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An Academic Examination of Elijah Muhammad's Contribution to the Ministry o...

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Zaytuna College

2401 Le Conte Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94709

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Join us for a two-day conference at Zaytuna College as we look back in history to explore the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and examine how these teachings—a hybrid Islamic methodology—were instrumental in the development of the African American—then and now.

Our panelists are astute students of the Qur’an. Many held positions of significant rank in the Nation of Islam and worked on the frontline in Black communities during a critical period in America when Black people were struggling to affirm their humanity in the face of brutallyoppressive racist culture coupled with extremely disadvantageous economic conditions. Some are 2nd and 3rd generation whose parents or grandparents were members of the Nation of Islam during the time of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s leadership tenure. Our panelists will provide details about the significant contributions of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad as a major leader, social reformer, liberator for Black people, and the relevance of his teachings today.

This conference is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Registration is required. Registration is for both days, the Jumah on Friday, October 26 and the full conference on Saturday, October 27.

If you cannot attend the program, the conference will be livestreamed on Saturday at:


Focus: To examine the historical record and assess the efficacy of the hybrid Islamic methodology used by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad during a critical period in America when black people were struggling to affirm their humanity in the face of a brutally oppressive racist culture coupled with extremely disadvantageous economic conditions.

Historical Background: In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “all held as enslaved people” in the Confederate States “are” and “shall” be free. Over the next 67 years before the Hon. Elijah Muhammad arrived on the scene, freedom for the formerly enslaved Africans was met with strong resistance and challenges. These challenges included the formation of the KKK, lynching, and Jim Crow Laws – which all terrorized and restricted the rights of the former slaves and their descendants. As a result, in 1865 the 13th amendment was enacted to formally abolish slavery in the United States, yet the injustice conditions continued for the African “American”.

In the early 1930s a student of the mysterious teacher, Fard Muhammad, assumed leadership of the fledgling Nation of Islam (NOI) and began building that organization into an institution which would eventually gain national influence and international stature. A migrant worker with a third-grade education the Honorable Elijah Muhammad defined Islam to the African American people as a reformative force whose teachings were predicated on true freedom, justice and equality. Over time his message resonated with hundreds of thousands of black people who had been stereotyped as worthless, in-human and stripped of their historical languages and cultures. These conditions provided the backdrop for the reformative miracle performed by Mr. Muhammad.

Mr. Muhammad, a soft-spoken man of small stature, introduced and popularized Islamic terminology like “Allah,” “Islam,” “Qur’an”, “Muhammad” and “Mosque” in America. His social and religious teachings required the “dead” negro come to “life” by ceasing the use of drugs, alcohol, smoking and consuming pork. He required his followers to obey the law, work and be committed to their families. Women in his movement were held in the highest esteem. They were taught to dress in a dignified manner, support their families and dedicate themselves to the acculturation and education of their children. His teachings were clearly rooted in Islam. Amongst those who followed his teachings were iconic figures Malcom X, Muhammad Ali, Minster Louis Farrakhan, and his son, Imam W. Deen Mohammed.



1:30pm - 2:15pm Jumah: Le Conte Hall - Khateeb, Imam Abu Qadir El-Amin, San Francisco Muslim Community Center


8:00am - 8:45am Registration/Continental Breakfast

8:55am-9:55am Welcoming and Opening Remarks

  • Imam Zaid Shakir, Co-founder and Senior Faculty Member of Zaytuna College

  • Dr. Hatem Bazian, Co-founder and Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College

  • Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Co-founder of Zaytuna College

  • Imam Darnell Karim, Assistant in Islamic Studies and Childhood Friend of Imam W. Deen Mohammed: The relevance and contributions of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s leadership

Session One: The Self-Accusing Spirit (Nafs Al-Lawamah) - A Voice of Condemnation

Followed by Q&A
10:00am - 11:30am

In the decades after slavery, Black people in America, generally, were consumed by a deep self-hatred and lack of self-knowledge. Black people were stereotyped as lazy, inhuman, despicable and despised which was reflected negatively in the way they treated themselves, their family and each other. What was in Mr. Muhammad’s “Message to the Blackman” that attracted and reformed thousands of disenfranchised Black-people enabling them to become productive and responsible citizens?

How is the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s message relevant to the state of today’s African American community?

