and blessings of Allah be upon him—as the recipient of the revelation of the Holy Qur’an—are all characteristics of Minister Jabril Muhammad.
From his days as Brother Bernard Cushmeer under the wise tutelage of his teacher, he was prepared to later set the tone in the study, presentation and defense of the Supreme Wisdom or in Nation of Islam vernacular, “The Teachings.” He impacted researchers, scholars, and generations of Student Ministers of the Teachings. Many said words cannot adequately describe the substantial value of Minister Jabril, and those following his footsteps expressed deep gratitude for his example.
As a scholar, Minister Jabril was an inspiration for Dr. Wesley Muhammad, who holds a doctorate in Islamic Studies and is a member of the Nation of Islam Shura Executive Council.
“Brother Jabril was the first deep analytical thinker of these Teachings that I encountered and that resonated so profoundly with me,” Student Minister Wesley told The Final Call.
Minister Jabril’s writings and observing how he used empirical data to bear witness to the Teachings influenced Student Minister Wesley, who is also a member of the Nation of Islam Research Group.
“It’s really the road that I sought to travel myself, and reading Brother Jabril let me know that it was appropriate to do so,” stated Student Minister Wesley. “Had I not seen him, read him, heard him, I would not know that religion could be done quite like that,” he added.
Author Ilia Rashad Muhammad, a Memphis-based Student Minister and also a member of the N.O.I. Research Team described Minister Jabril as a “true instrument of Allah,” whose spiritual insight into matters of prophecy, time, and world affairs was essential for the growth and maintenance of the Nation of Islam.
Student Minister Ilia Rashad largely credits his entry into the ministry class to Brother Jabril, who held critical workshops with the believers to strengthen knowledge and defend the faith.
“He was one of those pioneers who served as the Minister’s research team long before it formed as we know it today,” he said.
Legendary pillar of Islam
In over six decades of service since joining the Nation of Islam in 1954, Minister Jabril was a legendary pillar of Islam in North America. His journey is a reminder of the injunction of the Holy Qur’an that states Allah (God) never wastes the work of any of his workers, whether male or female. For those impacted by his labor, it is obvious the contribution of Minister Jabril will live, and that Allah’s (God’s) Hand was and is in it.
“I’m deeply impacted by Brother Jibril going all the way back to the earliest times of me coming into Islam. And when I was a teenager, and in my formative years as a Muslim, I was instructed by my local minister that reading his article every week was mandatory,” reflected Demetric Muhammad, a student minister and member of the N.O.I. Research Group. “I was nursed on his ‘Farrakhan the Traveler’ articles as a young believer,” he said.
Student Minister Demetric said Minister Jabril, more than any other helper to Minister Farrakhan, deserves enormous credit for demonstrating to believers, especially students in the ministry, how to properly view the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan.
“And this is very significant,” he opines, “because non-believers, disbelievers, and even enemies, frequently are complimentary of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan. However, they see them purely through a secular lens,” reasoned Student Minister Demetric.
“So, Minister Farrakhan is lauded as a ‘bold Black man’ who’s going to ‘tell it like it is’ and ‘speak truth to power,’ and ‘Elijah Muhammad did a wonderful job with former criminals and low life people.’ These are backhanded compliments based on secular observations of men who are really Divine,” he continued.
“Minister Jabril’s dogged insistence that we elevate our view of these men and Master Fard Muhammad to see them within the Divine and illuminating light of Scripture is his most long-lasting contribution,” said Brother Demetric.
Brother Minister Jabril Muhammad’s emphasis caused this generation of believers who came during the rebuilding years to be more spiritually rooted in the fundamental message of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He strengthened believers who were in the Nation of Islam before its fall as well.
His love and profound knowledge of the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is what allowed him to author articles, books, and study guide material on the Teachings.
The profundity of his insights is clear in the depth of his questions posed to Minister Farrakhan and compiled in “Closing The Gap.” The book was motivated by Minister Jabril’s desire to give the world an inner view of Minister Farrakhan’s heart, mind, and spirit.
His exegesis on the Teachings and proper identities of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan is read weekly in his “Farrakhan The Traveler” column in The Final Call newspaper and book of the same title. It must be noted he also published a book and article series called “A Special Spokesman” and two classics: “This is The One: The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, We Need Not Look For Another” and “Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still Physically Alive???” and unpublished material.
“Minister Jabril Muhammad was an incredibly gifted, insightful, and committed follower of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and helper of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. He was consistent and exacting in his writing and the publication of his column, ‘Farrakhan The Traveler,’ in The Final Call newspaper. It was my pleasure and honor to work directly with him for many years,” said Final Call Editor-in-Chief Naba’a Muhammad.
“He was always willing to share his insights and observations and had a great sense of humor. He will be missed but he has blessed us with a treasure trove of scholarship and spiritual writings that will help us develop our faith and deepen our understanding of the time, and what must be done and the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He was an example of a true, serious, diligent student and scientist,” said Brother Naba’a.
