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Day of Atonement message inspires self-reflection, calls for unity, change

By By Tariqah Shakir-Muhammad, Michael Z. Muhammad, Donna Muhammad, Zakkiyah Muhammad, Elisha Muhammad, J.S. Adams, Anisah Muhammad, Nisa Islam Muhammad, Eric Ture Muhammad And Daleel Muhammad | Last updated: Oct 15, 2019 - 9:00:55 PM

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The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan addresses audience at Christ Universal Temple in Chicago commemorating the 24th anniversary of the historic Million Man March. The Minister’s address was broadcast live via internet around the world.

CHICAGO—Christ Universal Temple was the place eager listeners gathered for Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan’s recent Holy Day of Atonement address. Many felt Minister Farrakhan helped bridged the gap between Christians and Muslims with timely and thought-provoking words.

“When he [Minister Farrakhan] called for the Million Man March, they came together,” Robert “Red” Ross said. “The unity—people don’t really understand—if they come in your house to kill you, they’re not going to ask whether you’re Muslim or Christian or atheist; you’re just going to die because you’re there.”

Saabor, who gave a single name and is a member of the Moorish and Shriners community, believes so as long as the same God is worshipped and loved there shouldn’t be division.

“When (Student Minister Nuri Muhammad) gave the example about the three men and the guy was drowning and he had the rope, as he said we actually put our ropes together and save him; it’s actually talking about saving everyone. Because if everyone is supposed to be a man of God whether you can say you’re Christian, Jew, Muslim then it shouldn’t matter. If that’s what you’re on, then that’s for everybody.”

Minister Farrakhan also talked about the Black community separating from its 400-year-old enemy Oct. 13 during a program that also commemorated the 24th anniversary of the Million Man March.

“My son loved it, it was wonderful. … This country is so new yet it’s so old and it’s poor, and it’s not adding to us. It’s only taking away from us, so why continue to be here? I want to be under my own government,” said Dana Ashby, a social worker from Indiana.

“Today was very phenomenal,” said Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Chicago radio host and DJ.

“It was so good just to be in the presence of wisdom, to be able to hear all the things that he spoke about because God has used this man in such a mighty way and the thing about it is just believing when God uses a prophet just to bring forth a word. And, right now, the warning that he’s giving us is so awesome because now we have something to cling onto, something to watch for, something to believe because God has brought so many things to pass that he has said before. I have definitely got my eyes and ears open to what he said,” he continued.

Moving hearts, minds in Miami

Dozens in the audience at Muhammad Mosque No. 29 in Miami, Fla., watched the program via webcast as it was shown at Nation of Islam mosques throughout the country.

Carla S. visited the mosque for the second time, two months after her first visit. “Basically what he was saying was inspirational,” she said. “There’s a lot of powerful things that we don’t see that’s out here that’s happening, though and it’s a wake up call.”

The mosque environment felt like family, and the Minister’s message pushed her to want to continue to learn more, she said.

“To me, I feel like it’s a family organization and I wouldn’t mind being part of it. I have family, but you know, sometimes family, distant family, everybody has their own religion and do what they wanna do, but, this is what I want to do. I’ve been googling, researching, reading ... just trying to learn. I know there’s steps to it, but I just want to be part of the family, that’s it,” Carla added.

Jana Blanco said she’s listened to the Minister all her life, but Sunday was her first time visiting the mosque. “Can I tell you something?” she asked. “[The Minister] over a long length of time has always been a truth-sayer. ... I love him. I love him because he loves us. And I love God because he loves us. What I experienced in there was an opportunity to hear him again, and it never gets old. I’m so happy I came.”

Christopher Mackey felt the message is especially necessary for young people.

“Very informative, I feel like he’s really trying to make a stand,” he said. “One of the biggest things that caught me was the separation and how he was explaining our own territory and stuff because of the way they’ve mistreated us for years. I feel like, I don’t know, just every message is crucial, it’s critical for the youth. More important than just October 22, 2019 us. We’ve already been touched with it, but if the youth gets the message I feel like, then that’s what’s gonna be able to help start break the code.”

Inspired in the City of Brotherly Love

In Philadelphia, Tamika Johnson was a first-time visitor to Muhammad Mosque No. 12. “I was inspired,” she said. “It was great, and I will return. I have a whole new world view, and I found everything he had to say in that regard to be true.”

Imani Abdullah, age 21, called the speech excellent, and urged young people to listen to Minister Farrakhan. “What he says is good for our people. He inspired me to be a stronger person.”

