WEB POSTED 03-10-2000
Commemorative of The Nation of Islam in North America
Muhammad taught the Hon. Elijah Muhammad
A MAN WHO RAISED A NATION
three decades after President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with the
Emancipation Proclamation, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was born on or
about Oct. 7, 1897. Mr.
Muhammad was born the 7th child of 12 to William (later named Wali) and
Marie Poole, in Sandersville, Ga. Due
to poor record keeping by government officials, the exact date of his
birth remains unknown, according to historians and family members.
Nevertheless, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said his birth took place
some time between the first or second week of October 1897 and
established Oct. 7 as the anniversary date of his birth.
accomplishments and achievements have made a major impact on both Black
and white America. Like few
other figures in American history, he quite simply reconstructed society
like no one else.
accomplishments of the Muslims, under his direction, achieved dramatic,
never before seen results in the areas of religion, politics, social
interaction, economic development, and international affairs for the
so-called American Negro at that time.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in the dawning of the 21st
century, remains a pivotal world policy maker and key figure whose
program and position will shape the destiny of the new century and
millennium, his supporters have determined.
beginnings, Mr. Muhammad’s early life in the rural south was hard.
In order to help his family survive, Mr. Muhammad had
to leave school after the third grade to work in the fields as a
skills in problem solving and conflict resolution were beginning to show
during his childhood. In
many instances, when disputes arose
among the children even before they
reached their parents or neighbors, Mr. Muhammad would solve the
problems, according to family members.
to the “Roaring Twenties,” Mr. Muhammad married Clara Evans. Nov. 2, 1999
marked the centennial of the birth of Mother
Clara Muhammad, a co-founder of the Nation of Islam, who made her
transition in 1972. Meanwhile, during the early days of their marriage, economic
opportunities in the south for Black families declined and widespread
racial conflict-s continued to
Hence, Mr. Muhammad moved his young family in 1923 to Detroit,
Mich., in search of better economic and social circumstances, as did
many other Black families at the time.
By the end of the
1920s, both black and white America plunged into the bowels of severe
economic misery at the hands of the stock market crash of 1929. Hard times would force many people to go on relief.
Lynchings, race riots, that is, whites attacking defenseless
Blacks, and other forms of terrorism against Blacks at the hands of
whites continued unabated, as reported by Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois
and other credible sources.
with its huge population of 1.5 million people, including 250,000
Blacks, was beginning to see changes in its social scene. On July 4,
1930, the long awaited “Saviour” of the Black man and woman, Master
Fard Muhammad, appeared in this city. He announced and preached that
God is One, and it was now time for Blacks to return to the religion of
their ancestors, Islam.
News spread all
over the city of Detroit of the great things taking place on Hastings
Street brought about by the benevolence and generosity of this
distinguished yet mysterious man from the East. Mr. Muhammad’s wife
first learned of the Temple of Islam and wanted to attend to see what
the commotion was all about, but instead, her husband advised her that
he would go and see for himself.
In the autumn of
1931, Elijah Poole attended his first lecture by Master Fard Muhammad
and was overwhelmed by the message and immediately accepted it.
With the great spiritual inspiration Mr. Muhammad received from
his visit to the Temple of Islam, he was able to convince his entire
family to embrace his new found religion.
The Founder of the
Nation of Islam gave Elijah the surname “Karriem” and made him a
minister. Later he was promoted to the position of “Supreme
Minister” and his name was changed to Muhammad.
‘Poole’ was never my name nor was it my father’s name,” he would
later write. “It was the name the white slavemaster of my grandfather
after the so-called freedom of my fathers.”
Mr. Muhammad, in
the early1930s, along with 25,000 other believers in Detroit, quickly
worked to help this great man from the East build the so-called Lost and
Found Nation of Islam. Over
the course of the next three-and-one-half years, Minister Muhammad was
personally taught by his Teacher non-stop.
community, in addition to establishing religious centers of worship,
began to start businesses. Mr.
Muhammad established a newspaper, The
Final Call to Islam, in 1934. Much
of this newspaper’s content contained religious editorials and
transcripts of lectures delivered inside the Temple of Islam, as it was
known then. This publication would be the first of many publications he
Muhammad and the Muslim parents were so inspired by the message that
they had received from Master Fard Muhammad that they worked to
establish their own schools for the proper education of their children.
