MEMPHIS—Nearly 200 guests and supporters, dressed in their finest attire, gathered here June 15 for the Memphis Muhammad University of Islam’s (M.U.I.) first gala fundraiser. Smiles, hugs and greetings of peace overflowed in the spirited assembly that had the air of a righteous reunion at the Southbrook ballroom.

The evening celebrated students and graduates and honored former and current instructors. The gathering also promoted the importance of the commitment to expand and support  the independent education system established by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and re-established by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Jessilyn Long, one of Memphis’ M.U.I. 2024 graduates, shared a heartfelt testimony on what her experience at the educational institution meant to her and what she learned.

“I remember sitting in that chair and my posture was horrendous. My attitude was just off. My mom and Sister Kembra saw it too. But she didn’t turn me away like other public school teachers would. She welcomed me with open arms,” the recent graduate said.


“I would like to personally thank the M.U.I. staff because, like Sister Kembra said, you can’t have a school without the staff. I would like to thank them for welcoming me and giving me a home to come to, a second home.

I never felt like that when I went to public school. It was always danger, toxicity, and the teachers,  they didn’t care about the students, like how M.U.I. staff does for us,” said Sister Jessilyn. Sister Kembra Muhammad is the directress of M.U.I. Memphis.

In the early 1930s, Muslim pioneers such as Mother Clara Muhammad, wife of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and others sacrificed and removed their children from the public school system to teach and train them properly under Islam. 

The impact of the early Muslims’ sacrifice is still felt as many Muhammad Universities of Islam and proponents of Black independent education grow nationwide. 

The M.U.I. 2024 Gala was packed with distinguished guests, some of whom received awards for their labor and support.  Assistant Student Supreme Captain Abdul Azziz Muhammad (Legacy Award), Sister Khallada Farrakhan (Legacy Award),  M.U.I. Directress Emeritus Sister Shelby Muhammad (Trailblazer Award), former National M.U.I. Director Brother Dr. Larry Muhammad (Innovator Award), and Student Central Regional Fruit of Islam Captain Dwayne Muhammad, the Dean of Boys at M.U.I. in Chicago (Leadership Award).

Former Memphis M.U.I. Directresses Sister Donna Muhammad (who was the emcee for the gala), Sister Willetta Muhammad and Sister Carolyn Muhammad were also recognized for their service. Student National Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad was the evening’s special guest speaker.

“These type of events are very important,” said Sister Khallada Farrakhan, daughter of Minister Farrakhan and Mother Khadijah Farrakhan. She explained that it is important to look at and understand what we have and not worry about what we do not have. “Look at what we do have, and we have the best Teachings in this universe,” said Sister Khallada.

The evening was also a fundraiser for the school.

“So, this banquet is just the beginning. We have to pour money into [Muhammad University of Islam] because we can’t move fast enough, we have generations to save. We’re losing those children out there. The ones that we’re supposed to be getting.

If they don’t come to the mosque, well, that’s okay. We’re going to get them through M.U.I. Not just for this one, for all of them. Every last one of them. We don’t have enough Muhammad Universities,” she added.

Sister Riley Holloway is the youngest student at M.U.I. Memphis. The 3-year-old excitedly pranced around in her flowing, violet dress, enjoying the company of her friends. Her father, Brother Jason Holloway, said that what M.U.I. teaches ranks above what is being taught at public institutions.

“I think a lot of times when it comes to schooling, we have gotten so used to just like public schools. That’s the only way that we can educate our children. And that’s not the case at all,” he said.

Riley’s mother, Sister Koriann Holloway, shared how inquisitive her daughter has become, asking many questions.  “M.U.I. gives them the foundation. They teach you Supreme Wisdom. We learn that you teach them how to pray, teach them how to drill; all the foundations of Islam.”

Brittani Muhammad shared how her son Marvin Muhammad’s educational experience improved upon attending M.U.I.  “It was the best choice we made,” Sister Brittani told The Final Call about her decision to enroll her son at the school. She also shared that her son’s math skills improved because of M.U.I. 

Student Minister Abdul Muthakkir Muhammad of Mosque No. 55 in Memphis expressed gratitude for the evening. “We thank Allah for such a spectacular weekend and thank Allah for M.U.I. Directress Sister Kembra and all that she brought to us. 

[We thank] former directors of M.U.I., Sister Shelby and Brother Larry. We thank Allah for them coming and the pioneers that set this up and helped establish the school,” he said.

Sister Stephania Muhammad is the Student M.G.T. and G.C.C. Captain of Mosque No. 55. She ensured all five of her children attended M.U.I. and noted that establishing a moral compass for children is important.

“Most of our babies don’t know how to read at high school level. On top of that, some schools don’t have textbooks, so … why not try Muhammad University, of Islam?

Why do we keep putting our babies in their [the enemy’s] schools? You send your babies to read, you send your babies to be disciplined, but unfortunately, that’s not happening. Most schools are like a jail system,” said Sister Stephania.

Attendees enjoyed fine dining and Muslim cuisine and took family photos in the ballroom. The dining tables were adorned with embroidered gold and burgundy tablecloths and other decor.

Student National Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad, a great-grandson of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, carried the keynote address at the gala. He also delivered the keynote message on Sunday, June 16,  at Mosque No. 55.

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad represents that reality for us, that a Teacher came to him and brought out of him, that which was the base of his nature, God Himself. If we look at education in any other manner, we have missed the reality of who we are. We have missed the reality of what education is. We are in the classroom of God,” said Student Imam Sultan.

“We are reciting our Lessons. We are reading that which we have been given to be utterly created again. Read in the name of your Lord who creates. So that is our mission—to create, [and] make an entirely new world, and the foundation of that new world is coming from Muhammad University of Islam,” he said.