Personal experiences in the presence of a divine manBy Jabril Muhammad | Last updated: Jul 30, 2014 - 4:09:18 PM
“And Allah’s is the East and the West, so whither you turn thither is Allah’s purpose. Surely Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.”—Holy Qur’an 2:115.
When I was registered in the Nation of Islam in January 1955, I wanted to see and hear the Honorable Elijah Muhammad the next month in February, which would have been our Saviours’ Day convention. That involved driving to Chicago with another family.
I first saw the Honorable Elijah Muhammad for four straight days during the Saviours’ Day Convention. I remember counting the minutes I was in his presence, listening to his lovely voice, although, of course, other people were there. But I counted it as such a tremendous privilege and honor to be in that man’s presence, even though it was not personal.
Later that year, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad came to New York City and he spoke and I was again privileged to be one of those who stood a one hour post, maybe four or five feet from him.
Later, I recall being on the honor guard that went down the stairs with others to escort him to his car.
Again, later, Minister Malcolm X was talking to me for three days, in a row, to change my thinking from moving out of New York City to South Carolina. He wanted me to meet his Brother Philbert, who was living in Lansing, Michigan at that time. He wanted me to move there instead.
Why is this important to know? I didn’t know fully his reason. But that happened and I ended up moving there for 23 months.
A few months later, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad sent to all of us, around the country, as a gift, these lapel buttons for the men and a pin for the women, the M.G.T. & G.C.C.
I wrote him a letter, thanking him for the gift, and I expressed my love for him. He wrote me back a beautiful letter (to me it was) and he said in the letter, at one point, among other things, “I hope you will help me teach as soon as you can, as the time is at hand.”
Well, I hadn’t thought about teaching Islam. I didn’t know why he had said that. I was a captain, a young captain, at that time, in fact the youngest captain in the Nation. My minister, (Minister Malcolm’s brother) Pilbert Omar, brought me to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad on July 1, 1956 to be confirmed, to be examined, I suppose, and confirmed as a captain.
That was my first opportunity to meet and see him in a personal way.
At some point, in our meeting, while eating dinner, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to me, if I change the “e” to an “a” in my name that I had at that time, “Bernard,” he said it would be an original name.
At another point, he questioned me on different points, and there was a lot there, I remember the people who were there, it included not only Brother Malcolm and Brother Philbert of course, it also included the secretary of the Mosque I was in, a tall brother, and other Brothers and Sisters.
In any case, at one point, he compared me to someone I had really scant knowledge of. It was someone in the history of Muhammad of 1,400 years ago and he contrasted in an interesting way.
He indicated that I reminded him of that man, that man who loved Muhammad so much, and what he was willing to do for Muhammad, and did do. This is one of those touchy areas, because there are so many silly people around, who take some of the words of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad out of context and try to make themselves into something that they’re not.
Well, again I didn’t know anything about that man’s history, it didn’t mean a lot. I was just thrilled to be in his presence, but these were among the things that, of course, were lodged in my mind. They stay in the back of my mind from that time to now.
I’ll get back to this aspect, later on, Allah willing.
Now I was to see him a few months later in Chicago, where he was sweeping the outside sidewalk. Several brothers around him, who looked embarrassed, and he looked very irritated. It was clearly a demonstration of the need to be clean. I gave him the greetings, but I also saw he was irritated and he remembered me as the captain in Lansing, Michigan.
The next time, I had direct contact, but significant contact with him was in 1958. I saw him, I should say naturally I saw him at the 1956 and ‘57 Saviour’s Day conventions, and again I was counting every moment I was physically in his presence.
I spent 23 months in Lansing, Michigan returning to New York City. I made steps to enroll in school to become a medical lab technician. At that time, there was one school for both an X-Ray and Medical Lab technician.
However, I recall in April of the following year, which was 1958, it might have been the very first part of the month, Minister Malcolm told us of a need for four volunteers, in the F.O.I. to go to Los Angeles.
The fifth man had already been selected as the minister for Los Angeles. He sent out there one of the assistant ministers, a brother by the name of Henry to be the minister in Los Angeles, California.
The mosque had not been built yet. There were people who wrote the Honorable Elijah Muhammad letters requesting him to give them the teachings and to send them someone who would guide them into that which he had taught them and he had sent Minister Malcolm there a few times, evidently had instructed Minister Malcolm to get volunteers.
Now, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad already gave the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan his assignment when he first saw him, in February 1955! I made this public.
More next issue, Allah Willing.