Who is the Original Man?By Wesley Muhammad, PhD. -Guest Columnist- | Last updated: Dec 24, 2012 - 3:33:37 PM
Who is the Original Man? The Original Man is the Asiatic Black Man; the Maker; the Owner; the Cream of the Planet Earth-God of the Universe.
“is the God of the Earth. He is the Creator. I don't care how you have been mistreated, still your Father was a Black Man and He is the One who created this Earth and is now taking it over."
Many found this teaching strange. Others, particularly from the Muslim World, found it offensive, for the Hon Elijah Muhammad identified the ‘Black God’ with the Supreme Being of the Holy Qur’an, Allah. Those disinclined to accept the truth of this teaching dismissed it as a racial myth created by the Hon Elijah Muhammad for the admittedly noble purpose of undoing in the Black man and woman the effects of 400 years of racial slavery. But Elijah’s Islam cannot be so easily dismissed as his own racial/social construct, as any serious student of comparative religion knows. For example, four centuries before he declared to the So-Called Negros in America that Allah was/is Black, one of the most important figures in the religious history of the Indian Subcontinent declared the same.
Sri Caitanya (1486-1533), one of the most prominent Hindu saints of the 16th century, was the center of a popular revivalist movement in West Bengal that focused on devotional worship of the One God, whom he knew as Vishnu-Krishna. Located in the northeastern region of the Indian Subcontinent, Bengal had been ruled by Muslims since a Turkish invasion in 1204 overthrew the Hindu regime, and most of its Muslim rulers since then had been Turks. In Sri Caitanya’s day, however, Bengali rule was in the hands of a distinct Arab Dynasty originating in Mecca, Arabia: ‘Ala al-Din Husain (r. 1493-1519), founder of the Husain Shah Dynasty (1494-1538), was a sayyid or a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad. Nevertheless, a number of Muslim rulers of Bengal, including ‘Ala al-Din, patronized the Hindu devotional movement. For his part, Sri Caitanya was an exceptionally learned Hindu scholar, but also well-versed in Islamic tradition. It is said that he memorized the whole Qur’an and on more than one occasion successfully engaged the most learned Muslims of the area in debate.
According to the most authoritative scriptural biography to come out of Sri Caitanya’s movement, the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, the learned Hindu saint one day encountered a group of ten Muslim soldiers and their saintly shaykh, Abdullah Patan. The two saintly scholars engaged in a theological debate of sorts. Sri Caitanya and his devotees were known to worship only one God, but to understand the One God to possess both an impersonal/formless nature as well as a personal/embodied nature: He was a Divine Person. On the other hand, by the 16th century most Muslims had forgotten about the Divine Person (shakhs) that the Prophet Muhammad worshipped and the Bengali shaykh Abdullah could only conceive of the One God in his impersonal and formless aspect. On this point the two learned men haggled. In the end, we are told, Sri Caitanya’s arguments and knowledge of the Qur’an was too much and Abdullah conceded the point: “All that you have said is true.” To what truth did this saintly scholar of Islam concede? Sri Caitanya had argued:
“The Holy Qur’an certainly establishes [an impersonal aspect of God], but [in] the end it refutes that impersonalism and establishes the personal God. The Holy Qur’an accepts the fact that ultimately there is only one God. He is full of opulence, and his bodily complexion is black (shyama). According to the Holy Qur’an, the Lord has a supreme, blissful, transcendent body. He is the Absolute Truth, the all-pervading, all-knowing and eternal being. He is the origin of everything.” (Madhya-lila, 18.190-193).
This profoundly learned Indian saint who impacted the religion of so many in West Bengal, Hindu and Muslim alike, affirmed - four centuries before the Hon Elijah Muhammad - that the One God of the Qur’an is a Divine Person who possesses a sublime body that is free from the fallibilities of mortal bodies, and this body is “black like the monsoon cloud.” The racialist/sociological theory used to dismiss the Hon Elijah Muhammad cannot be invoked here, for Sri Caitanya was no so-called “Negro reformer.” His parents were both ethnic Brahmins and he particularly was so fair-skinned that his neighbors called him Gauranga, “of fair-skinned body.” Most of his associates were likewise Brahmins. Neither were the ten Muslim soldiers and their shaykh, who affirmed the truth of Sri Caitanya’s tafsir or reading of the Qur’an, Black. In fact, they were very white: as Pashtuns they belonged to an Eastern Iranian ethnic group (the Taliban are Pashtuns). Nor was the ruling Arab Dynasty apparently offended by this tafsir: the king ‘Ala al-Din patronized Sri Caitanya’s movement and ordered that he and his many devotees be left alone.
But the question remains: what was the basis of Sri Caitanya’s tafsir? In the account that we have today, the scriptural evidences upon which he relied are absent. Dr. Akif Manaf Jabir (b. 1958), however, has identified the scriptural proof-texts. Dr. Akif was born into a scholarly Muslim family in Azerbaijan (Baku), as was Master Fard Muhammad’s mother according to some reports. He grew up studying Qur’an and Hadith with his father, and then studied economics at Moscow’s National Economy Institute where he received a Master’s Degree and subsequently taught. He then earned a PhD in Philosophy in 1994 and has since become a well-known scholar in Comparative Religions, particularly Islam and Hinduism. In his important book, The Hidden Treasure of Al-Qur’an (1995), Dr. Akif identifies the lost scriptural sources of Sri Caitanya’s tafsir. Regarding Allah’s beautiful black color, he identifies Surat al-Baqarah : 138 as the source: “(We take) Allah’s color (Sibghata-llah), and who is better at coloring than Allah and we are His worshippers.” Dr. Akif explains:
“The word sibgat is very significant in this verse. The root meaning of this word is color. In this verse it is explained none can surpass Allah in lending color to this universe…The Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said to [his associates]: ‘We take our color from Allah,’ This means that the color of the Arabs analogously resembled Allah’s color. From the representation of Allah’s complexion by the Arabs we can safely conclude that Allah is of a beautiful dark complexion.”
"The original Arab is Black,” said the Hon Elijah Muhammad, and most of the Arabs were still black-skinned (aswad al-jilda) in Prophet Muhammad’s day. Thus, on this reading, the Hon Elijah Muhammad’s Teaching is consistent with the Qur’an and the case of Sri Caitanya means that we cannot dismiss it as Elijah’s own racial theorizing. We must take another look at what that humble Lamb from Sandersville Georgia teaches.
“He (God) came out of total darkness and He was dark. He proved that He came out of darkness, because His own color corresponds with the conditions of what is now the Heavens and the Earth, that was nothing then but total darkness. A total dark man came out of total darkness…”
Dr. Wesley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org