A Virtuous Conversation with Sis. Terri and Bro. Nuri Muhammad
Virtue - How do you both help your children develop their faith?
Bro. Nuri - Well, I would say in opening, that our beloved Minister and Master teacher, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has so thoroughly taught us that strive to follow him on every subject of life including parenting, that he, in his exegesis and explanation of the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad have turned life into an open book test. So the formula that I and we have tried to use to follow to help comes from Study Guide No. 1 where the Minister says the best and only way to produce change in others is to lead by example…We have tried to be good examples of operating in faith and stepping out and operating ON faith to do things in the name of Allah.
What we try to tell our children is not just to keep the 5 daily prayers, but also pray as often as you possibly can and always step out asking Allah’s will to be done. And hope that your will and His will is the same. One of the formulas for a personal prayer we strive to be an example of and explain to our children is in doing those personal prayers is to start off the prayer with gratitude, thanking Allah(God) for whatever He has allowed you to be or do or have. And point number two is to seek and ask forgiveness for any sin, transgression or wrongdoing or even the neglect of not doing what we should have done…And then put in your request of what you are asking Allah (God) to help you with and then close out with gratitude. That formula seems to be a good formula to help ourselves and our children to
operate with a pure motivation with whatever they are doing when they are stepping out on faith.
The Minister also said that nothing speaks louder than an example. Most of us who are parents do know that whoever came up with this, it is accurate, that children do not what you say, children do what you do. So whatever we would like our children to be, we try to be what we want to see out of them. The Quran says work so that Allah, and the Messenger and the Believers can see your work. So I try to make sure my children see me praying, see me studying, see me doing things that are exercises of faith so they will know that this is the outlet that you plug into to get your power to move out into the world to achieve the objective that you have.
Sister Terri - We have always taught our children the knowledge and reality of God as taught by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, from the very beginning, and how Allah(God) created Himself out of triple darkness, and my husband would go into the depths and the science, of such an extremely difficult task, that involved. The mindset Allah "had", to have, mind, over matter. The extreme patience He had to have; the tremendous amount of faith He had to build and demonstrate, etc.. We taught them, as we are taught, that Allah destroyed impossibility when He created himself out of triple darkness. And so we taught them, WHATEVER they can envision, they can achieve and bring into reality.
As a mother/ M.G.T. I read English Lesson C1 to my children, every day as prescribed to us as a bedtime story to our children. As they got a little older, I taught them how to pray. And we taught them the importance of developing their own relationship with Allah, and to call on Him, (all the time!) for all the assistance and needs that they would need in life.
Another tool or method I used to develop their faith, is that I always taught them character building sayings. I would have them memorize, short parables with a lot of meaning and wisdom, that allowed them to think vertically (spiritually) and not just thinking horizontal (physical). This develops spirituality and wisdom into our children.
Virtue - Why do you think sometimes our teenage children may stray from the faith?
Sister Terri - I believe our children stray away from the faith often times, because they want to taste and experience, what they've never tasted or experienced before. [It’s] human nature, curiosity. Unfortunately, this usually means they want to experiment and taste the forbidden fruit, which opens the door to many evils. As they are heavily influenced by music, peers, social media, etc., that helps to advocate wrong and goes totally goes against what we are taught. The enemy teaches that living wrong, evil and corrupt is fun. And that, that is "real living" or having "real freedom" and I think that our children, in their immaturity, think that Islam is oppressing them from having so-called “fun” and hinders and suppresses them from doing the quote un quote, "fun things" that they want to do. Not realizing, it came from a slinking Devil whispering into the hearts of Men, as Allah says in the Holy Qur'an. The Messenger said about our children, every child will leave the home. This is why parents must lay the foundation BEFORE they leave because when the devil gets finish with them, they are going to be so happy to see mother.
Another reason I believe our children may stray away from the faith is that as parents, sometimes we are not sharing with our children our own shortcomings or mistakes we've made in our own life, or even in our journey in Islam. When the Minister came to Indianapolis, he had dinner with my family. And he said, "There are a lot of people you will see and admire in the world, but what you'll find is that your greatest heroes sleep across the hall from you." He went on to say to my husband and myself, that it is good for us, as parents, to share our shortcomings with our children. So what I learned from him [Minister Farrakhan] is that there is value in sharing with our children the mistakes that we have made in life, so they don't just see us as ones who have never made mistakes. Or that we have fallen from heaven. And that we've never done any wrong. If they see us in that light (never doing any wrong), they will think that we are different from them and they won't think that we can relate to them. And if they think we can't relate to them, they won't open up to us about their internal struggles, which is a natural struggle. I was happy to know that because my husband and I talked to our children freely about mistakes we have made. And we also taught them as Allah teaches us in The Holy Qur'an, that struggle is ordained. And that we WILL NOT obtain greatness without going through struggle.
Virtue - What is obstacle you had to overcome in helping to build a school in Indianapolis and how did you overcome that obstacle? What role did your faith play in overcoming it?
Sister Terri - One of the biggest obstacles I had to face was believing in myself and that it CAN BE DONE! There was a positive and a negative aspect to the lack of faith I had in myself. The negative being obvious is that I had to push through my own insecurities, and lack of faith in myself to bring about such a worthy and noble goal which was the future of our children. The positive side, if you can say positive, I use to have somewhat of anxieties about not performing well. I didn't want to let our children and parents down. And I turned those anxieties into MAKING SURE I didn't fail our children or our parents. So I pushed myself very, very hard. I spent long hours at the school in its inception. Many late nights. Sometimes my husband would call me on the phone and tell me to come home! He would, make me come home, and tell me, that it was too late for me to be at the mosque/school. I also had to deal with those who were just negative and fault finders, but never seeing what they could do to help assist in this cause. So I learned a lot about people, it helped make me stronger, which in turn gave me a greater drive, by the Grace of Allah. I also became a better listener and communicator.
