The Nation, family and friends remember the life and contribution of Louis Farrakhan, Jr.
CHICAGO—Light shone through the domed ceiling of Mosque Maryam and what had been a rainy and overcast day became bright. The sunshine and its energy reflected the spirit buzzing in the sanctuary at the homegoing service of Louis E. Farrakhan, Jr., the eldest son of the internationally known Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan and his wife Khadijah Farrakhan.
The sanctuary was filled with family, Muslims, well-wishers and old friends to celebrate and remember a man known for his brotherhood, brilliance and humor.
While there was certainly sadness and a few tears shed, there was no grief as the Muslim funeral service and fond memories kept a great loss balanced with gratitude for a great life sent this way.
After the service opened with a Quranic recitation, Student Minister Jeffrey Muhammad explained the Muslim funeral service and its practical and beautiful nature.
There are no flowers because flowers should be given to the living and money spent on flowers can be given to surviving family, he said. Likewise, there is no music and no long litany of speakers, which may touch the family and heighten their loss, added Jeffrey Muhammad.
The sanctuary of the mosque was full of Farrakhan and Muhammad family members, members of diverse religious faiths, special friends and supporters like Chuck D and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy, football great Jim Brown, Father Michael Pfleger, Rev Jeremiah Wright, Rev. Clay Evans, Rev. Al Sampson, Rev. Paul Jakes, Rev. Henry Hardy, activist and educator Dr. Conrad Worrill, Prince Asiel Ben Israel of the Hebrew Israelite Community, Bishop Connie Bansa, Howard and Rosalind Morgan, Rev. Hiro of the True Family Values Church, former alderman Dorothy Tillman, Palestinian editor and activist Ali Baghdadi, community leaders Florence Cox and Doris Lewis, rapper DA Smart and comedian Reggie Reg.
It was a reunion of sorts for Muslims with attendees including pioneering former National Secretary of the Nation of Islam John Ali; Munir Muhammad of the Coalition for the Remembrance of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad; Ameer Muhammad, Alif Muhammad, Saffiya Muhammad, Rabb Muhammad, Maraud Muhammad and Hafeezah Muhammad, grandchildren of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad; Shirley Muhammad, the wife of the late Imam W.D. Mohammed and her daughters Laila and Ngina; Imam Muhammad Siddeeq, Imam Abdul Malik, Sheikh Ahmed Rufai and Believers from different Islamic communities. The mosque was also so full that it was not able to accommodate all who wanted to attend the funeral.
Resolutions from the Rev. James Bass and Mayor Eric Kellogg of Harvey, Ill., were acknowledged. Outside among flowers was a huge arrangement from tv personality and onetime Michigan judge Greg Mathis. Attendees came from across the country and condolences for the Farrakhan family came in from different parts of the world.
Ishmael Muhammad, a son of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and assistant minister at Mosque Maryam, offered words to comfort the audience, which included the Minister, his wife and family.
He offered prayers for the family that Allah (God) would lift any burden or sorrow, but every soul has a fixed time to depart this life and only leaves with Allah’s permission, he added.
The Holy Qur’an says Allah takes men’s souls at night and those on whom the decree of death has not passed arise the next day, said Ishmael Muhammad.
We don’t know when we will leave this world but life is short so what are we doing with the time God gives us? he asked. We were expecting Louis to live, but Allah knew what would happen, so we should be good to one another in our daily lives, avoiding grief and sorrow when the one we love passes, he said.
It appears Brother Louis was sleep, and Allah took him in his sleep in the family home; this represents Allah’s mercy, said Ishmael Muhammad. Brother Louis didn’t die in gun violence or a plane crash but in his sleep in the blessed month of Ramadan, where Prophet Muhammad said the gates of heaven are wide open in this month, said Student Minister Muhammad.
This is a blessed, highly favored family and Brother Louis’ children should be grateful for the time Allah gave us with their father, he continued. A blessed life doesn’t mean no illness, or pain but it means Allah allows you to praise and glorify him and rise above any condition in life, said Ishmael Muhammad.
We will miss Brother Louis who made an indelible impression on us and there will never be another like him, he said as the audience exploded into applause.
He was unique, gifted and “boy was he funny,” said Ishmael Muhammad. He was also gracious, kind and would not want us to be sad, he said.
Ishmael Muhammad recounted a story from Mustapha Farrakhan about his older brother who was in the hospital after having a heart attack. How does it feel? asked Mustapha Farrakhan. It was like Allah sent a new angel and a fat one that sat on my chest said Brother Louis, as Ishmael Muhammad recounted the story. The audience again erupted into laughter and applause. It was classic humor from Brother Louis, easily recognized by those who knew him.
