by Fudia Muhammad
Anyone who has ever had an opportunity to hear a lecture by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in its entirety, can bear witness that he is a man that does not waste words nor time. His words and actions are driven with divine intention and purpose. It is evident that his motives are purely anchored in his commitment to raise the consciousness of our people. The Minister consistently delivers a clear message and offers us guidance that we may live a life more pleasing to Allah (God). He is indeed a divine reminder and warner in our midst. A man like this is not made haphazardly. Allah (God) saw him long before he was born and meticulously designed the circumstances surrounding his birth and his rearing so at the specified time, he would be receptive to his ultimate purpose in life. However, before Allah (God) could make a man like Farrakhan, He had to first make a great woman, whose womb He would use as the laboratory to produce a man of this caliber.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks of his beloved mother, Mother Sumayyah Farrakhan, quite often and it is clear that his love and reverence for her is profound. He has a genuine appreciation and understanding of his mother, whose care laid the perfect foundation for his higher purpose. So when we hear him speak of her publicly it is not based in mere nostalgia or to simply reminisce. He is always teaching us and is willing to be very open and honest about aspects of his childrearing that we may benefit from it. There are lessons to be both modeled and learned from Mother Sumayyah Farrakhan’s parenting, that should be studied and applied – after all, look at what she produced!
During the time she was rearing the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and his older brother, Alvan; she was known as Sarah Mae Manning, the Minister was Louis Eugene Walcott. The Minister describes her pregnancy with him like this: “My mother bore me with pain and sorrow, because she tried to abort me three times. Because she was living with my brother’s father – but my father, whom she married and never divorced came back into her life momentarily, and she became pregnant with me. So all the time she was carrying me, she was in sorrow, because she tried to kill me, and then she decided to have me. You don’t do that unless you are in pain. And the pain and fear of what the child would look like, that he who she was living with, my brother’s father, would become aware that her husband had slipped back in and had an affair with his wife, who had left him, but was living with my brother’s father. So she bore him in sorrow. She bore him in pain and she bore him in fear and she bore him in great insecurity. And she therefore, became very committed in prayer that God would save her – her life; her relationship with the man. So she was prayerful out of great insecurity.”
There are countless women who have experienced similar emotions when discovering that they are pregnant and do not want to be. It can be so terrifying that the woman believes that ending the pregnancy is easier than bearing the consequences. But Allah (God) is REAL and there is nothing that we cannot overcome with His help – Sarah Mae Manning came to see that as well. The Minister said, “My mother knew she was in trouble. She went to God ‘Lord, Help me.’ The more she prayed, all of her supplications and prayers were going on down into the womb. She was making me a man of God without even knowing what she was making…I am here to tell you, if you do not have a man, remember God. My mother did not know that the circumstances around which I was conceived in her womb would make me the man that I am today.”
Sarah Mae Manning was a very beautiful dark skinned woman and the man in her life, Alvan’s father, was also dark skinned. However, the Minister’s father was light skinned. So though she decided to carry the pregnancy to term, she prayed that the baby she was carrying would also be dark skinned and that her baby would be a girl – this way, perhaps she could still hide her baby’s true parentage. As we know, she did not have a girl and her baby was not dark skinned. The Minister stated, “Now, she wanted a girl. What does that mean? It means that she would make a child with characteristics that represent the feminine side of the Nature of God: Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness, Long-suffering. It takes that kind of person to redeem a people in the condition that we are in.”
To her anguish, the truth had come to light causing the end of her relationship. But what is so remarkable about Sarah Mae Manning is how she soldiered on – she had to rear two sons as a single Black woman in the 1930s and 1940s; and she did not relegate this responsibility one iota. When necessary, she would go without so they could have. We learn from the Minister that she was also a strict disciplinarian. She kept a clean house – everything had its place and there were consequences for not keeping it just so. She worked hard as a domestic, cleaning other people’s homes and also as a seamstress. The Minister said she never went to bed before her children and was up in the morning before they were.
However, Sarah Mae Manning wanted so much more for her sons. She knew that they needed a skill and discipline early on, so she gave them both music – The Minister was only five or six years old at the time. He stated, “The first thing that I remember that my mother gave me to play with was a violin. She was not about mindless pursuits. When she brought me toys, it was like Chinese checkers, something that engaged me. Or, a puzzle, something that engaged my mind and then something to read. I thank God Allah for my mother who never, ever, engaged me with mindless stupidity and called it fun.” She clearly understood the scripture, “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother” (Proverbs 10:1).
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan was reared to love God and to love his people. His foundation was in the Episcopal Church, but even then he was always looking for a savior for Black people because his heart ached to see us free. This too was fostered in him by his mother: “I remember once a Filipino man came to our door; he was selling Bibles. And as he was opening the Bibles, showing my mother all these ‘White’ prophets and angels, when he got to ‘The Last Supper’ my mother asked him: ‘You mean to tell me there’s no Black people at all in this book?’ – and she ran him out of the house. So after I talked to my uncle who told me my dad was a follower of Marcus Garvey, and my mother was on the fringe of The Garvey Movement, that was, for me, a sign that my mother was very ‘Black conscious.’ And, I thank God for that because she instilled in me love for our people.” We thank God for that as well!
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan was born in New York, but he was reared in Massachusetts and was not exposed first-hand to the horrors of the racist South. Sarah Mae Manning helped to connect her children to the struggles of Black people by making sure they read from Black publications. The Minister said he read the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois in the Crisis Magazine; as well as regularly reading The Afro-American and The Pittsburg Courier. He said, “In those papers there were stories of lynching and mistreatment of our people. Of course, that deepened my desire to see someone who would come along who would free our people. That’s what led to my questioning my Sunday school teacher, that if God had raised Moses for his people and He always sent some prophet or somebody to deliver people who were oppressed, why hasn’t God sent somebody to deliver us?” The Minister was about seven or eight at the time.
Knowing the man of God that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is today and witnessing his unwavering commitment to serve his people for over six decades, makes it reasonable to presume that this journey began as a child. What is difficult to imagine is that he was just like most children in that he misbehaved on occasion and was involved in wrongdoing; but he was. However, it did not last long because Sarah Mae Manning was not having it! She would say, “Alvan and Gene, come! I’m gonna whip your behind… ‘No. 1,’ for disobeying my instruction; and ‘No. 2,’ I’m gonna beat you more for lying, because a liar will steal and a thief will murder, so I’m gonna stop you at the lie!” The Minister said, “She was making me a man who would not be afraid of the consequences of telling the truth. God cannot use you if you fear men as you ought to fear Allah. If we were unafraid, we could raise a Nation better than what we are doing.”
Truly, there is so much more that could be said about this magnificent woman and Mother. Sarah Mae Manning was not perfect, but she was perfect enough. She was both mother and father to her boys and reared them to become fine men. Her style was not one of showing affection with words or hugs; but her LOVE for her children was on display with every action she took. This was a woman who got up early each morning to make sure her sons had a hearty breakfast before school each day and would warm her children’s underclothes to prevent them from having to endure the cold against their bodies – now that’s love!
Preparation for manhood and womanhood begins as a child. It takes a strong uncompromising woman to make a man-child for God. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said of the Biblical Sarah, “Our women who are sitting under guidance into righteousness use Sarah as a very good woman they could pattern after.” We believe the same can be said for Sarah Mae Manning. Throughout the earth today, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is known and honored because of what she produced. We also honor the life and example of Sarah Mae Manning [later known as Mother Sumayyah Farrakhan] because of what she produced. May Allah (God) forever be pleased with her!
(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.)