This exclusive interview with Minister Louis Farrakhan on the passing of Imam W. Deen Mohammed was conducted by R. Sultan Muhammad - nephew of Imam W. Deen Mohammed and great-grandson of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The interview took place on October 2, 2008 at the home of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. A portion of the interview was published in the Muslim Journal and is now being released for the first time in its entirety in commemoration of Imam W. Deen Mohammad's birthday (October 30, 1933).
Minister Louis Farrakhan:
Brother, don't feel bashful asking any question that you would desire to ask. My son sent me a DVD that the Imam and I made together in California when he visited the Saviors' day there in 2002. I played the violin with the symphony there at the Cerrito Center - the Imam was present. I think he conducted Jumu'ah and we did a television show. I'm going to look at it again and I would like to present you a copy of that effort by the Imam and myself.
R. Sultan Muhammad:
It would be a beautiful gift. I do want to thank you first for making this opportunity available to share your reflections with the community of Imam Mohammed in a time where most are still grieving over the loss and most have very strong and positive vision toward the future. But as emotion sets in and initial loss there are some issues of confusion and want for solace. If you have some reflections or some message that you would like to share with the community in that way.
I, too, am very sorrowful over the loss of Imam W. Deen Mohammed. It's not only a loss to his community but I have taken it as a personal loss to myself. As we were young men together in the Nation of Islam under his father we had what I would consider a special relationship of two brothers who truly loved each other and he shared with me many, many things that helped to develop me as a young minister of his father. The loving relationship that we shared continued with me to the moment of his passing and beyond. I found it difficult to sleep for several days because his spirit did not seem to be at peace and his spirit was troubling me and I told my wife and others I didn't quite understand what I was feeling because I never felt this way for the loss of my blood brother, the loss of my uncle and even though the loss of my mother was the greatest blow to me yet the loss of Imam Mohammed to me was equal to the loss of my mother.
At the memorial service when brother Imam Rufai said these were two brothers from the same father he summed up my feelings. He was my brother and I understood by Allah's Grace his mission from Allah and it was always my hope that he and I would be together to end our lives working together for the cause of Islam and I never thought that I would be in this world without him and so I too, whether the community understands it or not, my community or his, I feel a great sense of personal loss and so at the memorial I made mention of the day after the departure of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad from among us and he assumed leadership of the Nation of Islam in his speech, his first speech, to the nation as its leader he said the winds of emotion would not ruffle the shades on the windows or destroy this house and now on the passing of one loved, honored and revered by many my prayer and my hope is that the winds of emotion will not destroy the work and legacy of the Imam but after emotion calms down he always talked about a rational mind and when emotion is at the forefront a rational mind is in the back, the background. So after emotion dies down then my hope is that a rational mind will emerge to keep the work of the Imam going.
I did have a follow up question. You mentioned an unsettled spirit... A sense that the Imam's spirit had not been settled... Could you elaborate on that?
I really don't know what it means because we accept death as Muslims. In the words of the Quran, that no soul dies but by permission of Allah. We understand that we submit to His will that death is a part of life and when it comes it is irrevocable. And that has been with me since I've been a Muslim. I have never been troubled like this after anyone's passing, but I was troubled by his passing. Maybe it's because it was unexpected, maybe it's because it happened suddenly.
At the passing of his brother and our brother Jabir Herbert Muhammad, when they told me that he had come into Masjid Al Faatir for the janazah I went immediately to him and he was going to stand up and I told him no don't stand up brother Imam and I kissed him on his cheek and he kissed me on mine and I told him that I loved him and he said I love you too and you look very well brother Minister and I thanked him and went back to my seat never knowing that this was the last time that I would ever see him.
Yes, we had disagreements, as brothers do. I never spoke any disagreement with him in the public and I would never, even when I spoke to him of things about which I differed I would ask him to excuse anyone in the room because I did not wish for anyone who was under his leadership to hear me say something that I disagreed with. I never had a cross word with him. We spoke together as brothers. Every time I saw him we would embrace each other because, to me, I came to see the value of his work that eventually it would be a great help to his father.