Brother Louis was the Flava Flav of this family, the flavor and spice, added Ishmael Muhammad as Public Enemy member Flava Flav, a good friend, was in the audience .
Brother Louis was kind and gentle, unselfish, not envious, gave of himself, said Ishmael Muhammad. He cannot die because the spirit never perishes, and we have living memories of him, said Ishmael Muhammad.
His reward passes to his children, Safiyah Malika, Khadijah Yasmeen, Maryam Aliyah, Khallada Zanib, Louis E. Farrakhan III, Mutawakkil Yasin, borne by his former wife Lesil Farrakhan. They have five grandchildren. He is also survived by his wife Bridget Dominguez-Muhammad and step children as well as his remaining brothers and sisters.
Brother Louis’ sisters, Betsy Jean and Fatima thanked those in attendance for their support of the family and thanked Charles Burnham, who they called an angel sent to the family by Allah who gave them more time with Louis, Jr., after a previous heart attack. The mosque was so crowded as people waited in the aisles to bid a final farewell that it had to be cut short to make the appointed time at the burial site.
The men of the Fruit of Islam, in uniform, hoisted their brother’s casket on their shoulders and out of a side door to be taken to Oakwood Cemetery a short drive away.
Even the beautiful casket, embossed with the name Louis E. Farrakhan, Jr., had a beautiful story: Within about two days the casket was specially made, transported from Houston to Louisiana to Chicago in time for the service. It was given to the Farrakhan family for free and done with love, driven to Chicago from the South by Brother Troy, who is proudly processing in the Nation of Islam. He was not a “friend” of Brother Louis, but “anything we can do for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation, we will do just that,” he said.
He and fellow brother Barron Preston, owner of Casket World USA in Houston, worked together on the idea. Casket World USA also donated a casket to the late activist and brilliant comedian Dick Gregory. Brother Troy took the 15-16 hour drive with traffic, weather and road conditions in stride and arrived in time. Mr. Preston, a man of few words, felt those who serve should be served when these times come. Those who have been dedicated to us should enjoy support from us, he stressed, in a telephone interview. Even if you don’t believe or support these people, you can sleep at night because they are looking out for you, Mr. Barron said. His gift for the family was out of deep appreciation and from the heart.
Later that evening at the funeral repast, which was also an iftar or breaking of the Ramadan fast for Muslims, at Muhammad University of Islam adjacent Mosque Maryam, Min. Farrakhan spoke briefly. “Louis, Jr., brought us all together today. I wanted to personally thank all of you for the kind of love that you showed to Louis, Jr., his family, Mother Khadijah Farrakhan and me. You came to strengthen us, and we felt it, and we appreciate it,” he said.
He described his son as a deep visionary committed to the vision and mission of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. “Today, there was that sign of genuine love across different community lines and especially in the families of Muhammad and Farrakhan that I think would make Louis exceedingly happy that on his passing he accomplished what he wanted for us all,” said Min. Farrakhan.
“I did not know so much love was out there in the streets (for me), but Louis helped to create it because of his manner, his method, the beauty of his heart. It touched those who came from near and far to be here to celebrate his life,” the Minister added. “I pray that the beauty of that man will inspire us to continue on the path of Islam.”
Brother Louis’ funeral was held on a Friday, which is the day of traditional Muslim prayers and followed prayer service in the downstairs prayer area inside Mosque Maryam. Services were led by Student National Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad.
International Representative of Minister Farrakhan Abdul Akbar Muhammad said, “This is a special jumaah because it’s just before the janazah prayer service for the first son of Min. Farrakhan, Louis Farrakhan, Jr, and in the (Muslim) tradition when someone dies during Ramadan, it’s a blessing from Allah. It’s said that the gates of paradise open to them and especially someone who is as known as the Minister’s son and the Minister’s family.”
“First of all, sincerest condolences to the family. Louis was a very special young man,” stated Imam Muhammad Siddeeq, New York principal of Muhammad University of Islam from 1967-1976. Brother Louis attended MUI those years, while the Minister shepherded Temple No. 7 for the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.
“He was different from all the rest of the children. Not that they aren’t wonderful. They are all wonderful. But, we always felt that Louis offered a special spiritual insight, that the rest of them didn’t have. He was just natural in that way and he was always a very humble young brother. Always very sincere and always inspirational,” he said.
Mayor Eric Kellogg, of Harvey, Illinois, was taken by the way the service was conducted. “It was well organized, organizing thousands of people, it was very focused and the spirit of Louis, remained alive. This service is something the world should witness,” he said.
The City of Harvey gave a proclamation to the Nation of Islam. Joined by his Chief of Police Gregory Thomas and Thornton Township Principal Tony Ratliff each expressed their condolences for the Farrakhan family.
