And those who believe say: Why is not a chapter revealed? But when a decisive chapter is revealed, and fighting is mentioned therein, thou seest those in whose hearts is a disease look to thee with the look of one fainting at death. So woe to them!
—Holy Qur’an Surah 47 Ayat 20
An Indianapolis Imam has written an open letter to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. His letter was penned to express an unnecessary concern that the Minister’s bold and inspired message, delivered in Miami, Florida, recently, was a call for a race war. I would like to address him, his concerns and some general misconceptions about the history of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Farrakhan.
The Imam’s concerns are unnecessary for several reasons.
It should first of all be established that the Imam is wrong for claiming that the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad never made use of the theme “Justice or Else.” The theme “Justice or Else” was boldly emblazoned atop the masthead of the inaugural issue of the Nation of Islam’s revolutionary news organ the Muhammad Speaks newspaper in October 1961. And now the Minister’s final call is for “Justice, Or Else” on 10.10.15.
Secondly, all of the Nation of Islam’s history both before and after 1975 is indicative of the Nation of Islam’s role within American society as a self-respecting, law-abiding peaceful people. Prior to the departure of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975 various law enforcement agencies went on record to document how much of a valued resource the Nation of Islam was in their respective cities.
“One thing I can say—wherever Muslims go, crime goes down. We policemen are always happy to have them in a community; it makes our job that much easier.” —Chicago Deputy Police Superintendent Sam Nolan (January 1974)
“As a large group of people, the Muslims tend to be law-abiding and seem to have a rehabilitating influence in the community.” —Thomas W. Chochee, Police Chief Compton California (February 1974)
“Addicts must be treated as persons and not statistics, and to the Harlem State Senator that means therapy, rehabilitation and employment. He said that the State chief executive could learn a lesson from what the Nation of Islam has done to remold ex-drug addicts by giving them a sense of pride in self and kind.” —referring to NY State Senator from Harlem Sidney Von Luther (March 9, 1973)
“The Muslims have done more to rehabilitate narcotics addicts than any corrective agency in the country.” —NY State Senator from Harlem Basil Patterson, at the National Society of Afro-American Policemen’s tribute to the Nation of Islam (July 5, 1969)
Post 1975 Minister Farrakhan’s message has boldly challenged the white elite power structure. All in that hierarchy of power, wealth and influence have deemed him to be a threat. Yet the record is clear. Just like his spiritual father, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan has been a rebuilder, a restorer and a peacemaker.
Most notable in this area of establishing and maintaining peace in the society, is the formation of an unarmed protection and security apparatus that was affectionately dubbed “The Dopebusters.” The Dopebusters—or as they were officially known, NOI Security Agency—began in 1988 in Washington, D.C.’s Mayfair Mansion apartment complex. Because of their tremendous success in eliminating the drug trafficking and violence in the areas they patrolled, their legend spread, causing them to eventually broaden their operations to many major cities throughout America.
When Jewish pressure intervened to remove Minister Farrakhan’s peace forces—despite their unmatched success in eradicating the drug crime that had plagued the country’s public housing—it became necessary for congressional hearings to take place. During those hearings Housing and Urban Development (HUD) director Henry Cisneros, a Cabinet-level official, made the following commentary about the “Dopebusters .”
“since the security firms first began their work in 1988 and throughout the review we have undertaken in this instance, there have been no complaints filed against these firms regarding any inappropriate religious activities. In fact, we have conducted over 1,000 interviews of residents and management, and they illustrate that these security guards have been effective in transforming many drug-ridden properties into places which are now safe and peaceful.”
Cisneros’ weighty testimony as the top leader of a division of the United States federal government mitigates any concerns over Minister Farrakhan and his followers being associated with acts of violence. Director Cisneros went on to push back against the notion being promoted by U.S. Representative Peter T. King of New York that the federal government doing business with Minister Farrakhan’s followers was equivalent to doing business with a hate group. According to Cisneros:
“The FBI Domestic Terrorism Unit does maintain an internal list of groups known to have committed terrorist acts, which is at times used as an indicator of hate groups or hate crimes. Organizations such as the Aryan Nation are on that list. The Nation of Islam is not. In addition, in the last 5 years, the United States prosecuted more than 50 criminal actions against members of so-called hate groups, alleging violations of civil rights. Although these hate crimes prosecutions have involved members of the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation, and skinheads, none of the actions have involved members of the Nation of Islam. This is a point of law, a definable, observable point of fact.”
