September 17th 1999
"City of Brotherly Love"
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
I want to tell you something about the significance for me, the interest that I have in Philadelphia. And it is not just because I lived there. I did live there. When I married at about 24 or 25, the first time was to Sis. Shirley Muhammad. She was Shirley X something; I have forgotten the number of her X. We got married and had our first child, Laila, born in Philadelphia in 1959. I went there in 1958 and was there in 1958, 1959 and part of 1960; for about three years I lived in Philadelphia.
When my father approached me about going to Philadelphia ..., mind you I had no experience as an administrator or as a resident minister responsible for the congregation and paying the bills and all of that.
I was just a young minister given the opportunity to speak occasionally in different places, mostly in Chicago with Min. James Shabazz, who was the principal of our high school, and he knew me as a student. He was my teacher and I was a student, so we had a good relationship. That's the kind of relationship I had as a minister, with no real responsibility except to just get up and speak.
So my father comes to me and says: "Son, the minister in Philadelphia is a good man, a good brother, but he has gotten into something, and I have to replace him. I want to send you to Philadelphia." He said: "Philadelphia is Number 12." I'm just a young minister and Number 12 is just 12 to me. So Philadelphia was Temple No. 12, but the way he put emphasis on it stuck in my mind.
So I went there as a minister responsible for Temple No. 12. And it was so easy for me, although I didn't know it was going to be so easy. It was just so easy and natural for me to take over the responsibilities. The officials cooperated with me.
The senior citizens, what I call Pioneers, for the Hon. Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam, received me and welcomed me. It was just like the love they had for my father, they expressed it to me. And the support they wanted to give him, they gave it to me. So actually, they were reaching him through me, saying: We can't get him, but here his son is. They were giving to me what they would give to him, so I got all kinds of support.
I remember the first meeting we had. I think the attendance was like 67 people, less than 100 people. But within a few months, we went to the hundreds - 200, 300, 400. When I left there, our attendance on a Sunday. if we worked on it and made an effort, was 500 people -easy.
And we had good press. I did something there, that I felt my father would feel good about, although I thought he would have said: "Son, you shouldn't have done that."
Money was being raised for the Civil Rights personality, Daisy Bates. They were raising money there in Philadelphia, and it was brought to my attention. So I said, "I would like to give $50 to her. I didn't know it was going to hit the newspapers. But when they found out that I was going to give $50, they insisted that they take pictures and everything. So my picture was in the paper for giving $50, and that opened up the people, the Christians. That opened up their hearts to us.
I had a good time there. I had ease there, no problems in Philadelphia. And the following grew, the spirit grew, and we had a big following in Philadelphia. So, whenever we have a big following and a sincere following like those people in Philadelphia, I can't forget a place like that. That place is very important to me.
We have that in a few cities around the country. We have a real big following in Newark, N.J., area. But I didn't make that following; those who followed the Hon. Elijah Muhammad made that following. James Shabazz, who was killed, and Hussein Shabazz, who succeeded him, were responsible for that big following. And since them. Imam Ali Muslim; they are responsible for the big following. And the many brothers and sisters who have helped spread the word are responsible for the big following.
People who have been influenced are not Muslims; they don't even think of themselves as Muslims, but they have been influenced to come this way. I feel that we are obligated to follow that up, to do something about it.
I am not superstitious and I don't believe in any superstition. I am a rational man, but I am a man of faith, too. And I believe that some things happen in our lives -personal lives and also in our life as a community -that are a sign of G-d's interest, not just our interest but G-d's interest.
Since my father told me Temple No. 12 and he emphasized "12," I have seen certain things happen that have made me believe that Philadelphia is not only our interest, but it is G-d's interest. I believe Philadelphia has Allah's interest there too for us to stay in Philadelphia.
Now please don't go out and buy Chinese food and break open the little cookie and be looking for something. But I just happened to buy Chinese food the other day, and I looked at the little white slip that someone had dropped on the floor. I don't like things on the floor, so I picked it up off the kitchen floor. I didn't get it out of the cookie; something else got it out of the cookie and dropped it on the floor. And I looked at it and read it.
It read: "Do not depart from the fate that has been assigned to you." That's what it said. When that was written, I said: "Well, Philadelphia is certainly in that."
I know myself and I believe the fate that has been assigned to me is to been assigned to me is to continue to bring our people closer and closer to the home that our souls want. So that we will be free and in good condition physically, materially and spiritually. I believe that that is the fate that has been assigned to me.
And when I picked that up and read it, I said: "Well, I am just going to have to work harder. And Philadelphia is definitely in this work. So I am going to have to give more attention to what we are doing here."
Philadelphia is the first Capital of the United States. Now, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad said "12," but 12 to me has spiritual significance. Brotherhood. Jesus had 12 disciples at the table of the Last Supper in the story of the Bible, peace be upon him. And those disciples were brothers and represented the brotherhood of mankind, the brotherhood of men on earth. They represented all the people.
So I know to him "12" meant the spiritual life and brotherhood, but it also has political significance. It was the first Capital of these United States; the first government was set up there. The first Christians landed in that area. So it has great significance.
It has that kind of significance, and the Hon. Elijah Muhammad sent his son there. And I have an attachment to that city, a mystical attachment that is based upon some rational interest that I have - because anything that I can't find a rational base for, I leave it. I don't want you to think that anything spooky is happening here.
So I want to share with you all of my deep and personal interest in Philadelphia. I believe Philadelphia has a place in our history, a real place in our history. When our history is finished, Philadelphia is going to be a real star in our history. Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, Washington, B.C., Harlem, N.Y.. are places where we have spent money, blood, etc. So these places have great meaning for us now and even greater meaning in the future.
I wanted to share that with you, so that you can feel more comfortable supporting my interest in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is not a tourist town or anything, at least not for the night life people. They are not going to Philadelphia. It is not exciting.
Why Philadelphia? It is called the "City of Brotherly Love." And the people there have responded to our leaders in great numbers. And if they had been left without leadership, then that responsibility is on us. If they have been misguided, that responsibility is on us. I think I have said all that I wanted to say.