The black Muslims of America: Part One

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MASTER W Fard Muhammad was born in Mecca, the hometown of Prophet Muhammad.
He belonged to a people called Shabbaz.
‘Shabbaz’ is derived from Saba which is commonly known as Sheba and found in southern Arabia.
His father was a black man and his mother was white.
His father had always wanted to have a son so he could groom him to deliver the black people in the West from their white oppressors.
Muhammad was the second born coming after his elder sister.
Master’s father raised and prepared him for the specific reason of reawakening the blacks of the West to Islam, the religion of their forefathers.
Master W Fard Muhammad learnt many languages and was able to speak at least 16 of them including Arabic and English.
He also spent the greater part of his life studying in different fields so as to acquire the knowledge he required to undertake the work that was assigned to him by his father.
His father would often tell W Fard that his mission had been ordained for him by Allah (God) and because of this, he would not fail.
Master W Fard Muhammad whose ancestors traced their roots to the Hebrews of the Bible was eventually declared a Messiah when he achieved profound wisdom and set off to the West to save his lost people, the African-Americans.
Fard began his work shortly after his arrival in the USA.
He would preach to the blacks who attended the numerous black Islamic institutions in America. (We looked at the origins of these Islamic institutions in a previous series on the Masons).
Among these Islamic institutions was one known as the ‘Temple of Islam’.
Many of the members of the Temple of Islam were African-Americans.
This was owed to prior efforts by the likes of Noble Drew Ali who popularised Islam in the black American community.
The Temple of Islam had several branches including one in the city of Detroit.
It was in Detroit that W Fard made significant strides in his mission and it was from there that news about him began spreading.
He appeared in Detroit on July 4 1930.
Detroit carried a large number of blacks numbering a quarter of a million at that time.
Among these blacks was a family from the southern state of Georgia known as the Pooles.
The head of this family was called Elijah and his wife was called Clara whose maiden name was Evans.
This family had moved from Georgia to seek better opportunity in northerly states like Detroit.
In 1931, Clara heard a lot of good things about a great man from the East who was preaching at the Temple of Islam.
It was largely rumoured that this man who was affectionately known as Master W Fard Muhammad was the long awaited Messiah.
Clara told her husband Elijah about him and Elijah decided to attend the Temple of Islam meetings on behalf of the family to see if there was any truth in the claims. Indeed Elijah found the preaching of this teacher to be of great importance particularly to the blacks who were in a dire situation.
Just a year before this, the USA began going through a phase of economic collapse which is remembered as the Great Depression.
Elijah decided to attend the Temple of Islam with his family regularly and he convinced all of them to accept the religion of Islam as their own.
Elijah had a keen ear to the teachings of W Fard and the other ministers of the Temple of Islam.
He also had a genuine interest in the welfare and fate of his kindred, the blacks of America.
This allowed him to become closely affiliated with the Ministers of the Temple, particularly with W Fard.
Shortly after this, Elijah was made a Minister.
Before long he was promoted to Supreme Minister.
He was given the name ‘Karriem’ and later, the last name Muhammad.
From then on the man formerly known as Elijah Poole was now known as Elijah Karriem Muhammad.
Elijah eventually spoke of the name ‘Poole’ saying it was neither his nor his father’s name, but it was the name of his grandfather’s slave-master.
Elijah Muhammad was born in 1897, 34 years after the abolishment of slavery.
Since the time he joined the Temple of Islam, Elijah was personally taught by W Fard.
Fard would stay with Muhammad, day in day out, teaching him all that he had learnt and had been assigned by his father to teach to the black-Americans.
He taught Elijah that God is one, and it was now time for the blacks of America to return to Islam, the religion of their forefathers.
He taught that blacks were not an inferior people, but because the blacks of America had lost touch with their roots, kinsmen and religion, they were vulnerable and lost.
Elijah’s teacher would teach him into the greater part of the night and this went on for approximately three-and-a-half years.
Elijah once expressed his gratitude to W Fard for the knowledge he had shared with him.
Fard told him to thank Allah and that it was no coincidence for them to meet.
Fard said that he had learnt all that he knew in order to teach it to the blacks of America, but that he was not in the USA to stay.
He was to eventually return to the East after his job was finished.
When Elijah asked W Fard if he was the Messiah, he agreed.
However, W Fard also posed a riddle for Elijah and asked him who he was, for it is not a small thing for one to believe and acknowledge another as his Messiah, and also be affiliated with him.
Fard explained that with Allah’s guidance, he had chosen Elijah to continue his work in the USA and to lead the blacks of America to the straight path after his leaving.
Elijah had through his character and association with W Fard, already accepted this important responsibility that his mentor had given him.
With Elijah Muhammad as Supreme Minister and his mentor present, the Temple of Islam began organising businesses to cater for the black community.
Among these businesses was a newspaper called, The Final Call to Islam.
Many other publications would eventually be produced by Elijah Muhammad.
The Temple of Islam also established schools for black Muslims for they saw white education as a form of mental poisoning and brainwashing.
The Michigan State Board of Education appealed against this empowering move and contested the rights for black Muslims to educate themselves.
The Muslim teachers and Temple secretary were imprisoned under the ridiculous charge of contributing to the delinquency of minors because they would not let their children attend white Christian schools.
The charges were eventually dropped and the ministers were freed.
Elijah was given six months probation and was instructed to let Muslim children attend white Christian schools.
Defiantly, Elijah refused and decided to relocate to Chicago.
His mentor W Fard was also equally harassed by the police.
He too moved to Chicago.
In 1934, the USA government labelled W Fard along with other Ministers of the Temple of Islam a serious threat.
In Chicago, W Fard continued to face imprisonment and harassment by the police. As W Fard had prophetically spoken to Elijah, his stay in America would be cut short and Elijah would have to take over after him.
Fard returned to the East.
The movement that Elijah had been given by W Fard to uphold and continue was called the ‘Nation of Islam’.
It would eventually become one of the most effective black movements to ever take place within the African-American community, even to date.

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