By Ibrahim and
Holy Qur’an 4:1: O mankind! Reverence, have a high regard for your Lord (Guardian Evolver, Cherisher and Sustainer), Who created you from a single soul; created, of like nature, your mate and from the two came scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah (G-d) through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights) and (reverence, have a high regard for) the wombs (that bore you); for Allah (G-d) ever watches over you.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Believers of Masjid Muhammad, under the leadership of Resident Imam Talib Shareef, celebrated their 50-year Anniversary of the historic building. The theme for the three-day celebration was “Honoring Our Past Ensures Our Future.”
It was consistent with Scriptural Guidance (Al-Qur’an and Bible) to reverence, honor and show gratitude for the wombs that bore us. The community’s Pioneers, grassroots Americans, made great sacrifices to establish the community and build Masjid Muhammad from the ground up.
It was the first in the Nation, among the many others, under the leadership of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, father of Imam W. Deen Mohammed (May G-d be pleased with both of them), to hold such a distinction. Along with that is the distinction of serving the oldest Muslim community in the Nation’s Capitol.
The June 17, 2011, weekend also served as a kick-off for the year-long Capital Campaign to upgrade and expand this historic Masjid. The three-day event began Jumuah, the khatib being Imam Nasir Ahmad of Miami, Florida. His inspirational and motivational talk set the tone of excellence for the rest of the weekend.
Imam Nasir began by reminding us that Imam W.D. Mohammed taught us the importance of saying “As Salaam Alaikum” and not just Salaam Alaikum. The difference being temporary or man’s blessings with the latter compared to Allah’s Peace.
He continued by reminding us that Islam is the religion of nature, and in fact, Islam is bigger than religion. His talk continued by mentioning Al-Qur’an is a Universal Book that recognizes other Faiths and is respectful of other Faith traditions, including the believers of Christ Jesus and the Jewish people.
Imam Nasir Ahmad went on to say that Islam is not identified with any race, tribe or nationality. His message throughout his talk addressed the pioneer honorees, Muslims and visiting Christians and Jews present for the historic celebration weekend.
Throughout his talk, Imam Ahmad also took examples from Al-Qur’an, Bible and Torah to show similarities between the major Faiths. At one point he mentioned that Christians and Jews are not enemies of Muslims.
Rather, he said, we are their Brothers, adding that one of the major problems facing our communities is there is so much attention focused on labels and not content — too much attention to the “container.”
He ended his talk by sharing how the human being is created in two phases; the biological phase and the intellectual or rational phase. He also shared a unique insight Imam W.D. Mohammed had given the community on two important concepts, “Paradise lies at the foot of the woman” and “men are the maintainers and protectors of the woman.”
After Jumuah, a Health Workshop was conducted by Sis. Sharon Abdullah, who spoke about the female component of the Nation of Islam and the MGT and the GCC. She spoke of the customary practices of how the children were raised and often times how we married young during the first experience.
The moto, “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave,” by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was how they were taught to carry themselves.
On Saturday morning a series of workshops began coordinated by Ibrahim MuMin.
The first workshop, “Future Directions for Muslim African Americans,” featured presentations by Imam Raouf Abdullah, Sis. Farah Shakour and Bro. Anwar Saleem. Topics covered “Reconciling our faith with our secular life,” “Education,” and “Strengthening our economic future through our past practices.”
The next workshop, “Reflections on the History of Muslim African Americans featured a presentation by Dr. Abulalim Shabazz, former Imam/Minister-Masjid Muhammad who spoke on “Significant events during the 60s and 70s.”
Sis. Baseemah Beyah, a 50 plus year pioneer, spoke on “Reflections on the teachings of our leaders.” And Sis. Ayesha K. Mustafa, Editor of Muslim Journal, talked about the national context of what was happening in Washington, D.C.
That afternoon the young adults held a forum that included Sis. Tawqa Mahdi, who spoke on “Good: The Enemy of GREAT,” Bro. Shareef Abdul-Malik who spoke on “Marriage the Centerpiece for Community Life,” and Sis. Zaibaa Mahdi, who talked on “Upholding Our Community Values.”
The workshops concluded with an Interfaith Panel. The panel presenters included Clark Lobenstine of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington and Marilyn Boesch of the Focolare, coordinated by Bro. Mujahid Beyah.
An evening sold-out celebration banquet capped the day of events. After opening payer by Imam Yusuf Saleem, Sis. Alia Waheed sang the National Anthems. Sis. Labeebah Salaam, a 50-year honoree, brought the welcome greetings and introduction of the Trailblazers.
An impressive lineup of speakers followed that included the Hon. Paul Monterio, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement who brought congratulatory greetings from President Barak Obama. Sis. Khadijah Siddeeq Mohammed, widow of Imam W.D. Mohammed, delighted the audience with wisdom she gained from her late husband.
Sis. Ayesha K. Mustafaa, Muslim Journal Editor, pleased the attendees with her national and international perspectives. The audience was treated to a solo tribute to the Pioneers by violinist, Fadlullah Ba’th. Resident Imam Talib Shareef was presented Proclamations by the Hon. Kwame Brown, Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia, and from the Mayor’s office read by Bro. Shareef Abdul Malik.
A surprise appearance by the Hon. Ebrahim Rasool, Ambassador to the United States from South Africa, arriving with his parents capped off the evening. Later, Imam Shareef gave all the 50-year honorees a gift from the Masjid. Accepting on behalf of the Pioneers was Sis. Aida Sabir.
The gift was a specially commissioned cookbook, published by Masjid Muhammad, that included recipies from Pioneers as early as Sis. Clara Muhammad, first convert to Islam in Washington, D.C., and the home where the Hon. Elijah Muhammad first stayed when he came to the Nation’s Capital.
Imam Sultan M. Abdullah provided the closing prayer. And the evening concluded with entertainment by Leron and Cristal Young, longtime favorites of the community.
On Sun., June 19, the weekend concluded with a Public Address Session at Masjid Muhammad. The speakers at the Public Address included Imams Yusuf Saleem and Abdulalim Shabazz, both former Imams at Masjid Muhammad, and Imam Nasir Ahmad. Imam Talib Shareef made closing remarks, thanking all who had participated.
Imam Shareef encouraged attendees to support the year-long schedule of events as part of the Capital Campaign and to purchase CD’s, DVD’s and other merchandise documenting the historic weekend celebration.
The 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee was led by Resident Imam Talib Shareef. Sis. Rabbil Montez was the general Chair for the event. Committee Co-chairs included Carole Mumin (location) and Marvis Aleem (workshops).
Committee Members were Anwar Saleem (Banquet Program), Wali Shakoor (Pioneers), Najmah Salim (Registration), Muhammad Abdul-Malik (Security), Rodney Hawkins (Technology), Albert Sabir (Vendors) and Jamilah Mahdi-Shabazz (volunteers).