The black Muslims of America: Part Two


LAST week, we reviewed how Elijah Muhammad became the head of The Nation of Islam, an organisation which was interpreted as a security threat by the white authorities.
Muhammad’s organisation, in many ways, resembled the organisation of Marcus Garvey in that both movements were aimed at boosting the black man’s self-esteem and confidence.
The nation of Islam’s religious thrust was informed by the knowledge that the black ancestors who were kidnapped and sold off as slaves from the West African coast were Muslims.
In the various Negro Acts of America that regulated the behaviour of slaves the term ‘Negro/Nigger’ was confined to the descendants of the ancient Berbers who made up the slave community in the USA.
The ancient Berbers were black Muslims and most of them had Ishmaelite and Israelite origins.
In southern Europe these ancient Berbers were known as Moors and the enslavement of the descendants of the Moors along with other West Africans took place shortly after the decline of Moorish influence in Europe and the black Hebrew kings of Ghana in 1492.
Nowadays, Islam is largely associated with Arabs, but in ancient times, both the terms Islam and Arab were associated with blacks.
The modern day Arabs are largely offspring of blacks that mixed with whites and then continued to marry among other people of mixed race.
In the days of the Moors, the offspring of mixed race that had black blood were called the morano or tawny Moor.
Elijah Muhammad was conscious of this background and therefore justified in pursuing the liberation of his people using the Islamic religion.
Besides, blacks are a very spiritual people and Elijah knew that one could not solve the problems of blacks without addressing the issue of religion.
Using Christianity, Blacks were groomed to be subservient to whites.
The whiteman had for generations been presented as next to God, the black man as subhuman.
Elijah challenged these fabricated misrepresentations using the wisdom gained from his mentor from the East.
In several of Elijah’s speeches, he would highlight the ills of Western Christianity and accuse the churches of hypocrisy.
Elijah stressed that the whiteman through his evil ways, did not follow God, but the devil.
He taught his followers that the old serpent of the Bible was not a snake, but a whiteman.
He taught that while blacks possess the nature of God, whites possess the nature of the devil.
He taught that blacks had the capacity to practise Godly qualities like patience, humility and justice in a way that whites never could.
Likewise, he taught that the whites had the capacity to practise satanic acts such as destruction, oppression and usury in a way that blacks never could.
Elijah plainly taught that the whiteman was in fact the devil and this was considered his most controversial teaching.
Elijah Muhammad’s teachings were accepted by many blacks, but they were deemed offensive by whites.
He would assure his followers that it was not he alone who knew the barbaric history of the white people and the glorious history of black people, but that millions of black people around the world.
It was time for blacks to discard the veil set by the white man to blind them.
Many of the people who joined the Nation of Islam had been Garveyites and descendants of Garveyites.
Others had been converted to Islam and they were formerly Christians.
The sheer depth of Elijah’s understanding of the scriptures and how he demystified aspects pertaining to God, the devil, heaven and resurrection won him much attention from the black community.
Elijah said, God (Allah) will not come in a cloud like most whites caused blacks to believe, but he will always manifest himself through mankind.
The devil was not a snake, but evil men of the earth who bore the mark of white skin.
Heaven was not in the sky, but it was a state of bliss characterised by peace that was set up for righteous living men and women.
Resurrection was the awakening of men to their true identity and understanding of where they came from.
When Wallace Fard, Elijah’s teacher, left the USA, he assigned Elijah to read more than 100 books on Islam and ancient black history which he could find in Washington DC.
This would supplement the teaching that Fard had given to Elijah.
Fard taught Elijah that a man without his history cannot claim his heritage because he has no way of knowing it’s his own.
That a man who knows his history knows his heritage and is like a tree with prosperous roots that cannot be pulled out of the ground easily.
Before Elijah could go to Washington DC, a disgruntled member of the Nation of Islam tried to kill him, but he escaped death and read those books that Fard had assigned him in the Library of Congress.
In DC Elijah also built a mosque.
Seeing Elijah’s great influence, the authorities decided to get rid of him by drafting him into the army to fight for the USA during the Second World War.
Elijah refused on the grounds of his religion.
He also said that he did not evade the draft, but refused to be drafted because it was May of 1942, and he was 45 years of age.
Elijah was imprisoned along with many other members of the Nation of Islam.
After the war, Elijah was released and he decided to return to Chicago where the Nation of Islam had its stronghold.
The black Muslims who had been imprisoned were not just idle in prison, but they preached the message of Elijah to other blacks.
They would teach that even if you were not in prison, you were in chains as it was set up for the blacks of America to fail and suffer.
Among the blacks that were converted to Islam in prison was Malcolm Little; a son of Garveyites Earl and Louisse Little.
Malcolm was a delinquent since his juvenile years until he ran into a black Muslim in prison who taught him about Elijah Muhammad and Islam.
Malcolm Little would eventually be known as ‘Malcolm X’ who would become one of the most charismatic teachers in the Nation of Islam.
The story of Malcolm X was covered in earlier series.
Malcolm was the one who popularised many of Elijah Muhammad’s messages, particularly the controversial ones about the evil nature of whites.
He would often speak saying; “The honourable Elijah Muhammad teaches us” and then expound his teachings.
In the early 1950s Malcolm was promoted by Elijah to national spokesman and he began a newspaper called Mr Muhammad Speaks.
Another man who was taken by Elijah’s message was an entertainer known as Louis Walcott who subsequently converted to Islam and joined the nation in 1955.
Louis Walcott would eventually be known as Louis Farrakhan and he is an active member and leader of the Nation of Islam to this day.


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