Ebony S. Muhammad: In the Nation Of Islam, we have a formula for balancing the activity of our lives: God, Family then Nation. For those who are not in the Nation of Islam, they can substitute Nation with Community. How have you implemented the above to your life? I see you as one of those who demonstrates a great amount of balance.
Nuri Muhammad: All praise is due to Allah! The Minister did not write a study guide, called The Struggle for Balance, so that we would be struggling for balance for the rest of our life. At what point do we win the struggle? Most people think that the way to get balance is to give everything the same, or the right amount of attention.
But then there’s another format for getting balance of an object, and that is to make something that is very strong, the center of the object. If the strongest thing is placed in the center of the object, balance is gained. When balance is reached, no effort is involved in it. It just maintains itself.
So Allah (God) has to be the true center. He is the only object strong enough to be put in the center that can help keep everything up. I feel like I am I being rewarded far beyond what I deserve. And I believe that the reward is connected to me striving to be sacrificial, for the mission, and striving to keep Allah at the center.
I can’t say that I’ve given every category of life the appropriate amount of attention, but I think that I’ve given a lot of attention to help in the mission of the resurrection of the dead, that Allah has went into my children’s brain, and made them love me more. He’s went into my wife’s heart and made her love me more. He’s gone into the hearts and minds of people that I may call associates, friends, or partners and always put something in them to make them want to do things to help me. So right now, I have approximately four businesses. In the in the midst of all of that have an album that’s on the market. So all of these things are all up in air, that has to be managed.
I believe that Allah makes things go in a certain way that because of me striving to please Him and make Him the center and go after His people, He’s created and opened up avenues, arenas and platforms and help create a situation where life and life more abundantly is there.
I feel like it’s a “cheat code”, if you will. The cheat code is be willing to serve and soldier. Be willing to sacrifice. Be willing to put Allah first. That means to go after His people that strive to live a righteous life and treat other people the way you want to be treated. Over the course of time, Allah will begin to bless you.
Master Fard Muhammad, Allah in Person, gave us a promise. He said that He will bless us with luxury, money, good homes and friendship in all walks of life. But what you’ll find is that the last thing mentioned really is the first thing, because it’s the way that you get access to all the others.
And the friendship, in all walks of life, it’s not plural. We say it plural. In the Lessons it doesn’t say friendships… It says friendship in all walks of life. Try to do the best you can and be right. If you treat your people right and go after the people that God came to deliver, your friendship becomes Him and begins to be the center and balances everything out. You still have to put forth the effort, but Allah blesses you to have your effort amplified. In everything you do, He multiplies your effect whenever you’re doing it with a sincere heart. That’s my humble opinion.
Ebony Muhammad: Thank you for that! The next question, is dealing with the family portion. I think sometimes when we hear, “God, Family, Nation”, we tend to think of family like within the household. So I want to ask you including and extending from the household, to other members of your family, how are you able to maintain balance with that framework? When it feels like everybody is pulling on you, especially with in your position and with the other responsibilities that you have. You have your household and you also have your extended family. How do you balance that area of the equation?
Nuri Muhammad: Well, one of the things that I learned coming up in Islam, and I don’t know whether I learned it from somebody else or I acquired it by observation, but in the F.O.I. (Fruit Of Islam) uniform that we wear, on the shoulders of the uniform is the Sun, Moon, the Star. And the Sun, Moon and Star represents freedom, justice, and equality. It represents the universe. However, the Sun, Moon and Star is a symbol of family.
If you look in the Holy Quran, every time the Sun is mentioned, Allah would say the Sun and then say he. The masculine pronoun is used in the Quran to express Sun. But when you read about Moon, all in the Quran, Allah says she. We’ve learned from the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, that just as the Moon is a reflection of the light of the Sun, so is the woman a reflection of the man.
