Caption: An attendee and a child listen as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is introduced during the annual Saviours’ Day convention in Detroit, Michigan February 25, 2007. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
By Masood Rab, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
The annual â€˜Savioursâ€™ Dayâ€™ event is celebrated by the Nation of Islam (NOI) to showcase the Nationâ€™s accomplishments, its enviable discipline and its leadership vision for NOI members in particular and African Americans in general.
It also serves as a meeting point for the thousands of NOI members and their families to exchange pleasantries and attend workshops conducted on various topics such as education, marriage, business, and societal development.
The Savioursâ€™ Day 2007 was promoted by the Nationâ€™s executive leadership (appointed by Minister Louis Farrakhan due to his ill health) as the last major public speech from Minister Farrakhan.
The Nationâ€™s executive leadership selected the theme for this savioursâ€™ day, â€œOne Nation Under God.â€ The savioursâ€™ day activities were held in Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan over the weekend, February 23-25, 2007 with. Farrakhanâ€™s address as a grand finale in Ford Field, the football stadium of the Detroit Lions.
This yearâ€™s event assumed more significance over the past years – not only it was billed as the last major public address by Min. Farrakhan but also the Friday (Jumuâ€™ah) khutbah (sermon) and prayer would be led by a former Nation member who left the Nation to join mainstream Islam–Imam Siraj Wahaj of Masjid Taqwa in New York and Amir (President) of MANA, Muslim Alliance in North America.
The Friday programs and activities centered on two main events of the day, a Friday khutbah and a live satellite video hookup with Khartoom, for an interview with President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan. In his Friday khutbah, Imam Siraj emphasized the Oneness of God Almighty Allah and the oneness of the universal message of Islam that was preached by all prophets of Allah including Ibrahim (as), Musa (as) and Isa (as). He reminded the huge gathering of devotees (composed of NOI members, mainstream Muslims, and Christians) who had gathered for the Jumuâ€™ah prayer, of the Divine revelation in Qur`an, â€œVerily this is one nation of yours and I am your Lord, worship Me alone.â€
Immediately following the Friday prayer, a live telecast with President Omar Al-Bashir took place. He shed light on the Darfur issue. â€œDarfur,â€ stated Al-Bashir, â€œ has three regions and each region divided into 40-42 administrative areas. The troubled areas are about three in each region. Janjuis are not a tribe of light skinned persons; these are bandits who have various tribal ethnicities as their bandit members. The west, especially America, doesnâ€™t like to see an African Muslim country with the resources that we have, to be free from their control,â€ Al-Bashir said.
â€œWe are struggling to survive as a free black African nation to decide our own affairs. We have signed a contract with China to build us refineries. This doesnâ€™t please America.â€ He invited the audience to visit Sudan and see for themselves the developments and the conditions in Sudan. â€œYou will not see any slavery,â€ he concluded, â€œnor the conditions that are blamed in Western media. We do not want UN and US taking over Sudanese administration and converting our state into another debacle as that of Iraq.â€
The closing address of the Savioursâ€™ Day celebrations was the highlight of the weekend-long events organized by the NOI. To demonstrate his vision, Min. Farrakhan filled the main stage in Ford Field with a diverse group of people, hip-hop artists, politicians, singers, religious leaders from churches, mainstream Muslim group representatives, Latino and Native American leaders. A few of them spoke before the main address–notable among them was the new secretary general of ISNA, Dr. Muneer Fareed.
The estimated crowd of 40-50 thousand was waiting to see and hear the brilliant and courageous man who was so vocal in expressing frank observations and the truth as he saw, accused by the mass media as a hate monger, who had single-handedly attracted a march of million black man march, who is considered as outspoken enemy of the whites and the Jews–was finally going to change the direction of the NOI.
There had been rumors that Min. Farrakhan was leading the NOI and his followers into the mainstream Islam as Imam W.D. Muhammad had done years before, after the death of his father Elijah Muhammad when Min. Farrakhan remained in the footsteps of Elijah Muhammad to take over the leadership of the Nation.
