Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): I want to ask you about the prison that you visited. It was your first time speaking in a prison, and you brought The Teachings 2.0 Tour there. Can you share a little bit about that experience?
Brother Jesse Muhammad (BJ): Yes ma’am. When I went to Boston they took me inside of two prisons. It was the two prisons that Malcolm X was in before coming out into the Nation [Of Islam]. Yes it was my first time, and it’s not that I haven’t been invited to go in, but I chose to deal with the schools while letting others who usually go into prisons do that. I wanted to work in the schools on the preventive side so that you all wouldn’t have to minister unto them in the prisons. I’ve always focused on schools in the last several years.
Going into that prison… man, the Norfolk Federal Pen…You know the walls are so high. We went through, literally, about seven or eight doors before we even got the chance to see the men. It was maximum security. When they say “the belly of the beast”, I really got a chance to see. Interestingly, we didn’t think they would allow me to bring a book in, but they allowed me to bring in The Teachings 2.0 book. They said that’s the only thing they’ll allow me to bring in and I was like, “That’s all I need”. To go in there and see such brothers who are dignified Muslim soldiers… Some of those brothers in there are more solid than some brothers outside the prison.
I just went in there and did what I usually do and got on the “witness stand” and bore witness to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It wasn’t anything different than what I do at a mosque or in a school. Just testifying. I was talking about the Minister and social media, but come to find out there’s so much advance access for inmates that one of the inmates asked me what was Black Twitter. I was like what in the world, how did he know about that? Some of them have been given iPods and have been able to listen to certain Student Representatives of the Minister like Brother Nuri Muhammad. It’s not like they’re just that shut off. They know some of the things that’s going on. It was such a blessing that our testimony moved some of the men to tears. I did wrestle on the way there when the brother told me that the majority of the brothers I would be talking to have life sentences with no possibility of getting out. How do you inspire a man who, in his mind, doesn’t think he’s getting out of that cage? So I had to make a sincere prayer that it’s not about me. “Allah just use me as you see fit”, and we were blessed to represent the Minister the best we could.
One of the deepest things I walked away with from that, Sister Ebony, is that I realized that many of those brothers in prison are more free than some of us that’s outside the prison. Many of those brothers are the epitome of what the Minister told other prisoners when he spoke. He said, “Make the time serve you. You don’t serve the time”. I listened to those brothers, I looked in their eyes. Some of them are at peace. They are free in their minds. They’re operating like they’re not in prison. It was an amazing thing.
In 2016 I have to fulfill my word, because at the end one of the brothers asked me, “What took you so long to come into the prisons man?” I told them it was my first time. He was very firm with me. He said, “You’re robbing the brothers on lockdown of a testimony like this. Nah man we need your word that from now on you’re gonna go in these prisons and speak.” So I never forgot that, and I gave them my word so this year, God-willing, I’ll be going into more prisons along with the school so I can keep my word.
Boston was definitely one of my favorite visits with The Teachings 2.0 Tour. Student Minister Don and his staff, they took good care of me. I spoke in Providence, Rhode Island. That was the city I think I spoke in about ten times along with interviews, schools and rehab centers. I spoke at a family day in the park. I tell the cities, and I told Student Minister Don this and he took it very seriously, I said I want to be like our Father – and Brother Nuri can attest to this – we don’t go to the city to relax. This is not a vacation. We only want to go to the hotel room when it’s time to go to sleep, so put us to work. Brother Don said, “Okay”. So when I landed in Boston, I literally went from the airport to a place that used to be a cleaners; it’s closed now but they still have this vertical steamer. I took my suit out of my bag, they steamed my suit. I changed in the back, grabbed a smoothie and went straight to speak four times, right after I got off the plane. This was within thirty minutes [of landing]. They said, “Brother Don said to work you, so we gonna work you”. (laughs) That’s The Teachings 2.0 Tour for you.
EM: Absolutely incredible!
We’ve seen a shift in how the masses use their social media devices where it has become the main source of breaking news, evidence in court cases and protests of all kind. What do you believe caused this shift that some thought would eventually die off, yet, has grown and continues to grow?