And so, I think I am troubled in this sense. According to what I heard his doctors said he was not sick. He had diabetes but diabetes was under control. And according to what I heard, I don't know the truth of it, that he didn't have a heart problem. So, the question for me is did anything happen to my brother and of course when I found that he did not have a complete autopsy but they took blood and they have a machine that scans the body. I was not settled in my spirit because I thought his family, his followers, and the people who know and love him from around the world deserve a definitive knowledge of what happened to our brother. Certainly we cannot bring him back but I suggested even that if the blood work did not come back or showed signs of something that we needed to investigate that I personally would engage a forensic pathologist to do what I believe should have been done when our brother passed away.
Now, after I spoke to you and told you my concerns for the community and that I know that the Imam had developed Islamic scholarship in most of his imams that even though he did not desire a central leadership position in his absence the work that he was involved in, the projects that he had started needed the support of a united community. And so I suggested since there was no national shurah that perhaps the imams can come together and elect or select a group that they know love him and want to see his vision brought to reality. That that kind of a shurah council could be an aide to the family in keeping the community together to ensure that the projects that he started that the things that he had in his mind for the future, that his vision of a model Islamic community with unity could be realized and that would add to the legacy of his work among us.
In effort to broaden for those that may not understand your connection with the Imam, you mentioned in a recent interview with brother Akbar Muhammad that there was an encounter that you had with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1960 where he mentioned that you and my son go and mop up the wilderness. Would you have any broader vision or scope to address that in the context of the embrace in 2000 that represented a progressive collaboration?
When the Honorable Elijah Mohammed tried me severely at his table one evening, and I passed the test, on the way out of his home at 4847 South Woodlawn Avenue he [Elijah] said to me, "brother, you and my son go and mop up the wilderness." With those words burned into my mind and my heart I have always looked and hoped for the day that we would do that. So, when I invited him to share Saviors' Day with me in the year 2000 to conduct the Jumu'ah prayer service for all of the believers that came to Saviors' Day and there were many, many thousands that came. And I asked him to share the day with me, he said "no brother I'll just have a few words to say but I will be there to listen to you."
And, I have not shared this with anyone. I have shared it with a few but never publicly. I was speaking, there were many foreign Muslims - orthodox Muslims there and I said to them you cannot guide us, that is for the Imam and myself to do. He jumped up out of his seat and came to my ear and said something and I turned to him and said no but he was already sitting back in his seat I was saying no, we will do it together. When he came to visit me at the farm I never took the position of the head of my house. I sat across from my brother leaving the seat of his father open. That's the love that I have for him that my children have for him and I know it is difficult for many Muslims who saw the Nation go down under his leadership and they charge him with destroying the Nation. But in truth his father said that the Nation would fall. His father said that it would rise and it would never fall again.
When the Honorable Elijah Muhammad departed from us we as the Nation of Islam were in the same mind and spirit that the followers of the Imam are in right now after his passing. And I remember reading in the Scriptures Jesus talking to his disciples saying, "all ye shall be offended because of me this night," he knew he was going to go to that cross and suffer death and the followers of Jesus had such a view of him, how could he allow himself to go to the cross, how could he allow himself to be scourged, how could he allow himself after he did all these wonderful things. So, when they saw him in that condition, in that position they became offended because he left them and there was a degree of offense to the followers because why did you leave us like this, why didn't you tell us, why didn't you do this or do that. But Jesus said, 'accept a kernel of corn fall to the earth and die it cannot bring up a new stalk.'
I see the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as delivering in his years among us a thesis but an antithesis of his father and I see Imam Mohammed delivering a thesis but an antithesis of his father and I am left in the world alone. And I feel that my assignment is to take the best of the thesis, the antithesis and produce a synthesis that all of us as believers in Allah, His Prophet and Islam and those of us who believe in Allah, believe in Prophet Muhammad but believe in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as a man that Allah gave to us. That there is a synthesis and I saw these two rails ultimately becoming a monorail and I saw the Imam and myself sitting down with members of his family and others just talking about the next steps for the future of Islam in America.
Well, he's not here physically but he certainly is here spiritually. And I am hoping, ultimately, to join with his Imam's that we can produce a model Islamic community in America that will fulfill the words of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, when he said that he saw the sun of Islam rising from the West. The Imam's unique interpretation of ayats of the Quran gave light to Muslim scholars who have studied for years. He was gifted like that. And so that gift that he has and left with us plus the gift of his father that he left with us, we put these gifts together - the best of them, and fulfill the legacy of a model Islamic community.