But he made no such statement; rather he encouraged the NOI to conduct dialog with Christians and mainstream Muslims.
The crowd welcomed him with deep and passionate respect as Min Farrakhan walked onto the stage accompanied by his wife Khadeejah and daughter Fatimah, who as a trained nurse had stayed at his bedside during the ordeal of surgery for cancer and his recovery–complete, so it seemed.
With humility in the face, the warrior started his two hour long address dispelling all concerns about his health, by lavish and sincere praises and thanks for everyone for their prayers for his health and recovery. He thanked Muslims, Christians, Jews, native Americans, Hindus, Buddhists and Almighty Allah for â€œbringing him back from the door of deathâ€ to serve humanity. He thanked Imam Siraj Wahaj for accepting the invitation and leading the Friday prayer, Kwame Kilpatrick, mayor of Detroit and the rest of the city administration for making the NOI feel at home. As this location where Ford Field is built once stood Black Bobbit, the NOIâ€™s first place of assembly. He thanked the executive council of the Nation for stepping in and accepting the responsibility of running the affairs of the NOI since his illness in September 2006.
His message, he said, would be that of the prophets of Almighty Allahâ€“Guidance, Good Tidings and Warning.
â€œOne Nation Under Godâ€ is the bullet point of his address that God Almighty has laid on him during his illness, â€œPreach a message that is universal in its scope.â€ He cited the Islamic history when Prophet Muhammad (s) went to Mecca to give the farewell message. The Prophet (s) was weak due to effects of earlier poisoning, and passed away nearly 80 days after delivering the farewell message. â€œI donâ€™t see expiration for me,â€ said Farrakhan, indicating that he was in good health and dimming rumors of the possibility of his appointing a successor.
The world, he said, is in a terrible condition–in the Muslim world, Shiâ€™a and Sunni are fighting and slaughtering each other, tribes are pitted one against the other and this is what Prophet Muhammad (s) grieved about. But, when he returned to Mecca for delivering the final message–he had brought all tribes together and everyone was in unity. Now Muslims have reverted to those days before the Prophet Muhammad (s)–tribes and nations fighting each other. If Muslims lived the way Prophet (s) taught and lived, we would not, he said, be in the condition that we are in.
The Muslims and Christians are full of praises by lips for their prophets but their hearts are removed from the directions given to them by their prophets to follow. If Christians and Muslims are followers of the prophets of eternal God, how is it that we canâ€™t embrace each other for the love of our prophets. The Bible says, â€œLove of this world is enmity with God.â€ You canâ€™t love this world and love God Almighty at the same time.
If we look into the world today–there are 192 national flags, showing the division of humanity. God wanted â€œone nation.â€ This is why we will have wars–look at our government and president, using outright lies which have resulted in a pulverized Iraq.
Saddam, if he was a lion, had no teeth and no claws–you had reduced Iraq to a powerless state using no-fly zones. It is just like Muhammad Ali fighting a paraplegic–beating him up and then, throwing arms up in the air as a champion. Referring to President Bush, he said, â€œWhat a coward!â€ Why had Bush invaded Iraq, he asked and then he replied himself–Saddam gave notice that he was converting the Iraqi oil economy from a dollar base to a euro base.
He said that before the U.S.-led invasion, â€œShiâ€™as and Sunnis lived togetherâ€ peacefully in Iraq with â€œno bombings of holy places … but itâ€™s happening nowâ€ because of American instigation.
Talking about the Iranian issue, he said, â€œAmerica cannot say NO to Iran for acquiring nuclear technology. You cannot deny Iran access to knowledge. Acquiring knowledge is part of Islam, as Prophet Muhammad (s) said–go to China if you have to seek knowledge. (Bush) you have power to monitor the use of nuclear knowledge by Iran, but you are bringing all naval fleets to the Persian Gulf. You have bases and troops in 135 of the 192 countries in the world. You have your involvement in 30 wars now raging all over the world. You are spreading hate and destruction. You are spending $400 plus billion on the military budget and about $60B on education. You are building a sophisticated army.â€
To his audience, he said, John Kerry was right when he said, â€œIf you donâ€™t have education you end up in Iraq.â€ The army is inviting people–â€œjoin the army and get educated.â€–â€œI am warning you,â€ he said vehemently, â€œdonâ€™t join the army.â€ You will join the army and be sent to Iraq–you will go to Iraq one way and come back in a different state.