Moreover, even with the controversial relationship that Minister Farrakhan has with members of the Jewish community, there has never ever been so much as a bloody nose produced as a result. Jewish rabbi Bruce Khan noted that any fear of physical violence coming as a result of Minister Farrakhan’s words and message is an unnecessary concern. Rabbi Khan attended the Million Man March. He wrote afterwards that “the people who listen to him [Minister Farrakhan] do not go chasing down Jews, or gays or Whites or Koreans to beat them and murder them… They are sufferers who know how tough it is to get a fair shake as Black people. They want that to change. They hear in Minister Farrakhan’s words inspiration and instructions to begin to bring about that change. That is the message on which he focuses and on which they focus. That is not the message on which the media focuses.”
I would ask Imam Saahir, who is a brother that I respect, to review in totality the Minister’s message in Miami. Were he to do so, he would see the real threat is the Minister’s call for an economic withdrawal from the Christmas holiday buying season. He is calling Black America to the same act of unity that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, Adam Clayton Powell and Ossie Davis called for in 1963-participation in a “Sacrificial Christmas.”
I believe that a more thorough study of the Minister’s history would help the Imam to have a greater appreciation for Minister Farrakhan’s work, which is in harmony with that of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. It is wrong for Imam Saahir to lift the history of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in a way that opposes Minister Farrakhan. For years various members of the Sunni community have condemned Minister Farrakhan for his promotion of the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. They have essentially said “get rid of Elijah and get with the Qur’an.” Now when the Minister invokes the Holy Qur’an to guide and pastor to the suffering victims of injustice, Imam Saahir takes a distorted view of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad to “correct” the Minister.
This is wrong and offensive!
The world knows that there has been no one more committed to the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad since his departure in 1975 than Minister Farrakhan. He is THE source for any who sincerely want to learn just what Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam are all about. For when you look at Minister Farrakhan, you are looking at not just a theoretician but one whose theoretical understanding of his teacher’s message has been refined through his courageous practice and implementation of that message. Being both theoretician and practitioner, Minister Farrakhan is guided by more than what may be written down in books or articles. For ever since he stood to rebuild the Nation of Islam in 1977, he has traveled the path blazed for him by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. And this has furnished the Minister with an unmatched insight into his teacher’s words, actions and programs. If you want to know Elijah Muhammad, you must inquire of Minister Louis Farrakhan. To do otherwise is to accrue a sterile, academic and incomplete portrait of a man that in over 80 years the academy has failed to understand.
Being the best student of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan is often misunderstood, just as his teacher was many years ago. Imam Saahir’s concern over the Minister calling for a race-based indiscriminate retaliation against white people is unnecessary. The Minister has never advocated that violence or harm be done to innocent people: he is calling for Economic Withdrawal, a strategy of unity in keeping with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, who said in his magnificent last message titled the Mountaintop Speech, “We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right….As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain . The Imam’s misconstrual and misinterpretation of the Minister’s message is similar to the misunderstanding and misapprehension by those who may have misinterpreted the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in some of his bold prophetic utterances during his historic Uline Arena address in 1959.
No one in his right mind would ever say that Elijah Muhammad was suicidal. Yet his words in the Uline arena address might be misinterpreted in a way that makes one think he was urging his audience toward mass suicide. His comments appear in his book The Fall of America and in Message to the Blackman in America.
On page 36 of Message To The Blackman in America he writes:
“If a million of us throw ourselves in the fire for the benefit of the 20 million, the loss would be small compared to the great gain our people will make as a result of that sacrifice. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims gave their lives in Pakistan to get their nation’s independence. They were successful. The black men in Africa are fighting and dying today in unity for their independence. We sit here like pampered babies. We cannot even stand on the floor, not to mention taking a chance of crawling out of the door. We are too careful of shedding blood for ourselves. We are willing to shed all of it for the benefit of others.”
This sounds like Mr. Muhammad is suggesting that a million Black people sacrifice themselves for the whole of the 20 million Blacks living in America. In his book The Fall of America he mentions that 10 million of us might just as well sacrifice ourselves to leave 10 million behind to enjoy the fruit of our sacrifice. In an elucidation of the aforementioned he goes on to say on page 8-9 of The Fall of America: “If you and I are deprived of justice, if the federal government will not punish our murderers and our rapers. I say to you. we must get together and find some way to punish them ourselves!”
I strongly encourage my brother Imam to read these words of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and reconsider his position about the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in the light of the context and history that I am sharing with him, which expose the falsity of his poison-pen letter.
