State Of The Nation Report (History Speaks)
State Of The Nation Report
By Imam W. Deen Mohammed
The Nation of Islam was founded in the early 1930's with one type of movement in the community-a movement to spread the spiritual message of Islam to black people of North America. The message of truth that Master Fard Muhammad brought to these shores was fervently carried from city to city by the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad (may the peace of Allah be upon him).
The success of the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad's spiritual teachings resulted in the formation of a real black economic force wherever Mosques of Islam were located. As the Nation of Islam began to fulfill its basic needs as a community more successfully, it began to follow the natural course of growth of most human communities. It began to look outside of its formative or initial structure for other areas of interest.
The Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad wisely guided the growing community of Muslims in North America into areas of business. They were not just areas of business that were concerned with "profit above all else," but areas of business that satisfied the natural desires and the natural needs of the religious community of Muslims. His familiar call to "Do something for self" resulted to the establishment of businesses like bakeries, supermarkets, restaurants, and clothing stores in many Muslim communities. These businesses were of a vital importance because they attempted to satisfy the real physical needs of the Muslims. They satisfied the hunger within our people to begin to grow and to develop as other societies of people grow and develop, they afforded jobs to many people who would normally have been unemployed or under-employed, and they moved to stabilize the total community in which they were located by demonstrating good, clean business practices to blight -prone areas.
As the business activity of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam began to increase significantly, the original organizational structure became strained and inefficient. When our primary concern was only the spread of the spiritual message of Islam, all of the departments within the structure fit very efficiently under the heading of "Mosque Departments."
The fact that the Nation of Islam expanded with such force and speed into the American arena of economics, in spite of a membership that was almost totally unqualified in the area of business, is testimony to the great wisdom and strength of the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad. He single-handedly transformed the Nation of Islam from a handful of unskilled and untrained "Negroes" into a respected community of nation-minded people from coast-to-coast in a matter of less than 40 years.
All during this period of growth, the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad, himself, was the man who carried the total responsibility for everything in the Nation of Islam. He was the originator of all plans, the arbitrator of all disputes, and the "shop foreman" who had to supervise everybody and everything himself.
Finally, in the early 1970's the need for a business department at the Chicago Headquarters could no longer be avoided. The ministers, the captains, and the secretaries across the nation found themselves in dire need for guidelines and instructions in business matters. Most of them were completely unprepared to handle such matters as taxes, insurance, accounting systems, and the usual necessary corporate paper work.
Also, during this period of time, the Nation of Islam and its general membership were coming under a great deal of intimidation and harassment from all quarters, especially the various agencies of the government. This harassment continued to build in spite of the positive results that we were accomplishing in areas and among people whom everyone else had failed. Consequently, the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad felt that our small body of poor believers should not be subject to pay taxes or to honor other government requests when we were not respected as a legitimate religious body by the American government.
Because no real structure had been established for the smooth operation of the businesses and because most of the businesses were not managed by qualified personnel, the problems began to grow and grow.
When I came into the leadership position 12 months ago, the organizational structure was one with a strong mosque administration, but with a small and weak business administration. We immediately moved to strengthen business department with professional lawyers, managers and accountants. On the other side of the mosque administration we added another organizational component, which really indicates our future direction and concern; that is the department of human affairs.
Today the organizational structure of the Nation of Islam is set up as a structural framework which will accommodate the movement of our society towards a governmental concept. The office of the Chief Minister is the office of spiritual leadership for our religious society. We have instituted the office of the Organization President, now held by Dr. Abdul Salaam.
The Organization President is the convener of the National Decision -Making Board, which is comprised of National Officials and Regional Officials who represent various segments of the general body of believers. All members of the official staff are subject to election by the membership of the Nation of Islam once a year. The National Decision-Making Board, by representing the total membership, will serve as the governing body for the general affairs of the Nation of Islam.
We have also separated the Department of Finance from the Business Department and it now serves as the central body of monetary management. Professional personnel not only process the usual accounting and payroll work, but they are establishing fiscal policies and budgets for all departments including one (1), five (5) and ten (10) year projections for the Nation of Islam.
In order to consolidate the filing of all tax information, insurance policies, deeds, titles, contracts and other important documents, we have established the Department of Vital Papers at the Chicago National Office. The Director of that office is Brother Kevin 2X Dixon, who also works as the assistant to the Nation's Business Manager.
Under the general heading of "Mosque Operations," we have the Ministers' Department. Our National Staff is composed of my Special Assistant, Minister Karim Abdel Aziz, Special Aid, Dr. Na'im Akbar, and the National Spokesman, Minister Abdul Haleem Farrakhan. Our National Captain's Staff is headed by the Nation's Captain, Elijah Muhammad II. Our Nation's Secretary, Brother John Abdul Haqq, is a recent addition to our staff. He formerly served as the West Coast Regional Secretary in Los Angeles, California.
