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Nation of Islam Pioneer Turns 80

By Allisah M. Love | Last updated: Oct 12, 2010 - 12:37:33 AM

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Minister Abdul Bey Muhammad
Insert: Min. Abdul Bey Muhammad with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Photo: Final Call Archives
(FinalCall.com) - Minister Abdul Bey Muhammad, Minister emeritus of The Nation of Islam's Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida, celebrated his 80th birthday on September 21, 2010.

Minister Bey was born Troy Bland Cade in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1930; the same year that Wallace Fard Muhammad founded the Nation of Islam.

Minister Bey picked cotton on a plantation at the age of five, became a Red Cross Life guard at the age of thirteen, and at the age of 17, joined the United States Navy where he served as a frogman during the Korean war; earning several military service medals. He also served in the Merchant Marines.

After being honorably discharged from military duty, Minister Bey co-owned a restaurant and nightclub in San Francisco for a short period of time before moving to Flint, Michigan, where his younger brother Sam also came to reside.

In 1952, Minister Bey and his brother came to hear the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and during their third meeting, they both accepted membership into the Nation of Islam.

Within three months, Minister Bey had risen through the ranks to serve as a Lieutenant of the Fruit of Islam (the men) in Detroit, and his brother, Sam, had become Temple Secretary. Temples today are known as mosques.

Minister Bey met Malcolm X in the early 1950s after Malcolm's release from prison; and he met Minister Louis Farrakhan (then Louis X) in 1955; the year Minister Louis Farrakhan accepted Islam.

In 1956 Minister Bey joined the student ministry class and soon became a field minister traveling to various cities teaching Islam.

Minister Bey found great reception in the southern city of Monroe, Louisiana and his congregation grew so rapidly there, that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad allowed the Monroe study group to become a Temple.

In March of 1960, the Monroe, Louisiana Temple was stormed by police, who brutally beat men, woman and children; killing one Muslim brother and attempting to lynch Minister Bey by his necktie over a rafter in the Temple. The symbol of the bow tie that is synonymous with Nation of Islam attire today is a custom which grew out of this incident.

Among those Muslims who fought for their lives that day were Minister Bey's then pregnant wife, Lureatha, and his nine year old daughter. Toward the end of the violent struggle, which required the intervention of the United States National Guard; there were three police casualties also among the injured.

The Muslims of the Monroe, Louisiana Temple were arrested and required medical treatment. While many of the Muslims were charged fined and later released; Minister Bey was charged with inciting a riot, overthrow of the United States government, desecration of a United States flag and murder.

In the book Message To The Blackman, on page 211, under a section entitled “The Persecution of the Righteous,” The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote:

“If Troy X Cade [as he was called before receiving the holy name Abdul Bey Muhammad] is guilty of teaching insurrection against the government, then I am guilty, because I am Troy's teacher. I would rather go to prison in place of Troy if this is the justice for the truth Allah gave me.”

Sentenced to six years in prison in the Louisiana State Penitentiary; isolated from other inmates; forced to sleep on a concrete floor and drink from a commode in his cell; Minister Bey awaited a Louisiana Supreme Court Decision to overturn his conviction.

Before this decision would take place, however; prison guards, at approximately two o'clock one morning, removed Minister Bey from his cell, shackled him, and turned him over to police and state troopers who drove him to the Louisiana/Mississippi state line.

Once there, Minister Bey was again brutally beaten within an inch of his life by scores of officers who then attempted to drown him by standing on his body in a swamp until they thought he was dead.

Only his faith in Allah kept Minister Bey alive, and the fact that he had been a lifeguard, a frogman, and an excellent swimmer with the ability to hold his breath under water.

After the officers left, Minister Bey crawled out of the swamp onto the highway, where he lay across the pavement, bleeding and severely injured, hoping that someone would stop and help him.

One of the first Black drivers ever hired to drive for the Greyhound Bus Company was the first to come upon Minister Bey's body on the highway.

The Driver, along with fellow passengers, helped Minister Bey onto the bus, after which they took him to a medical facility on the Jackson State College (now known as Jackson State University) campus in Mississippi to be treated.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, upon being notified of the incident, sent for Minister Bey to come to his home in Chicago, where, soon after, he stood Minister Bey before the world during the Nation of Islam's Annual Saviour's Day Convention to show what had happened.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad then asked Minister Bey to return to prison until the rendering of his Supreme Court Decision, and without hesitation, Minister Bey obeyed. This was to deter any authorities of charging Minister Bey of “escape from prison” in addition to his other convictions which were on appeal.

Surprisingly, one of the attorneys retained to represent Minister Bey by the Nation of Islam was a member of the Ku Klux Klan; James R. Venable. Mr. Venable wrote a letter to then Attorney General Bobby Kennedy on the Muslims' behalf, and in 1963 at the conclusion of the case, Minister Bey received a favorable ruling from the Louisiana Supreme Court, which overturned his prior convictions.

Minister Bey is a pioneer in Islam who survived a lynching and beatings born out of religious persecution. We are able to practice Islam freely in the United States today because of Muslims who suffered and persevered; whose steadfast faith in Almighty God Allah, His Messenger and Islam are an example for us to follow for the struggles we face today.

Never pass by our elders without stopping to acknowledge their time on this earth, the wisdom they have acquired, the value of their counsel, and the respect and love they deserve.

Minister Bey hopes that by sharing his story, he may help Minister Louis Farrakhan, National Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, in his mission to resurrect Black men and women from mental death, and spread a message of peace, love and truth throughout the world.

The Nation of Islam salutes our Brother, Minister and Pioneer in Islam, Abdul Bey Muhammad.

(For further information on the life of Minister Abdul Bey Muhammad, contact Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida at (305) 756-9136. A video documentary called A Living Testament of Faith is available and the publication of Minister Bey's autobiography, Given Not Taken: the Extraordinary Life of a Lynching Survivor will be available in 2011.)

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