Rafieq Ibn Saalim was born November 10th, 1931 in Philadelphia, PA. He is one of nine children born to Beatrice Crockett and Luther Graham, Sr. In 1949, Rafieq graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School where he was on the Student Patrol and the Fencing team. His teachers described him as quiet except when he would laugh and talk at the same time. “Then you would notice him”. In the early 1950’s, Rafieq became a member of the U.S. Armed Services proudly serving in Asia in the 378th Combat Battalion during the Korean War. While deployed, Rafieq became fluent in Japanese. He was meritoriously discharged in 1953. He always looked back fondly on his service abroad. After serving in the Army, Rafieq was educated in business through the GI Bill at the Pearson school where he met Belle Williams, the love of his life. In the late 1950’s Rafieq was inspired by the late Honorable Elijah Muhammad and joined the Nation of Islam. In January of 1960, Rafieq married, Belle Williams and brought her into the Nation of Islam. In 1960, he was also blessed with his daughter Aiasha and again in 1964 with his daughter Shaheedah. Rafieq worked many years for Campbell Soup Company in Camden, NJ. He was also a member of USW (United Steel Workers) Local 286 from which he retired. Rafieq had many pastimes. One of his favorites was observing wildlife or animals of any kind. He had a life-time membership to the Philadelphia Zoo and would often sit in the park, just to feed the birds. He also loved to walk and hike. He was proud of having walked all the way from his home in North Philadelphia to cross the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to New Jersey on foot many times. Rafieq was also a sports enthusiast, and especially loved football. He watched every Eagles game and would cheer their wins and disavow them when they lost.
Rafieq would have been described by many as a character. He loved telling jokes, devising pranks and enjoyed entertaining family and friends. At family picnics, he was like the pied piper. The children would hang on his every comical word and were amazed by his sleight of hand. He was always known to have a “Five and Dime” wind-up wooden propeller plane in his pocket to which he would apply a rubber band and fly around the park to everyone’s amazement.
In his later years, he was a Big Brother and mentored two young boys in the foster system. He especially enjoyed spending time with his only granddaughter, Khalida.
On Wednesday, May 6th Rafieq Ibn Saalim passed away. He was predeceased by his mother, Beatrice; father, Luther and his 6 siblings: Abdullah, Charles, Vernon, Rose, Blanche and Katherine.
Rafieq will be missed. He is survived by his two daughters, Aiasha Saalim and Shaheedah Saalim, his granddaughter, Khalida Saalim, his ex-wife, Belle Williams Graham, his sister, Marion Graham, his brother, James Graham (aka Jamil Muwwakkil) and a host of nieces, nephews and other family and friends too numerous to mention.
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