Ebony Muhammad (EM): What has your experience been like as a secretary of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and currently for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan?
Betty Muhammad (BM): In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, we give Him praise and thanks for our Messiah, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We give Them both thanks for our Leader, Teacher, and Reminder to us all, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. As-Salaam Alaikum.
EM: Wa-Alaikum Salaam!
BM: In regards to your question about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and working for him, this occurred from 1967 to 1968. Of course it was the most wonderful honor and privilege I have ever had. I’m most grateful to Allah for that experience. Working for a Holy man is far more different than in a corporate environment.
EM: How so?
BM: Well the Messenger was greeted by people all over the world; kings and presidents of different countries. Most always, his spiritual teachings were of benefit to them. They came for advice, as it is with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. He also has many visitors that greet him and ask him for advice.
As a secretary for the Messenger (in Chicago), there were many secretaries and we all cooperated together. We were in harmony, we respected each other. I recall when the Messenger moved us, my husband and I-May Allah be pleased with my husband. He passed away in 2000. We were moved there by the Messenger, and we were afraid of whatever duties we may have, because this was a very humbling experience. The Messenger wanted me to work with the sisters transcribing his correspondence, writing responses to the letters and also assisting Sister Margary Hasain, who was the sister who took care of the Orientation letters, the “Dear Saviour, Allah” letters. I was privileged to rewrite that letter in 1968, and the Messenger approved it.
Sister Valora, his personal secretary, would sit with him in the dining room, and he would dictate letters to her, and I would generally transcribe them for her and for him. However, he did want me to sit with her, and I did experience taking dictation from dear Holy Apostle, which was a great honor. I was afraid to make a mistake (laughing).
He wanted me to read the Muhammad Speaks newspaper to him every time an issue came out, and you know that was a great honor too. It was so overwhelming really. We loved him so dearly, and anything he asked of us we did.
EM: With being so close to him on a daily basis, I know you were privy to some of the trials that Allah blessed him with to make him into the man that he is today. What did seeing some of the trials that the Messenger went through teach you about what it means to be a follower of his and Master Fard Muhammad and to be a Believer in Islam?
BM: Trials purify us. The Messenger had to go through many aspects of trials so that he could teach us how to overcome so many different things. He has bronchitis frequently. I was in Chicago, I’ll never forget, and he was very ill and he didn’t come down for a couple of days from his bedroom. Of course we’re praying and concerned about him, and we knew that Allah would bless him to recover. He did. The next day he was fine (laughing).
To be more specific, if we don’t have trials we won’t evolve from our situation. Remembering in the Holy Quran it says that Allah could try us severely at least twice a year. I know when I experienced the loss of my husband, that was a major trial for me. It took me quite a while to overcome that, because we were married 39 years, all praise is due to Allah.
EM: I would like to hear more about the dinner the Messenger prepared for you and the other secretaries that I read about.
BM: (laughing) Yes ma’am. That was so funny. We weren’t expecting that. During my stay with the sisters at the National House, in Chicago, we often were privileged with wonderful dinners and wonderful teachings that the Messenger would give us. Sometimes there were other people with us at the dinner table as well, however, mostly it was just the sister secretaries.
I remember the Messenger frequently drove himself wherever he wanted to go. He had this Thunderbird (laughing). He went to one of his apartments that he kept for himself. We were at work so we weren’t aware that he was doing this. He was preparing bean soup. He used butter instead of oil, and he used molasses instead of a little sugar. I tell you that was the best bean soup I’ve ever eaten. I can almost taste it now (laughing). It was so yummy.
Yes, he would do that and he took us to our Salaam restaurant, which my husband was the general manager of as well as the Shabazz (restaurant). He explained everything about the beautiful decor. It had an Eastern theme with a lot of arches. Then he took us to Your Super Market, and that was wonderful experiencing how beautiful the fruits and vegetables were and how humble the sisters and brothers were who were working there. Everything stopped when he (The Messenger) came in. He was walking through the aisles and explaining everything to us, “This is from our farm…” It was just a wonderful experience.
To answer you specifically, it was just bean soup. It wasn’t a full meal.
EM: Yes ma’am, but still a wonderful treat!