Brother, that was so full trying to think of where to go! Since Saviors' Day 2000 many of the broader Muslim community, in its diversity across the world began to have some tension and contention with the Imam about his more particular interpretations of the Holy Quran, about establishing, reestablishing, reviving Saviors Day himself. Beginning to assert the importance and significance of Master Fard Muhammad, once again, having closed meetings and looked at this and has gone even farther to say himself, Imam Mohammed, in a speech at one of his First Sunday's - he could not take credit for teaching his community 'laa illaha illallah muhammadar rasoolullah.' That if his father had not instilled that within the community himself that the first day after his accepting leadership they would have done away with him. So, these things that have not really been broadly open to public more dealt with in speeches with the Imam within the closed community, have yet really to be known on a mass level. So, on that side conversely you have yourself, as you mentioned recently in the interview with brother Akbar Muhammad, established Jumu'ah prayers, established fasting of Ramadan with the broader [Muslim] communities, how would you explain this trajectory?
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was a man who was bringing his community from one level to another - degree by degree. This marvelous book, Quran, was revealed by Allah through Jibreel to the Prophet - degree by degree. As Allah did not wish to put hardship on the believers he wisely and skillfully took a savage Arab community that drank, that gambled, that killed their female children, that were guilty of great savagery but inside of 23 years he not only took the tribes and made them into a nation. He made them into a nation that exuded a righteousness and a moral correctness that had not been seen in the world before.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad used to tell Muslim scholars who would sit at his table and say, 'but, you don't make salat you make du'ah,' he said, 'yes, but you don't have my mission.' He [Elijah] said, 'be patient with me and with us.' For to get a so-called Negro up before dawn, to stand at attention and face the East and pray was a miracle in itself. So, in 1957 he made a little prayer book that went through all of the steps of prayer and it was all in English. But he said, 'You will learn these prayers in Arabic.' Okay, now he said to me, before he departed from us, he said, 'brother find a way to unite with the Muslim world.' That picture on the masthead of Muhammad Speaks always was with the hope of our joining onto the Muslim world. He said that he had made us in such a way that we could live in the dominant Muslim world without fear of offending Shari'ah. That he would put us out of the mosque for fornication, or for stealing, or for drugs, or adultery but he had us in such a way where we could go into the strictest Muslim areas and our manners would be absolutely Quranic, but degree by degree.
Before he left, well, it was in 19 either 69 or 70, he rebuilt the mosque in New York. And when the mosque was rebuilt and we were coming back to it he said a prayer of dedication but he didn't come in person he sent a tape. I wish I had that tape today. And the following day I called him and I said, 'dear apostle, I thank you for your dedication of the mosque.' He said, 'oh brother, that's not the mosque' he said, 'I want you to have a mimbar and it should have three steps.' Well, I knew what a mini bar was but I had no knowledge of what a mimbar was. So, when I started looking into it the mimbar is the place where the khateeb delivers khutbah. So, he was actually telling me establish Jumu'ah prayers. Well, I had to wake up to that. Well, you see in mosque Maryam there's a mimbar. It has three steps and we have now established Jumu'ah prayer.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was directly in accord with the Holy Quran when he gave us fasting in the month of December. Even though the scholars of the Muslim world were upset with him and us the Quran says that if you are sick or on a journey you may fast a like number of days. Knowing that we were babies in Islam he chose the month of December because it has the shortest days. And this principle is in harmony with the principle that the Prophet, peace be upon him, when he made his night journey and he and Allah talked about prayer and they started from a very high number and then they came down to five and it says well, He did not want to impose hardship on the believer. Well, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad did not wish to impose hardship on us. And secondly that's the month where our Christian family, thinking that they're celebrating the birth of Jesus, are celebrating the birth of Nimrod and all kinds of wickedness is carried on in the name of a holy prophet and servant of God. So, he was keeping us from the old habit of Christmas and establishing in us the new habit of fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Now, he deprived us from meat in that month and asked us to eat fish and we did that. And when I was overseas one year in the United Arab Emirates I sent back an article asking all of the believers in the Nation of Islam to fast with the Muslim world. And this is my way of following his instructions to find a way to unite with the Muslim world. I close this point, Brother Rahman, that he was not pleased with the Muslim world - I'm speaking of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He knew that the Prophet's words were true that three generations after him they would no longer be of him and a decline in the community of Islam began. Well, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad knew that if the believers in Islam had followed the path of the Prophet, the Sunnah of the Prophet and the Quran they would never have deviated but somehow the community did deviate. And the Prophet knew that once every hundred years one would come as a mujedid to reform the religion. But at the end of the 1400 years a world reformer would come and that one is called Mahdi. And a Mahdi comes to guide and if we had not lost the way we would not have needed a guide back to that way.
