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Inextricably Linked: The Nation of Islam and the Five Percenters

By Wakeel Allah | Last updated: Jul 23, 2014 - 2:16:13 PM

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The historical ties between the Nation of Islam and the Five Percenters date back to the latter’s very inception. After returning to Harlem from the Korean War and his stint in the Army, Clarence 13X Smith a.k.a. Allah, the founder of the Five Percenters, followed his wife Dora and his family into the Nation of Islam under the leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and local Temple  No. 7 Minister Malcolm X in 1960.

In the N.O.I. he became Clarence 13X and joined the Fruit of Islam under Captain Yusef Shah and became immersed into the discipline and teachings of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad where he learned to recite his lessons, served on security details, field maneuvers, sold Muhammad Speaks newspapers and worked as a painter for Muslim-owned Earth Painters Improvement Company. Within the N.O.I. he became close companions with John 37X (Abu Shahid) and James 109X (4 Cipher Akbar, Justice), as well as taught a young teen he named Hebekah while out selling the paper on 125th Street. Clarence soldiered in the F.O.I. from 1960-1964, and exited the Mosque in 1964, where he witnessed the historic case of the teens known as “The Harlem Six” and the Blood Brothers who were heavily influenced by N.O.I. speeches on street corners by Min. Malcolm X. After the arrest of the Harlem Six, Bro. Clarence and his above mentioned protégés formerly of the mosque invented the lesson Supreme Mathematics which they derived from Problem Number 13 in “The Problem Book” of the Nation of Islam, and started teaching neighborhood youth they labeled as the Five Percenters. Clarence changed his name to “Allah” and taught his young followers the dietary laws and lessons of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, and had his original students who later came to be known as “the First Borns” listening to the Sunday radio broadcasts of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.

In the beginning phases, Allah was harassed by the police and arrested for “disturbing the peace” while having a rally in front of the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. He later was sentenced to Mattewan Hospital for almost 2 years for his involvement in the Five Percenters. In his absence, the Elders and Firstborns kept teaching the lessons to other youth, and the Five Percenters spread throughout New York City.

Upon his release from prison, Allah held his first “Universal Parliament” in Mt. Morris Park to teach the 5 Percenters. In attendance was Min. Akbar Muhammad (former Larry 4X) who spoke with Clarence about the work he was doing with the youth. Not long afterwards, the mayor of New York John Lindsay started working with the Five Percenters in regards to having them take advantage of city and state programs such as opening up a street academy which happened in 1967. At the same time the Five Percenters adopted a new ”Universal Flag” that consisted of the 7, Sun, Crescent Moon and 8 pointed star. The 7 stood for “God” and the planets represented “Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, Man, Woman and Child, and Master Fard Muhammad, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Allah.”

On June 13, 1969, Clarence 13X was assassinated by unknown assailants. The Five Percenters survived the assassination by keeping the lessons alive and spreading them to other youth. The Five Percenters also became pioneers within rap and Hip Hop culture and became prominent within the genre  boasting of many celebrities in the genre today including the World Famous Supreme Team, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Poor Righteous Teachers, Brand Nubian,  Digable Planets, Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, the Wu-Tang Clan and many others. Most have established relationships with the Hon. Min. Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

Cover from the book: In The Name of Allah; A History of Clarence 13X And The Five Percenters
Today the Five Percenters (Gods and Earths) and Nation of Islam still have an intertwined legacy as many Muslims in the ranks today got their start in the  Five Percent Nation including New York’s N.O.I. Representative Abdul Hafeez Muhammad of Mosque #7, Historian of religion and aide to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan Dr. Wesley Muhammad, Record Producer Haqq Islam, authors Shahid M. Allah (Jay Muhammad), celebrity rap entertainer Jay Electronica and myself. FivePercent Nation tradition says that Father Allah instructed that some of the Five Percenters would return to the ranks of the Nation of Islam, and that they “would have a job to do there, and a job to do here.” Whatever be the case, both the Nation of Islam and the Five Percenters (Nation of Gods and Earths) continue down the path of supporting the mission of resurrecting Black people and teaching all the human families of the planet Earth, which is the “one common cause” of “Freedom, Justice and Equality” for all.

(Wakeel Allah is an Atlanta based researcher and an author of several books, including the definitive works on the history of the Five Percenters and Clarence 13X Smith. His works can be found at