Promoting a new day in New York

East Coast Regional Minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad and the Believers of Muhammad Mosque No. 7 marked the Million Man March and Atonement with a Saturday of community outreach and engagement in the streets of New York. The FOI, Muslim men, and the MGT, Muslim women, brought a message of unity, empowerment and invited people to come hear Minister Farrakhan Oct. 13 via Sunday webcast.

Minister Hafeez Muhammad led a corner prayer for a couple who asked for his prayers. He obliged and others joined in. The Muslims ran into men who attended the 1995 march, saying it was a day they would never forget. After community outreach was a congregational prayer, the grand opening of Salam Café, workshops on social media etiquette, disaster preparedness, survival, and security at the mosque and at home.

The Ministry staff put together a video of various Holy Day messages delivered by Minister Farrakhan over the years. The night ended with a military drill competition.

The next day guests were excited to hear Minister Farrakhan. The historic Muhammad Mosque No. 7, and its expansive lecture hall was standing room only. Maurice Middleton, 64, was a first-time guest. “What touched me most was when Minister Farrakhan said that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad gave America an extension of time. I love Minister Farrakhan and what he’s been taught,” said Mr. Middleton.

“It was a very inspiring message and it makes me want to be a better person. What stood out to me was Mr. Trump trying to bully other countries and how the government is bullying other countries by the money or aid that they give them,” commented Antwan Tolliver, another first-time guest, who is an aspiring actor and entrepreneur.

Sandra Salas, 33, said, “Never been to a mosque before and I really enjoyed it. I grew up Catholic, so this was really different. But regardless of faith we are all one. Minister Farrakhan said no matter what your religion Christian, Jew or Muslim don’t be fake. It was a pleasure listening to him today and I will be back.”

Rasul Muhammad, 25, said it was a “dynamic lecture that depicted clearly the time that we’re in today. The part on being fake, I believe that what he said about not just wearing the outer layer but to fully embody what you say you subscribe to makes you real.”

Special guests hosted in Atlanta

With Muslim women and men doing community outreach, Believers, supporters and friends of Muhammad Mosque 15 in Atlanta and Mosque No. 15B in College Park, Ga., held a walk for peace in the Cascade Glenn apartment complex. The walk produced guests for the Minister’s message and an entire section set aside for the Cascade Glenn community.

“What impressed me so much about (Minister Farrakhan) was his straight forwardness,” said first-time guest Marquis Smith, 31, of Riverdale, Ga. “What he said about family is important and I think necessary to follow. He gave structure.”

Cheryl Sonnier, 39, originally from Lafayette, La., moved to Atlanta just under one year ago. She had never attended a mosque meeting and had heard little of Minister Farrakhan. She only heard about him from the media and friends who even knew less about him or the Nation of Islam. “What I just heard was amazing!” she exclaimed. “When he said he went to Iran, and that in Iran, they don’t attack anybody. Ever since Sept. 11 (2001), we are led to believe that every country in the Middle East, Turkey or anywhere attacks,” added Ms. Sonnier, a former member of the U.S. military. She now drives 18-wheeler trucks and does restaurant work. “He (the Minister) said he had a message. And he was asking God was he doing the right thing. And God told him right then and there, ‘you’re doing what I have for you to do,’ ” she observed. “Hearing that, it was like something had been missing in me and today I found it. I just started crying while he was talking. I was touched. My soul was touched,” she said. “Now, I think I found home. I think I found where I belong.”

Also, recently moved from Louisiana was 25-year-old Ashley Harris. She was one year old when the Million Man March happened. She grew up knowing nothing about the march or its impact. She visited Mosque No. 15 with husband Najid. “I thought his message was powerful and moving and it definitely, like, struck something in me,” she said. “He teaches us to run towards our fears and stand up for yourself. I loved his speech.”

Avery Muhammad of Mosque No. 15 recalled a solo journey that ended with him following buses heading to the National Mall in 1995. “My fondest memory was the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) that morning, to see the unity. I drove myself from South Carolina, to New York to D.C., alone, to follow Mosque Number 7. I was on such a spiritual high. And for those who weren’t present that day on the Mall should see how Allah used (Minister Farrakhan) to be the message bearer to the entire world,” he added. “We in the Nation of Islam are now a torchlight bearer to that message to the entire world. His message exhorts us to be better Christians and Muslims. He kept emphasizing that we have to clean up ourselves so that we can be what God ordained for us. We are called to civilize the uncivilized. I will be meditating for days on what he brought. They were words of warning, healing and a resurrecting word as well.”