Muslim countries that have a total Islamic way of life are not acceptable to the American government, he continued. Rumsfeld was worried that if the Shiâ€™a became the ruling majority in Iraq, they would make the country like Iran–and that was not acceptable to America. What Iran wants, Hezbollah wants, Hamas wants–is a theocracy. What is the difference between theocracy and democracy–theocracy is the total Islamic way of life. They want to elect people to run a theocratic state.
Turning to Bush and his administration, â€œYou are wrapped up in empty democracy and the world is urinating on you. How can you pray every Sunday without pretending?â€
Democracy, he said, is no replacement for the Rule of God Almighty. The Bible said this world would become a kingdom of God–we have to work for that.
Continuing his ridicule of President Bush and his administration policies, Farrakhan said that its every evil act is justified in the name of fear-international courts and local courts are filled with corrupt judges. People with money are exempted from action of the law. Hidden atrocities, CIA covert action uproots democratic countries that oppose the operation of multinational companies in their countries.
God is not mocked and you canâ€™t escape justice, he said. American people have no idea â€“they send hatred to the world and now the hate is coming back to them.
Do we want better life, yes or no? Christians use the name of Jesus to shield evil and hide behind the whisky days. You love the devil. You want to convert to avoid a wicked life. Jews donâ€™t want to live by the Law of Moses. Muslims–you have to follow Prophet Muhammad (s) and get to the purity of religion.
Turning to the diverse religious leadership behind the podium, he reminded, â€œIf you canâ€™t get along with each other the house will be divided. You have to use your brain to save life–the gift from God. Leaders develop your minds to lead.â€ â€œIf Jesus (as) and Muhammad (s) were on this stage, they would embrace each other with love,â€ Min. Farrakhan told the crowd. â€œHow come we … canâ€™t embrace each other?â€
Reflecting on the accusations against him, he said, â€œI am grateful to Allah for guiding me through the storm of hate–being called anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-establishment, etc., in order for someone to rise up and kill me. But God saved me.â€
Reverting to the political tirade against Bush, he said Clinton was impeached for lying to the grand jury. What should they do to Bush and all his administration for lying to the nation? All of them are liars and murderers. They got us in a war that destroyed the economy. Impeach the whole administration! Now, Democrats–stop behaving like Republicans, the least you can do is censure him to tell the world that something went wrong with our leadership. But you are too scared (looking at John Conyers sitting behind the podium). Get rid of Cheney, Condoleeza and â€œyou got to get rid of the whole kit and caboodle.â€ Bring change to this world–pull the troops out. But you have to do the right thing and you have to do it quick.
In closing, he said all praise is due to Allah. Every prophet preached out of hope that the nation will come out righteous. I have no delight in warning you–I donâ€™t want to see blood and famine coming to America–I donâ€™t want to see blood coming to blacks, to whites. I want to see One Nation Under God who can live in peace. My time is up. The final call cannot last forever. â€œChrist (as) wanted one nation, Muhammad (s) wanted one nation.â€ He told Muslims, Christians, blacks, purples, and every one to get back to the families–start right from your families.
His parting words for his Nation were to establish three strong ministries, ministry of education, ministry of defense, and ministry of trade and commerce. â€œTake children out from the schools â€“ who donâ€™t have it to churches and mosques for K-through-college education.â€
This major figure of the 20th century American religious and even political fabric–who spent 3 decades as one of the power-brokers in the American arena, closed his address by calling for unity among the so-called Abrahamic religions–Christianity, Islam and Judaism.