Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): This is a two part question. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has been in the ministry for over 60 years and does not appear to be tired or slowing down. In fact he is increasing momentum/strategy. According to your interaction, observance and study of him how would you think he would describe his ideal student minister? Along with his request of one thousand new student ministers, what is the significance of a youthful age and a youthful spirit?
Willie Muhammad (WM): I can only respond to this question based upon what I have heard the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan teach over the years and from what I have heard him share of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s words about him. Thus, I would say the ideal student minister would be one that is like the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
He shared with us recently that the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad told him that he was “his Ali.” The Minister explained that Ali means the standard bearer. In addition to that the Minister said the Messenger said that if he had ten more like him he could take over America. So the ideal student minister reflects Minister Farrakhan.
When I say reflect I am not talking about physical features, even though the Minister is a very handsome man. Therefore, when I say reflect I am talking about the need to possess those qualities that makes him the beloved of God and His Christ. When I say reflect I am talking about reflecting the qualities in the Minister that made the Christ tell him to sit in his seat and that we should look at him, hear him, obey him and follow him. I hope that answers your question.
Also when I say reflect I am talking about his character. In the Book of Jude in the New Testament the character of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is attest to using the example of the Archangel Michael. The scripture says that Michael disputed with Satan over the body of Moses. During this dispute, even though Satan used low down tactics, the scriptures say Michael maintained his integrity. Most people throw principle out of the window when engaged with their enemy. But scripture shows the Archangel Michael didn’t stoop to the level of the Devil. The Messenger said he only had one Farrakhan. Michael is the only angel referred to as the archangel, and the Messenger told the Minister that he is an angel. An ideal student minister must have character.
Many of us still think about youth in a chronological sense. Remember the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told us that is not the number one indicator of the Joshua generation. He said it’s about the spirit we possess and how that spirit moves us to be in lock and step with Allah. Look at the Minister, whom we say Joshua is a sign of in the Bible. Yet, the Minister is in his 80s. Biblical scholars estimate that Joshua in the scriptures was 60 years of age when he led the Children of Israel into the Promise Land. So it’s more about the spirit in than youthfulness.
EM: How real of an issue is burn out, resentment or even bitterness when it comes to being in the ministry? How do these sentiments enter the mind/heart of the one positioned to serve? How does one combat against it?
WM: Resentment, bitterness and burn out are real issues for people in the ministry. I personally think that burnout is the final stage after resentment and then bitterness. They begin to set in our hearts and minds when we fail to properly acknowledge our disappointments and fail to properly address them. These sentiments begin to take root when we look for reward and praise from others instead of Allah. If we keep Him as the focus then we can avoid those sentiments.
I’m not just trying to say that in a way that sounds cliché-ish. In the scriptures we see can learn from Jesus and the ten men he cured of leprosy. Only one of the ten came back, and the one that did was not a member of Jesus’ own people. Despite that, Jesus did not allow the ingratitude of the other nine take away from his spirit/desire to do what God raised him to do. Why? Because he was not doing it for vanity but solely for the glorification of God. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is a LIVING example of that in our midst. He is proof that we can defeat such sentiments.
Sometimes we bring these sentiments upon ourselves by doing more than Allah asked us to do. In the Holy Quran Allah asked us to simply live a life based upon the laws and principles He gave us. He also asked that our duty is to only deliver a clear message. This world has given many an incorrect understanding of salvation. Too many think that it’s about sitting back and doing nothing, while allowing God and Jesus to do it all. If we read the scripture we see that the person who hears the word has a responsibility to do something. The Minister said that the ear would be the instrument of salvation in the Last Days. Well, add that the words of Jesus when he said don’t just be hearers of the word but also DOERS!
Often time we go beyond that and try to do it all for our people and end up enabling them. This creates stress, which leads to resentment, then bitterness. We begin to resent the amount of time we spent trying to bring the message to our people. Then we begin to become bitter toward them and our own spirit becomes salty. So like the wife of Lot we are looking back and missing the world we were brought out of while we say we are walking with the Man of God toward the destination God is leading him. Then burnout takes place, which means the fire of Allah is extinguished due to resentment and bitterness.
EM: I always hear Minister Farrakhan give care and consideration in his opening. He does not waste one word throughout his messages. What kind of spirit does it take and what kind of love does it take to overcome exhaustion where it doesn’t affect one’s ability to convey the word of Allah?
WM: If we love sharing the Word of Allah, I mean really love it, that alone will help us overcome exhaustion. That love with the constant reminder that we are representing God’s man and speaking to God’s people, will help us be careful in our delivery. Minister Farrakhan is a living example of that. He is energized by the word and seeing people become awakened. I have experienced the same thing, I love sharing what the Minister is giving to us from the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. This is all I really want to do. Share it verbally and find ways to manifest it in tangible ways as well. When I do I feel energized and fulfilled. I feel unfulfilled when large amounts of my time are consumed by things that don’t include this Teaching.
EM: What are the complexities related to tiring out? For example, there are some student ministers who work full-time jobs. How does that or how can that affect one’s spiritual energy? How does physical health and fitness contribute to one’s spiritual energy?
WM: I think the biggest challenge having a full time job presents is that it limits what we can do. It adds to the challenge for the struggle for balance, and it takes away from the creativity we can be devoting to planning, strategizing and developing the systems within our mosques or study groups.
We are participating in the resurrection of a mentally dead people, which is more than a FULL TIME job. Think about this example. Imagine there are two people who work at a graveyard doing 12 or more hour shifts. Their job responsibilities are exhuming bodies that are buried in caskets. One worker does this job full time. His full attention and energy is dedicated to doing that work, while the other has another full time job that requires his attention and labor from 8a-3:30p. As soon as this worker finishes he goes to work at the graveyard. Which one do you think would be the most effective in fulfilling his job responsibilities? Which one would have more energy? Which one do you think would be able to use his mental and creatively capabilities the most?
The disciples of Jesus, at one point in their following Jesus, had to leave their occupations to follow the Master Teacher. You don’t read about them still fishing and being accountants. They followed him. I personally believe we would make greater strides and accomplishments if more student ministers and laborers were freed up.