When you are in leadership, or running any institution, you must listen to what people are saying and learn to put yourself in their shoes. If we are sincere and are humble enough to take legitimate complaints and correct them immediately, we have a greater chance of being successful. So, it gave me greater patience. And as we made mistakes, or saw how we could do things better or serve or children and parents better, we did just that. We also had good parents, who would support us and donated items and things needed for the school, which brings about balance from the negative talk we would have to endure. And my greatest motivation has ALWAYS been our children. They make it all worth it. So, the little faith, I did have, I utilized that faith, by putting it into action, which in turn grew my faith.
The beautiful side of instilling the teachings and principles in my children is that, I, too would have to utilize the same teachings and principles that I had given to them. It also has made me a better servant of the people, and it has taught me to be a greater taker. Which all helps to make me a better person, All Praises are Due to Allah!
Virtue - What is the "mindset" we must have to build strong marriages and families?
Sister Terri - Serve and please Allah! The Bible teaches, "Lean Not on Thy Own Understanding, but in all thy ways acknowledge HIM and He will direct thy paths" look at the last part of that scripture! And "He" God speaking, will direct our paths. That means He will give us the best answer to any problem we may have. We don't have to go to self or guess, we can go directly to the God. Getting His direction on EVERYTHING, that takes a lot of stress out of the relationship and really life itself!
All Praises Due to Allah! (Smile). So the "mindset" we should have is to put Allah first! Not our mates. We should also have the mindset that my mate is my comrade, best friend, and that we want to bring out the best in our mate and motivate and inspire them to be greater, but in order to do that, we must lead by example. We should pray together, work together, build together, create together, laugh together, play together, etc. and don't allow ourselves to be robots in our marriages, where we just work, cook, clean, pay bills, go to sleep and start all over doing the same old thing over and over and over. Keep the marriage fresh, new and exciting, which is another way of becoming best friends. And don't fuss or blow up little things and make them and unnecessary problem in the marriage.
Virtue - Sister Terri, describe the how you have utilized the some of the MGT units (cooking, sewing etc.) Have been beneficial to you and your family?
Sis. Terri - Wow! During my journey in Islam, I've grown more spiritually and, I am at awe over Master Fard Muhammad's wisdom! When we think on a small surface, physical level we don't see the value in the components that have been given to us. What these beautiful components have done for me is, it has allowed me to put more care into myself, first and foremost. It has caused me to love myself more, because I am cultivating what Allah has naturally put in me as a women. And by the grace of Allah, the more I cultivate myself I see the benefits of our components and it makes me very happy! It builds my confidence when I meet and overcome projects and assignments we have, which includes gaining knowledge that solves problems for myself, but I am becoming more and more equipped to solving problems within my family. Through cooking and offering the best diet for my family. And in Acting at Home and Abroad, which gives me dignity and the refinement to go anywhere and receive the respect I deserve as a striving Muslim. And sewing... I'm not an advance seamstress at all. However, the skills that I do have allows me to fix unexpected mishaps, whether it be my family's clothing items or even small things.
Re-upholstering items in my home will make it be cheaper for me to fix. All of the components I work hard to improve because it gives me a great sense of accomplishment when I complete an assignment or project. And I can always tell my husband likes to see me accomplishing goals and me learning new things from class when he sees me implement them at home. He always praises me (smile). Overall, the class given to us by Master Fard Muhammad helps me to become a better woman and better me. It taps into my nature and cultivates that which needs to be cultivated. And anything that is constantly being
cultivated is constantly growing and growing into a new creature, a new being which is how we become a god. So the M.G.T. Class has helped me tremendously, not only making me a better me, but when you implement taking care of house, how to rear children, taking care of my husband, sewing and cooking, these particular components teach you to be a servant, which in turn spiritually teaches us how to serve our people! I absolutely LOVE my class!!
Virtue - How has your faith grown over the years and what is an incident or situation that helped you develop your faith?
Sister Terri - My children have been my greatest trial because as mothers we love our children, only second to Allah. And I had expectations of my children, based off of what I've done, that I believe was best in raising them in the way of Allah and righteousness, and putting so much in them. I was
heartbroken by some of the very bad choices some of my children had made. As a mother it felt like everything I had done, didn't work. I was trying to figure out, "why didn't what my husband and I gave them through the teachings, work?" And even with my husband's busy schedule, for all these years, he still "always" made time for our children and family; it was like a law in our house. We spent at least 2 days out of the week together. I couldn't understand why some Muslim children seem to embrace this way of life more than our children. There were days that my physical heart would be in pain. And when I started thinking about my health and that I'm being unjust to myself by taking the burden on, to the point, if I continued in that manner, I could have been in poor health, stressing out over what I didn't have control over. I thought of Allah and what He says in the Holy Quran, Surah 35:18, "And no burdened soul can bear another's burden. And if one weighed down by a burden calls another to carry his load, naught of it will be carried, even though he be near of kin.
So I increased in my prayers, exhaled and let it go! I had to call on Allah for relief and consolation. And when I did that, I was fine. I am now free of that. All Praises Are Due to Allah!! Thank you both! May Allah continue to bless you and your family!
(Student Minister Nuri Muhammad is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan's representative in Indianapolis. He and his beautiful wife, Sister Terri, help to run a school and business with the help of the mighty believers of Mosque No.74 . To order Brother Student Minister Nuri Muhammad’s DVD’s or books, visit https://www.nurimuhammad.com/)