BJ: Well, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us and Minster Farrakhan has reminded us that prophesy does not look like fulfillment. Minster Farrakhan has constantly told us over and over again that this generation is not the generation of prophesy and it’s not the generation of hope. This is the generation of fulfillment. So they are full of the spirit, not of moments but of movements. So if you have a generation that a generation of fulfillment, it’s only fitting that which they ignite in this dispensation of time will not come and go but will be ongoing protracted war. It’s not surprising to me, it’s only surprising to those people who are in their outdated mode, their old ways and they don’t have their ear on Scripture. See, that’s what I love and adore about Minister Farrakhan that regardless if it’s the dinner table or the rostrum he’s going to always bring you back to what God’s Word says. He always reminds us of the Dry Bones in the Valley. They stood up not as a fraternity or sorority or exceedingly club or an exceedingly group. It was an exceedingly army, and an army has soldiers in it. Not citizen, soldiers! Therefore, what you’re looking at is a generation of fulfillment that he said, “This generation will make our ancestors proud”. Come on now! You can’t make the ancestors proud starting and stopping, starting and stopping. You’ve got to be able to see it all the way through. He said the only thing this generation needs is guidance, the right guidance. All they need is a chance. That’s what I see. That’s not to say that we don’t show appreciation for what has happened before, of course not. We stand on their shoulders, but we also understand that we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we’re sure trying to put some rims on those wheels. (laughs)
So if you see us doing the Cali Swag or you see us Dabbin’ at the protests, don’t get upset, don’t get mad at us. If you see them walkin’ it out or whatever it may be. If you see them nay-naying when they get a victory, don’t get mad at this generation. It’s very unique. They’re not reinventing the wheel, they’re just putting some rims on it. That’s why it’s the generation of fulfillment. That’s why they put out a shirt that says, “This is not your grandmother’s civil rights movement”. No disrespect, but even the Minister said that the strategy from back in the day is not for today. That’s why people are so shocked. Then they just automatically think that young people can’t stick to stuff. All of a sudden they have ‘Attention Deficit’ to everything. No, our attention span is not dictated by mainstream media today.
The mirror that social media is putting up to the face of America is a powerful thing. It’s not that these things haven’t been going on, but now social media is a big form of transparency. Even now with social media where finding out that there were some cases that never made social media, who never became a hashtag, but because somebody else did we’re finding out about the ones who did not. So it’s a dangerous time and the enemy understands that there’s a certain spirit and energy in this generation. I’ll say this: You can’t be a part of the Joshua generation if you’re not hearing the voice of the Joshua in our midst. I believe and we all believe and come to know that that is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. He is the only leader left that the deck has been cleared that the Hip Hop artists, the young people, next generation of leaders, they’ve been at his dinner table they come to his messages and they showed up big time at 10.10.15. If he was irrelevant all of those young people would not have come to D.C. on 10.10.15 for Justice Or Else. God guided him to make the battle cry for Justice Or Else while other Negroes are like, “What does the ‘Or Else’ mean?” young people were like, “You don’t even have to tell me. I’m going to come find out for myself.” I pray that Allah continues to bless this generation in this day and time to stay the course, not be bought off. Don’t allow the old heads to talk you out of your greatness. There’s a difference between an elder and an old head. Put your ears to and listen to those elders who have our best interest at heart. Don’t sell out. And for God’s sake, don’t become the very thing that you despise, because if you do that we will not be the hope of our ancestors. We will be a disgrace and disappointment.
If we who have risen to stardom via social media, and we have all of these followers, and we have all of this influence, and we have become trending hashtags, and we’ve been able to move this and now we’re being interviewed and making a little money: What good is it all if you become a sell out the same way other old heads that you condemn? Then you weren’t worthy of what God has bless you with. I pray that we will stay focused and the best example of that is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan who has not sold out and who has not be bought off. You don’t have enough money in the world to buy that man off.
EM: That’s right!!!
There is another weapon that has taken to the digital realm and it is celebrating 37 years of publication. That is The Final Call Newspaper, founded and published by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. How has this been a driving force and an ‘open carry weapon’ both on the ground in via social media?
BJ: First we thank the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and his family for the sacrifice for starting the Final Call Newspaper in 1979 in the basement of his home on Damon Street. His daughter was doing the type setting and he was writing the whole paper except for The Muslim Program, putting himself at the bottom of the third page, because he put himself under trial; three is the number of trial. All these sacrifices and the things that they did that now that paper is still standing without any corporate sponsor. Nobody is buying off our editorial. But it’s still free, uncompromised and the only solid remaining Black-owned newspaper in the country and the world. One hundred percent, one thousand percent Black-owned. You can’t say that too much today.