And so the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wanted us to accept the best of what the Prophet gave but not to follow that which had deviated from the Prophet and then fell into schisms. There was no such thing as Shi'ah and Sunni during the time of the Prophet or Sufi, or Hanafi, or Hanbali. There was only one term to describe the Ummah, and that was Muslim. So, he didn't want us to be caught up in sects and parties that broke apart after knowledge had come to them due to envy among themselves as the Quran teaches. So, he wanted to keep us away from the Eastern community, while at the same time strengthening us so that we wouldn't fall victim to their deviation.
So, I humbly say that I am doing my best to form a good relationship with the Muslim world without ever destroying the base of the knowledge that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad brought us, which every day that we live we're seeing the truth of what he taught to us from Master Fard Muhammad.
This directly addresses really the positioning of the Imam toward the latter years. Distancing himself from particular schools of thought, asserting also that there may be the development of an American madhab, a uniquely Muslim American madhab, which is a major contention with some of the traditionalist. Yet, he also urged the community to stay away from Arabism and Pakistanism and focus on the tenets of the faith.
Of course, I am in total agreement with that. That's why I felt that the Imam and I were moving closer and closer to each other. How could we be Muslims and not have a deep appreciation and love for Prophet Muhammad. So, in his father growing us up we respected Prophet Muhammad but we didn't consider ourselves followers of Prophet Muhammad. Well, you can't unite with the Muslim world and say you are not a follower of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. So, as his community, Elijah Muhammad's community, was growing closer to the Islamic world minus some of the things that he saw as errant or error. The Imam was coming closer to his father and developing a community that was strictly following the tenets of the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet minus all of the schools of thought that have divided Muslims and made us, in a sense, enemies of each other that Shaitan could exploit.
The last thing I would say on that, my Brother, is that, I mean, Allah gave me a very profound understanding of my brother. And that's why I have never fallen out of love with him. Some of the members of my own community won't understand my love for him. But I see him as an instrument of Allah. That Allah used in a very significant way and I am sad and sorry that my brother is gone because when I was very, very sick he came to my side. And he sat while I was laying down. I had lost an awful lot of weight and he came to my side. And we had such a wonderful time. We were just laughing together and I was telling him how his father was such a scientist that he could drop a thought in your head and know that it's not going to germinate at that time but he knew that it would germinate at another time. So I was telling the Imam, I said you know I was sitting at the table with your father one day and he was teaching everybody at the table and then he turned to me and said, 'if there was any sign that I could choose as a symbol of my work brother it would be the trumpet.' And then he went on talking, okay, and where did that come from and then he said, 'have the trumpet coming out of the corner of the page brother.' And then, I don't know what he's talking about, and then he said, 'go like you see me go and do like you see me do.'
So, when he's gone and I decide to try to rebuild his work because I see the wisdom of his work I start like he started with the Final Call and I start with a trumpet and I have it coming out of the corner because he said the trumpet is the greatest sign of the resurrection of the dead. He laughed, I laughed and he said, 'do you know where I got the symbol of the Quran from that I have in the flag.' He said, 'I heard my father talking about a new book that was coming and every word in that book was light and the only letter that he could know what it was the letter Lam. And he said, 'that there was light coming out of every, not word, but every letter and every syllable was light.' So he said, 'that's where I got the idea of the Quran as our flag.'
