I am Zakiyyah Maryam and was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee in the Nation of Islam. My family’s journey to Islam began with my Great-Grandmother, Willie (May Allah Be Pleased with her). She had to pick cotton when she was growing up. She was a sharecropper and that injustice system that kept black people in an economically insufficient condition also kept them away from formal education, which my great-grandmother did not have.When she was allowed to move away from sharecropping, she then began teaching herself how to read and became an avid reader. It was also the truth in the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, which is Freedom, Justice, Equality (Islam).
The truth that the Black man is The Maker, The Owner, Cream of The Planet Earth, God of The Universe. The truth that the Black woman is the mother of civilization. The truth that Allah (God) came in the Person of Master W.D. Fard Muhammad and that The Messiah or Mahdi has come and would judge this world — in particular America based on her mistreatment of the so-called Negroes of North America and the members of the Original family (Native Americans/so-called Latinos, Asians, and our brothers and sisters in Africa).
This is The Teaching that uplifted my great-grandmother’s spirit and she began introducing her children to The Teachings of Islam through the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Though my great-grandmother did not register as a Muslim in the NOI (Nation of Islam), my grandmother did and the rest is history. But on my own personal sojourn in Islam, I was soul searching and I was at a point in my life where I needed to find inner strength and inner peace and I discovered that in studying The Holy Qur’an as well as The Teachings. I was about 14 years old when I actually became personally invested in Islam and I decided that I wanted to officially re-register when I was 18-years-old making me officially a part of the M.G.T & G.C.C, Muslim Girl Training & General Civilization Class.
Personally to be an M.G.T. is to be a sister, a righteous woman. A Muslim Girl in Training is not just a look. An M.G.T. is a righteous woman. Righteousness is the essence of our being. We are taught in the NOI that the woman is the second self of God. She is divine and sacred in her nature. Our seven training units brought to us by Master W.D. Fard were to lay the base of the cultivation of our righteous nature and to one day be the leading example for women all around the world. But I think, we must start by looking at our sisters, whether are Muslims or not, as truly our sisters and see the divineness in each other, just as the head of the class, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan teaches.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has influenced me and the world in many ways, with the Help of Allah. One principle that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has taught me is to challenge your fear. He has shown that throughout over his 60 years of service in the Nation of Islam and in rebuilding the Nation of Islam for 40 years absent his teacher, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Minister has travailed through the opposition of the enemy, the powers that be, and other obstacles to complete the promise of Allah (God), which is to break our people free from the shackles of the enemy. The Minister discovered his purpose and I think when you know and understand your purpose in life that you are able to challenge your fear against the greatest of opposition because you have a firm ground of certainty of what it is that you must fulfill. This is not to say that challenging your fears is an easy feat, but it is possible.
According to the dictionary, “fear” is a distressing emotion aroused by impending pain, danger, evil, whether that pain, danger or evil is real, or imagined. If you become afraid even of some imaginary thing that has not yet happened, the distressing emotion will still be present. “Fear” is the feeling, or the condition of being afraid.
Fear restricts: Whatever we are afraid of, that which we fear makes us insecure; and whatever makes us afraid and insecure could cause us to bow. When we are afraid, fear causes us not to think properly. Fear causes us not to act properly. Fear makes you so insecure that you have a tendency to acquiesce, to submit, to surrender to the thing that you’re afraid of. And if you acquiesce, submit and surrender to what you are afraid of, then it becomes a god to you beside God!
My current challenge as a Muslimah is attending a college campus with a Muslim population that is not only small but disconnected with the Muslim community outside of campus. Part of that challenge is the fact since Muslims have attended my university, there has not been a connection with the Muslim community outside of campus and that also impacts us individually, as well as how we see each other. It’s getting better now and I think the political climate is forcing us to understand that we do have to grow out of our little shells and embrace each other. I think for me it’s just been hard being the only Black muslim female student on campus and feeling in between of standing out but also feeling isolated. It was also hard because I was just beginning to join the NOI when I started college. But I think through prayer, patience and just being honest about my experience helped me overcome and also knowing I only have two months left, until graduation so I won’t feel this burden much longer.
It started with my great-grandmother who was planted with a love for Islam, so much that the love transpired and lives through my family. I am grateful for her being an example of what it means to be a mother of civilization and for her love to transcend and have such an impact generations later. I am thankful for everything she endured. She has taught me that Islam is Resilience. And resilient, I will be.