One-On-One with Ishmael Muhammad
Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): I was approached with this question, and I personally didn’t feel qualified to answer this. Therefore, I would like to ask you. A brother shared with me that his niece was in class, and the instructor was discussing the importance of not allowing anyone to touch them inappropriately and explained what that meant. The instructor also made a point in saying that this was not to be done even if it’s one of their parents. The niece raised her hand and stated that her father would never do anything like that, but if he asked her to she would, because that’s her father. I’ve never heard of someone voluntarily allowing themselves to be abused especially by their parent. The way it was brought to me, was that she understood what was being discussed, because her father brought it to his brother instructing him that if he ever thought about doing something like that to his daughter to take his life. This may explain the rising numbers of cases with child abuse. My question is how should parents approach their children about being inappropriately touched or mishandled by not only strangers but by family members including the parents? At what age should the parents begin having these discussions with their children? How can this form of abuse be prevented?
Ishmael Muhammad (IM): Well I think that virtue has to be taught and given to our young girls from the moment they begin to communicate and they are able to receive and understand what we communicate to them. I can’t put an age on it, but I think that the virtue of the female has to be given to her at a very early age so that she will know her extreme value as a woman. The same should be communicated with the protection and value of the male. Of course greater attention should be taken to the female. I think that mothers should teach their daughters of their virtue and of their value. It may be that the young girl has a relationship with her father where she has confidence and trust in her father, but this would be something for you to look deeper into for her to respond that way. It would seem to me that maybe she did not understand clearly of what she was saying in that she would give permission and allow her father to violate and abuse her in that way. Does the father raise the child? There is more that we need to look at. As we were taught, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad prohibited us, as fathers, to touch our daughters and that it was the mother’s responsibility. I’m sure as you already know when the Minister shared that with us that when he took that to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad it was a shock to him and it’s a shock to most men.
Of course when you have single-parent homes today when there are many male fathers who are doing their best to live up to the responsibility of a father, and they have daughters that they are caring for that puts an enormous amount of pressure on them. One could not say in that situation that they should not touch their daughters if, in fact, they are left to have to care for their daughters. I know many single fathers who comb the hair of their daughters and prepare them for school.
EM: They have to be that nurturer.
IM: Yes. It’s not the ideal situation, but what are you going to tell him. You can’t put your hands on your daughter. He doesn’t have anyone, but he better know that that girl is sacred, and he better not have any satanic thoughts.
EM: In regards to a father-daughter relationship, what do you believe is inappropriate? I have seen fathers kiss their daughters on the lips, and sit them on their laps. I’ve seen men take their daughters to the restroom, not a woman’s restroom because they didn’t want to go in as a man. What type of behaviors that some may think are common or normal would be inappropriate as a father and daughter?
IM: Those men that do that lack the knowledge of the nature of the female, and to expose a young girl in that way is dangerous because you are making that young girl to be comfortable around men. The father is the first male in the girl’s life, and how the father relates to the girl is generally the standard and criteria by which the girl relates to other men in her life. The female, who is naturally inclined and is the compliment of the male, is given that kind of level of comfort and familiarity. Then you find where that is acceptable behavior the girl, when there’s other male members of the family around, she goes right over and sits on their lap or she’ll spread her legs. However, that’s all based upon what her father, as the male, has permitted and has given her the impression that this is okay and acceptable. Now all you have to do is magnify that and take it from the four year old girl, to the six year old girl, now fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. Now you’ve made her to feel comfortable in the hands of another man. That’s dangerous, and of course in Islam this is not permitted.
As a father, I kiss my daughters on the cheek or forehead. I will hug them, but I am respectful of my daughters. My daughters are now 21 and 17 years old. They’re so loving, and if I am distressed or seem to be suffering from any discomfort, their nature is to console and to provide some comfort to the man. In this case it’s the father. She may put her hand on my forehand. She may grab my hand and say, “Dad, it’ll be ok”. It’s the nature, but there are laws now in that nature that you have to always be on guard with. Yet, it starts at a very, very young age not letting that female feel comfortable in the presence of other men. The father, the first man in her life…all other relationships will be dependent upon by the relationship she has with her father.
EM: I received an email that contained a video of a group of children who were at a party. They couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12 years old. I could see the mothers standing around with balloons and cameras. Then the music came on, and as soon as the beat dropped they started to dance with one another. They were dancing in couples in sexually suggestive ways. There were about ten couples of children doing this. To see children like that, to me, is another form of abuse. To see the mothers standing there cheering them on, telling them to keep going, and to see them laughing and clapping is another form of abuse to me. There was one couple that slowed down or became disinterested, and one mother came from the side to put them back together. When you have people who think that it’s normal or cute to see children do those things with one another, that is abuse to me.