But also look at our flag, you see that there’s a Star inside of the crescent or the Moon. If you turn the pregnant woman sideways and took a profile shot, the crescent would look just like the form of a pregnant woman’s stomach. The Star inside the crescent is a child. So to have this on our uniform, as an F.O.I., doesn’t just mean we’re carrying the responsibility of establishing freedom, justice and equality on the planet, or we have the strength to carry the weight of the universe. But we also have the strength to carry that and family at the same time.
In my mind, I don’t think it’s good to separate family from mission. The family is a part of the mission. The responsibility, the amount of effort, energy, time that you put into a mission, you have to put that same kind of effort, energy and time into family. Now, of course every task that you embark upon requires a different amount of effort and a different amount of time. For me, I don’t have a great quantity of time that I can be with my family, but I try to make sure that I supplement quality where quantity is not present.
If I’m teaching and I’m in a city, and I have sometimes five, ten engagements in three days. That that takes a lot of energy to be able to do it. I spend a lot of energy and effort trying to keep premium octane fuel in the body in the form of good food, and constantly exercise to build up my strength, speed and endurance that I will have the health and fitness that’s required to be able to achieve all of that and not hurt myself in the process. Most of the time, I have to study, I have to get in a certain mind frame, into a certain zone and might have to drink some coffee. You have to synchronize everything in order to support what you have to do whenever it comes to this kind of mission work.
So if the shoulders are supposed to carry the family, as a part of the mission, then I also have to study, I also have to get to a certain zone. And I might have to eat a certain way and drink a little coffee to be able to make sure whenever it’s time for family time, I have the same energy that I put into the work. I’ve always tried to use that spirit and that mindset toward the grind of spending family time. So even if I am tired, I’ll get myself into the proper orientation of mind, whatever, to make sure that I have energy to breathe life into the family.
That’s one of the things that has helped. And I will say that before I teach a lecture, I’m praying so much, that Allah blesses me with the necessary courage, knowledge, wisdom, energy and strength that is required to penetrate the minds and hearts of His people in a perfect way. If we’re going to pray for the paths and endeavors that we involve ourselves in, shouldn’t we also pray for spirit, energy, strength for family and everything else that we have to do?
The more we pray, and since remembrance of Allah is the Greatest force, the more force and power of being we have. And we can bring that with us to every endeavor, including our family life.
I try to visit my family. I try to call them and talk to them. All of them are not in the ranks, yet. I have many that are, but there’s a lot of them that are not. Therefore, I’m still in savior mode with them. No matter how long it’s been, and how much they have rejected, I’m still always in saviour mode trying to make sure that I can retrieve them at some point to come this way.
In that sense, doing the things engaging in the proper kind of preparation to put the right amount of focus, fight, desire, will power, energy, effort into them, just like you would if you were doing something economically, or in this case, doing something solely for mission work. That’s my spirit, and I’ve been trying to do it. You’d have to ask them whether I’m doing good job, they say I am. (laughs)
I have a little saying that I accidentally snuck up on in my brain… I always remind the brothers that you can tell the greatness and the goodness of a man, by the size of the smile of the woman who’s in his life. You can’t just be great, meaning that you achieve a lot. You have to be good too.
So, you know, it’s one of the great tell tales that everybody’s happy. I think I might get a good grade. But I don’t know. You got to go ask them.
Ebony Muhammad: Thank you for sharing that! So the last portion is dealing with Nation, or community, if you’re not in the Nation Of Islam. You touched on a lot of what your other responsibilities and roles are and the businesses, your position as a student minister, and so many other things.
I can’t remember the duration of your tours. It felt like you were on a ten-year, multi-city tour. It was extensive. You had so many speaking engagements in such a short period of time. You have that Nation part of yourself – and you have National duties, too. You’re on your way to our Headquarters as we speak. You have national duties as well to balance. How do you approach that? And then again, it sounds like you have the same approach as the first one, but a little bit more about how you’re balancing within that particular category.
Nuri Muhammad: Yes, ma’am. Everybody who has love for you, when they see you doing a lot like that, they’re always concerned. My family, of course, they’re always very concerned. For probably the last nine years, I’ve been visiting 50 to 60 cities a year.