Imam W. Deen Mohammed and Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan
So, we're sitting and just laughing, and then he said to me, 'Brother', he said 'you're not going anywhere.' And he looked up like he had gotten a communication from above and he said, 'no, brother you're going to be fine.' And we embraced each other and of course I went into the hospital and was near death but I was blessed by Allah to remain. So, I ask myself why did he go and why, Allah, do I remain? It's that there is work that I believe I yet have to do and it involves him. And it involves his community and it involves his vision of a model Islamic community. And so that's why at the memorial I honored every member of the family of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Mother Clara. Because each one of them had an impact on my life from Ayman or Emanuel all the way to Akbar Muhammad and I could tell you, each one of the members of the family, how they affected my Islamic growth. So, whatever I am and whatever I become by the help of Allah, I must be grateful to Allah for Mother Clara Muhammad, who is also my mother - who nurtured me, and corrected me, and taught me as the messenger taught me, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, as all of the children shared with me nuggets of knowledge from him. So, how could any of us be ungrateful to the Muhammad family for without them I don't think there would be any Islam in America, particularly in Black America, that would be worth talking about.
Brother Minister, anytime you feel you want to close this out please let me know...
Whatever questions you want you're going to have to sift through this but it's a lot because you know in my heart there's a lot that I have in my heart and I might as well get it all out today then you can sift through it and use what you can.
Two part question, building on what you last said in a recent interview, as well with Brother Akbar, you mentioned that you're hoping that the communities, that we can work together to produce that vision of the Imam's model Islamic community that would give guidance and transformative knowledge to our people and this country - also within the context of the upcoming October 19th Dedication- How does a movement that has developed within the context of Black Liberation in America provide a road map for the universal reconciliation of people of faith and conscious humanity?
In the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's program that always appeared on the back page of Muhammad Speaks and now the Final Call. One of the things that intrigued me was, 1) We believe in justice or we want justice. We want equal justice under the law. We want justice applied equally to all regardless of creed, or class, or color. Well, if this is not forthcoming under the political, economic, educational, system in America then he wants to instill in us that spirit to give equal justice to humanity. So, to me the growth and development of the Nation of Islam under his leadership is to grow us where we can respect other creeds and give them equal justice if we all were living in a nation together in under the rule of Islam, the prophet did this.
Can we now outgrow the idea of Blackness to the point where we become sick because of the over dose of the medicine that we were given to destroy White supremacy in us and Black inferiority in us? Can we grow to the point where we can look at another human of a different color, remembering what the Quran said, 'We created you and gave you your different hues.' I think that's what I remember reading. So, can we rule people if God chooses to replace the present rulers with a new ruling group. That's easy for Him, but He'll try us to see how we act. So, can we give justice to others? Can we give equal justice to us if their living under our law? Of course we have to grow to that. And lastly on that point, I was with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad one day and he said, 'they call me a nationalist' he didn't say he was or he wasn't he just said that's what they call him. And he said 'Brother, black is not national black is universal for everything starts in darkness and then comes out into the light,' and what this means to me is that there is a universal aspect to the teachings that he gave us that can be applied to every human being on our planet. But we have to grow out of an immature expression of the language to a more mature expression of that language and we will begin to speak in a way that everybody on the earth will hear what we have to say, see themselves in it, correct themselves by it, and a new international community will be formed.
So, I do see that the Mosque should be rededicated as we dedicated it nineteen years ago. We are more mature, by Allah's Grace, in the knowledge of God, in the knowledge of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in the knowledge of Quran, and in the knowledge that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad brought to us. So, the house then has to reflect that maturation. So, we are rededicating it on the 19th, insha'Allah. That from that day forward the universal aspect of Islam will be found coming from the lips of those who teach from that house.
Would you like to expound on, for those who have not had an opportunity to have intimate connection with the development of our language - this is something Imam Mohammed also spoke on pretty consistently about working with language to transform and raise our people. Could you speak a little bit about what is that culture? What is that about?
Language is critical because it is the means by which we express what is in our hearts and what is in our minds. I remember reading a letter that Master Fard Muhammad wrote in his handwriting to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. And in that letter he said 'Brother, the human being is very strange, they go together in schools like fish,' and he said to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, 'unless you speak the language, well, you will not be as successful as I desire you to be.' So, success in the mission is dependent upon how well we speak the language.
