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Excitement, accolades and a lot of work ahead for F.O.I.

By Saeed Shabazz -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Sep 3, 2012 - 12:03:28 PM

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(FinalCall.com) - In late July, Minister Farrakhan put out the call for the Fruit of Islam to take to the streets to “work to halt the tragic trend” of death and violence in Black neighborhoods.

Case in point: In Boston, Mass. over the Aug. 12 weekend six people were shot resulting in three deaths. Student Minister Don Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 11 explained to The Final Call such behavior will come to a halt. “The Fruit of Islam are “absolutely a crime-prevention tool,” said the longtime Muslim minister and community leader.

“The hoodlums and gangbangers in the streets have no respect for anyone but the F.O.I,” he added. Muslims want to do something every day to help our people, Min. Don Muhammad said.

“It is late in the day and the time is upon us to do the work,” Min. Don Muhammad stressed.

“It has been invigorating—it has been awe-inspiring,” observed Ralph Muhammad of Mosque No. 11.

The F.O.I. has spent four straight Mondays in the community, dropping information showing there is an alternative to the lives of hopelessness that so very often lead to violence, said Ralph Muhammad. However, he noted: “It is amazing how many people didn’t know about the Nation of Islam or Min. Farrakhan.”

In New York City, the police department reported 146 deaths from gun violence at Final Call press time, with the possibility that there could be less that 400 deaths this year. In 2011 the murder rate was 516 down from the 536 deaths recorded in 2010.

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Student Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad of Mosque No. 7, located in the village of Harlem, said the “people are glad we are out in the streets.”

“The people’s response to us is, ‘We need you. This needs to continue, when are you coming back?” Min. Hafeez Muhammad said. Asked about the spirit of the F.O.I., he responded: “They are fired up!” The Fruit have been going out on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, joined by organizations like Fathers Against Violence and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care in the neighborhoods.

Ronald Muhammad, also of New York’s Mosque No. 7, said, “It has been amazing to see the crowds of people responding too, particularly the families.

“I witnessed a little girl approaching Student Min. Hafeez somewhat cautiously and then she asked him to pray for her and her little brother.”

All of this has caused the brothers in the F.O.I. to get closer to each other, Ronald Muhammad said. “Brothers are calling each other, embracing each other. We cannot wait for the next Monday to come,” he added.

Across the river in Newark, N.J., at Muhammad Mosque No. 25, Student Min. Lawrence Muhammad and the F.O.I. have been traversing the “mean streets” in that city as well as Irvington, Jersey City and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

“Overall just a great response from the community and the F.O.I.,” said Lawrence Muhammad. The Muslims explain that what they see in an F.O.I. is a young man who represents change that must start in every person who wants to make a difference, he said.

“I have a long list of names of people who want to continue the dialogue we have started on Monday nights,” he added.

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“People say to us that our being in the streets with them is so refreshing,” David Muhammad of Mosque No. 25 said. One man who seemed to be addicted to crack told Muslims they were bringing hope to the hopeless, David Muhammad noted. “The brothers in ranks are reflecting the positive spirit being shown by the community,” he added.

Bashir Akineyle, spokesperson for the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, told The Final Call, “I think this is a great thing that Min. Farrakhan has moved the F.O.I. to come to the streets of Newark.” The coalition has held anti-violence rallies in various neighborhoods for 161-straight Wednesdays. So far in 2012, 50 people have been killed due to gun violence, according to Mr. Akineyle.

Down the New Jersey Turnpike in the city of New Brunswick, N.J., with a population of 55,181 Blacks and larger numbers of Whites and Latinos, Muhammad Mosque No. 85 is led by Student Minister James Muhammad.

According to the New Brunswick Crime Report for 2012, larceny and theft are the greatest threats to public peace with 865 incidents so far this year. Aggravated assaults are second with 184; followed by robbery with 132 incidents; forcible rapes with 25; with murders and manslaughter at 25.

“The problem was there were back-to-back-to-back killings; one next to my daughter’s house,” Min. James Muhammad said. “I knew we needed something to happen and that is when Min. Farrakhan put out the call.”

“It was like a divine intervention from Allah; we were overjoyed. … We were giving each other high-fives,” James Muhammad said.

When the F.O.I. started their Monday sessions in the community, people were coming out of their homes smiling. “Amazing that there are so many young people who know nothing about the N.O.I.,” Min. James Muhammad added.

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Photos: Thomas Jehad, Lens of Ansar, Saeed Shabazz, Westley Muhammad, Tony Muhammad.
Edward Spencer, president of New Brunswick’s school board and a longtime community activist, joined in on a three-way telephone conversation. “I have witnessed the brothers in the community, and what I see is very positive,” Mr. Spencer said.

The most positive effect is seeing Black men coming back to the community, he said. “The F.O.I. seems to sense that many of the young men don’t have any structure in their lives. I see the brothers (Muslims) engaging them, listening to them,” Mr. Spencer said.

In Philadelphia, Student Minister Rodney Muhammad heads Muhammad Mosque No. 12. The streets of the City of Brotherly Love have “gotten pretty treacherous,” he said.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniformed Crime Report, there have been 230 homicides so far in 2012 and 324 in 2011 Philadelphia. Some have taken to calling the city, “Little Iraq.”

Rodney Muhammad said the F.O.I. understand it is a “moral imperative” that fuels Min. Farrakhan’s call for Muslims to take to the streets. “We live in a time when the moral superior will be the victor,” he added.

“It is seen by the F.O.I. of Mosque No. 12 that there is a need of our people to have them in the community, showing a genuine concern for their well being,” Student Minister Rodney Muhammad said.

The next stop down the New Jersey Turnpike is Wilmington, Del., population 70,851. According to the internet locator NeighborhoodScout, Wilmington is one of the top 100 most dangerous cities in the U.S.

“Obviously I know that Allah is guiding the Honorable Minister Farrakhan,” observed Student Minister Robert Muhammad of Wilmington’s Mosque No. 35. “When we go out into the community, you get a sense of how deep the roots of the N.O.I. run, people say, ‘You look like angels.’ ”

The women say openly that Min. Farrakhan is the only one left to lead Black people, Robert Muhammad said. “The discipline of the F.O.I. was so impressive that the buzz was there were 200 of us.” The actual number, however, wasn’t exactly that large.

Quagee Muhammad, also of Mosque No. 35, said, “brothers that have been away from the mosque are returning, and that is beautiful.”

“The ‘Lost-Found’ on the street say they are looking forward to seeing us again. And what I see is that we have a lot of work to do,” he added.

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