When I First Started Working With Malachi York – Part 2

When I first started working at Malachi York’s house I felt so welcomed. All the sisters were wonderful as well as the children. One evening Malachi York came to the dining room and the sister I was working with was eating her dinner. She already had told me Malachi York did not like vegetarians, so I was nervous. “And where’s your dinner?” he asked. When I showed him the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I was hiding underneath the table, he said, “You’re the vegetarian.” He smiled as he picked up a sheet of paper and pencil and started sketching and explaining what was happening to my intestines at that time, since I had been eating meat all my life and now decided to stop. He kindly offered me some of his dinner and asked the sister in the kitchen to fix me a plate, which was turkey with mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables. It was delicious!

At my first I’dl Fitr there was a lot of excitement going on. All the sisters were excited. There were a lot of food prepping, decorations and children rehearsing. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun at the same time. The 743 yard was beautifully decorated. A stage was set up, and there was music playing. There were tables set up with big fruit baskets and chairs for everyone to sit down. Everyone seemed so happy and joyous, waiting for the special guests of the event. I can still see Malachi York, Imaam Isa at that time, happy, talking, smiling as he welcomed and escorted Shaikh Daoud, his wife and their companion to their table. Such a beautiful day!

One morning, while most of the brothers were gone for the day to propagate, an incident occurred that showed me that this community was all about “saving the children”. Most of the sisters were already in the office working. We heard marching accompanied by sound. It started to get louder and closer. I went to the side door entrance, which had a window. There were many, many brothers dressed in beige fatigues and combat boots marching and chanting in unison as if they were in the military. They were Sunni Muslims.

All I know is that Malachi York, Imaam Isa at that time had just gone upstairs to his office and studio. Somehow, he got out of the house and by the time, the last of all those brothers had passed, he was standing at the front gate of the Children’s House with the brother on guard and a few other brothers. By his stance, we knew he was ready for anything. Nothing was going to happen to the children and the sisters. At that time, Sunni Muslims had a great dislike for Imaam Isa.

Every night after work some sisters would turn on the television to watch music videos. One morning Malachi York came to the dining room and told us to stop watching music videos when we went home at night because they were going to pull us out of the community. About a week or so later the sister that was working with me told me she was leaving. I was sad because we worked so well together.

A couple of weeks later he came into the layout department. He was dressed in a sparkling white jalabiyya that brightened the room. He had his dhikr beads in his hands. His hair was combed like Yanuwn and he seemed sad. He then walked towards one of the sisters and extended his hand. She put her hand on his and he covered it with his other hand. He gave her his blessings and then left. Crying, the sister grabbed her bag and told us she was leaving. Again, I was sad because she was the only Latina sister that I could speak Spanish with every now and then. They were not the only ones. So many others left later.

In 1980 Malachi York was saddened by the death of his mentor, Shaikh Daoud Ahmed Faisal. He would come downstairs wearing dark glasses to check on the progress of the different projects, however he would not stay long or say much. There was no rehearsing with the singing group Passion or any shows. The office was solemn and was that way for many days.

Then one day as maghrib (evening prayer) was approaching we heard over the loud speaker outside, Malachi York calling the adhan (call to prayer). It was so beautiful. After prayer, brothers started to come to the house. I could hear different instruments, as well as Malachi York’s voice. He came through the kitchen, popped his head in every room with a smile, no dark glasses, and dressed in a white, sparkling jalabiyya. Everyone was excited to see him, hear him, and feel his energy. The following day for the first time, we heard the recording of the ‘Aiyn Principle and it was so beautiful.

Before the temple on the corner of Hart Street and Bushwick Avenue was built, it was an empty lot. After a while construction began. I was living at the building directly across from there at that time, and could hear and see what was going on. Everyday brothers from the “work crew” would work from morning until dawn. One afternoon I had to return to my room to pick something up. The brothers were already working, hammering, climbing scaffolds, moving things around. I heard a familiar voice and peeked to see who that was. It was Malachi York at that time, dressed in work crew attire with a set of tools around his waist, climbing the wooden beams onto the roof. Malachi York has always been the best of examples.

Evelyn Rivera

Read Part 1 Here