Well, that means to me many things. He's not just talking about English, but why did Moses pray for a helper from his family that would bear his burden or share his task? And why did he ask Allah to expand for him his breast and loosen the knot in his tongue that they may understand his words? And Allah said your petition is granted. From my understanding there is a knot in the language that Master Fard Muhammad gave to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad for that period of our growth and development but if we were going to reach what is in the student enrollment... What is the population of the original nation in the Wilderness of North America and all over the planet? Well, why would he put that and call it the student enrollment? Four billion four hundred million, seventeen million with the two million Indians, four billion four hundred million all over the planet... Well, what does that have to do with the assignment? You have to reach the people of the earth, those that are Black, those that are White... What is the population of the Colored people in the Wilderness of North America? Okay, so, how do you reach them without a tremendous growth in the language and how to take the knot out of the language so that they, they who? All humanity will understand his word. That's the way I see it.
Even though I'm not familiar with all the work that the Imam was doing but I know the Imam was a student of language and he loved to parse language/words to extract from it what the person that's using the word didn't even see, whether it is in Arabic or in English. So, here I am on the other side of the track, my brother's on one side doing this, I'm on the other side looking at how to loosen the knot in his tongue. What do you mean expand for me my breast? When your chest is expanded it is expanded for greater oxygen, greater inspiration, greater love if you will. Why? Because every woman that has a baby she might love that baby and think that she will never love another one like this one but when her womb expands again, her breast expands again and she loves what she produces.
So, expand for me my breast. Why? Because, I'm nationalistic now. I'm not universal. I'm delivering my message to the Children of Israel not to the world. Elijah Muhammad, I'm delivering a message to the Blackman. Now expand for me my breast and loosen the knot in my tongue that they, not only the Blacks of all classes may understand, but the people of all colors and creeds may understand what God revealed for the salvation, not of a few, but of all of humanity, that's the Quran.
It's a book for all of humanity. And it has to be preached in a way as the Prophet did to feed truth to those who call themselves believing in different religions. But Prophet Muhammad was cosmopolitan, he was universal and he was touching the Jews, he was touching gentiles, he was touching Zoroastrians, he was touching Christians, he touched them all. And I think that's the way we have to be and that's what I found Imam doing, touching the Christians, the Jews, and people of all different faiths. And that's why in the rededication of the mosque, I've asked the members of all religious faiths to join us on that day. I hope they will.
What did you think when Imam Mohammed reinstituted Saviors Day for his followers?
I never heard his lectures but I thought that he was gradually bringing his followers into the similar thought that he had in the beginning of his tenure as the leader of the Nation of Islam. He said that the followers had a worldwide mission to remake the world. And now if you're sending them forward as saviors then our mission is not just to learn Quran, recite the Quran, learn the lovely language of Arabic, and fast during the month of Ramadan, and say our five daily prayers. There must be an assignment, a mission, attached to that. And that mission absolutely is to remake the world according to the will of God.
What inspired you to revive the NOI after the passing of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad?
I saw a condition prevailing among the followers. I saw them losing the discipline that we were known for. I saw them throwing away the dietary teachings and I saw our young girls who were prideful at being virgins allowing their virginity to be destroyed. And I felt that - I want to say this exactly right - the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said one day, I want to quote him perfectly, 'that the law of God that he was giving us was like a cage.' In other words when you put something in a cage you limit its ability to move with the freedom that it once exercised. He was saying that the law of God limits us from doing the thing that we freely did as a savage people. He said then he would open the cage door to see if we would come out of the cage and go toward civilization or would we come out of the cage and go back to a savage life. And I kind of felt that the Imam opened the cage door a little soon. And very few may have gone into greater civilized behavior but made an excuse to go back into the life that we once lived, only now we're doing it as Muslims. Some of us were doing this while we were yet under his leadership.
So, I decided to try to rebuild the Nation of Islam not to oppose him but to revive that which I thought our people still needed. The Imam himself used a medical term, I think, about the teaching being like medicine to correct a condition. If you stop the medicine before the condition is abated the condition comes back. If you use the medicine beyond the time that it says on the bottle don't use after this date you become sick again. So, the delicate balance in this whole drama of the Nation of Islam is the timing of what to do and when to do it so that you continue the onward march of the believer toward becoming ultimately what Allah intended. And that's why I revived the Nation. We were sitting in this house in the back room and I came and met with the Imam and I said to him that I wanted us to sign a truce. And I said I will never speak against you in the public and I ask you not to speak against your father but you have work to do, you just do your work. I said, 'you can come among us and teach us but none of those that are following me will come among your followers to try to take any of your followers away from you.'
