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Taking it to the street: F.O.I promote peace nationwide

By FinalCall.com News | Last updated: Jul 25, 2012 - 2:40:47 PM

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(FinalCall.com) - It seems as if everywhere in the country, violent crime, murder and a general lack of respect for human life is increasing.  Muslim men mobilized nationally at the call of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to work to halt this tragic, troubling trend.

The Minister and the Fruit of Islam were on the move July 23 in three yellow school busses that pulled out of the lot of Mosque Maryam in Chicago. The work this Monday night would be local as Min. Farrakhan and the F.O.I. focused on the South Shore community, which includes the ward where the mosque is located.

The first stop was east of the mosque in a blighted area known as “Terror Town,” where crime has helped to propel South Shore to near the top of city statistics for violence.

Neighborhood residents told The Final Call that drug dealing is rampant, killing and robberies take place regularly, and although children were playing outside, today, no one feels safe.

Joanne Buchanan, 65, was robbed two months ago and had to have 18 staples in her head. Her assailant cut her head “from the back to the front.”

“Drugs have taken over, the police don’t care, they don’t come,” said Ms. Buchanan.

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Nilaja McDaniel has lived in the neighborhood for the last 40 years. When she was on the bus and all the cars turned, she knew right away it was the F.O.I. She first thought something bad had happened, then she noticed it was the Minister with the brothers.

“It was overwhelming,” said Ms. McDaniel. “We need it in the community. The Minister is a positive influence and a great warrior,” she added. Residents lined the street and one woman shouted, “Thank you, thank you in the name of Jesus!” as the Muslims came down the street. Another woman pleaded: “Please come get my son, he is out here shooting people. He needs to be with you all in suits!”

“We need all the support we can get out here to stop the violence and this is what everybody needs right here today, for this man (Min. Farrakhan) to come out,” said a longtime South Shore resident who only gave her name as Ms. Houston. “He is a leader. People are led by him everywhere and they honor him and look up to him. This could change things.”

Arthur Reed, a 70 year-old business owner who also lives in the area, does not feel safe. He closes his business every day at 6 p.m. because after dark is often when the real trouble starts. He was glad to see the Minister and the Fruit of Islam, it brought a greater sense of security and possibility.

Clara Coleman, 46, who has lived in the area for 20 years agreed that the neighborhood has troubles. But, she added, the issue is that these young men have no jobs. Hopefully seeing the Minister and the Muslim men will show the youth another way besides gangs, she said. “They see the brothers over here and they see what they could become, and it might change a little bit,” said Ms. Coleman. “I sure hope so.”

“I think that Minister Farrakhan is the medicine that our community needs. People are here reaching out to him, embracing him, it’s very emotional to see how people that are hurting and in pain are coming and asking for his help. I think it’s wonderful that he came to meet the needs of a community that is really struggling with a lot of social issues and a lot of social ills—to embrace a community that really needs love,” said 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris.

“As a Black mother, I am outraged, but I’m more outraged because people are not upset about it, I’m outraged that people don’t want to get out here and beat the drum and say ‘hey what’s going on?’ ”

“This is amazing. Just his presence in the community has just done wonders,” said 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston. “The way that people respond to him is something that has never been seen in the community before.”

Ms. Hairston, whose ward includes the area surrounding Mosque Maryam, said members of the Nation of Islam live in the area and are always working to make a difference. She believes the Nation’s approach is more effective than the tactics used by the police.

“The difference about the Nation of Islam is that they come in from a position of strength and they come in from a position of love,” she said. 

Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam’s historic Muhammad Mosque No. 7, told The Final Call that in New York City the men of the Nation’s Fruit of Islam moved throughout the community July 16, the first Monday night the Minister called for the men to be in the streets. Mosque No. 7 had 98 F.O.I. and Brooklyn Mosque No. 7C had 68 F.O.I. greeting, imparting guidance and offering good news, and hearing the thoughts and experiences from Black people.

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The F.O.I. covered areas in Central Harlem were Mosque No. 7 is located and in East New York were Mosque No. 7C is located. Both areas have seen an increase in violence.

In Harlem, the men covered one of many large housing projects, the St. Nicholas Houses, and in Brooklyn, Muslims went to Cypress Hill Houses.

A month ago, Muhammad Mosque No. 7 held a “Stop the Killing” rally and have been in the streets trying to bring peace and lessen conflict. Student Minister Muhammad said the Muslims were received with high spirits and excitement as well-dressed and disciplined men and youth stepped into their neighborhoods.

