Minister Louis Farrakhan called the Oct. 19 rededication of Chicago Mosque Maryam "a very emotional moment" for him, coming 20 years after the Nation of Islam's (NOI) headquarters temple was originally dedicated, and after a year of extensive renovation which included replacing the roof and gold dome; installing a much-needed air conditioning system; restoring brass and marble detailing and fixtures; the addition of a fountain and water features, and a high-tech digital sign with a viewing screen on which an overflow crowd was able to watch the day's activities seated outdoors on NOI grounds.
The event, entitled "A New Beginning" was also in commemoration of the 13thanniversary of the 1995 Million Man March and the Holy Day of Atonement. Min. Farrakhan was particularly moved by the Mosque Maryam Ceremonial Orchestra and Chorus which filled the building with classical music by composers such as Bach and Beethoven. Seated on the mosque's upper level, the ensemble consisted of musicians and vocalists of various backgrounds led by a Black conductor and Asian Concert Master/Lead Violinist. The Minister, also a skilled violinist, said it was the first time in 20 years he had heard live music in the mosque.
NOI meetings are usually closed to the public and media but the Sunday event was "open to all" regardless of racial background, an announcement which initially sparked rumors and reports that the NOI was expanding its membership to include Whites, Hispanics and Asians. It turns out that no such change in the Nation's structure was ever addressed even though Min. Farrakhan, during his message, noted that he knew many were "concerned and curious" about just what the 'new beginning' was all about.
Fact is, the NOI already has Native American, Asian, Puerto Rican, and Mexican/Hispanic members so only the status of Whites is, as was noted, of great interest to many, including some Blacks who feel Min. Farrakhan is going the way of others who forsook the basic tenets of NOI teachings which include a strong focus on Black self-help, improvement and repair. [According to the NOI's media outlet, The Final Call, the group does currently have a relative few Caucasian members who accept and desire to follow NOI teachings.]
The Minister lovingly, yet clearly, made it plain that Black issues are not being thrown under the bus but it is time to build on that foundation and begin to embrace the "universal aspect" of Islam and the theology taught by NOI leader Elijah Muhammad. He touched upon many points but also took the opportunity to review why it was necessary for one to come to Black people in America who, after centuries of mistreatment, were "sick unto death" and in need of a guide; a good Samaritan; a friend and a God. The NOI identifies a Muslim man named W. Fard Muhammad as that one who traveled from the Middle East – the son of a Black father and a Caucasian mother – to seek and save the lost sheep. This man eventually met, taught and trained Elijah Muhammad who later met, taught and trained Min. Farrakhan the same teachings which in past decades were called "Black supremacy" or "Black nationalism."
Min. Farrakhan went on to say the message came to Blacks in the U.S. first because their condition was the worst of any people on the earth and is described spiritually as "mental death." He referenced an 1832 quote attributed to Senator Henry Berry who told the Virginia House of Delegates, "We have as far as possible closed every avenue by which the light may enter the slave's mind. If we could extinguish the capacity to see the light, our work would be complete. They would then be on the level with the beast of the field."
Being in such condition, the Minister continued, made Blacks in need of being re-made and reformed – a mission the NOI has been on since day one when – after years of studying and analyzing Blacks and Caucasians in America – Fard Muhammad created NOI teachings to specifically begin the process of transforming the lives of the descendants of slaves. The Minister said the teachings were tailored to feed the broken mind and spirit of Black people who were at the bottom rung of society. Caucasians, he continued, "don't know how to deal with us" and even though they, and those labeled Orthodox Muslims, are turned off by NOI teachings, "they don't know what happened to us," the 75 year old leader said of the slavery holocaust endured by Blacks in America.
In a February address, Min. Farrakhan paralleled the lineage of Senator Barack Obama to that of the NOI's founder and did not, as some media outlets have reported, call Obama "the Messiah" but did say he views the candidate's "phenomenal rise" in this hour - given his ancestry – as a sign or herald that the Messiah, awaited by Jews, Christians and Muslims, is about to make an appearance. This week he did not mention any political candidates but called attention to the "change" theme being used by both presidential campaigns and tied it to a Biblical verse which speaks of "all things" being made new. Many things, he said, are lined up for change but it is a spiritual change that many are yearning for in their souls; something that will not be satisfied by a political change but by a universal change which, the Minister said, is coming on the scene today.
Part of that, he continued, will require Black people - who have been chosen by God to fulfill a great, universal destiny - to reform themselves here in America first and then take that message of change and reform to the world. In a letter to those who attended the rededication, Min. Farrakhan said the ceremony was "to demonstrate the Oneness of Allah (God); Humanity; the Prophetic Community, and the Oneness of Religion." In that spirit, the meeting was open to all faiths and included opening prayers which were preceded by the blowing of the Jewish Shofar (horn); the ringing of Christian bells, and the Islamic Adhan or call to prayer. Minutes later, Priest Aheedyah Ben Israel led a Hebrew prayer; Rev. Willie Wilson a Christian prayer, and Imam Dr. Ahmed Rufai an Islamic prayer.
Near the program's end, Min. Farrakhan noted that the "kernel" that ties all faiths together is the concept of "Do unto others as you would have done unto you;" something his research team found to be true after studying teachings of the B'hai; African religions; Buddhism; Confucianism; Hinduism; Jainism; Shintoism; Sikhism; Taoism; Zoroastrianism; Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. He summed up the 'new beginning' by saying it is time to evolve beyond just service to one's own people and become servants of the human family on the mission of helping to bring in the government of peace worldwide.