Estimated reading time: 20 minute(s)
by Fudia Muhammad
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan are both lauded for their decades of steadfast, uncompromising commitment to teach Black people the true knowledge of God, self and the enemy. Their sole mission isthe spiritual and mental resurrection of our people, which will set us on the path to become gods. In order to be successful at this mission; which happens to be the hardest job ever given to any human being – both men understand that time cannot be wasted. Therefore, even dinnertime with these great men has never been just about the physical consumption of food. Table talks; or being spiritually fed with the Word of God at every meal, is a staple for every guest who is blessed to dine with The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad or with The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
In his books How to Eat to Live (Book One & Two), The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote, “Eat the proper food as given in this book and eat at the proper time; one meal a day from 4 to 6 P.M.” He further expounds, “If we eat one meal once every day at four o’clock or six o’clock (whatever is the best hour for your meal), then wait until that hour comes again before eating again.” Here, The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad is emphasizing that we should eat only one meal a day. If we are able to eat that one meal from 4 to 6pm, then we should do so; but what is most important is to eat one meal a day at the same time each day.
This is a practice that should be implemented in every home. We should also adopt the practice of eating together as a family at the dinner table as often as possible. We know that the reality of today’s modern family often consists of two working parents and children who are involved in extracurricular activities which usually extend beyond the suggested dinnertime; but we should prioritize a minimum of one day per week where the entire family can dine together at a reasonable time.
One of the great-grandsons of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad, along with others, worked to compile both audio and written transcripts of his great-grandfather’s dinnertime table talks. The high level of knowledge and wisdom shared by The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in those dinner conversations remain unmatched. Seemingly basic questions and conversations reveal divine revelation and leave no doubt that the one at the head of the dinner table met with God. The lesson our families can learn by this example established by The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad is that dinnertime affords an opportunity to not only dine well; but to enjoy the company of others, impart knowledge, practice table etiquette, good manners, and share a laugh.
Eating one-meal-a-day does not permit the preparer of that meal to become overwhelmed or exhausted by constantly preparing additional meals throughout the day. This also increases the likelihood that the one meal will be a full course – soup, salad, bread, main course and dessert. Such a meal eaten over the span of two hours allows for great conversations. Every family member should have something to share– conversations are best when there is not a monopoly over the discussion. We will be amazed at what we can learn from and about our own children when they are given an extended opportunity to share freely without interruption.
Of course, the family should begin each meal with prayer – the Name of Allah (God) should always be invoked preceding a meal. The prayer is typically led by the head of the household. Televisions should be turned off and cell phones should not be at the dinner table. Cell phones were not an issue when The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad was among us; but he did dismiss a believer from the dinner table who fell asleep. He said, “If you are talking to someone, and they don’t seem to be receptive to what you are trying to teach, it limits your will and desire to try to teach.” In that same vein, if our children are sharing a word at the dinner table, they should have our undivided attention and vice versa – no one wants to be ignored – no one wants to be second to a text message, social media post or television program. Dinnertime is family time!
In addition, do not be rushed at the dinner table. Taking our time does not only allow for great table talks, it is also good for our health. As a society, we regularly see limits set on meal times – i.e. thirty-minute school lunches and short lunch breaks at work. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote, “If we expect to live from what we eat, we must be sure that what we eat is masticated so perfectly well, until the stomach juices (which have no teeth), with its hot acid can digest the food without too much work. THE AMERICAN EATERS, I believe, when it comes to a human being, are the fastest of all on the earth in eating their food…A man should chew his food (as many doctors teach us and agree with what is said here), until it slips away into the throat, before swallowing.”
There are many other advantages to dining together as a family. According to TheFamilyDinnerProject.org, there are physical, mental and emotional benefits to families regularly eating meals together; they include: “Better academic performance, higher self-esteem, greater sense of resilience, lower risk of substance abuse, lower risk of teen pregnancy, lower risk of depression, lower likelihood of developing eating disorders, and lower rates of obesity.”
Keep in mind that our children are more likely to look forward to family dinnertime and be receptive to sharing if we keep the conversations light. Good, positive discussions lead to proper thoughts, which aid the digestive process. Both the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan are masters at teaching deeply profound lessons by injecting a little levity. We close with this reflection from The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan when asked by Brother Jabril Muhammad to tell about the sense of humor of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad for those who didn’t get a chance to see him or hear him or sit at his table. The Minister said:
“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad lived the majority of his life with a very heavy weight on his head. His heart was with the “weighty word” and the Mission that Allah (God) had given him. Those were great blessings, at his dinner table, where we were involved in discussions and in hearing him expound on the Wisdom of Allah (God), as found in the Bible and Holy Qur’an and methods of going after our people, to bring them into the light of a knowledge that had been kept from them. Our discussions with him at his table were of a serious nature. So, it was most refreshing to sit at his table sometimes and hear him tell a humorous anecdote and laugh. When he laughed his cheeks became so rosy. For me it was a joy to see him laugh and sometimes he would laugh until tears welled up in his eyes. His sense of humor was unique because one would not think a man of his station, of his tremendous wisdom, would even take the time to be humorous. But even in his humor he was always teaching lessons.”
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)