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Come to prayer, come to success

By Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Feb 27, 2013 - 1:08:51 AM

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Muslim women from across the country observe Salat al-Jumu’ah (Friday congregational) Prayer service during Saviours’ Day 2013. Photos: Andrea Muhammad

CHICAGO ( - Thousands of Muslims in the International Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton Hotel answered the call to prayer and success as a community during traditional Friday congregational prayers.

The weekly gathering of Muslims is called Jumu’ah Prayer. Prayer is one of five pillars of Islam, second only to belief in one God, and along with charity is a principle of action central to the life of a Muslim.

At the Nation of Islam national convention, Saviours’ Day, the importance of Jumu’ah Prayer was expanded to include an extensive orientation and a workshop teaching the meaning and nuances of prayer, called “salah” in Arabic.

Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad of Mosque Maryam delivered the khutbah (sermon) and led the congressional prayer.

The orientation, workshop and Jumu’ah service Feb. 22 were led by Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad, who was appointed the first resident imam of Mosque Maryam, the flagship mosque of the Nation, by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

During the orientation speakers included Imam Abdul Jalil Muhammad, Amin Shabazz, and Final Call staff writer Sister Nisa Islam Muhammad and Nation of Islam International Representative A. Akbar Muhammad, who answered questions and gave clarity to the subject of prayer in Islam.

“The intention of having this class this year was to give a forum to the Believers, one to establish a space that will allow us to continue and extend our study of prayer,” said Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad. It should help reinforce to the Believers that “we must submit to the will of Allah” and that it requires a sacrifice from the one submitting, he added.

“That sacrifice is to obey Allah’s command and be an agent of change for the better, in our communities. So we wanted to take a look at the salah or the Muslim prayer service in a way to take it out of the mentality of ritual; that without a change in self and a change in society the prayer that the Muslim makes is really empty,” the imam explained.

“The main purpose was to establish the prayer in the Nation of Islam as a means to build our ability to bring change and resurrect our people across the country and the world for the universal mission,” the great-grandson of Nation of Islam patriarch Elijah Muhammad continued.

During the sessions and the Jumu’ah khutbah (or sermon) the imam dealt with the significance of the Nation of Islam being propelled as a guiding light for the world of Islam fulfilling prophesies by Prophet Muhammad about the light of truth rising out of the West in the latter days.

In his khutbah (sermon) Imam Sultan Muhammad explained the significance of prayer as not just a ritual but a means to bring change and resurrect the community.

Imam Muhammad extensively quoted the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s own words of guidance on prayer. In the sessions and in the kutbah, he presented compelling arguments using references from the Holy Qur’an, the Islamic book of scripture, and from the illuminating book Message to the Black Man in America by Elijah Muhammad to enlighten those who have wrongly accused the Nation of not believing in prayer and not being “true Muslims.”

“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad has left us a body of knowledge in relationship to prayer,” Imam Muhammad told The Final Call after the workshop. He devoted “an entire section of Message to the Black Man, a book to guide us, on the prayer and an exhortation to learn the salah, eventually in the Arabic language,” the imam pointed out.

Others must let go of the mistaken idea that prayer, particularly in Arabic, means following some foreign people, he said. It must be seen that “part of our original nature is our original language,” Imam Muhammad explained.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad brought the Nation in stages to performance of prayer, said the imam. He also told us there would be a time when it would be fully manifested, which is happening under the guidance of Minister Farrakhan, said the imam. “We must not consistently have in our minds what those in the East are doing versus what we are doing here, we study what we have because it, salah, is a universal expression of the Muslim,” he said.

For members of the audience, the emphasis on the intricacies of prayer bore witness to the time and the growth needs of the Nation of Islam.

“It speaks to our growth, but I don’t simply mean, the growing in our religion,” said Dawud Muhammad, a longtime helper of the Nation of Islam in Detroit.

He said the sessions and the appointment of Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad attests to the “progressive growth of the Nation of Islam.”

“Because as the Minister (Farrakhan) has said Allah is the master economist—he doesn’t waste anything. So the stages that the Nation of Islam has taken are critical stages, when it is time for those stages … so not a step is wasted,” he said.

Dawud Muhammad observed the fluidity of Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad between Arabic and English and as a teacher showing love for his people and the “foundation that we all stand on, Master Fard Muhammad and Minister Louis Farrakhan.”

“It was excellent,” remarked student Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, the New York representative of the Nation of Islam.

“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan says that he wants other imams but he wants the student ministers to be proficient in prayer, the leading of prayer,” said Student Minister Hafeez Muhammad.

The underlining theme of Jumu’ah and the two sessions on prayer was the empowerment and progress of humanity and universal healing.

“We must also look at the words of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad where he told us that these positions of the prayer and the prayer itself are a sign to us of our freedom, justice and equality in this day,” Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad said.