This is all based on invitations that have come from churches, colleges, community organizations and mosques. I service them and I do my best to be there and to be 100% when I am there. And then of course, whenever I get back home, we have the mosque, we have the restaurant… We have all of that that has to be tended to, and cultivated, and whatnot.
I think that what lightens the load is like the Minister said: 1) Allah, Himself is helping you lift, because He sees your sincerity in doing it. 2) Your exercise of faith. He’s making you so strong, that you can make what normal people consider challenging, difficult and hard – it doesn’t hurt you as bad. The attitude that you bring to it according to Master Fard Muhammad. His instruction was work cheerfully.
Work cheerfully and fear not. You are the righteous, you are the best and you are the powerful. So that cheerful spirit that you see exhibited, first and best by the Minister, I try to keep that same spirit. I always tell myself if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. I enjoy it. I enjoy what I do. I love what I do, and I love who I’m doing it for. That kind of working cheerfully with love in your heart for what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for, it gives you a kind of endurance that allows you to go long and hard without it hurting that bad.
I didn’t know that I was as tired I was until the Coronavirus hit. When the Coronavirus hit, my wife thought that I might have the Coronavirus, because I was sleeping 12 hours a day for probably two weeks.
I was really tired. At the end of it, after two weeks, I said, “Man, I’ll feel normal! Now I know what normal feels like.” I was excited. I’m waiting for Rona to be gone, I’m ready to go back to work!
You don’t really pay attention to yourself like that, because you’re striving to do it in the name of Allah and for the love of your people and your Minister. You really don’t even trip on it. You don’t even notice it.
Those are some key formulas. Attitude is working cheerfully. You have to have a love for what you do, and a love for who you’re doing it for. The number one person you’re trying to have love for is God, and in this case for me, it’s God and His Minister, who I’m trying to help. Also, the people that you’re trying to help to save and snatch from the clutches of Satan so that they can become what Allah brought them on this planet to become, and that’s a new and perfect people and the new and perfect rulers of the planet.
Ebony Muhammad: Beautifully said! I was going to ask this if COVID made the ability to balance easier, or if it was still a go, go, go type of schedule you had.
Nuri Muhammad: It lightened up, but for me 80% of my income came from teaching and touring and selling publications. I thank Allah that I was a pretty diligent saver.
When the Coronavirus hit, I’m like, “Oh Lord, no engagements, I’m in trouble.” So, how am I gonna survive? I knew I could live off of what I saved for a certain amount of time. However, at some point, what I saved is gonna be gone if I’ve got to live off of it. I said wait, is there a way I can take what I saved and find business entities that I can invest in, that I will be able to generate income with what I’m saving?
Allah, out of His Grace, decided to put me in a situation where I’m thriving. I never even went into it with that goal. I liked the idea of being able to create business opportunities, great jobs for Black people so they could have a good, honorable, honest living and get paid well for what they were doing. I like that and then I could generate some revenue from it, myself. It ended up becoming way better than what I even predicted.
I’ve had a lot more time by not being on the road teaching. I’m really not on the road at all except for some engagements. So, I’ve been able to redistribute some of my energy into helping to build businesses, as well as my books and other aspects of getting prepared for when outside opens back up.
That’s been my spirit, and it’s been what has helped me to do it. It is really making Allah the center. That’s where the balance comes from. Not giving everything the same amount of energy and attention. You’ve got to give everything an appropriate amount of attention. I don’t think you have to put eight hours a day in lifting weights in order to get physically fit. You don’t have to put four hours a day into study in order to be mentally fit. You do what you have to do in those areas.
I try to commit an hour and a half to exercise every day. I try to commit an hour and a half to two hours to study. I try to commit three or four hours into management of my responsibilities. The rest of the time is in whatever is pulling on me. It occupies the rest of that time. By Allah’s Grace it’s been working out and I’m doing better than I deserve.
