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Mother Tynnetta Muhammad - A heartfelt and fitting tribute to a perfect example

By Starla Muhammad -Assistant Editor- | Last updated: Mar 3, 2015 - 9:53:32 PM

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CHICAGO ( - Thousands of men, women and children representing diverse races, cultures, religions and ideologies gathered at Mosque Maryam to pay tribute, to honor, share reflections and express gratitude for the life and impacting legacy of Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, wife of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad at her Janaaza (Islamic funeral service) held Feb. 24. 

Mother Tynnetta Muhammad
A woman of tremendous scholarship, artistic and cultural influence who was a faithful student and champion of her husband’s teaching, passed away and returned to Allah (God), February 16. Condolences poured in from all over the world at the loss of a woman who was a servant of God and described by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as an example of what the women of the Nation of Islam should aspire to be.

For her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the entire Nation of Islam she was and continues to be a “Mother of the Faith.” 

During a service that was a dignified reflection of what Mother Tynnetta represented in life, from her childhood in Detroit through her matriculation and development into a world-traveler and cultured and refined woman of the Nation of Islam, her contribution to the world will impact generations.

The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Mother Tynnetta had four children, Madeeah Muhammad, Ishmael Muhammad, Rasul Muhammad and Ahmad Muhammad. The family offered thanks and heartfelt gratitude to all who sent condolences.

Two of her sons, Ishmael R. Muhammad and Ahmad Muhammad, and her granddaughter, Jamilah Muhammad, spoke lovingly and passionately about her life during the service, drawing thunderous applause and moving several to tears. Her granddaughter Aida Saffiyah Muhammad read a brief summary of her grandmother’s life which listed some of her amazing life accomplishments.

Aida Saffiyah Muhammad
Jamilah Muhammad spoke on Mother Tynnetta’s willingness to share her life experiences and said she was grateful to Allah (God) she was able to live with her for a year, learning from such an extraordinary woman.

“She represented to us, the standard of what a righteous woman is,” her son Student Minister Ishmael R. Muhammad, National Assistant to Min. Farrakhan said during his remarks. Mother Tynnetta was a gift from Allah (God), “our mother” he continued. “She went all over the world to bring knowledge to our people. She leaves a monumental testimony,” he added.

Born Tynnetta Alethea Nelson May 10, 1941, Mother Tynnetta accepted Islam under the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad at 16 and became a “registered” member, receiving her “X” in 1958 at 17. She was the first Muslim woman columnist in several newspapers including the Pittsburgh Courier and Muhammad Speaks and her highly popular weekly column in The Final Call newspaper was titled, “Unveiling The Number 19.” The author of several books Mother Tynnetta was also an accomplished business woman, fashion designer, composer and musician.

Ahmad Muhammad
Having traveled all over the world seeking knowledge and studying, she always represented the Nation of Islam, was always looking for the beautiful majesty of Master W. Fard Muhammad, God in Person, the Great Mahdi and teacher of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said her son Ahmad Muhammad, Student Minister of Information for the Nation of Islam.

Mother Tynnetta was a principal supporter and helper of Min. Farrakhan when he stood up to rebuild the Nation of Islam in the late 1970s. The Minister also thanked those who came to pay respects to Mother Tynnetta as he offered guidance, insight and words of comfort.  He marveled at her dedication to the words of Allah through the Holy Qur’an, which she read faithfully every day, reading the book in its entireity every week.

“What she did in her years on this planet you must understand what her son said and what the (Holy) Qur’an said, we can’t ever speak of her as dead. No. In fact in that box is the house she lived in. She’s not there. That’s what they call the remains. What remained after she left,” said Min. Farrakhan.  But, you cannot put her works in the grave he explained. “She lives and her work will go on in the generations.”

Ishmael Muhammad
Photos: Haroon Rajaee
Family members, guests and men and women of the Nation of Islam walked down the center aisle of Mosque Maryam and paid final respects to Mother Tynnetta, some saluting her casket, others placing their hand over their heart.

Her impact was felt wherever she travelled and she positively touched all whom were blessed to meet and work with her near and far.

Mother Tynnetta always brought “aura and presence” wherever she went, Hilary Muhammad, UK Representative of the Nation of Islam told The Final Call as family, friends and Muslims gathered later in the afternoon at Salaam Restaurant during the repast. He and the Believers’ in London hosted Mother Tynnetta twice in the UK. “The presence that she brought was one of divinity and I just thank Allah for the opportunity to have been in her presence,” he said. 

A Traveler and Scholar

During her travels, Mother Tynnetta always searched for and sought to connect the history of the Original Black man throughout the planet. Her ability to connect the various cultures of the Original family of the planet earth left an indelible impression on Muslims in the Nation of various cultures. She facilitated bridging cultures through Islam and the teachings of her husband. 

Min. Louis Farrakhan (R) Thousands gathered at Mosque Maryam, Feb. 24th, to pay tribute and express gratitude for the Life of Mother Tynnetta Muhammad.

