Editor’s Note: All men are subject to the qualms of their lesser nature, especially under duress, etc. All men are also able to repent when given the opportunity, though most do not. The same is true of religious movements, many of which fail in both categories, especially after gaining political steam and the chattels that come with it. The Nation of Islam (NOI) has yet to do this, though there is much to admire in their present attire, exoterically. However, what you are to read remains un-dealt with, to the best of my knowledge. Roots must be acknowledged for the essence of identity to come into full blossom and most especially if metamorphosis is required. If there is a hindrance to the full flower of America’s NOI or its redemption, it is twofold: (a) the murder of Malcolm X (apology is insufficient repentance); (b) and the reconciliation-of rather than hagiography-of the private lives of Mr. Wallace Fard (mug shot below) and Sir Elijah. – oz
“Black Gods of the Inner City” (by Prince-A-Cuba),
Gnosis Magazine, Fall 1992, pp. 56-63:
The story of the NOI itself starts with a man variously known as Wali Farrad, W.D. Fard, Wallace Fard Muhammad, and Farrad Muhammad, but who is best known as Master Fard Muhammad. According to his sucessor, Elijah Muhammad,
He came alone. He began teaching us the knowledge of ourselves, of God and the devil, of the measurements of the earth, of other planets, and the civilizations of some of the planets other than the earth. He measured and weighed the earth and the water; [he gave] the history of the moon; the history of the two nations that dominated the earth. He gave the exact birth of the white race; the name of their God who made them and how; and the end of their time, the judgement, how it will begin and end.
According to the same source, Fard had said, “My name is Mahdi; I am God.” And according to another source, Fard, when asked who he was by the Detroit police, responded: “I am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.”
Master Fard Muhammad is officially noted by the NOI as having arrived in Detroit on July 4, 1930, and departed on June 30, 1934. (There is an older tradition of an earlier arrival twenty years previous as well as attendance at the University of Southern California.) In the interim, Fard established temples in several cities and created a hierarchical organization composed of a men’s military training unit called the Fruit of Islam (FOI), a ministers’ corps, and a women’s auxiliary called the Muslim Girls Training and General Civilization Class (MGT-GCC). This infrastructure was built upon Fard’s ideological foundation known as the “Secret Ritual,” which, arranged in a question-and-answer format, became better known as the “Lost-Found Muslim Lessons” or simply as “the lessons.”
Within these lessons were the basic elements of an ancient mystery school. It involved secrecy from outsiders; an esoteric ritual containing keys for recognition between fellow members; a cohesive world view; and a tradition that could be explained only to initiates. Central to these teachings were the knowledge of self and the Black man’s godhood. According to these teachings, the Black man was by nature divine, and in fact was the original man, ancestor of the human race (antedating Louis and Mary Leakey’s discoveries of early human remains in Africa by nearly thirty years.)
White people, on the other hand, were produced out of Black people by a scientist named Yacub approximately six thousand years ago. Discovering a recessive gene in the Black man, Yacub used a system of eugenics on a group of sixty thousand people on an island and, after six hundred years, was able to create a biological mutation: the White man. Of course Yacub did not live to see his creation, but he left behind an infrastructure to propogate his system, as well as the ideological basis for White supremacy. Bleached of the essence of humanity, Whites were “without soul.” Nonetheless the race was destined to rule for an allotted period extending to 1914 A.D., though, as Fard’s messenger Elijah Muhammad put it, “a few years of grace have been given to complete the resurrection of the Black man, and especially the so-called Negroes whom Allah has chosen for this change (of a new nation and world). They (so-called Negroes) have been made so completely mentally dead … that extra time is allowed.” It was also taught that the supreme god amongst this mighty nation of Black gods commanded the name of Allah. This title was claimed by Master Fard Muhammad himself.
He encouraged his followers to listen to radio broadcasts of Jehovah’s Witness president Joseph Rutherford, whose rallying cry at that time was “Religion is a snare and a racket.” Fard also used Jehovah’s Witness literature to teach his followers that the time of “Gentile” (i.e., Caucasian) domination had come to an end in 1914; that the resurrection of the “so-called Negro” had already occurred as a mental and invisible fact, and that the coming New World was just around the corner. In just a few years, he claimed, the oppressed black man would receive the kingdom and the New World would arrive by 1936 at the very latest.
When Fard arrived, Elijah Poole was an unemployed migrant laborer from rural Georgia, suffering, together with his wife and eight children, the consequences of the Great Depression. Though interested in Negro improvement, Elijah testified that before meeting “Master Fard,” he often took refuge in drunkenness. Within a year of Fard’s arrival, Elijah Poole and two of his brothers joined the new movement. Very quickly, Poole became Fard’s most trusted and ardent follower; Fard renamed him Elijah Muhammed, now the “chief minister” of Islam.
In fact, Fard’s religion was not Islam, but a contradictory blend of Islam, Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, gnosticism and heretical Christian teachings. Fard’s doctrines were transmitted orally in The Secret Ritual of the Nation of Islam, which had to be memorized verbatim, and also in book form in The Teaching for the Lost Found Nation of Islam in a Mathematical Way, distributed only to registered, loyal followers. His followers were required to give up their surname, or slave name, and he would give them a new name—not an African name, but an Arabic name, such as Sharrieff, Muhammad, or Karriem.
- … his more exotic stories was about the “Mother Plane” or “Mother Ship,” an aircraft built by black scientists in Japan many thousands of years ago. This aircraft, undectable by radar, still circled the earth and carried powerful weapons which would be used on white America if she dared to harm the members of the Nation of Islam.
Elijah Muhammad, Fall of America, 236-42;
Gardell, 158-160; Magida, 54, 221 n. 28.
Ford’s former common-law wife claimed his real name was either Fred or Wallace Dodd, born in New Zealand in 1891 of Polynesian and English parents. Not to be outdone by alleged FBI disinformation, a recent author maintains that he was really Arnold Josiah Ford, a black rabbi from a kabbalistic Black Hebrew group in New York.
Additional details about Fard as W. D. Ford, Wallace Dodd, or Arnold Ford can be found in Gardell, 50-58, and Magida, chap. 3
- After a bizarre human sacrifice in November 1932 involving two NOI members in Detroit (one of them a willing victim), three NOI members were arrested: Robert Karriem (the confessed sacrificer), Wallace D. Fard, and Ugan Ali, an NOI teacher. The following day over five hundred NOI members marched on the police headquarters in protest. Karriem (whose real name was Robert Harris) thought he was carrying out NOI teachings, and the police were suspicious of a black voodoo cult. Fard told them, “I am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe,” though his followers were dismayed that he told the police so much more than he told NOI adherents. Fard and Ali were finally released, and Harris was committed to an insane asylum.
E. D. Beynon, Master Fard Muhammad: “Detroit History” (Newport News, Va.: United Brothers and Sisters Communications Systems, 1990), 6, 9, 15, quoted in Magida, 46, 49.
Shortly after Fard’s disappearance, Elijah Muhammad expanded the movement, strengthening its radical emphasis on race and openly professing that Master Fard (whom he pronounced “Far-ad”) was Allah in human form.
Malcolm discovered that Elijah Muhammad had fathered several children through his secretaries, who were then expelled from the mosque when they became pregnant. Malcolm interviewed three of these women and later questioned Elijah Muhammad privately about these changes. Elijah Muhammad replied:
- “I’m David. . . . When you read about how David took another man’s wife, I’m that David. You read about Noah, who got drunk—that’s me. You read about Lot, who went and laid up with his own daughters. I have to fulfill all of those things.” Malcolm X, 299.