I grew up around mostly women because my biological father wasn’t present, I did not have any male cousins and did not have uncles to hang out with.
This had a profound impact on me as it related to my perspective on the value women, how they should be treated, their overlooked resilience and their downright toughness through single motherhood, rocky relationships and more.
When I first read the book “Message to the Blackman” by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I agreed with him so much as it related to his chapters on the respect, protection and elevation of the woman. His points were so profound!
From reading that book and attending my first meeting in high school at Muhammad Mosque No. 45 in Houston, I learned about and encountered the power of a woman covering herself—and loving to do so. This amazed me.
Pardon my immature expression, but I honestly thought to myself at that time, “How in the world did Elijah Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan get fine Black women, who love to show their bodies, to cover up and love it?”
This was far from the environment I grew up around. In the concrete jungles of the multiple projects we resided in around Houston, throughout the halls of Forest Brook High School, and on the yard of Prairie View A&M University, showing it “all” was the mantra for young sisters.
Modesty wasn’t in their vocabulary let alone in their minds as they walked malls for the latest freakish fashions. Yet, I would watch them get upset if a man stared at them, whistled at them, asked them for their phone number or even was bold enough to touch their body parts. The boys I grew up around saw this as an “open invitation.”
The women of the Nation of Islam sent off an entirely different message. It is one thing to tell men you want them to respect your mind first but it is hard to expect that when you’re showing them all of your adornments first—leaving nothing to the imagination.
The women of the Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class (M.G.T.-G.C.C.) were showing me, as a young man, something I had never seen before. They showed me that it’s a myth that modesty and covering up is a thing of the past. They showed me that covering up can have a stronger attracting force than walking around half-naked in stilettos. They commanded respect. I watched them walk into a room and everything stopped. Not because of what they had on, but because of what they represented and radiated: high civilization.
Wait. Don’t get it confused or twisted, as the youth say, the MGT-GCC know how to be modest and still outdress anyone in the building. No matter if it’s the elegant Dress 19, the sharp Vanguard uniform or business attire, they keep others in awe.
Another myth they destroyed was that being covered up was somehow a tool to keep women oppressed. While in some foreign nations that may be true but not in the NOI. This is about love for self, dignity, and putting up a “clean glass” against the “dirty glass” (filth) of the world.
Even in their elegant attire, they do not walk the Earth heavy nor do they turn up their noses at their fellow sisters who would prefer to “shake what they momma gave them.” However, they share a gentle word of encouragement and most importantly strive to be an example of the principles of womanhood and modest femininity.
What is my and our responsibility as men when it comes to modesty? First, we must applaud our mothers, wives, daughters, and nieces as much as possible when they are striving to be right in this world. Don’t assume they know, we must tell them. It’s not as easy as it may look.
We should internalize the words by the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, “A nation can rise no higher than its woman.” That wasn’t meant to be a cliché or a t-shirt slogan. Its divine instructions on how we should see them through the lens of Allah (God).
We can’t say from our lips that we desire a righteous woman and at the same time flocking to women who could care less about being virtuous. We have to be that which we desire in a woman. That’s critical. If we desire a woman that’s right, we must be that ourselves.
We shouldn’t be surfing the web or social networking sites looking for half-nude photos to stare at and share.
We should strive also to be modest as men in our attire (no underwear showing), our speech (no cursing), and carry ourselves as men striving to be a reflection of the God we say we love and follow.
Thank you to the MGT-GCC and all women of the world for giving us a picture of how a woman of God should conduct herself.
Modesty is a way of life.
(Brother Jesse Muhammad is a Staff Writer for The Final Call Newspaper. He is also an award-winning blogger and international motivational speaker. He can reached be at http://jessemuhammad.blogs.finalcall.com/)