by Toure Muhammad and Shawntell Muhammad
CHICAGO—People traveled near and far to commemorate the life of Brother Joshua Nasir Farrakhan, the fifth child of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Mother Khadijah Farrakhan. The Nation of Islam, family and friends gathered on Nov. 25 with his beloved parents and to celebrate the foresight, commitment and contributions of Bro. Joshua to the Nation of Islam. Bro. Joshua returned to Allah on Nov. 18 at the age of 64.
The service, which was also streamed online included words of comfort and the janazah (Islamic funeral service) held at Mosque Maryam in Chicago. Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad, the National Assistant to Minister Farrakhan, delivered a beautiful, reflective message to the hundreds gathered in the sanctuary and the countless others that tuned in via internet webcast.
With words that seemed to resonate with everyone’s sentiment in attendance, Stevie Wonder, who attended the service said he came “because I love him.”
Attendees included local and national notables such as Rev. Jesse Jackson and his son U.S. Congressman Jonathan L. Jackson (D-Ill.), Muhammad Ali’s aide, companion and friend Gene Kilroy, hip hop pioneers Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D and Eric B, activist Afrika Porter, activist Wallace “Gator” Bradley and Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church who thanked God for knowing Bro. Joshua.
Father Pfleger said Bro. Joshua had “a heart the size of Soldiers’ Field.”
“He’d always tell you exactly what he thought,” Father Pfleger reminisced on a man he said was unapologetically genuine. “He was consistent, always faithful and just a strong brother. I thank God I got to know him. The deposit he made in my life was his commitment, his faithfulness, his love of his father and the love of his father’s work,” he told The Final Call.
“We thank God for his blessing, his earnestness, his care, his compassion, and we celebrate him today,” said Rep. Jackson.
Mr. Kilroy attributed Joshua Farrakhan with saving his life. Ten years ago, the doctors gave him three months to live. Bro. Joshua called him and less than an hour after the diagnosis, “I got the call from Minister Farrakhan who said, ‘The angel of death isn’t coming for you. You got too much to do.’ I believe in all my heart that if Joshua didn’t make that call, I wouldn’t be here today,” Mr. Kilroy said.
Doug E. Fresh, the legendary entertainer and hip hop pioneer, spoke with a heavy heart, remembering Bro. Joshua as a brother beyond titles. “(He was) just a beautiful person. Great heart,” he reflected. “I had to come. There was no way I wasn’t going to make this.”
A message for the living
Activist Afrika Porter told The Final Call that she grew up with members of the Farrakhan family and she shared countless childhood memories about their Hyde Park memories in the city.
“What stands out about Brother Joshua for me was his infectious smile, laughter, and jokes,” recalled Ms. Porter.
During his remarks Student Min. Ishmael Muhammad fondly reflected on the many monikers of Bro. Joshua, including “Josh” and “Joshi,” something Ms. Porter could relate to.
“Like many of us, I’ve had multiple names over the years, transitioning from Jeri, Jamilah to Afrika, a fact he playfully reminded me of whenever we met. ‘Afrika, who are you today?’ I’m all three of us, I’d respond. I appreciate the impactful program delivery, its style, and the profound takeaways from today. I firmly believe the service isn’t for the dead but for those of us present.”
Student Minister Daniel Muhammad of Chicago agreed, calling the janazah service “beautiful.” “Minister Ishmael did a wonderful job lifting the spirits of all the believers, but really giving us a lot of context as to how we should perceive one another as believers but especially the family of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” he told The Final Call.
Lazette Muhammad of Chicago stated, “It was so much beauty in the words of Brother Ishmael; reminders of the way we live our lives, reminders about how much work that still needs to be done and the beautiful works of the shoulders that we stand on.”
Student Minister Joseph Makhandal is the Nation of Islam’s representative to Haiti. He first met Bro. Joshua years ago in the small Caribbean nation as part of a N.O.I. delegation. Student Min. Makhandal translated for the Minister and shared: “Everywhere we would go, Brother Joshua would be there ensuring that the place is secured and that the Minister is drinking his water and really monitoring his pace. It’s almost like he was a doctor to the Minister.”
He continued, “This janazah has given me a stronger sense of the mission and also encouraged me and inspired me to do more so that I, personally, can continue the legacy that he has left off in terms of showing care and love to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in our own ways.”
Student Minister Abdul Hakeem Muhammad, the N.O.I. European region representative, expressed his gratitude for the message delivered by Student Min. Ishmael. Having known Bro. Joshua for many years, Student Min. Abdul Hakeem was deeply moved by the heartfelt words he expressed.
“The janazah was an incredibly emotional experience, resonating with me,” he said. “I thanked the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and Mother Khadijah for raising such a wonderful son who treated members of the Nation of Islam as family, regardless of their location in the world.”
A favorite uncle, friend and helper in the cause
Student National Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad is a great-grandson of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and also serves on the Nation of Islam Shura Executive Council. He recited the janazah prayers in Arabic at the close of the service.
“Brother Joshua Farrakhan, may Allah be pleased with him, was named ‘Nasir, the helper, the supporter,’ and he always was that to all he engaged. Everyone who was in his presence received some sort of assistance, whether it was to help them to facilitate any activity or even [his] spirit of joy or happiness, he always has been a helper in that way, of course as well to his father, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,” Student Imam Sultan stated.
He referred to Joshua Farrakhan fondly as “the favorite uncle.”
“He would let us get away with almost anything we wanted to. It was time to have fun when Uncle Josh was around. He always had the candy, the music, he always had the vibe of joy with him,” he reflected.
Sister Aminah Bayyinah Muhammad serves as the executive administrative assistant to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and also serves on the Shura Executive Council.
