The Nation of Islam Symphonic Orchestral Ensemble performed for the first time at Saviours’ Day 2024 in Detroit. Photos: Abdul K. Muhammad

DETROIT—An electrifying performance of the newly formed Nation of Islam Symphonic Orchestral Ensemble left those in attendance in awe after they performed for the first time at the Saviours’ Day convention Awards Banquet in Detroit, Michigan, on February 23.

A full-capacity Grand Ballroom patiently waited over four hours to hear the orchestra. The ensemble consists of 48 musicians ranging from ages five to mid-60s including instrumentalists and chorus members.

The inspiration behind their coming together happened in November of 2023 when the Ministry of Arts and Culture presented a recital at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Illinois. When Student National Secretary of the Nation of Islam Sa’ad Alim Muhammad attended the event, he was inspired by their performance.

He told them that it was time to have the Nation of Islam’s first orchestra. Members of the group took his words to heart and began to organize musically talented members of the Nation of Islam for the orchestra. “We got to work and put a call out for musicians and vocalists from around the Nation to send in their material.


We received audition tapes from all over the Nation,” said Amirah Hashimah Muhammad, 22, concert violinist and concert master for the ensemble. “Our process for preparing was that every musician sent in practice check videos so we could hear each individual player and vocalist and how they were preparing.”

The musicians from across the nation rehearsed weekly and taped their practices, then sent copies to all the players who were participating. The players had their first in-person rehearsal together one night before their live performance in Detroit.

“This represents a historic point in our Nation and it happened at a particular time,” music director Farrad Muhammad said. “Because Beethoven is loved by Minister Farrakhan, we were able to perform a Beethoven piece, the 9th symphony on the 200th year of its debut. It was historic as well because we had musicians from all over the country.

We have an orchestral membership now. Students, musicians can upload videos and much of the music is specially arranged for the Nation of Islam’s Symphony Orchestra for its instrumental makeup as well as the chorus.

This is a beautiful thing that we have and we plan on doing a performance in the spring, Insha’Allah (God-Willing), and when we come together we intend on doing a performance for our Nation.”

Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, the first lady of the Nation of Islam sat in the front row to enjoy the musical expression of the Nation’s Orchestra. Throughout the performance Mother Khadijah smiled with so much joy.

Henri Star is a classical violinist and father of four members in the Orchestral Ensemble. The proud father shared his heart felt gratitude to watch his children perform and continue the legacy of musical expression given by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

His daughter Amirah Hashimah Muhammad, his son H. Akbarkhan Muhammad, 17, a concert violinist and composer, A’ishah Maryam Muhammad, 15, and Aaliyah Isabel Muhammad, 13, performed.

“To witness my four children performing in this Saviours’ Day 2024 Symphonic Orchestral Ensemble, for me is a feeling of fulfillment of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s mission when he performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in 1993,” Brother Henri said. “And now my children are here to continue in his mission and further what he gave to the world in music. I am very grateful.”

Khadijah Y. Muhammad, 27, sang a special dedication song in honor of Minister Farrakhan’s mother, Sumayyah Farrakhan. Sis. Khadijah’s voice was beautiful and lovely. She received a standing ovation and thunderous long applause afterward.

Sis. Khadijah said she’s been singing ever since she was a baby, but formally started singing at age nine when joined a school choir in the 5th grade.

“There aren’t adequate words, it is humbling and has made me more grateful to Allah to have been blessed with a talent that can bring something of good to those who will hear.

I love to sing and I am overjoyed to share what I love with people that I love,” she said. “Working with other Believers from around our Nation, striving, rehearsing, and building bonds with one another has been beautiful.

Also being back in a choir setting was nostalgic, remembering my school choir days. I pray this programming continues so that we may share our gifts with one another and the world! It is truly wonderful.”