“It was important for the men of Muhammad Mosque No.7, New York City, to be in unity with our fellow members of our brotherhood first because we all received an instruction from our leader, teacher, and guide the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Secondly to follow him and his example of going to our people where they are and speak to them about this senseless and rampant violence and how we can eradicate it. Lastly, as we have been taught: ‘In our unity is our strength. Our unity is more powerful than a nuclear weapon and Our unity will solve 95 percent of our problems.’”

He also thanked Muslim women for their spirit and support.

Tony Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s Western Regional Representative, is no stranger to the streets. He’s led many door-to-door campaigns, peace rallies and marches on behalf of young victims of violence. Previously, he and the F.O.I. focused on three major housing projects that experienced gang activity and police raids—Nickerson Gardens, Jordan Downs and Imperial Courts. But July 16, a notorious south side Compton, Calif., neighborhood was saturated by 110 eager men.

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The area is a stronghold of the South Side Crips, according to Tony Muhammad. The unity push was important because the men were backing their general, Minister Farrakhan, in something that gave them life, he said. The evening push represented a turning point in the Nation of Islam returning to the first work, the work of salvation, he said.

“The Qur’an says it like this, ‘Respond to Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life,’ and we responded and we got life from it, and our people got life from it. It was a tradeoff. We needed to do this work as much as our people needed to see us,” said Tony Muhammad

Taking hundreds of men to Atlanta’s streets was a flashback to 1988 when as the Fruit of Islam captain in Washington, D.C., Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad led what became known around the world as “The Dopebusters” to clean up two drug-ridden apartment complexes.

“This brought back so many memories,” said Mr. Muhammad, who is now Nation of Islam Southern regional representative and student minister for the Atlanta mosque.

The Dopebusters received awards and recognition for halting drug dealing and reducing crime in one of D.C.’s worst crime centers. Their activities spawned similar initiatives and security companies across the country.

After contacting Atlanta’s chief of police, Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad headed to a bad neighborhood. The area in most need of help was “Zone 4” which the police chief said had the highest crime rate in the city.

The F.O.I. from Muhammad Mosque No. 15 loaded up in a 45-seat bus, vans and cars. When they arrived, they knocked on doors in Zone 4 and let residents know the Muslims had come as servants.

“We talked to the senior citizens; sisters came out of their homes and started crying. We gave them The Final Call newspaper. People were so appreciative. Everyone was overjoyed. We greeted them with love and unity,” he said.

When the Muslims pulled up to one location a makeshift memorial was arranged next to a fence, residents said a 30-something year old woman had been killed. There were different rumors about the cause of her death and whether it was related to prostitution or stealing from someone. Whatever the cause, the people at the apartment complex embraced the Muslims, their newspapers and information. Some snapped pictures of the F.O.I. with cell phones before the men loaded up to leave.

When the F.O.I returned to the mosque, they were served with a feast prepared by Muslim women, who had cheered as their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and cousins went to minister to a suffering people. “We had the support of the sisters who want to see their communities free from violence,” said Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad.

Abdul Khadir Muhammad, the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast regional representative of the Nation of Islam based in Muhammad Mosque No. 4 in Washington, D.C., also felt it was important for the Muslim men to be in unity and in solidarity with their Fruit of Islam brothers across the country.

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Ninety-seven members of the F.O.I. from Washington, D.C., fanned out in the early evening. Student Minister Abdul Khadir Muhammad, Fruit of Islam regional student Captain Aaron Muhammad and regional student Secretary Dirickson Muhammad walked and talked as the men embraced residents of the Parkland Housing Projects, a large housing complex, in South East D.C.

“This unity had an effect that also nourished us, fed us and uplifted the brotherhood’s love for each other as we soldiered together in this location not too far from the mosque,” Abdul Khadir Muhammad added.

Similar sentiments were felt in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Just an hour or so north of Chicago, Milwaukee has had its share of gang related crime. The F.O.I. hit one of the city’s highest crime areas, from Center Street to North Avenue between 35th and 40th Streets.

“We wanted the city of Milwaukee, as well as our comrades around the country to know that there was no hesitation on our part in answering the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s call,” said Shawn Muhammad, a member of the student ministry of Muhammad Mosque No. 3. The mosque is under the direction of N.O.I. Wisconsin student representative William Muhammad. 