We thank the present Editor, the General Manager, all of the writers, the graphic designers, production, secretarial staff, editorial board; everybody that’s a part of this paper to keep it going. It’s not an easy thing to; not put out a paper every other week or once a month, but every single week and there’s always something going on. I appreciate that sacrifice.
The F.O.I., the Fruit Of Islam, the brothers in the Nation Of Islam who go out every week regardless of sometimes the weather the time and space of what’s going on. They ‘open carry’ in every state with the Nation Of Islam where we openly carry the weapon of Truth. Minister Farrakhan said that the best minister is the Final Call Newspaper and these little messengers, the F.O.I., go out and put themselves in harm’s way in the streets, going door to door not knowing what could happen and take this weapon the Final Call and uplift people with a word. That’s a powerful thing.
You asked the question, “When did you fall in love with Hip Hop?” Man, I remember when I fell in love with the Final Call Newspaper. My brother gave me a copy when I was in the ninth grade. I remember sitting in English class, sorry Ms. Taylor (laughs), and I had my English book open. You know back then they had those big text books, I had the [Final Call] paper inside the book like I’m reading the English book. I’m really reading the paper. I’ll never forget I had the thought, “Wow man, I don’t see any of these is so-and-so paper. This paper is powerful!” I’ve never seen a paper where they connect Scripture to current events and How to Eat to Live, telling me stories that’s going on in the hood that nobody else is telling. Stories about A.I.D.S. , and obesity, and things that’s happening to women, and gun violence. It connected you to the country and to the world to know that your little struggle in the hood is not exclusive. The Final Call connects you to the world. It’s just an amazing thing. The fact that this paper is still standing, and not just existing but thriving, still going and pumping out content and still staying on stories that mainstream media come and go. The Final Call stays on those stories. The Final Call have broken more stories than we can count on the cover that people were too scared to cover back the day, and still are!
The Final Call is an invaluable tool. We thank Allah that, with modern technology, people can now access this wonderful paper on iPads, Smartphones and devices. The social media presence of the Final Call has been wonderful to help drive traffic and sales. As Minister Farrakhan says,” The biggest room in the house is room for improvement”. Those of us who serve on the social media squad we definitely know that there are more heights that we can go where digital is concerned. There’s more things where we can go and do in terms of the print edition. As Minister Farrakhan said in his interview with the Editor of the Final Call, he said that he prays that we will put more attention to the paper this year. That was a command for me to put more attention in the lane that I operate in to help in which is social media.
We thank Allah for the Final Call, and we want people to know that the Final Call is not a paper. The Final Call is a man, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has been blowing that trumpet which is the logo of the Final Call. We pray that the dead will rise, not the ones in the grave and cemetery but those who are mentally, spiritually dead that we will hear this trumpet and will be raised. So the brothers going out is a spiritual sign that there is a man in our midst and you can’t put a price on that; not a dollar or two dollars. You better go ahead and listen to that call because there’s always a consequence when you don’t respond to the Final Call.
EM: Minister Farrakhan asked in a recent meeting, “Who are my helpers in the way of Allah?” He spoke about separation, betrayal and a few others things. What are your thoughts about the words he spoke, especially the above question he posed?
BJ: Minister Farrakhan deserves help and he deserves the best of help. There are many roles that are in Scripture. I heard him say at the dinner table to somebody – they were saying they didn’t want to be this person or that person, talking about Judas. “I don’t want to try out for that part”, they said. The Minister said, “Well brother, there are people out there trying out for every role that’s in Scripture. We really don’t know who we are until we’ve been tried when that Hour comes. The best thing we can do is strive to keep on being right and keep on evolving to be a better helper”. That’s why I use the term, when I’m delivering a lecture, that I’m getting on the witness stand, because it’s testimony. It’s the power of the testimony and the Blood of the Lamb that strengthens the brethren when the dragon came against them.
I’m focused on striving, this year, to be a better witness bearer. I have found that the more we bear witness of him, the more it drives us and move us to stay in tune with what he’s saying which fuels us in our activity of being better helpers.
Sometimes a student can get the point when they think they know better than the Teacher and Father and sometimes we can say we’re helping the Minister in ways we think we should help, not knowing that when you help a man you have to help him the way he needs to be helped. Therefore, anything that’s outside of the bounds of the Instructions and points that’s he’s on can’t really say we’re helping him.