The Muslim Women's Development Class, formally called the Muslim Girl's Training and General Civilization Class, is under the direction of Sister Consultant Aminah Rasul. The Nation's Minister of Justice is the former Supreme Captain, Raymond Sharif. Another very recent appointment to our Official Staff is Brother Clyde El-Amin, who will serve as the Assistant Minister of Education under me, over the Sister Clara Muhammad Elementary and Secondary Schools. Serving as consultants on our Nation Education Staff are Dr. Abdul Alim Sbabazz, Dr. Fatimah Ali, and Sister Fahimah Sultan.
The last and the newest office under Mosque Operations is the National Steering Committee Chairman, Dr. Michael Ramadan. Dr. Ramadan serves as the representative of all the Mosque Committees that have been established in the Mosques across the country.
The Committees, made up of participants from the general membership, serve as support for and extensions of the Mosque Official Staff. They are: the Censure Board for Cultural Development, the Public Information Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, the Child Interest Committee, the Sick Committee, the Accident and Mishap Committee, the Creations Committee, and the Fairness Committee.
The area of "Business Operations" is under the supervision of the Nation's Business Manager, Attorney Saad El-Amin, who also serves as our General Counsel. Our Business staff in Chicago has increased in size to four (4) or five (5) times what it was one year ago. Besides overseeing oar Chicago businesses, the staff is new formulating standardized accounting and operational procedures for all business within the Nation of Islam.
The third major department in our organizational structure is the newest department, the Department of Human Affairs. We have established this department to begin to activate in the community at large, the programs that have been so successful within the community of the Nation of Islam. We are confident that our successes in child development, in education, in moral development, in human rehabilitation, in alcohol and drug prevention, and in community awareness can be beneficial to the total community.
The Human Affairs Department will act as the liaison between the Nation of Islam and the community within which we reside. Within the Human Affairs Department are the Human Development Staff, headed by Dr. Na'im Akbar, and the Human Relations Staff, headed by Brother Abdul Hakim Shakir.
Also in the Human Affairs Department we have the Department of Community Services, which is coordinated by Min. Nasir Ahmed and supervised by Bro. Hasan Muhammad Sharif. Within this Department are the following staff s Public-Relations. Community Relations. Communications and Cultural Development.
The greatest problem that existed one (1) year ago was that no one knew the condition of the businesses because no accounting systems were in effect to monitor national income and expenditures.
The image of the Nation of Islam as a wealthy economic organization with financial assets in the neighborhood of $75 to $80 million was commonly presented to the public by the news media. This figure, like most of the so-called "facts" on the Nation of Islam that were published by the news media, was more speculative than real.
After instituting comprehensive fact-finding systems over the past (12) months, we find that the economic health of the Nation of Islam is not what it was projected to be. In fact, the Nation of Islam, like the majority of businesses and organizations in the American economy today, is in debt because of a cash flow problem. We are very thankful that we have been able to determine our problem so quickly, and that we have been able to institute programs that are gradually enabling us to recover from a financial illness that had been festering unnoticed for ten (10) to fifteen (15) years.
As far back as 1967, the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad and his top officials were requesting loans of up to $2,000,000 to help finance community improvements on the south side of Chicago. Loans of such an amount are considered very small in comparison with the size of loan packages that are usually approved to other religious organizations with no questions asked. In fact, the Nation of Islam was refused loans by some of the same financial institutions that held in their vaults the hundreds of thousands of dollars deposited from the donations of the poor Muslims across the country.
During this period of time when the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad so desperately wanted outside financial assistance to help him with his great plans for the Bilalian communities of America, so-called "money-finders" were paid in advance for loans that never materialized. When willing lenders were found, some kind of obstacle would always come up before the loan could be finalized: collateral requirements would be increased at the last minute, or insurance companies would not give the necessary bond.
In spite of such hardships, the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad relentlessly pushed forward with his plan determined to "Do something for self". Building construction projects and land acquisitions were continued on a "pay-as-you-go" cash basis, instead of the usual financing method. This caused a tremendous strain on the charity donations that came into Chicago from Muslims around the country.
An example of this treatment is the recently completely Pioneers Ofice Building in Chicago, Illinois, which was constructed at a cost of over $1,000,000. Not one cent of this money was financed. It was all paid to the contractor on a monthly basis in cash from donations that were received from Muslims believers across the country.
Almost no business group or no corporation in America would try to undertake such a tremendous drain on its cash reserves at this time with the America economy in the condition that it is in. In addition to those problems, the market value of any piece of property that the Honorable Master Elijah Muhammad would look at would suddenly skyrocket.
For example, the Muslims had to pay approximately $4.3 million for the Elijah Muhammad Mosque Complex, buildings that had an estimated market value of only $1.4 million in 1971.
In 1971, the farms alone were running yearly deficits in excess of one-half million dollars. The businesses during this same time had a yearly deficit of close to $2 million, not including long-term loan and mortgage obligations which totaled over $9.5 million.