“They are the epitome of African American leadership,” said Mayor Kellogg. “We support the Farrakhan family. This is a very difficult time for them. It was a beautiful homegoing for Brother Louis. He was a brilliant person and he reflected the life lessons he was taught,” he said.
“I’ve never been the traditionalist, but this service was focused where it needed to be. It was a divine reflection of love,” said Principal Ratliff. “My deepest condolences to the Farrakhan family. It is my honor and privilege to be here with them, and I mourn their loss,” added Chief Thomas.
“This moment right now and what it means to me? It means the world for me to be able to come here and give my last respects to my boy, man,” Public Enemy hypeman Flava Flav told The Final Call. He would later accompany the procession to the graveside and join the Fruit of Islam in filling the grave of the departed brother with soil.
“God doesn’t make mistakes and there is a reason why right now, this happened with Louis and I feel that this is a reason for us to be able to learn from, and also a reason to make all of us stronger,” he said. “I’m going to miss my boy. Our personalities—me and Louis had ways alike. That don’t mean we were like each other. But, we had ways alike. Birds of a feather will flock together,” he quipped. “I’m going to miss all of those fun times. He just made us laugh. He was always the life of the party, like Flav.”
Chuck D of Public Enemy said Brother Louis was instrumental in bringing the liberation hip hop group to the Minister and the Nation. Others were involved but Brother Louis would always encourage his father and promote connections with Public Enemy. The hip hop legend flew in from California and was on the way to a European tour. But it was important to be in Chicago to bid farewell to his comrade in arms and support a special man as he declared himself “a follower of Farrakhan” on the record “Don’t Believe the Hype” in 1988.
“Louis left a legacy of finding balance between being an individual coming up with the expectations of being Louis Farrakhan, Jr.,” observed Student Director of Muhammad University of Islam in Atlanta Samiyyah Muhammad. “He was able to find himself a niche, where he was accepted. He used humor and his wisdom was so profound, that a lot of times people thought that Louis was playing, but Louis was giving out some very, very deep wisdom and he was almost like a spy,” she chuckled. “Because, people would say things to Louis that they would not say to the Minister and that they were not going to say around Mustapha. But, because of the way Louis presented himself, as so easy going and always laughing” he disarmed people. “He would be gathering information, meeting with CEOs,” she said, and taking it all back to his father.
The cyberworld of social media was abuzz since news of Brother Louis’ passing as thousands of tweets, Facebook and Snapchat posts bombarded the internet with pictures, memorials, condolences, well wishes and testimonies to the quality of life led by this man.
“Thousands of beautiful expressions of condolences poured in on social media from around the world. Even people who didn’t know Brother Louis Jr. personally, they expressed love for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Mother Khadijah, the children and the entire family,” said Social Media Manager Jesse Muhammad. “I was blessed to speak with the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan last Sunday morning (June 3). He called me and did let me know how appreciative they were of all of the messages coming in. He said the expressions of love coming from those who didn’t even know his son personally, they were very meaningful and that all of the expressions were very, very important. And that they (Farrakhan family) were just grateful to have the Nation of Islam community surrounding them, to back them up and just for the love and the outpouring of the people who appreciate what his family has contributed to the onward march of our people,” he said.
“He was loving, so positive,” stated Givianna Grant, Brother Louis’ 18-year-old cousin. “He encouraged me to go into dentistry. Go pursue your dreams, he told me.” Her brother, John Grant, 15, said Cousin Lou was “so knowledgeable and there was never a dull moment. He always kept you laughing.” “He knew so much and would give his last. He was very generous,” added nephew Chyron Muhammad, 16.
The service “was beautiful, it reflected Brother Louis’ spirit, his love, his joy and I feel like in my heart of hearts, he would have been pleased,” said Thombra Muhammad from Chicago.
Iman Ali, also from Chicago, knew Brother Louis personally and felt the service was inspiring and indicative of his spirit. “He was everything that Minister Ishmael said he was. He was a son of the king but the people’s brother; he was so kind and so loving.”
“We have lost a great warrior. One of the sacred apples from the tree from the Nation of Islam and from the house of Minister Louis Farrakhan,” said the Rev. Al Sampson, a longtime friend and ally. “I was with him, with Brother Louis, at the Farm and I only can say as a preacher, the sacred words: ‘This is my beloved son of whom I’m well pleased.’ I’m happy that many people from all over the country, really all over the world have come to this particular place to honor him,” said Rev. Sampson.
At Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery, the physical journey of Louis Farrakhan, Jr., ended, surrounded by family, friends and admirers. His Muslim brothers carried him on their shoulders, delivered him back to the earth and said final prayers. It was just the thing that Brother Louis would have done for them.