IM: As you know we’re in Satan’s world and this is the culture. It’s a Satanic culture and it influences the behavior of our people and the aim of the enemy has always been from the beginning to get to the woman. When we see something like that it saddens us. We’re embarrassed to see our women to urge our sisters to participate in that behavior, but that’s because they are ignorant. I was thinking while you were asking the question how Satan, in the Holy Quran, makes mischief with the created things. So he takes that which is natural and he makes mischief with it to turn it in such a way that fulfills his purpose. Look at how girls relate to each other naturally. Girls will hold each other’s hands; girls will play with each other if it’s dancing or whatever. They will do so in a very righteous and civil way. If a girl is sad or suffering, another girl will comfort her, wipe her tears, and comb her hair. This is what girls do. Now Satan comes in that, what is natural in a woman giving comfort and support to another woman in her distress, her moment of pain, discomfort and loss. He takes that which is natural, because he could not do it unless they already had some natural inclination towards each other. So all he does is corrupts it and puts an activity for them to engage in to cause them to bring shame to themselves, shame to their families. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the Muhammad Speaks had in all of his articles a drawing of a White woman with her daughter and a Black woman with her daughter. Both of them have short dresses on, and over the one with the White woman he has “The Shame”, and over the Black woman and her daughter he has “The Disgrace”. It’s showing how our women are living the lifestyle and following after the example of the White woman and the way she rear her girls. Of course we seem to just go to the extreme in what we do in the ludicrous behavior, but that’s sad.
CNN had something last week where they showed these young girls that were dressed up in these tights or stockings and they were dancing to Beyoncé. They were only nine and eleven years old. On CNN they were talking about if this should be permitted, but this is what is being promoted. So they are only acting out, what is being put in front of them. And the mothers are so silly and ignorant and blind to what the enemy is doing. The daughters, just as the Bible says, are a reflection of the mother.
EM: How was it growing up, in the absence of your father, into a man and the man you are now and the man you are becoming?
IM: It wasn’t easy, because I did not long for my father and to have a son-father relationship until I was well into my adult life, after I was married. As a matter of fact I was in my 30’s. My mother always thought that was strange, and I began to question that as well. When I look back, even with the circumstances of that time, I did not meet my father physically until I was six or seven. My mother told us about him and we knew that we were a part of some secret. We didn’t know why until we were much older. We suffered the ridicule of our classmates being mocked and laughed at, because we didn’t have a father. It made me feel strange growing up. I did look for the male presence and the male figure. There were uncles in the family that I attached myself to. There were good brothers from the mosque that provided for me and my brothers a good example. One particular brother who took time from his family and spent lots of time with us and did lots of activities that boys would do. By the time I was thirteen, because I never had the relationship as a young boy though I was seeking it and wanting it, I felt myself getting close to a man who was a father and a husband and had a family then I was always feeling out of place and in some cases rejected by his children. I kept my distance and managed those relationships as carefully as possible, because I was a child that was easily liked. The men always took a liking to me, and I was always very obedient and cooperative. I did things to please, and I did the things that their children did not do. I was always the one they favored, so I think that’s one of the things that set up envy, jealousy, and resentment. When I saw all of those dynamics and forces playing out, I left it alone. Of course the Minister played a huge role in my life but I always knew that there were limitations there as well. It took years for me to realize even his fatherly love of me.
Even as a mature man, with my own children, I miss my father. I miss the freedom that one can enjoy in a healthy relationship by just communicating things to a father. I miss the fatherly counsel knowing that that’s your father at the end of the day. Even if he gets upset or a point of disagreement, it’s okay, it’s dad. I miss that, and I still wish for it in a sense. I wish that I could just talk to my dad and share some things. Just to hear it from him. I don’t think that he’s satisfied with my growth in that sense, because the standard is so high. I know that there are things that I’ve done that have displeased him, but it doesn’t matter. Even if he expresses his displeasure it’s okay, because that’s my dad and he’ll love me anyway. I miss it. It’s been difficult, but I thank Allah again for my mother, because even in the absence of having or enjoying a father-son relationship or with a male figure that was dominate in my life, it was her connecting her children to Allah Who came in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad.
So as a young boy even as my father was among us, I was always seeking and connecting with Fard. To me to this very day, I say this in a very endearing and affectionate way, that’s my man! Master Fard Muhammad, there is something that I deeply love about Him. I knew that He was the source and He was the one responsible for making my father who and what he was and has become. Even when my father left, I always felt that Master Fard Muhammad was looking over me and my family and we had nothing to worry about. I knew all of the hardship, the trouble, and the trials that we were going through; it was because He permitted it. Everything that has happened in our Nation one way or another, the good with the bad and the bad with the good, it’s all because of Him. So I’m straight, I’m fine. Even the things I don’t understand, every night I talk to Him. So for me that’s my man, and I love Him.
My mother asked me, “You don’t want to see your father?” I don’t mind seeing him. I don’t think that I’m worthy to be in his presence. Maybe it’s because he’s my father and I think that in some way I’ve disappointed him. She said, “You want to see Master Fard Muhammad before your father”? I said, “Yes”. If I never see my father again it would make no difference to me. But the person I do want to see is Master Fard Muhammad. If I could just get with Him, I’m straight. It can be for just a few minutes. To meet Him and to greet Him. I have questions for Him that’s of the deepest of wisdom. He is just the man to me and if I could just talk with Master Fard Muhammad…Every night I talk with Him and I talk to my father, but it’s something when I bring Him up. He gives me so much peace. I never once felt, even though this is the God, that in all of my shortcomings and in all of my transgression that He was judgmental. So even when I mess up, I felt that I could always go to Him, and He’d say, “It’s okay Ish. Get this right.”, and I’d say, “Okay, yes Sir”.
EM: Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your thoughts on this subject.
IM: All praise is due to Allah. It was my honor.