Indeed, the Muslim parents felt that the educational system of the State
of Michigan was wholly inadequate.
By 1934, the
Michigan State Board of Education disagreed with the Muslims’ right to
pursue their own educational agenda, and the Muslim teachers and temple
secretary were jailed on the false charge of contributing to the
delinquency of minors. In
response to the State’s denial of the Muslim’s right to self-educate
their children, Mr. Muhammad said he committed himself to jail after
learning what had happened. Eventually, the charges were dropped and the
school officials were freed and Mr. Muhammad received six months’
probation. Mr. Muhammad’s
stance on Islamic education remained firm and the religious community
continued to resist placing the Muslim children under white Christian
teachers. In September of
that same year, he moved to the city of Chicago, where his Teacher had
already set up the Islamic settlement.
incidents of police harassment against Master W. Fard Muhammad, in both
Detroit and Chicago, in 1934, Elijah Muhammad’s teacher departed the
scene, under the veil of mystery, and left Mr. Muhammad with the mission
of resurrecting the Black man and woman.
By 1935, Mr.
Muhammad faced many new challenges. A death plot arose among a few
disgruntled members who wanted the leadership position, and Mr. Muhammad
took flight, not in fear, but, as he said, to preserve the peace and
carry out his Teacher’s instructions to him which was to go to
Washington, D.C. to visit the Library of Congress in order to research
104 books on the religion of Islam, among other subjects.
He was on the run for the next seven years.
period, he was known under many names: “Mr. Evans” (his wife’s
maiden name), “Ghulam Bogans,” “Muhammad Rassoull,” “Elijah
Karriem” and “Mohammed of U Street.”
He also personally founded and established the mosque in
with Japan and Germany gave rise to the draft.
On May 8, 1942, Mr. Muhammad was arrested in Washington, D.C.,
allegedly for draft evasion. “When the call was made for all males
between 18 and 44, I refused (NOT EVADED) on the grounds that, first, I
was a Muslim and would not take part in war and especially not on the
side with the infidels,” he wrote in “Message
To The Blackman.”
“Second, I was 45 years of age and was NOT, according to the
law, required to register.” Many
other male members of the Nation of Islam at that time were imprisoned
for being conscientious objectors to World War II.
grows despite persecution
After World War II
ended, Mr. Muhammad gained his release from prison and returned to
Chicago. From Chicago, the central point of the Nation of Islam, Mr.
Muhammad worked hard to expand the Nation of Islam’s membership. Among
the many new members to enroll in the ranks of Islam, during this time,
were Brother Malcolm X and his family.
During the 1950s,
Mr. Muhammad promoted Minister Malcolm X to the post of national
spokesman, and began to syndicate his weekly newspaper column, “Mr.
Muhammad Speaks,” in Black newspapers across the country. As the
membership continued to increase, by 1955, Minister Louis Farrakhan,
then known as Louis Walcott, an entertainer, enrolled in the Nation of
Islam after hearing Mr. Muhammad deliver a speech in Chicago.
Persecution of the
Muslims continued. Members and mosques continued to be attacked by
whites in Monroe, La., Los Angeles, Calif., and Flint, Mich., among
others. Publicity in the white-owned-and-operated media began to
circulate anti-Nation of Islam propaganda on a massive scale. By the
early 1960s, the Readers Digest magazine described Mr. Muhammad as the most powerful
Black man in America.
D.C., Mr. Muhammad delivered his historic Uline Arena address in 1959
and was afforded presidential treatment, receiving a personal police
television commentator Mike Wallace, in conjunction with Louis Lomax, a
Black journalist, aired the documentary, “The
Hate That Hate Produced,” on a local New York City station. The
documentary misrepresented the message of the Nation of Islam, calling
it a hate teaching. James Baldwin, a famous Black author, released the
book, “The Fire Next Time,” based largely upon his interview with Mr.
At the same time,
white political leaders began to denounce the Nation of Islam and held
hearings on alleged “un-American” activities. Minister Louis
Farrakhan and the believers of Islam defended the Honorable Elijah
Muhammad and the Nation of Islam against these attacks.
