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Nation of Islam training key for young Muslim woman who aided gunshot victims

By by Bryan Crawford -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Oct 9, 2018 - 8:22:08 PM

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CHICAGO—Chicago’s reputation for gun violence, particularly in the Black community, is well known. While shootings in the city are reported on daily, what you rarely hear of is shootings happening in any of the city’s public schools.

There are 176 high schools in Chicago, many of them equipped with metal detectors and a Chicago Police Department detail assigned to be on the premises during the day while classes are in session. Some of Chicago’s high schools even have a makeshift holding facility that acts as a de facto jail. All of these measures are put in place to protect students and faculty while classes are in session inside. But what happens outside the walls of the school is another story.

Shimah Muhammad Photo: Haroon Rajaee

On September 13, the second week of classes in Chicago’s 2018-19 school year, three students were shot outside of Chatham Academy High School in the Burnside neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. According to reports, three students were walking a few blocks from the school when someone exited a vehicle and started firing at them. All three were hit and while one remained outside in a nearby alley, the other two managed to make it back to the school as they are instructed to do in case of an emergency just like this.

Inside, Shimah Muhammad, who works at the school, saw the injured boys and immediately sprang into action to help until paramedics arrived.

“I really don’t know how I stayed so calm, but I’ll say all praise is due to Allah (God) because I’m not a very calm person in general,” Ms. Muhammad told The Final Call. She explained that when the first student ran into the school saying that he’d been shot, he was very calm, and she didn’t see any blood. Almost immediately after, the second student ran inside the school, much more hysterical and bleeding profusely from his arms.

It was her first time ever seeing a bullet wound from someone being shot. But it was also at that moment, she said, that the training she received from years of attending a special class at the Nation of Islam National (NOI) Training Seminar, kicked in. Ms. Muhammad is a member of the Nation of Islam and is an active member of the MGT and GCC Vanguard. MGT and GCC are the women of the NOI and stands for Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class. The Vanguard are young women of the class between the ages of 16-35 who are specially trained in areas of security and safety.

“I’m not in the medical field. I don’t have any certifications in anything medically or health related. It was literally me being an MGT and a Vanguard who was blessed to be in a special training class that I took seriously. I learned not only first aid techniques, but was also trained what to do, ironically, if someone were to get shot,” she said.

Ms. Muhammad explained that when the students first ran in, they were followed by other students, many of whom were either still in the school or outside when the shooting took place, and she was the only adult in the room.

She started to remember her training from the seminar and began directing the students to bring her certain tools and equipment that she needed, like plastic and tape, to control the bleeding from both boys, especially the one who was shot near his chest and who at one point blacked out as his body temperature fell from the blood loss.

For the boy shot in the arm, Ms. Muhammad used a bandana that many of the children at the school wear and carry with them and made a tourniquet to apply pressure and slow the steady stream of blood flowing down his arm and onto the floor.

After a short time, Ms. Muhammad stated that another faculty member arrived and not long after, the police and paramedics who transported the boys to area hospitals. All three survived their injuries.

Ms. Muhammad said that the gravity of what happened didn’t really hit her until the following day when she returned to the school and she saw that many of the students acted as if nothing had happened. For them, it was business as usual and back to their regular routine. This, she says, did not sit well with her at all and it spoke to the trauma that many young men and women who grow up in Chicago, have become numb to because the threat and reality of violence is part of their daily lives.

“The Minister teaches us about the desensitization that our people suffer from,” she said, referring to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.

“We’re so used to violence that when we see it we’re like, ‘Wow, that’s sad. OK, so what are we eating for lunch today?’ I didn’t take that well,” she said. “These are children. These are somebody’s babies. The fact that they can’t go to school, or walk to the bus stop, or walk home without these types of things happening, is bothersome to me.”

Ms. Muhammad explained that the student who suffered the gunshot wound near his chest, has actually returned to school and she said that she was very thankful that not only was he back to health, but she was in a position to help him as a result of her NOI training; training she feels that every member of the Nation should take advantage of.

“We get these trainings for free, and we should really take the time to go to them,” she said.

The training men and women of the Nation receive, is conducted in their respective specialized classes where they are taught proper security and safety protocols. The National Training Seminar Ms. Muhammad attends every year is where she received the first aid training. The seminar is not free but is invaluable and she  strongly recommends attending as much as possible to continue preparation and training for emergencies and other situations. “I personally go every year,” she said.

The National Training Seminar is hosted by Grandmaster Anthony Muhammad, a martial arts expert who is also the assistant Supreme Captain of the NOI. The seminar draws hundreds of participants from around the country for a weekend of intense training in all areas of security, first aid, and other training.

“I think what we’re doing in the Nation of Islam is we’re preparing to not only save ourselves and our families, but we’re preparing to be saviours for our people. I feel like when we get this knowledge, or this training, we shouldn’t just keep it to ourselves, we should teach our children, our neighbors and their neighbors,” Ms. Muhammad explained.

“I feel like we should give this information to as many people as possible because it’s not just about us knowing as Muslims, but our people knowing too because that’s the mission. The mission is to save and help our people.”