Movement in Memphis

Close to 200 people showed up at McFarland Community Center in Memphis to view the Holy Day of Atonement webcast. The address was marked by audience applause and reflective silence. Many attendees participated in the previous day’s Memphis Walk for Peace and Family Day to kick-off weekend activities.

The overall sentiment was be better, do better.

Lakiesha Inniss, 29, said, “The message that I received from the ending was treat others like you would like to be treated. That’s something that I preach to my children. Elijah Muhammad, I read his books, ‘Message to the Blackman’ and ‘Fall of America’ so those are some things I want to pass down to my children. And, just listening to him speak so highly of Elijah Muhammad, I would like to pass that message along to my children so they can grow older and join, possibly, and just keep that alive,” she said.

“I wanted to hear my mentor, Minister Louis Farrakhan, today,” said Titus Mennefer. “Every year I hear the annual Holy Day of Atonement and I came to the Millions More Movement (2000) and I came to the 20th anniversary (2015) and my father went to the Million Man March. So every year we try to stay on top of it and we try to keep our ear to the message of what the Minister has to say,” he explained.

Jennette Addison felt love from the Muslims and Minister Farrakhan. She lost her daughter Toshia Addison, also known as Choosey Parker, in a shooting last spring. Ms. Parker was a prominent advocate against gun violence. “In 2011, my daughter and I went to hear Farrakhan speak when he was downtown, I believe at the Cook Convention Center, and oh my God, he called her up to speak. Well, he was answering questions and he let her ask a question and I forgot what it was … but before he responded to it, she said something about the kids because she loved kids. Before he responded to her, he said to her, ‘You are a beautiful Black queen.’ He just put her on a pedestal and just sitting there on the front row. It made her feel so special. And, honey, I told everybody I talked to after I left that place that day.”

“That man means a lot to me. Farrakhan is a magnificent soul and he said something today that really touched me and it’s going to stay with me for life. He said, if they come for him, he’s not going to run from them, he’s going to run to them. Now that stuck with me, among other things—he said so many things. But that one thing right there really stuck to me because my daughter wasn’t a runner, she was a peace activist. And in the end, right before she passed away she was fighting for peace at that particular time,” said Ms. Addison.

Time for change in Macon, Georgia

The Holy Day of Atonement weekend in Macon, Ga., started with a Saturday event, “Making Our Priority Community,” to commemorate the Million Man March and honor the men who participated. The following day, Minister Farrakhan was webcast live at Muhammad Mosque No. 93. Samirah Muhamamd, an eight-year-old student at Muhammad University of Islam, said the Minister’s message was beautiful. “He made everybody stand up, and that is God. When you make somebody stand up on their feet and say ‘Allah-U-Akbar,’ that is God,” she said.

Khadijah Muhammad, 16, said the Minister’s words on religious hypocrisy spoke to her. “We can’t be fake Muslims or fake Christians or pretend we’re something that we’re not,” she said. “It’s not something a lot of religious people want to speak about enough.”

Baltimore embraces bold message

The Nation of Islam’s Baltimore mosque was filled with people anxious to hear Minister Farrakhan’s Oct. 13 message. Monica Cooper, who works for the city, said, “I thought it was absolutely beautiful and it was a reminder that God can’t use us until we clean ourselves up. God can’t usher in His world with us being dirty and filthy as we are and that’s in every aspect of our lives. It was a message that was meant for me. It was a message that I will definitely walk away with wholeheartedly considering the struggles I have, trying to live two different lives, a life for God and a life in this world. It was a reminder that we have to come to God 100 percent.”

Pastor Louise McNeil of Temple Ministries added, “I loved it. The Minister’s message today, he brought it home. It fits with what we’re going through, the shape the world is in and that God is angry. He’s angry with the wicked every day. If we keep on doing the things we’re doing, we’ve got to suffer the consequences. We have to look at ourselves and realize that we are not who we say we are. We are not real with who we are. We have the form but do not have the power.”

TariqahShakir-Muhammad reported from Chicago. Donna Muhammad, Zakkiyah Muhammad and Elisha Muhammad reported from Memphis. J.S. Adams reported from Miami. Anisah Muhammad reported from Macon, Ga. Nisa Islam Muhammad reported from Baltimore. Michael Z. Muhammad reported from Philadelphia. Eric Ture Muhammad reported from Atlanta. Daleel Jabir Muhammad reported from New York.