“I was blessed to have a close working relationship with Brother Joshua in service to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Since Brother Joshua and Brother Mustapha knew my biological brother, before I knew them, because they went to high school together; he said I was like his little sister, and he endearingly called me, ‘Kimbo.’ There will never be another one like him and I will truly miss him,” Sister Aminah Bayyinah Muhammad shared.
Bro. Joshua Muhammad is a son of Student Southern Regional Minister Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad and the host of a popular podcast. He was named after Bro. Joshua Farrakhan. “He was a phenomenal human being. He brought so much transparency to the People’s Podcast. He did seven interviews.
He was very honest, he told things that we had never heard before. Not only was he on post for the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975 when He departed, but there’s so much history with Brother Joshua during the rebuilding phase. It is an honor to know him, and I pray that the Nation and the world begin to know his heart. (He was a) beautiful human being.”
Student Min. Abdul Rasul Muhammad is the Final Call General Manager. “Brother Joshua Nasir Farrakhan was one of the most genuine, sincere, beautiful brothers that I ever had the honor to know personally. He loved me tremendously and we had an expression with one another: he called me his little brother or baby brother for the last three decades.
Even in tough times, we labored together on multiple projects at The Final Call. We never lost our brotherhood; we never lost our sincere love and appreciation for one another. I treasure him, I thank Allah (God) for him, and I am going to miss him tremendously,” he shared.
“I am honored to be a brother who stands on his shoulders, as he was the brother who introduced the audio department to the Final Call Administration Building. Long live the spirit of our brother, Joshua Nasir Farrakhan.”
Student Minister Arthur Muhammad of Mosque No. 7 in New York said that Bro. Joshua was a good friend. “To me, he brought the entertainment world, hip-hop in particular—he befriended a lot of them and introduced them to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
He was resourceful, very loving fierce defender of the Teachings, and a caring brother. Student Minister Ishmael hit the nail on the head in terms of Brother Joshua’s contributions by spreading the message through video and audio.”
Bro. Arron Muhammad is a longtime member of the Minister’s Executive Team (E-Team) and reflected on his first interaction with Bro. Joshua, which occurred in Chicago during the early days of the rebuilding of the Nation of Islam.
“During Saviour’s Day 1981, I worked at the hotel that was across the street from the venue where Saviour’s Day was held and the Muslims stayed at,” explained Bro. Arron Muhammad. That year was the first annual convention held since Min. Farrakhan began rebuilding and restoring the Nation of Islam.
“Prior to this, I had never heard the name ‘Farrakhan.’ I attended Saviour’s Day that year, and when the lecture was over, I saw Brother Joshua at a table duplicating tapes.”
He continued, “I ordered books and tapes from Brother Joshua, and I worked graveyard at the hotel. He brought what I ordered and books that I had not ordered to me at my job. My first Holy Qur’an was from Brother Joshua, along with several of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s books and tapes, Brother Jabril Muhammad’s books, and the Honorable Minister Farrakhan’s tapes. I worked graveyard, so I was taking in all this information,” he added.
“Brother Joshua and I stayed close since then, and he picked me up from my house and took me to my first Wednesday night study group. I became registered not too long after. I started spending a lot of time, at his house, duplicating tapes. I would take my daughter Cristel, who was about five years old at the time to his house and she played with his daughter, Melia,” recalled Bro. Arron Muhammad.
Yousef Ben Israel, is the son of the late Nasik (Prince) Asiel Ben-Israel, who was the Prime Minister and International Ambassador of The Original African Hebrew Israelite Nation Worldwide. Prince Asiel was longtime friends with Min. Farrakhan.
Yousef Ben Israel discussed his first encounter with Bro. Joshua as a teenager. “He definitely represented his father in the very best of ways. My first impression of Brother Joshua is that this man truly has his father’s charisma, spirit and love.
He greeted my father with the biggest, warmest hug and kiss on the cheek and said, ‘my big brother, my uncle prince, it’s so good to see you.’ And then he went to greet me and said, ‘that means you are my little brother and don’t you ever forget that. If you need anything, you let me know,’” he reflected.
“I’m so grateful for the 64 years to have him in the midst of us to spread the truth, to spread love, to spread peace and to be an example for us.”
Mandene Muhammad is from the Coalition for the Remembrance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (CROE). He reflected on Bro. Joshua’s foresight in preserving his father’s teachings. “He had the wherewithal and foresight to get those high-speed recorders and duplicate his father’s lectures,” Mandene Muhammad recounted. “I didn’t have a close relationship with him, but every time I saw him, he made me feel like we did. I thank Allah that I was able to encounter him. He was always personable.”
Brother Joshua was also a visionary. Among other things, he encouraged his father to produce the historic 58-part series, “The Time and What Must be Done,” in 2013 and the Minister’s documentary project “My Life’s Journey Through Music,” in 2018.
Amidst the tributes, a familiar voice joined the chorus. “Josh was instrumental in pushing the boundaries,” Chuck D, head of the legendary rap group Public Enemy, declared. “He moved us into the era of DVDs and online platforms,” said the iconic emcee.
“Public Enemy doesn’t go around the world without the Nation of Islam and Josh was a big part of that culturally. If a (music) tape goes out there, Josh would say, a tape of the Minister could go. Josh was the first to go into the realm of DVD. Josh was also to bring along the sensibility of maybe this all can go online and not even have to deal with the TV channels. He was thinking like that in the 90s,” Chuck D said.
From the infectious smiles of childhood to the foresight that propelled Minister Farrakhan’s teachings into the digital age, the commemorative service stood as a testament to a life well-lived and a legacy that transcended generations, religions and ethnicity.
Final Call Staff Writer Tariqah Muhammad and Contributing Writer Michael Z. Muhammad contributed to this report.