The Defender spoke with Dr. Abdul Haleem (Robert) Muhammad, Student Minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 45, about a special four-day celebration that’s open to the public. Here’s what Dr. Muhammad had to say.
DEFENDER: Tell us about the Nov. 10 – 13 event happening at Muhammad Mosque No. 45.
DR. ABDUL HALEEM MUHAMMAD: We’re having a dedication. During Hurricane Harvey, we suffered damage to our mosque. And we were forced to meet in our school facility for literally almost a year before the pandemic. So, once we got the financing and the money together, we refurbished the mosque that was built in 1960. So, many of the systems had to be replaced: the roofing system, flooring, electrical, plumbing, et cetera. So, now we have refurbished it and we are dedicating the building. Believe it or not, we’ve been in our mosque since 1999, but we never had a formal dedication service, despite the fact that the Honorable Minister Farrakhan has spoken here three times. So, we’re going to do that formally. We’re going to dedicate this space, and it’s going to be branded as the Southwest Regional Center for Re-education and Re-training, where we’re mirroring our mother mosque, Mosque Maryam, in Chicago, which is the National Center for Re-education and Re-training.
DEFENDER: Can you speak to the specifics of the event?
MUHAMMAD: We’re having this dedication to rededicate ourselves to this mission. It begins, of course, with a meet greet on Thursday, Nov. 10 from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. at 4443 OST, Houston, TX 77021. On Friday, we’ll begin with Juma prayer service, which will take place at 1 p.m. at Muhammad Mosque 45. After that, there will be a Joshua Generation panel, with many young speakers that are coming here and they’re going to have a conversation amongst themselves from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. Then, we’re going to have a kind of closed-door Singles Mingles for the Muslims who are single, and they’re looking for spouses. That’ll take place also from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. on the property, but it’ll be in our school building. Then, on Saturday, we have our sister’s class that’ll take place. But once the sister’s class ends, from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., we’ll have “My Sister’s Closet,” where we’ll be giving away resources and clothing, lightly used, slightly used clothing and jewelry to any of our sisters in the community that need something. If anyone wants to come by and make a donation, they can do so. That’s from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. to one 30. And then, at the Shrine and Black Madonna, there’s going to be a “Conversation with our brother Nuri Muhammad” out of Indianapolis, and his wife Terry. And they’re going to speak to our 15-year-old and olders. It’s going to be real talk about mental health, about leadership, about responsibility, about the things that they need to do. And then simultaneously, again, from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. we’ll have a Junior Olympics from eight to 14 years old at McGregor Park, right down the street from the Mosque. Then that night, and unfortunately I have to report that the banquet is sold out. It’s the hot ticket in town. But on the 12th, that evening at 6 p.m. at the Hilton, we’re going to have an awards banquet fashion show. And believe it or not, we’re going to have entertainment. And you might want to come and see Muslims dance. We do dance, we’re gonna have a good time. And then on Sunday, we’ll be blessed to have our dedication service. We’ll have our keynote speaker, Brother Ishmael Muhammad, who is the national assistant to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Sunday at 10 a.m. Doors will open at 9 a.m.
DEFENDER: Is this event just for members of the Nation of Islam?
MUHAMMAD: We’re inviting our public. It isn’t just for the Muslims. We want the public to come, if no other time, come to the Mosque and come and be with us on that day, because we’re dedicating and reeding ourselves to you. This is going to be a community facility. We’ve changed the configuration of it. We took out the pews and everything. So, it’s almost a multipurpose facility here. Very beautiful. Come and see and come and be with us and experience that. So that’s Nov. 10 – 13. If you want more information, you can go to HTown45.com. And if you can’t come and you want to make a contribution to our building fund drive, because we still have more that we want to do here on the property to make it a fully serviceable property to serve the community.
DEFENDER: Why is this important for the Greater Houston community?
MUHAMMAD: We’re rededicating ourselves to the mission. Given all that has taken place with the pandemic, doing a lot of things via social media, it takes away the human factor of the interaction between human beings. So, we have to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the reformation and the re-education of our people. That is the purpose of it. Now that the election season is over, whether those whom we wanted to win won, or those who we did not want to win prevailed in the election, the question is how are we going to hold not them accountable, but ourselves accountable? And once we hold ourselves accountable, then we can hold them accountable. We have to have an unapologetically Black or community-based agenda that says to ourselves, “What is our responsibility?”