And I think there is a paper of that truce and I designed it after the truce of Hudaibiyah because I don't want bloodshed among Muslims, I hate that. And it would grieve me to see any Muslim shed the blood of a fellow Muslim with whom they had a disagreement. So, I thought the truce of Hudaibiyah was a wonderful thing for us because he was in one track I was on another but I don't want to see us fight each other over our disagreement neither did the Imam. And that's why even though we had serious differences we never had so much as a bloody nose, that's the beauty of us. Look at what's happening to our brethren they are slaughtering each other. Blowing up each others mosques, houses of the worship of God, but look at us, we are baby Muslims and we are not behaving in that manner. And so, I signed it and I sent it to Brother Imam and whatever his reason was he did not sign it but I did my best to live up to that. And so there is no record of me saying anything negative of my Brother and those who are closest to me in my house they don't hear that. And that's why the followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad under my leadership whenever they met the Imam they showed him honor, love and respect. Whenever they meet any of the old followers they show them honor, love and respect because I taught them that these laid the foundation that you are standing on. And I further say, all the property that we regained we didn't regain for ourselves. We regained it for them. Because many Muslims felt that we lost everything that we had sacrificed for. But that was only to give us a picture of what we could do if we pulled our resources and united. And so, the future of us, whether it is Mosque Cares, whether it is the Sunni community, the Shi'ah, the Hanafi, the Hanbali, and the Nation of Islam, I see us moving closer and closer together to go on and build that beautiful Islamic community.
As a leader and simply as a human being what has been your greatest support, inspiration?
It's my faith in Allah, and my putting my complete trust in Him. Sheikh Ahmed Tijani is a witness of this. When I made Umrah, I can't remember the year - 1998, they gave me a police escort from Jeddah to Mecca and a police escort from Jeddah to Medinah. And in truth while I was at the Ka'bah during the last ten nights of Ramadan when some of the pilgrims found that I was there they broke through barricades, partitions to come and touch me so that security had to form around me to allow me to come out of al Harram. And when I was on the bus going to Medinah Sheikh Tijani was sitting by my side and tears were coming out of my eyes and I said to Sheikh Tijani when I get to Medinah I want you to take me to the tomb of the Prophet. I would like to say a prayer to Allah and ask Him for a double portion of the spirit that He gave to Prophet Muhammad that I might continue the Prophet's work in America.
When we got to Medinah he conducted me to the tomb of the Prophet and when I began to pray a guard came to stop me and Sheikh Tijani said, 'don't bother with him he's not praying to the Prophet he's praying to Allah' and while I was praying again the tears fell from my eyes and I begged Allah to give me a double portion of that spirit that He gave to His servant that I might continue his work in America. That night after the taraweeh prayers, this is during Ramadan, the Abunah Sheikh who was a hundred and seven years old sent for me. He lived in a very humble dwelling. When I got in his presence I kneeled down. He seemed to know that I was going to enter Jerusalem while I visited with President Arafat. His security could not come to Jerusalem so they could not secure me and I did not want to be the center of an international event with some members of the Jewish community maybe stoning me. I didn't know that Muslims had gather at al-Aqsa mosque to guard me and support me, I didn't know. So, I did not go to Jerusalem I went back to Jordan. The Abunah Sheikh, when I kneeled down in front of him, he said, 'brother, I pray for you five hundred times a day,' and he said, 'whenever you determine, you decide to go somewhere let nothing stop you because Allah is with you.' He said, 'I want you to come back next year to go to Hajj with me that I may show you the type of honor and respect and words that you are due.' I was bowled over. We went down stairs in the apartment building to have some tea and he sent his son and one of his chief students to bring me his robe and his staff. And while the son was somewhat reluctant to do it - one of the sons, he said give it to him. I didn't know what it meant. So, when we got back to the hotel the son was there, his student was there, Sheikh Tijani was there, we were there and I asked him what does this mean. He said he is turning over to you the leadership of his community. I was blown completely away. I have a picture of the Abunah Sheikh maybe I will let you see what he looked like. I didn't go the next year to take the offer to go to Hajj with him and he died maybe at about one hundred ten years of age.
What words of advice would you offer our communities in this time of transition and mourning?
