January 1998 - Web Posted 01/08/98

Farrakhan's Message to Muslim Africa
'We need a rebirth'

NIAMEY, NIGER

'The path to Islamic and African pre-eminence in the 21st century is faith, scholarship, and dedicated struggle in the way of Allah.'
-Min. Louis Farrakhan

by Askia Muhammad 
Washington Bureau Chief 

NIAMEY, Niger-In Banjul, Gambia, before, and now here in Niamey, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan's message to Muslims in Africa on the eve of the Holy Month of Ramadan is simple: use the uplifting principles of Islam to transform the reality of the lives of the mostly poor faithful throughout the continent. 


Niger
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"We need a rebirth. We need a renaissance," the Nation of Islam leader said Dec. 26 in an address to the people of Niger, broadcast on national television. Gambia was the sixth country, Niger the seventh visited by Min. Farrakhan on his historic 52-nation World Friendship Tour III.

"We need Ramadan to produce for us a deeper understanding of the (Holy) Qur'an that we might begin again, to erase ignorance, to erase poverty, to erase the division between us as members of tribes and ethnic groups and bring us together and make us a great nation, a light into a darkened world."

Traveling with a delegation of 24, Min. Farrakhan has retraced ancient trade routes, now forgotten, which were household names 1,200 years ago during Islam's "Golden Age," linking Islamic capitals from Timbuktu in Mali, to Egypt and the Holy City of Mecca. The Gambia, most famous as the place where writer Alex Haley discovered his "Roots," was once associated with ancient Songhay, Mali, and Ghana-the fabled "Gold Coast." The Gambia became Britain's first colonial possession in Africa in 1588. The country won its independence in 1965, and is now governed by a young and energetic cadre of Muslims led by retired Army Lt. Yahyah Jammeh.

President Jammeh and his companions were inspired, not just to seize power, as they did in 1994, but to live exemplary Muslim lives, and to govern according to Islamic teachings in the best interest of their nation by listening to tapes of Minister Farrakhan when they were students in the United States.

"We've got to go back home and change the reality of Senegal," Min.Farrakhan said, during a speech in the Gambian capital. His words offered a challenge to thousands of cheering Muslims Dec. 25 at an annual conference hosted by Senegalese Imam Sheikh Hassan Cisse at the National Stadium in Banjul. "We've got to change the reality of Gambia. We've got to change the reality of Africa. Islam must become the Superpower in the next century."

The path to Islamic and African pre-eminence in the 21st century, according to the Nation of Islam leader, is faith, scholarship, and dedicated struggle in the way of Allah.

"Don't be a wishy-washy, Friday-go-to-prayer Muslim. Be a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week fighter for the cause of Islam," Min. Farrakhan said. "If we do that, all over the world, nobody will ever again marginalize Muslims."

Established 700 years ago along a major trans-Sahara caravan route, Niger is a land-locked country which is watered by the River Niger and Lake Chad. The main ethnic groups are the Hausa, Fulani, and Djerma. About 80 percent of Niger's people are Muslims.

The tools that Muslims in Africa-indeed, all Africans-must use to transform their societies, Min. Farrakhan said to the television audience in Niger, are faith in Allah, unity of the Islamic nation, increased literacy, and better health through cleanliness and the elimination of smoking.

"Reading is what evolves us towards God," the Muslim leader said, pointing out that the first word of the Holy Qur'an, which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was " 'Iqra,' or Read. We must be literate in Arabic. We must be literate in our (colonial) languages," English, French and Spanish, as well.

"The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to us: 'Everything we want to learn is found somewhere in a book.' So reading will make us a great nation. The Prophet Muhammad said: 'One learned man is harder on Shaitan, than 1,000 ignorant worshipers.' We have far too many ignorant worshipers, and far too few learned men and women," Min. Farrakhan said.

Next to education, Africans and people in other developing nations must be healthy, Min. Farrakhan said.

"I know we don't have a lot of health professionals in Niger. I know we don't have a lot of doctors, and nurses," he said. "But we can do a lot for our own health, by being as clean as we possibly can. There is entirely too much dirt, too much filth among Muslims. Everything about a Muslim must be clean. Because cleanliness is not next to Godliness, cleanliness is Godliness."

Cigarette companies, which are facing declining sales in the United States, are now dumping their products on international markets. In the Muslim world especially, smoking is a widespread habit, affecting people as young as seven- to 10-years old.

Photo: Min. Farrakhan and Col. Muammar Qadhafi

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