The Muslim program says that we want full and complete freedom. We want justice, equal justice under the law. We want the law of justice applied equally regardless of creed, class or color. We want equality; equality of opportunity. Well, that’s not something we have to demand of others. That’s really something we have to do for ourselves. So, we really need to hit the reset button and we need to be re-educated and re-oriented because we’re dealing with a Joshua Generation. And, you know, that those 19 years old and under were spared. The rest that were 20 years old and older that murmured against Moses and Aaron, died in the wilderness. But it was a 40-year trek still in their wilderness. So those who went into the Promised Land were anywhere from 59 years old on down.
And Joshua and Caleb, who brought back the good report, they were in their eighties. So, this Joshua Generation thing isn’t just young people. But there’s a certain attitude amongst this fearless generation we’ve given birth to. But like in Deuteronomy, they have to be re-educated as Moses gave a series of speeches to let them know what God did for them to cause the exodus and to lead them into wilderness. All of them, they have to be reminded of the knowledge of self, who they are, where they come from. And then we have to have a forward, progressive and proactive agenda that says here are five to 10 things that we all agree on regardless of creed, class or color amongst ourselves.
We’ve got to have an unapologetically Black agenda. Just like the insurance companies have, law enforcement has, oil and gas has, everybody has an unapologetically fill-in-the-blank agenda except for us. And people come to us and tell us what they’re going to do for us instead of us saying, “Here are the five to 10 things that we agree on. Let me hear your position on these five to 10 things that we agree on.” We listen to them, we dismiss them from the room, and then we vote as to whether we’re going to support them or not. And then we have to give them money instead of having our hand out looking for money from them. That is a new paradigm that has to be brought forward.
DEFENDER: What other areas will this Nov. 10 – 13 event call Black people to look at?
MUHAMMAD: Then we look at the educational system. We look at the reading scores and the math scores nationwide and here in Houston after the pandemic. What are we going to do to educate our children? And if the culture wars say that we’re not going to teach critical race theory, which it was never taught on the elementary, high school or even undergraduate or graduate level… It’s really is a law school course, but they used CRT in the cultural war. What they’re saying is they don’t want to teach Black history. They don’t want to teach a full range of history of what took place in this country, to build it, to take the land from the Native Americans and the Mexicans. They don’t want to talk about that because it might make Johnny and Mary feel bad. Then we are obligated to educate our own: after-school tutoring or Saturdays teaching Black history and other things.
Also, our economics assemble without substance. Minister Farrakhan teaches us, in this country, the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 white male property owners. And the Constitution in the United States on September 25, 1787, was signed by 39 white male property owners. What we don’t seem to understand is that the cry for taxation without representation, this tyranny comes from the fact that the colonies were asked to pay for the Seven-year or the French-Indian War, and they had no representation in the parliament when the taxes were passed. So, they rebelled and they formulated their own country with 13 sovereign states, with their own flag, their own constitutions in their own boundaries. And they tied themselves together in the Federalist system. What we don’t seem to understand is we can’t just put Black faces in high places. We have to make sure that our politics as Minister Farrakhan teaches us, guards our economics. This is the basis of America, and we can’t get caught up in this party or that party. What we have to do is adopt what used to be the mantra or the motto of the Congressional Black Caucus: “No permanent enemies, no permanent friends, just permanent interests.” We have to define our permanent interests.
DEFENDER: What conversations do you hope this weekend event inspires?
MUHAMMAD: We’ve been trying since this republic’s been founded to get freedom, justice and inequality, and we just can’t get it. We can’t get reparations. We need to put on the table and have a family discussion, a closed-door, family discussion, an adult conversation about separation and reparations, and say to them, “Look, you’re absolutely disagreeable to live with in peace.” We can’t leave another generation of our children and grandchildren, the same struggle that we, you and I, inherited when we were born and pulled into this thing. Yes, we made progress. I can’t deny we have made progress. But you know, like Malcolm said, to take an eight-inch knife and pull it out four inches, is not progress.