BM: Yes it was, absolutely.
When I was at home, Brother LeRoy usually had to leave before I did for the Salaam Restaurant, so the Messenger would send one of the brothers from the National House to pick me up. I was chauffeured to the office everyday (laughing). It was so cool, I felt like I was the Queen (laughing).
You know, I want to tell you this too that working for a man of this stature, Allah has his mouth and Allah gives him everything that he needs, and I’m speaking of both (Messenger and Minister Farrakhan). Minister Farrakhan is an extension of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I see him generally only a couple of months a year, because he comes to Phoenix to relax somewhat, then prepare himself for the great lecture that he presents to the general public and the world during Saviours’ Day. I feel it’s so important that we try to be an example that he wants us to be, because they are examples for us. Allah didn’t come to the wilderness, here in North America, just for us to read the Supreme Wisdom and not act on it and make ourselves a reflection of Him. He wants us to be little Saviours. Well how can we do that? We have to be obedient and strive for that perfection not just in our studying but in our countenance and in how we treat people in general.
I have travelled, beloved, to Mexico – of course I lived there, and Hawaii, in the Caribbean. I went to Africa when we had our convention (in 1994 Saviours’ Day) there. Everywhere I go it’s amazing. The people are so respectful and so kind and so protective. I’m amazed at how Allah will make us shine if we are just ourselves.
I know a lot of the sisters like to wear blue jeans and those stilettos. I’ve seen sisters wearing stilettos. We can’t wear those kinds of things, we can’t. It’s not good for your reproductive (system). The blue jeans are a European style. We’ve got to create our own styles and wear them.
EM: Yes ma’am. Thank you. You actually went right into my next question. I would like to talk to you about how you and Brother LeRoy would imitate the Messenger’s mannerisms, his humble spirit and his whole demeanor. I would love for you to talk more about his spirit and the way you were able to observe it so closely; his sense of humor, the way he handled his secretaries and staff, and how he built relationships with other people. Today is the observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. and we know that he met with the Messenger. All of the different dignitaries that he came into contact with, if you could share a little bit about his disposition and how he treated other people.
BM: Well, just coming from my heart, he was always humble and very kind to everyone. He always dressed immaculately; a suit and a bowtie, and he would either receive people in the living room or in the dining room where generally he would have dinner with those people, or he would just sit in the living room and speak with them right after noon.
I never really heard the Messenger raise his voice in an angry way. I wasn’t privileged to sit with him when some of the Laborers would come for disciplinary reasons. We’d be excused. Yet, still, he would be kind in reprimanding us, his secretaries. I recall once when he showed us the beautiful architectural drawings of the church, the Greek Orthodox Church that he wanted to purchase. He wanted to keep it quiet, because he thought that the Enemy would raise the price if he knew the Messenger was discussing it with us and was planning to purchase it at that particular price. At the time it was $4 million. Hence, he wanted everything to be confidential. However, one of us talked about it to someone and then it came back to the dear Holy Apostle, and he was not pleased with us. However, he did not raise his voice in the manner of yelling and screaming or anything like that. His words were like your mother telling you, “Just wait til you get home.” (laughing) You know, when you have done something you know you should not have done.
I remember this vividly. After disciplining us he told us we were dismissed. I stayed back a little bit and I told him, “I would never do anything like that”. He said, “Oh Sister Betty, don’t worry about it, because I know who told what our discussion was.” I’m paraphrasing now, because I don’t remember exactly. Before he said that, he took my hand and said, “Oh Sister Betty don’t worry”. I was just so happy.
His spirit was so wonderful, and I see it in Minister Farrakhan. He is very kind to people, I don’t care what color you are or who you are, they are just attracted to this man and that’s God’s spirit. I do truly believe that this new study we’re into will help us to clear our minds of so much stuff that we have experienced throughout our lives. It’s difficult for us to love each other and to become unified. We should have hotels, hospitals, and grand grocery stores. All of the things we had in the past, we should have that now and then some. We need to get the Minister a Lear Jet or Gulfstream Jet or whatever they call them.
They both are extremely humble and kind, but don’t displease them. It’s like the wrath of Allah coming down on you.