In 1974, long term debt commitments were still outstanding for the acquisition of the Muhammad Mosque No. 2 Complex, apartment buildings, the farms and Guaranty Bank. This was the financial condition that we encountered upon coming into this office twelve (12) months ago. The past year has been a period of organization, analyzation and fact finding. We now know where our problems exist and we have developed sound and realistic solutions for them.
We have streamlined our payroll where necessary, we have reordered our priorities in the area of business, we have established systems of fiscal controls, including an 18-month austerity program, and we have developed a program for increasing the involvement of the membership at large in the businesses. During the year 1975, the Nation of Islam's center in Chicago employed some 700 people and paid close to $4,400,000 in wages.
Our total current debt, excluding long term commitments, is approximately $900,000, which is a decrease of some $1,100,000 from the yearly business debt during 1973.
Our long term debt is now reduced to about $4,600,000, which is down $4,900,000 from 1973 and we are making strides to liquidate these liabilities while at the same time honoring all of our financial commitments to taxing agencies of the Federal, State and Local Governments.
The systematic separation of business activities from the Mosque structure will enable the Mosque administration to function more efficiently, and it will allow the general membership to become more involved in the businesses.
With the exception of a few Mosque related businesses, such as the Bilalian News printing press, most of the businesses now owned by the Nation of Islam will be turned over into the hands of management teams selected from the general body. This will be accomplished in the very near future.
The past twelve (12) month period has seen a very substantial growth in most all of our Mosque activities. We are now very close to having 200 Mosque locations in the United States, Canada, the Virgin Islands, Trinidad, Belize, Jamaica and Bermuda.
One area of Mosque activity that did show a decrease during the past year was the circulation of the Bilalian Newspaper (formerly the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper). Our yearly circulation dropped about 28% under the 1974 circulation figures. It reached a low point of 400,000 copies per week towards the end of the year. As of this past week it is up to about 500,000 copies per week and we feel confident that we will reach one million copies per week well before the end of the year.
Even with the decrease in circulation, the Nation of Islam distributed close to 34 million copies of the Bilalian News throughout the year to every corner of America and in the Caribbean. The number of people who visited our Mosques for the first time during the year 1975 was up 54% over 1974. The number who accepted to register as International trade brings millions of pounds of fish to the Nation of Islam each month. Members of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam was up 27% over the previous year.
The total attendance at Muhammad Mosques throughout the country was up 47% over 1974 and exceeded 2,800,000 persons. A new Mosque and school complex was acquired in Oakland, California at a cost of $290,000. On the Island of Bermuda, the hard-working Muslims have purchased a beautiful $211,000 estate which contains facilities for a Mosque, a school, offices and dormitories. New school facilities have also been purchased in Philadelphia, Pa., at a cost of $90,000.
We have just recently begun the final work on opening a large restaurant on the Island of Trinidad. We would like to express our gratitude to the government of Trinidad, which has shown us much kindness and which has extended a great deal of encouragement to see that the Muslims there are offered an opportunity to help develop the overall community.
In Chicago we recently added two (2) parcels of real estate to our holdings which will be used for the benefit of the community. The former Merit Chevrolet Garage, near 73rd and East End, has been acquired for development as a vocational school for children and adults. Adjoining that property, in the 7300 block of South Ridgeland, is the former Ridgeland Club, which has been acquired and renamed the Ephraim Bahar Community Center. This center will accommodate some classes of the Sister Clara Muhammad School, and will also be open for a wide range of educational and cultural affairs.
Within the next few weeks our contractors will begin working on preparing two, now vacant, lots as community play lots for the children of our community. One lot is located at 93rd Street and Stony Island, and the other lot is located at 39th Street and Indiana Avenue. These playlots will be well-planned for the enjoyment and safety of the children.
We hope to work with various community organizations to see that these playlots and others that will soon be developed offer the best supervision possible.
Also within the next few weeks the former Salaam Restaurant, now the Salaam Art and Cultural Center, will be open to provide good wholesome activities for the entire family. We will feature art exhibits, films, live entertainment, theatrical productions, and a wide range of other activities that will be open to the community.
The Sister Clara Muhammad Elementary and Secondary School (formerly the Muhammad University of Islam) has operated in many cities across the country over a period of many years. These schools have been known for the quality of special education that they offer to the students in an unique environment of cleanliness and high moral standards. We are not yet satisfied with our schools and we are working even harder now to produce a school that will truly be a model educational environment for the entire world.
The total cost of operating the Sister Clara Muhammad School in Chicago was close to $730,000 in 1975. In spite of the fact that the Nation of Islam was billed in excess of $480,000 in state and local taxes for that same period of time in Chicago, we received not one penny in outside financial assistance from the government or any other organization.
We have assembled a staff of highly trained educators here in Chicago that are busily preparing curriculum and textbooks that can used, not only by the Nation of Islam, but by any institution that desires them. You can expect to see many new publications coming from us in the coming years. Projects that range from the teachings of Islam to sociology, anthropology, and text books of all kinds.