Our followers should be most cautious about Shaitan whispering into the hearts of those of us on both sides. I have no designs on Imam Mohammed's community. I believe he has inspired tremendous scholarship among his Imams and I believe that they are capable of continuing his work and his legacy and we, insha'Allah, will work together with them to hopefully produce this model Islamic Community. I would hope that we would not let Shaitan come among us and cause us to fall out with each other but rather to fall in with each other, to dialogue with each other, to see what differences yet remain, to see how we can reconcile those differences and then go down the track toward a great Islamic community.
And lastly, how do you want to be remembered?
I don't think much of it but I've been asked it several times. I'll close with these words from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. When Dr. King passed away, or was murdered, I was watching on television and I was weeping and when I came to visit the Honorable Elijah Muhammad I said well, why is it we were at odds with each other ideologically and in methodology but when my brother was killed I found myself weeping and very sad over his loss. Here again it's King, I wept over Malcolm, I wept over Imam Mohammed and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to me these words he said, 'as long as the testator lives he is riding his testament and when death comes it puts a period to his testament then the historians come and gather all the bits and pieces of that mans life and assign him his place in history.'
I'll just continue to work until death puts a period to my testament and I will let historians, if it pleases Allah, that historians think enough of my work to want to look at my life and gather all the bits and pieces of it, and if it pleases Allah, they will assign me a place in history. But sometimes, Allah does not allow the historians to assign His servants their place. In our reading of the Quran during the month of Ramadan is a section that deals with His Prophets and He assigned to them peace and salutations the historians didn't do that, Allah did that. Peace be upon you down through the generations. We leave that for Allah to do for us. And it is our hope that our work will be pleasing in His sight that He will honor us by making us to be remembered in the history of Islam and its development in the western hemisphere. Thank you very, very, very much. Thank you.
Brother, you are blessing to your wonderful father. Who did everything he knew to bring the Imam and me together for the future of Islam. The last conversation I had with him was about that, and the conversation before that, and the conversation before that. Whenever I visited Saudi Arabia and I met with him that was his theme and once when I was there, Imam Mohammed was there too, and we had breakfast together in Jeddah. And always our meetings were just pleasant and beautiful and warm. I will miss my Brother greatly and I pray that Allah will bless his work because he did do great work in service of Islam and the Nation of Islam.
R. Sultan Muhammad presents Special Editions of the Muslim Journal in memory of the legacy of Imam W. Deen Mohammed on behalf of the Muslim Journal and Table Talks recordings with transcripts on behalf of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad Commemorative Center (www.HEMCC.org) and the Table Talks Project.
Brother, these things should be transcribed because I am sure that in it is guidance for us today. These things should be put in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad library just like this president and that president and this one have their libraries, Elijah Muhammad deserves and will have a library and the things the family is doing I told Alif we'll work together. I asked my son to see what the price would be of the place that the Imam had for a library he had it built I want to get it back if we can and make it the Honorable Elijah Muhammad Library. And have places where people can come and put his words in and listen and put a screen up and look and listen and study. Brother Munir is very valuable in this effort he has done a magnificent job in preserving the words of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and I would like him you know to partner with us and that house could be the repository of everything we could gather. Cause he really is the principle archivist of the Nation. We may not call him that but without him a lot of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's work could be lost. This is absolutely precious and with Allah's help I pray that it will become a part of a library that students from all over the world can come and read and study and feed on his words. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now there was a last thing...
December 6th the Muslim Journal annual dinner an invitation was extended to you if you would want to share some thoughts or just be in attendance.
Yes, yes, yes, yes. Look, if I'm alive I would love to be there. In fact I have not said it yet, I did say it but I have not spoken it publicly that maybe this saviour's day I would like to dedicate a night to the Muhammad Family and to Imam Warith Deen Mohammed and his legacy.
I intend... I hear that you're coming to teach Arabic but it's a part-time. I intend to make it full-time and Spanish and French and now I will introduce it on Friday night that the Muslim's must prepare for the world wide mission.
We have to study language, culture and we must really be knowledgeable of the nuances of Islamic history because the Sunnah of the Prophet is what established Islam and if we follow in those footsteps we will establish Islam in America. It will take suffering and maybe even the loss of life but Allah says in the Quran He will give us security in exchange for our fear and He will establish for us our religion. I believe that.
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