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A United Community Iftar At Mosque Maryam

By Starla Muhammad -Managing Editor- | Last updated: Jun 28, 2017 - 4:13:18 PM

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Minister Farrakhan delivers guidance during Ramadan gathering

Muslims from various communities gathered for an Iftar (breaking of Ramadan fast) at the invitation of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on June 20

Over 800 Muslims, visitors and guests packed Muhammad University of Islam with additional overflow in a covered tent on the grounds of the National Center during a United Community Iftar during Ramadan.

CHICAGO—Muslims from diverse communities and schools of thought from around the Chicagoland area gathered on the grounds of the National Center, international headquarters of the Nation of Islam at the invitation of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan for an evening of worship, fellowship and cultural exchange during the month of Ramadan. 

The grounds of the National Center includes Mosque Maryam and Muhammad University of Islam where the full evening of festivities took place, including a tent erected on the property for the overflow of attendees.

Audience members listen intently to the message.
Over 800 men, women and children participated in a United Community Iftar during the Muslim holy month of prayer and fasting, commemorating the revelation of the Islamic book of scripture—the Holy Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Ramadan which is observed by nearly two billion Muslims worldwide officially ended June 25. Iftar or the breaking of the daily fast is a celebratory occasion bringing the Muslim ummah (community) together. The June 20 gathering took place during the last 10 days of Ramadan also marking Laylat-al-Qadr (Night of Majesty or Night of Power) when the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet over 1,400 years ago.

It was a particularly important and poignant gathering in light of the upheaval and turmoil plaguing the Muslim world from within and without. The evening was also another step toward uniting the Nation of Islam with the Muslim world, an assignment given to Min. Farrakhan from his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.  

Every nation has  received a messenger

For some in the broader Muslim community, the Nation of Islam has at times been viewed as an enigma of sorts and subsequently misunderstood, mischaracterized and at times mocked. But the Minister explained why a unique and special teaching was needed to resurrect the Black man and woman of America. Although many of the Africans who were enslaved and brought to America were Muslims, the brutal and inhumane institution of slavery stripped them of the knowledge of their religion, Min. Farrakhan explained to the crowd during his remarks.

Min. Farrakhan holding the Holy Qur’an. (R) Audience members stand and clap during Ramadan program.

(Center) Nation of Islam Imam Sultan R. Muhammad (R) Muslim women applaud message.

“I thank the early Muslims who came here and tried to teach us Islam but they did not understand the condition that 310 years of chattel slavery had produced in us and 150 years of living under Jim Crow, segregation and injustice. So, we have been made into a people that have a problem that only Allah (God) could solve for us and just as Allah has been merciful to every nation as the Qur’an says, ‘every nation has received a messenger,’ but here we were in America in the bowels of a beast, deprived and that is why we thank Allah,” the Minister explained.

“We know Allah the originator of the heavens and the earth who has no partner. He is one, indivisible. But Allah cares for this human family and we have been the lost members of our people. So, we wouldn’t be here today if Allah had not intervened in our affairs. Somebody came after us. He was an Arab but he brought us a book. He found Elijah Muhammad,” said Min. Farrakhan speaking about Master Fard Muhammad, the Great Mahdi and Allah (God) in person.

Master Fard Muhammad gave Elijah Muhammad a Holy Qur’an written in Arabic but since he could not read the language, he then gave him a Maulana Muhammad Ali translation in English, the Minister continued. This translation of the scriptural text uses the term “Allah” which is why Mr. Muhammad preferred it.  “What he was attempting to do was to put Allah in our consciousness and he has done that.”

Various imams, Muslim leaders and activists attended the June 20 gathering at the invitation of Min. Farrakhan.
Min. Farrakhan paid homage to Prophet Muhammad stating that without him, there may not have been a Holy Qur’an. But even with the Muslim holy book, Black people in America needed a teacher that understood the condition of Black people, the Minister added.

“We have never been racist, but we have suffered under White people and we cannot deny that they have not been our friends, they have been our worst enemies. That doesn’t mean all of them, but their work on us has been the work of Shaitan (Satan),” said Min. Farrakhan.

An example for the Muslim world

Whether it is the rise in violence and hatred toward Muslims in the U.S. and abroad, the bitter conflicts pitting Muslim countries against one another or the rise of violence inflicted on innocent people by those claiming the faith, Islam is the right path, Min. Farrakhan explained.

Min. Farrakhan greets guest.

“Right on this stage there are Muslims that have had serious disagreements with the Nation of Islam but we have never shed the blood of one another even though our differences were real. Our disagreements were real but the love that Allah put in our hearts would not permit us to shed the blood of a fellow Believer even though we thought we were on a different path but the root of us would not allow us to shed each other’s blood.”

That is why Prophet Muhammad said that the light of Islam would rise in the West and shine back toward the East, he continued. “We are your example today,” the Minister thundered as the audience applauded enthusiastically.

“What kind of an example is this: Black, Brown, Red, Yellow and White all together as a family. Islam will prove that it is the only religion that can bring every member of the human family into oneness.”

The light in the East is going out but the light in the West is growing brighter, the Minister continued.