EM: Yes ma’am, thank you.
Some of the letters you received as a secretary were Believers requesting advice in regards to different aliments they were experiencing. I would love for you to talk about how much the Messenger pressed about their faith and their level of faith being the cure to their ailment.
BM: Many times when the Believers would write the Messenger, much of the questions were the same or it was repetitive, and so that’s why I was privileged to have the letters that I kept over the years, 30 years I believe it was, before I published any of them. If we did not know the answer to some of the letters of course we would absolutely have to ask the Messenger. A lot of us did not have enough faith in what he was teaching. The methodology used by the Messenger was really for those of us who were just so deep in the Enemy’s way of life. There were certain things that he never did tell us, because he figured with us being such young Believers we wouldn’t actually know how to digest that, like giving meat to a baby.
A lot of the Teachings were geared towards the sisters and brothers who were drug addicts and prostitutes and people who didn’t have that kind of education like we have now in the Nation. We have doctors and lawyers and so many prominent people, however, we did have many educated brothers and sisters prior to 1975. Don’t misunderstand. We were in businesses for ourselves. Once you hear the Word and it impacted you so greatly, it didn’t matter what kind of position or status you had in life. Once you accepted the Truth, you abided by it. We were very strict in our belief.
If the Messenger said, “Don’t go to the movies”, we didn’t go. If he said, I don’t want any of the sisters on public transportation without some accompaniment; another sister, friend or somebody”, or something like that. Today, it’s not really like that so much.
EM: With you now being a secretary for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan you talked about how you just made that full circle. How do you see your role, your spiritual development and your understanding of everything you’ve come into contact with in the Nation of Islam evolving? How has working with the Minister deepened your ability to understand the Teachings?
BM: That’s an interesting question. You know, the Messenger always told us to read and study. Not just the books and Muhammad Speaks, but other books as well. He told us to read Think and Grow Rich, and then he told us to read other things that were spiritual. All of it to make us evolve into a reflection of God. Allah said that we are the Original people of the Earth. Well we need to know about the Earth. We need to know about Pluto and Mars. We need to develop our minds so that we can be a reflection of Allah.
I love Deepok Chopra books, and I love some of the other spiritual people that are writing some of the wonderful preachers, T.D. Jakes, and Michael Beckwith from The Secret DVD and Agabe Church, a wonderful spiritual teacher.
With Minister Farrakhan, I have a different outlook. I am so excited when I receive tapes from the Final Call. I am one of his transcribers. All of the lectures he’s ever done, we’re transcribing them now. They will eventually be collected, and I hope and pray that Allah will bless us to put them all in book form so that we can have books of his lectures. Therefore, you can imagine how I feel when I go to this beautiful office. My desk is granite (stone). I feel like I’m in heaven or paradise when I go to work. I have this dream job of transcribing these holy words.
One of the student minister’s was teaching about thought and energy and was saying that the Messenger in the Supreme Wisdom said that thought travels at the speed of 24 billion miles per second. Okay that’s cool; however, you know Allah’s thoughts travel faster than that. So when Minister Farrakhan says, “I don’t need any notes”, well he doesn’t. God’s got his mouth. You know what I mean?
EM: Yes ma’am!
BM: Our people do not realize how blessed we are to have this man in our midst today. We are very disrespectful of him. I’m not so much focused on the Believing community, I’m focused on the world community. When he goes abroad in the East, the Middle East and the Far East those people love him. He speaks to six million people over there and they are just in awe of him. They recognize who he is. However, when he comes home it’s different.
So to answer you more specifically, I love it. I am just blessed. I am so blessed and honored to do anything for him. He is grateful for anything we do for him.
EM: Thank you.
How imperative it is for the women of God to invest heavily in their spiritual growth, which I recall you mentioning that before. The Messenger emphasized on the cultivating of the woman in your book. For those who may not have a spiritual home just yet or are in between such, how does one get started in cultivating their faith?
BM: For the sisters in the Nation of Islam, of course, a strong foundation is imperative when you know who you are, the Original woman of the Earth. In order to know more about that statement we have to study the Lessons. We have to be mindful of what we eat and what we cook for our children. Our manner is very important.
