By Bashir Muhammad Akinyele
Often I think about my path to Al-Islam, Black consciousness, and community activism for social justice. I think about my growth as a Muslim, as a progressive Black nationalist freedom fighter, as a community activist, as a father, and as a husband. This video took me back to my first steps into Islam and pro blackness. Before leaving the Nation of Islam to take my shahada (An Arabic word that means to declare that there is no God worthy of worship, except Allaah) in 1996 to become a member of the world Muslim Ummah (Community) under the guidance of Allaah (SWT), the Holy Qur’an, and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (May the Peace and Blessings of Allaah be upon Him), I was a member of the Nation of Islam. I was trained as a Fruit of Islam soldier (the elite military wing of the Nation of Islam) under local Newark Minister Khadir Abdul Muhammad and Captain Majied Muhammad. My name was brother Carlos X.
This is a classic Saviors Day drill team competition back in 1995 in Chicago, Illinois. This was when Muhammad’s Mosque #25 from Newark, NJ won every righteous competition the Nation of Islam,under the leadership of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, threw at the members. Muhammad Mosque #25 won the most Final Call sells, the most money raised for the number #2 poor charity, best Fruit of Islam Captain, best Local Minister, and best Mosque pound for pound. The Mosque won so many competitions that, the Fruit of Islam and the mighty MGT ( the women soldiers of the Nation of Islam), were privileged to escort the Honorable Louis Farrakhan to the rostrum and sit with the leader of the Nation of Islam at Saviors Day!
Although I have been out of the Nation of Islam for 21 years, I would not be a Muslim, nor a progressive nationalist, nor a respected community activist nor a good father nor a good husband today if it had not been for this organization. For many Afrikan Americans growing up in a post Civil Rights and post Black Power era of the late 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s, the Nation of Islam under the Leadership of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan was all we had left that represented something pro-Black and strong in our decaying Black neighborhoods wrecked by drugs, poverty, joblessness, high incarceration rates of Black
men, dysfunctional families, the irrelevance of the civil right movement, the absence of a Black Power Movement, white supremacy, racism, classism, black on black violence, and police violence. We found our sense of faith, pride and purpose all over again within our Black-selves in the re-established Nation of Islam. ( After the death of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975, the co-founder of the Nation of Islam, his seventh son Wallace Deen Muhammad became the leader of the Nation of Islam. He would eventually direct the leaders and thousands of members of Nation of Islam into the religion of Al-Islam practice by billions of Muslims on the planet earth. Some scholars say Imam Muhammad led the largest Islamic conversion of Afrikan Americans in Black and American history. He became it’s chief Imam. He provided a way for Al-Islam and the Muslim Ummah (Community) to have voice and place in America for all human beings. Wallace Deen Muhammad would also change his name to Warith Deen Muhammad. By the late 1970’s Minister Louis Farrakhan disagreed with these moves. He believed that Nation of Islam was still the best path Black people to embrace Islam and for Black Empowerment. Minister Farrakhan would eventually re-established the Nation of Islam for a whole new generation of Afrikan Americans who never heard of this organization.) Many of us who came through the ranks of Nation of Islam during those days were reborn in Islam and in Blackness.
I am not alone. There were, and are, many brothers and sisters like me. Brothers and sisters who have been inspired by the Nation of Islam’s Black Liberation spirituality and the afro-centric training of Black Men and Women, helped many Afrikan Americans become good fathers, good mothers, good husbands, good wives, good brothers, good sisters, good teachers, good community leaders, good uncles, good aunties, good grandmothers, and good grandfathers. Most importantly, the Nation of Islam put many Afrikan Americans on the path of Al-Islam and Black consciousness in modern urban America.
Therefore, as long as I live, I will always respect the Nation of Islam, the founder of the Nation of Islam-Master Wali Deen Fard Muhammad, the co-founder of the Nation of Islam-the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and the rebuilder of the Nation of Islam -the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The Nation of Islam must always have a place in the history of America and in the world and in the history of Black people in America and in the world.
Bashir Muhammad Akinyele
-Radio Producer and Talk Show Host