1964, Minister Malcolm X decided to separate from the Nation of Islam
and formed his own religious and political organization. His very public
defection from the Nation of Islam was based on his misinterpretation of
the domestic life of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and
counterintelligence efforts by the U.S. Government.
atmosphere of rancor on both sides made ripe the environment for the
secret police to meddle in the affairs of the Nation of Islam and Black
America, according to late attorney, William Kuntsler. Mr. Kuntsler
cited a declassified memo obtained under the auspices of the Freedom of
Information Act that revealed that the U.S. Government played a role in
the 1965 assassination of Brother Malcolm X.
assassination, the New York mosque was fire bombed and the Muslim
community was reeling. Mr. Muhammad then dispatched Minister Louis
Farrakhan to New York City to take over the mosque there and begin the
rebuilding effort. In 1965, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad promoted
Minister Louis Farrakhan to the post of national representative.
mid-sixties, Mr. Muhammad’s ever-growing Islamic movement extended
itself to more than 60 cities and settlements abroad in Ghana, Mexico,
the Caribbean, and Central America among other places, according to the Muhammad
Speaks newspaper, the religion’s chief information apparatus.
A host of Islamic
and African governments all over the world received the Honorable Elijah
Muhammad and donated generously to his mission. Mr. Muhammad made Hajj
to Mecca (the holy pilgrimage and a pillar of Islam) on more than one
occasion and advocated universal brotherhood and sisterhood.
Every February 26,
he brought together the faithful for Saviours' Day conventions in
Chicago to celebrate his Teacher’s birthday.
In addition to re-emphasizing his message of moral and spiritual
renewal that also featured his future plans and agenda for the upcoming
year, Mr. Muhammad also announced his economic development programs.
Under his leadership, the Nation of Islam began to show signs of
progress with the establishment of farms, livestock and vegetable
cultivation, rental housing units, private home construction and
acquisitions, other real estate purchases, food processing centers,
restaurants, bakeries, lamb packing and cold storage facilities,
clothing factories, banking, business league formations, import and
export businesses, aviation, health care, administrative offices,
shipping on land, sea and air, plans for modern university and campus in
Chicago in addition to men’s and women’s development and leadership
By 1972, the
Honorable Elijah Muhammad opened a $2 million mosque and school in
Chicago. During this important grand opening of Temple No. 2, as it was
known then, he praised and let it be known who his top helper was in his
He asked Minister
Farrakhan to come before the religious community and then made the
following announcement while digressing from his previously stated
remarks: “I want you to remember, today, I have one of my greatest
preachers here. ... What are you hiding behind the sycamore tree for
brother? (He chuckled.) C’mon
around here where they can see you! (A rousing round of applause
“We have with us
today,” Mr. Muhammad continued, “our great national preacher. The
preacher who don’t mind going into Harlem, New York, one of the most
worst towns in our nation or cities. It is our brother in Detroit and
Chicago or New York. But, I want you to remember every week he’s on
the air helping me to reach those people that I can’t get out of my
house and go reach them like he.
want you to pay good attention to his preaching. His preaching is a
bearing of witness to me and what God has given to me,” he declared.
“This is one of the strongest national preachers that I have in the
bounds of North America. Everywhere you hear him, listen to him.
Everywhere you see him, look at him. Everywhere he advises you to go,
go. Everywhere he advises you to stay from, stay from. For we are
thankful to Allah for this great helper of mine, Minister Farrakhan.”
(Another rousing round of applause ensued). “He’s not a proud
man,” he said. “He’s a very humble man. If he can carry you across
the lake without dropping you in; he don’t say when you get on the
other side, ‘You see what I have done?’ He tells you, ‘You see
what Allah has done.’ He doesn’t take it upon himself. He’s a
mighty fine preacher. We hear him every week, and I say continue to hear
our Minister Farrakhan. ...”
In watching Minister Louis Farrakhan and the
followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the legacy of the Nation of
Islam continues to make unlimited progress as witnessed by the
“miracle” of the “Two Million Man March” among other truly
#1-Portrait of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad; #2-Master Fard
Muhammad; #3-Disciplined student displays Muhammad Speaks newspaper;
#4-On May 8, 1942, Mr. Muhammad was arrested in Washington, D.C.
allegedly for draft evasion; #5-Hon. Elijah Muhammad in discussion with
Dr. Martin L. King in 1966; #6-The Hon. Elijah Muhammad's top student,
Min. Farrakhan, adjusts mike.
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