I was reading Closing the Gap on page 27-28 and he was talking about gaps that happen with followers and followers of a man on a Mission. He said that there are some people who are actually sent by Allah and shaped in similar ways, not totally like the Man of God, but they’re shaped in little ways where they’re sent for him and they are special helpers to him. He gave some beautiful Commands for all of us. He said, “Allah gives His Servant helpers from Him”. However, those who don’t necessarily come up in that line he gave them this criteria: You have to stay in constant submission, constant obedience, constant study and in constant growth when you accept the role.
If we stay in the lane of those four things then gaps won’t continue to happen and we’ll be better helpers. That’s for all of us. You see, we can’t think we have arrived. Some of us, we get so arrogant when we don’t really realize the little bit that we’re doing we know we can do more. I’m always on myself. So constant submission, constant obedience, constant study and constant growth, and if we’re in those four things then we can avoid being a part of roles that we don’t want to be a part of.
Yes we’re in the Hour of betrayal. We’re in the Hour of serious trials. Last year the Minister said that it would be a great year of trial and a great year of success and we’ll have more of the same this year. Maintaining that Scriptural clarity will be very critical.
This thing that is so disturbing is that fact that Jesus, in the Holy Quran, even had to ask the question, “Who are my helpers?” He said, “Who are…” and “Who will be…”. Interestingly he used present tense and future tense. Therefore, the ones who think they are might get replaced by those who will be if they’re not in constant submission, constant obedience, constant study and constant growth. When you think you have arrived then you’re going to find yourself being replaced while you’re still in the position thinking you’re a helper. You’ve already replaced yourself because you have fallen out of line with being a witness bearer of the man.
Some of us on our social media have become so self-serving that we don’t spread the Minister no more. We don’t share his videos. We don’t retweet him like we used to. Now you’re so deep with your quotes on Instagram. That’s not to say you don’t have a special gift. I believe that Allah has given us all a light, but let’s not forget you’re a bright star that borrowed your light from the Sun [Farrakhan] that lit you up. The young people say they’re lit. The only reason those of us who are being known as brother and sister so-and-so is because you got lit by Farrakhan! So don’t try to tell people to come to you. No, lead them to the Man! When you’re at your press conference, when you’re on your panels, when you’re on the radio show, when you’re on the T.V. shows, when you’re being interviewed for the blogs and magazines lift up the Man [Farrakhan]! If you stop doing that, I believe you start going backwards and you’re no longer being a helper of him. But the more I have found, just me personally, the more I lift and bear witness to Minister Farrakhan, the more it strengthens me in my gifts and talents of service to him, our Nation [of Islam] and our people. We have a greater purpose in the Nation that was given to us on the coming of the God, Master Fard Muhammad. Within that greater Mission and purpose, all of us have a function and some attribute that we can manifest perfectly. It’s not good enough to be a parrot to just regurgitate quotes. No! We’ve got to be an expression of it and create something and be powerful and be a witness bearer of it.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to the Minister, “When you get to a certain pinnacle of success, I hope you won’t forget who got you there”. Now, if the Honorable Elijah Muhammad would warn Minister Farrakhan of that, who are you and I to think that when we get to a certain pinnacle of success we won’t start tripping? Like the Holy Quran says, Our prayers get shorter instead of lengthy. Let’s just be in constant submission, constant obedience, constant study, constant growth and Allah will continue to raise us as better helpers.
I have to tell you this is my first time sharing this publically, but when I write the Minister I tell him that I’m always asking Allah to make me work hard enough to even be worthy of an opportunity to service Minister Farrakhan. I don’t even feel worthy of such. So I’m in constant humility, I don’t have a right to this. I always want to be in that mode of, “I gotta do more. I gotta do better. I gotta unify more. I gotta correct myself. I gotta strengthen my resolve to do more work and be more efficient and be more smart, more intelligent in the way I help him.” I’m making sure I always keep my ear on what he has said and what he is saying in a better way to be in line with him.
So, “Who are my helpers?” He told me on a recent phone conversation, “Only the disciples could respond in that, brother. But it won’t be those who will respond with their lips. It’s going to be those who will respond with their works.” That’s how we will answer that question.
EM: All Praise Is Due To Allah! I thank you so very much for your time and for this powerful testimony and witness bearing! Thank you for all of your hard work and for being one of those special helpers to our Minister, Nation and people! May Allah continue to bless you, strengthen you and manifest in you!
BJ: All Praise Is Due To Allah! Thank you for this blessed opportunity to bear witness!