Although the African American Muslim community in Chicago had embraced orthodox Al-Islam and abandoned the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and his Nation, they could not escape the fallout from the litigation regarding Elijah’s inheritance. Consequently, many Muslims began to worry that the community wouldn’t be left with even a place to pray. Jabir Herbert Muhammad shared this concern.
The sixth son of Elijah Muhammad and manager of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Jabir often recalled a conversation he had with his father as they drove passed properties of the Nation during its heyday; Elijah said “We’re going to lose all of this son.” And with his death, more and more of the wealth amassed by the Nation was swallowed by the legal battles that ensued over Elijah’s estate. One of the last properties that remained was the Mosque located on 73rd and Stony Island on the South-Side of Chicago. And no matter how much the organization’s lawyers assured Mr. Muhammad that the property was safe, he wasn’t convinced. Thus in the late seventies, Jabir shared his concerns with Muhammad Ali.
“You know we’re going to leave all of this here." Jabir said. "But if we build a house for Allah, Allah will build one for us in Paradise.” Ali didn’t need to be told twice.
With the retirement of Muhammad Ali from boxing, Jabir and Ali began to focus on other business endeavors, building the Masjid being just one of many projects. Yet with the opening of the doors of The Muhammad Mosque to a portion of the building in 1983, it soon became clear that in order to complete construction of this House of Allah, they would need some help. A nationwide campaign was launched to solicit funds from the Muslim community which included a book tour in which Ali sought to bring attention to the needs of the Masjid by autographing copies of the book Prayer in Al-Islam published by the Muhammad Ali Islamic Foundation. However, despite the best of efforts, the necessary funds eluded them.
After years of presentations and conversations, in the spring of 1993, Masjid Al-Faatir received major funding from His Royal Highness, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates. Shortly thereafter, the renovation of the House of Allah began in earnest. And so, thirteen years after Jabir Muhammad and Muhammad Ali first opened the doors to the mosque, the summer of 1996 began with the call to prayer being heard from the only minarets in the city of Chicago at Masjid Al-Faatir.
Although Jabir Herbert Muhammad and Muhammad Ali founded Masjid Al-Faatir, Almighty Allah (SWT) sent them help from nearly every corner of the globe. May Almighty Allah (SWT) reward Muhammad Ali, Jabir Herbert Muhammad, His Royal Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and all of the Muslims who sacrificed in His Cause to build and maintain His House - Masjid Al-Faatir.