Back to the root, Nation of Islam returns to DetroitBy Starla Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Feb 28, 2014 - 12:18:08 PM
Saviours’ Day 2014, themed, “How Strong Is Our Foundation; Can We Survive”, injected a ray of light into a city clouded by the darkness of bankruptcy and blight. It was a homecoming during the convention weekend that kicked off Feb. 20, featuring a bevy of daily activities, entertainment, informative workshops, historic tours, exhibits and culminating in a keynote address Feb. 23 by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit. The weekend, known as the “Crowing Event” of Black History Month, was significant and energetic said student minister Troy Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 1 in Detroit.
“Just to see how when the word of Islam is called by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, how the people come out, based upon the history established here, by the coming of Master Fard Muhammad and the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” he told The Final Call, just minutes after the conclusion of Min. Farrakhan’s address.
“For me of course the crowning event was the lecture today, which was right on time for our people. Detroit is in a terrible condition. Our nation is in a terrible condition and that’s the perfect time for God to show up and the Minister speaking the words of Allah was right on time,” said student minister Troy Muhammad.
Not just a convention
The Cobo Center, located downtown was teeming with attendees and participants in workshop’s and activities.
The history of the Nation of Islam is deeply embedded in Detroit and Feb. 20 included a bus tour with stops at several sites and locations that are of great significance to that legacy. Stops included the residences of early Muslim followers of Master Fard Muhammad and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad from the 1930s and 40s, locations of early mosques (formerly called temple’s) schools and other stops.
The evening concluded with a powerful, live broadcast of “Elevated Places”, the popular radio show of Dr. Ava Muhammad, National Spokesperson of the Nation of Islam and Minister Farrakhan. The topic, “The Economic Blueprint and Our Survival”, featured student minister Robert Muhammad of Houston, student minister Nuri Muhammad of Indianapolis, Ind., activist and educator Malik Yakini of Detroit, activist Terrance Muhammad of N.C. and national student minister of agriculture, Dr. Ridgely Muhammad.
Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22 included powerful and interactive workshops and plenary sessions. Friday sessions included: “The Man and His Mission”, “Abstinence: A Way of Life”, “Making Detroit Our Mecca”, “Preparing for Hajj 2016”, “Project Mxodus”, “The Healing Properties of How To Eat To Live”. The Muslims gathered for Salat al-Jumm’uah, the Islamic Friday congressional prayer service led by Imam Sultan R. Muhammad.
Children had a ball at Mother Khadijah Farrakhan’s Children’s Village. The first lady of the Nation of Islam promoted fun and education for youth, who enjoyed a variety of games and activities. The evening ended with a special showing of the moving documentary, “The Trials of Muhammad Ali” and a music and comedy show featuring the variety of talent in the Nation of Islam in a clean, safe and fun environment.
Saturday, Feb. 22 sessions included: “How Strong is the Foundation: Defending Farrakhan”, “Acquiring the Education to Build a Nation”, “Inspiring Leadership: Reflecting ON Our Past, Inspiring Our Future”, “Prayer: The Center of Muslim Life”, “Marriage and Family: The Basis of a Strong Nation”, “Affairs: The Nation of Islam Global Mission”, “Disaster Awareness For Community Preparedness”, “How to Rear our Children”, “Mandatory Sentencing and The Re-Entry Dilemma: How Strong is Our Foundation: Can We Survive” and “Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint”. Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad presented a visual and musical presentation titled, “A Picture Book Time Travel”.
Saviours’ Day would not be complete without the precision and discipline exemplified by the men, women, boys and girls of the Nation of Islam on display at the Drill Competition and this year was no exception.
The highly anticipated showing of the special presentation of Min. Farrakhan’s emotional and moving documentary, “Let’s Change the World: My Life’s Journey Through Music”, brought the evening to a close.
Thomas Jehad, a long time pioneer in the Nation of Islam reflected on the importance of the weekend.
“I remember when the Honorable Elijah Muhammad spoke in the Joe Louis Arena, I was there. I don’t quite remember what year it was but I remember when we were there before, when we were here in Detroit before. And to come back home there must be some great significance that we might not be able to see today but we’ll look back and it will be revealed to us,” said Thomas Jehad.
Joanne Long of Detroit attended several workshops and was moved by the weekend, calling it “enlightening”.
“I now attend Mosque No. 1. I’ve been going for about four weeks so this is my first Saviours’ Day and I am about to be teary-eyed.” She enjoyed attending the Elevated Places broadcast and the Muhammad Ali documentary.
“I didn’t expect the number of people that travelled…the outpour of love; I didn’t expect all of that. So it’s definitely exceeded my expectations,” said Ms. Long.
A spirit of unity, family
Despite crisp temperatures the Fruit of Islam, Muslim men of the Nation of Islam could be seen throughout the city during the weekend selling tickets and distributing flyers inviting people to the Joe Louis Arena to hear Min. Farrakhan live on Sunday. It was an ecumenical, diverse crowd that came to hear a timely message. City Council President Brenda Jones, welcomed the audience and presented a testimonial resolution for Min. Farrakhan, signed by all nine council members. “This Saviours’ Day will remain a part of Detroit’s history, as it will go in the archives of the records of the city of Detroit,” said Ms. Jones.
Rev. Jim Holley of Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit and Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.) were among several guests on the dais who were present for Min. Farrakhan’s address.
“This is where it all started and I feel an obligation and duty to join you and this great minister and all of you that are here, many from places far from Detroit,” said Congressman Conyers, Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1965.
Many anticipated hearing from Min. Farrakhan for the first time, including Shirley Ann Hall, 61 of Detroit.
“I’ve been an admirer and follower of his for some time. I listen to him whenever I can. I think he has such a positive influence. His words of wisdom are jewels to me”, Ms. Hall told The Final Call.
“I think our men really need to hear what he has to say. He is just awesome and I have so much respect for him. I’m a Christian and I find more and more that it’s not about the different denomination(s); it’s not about that, it’s all about the Lord and wanting to do the right thing and be the best that you can be,” she added.
Demetrius Phillips also of Detroit attended the Minister’s lecture for the first time along with several of his friends. He was moved by the display of unity he observed.
“It was very exciting. It’s lovely to see beautifully well dressed, well put together brothers and sisters,” he said, and adding he never experienced anything like this before.
Belinda Williams made the 45 minute drive from Ann Arbor, Mich. to hear from the Minister.
“I was quite excited to hear over the radio that Minister Farrakhan would be here so I made that trip down today in hopes of getting enlightenment of what’s going on in our society today.” She added, “I think it’s important to hear Minister Farrakhan encourage us to get on the right track to be all that God expects us to be.
Ebony S. Muhammad and Khadeejah Tasheen contributed to this report.