  • Moderator: Aïdah Aliyah Rasheed, Interdisciplinary Artist and Multi-media Producer

  • Panelist: Imam Abdul Karim Hasan, Masjid Bilal Islamic Center

  • Panelist: Imam Yahya Abdullah, Masjid Muhammed, Jacksonville, FL

  • Panelist: Ayesha K. Mustafaa, Editor of the Muslim Journal

Session Two: Does The End Result Outweigh The Means?

Followed by Q&A
11:30am – 1:00pm

Many who were unfamiliar with the NOI viewed it as a racist cult ruled by a dictatorial leadership. The separatist nature of the movement, kept members isolated from the wider society which was highly scrutinized and criticized by other Black leaders and the general population. Donations from largely poor followers were used to support a lavish lifestyle of the leadership and officials. True or false, the effectiveness of Mr. Muhammad’s organizational and leadership methods contributed to the NOI's great accomplishments?

What leadership/organizational methods would be effective in today’s environment?

  • Moderator: Sundiata Al-Rasheed, Head Administrator of the Lighthouse Mosque, Oakland, CA

  • Panelist: Imam Faheem Shuaibe, Masjidul Waritheen, Oakland, CA

  • Panelist: Naim Shah, Security Director at Masjid Ibaadillah, Los Angeles, CA

  • Panelist: Precious Rasheeda Muhammad, Scholar, Author, and Lecturer

  • Panelist: Imam Darnell Karim, Assistant in Islamic Studies and Childhood Friend of Imam W. Deen Mohammed

1:00pm -2:30pm Prayer (Le Conte) and Lunch (Euclid)

Session Three: What Were Mr. Muhammad’s Solutions to Economic/Education Inequality?

Followed by Q&A
2:30pm – 3:55pm

Under the leadership of Mr. Muhammad business and education were priorities: national/ international business trade was achieved, members urged to open businesses to “do for self”, and schools were opened in almost every major city to “educate your own”. The naming of the school, Muhammad University of Islam, speaks volumes of the high standard of a academic achievement that was expected of the students from kindergarten through high school. The NOI quickly became a prosperous community, by most standards.

With so many educational options available, is it still necessary to educate our own children? African Americans still generally fall behind in proper education, wealth, equal employment opportunities. Would you agree that the closing of Muslim schools and the lack of business ownership are connected? With so many educational options available, is it still necessary to educate our own children? What will it take to re-establish the spirit of entrepreneurial?

  • Moderator: Najwa Sabrie, Lawyer and Mediator

  • Panelist: Nadar Ali, Former Director of NOI International Trade and Chairman of the Board of NOI Guaranty Bank and Trust

  • Panelist: Dr. Jamillah Karim, Author and Former Professor of Religion at Spelman College

  • Panelist: Imam Yusuf Saleem, Former Principal of the Chicago Clara Muhammad School

  • Panelist: Dr. Zakiyyah Muhammad, Director, IMAS – Institute of Muslim American Studies

3:55pm -4:30pm Prayer (Le Conte) and Break

Session Four: In the NOI, during the Leadership of Mr. Muhammad, Did He Prepare His Followers to Accept Universal Al-Islam?
Followed by Q&A
4:30pm -6:00pm

In 1975, Imam W.D. Mohammed, son of late Hon. Elijah Muhammad was unanimously accepted as the new leader by the members of the NOI. Shortly after, Imam Mohammed directed and focused the members’ attention towards the study of the Quran, the proper worship of Allah, and acquiring knowledge of Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah (prayers and peace be upon him). Many say Imam Mohammed dismantled the NOI. The panel, many of whom are scholarly students of Imam WD Mohammed, will describe the journey from the NOI to universal al-Islam in a movement that has come to be known as the First Resurrection to the Second Resurrection. Learn how and why this incredible nonviolent transition occurred.

  • Moderator: Amir Abdul-Shakur, Program Manager, Trainer and Youth Advocate

  • Panelist: Imam Dr. Nasir Ahmad, Masjid Al-Ansar, Miami, FL

  • Panelist: Imam Qasim Ahmed, Founder and Director of the Islamic Learning Institute, Inc

  • Panelist: Imam Dr. Talib Shareef, Masjid Muhammad, The Nation’s Mosque, Washington, DC

6:00pm Closing Statement: Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin

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Zaytuna College

2401 Le Conte Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94709

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