The M.G.T. & G.C.C. (Muslim Girls in Training & General Civilization Class) is the foundation for all of the Muslim women. If we do not know what’s being taught in M.G.T. class then we can’t go abroad and teach other women the right way to raise our children, the right way to clean our homes, the right way to comfort our husbands; everything is there in that class. Of course you study other things too, but the basics are in the M.G.T. Class.
With the Messenger having departed, taking his leave, how often do you think about the day that you will see him again, face to face, as you did when you were his secretary? When that opportunity comes, what will you say to him when you see him?
BM: That’s a really deep question sis. I often think of seeing him. Sometimes I dream of seeing him. When Minister Jabril told us that if we heard a reporter say that he’s (the Messenger) dead, not to believe it. So we did not and I never did. There’s proof that he is not.
So I do think of seeing him, but it frightens me, because he always told us that most all of us would be saved from the destruction of this country and it would come possible in the way of telepathy. That’s why I believe it is so important to understand the study (Dianetics) we’re doing now, because that will clear our minds and we may be able to pick up on the voice. It could be the Messenger’s voice or it could be Allah. We don’t know.
To answer you specifically, I don’t know how I would react. I know I’d be scared to death. I would be afraid, because nobody’s perfect. We’ve done little things and maybe big things that we’re sorry for, and so you don’t know how Allah and His Messenger will look at us.
I know that Allah said that He just threw our sins in the trash. Some of us, including myself, have made errors and done things that we should not have done especially after he departed.
I don’t know how I would act. I know one thing I’d be scared, and I would be thrilled. I’d probably be crying. I’d never had that question before, so… I’d probably just submit (laughing). Oh Allah! Pardon everything I ever did that wasn’t right, and please save me (laughing).
I don’t know sweetheart. It’s going to be a similar reaction when we see Minister Farrakhan again, because he will be exalted and will be departing. I’m just hoping and praying that in the Hereafter I will be among the Believers. That’s what we all hope for. I pray that I am among the Believers when he does return. That’s all I can say. I just want to be among the Believers.
EM: In regards to the study we are going under and you mentioned telepathy, myself and another sister-as a matter of fact our Student MGT Captain (Houston), both agreed that after going through the study and even going through our auditing sessions how we’re experiencing the ability to tune in on a regular basis. It’s so profound, and it happens all of the time now. So when you say that our salvation or our safety could come in the form of telepathy, it gave me chills, because I see it happening already.
BM: That’s amazing, because in the Bible it says, and I’m paraphrasing, “You are children of the Most High God”. Okay, well what does that mean? It means that we have that kind of power, it’s just dormant.
BM: So picking up on people’s thoughts and stuff like that, that’s what Jesus did, remember?
EM: Yes ma’am.
BM: So I remember lots of times in the past when my husband would pick up the phone and I’d already be on the phone. He’d say, “I was just going to call you” and I’d say, “I know that’s why I picked up the phone” (laughing)! It was so funny. It’s like that with some of the sisters too and other people, “I was just going to call you”.
This study is clearing us so that we will be more profound, and it’s frightening in a sense, because some of us may not know what to do with this power, you know what I mean?
EM: You just made me think of something that is happening everyday now, of when I pick up my cell phone and look at it to check for a call or text message, I’ll put it back down and a split second after that I’ll get a phone call or I’ll get a text message, and I ask myself, “Did I just pick up on that a split second before it came in”? You’re absolutely right it’s profound and amazing and it is a bit frightening at times (laughing).
BM: It’s a blessing, it’s truly a blessing. We are the most blessed people in the world.
EM: Absolutely. I thank you so much!
BM: Thank you precious. You take care and may Allah continue to bless you beloved. You’re doing a wonderful, wonderful job and wonderful service. Just keep up the good, good work.
EM: All Praise is Due to Allah! Thank you so much! As-Salaam Alaikum!
BM: Wa-Alaikum Salaam.
Sister Betty Muhammad is the author of Dear Holy Apostle, which is a testimony of her work with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as his secretary.
Her most recent publication, Characteristics of A Divine Leader, that describes her personal experiences with this holy man who is an extension of his Teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Please be sure to support these beautifully written and expressed testimonies!