Thank you to everyone who braved the rain and joined me at the Queens Museum for Muhammad School of Language and Martial Arts: Bilalian Night at the Museum. We had a full house on Saturday and the event was a success, Alhamdullilah! Having as many people as I can participate in public events like this one is incredibly important as to why I organize them in the first place. We know how marginalized Black history is, and Black Muslim stories and history even more so. We’re hardly spoken about within the Black community or brought into conversations about Islam. It’s critical that we create space for ourselves to preserve and tell our stories. The Muhammad School of Language and Martial Arts programing at Queens Museum aims to bring the community together and uphold the values we grew up with. My practice is about forging and maintaining connections with my community, bringing us closer to each other and closer to Allah. When I engage in social practice projects my main concern and audience are the participants, so thank you once more for helping me achieve my vision for my artistic career and for helping me make positive contributions to our community.
We were joined by Lester Muhammad, the archivist and keeper of the material that was exhibited during the event, who came all the way from Chicago. He shared with us that he actually rescued the archive from a dumpster because the place it was stored at beforehand didn’t have use or room for it anymore. We also decided to hold the event at the museum’s atrium instead of my studio, which was a good judgment call on our part since more people than we expected showed up!
We started out with an introduction about Muhammad School of Language and Martial Arts by me, then a guided tour by Bilal Hassan. The archive included photographs, books and records that demonstrate the evolution of this community–from the Nation of Islam (under Hon. Elijah Muhammad) through its transition with Imam W.D. Mohammed. The tour was engaging, and it was a blessing that Lester Muhammad was with us so he could add more context and insight during the tour. It was a real time demonstration of how we as a community pass down knowledge and culture, and it was amazing to see how diverse and intergenerational the crowd was.
Then we had a workshop by Hud Williams about financial literacy and investing. The workshop provided a valuable Islamic perspective on investing as well as actionable advice. Investing and building wealth can help us preserve our legacy as well as the freedom to support ventures within our community, like the arts! Everyone who attended the workshop walked away inspired by it, and with Amana Mutual Funds Trust as a resource to help them build a financial support system for their family and future. We concluded the event with a panel discussion and Q&A facilitated by me where we kept the conversation going and reflected on the role of economics in preserving culture and promoting community values.
I know everyone who was part of this event had an amazing time (we had some good good food too!) and I’m looking forward to hosting more public events like this that seek to uplift, educate, and share knowledge with you. So, if you’re a business or an institution and you’d like to support events such as this and help me bring my vision into reality, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org.