The Holy Qur’an is the book that will settle problems that human beings suffer from today, but Satan has come into the straight path of God and caused practically the whole Muslim world to deviate from the way of the Prophet and his Sunnah (example), said Min. Farrakhan. Scholars put the Holy Qur’an behind their backs and they cannot lead the people that way, he explained.

The Minister recounted a time when he and others went to Mecca, Saudi Arabia and said to the scholars that a center for conflict resolution was needed to resolve disagreements and disputes. “Why would we allow Mr. (Donald) Trump to come into our holy land and get all of the Sunni Believers together against the Shia?” he said referring to the president’s trip there in May of this year.

“War was dripping from his lips, deception and deceit and we treated him like God had come to Arabia. Now the clouds of war are gathering over our holy land. War materials that America supplies are being used against the Houthi in Yemen. Qatar that we have visited; rich and powerful feeding ISIS and feeding Al-Qaida with money. That world today is no example for us.” 

Mecca needs to be warned, but who will do it? he asked.

“We’re not out here taking money. Our work is the resurrection of our people and the dissemination of the faith. What kind of Muslims are we if we pray in the masjid and fast and walk by the ignorant and leave them in their ignorance?”

We are the ones that have to wake the people up with Islam, said Min. Farrakhan.                                                                

Faith is your greatest weapon

The early Muslims and Prophet Muhammad went through what the Islamic community of today is experiencing, Min. Farrakhan pointed out. The early Muslims were persecuted and killed for practicing their faith. “Many Muslims died so that we could have the right to say ‘As-Salaam Alaikum’ (Peace be unto you).”

Muslim women would sometimes dress like men in order to fight those trying to kill them or harm their communities. Today, Muslim places of worship are under attack and Muslim women are being accosted and attacked for covering their hair and dressing modestly.

Min. Farrakhan addresses special guests during Iftar gathering during Ramadan.

“Some evil people snatch it from their heads and attack them and kill them. What is our response? Who will we appeal to for the dignity of our Muslim sisters? If the appeal can’t touch us as men then we lay down our lives for our women and girls who are bold enough and brave enough to put a hijab on, a headpiece on and walk the streets of America,”  he added.

We have to wake up, said Min. Farrakhan and defend houses of worship including mosques, churches and synagogues.

Muslims in America are some of the finest citizens in the country but today the climate is such that even dressing in garb that identifies one as Muslim could make one a target for violence.

“My dear sisters, keep your hijab on. My dear sisters, be the strong Muslim women that you are, but to the men, someone snatches a Muslim women’s hijab off, what should we do? Come on now! You said your prayers. It’s time then to let the world know how we respect our women.”

The climate is such that mosques and masjids must be on the alert. Now is not the time to cower in front of tyranny, said Min. Farrakhan. “Allah did not make us Muslims for us to be unsuccessful.”

Though the early Muslims during the time of the Prophet took up arms to defend themselves, students of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad do not put their trust in carnal weapons, even after being attacked on several occasions by police, the Minister explained. He advised Muslim women and girls to also begin self-defense training in light of the increased anti-Muslim environment but explained that “your greatest weapon is your faith.”

An evening of fellowship

Prior to the breaking of that day’s fast, the evening began with Muslims gathered in the masala (prayer room) at Mosque Maryam for evening prayers lead by Nation of Islam Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad, and a Quranic recitation in Arabic by Alimmah Muhammad,15, a student in the 11th grade at Muhammad University of Islam.

After prayer, the crowd was treated to a delicious meal catered by the Nile Restaurant. The evening concluded with additional prayers lead by imams from various local mosques to conclude the night.

“As we see a lot of the turmoil within the Muslim community and the angst that we see within the U.S. and globally as well, it’s good to see the Muslims come together as a time during Ramadan to address some of these more pressing and serious issues,” said Abdur Rahman Nimeri of Sirat Chicago.

“This evening was magnificent,” said Lenore Muhammad of Mosque Maryam. “It just showed that we are part of a broader family. That the tiny Nation of Islam belongs to the world and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that the light of Islam is rising in the West and we see it tonight, the traditional if you want to call it that, Muslim community and the Nation of Islam. It was a joy to see all of us together under one roof, worshipping Allah during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Ndidi Amatullah Okakpu of the Chicagoland Shurah Council thought the evening was a beautiful example and show of unity. “I’m really happy that we saw a good number from the ummah, the F.O.I. (Fruit of Islam), the M.G.T. (Muslim Girls Training), everybody was looking beautiful just going with the goal of Ramadan,” said Ms. Okakpu.

The Minister made some very salient points, she said. “One of the things that he mentioned that we were just talking about was the protection of our women. We really have to get back to that,” she continued.

“Protect and maintain is not just for your wife. It’s for your sister, daughter, your sister in Islam and your daughter in Islam, your spiritual sister, your spiritual daughter. It really addressed the urgency of now.”

Representatives from various Islamic organizations including: The Islamic Society of the Midwest, Masjid Huda, American Muslim Health Professionals, Chicagoland Shurah Council, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, Inner City Muslim Action Network, Masjid al-Rasul, Masjid al-Taqwa, Zakat Foundation of America, Muslim Women’s Alliance, Ephraim Bahar Center, Mosque Cares, Masjid al-Ihsan, the Bosnian & Turkish Community Center, the Coalition for the Remembrance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (C.R.O.E.) and many more attended the historic gathering.