The words of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad as documented here perfectly harmonize with that of his best student, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, who recently in Miami said: “The Qur’an teaches ‘persecution is worse than slaughter.’ Then it says, retaliation is prescribed in matters of the slain. Retaliation is a prescription from God to calm the breasts of those whose children have been slain. If the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us, stalk them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling.”
And just as Minister Farrakhan moved from the law of retaliation into an economic application of it via an economic withdrawal from Christmas, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad did the same. He said on page 36 of Message to the Blackman:
“We sit here like pampered babies. We cannot even stand on the floor, not to mention taking a chance of crawling out of the door. We are too careful of shedding blood for ourselves. We are willing to shed all of it for the benefit of others. I am not trying to get you to fight. That is not even necessary; our unity will win the battle! Not one of us will have to raise a sword. Not one gun would we need to fire. The great cannon that will be fired is our unity. Our unity is the best. Why are you afraid to unite?”
I would encourage my brother Imam to bring his views into harmony with his teacher Imam Warithudeen Mohammed, who delivered a beautiful khutbah on February 25, 2000, for our annual Saviours’ Day convention. In that Khutbah he said of Minister Farrakhan: “When the brother Muslim stands upon the Qur’an, the last of the revealed books and the complete book for all times and all societies, and when he stands upon faith in Muhammad as God’s last prophet and Messenger to all the worlds, mercy to all the worlds, we are to support him in that.” Surely Minister Farrakhan’s words on retaliation are on the firm foundation of the Holy Qur’an.
Imam Mohammed’s words point us to some of the great Islamic principles of brotherhood. Prophet Muhammad (saw/pbuh) is reported by Abu Hurairah to have said “Do not help Shaitan against your brother.” Imam Saahir’s open letter to Minister Farrakhan goes against this principle because Imam Saahir could have requested to meet with the Minister in private to discuss his points of disagreement with his words in Miami calling for justice, or else. This calls to mind the words of the great Imam Siraj Wahajj about the importance of Muslim unity and the value of Minister Farrakhan. On September 21, 2008, Imam Siraj told the Final Call Newspaper: “Minister Farrakhan holds the key to the development of (Islam) in this country—so we’re going to talk about where we go from here, let us now continue the process so that we can move even further on toward the development of Islam in America because the attack is against Islam and they don’t ask you the question (are you) Sunni or Shiite, (are) you with the Nation (of Islam) or what? No. We have to recognize that the enemies of Islam are united against us,”
Despite my respect for Imam Saahir’s book titled The Honorable Elijah Muhammad: The Man Behind The Men, I acknowledge that he is developing a bad track record of openly criticizing the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
On December 13, 2008, he penned a very mean-spirited open letter to Minister Farrakhan titled Thanks, but No Thanks. In that letter Imam Saahir wrongly attributed a motive to Minister Farrakhan of trying to interfere with Imam Mohammed’s community after his passing. You reacted quite negatively to the Muslim Journal’s interview with the Minister. Imam Saahir took time to condemn core Nation of Islam belief’s and in an arrogant self-aggrandizing stroke wrote:
“…don’t be surprised if you, Minister Farrakhan may have to sit under the feet of some of Imam Mohammed’s students before you may qualify to approach us in the manner that you are trying to pursue in this interview. Imam Mohammed has taught his students well, very well.”
Such words on the part of Imam Saahir are unbecoming of a man in his position. The humility of Minister Farrakhan is such that he will accept truth regardless of the person sharing it. He has said that every man or woman that he meets can teach him something that he doesn’t know. But to arrogantly suggest that he is the Minister’s superior is a hubristic claim that easily evaporates before the facts of history.
No. Imam Saahir was wrong on Minister Farrakhan in 2008 and he is wrong in 2015. His history and pattern of public condemnation of Minister Farrakhan undermines the work of Imam Warithudeen Mohammed in reconciling and unifying with Minister Farrakhan. Why would he want to help the Shaitan in furthering the divide among the Muslim ummah? One wonders that he should find a better use of his time in responding to issues such as the New York Times article condemning Islam as a “religion of rape.” That is a more worthwhile cause to occupy Imam Saahir’s attention. Uniting with Minister Farrakhan to combat the rising tide of Islamaphobia in America would be wiser since such propaganda negatively impacts all of the diverse communities of Muslims in America.
But instead Imam Saahir has rushed to be at the forefront joining in with the enemy’s propagandists in criticizing a man whom he refers to as his “Muslim brother.” This wanton criticism is unnecessary, unwise and antithetical to the noble principles of brotherhood as espoused by the religion of Islam.
-Demetric Muhammad, August 2015