Sister Ethel Sharieff, the eldest daughter of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, returned to Allah (God) recently as a result of health complications from diabetes. She was 80 years old.
Hundreds of Believers, friends and family attended the funeral service held at Chicago’s Mosque Maryam to pay their respect and give support and encouragement to the surviving family. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who is still recuperating from an illness, delivered consoling words of encouragement via Mosque Maryam Asst. Min. Ishmael Muhammad.
"Brother Raymond Sharieff and Sister Ethel Muhammad are greatly responsible for who Mother Khadijah and I are today," stated Minister Farrakhan.
Imam Darnell Karriem calls prayer at funeral service for Sis. Ethel Sharieff, who served as National M.G.T. Captain for the Nation of Islam Photo: Kenneth Muhammad
The Minister explained further to The Final Call that Sis. Ethel’s desire was to be funeralized from Mosque Maryam because of her great service to her father and the Nation of Islam under his leadership. Her passing brought home to Mosque Maryam practically all the disparate followers of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and there was joy and unity among all present, he said.
"So many of the older followers came home to find that they were welcome. Her death could be said to be the coming together of all those touched by the Hon. Elijah Muhammad to pool their knowledge for the glorification of the Nation of Islam," Min. Farrakhan commented.
Former Nation of Islam Supreme Captain Raymond Sharieff, husband of Sis. Ethel, shared his reflections with The Final Call. "I have countless memories of my wife. She was a wonderful woman in every sense of the word. I am so blessed that she chose me to be her husband," he said.
"I miss her already. I missed her the moment she departed. She was a wonderful mother to the children and she was multi-talented. The things that she accomplished came from within her. She didn’t have to be taught," explained Captain Sharieff.
The loving husband explained that Sister Ethel established the first bakery for the Nation of Islam, which she started in the kitchen of Muhammad’s restaurant. "She baked bread with her own hands without a mixer. They didn’t have a mixer in those days. You had to make that bread with your own hands," he said with a smile.
The original idea of an M.G.T. factory came from Sister Ethel, which initially started in the basement of their home. She made everything she wore and sewed for sisters all over the country. She also established factories all over the country.
Captain Sharieff and Sister Ethel had six children—five boys and one daughter—and were married 53 years.
When Sis. Ethel was eight or nine-years-old, she would look out of her window and watch the car of Master Fard Muhammad drive to her home during the days that he met with her father, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, recalled Mother Tynnetta Muhammad, a wife of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
"I am sad with memories of Sister Ethel," she said. "Sister Ethel was the first sister to be called ‘sister instructress’ by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad," she said, recalling how strong, compassionate and disciplined Sis. Ethel was and how she always welcomed new ideas.
Mother Tynnetta and Mother Khadijah Farrakhan, wife of Min. Farrakhan, came into the Nation of Islam under Sis. Ethel’s instructions as the captain of the M.G.T.
Antonio Muhammad, grandson of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said the obituary spoke his thoughts about Sis. Ethel. "She stood as an example to us all. She took what life had to offer and did not complain, always giving warm acceptance," he read.
Ozzier Muhammad, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for the New York Times, said, "You always knew that she was in the room because she always had everybody laughing."
Imam Darnell Karriem, who moderated the funeral service, said Sis. Ethel was very noble and demanding. Yet, she had nurturing qualities that allowed one not to dismiss her. He also stated that Bro. Raymond Sharieff and Sister Ethel had a wonderful, loving relationship.
Haroon Najee, photographer for the Muslim Journal and The Final Call, agreed with Min. Farrakhan’s comments, that the funeral service was more of a homecoming for all involved.
"It was like a family reunion, a festive spirit," he told The Final Call. "Everybody was just so happy to see each other. They were taking pictures with people they hadn’t seen in years. You wouldn’t have thought it was a funeral. It was like Saviours Day," said Bro. Haroon, who joined the Nation of Islam in the 1960s.
Among the many people present was Brother Albi Abdullah, who crisscrossed the country with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan under the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. He was overwhelmed with the reuniting of the followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad during the funeral.
"The coming together of Imam W.D. Mohammed and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has made my heart heal. I’m now a whole man because the two champions for the African American community have come together," he said.
In reflecting about Sister Ethel, Bro. Albi said, "The M.G.T. in her time were into emulating Sister Ethel’s walk, her talk and her grace, and she was very, very noble."
Among others who attended the funeral services were Imam W.D. Mohammed and many believers from the American Muslim Society and Silas Muhammad and wife Harriett.
Many of the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad showed strength in attendance, including Min. Ishmael Muhammad, Min. Rasul Muhammad, Bro. Jabbir Mohammed, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Also in attendance were the family members of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, including the Supreme Captain Mustapha Farrakhan and wife Karen, Bro. Louis Farrakhan Jr. and Sister Maria Farrakhan and family.
The repast was held at Muhammad University of Islam, where Believers, friends and family members fellowshipped and reflected on the wonderful life of Sister Ethel Muhammad, as well as remembering the times when they attended Muhammad University themselves.
As her essence goes back to the Creator from whence it came, she will be missed and forever remembered. May Allah be pleased with Sister Ethel Sharieff.
Interment was at Mt. Glenwood Cemetery, 18301 Glenwood Ave., Glenwood, Ill.
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