A reviver of belief and faith
Some recalled the early years in the rebuilding of the Nation of Islam when Minister Jabril traveled the country as a Nation of Islam revivalist, touring mosques and study groups, giving what some say was analogous to a church revival.
They reflected how he would stay several days and hold five-to-six-hour sessions each day, teaching subjects like “Tighten Up the House,” “Betrayal And It’s Antidote,” “Does God Study and Why?” toward the Nation’s development.
“He was so far ahead of us. It was very challenging to follow where he was trying to get us to go,” said Brother James L. Muhammad, former secretary of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 in New York City and former assistant to Nation of Islam International Representative Abdul Akbar Muhammad.
“The depth of his understanding was so deep,” added Brother James, whom Minister Jabril also asked to do the initial printings of “Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is Still Physically Alive???”
Brother Abdul Haqq Muhammad, formerly known as Ronald X Stewart, was a Student Minister and helper who stood back up to help during the rebuilding years in New York City. He recalled that the desire of Minister Farrakhan was to set up study groups, although there were those who wanted to move out ahead and set up mosques.
Minister Farrakhan said no, stating “we need to put the mosque in the people, instead of the people in the mosque” and Minister Jabril would provide study materials to work with. “It felt like we were in a classroom which was very refreshing,” said Brother Haqq.
Minister Jabril would bring the materials and instruct believers on what to study. When the groups studied what he put together, every word was expounded on including its etymology and dictionary meanings as well as the Bible and Qur’an. It caused a better understanding of the mission.
“Brother Jabril would come up … maybe once a month, he would show up … he would explain what he felt that Minister Farrakhan was doing. He would never overshadow Minister Farrakhan. But he was like an architect,” Brother Haqq continued.
“Minister Farrakhan was putting forth the spiritual challenges that we would face in terms of the rebuilding, but Brother Jabril was laying the foundation on the what, the how, and the when,” explained Brother Haqq. “It was just beautiful.”
The role Minister Jabril played was like an architect, even though he was in the shadows, he was very present, “because what he was doing was getting us to study and not rely on anything else,” said Brother Haqq.
Trusted mentor and resource for ministry
Nation of Islam Student Ministers described Minister Jabril as “matchless” and “incomparable” and a “trusted mentor and resource” for ministry. For them he provoked deeper thought, forcing them to stretch their minds and dig for spiritual truths, especially in the scriptures.
In the beginning, “We had these large, binding study guides, which were handwritten by him,” remembered Brother Abdul Khadir Muhammad, Mid-Atlantic Student Regional Minister based in Washington, D.C.
“He would come talk to us in New York City and when he got used to people that were really interested in the Teachings, he would help them out in other cities,” said Student Minister Khadir.
Minister Jabril taught him how to grow a study group, systematically study the books of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and to be strict in obedience to Minister Farrakhan’s instruction and guidance, for success. As a result of Minister Jabril’s hands-on approach, a firm foundation for growth was set. “He helped me through this process of becoming a student in the ministry,” said Student Minister Khadir.
“I see Brother Jabril as the most reliable source of the authenticity of the identity of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” said Brother Arthur Muhammad, Student Minister of Mosque No. 7 in New York.
“His words are trusted words … authentic words … to be studied … to be believed because his words represent the foundation of the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the extension of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” said Student Minister Arthur.
Brother Abdul Arif Muhammad, Nation of Islam General Council, member the Shura Executive Council and member of the Research Group, called Minister Jabril a “scriptural scientist” who taught a deeper understanding of the Teachings. “Brother Jabril is on a very unique … distinct … singular level,” he told The Final Call.
Student Minister Rodney Muhammad, Student Regional Minister of the Delaware Valley, agreed.
“His labor of love for Allah, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is spiritual fuel for a Nation to continue this journey,” he told The Final Call.
For Student Minister Abdul Rasul Muhammad, General Manager of The Final Call, Brother Jabril had a profound impact on his life. “Our dear Brother Jabril Muhammad was such an important part of my life’s journey since the age of 25 when I was blessed to meet him in person and to spend quality time with him at The National House of the Nation of Islam,” he said.
“He was always quizzing me about the importance of the Life-Saving Teachings of Our Eternal Father, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad that was being spoon-fed to us by the most beautiful man that I’ve ever met in my life in Our Beloved, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” Student Minister Abdul Rasul continued.
“I can’t remember one conversation that he ever engaged me in that was frivolous. Every conversation was about the mission of the resurrection and the uplift of our poor and suffering people and how we could aid the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan better in the mission,” he said.
“I will deeply miss ‘The Angel’ and his divine guidance and brotherhood. He aided me through one of my greatest trials in my life in the year 2000 with his strong voice, militant ways and supreme insight. I will cherish his memory and strive to labor even harder for the cause that he dedicated his life to.” (Final Call staff contributed to this report)