An elderly man in the neighborhood showed Shawn Muhammad bullet holes in the siding of his home, mailbox, and porch. The older man used to try to talk to Black youth in the neighborhood and encourage peacemaking but was not successful, said Shawn Muhammad. The man lives in fear and doesn’t even leave through the front door of his home if a lot of young Black males are outside, he continued. 

Prominent in the local hip hop scene and known for community outreach, especially among the so-called gangs, Shawn Muhammad admitted “mixed feelings” about Minister Farrakhan leading the men out to the streets. It signaled collectively the F.O.I. had not been diligent in efforts to reach and resurrect spiritually and mentally dead Black people, he said.

“One side of me was exhilarated, while another part of me was ashamed. It is always a boost for me in my spirit when I am a witness to yet another example of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s love and compassion for our people,” said Shawn Muhammad. “Though I am glad to be a witness, I feel that it is something that he shouldn’t have to do. Our Minister has taught us well and been exemplary in his service. We already know what to do, and we should be found doing it.”

In Houston, two groups went out into the city. One went to the Southwest side of Houston and the Forum Park neighborhood and another went to the South Lawn neighborhood close to Muhammad Mosque No. 45.

Across the entire Southwestern region, Muslim men were out in the streets.

Student Minister Robert Muhammad, the Southwestern regional representative of the Nation of Islam is based at Houston’s Muhammad Mosque No. 45. Allah (God) came to put Black people on top of civilization, however, it cannot take place unless there is unity, and there is a place for everyone to do their part in the work to resurrect the people, he said.

“We come from diverse backgrounds, so what will unify us? Common cause, purpose, thoughts and actions. Going after our people to let them know that Allah, his Christ and their Apostle love them is a healing balm for their and our sin sick souls. Minister, captain, lawyer, doctor, carpenter and ditch digger can share in the resurrection work. All work as one in the salvation and liberation plan for God’s people,” he said.

“What was joyous was the way the people came out on their balconies, brought their children outside, waved to us, gave us the thumbs up from their wheelchairs, sisters tugging on their short skimpy dresses in an attempt to look more modest in our presence and hardcore street warriors showing respect because we gave them love and respect,” said Robert Muhammad.

The Fruit of Islam was received gladly and Robert Muhammad has received phone calls from some he met during the mobilization.

He also noted the “wretched condition” of some apartments and sees a possible call to action on behalf of residents in the near future.

“The property owners are negligent and outright criminal in some cases as it relates to the living conditions of the families that inhabit some of these apartment units. The residents asked that we come back and organize them to help improve their living standards,” he said.

Fruit of Islam from the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area met in the troubled city of Stockton, Calif. Stockton recently made news as the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy, and its per capita homicide rate outpaces Chicago.

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Student Minister Keith Muhammad of Oakland’s Muhammad Mosque No. 26B, Student Minister Christopher Muhammad of San Francisco’s Muhammad Mosque No. 26 and Stockton study group coordinator Brian Muhammad worked together to impact the city.

They were escorted by a father whose unarmed teenage son, James Rivera Jr., was shot by Stockton police over 40 times.

“We were blessed to impact the area’s most violent city,” said Student Minister Keith Muhammad. “Next week, we take on Oakland.”

In North Carolina, members of the F.O.I spread out through several cities. Separate teams of F.O.I. swept into Greensboro, Winston Salem, Durham, Charlotte, and in Greenville.

Terence Muhammad said youth and elders were happy to see the men. Being with the people establishes a connection because personal relationships develop, he said.

“I personally was happy to see a brother that had been locked up doing good and he was happy seeing us. It was sad when I saw my cousin that just got of jail two months ago on the block selling drugs,” Terrence Muhammad said.  

The Fruit of Islam in Columbia, S.C., answered the call to reconnect with God’s people. The men from Muhammad Mosque No. 38 went into the economically depressed Bethel Bishop community. Student Minister Carl Muhammad and Student Captain Bryan X Harmon led the brothers going door to door giving The Final Call and delivering personal invites to the mosque.

“It was definitely needed, and the people seemed to be waiting on us,” said Carl Muhammad. Many asked, “where have you been?” he said. “The people are looking to seeing us more.” 

 

(The lead writer for this article was Final Call assistant editor Ashahed M. Muhammad. Final Call editor Richard B. Muhammad contributed to this report from Chicago. Charlene Muhammad contributed to this article from California, Brian Muhammad from South Carolina and Nisa Islam Muhammad from Washington, D.C.)

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