David Muhammad of Milwaukee, Wisc. is of Puerto Rican descent and said one of the first people besides the Minister he heard represent the teachings was Mother Tynnetta. “Her scholarship, spirit and her way, the ability she had to find the teachings and to find the fingerprints of the Saviour and to really find the imprint of the message of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wherever we found the Original people, wherever we found our family on the planet, she found proof of God’s intervention of our affairs in the person of Master Fard Muhammad which sent me in the direction to do the same thing.” 

As a scholar of Islam, Mother Tynnetta made her mark on the hearts and minds of others, encouraging them to delve deeper into the study of the Holy Qur’an. Sultan R. Muhammad, a great-grandson of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and resident imam of Mosque Maryam cites her as one of his influences.

The Family of Mother Tynnetta Muhammad listen to the words of life and death by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

It is a tremendous sense of obligation now upon our community to lift up the Holy Qur’an, read and study it in her memory and in tradition said Imam Sultan R. Muhammad. He and Mother Tynnetta would talk for hours about the Table Talks, which are recordings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaching his laborers and guests.

One particular Table Talk that stood out for her was, “Queen of Civilization.” In this talk, the Honorable Muhammad talked about how he wanted to make a woman that would go around the world with a committee of women and make friends for the Black man and woman and represent the civilization of the Nation of Islam.

“That struck her and I believe it struck her because she is that woman,” said Imam Sultan R. Muhammad.  Mother Tynnetta had an insatiable thirst for knowledge he added.

“She was the first one that I witnessed academically that demonstrated the universality of our Islam. Universality meaning its connectedness to all of the spiritual traditions on earth, and that’s a big part of my scholarship,” said author Dr. Wesley Muhammad. “Academically, she was my inspiration. I haven’t seen anyone do it like her so the impact is profound. I would not dare to do my scholarship the way I do as it relates to this teaching if I didn’t see her do it,” said Dr. Wesley Muhammad.

Arts and Cultural Contributions

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan performs the Janazaa Prayer for Mother Tynnetta Muhammad.

Mother Tynnetta’s influence on arts and culture was also profound as a composer and musician. “I look at how she travelled the world and so music is often sometimes in a box in our community … but when I listen to Mother Tynnetta and the history of her life, she went across the world. It really inspired me to study more on music,” said vocalist Chandra Hakim. She is inspired to study the broad, universal spectrum of music, like Mother Tynnetta.

Delores Ali, was a cook for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and was a friend of Mother Tynnetta. She spoke of her sense of humor. “She was always very humorous and kept you laughing. She could be serious but most of the times she was just like a little girl. All the wisdom that she had you would never know it because she was always so free with making people feel comfortable around her. I loved her so much,” said Delores Ali. 

Toward the end of the day, Min. Farrakhan greeted guests, smiled and shook hands before sharing a few more brief words about the woman whose lasting legacy and impact was on the hearts and minds of many.

“Thank you for being the beautiful brothers and sisters that you are on such an occasion as this. Mother’s spirit has lifted us all a notch higher, can you feel it? Min. Farrakhan asked the crowd. “Yes sir!” was the spirited reply. 

Detroit Burial

Student Minister Ishmael Muhammad views casket at final resting place for the remains of his mother, Mother Tynnetta Muhammad. Photos: Haroon Rajaee

Hundreds gathered February 25 for the final portion of the funeral service for Mother Tynnetta Muhammad in Detroit, Michigan, the place of her birth.

The city’s residents looked out of their windows while others watched from the street marveling at the seemingly endless caravan of vehicles in the funeral procession led by a full city and state police escort detail regulating traffic.

Members of Muhammad Mosque No. 1 turned out and braved the cold weather standing at Westlawn Cemetery as the Fruit of Islam Honor Guard in full uniform, stepped forward to carry Mother Tynetta Muhammad’s remains to their final resting place.

The Fruit of Islam Honor Guard carries the remains of Mother Tynnetta Muhammad to her final resting place.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered Al-Fatiha in Arabic over the wooden casket.

“I think we should shout to the heavens ‘Allahu Akbar’ for this life that touched our lives and made a difference in our lives and in the lives of many now, and many, many more in the future,” said Min. Farrakhan.

The voices of those gathered on that crisp, cold day rang out through the burial grounds.

“I thank all of you for being here, and I pray that Allah will bless all to return safely to your homes and remember, do unto others as you would have done unto yourselves, that when the end of our days comes, there will be no regrets—we’ve done like Mother Tynnetta Muhammad—the best that we could,” Min. Farrakhan said.

Many family members and others wiped away tears, others said silent prayers, while a few stepped forward to place small portions of earth on the casket as a final tribute. As the casket was prepared for lowering, her son Ishmael Muhammad, sensing the sadness of many, said, “We’re not burying Mother Tynnetta Muhammad. This is only the vessel she traveled in.”

(Ashahed M. Muhammad contributed to this report from Detroit.)