Ebony Muhammad: Praise be to Allah! I was on my way to ask you how you fit in self-care into that equation. You mentioned physical fitness. I also saw some of the traveling that you all were doing. And I’m not gonna lie Brother Nuri, I cringed a little bit when you were at that arcade, and you had to touch the game screen and buttons in order to play it! (laughs)
Nuri Muhammad: Oh, you know we had to sanitize it! (laughs) And they had like five-gallon pumps of hand sanitizer. We pumped some before we played and pumped some when we got off. But that was the recreational time. That’s the only thing I really have done though, out and about. We’ve been out of the country, too, but that’s been about it.
Ebony Muhammad: So how was it planning those type of activities that were fun, relaxing and recreational?
Nuri Muhammad: It was spontaneous. It was something that my daughters wanted to do. They wanted to do it, so I said let’s go! We went in and took all of the precautions that we could take. You can’t, for the sake of fun, put your life at risk. You got to try to balance that side of the equation out.
Ebony Muhammad: You show that it’s possible to have balance. I think sometimes we forget that, especially because of the time that we’re in. We’re in a very serious and critical time, yet we still have to have that necessary balance so that we don’t become overwhelmed and consumed by the seriousness of the time. I appreciate what you said, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.”
Nuri Muhammad: Think about this, Sister Ebony: The prayer that the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, if there is a prayer that we should say seven times a day. We may name it different things. We call it the “anxiety prayer”. That prayer the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, and I’m paraphrasing, has in it all of the impediments and the struggles that we have to go through as a people. In the prayer, you ask Him (God) for refuge from anxiety and grief, lack of strength and laziness, cowardice and niggardliness, being overpowered by debt and the oppression of men.
But listen to this, the words in the prayer: “Oh Allah, suffice thou me with what is lawful to keep me away from which is prohibited.” When you live a life that’s so rigid and so serious and so strict, that you don’t find lawful things that don’t violate any of the laws, statutes and commandments of God, nor violate the rights of another human being… When you don’t find things that you can do that can suffice you that are lawful, then you set yourself up to engage in that which is prohibited.
You have to create, we have to create outlets of expression that’s more than just prayer, study, fasting, reading and attending a mosque meeting. There has to be other things that you do that are recreational, that also have a re-creational effect on your spirit. So you find those things that you like doing, that’s gonna make you a better you that will relieve stress without being sinful. You’ll be able to get more out of out of life.
Islam is not a religion. Islam is a way of life. It’s not a Sunday morning expression. It’s not five times a day prayer rug thing. It’s something that’s with you everywhere you go. You should be able to be in clean environments and still have clean fun. So that you can be sufficed of what’s lawful to keep you away from that which is prohibited.
We try to do that. We run outside; we play volleyball. We’re doing the cornhole competitions with everybody. We do our Zoom family game night. We were doing it every week, for several months during the Coronavirus. We were playing Zoom family games every week for hours. By doing that, you end up creating a therapeutic aspect of life that kind of takes away some of the stress of the task. You have to have something that will keep you happy so that you will be more available when in serious times.
So that’s what we do. That’s been our little formula. The Minister said this… He said the ideal way of living is a four-day work week, for the mission and for our economics, a four-day window of time.
He said that those other three days should be broken up. One should be a day with just your whole family. Another day should be a day where you and your spouse; spend quality time with each other enjoying one another’s company. The third day should be a free day when you do something as a man for yourself and she does something as a woman for herself.
That is a structure and a regiment that God gave to the Minister to give to us to let us know how we can properly balance four days of work. One day family, the whole family; one day just the spouse, and other day just me-time. I can’t say that I’m 100% to the letter, but we’ve always tried to be close. Just being close to it works really well. I know that when we get to the point where we get to 100% that we’ll have 100% balance.
Ebony Muhammad: Absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much, Brother Nuri!
Nuri Muhammad: All praise is due to Allah!
Nuri Muhammad is the Student Minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 74 in Indianapolis, Indiana under the direction and leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in the Nation Of Islam. Learn more about Brother Nuri and his amazing work!