Black Spirituality Religion : From the Nation of Islam to Orthodox Islam: A Historical Perspective

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Aqil, Sep 13, 2003.

  1. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    The 1985 decision by Islamic spiritual leader Imam Warithudin Muhammad to disband his organization, the American Muslim Mission, was totally against the conventional Weberian wisdom on the sociology of religious organizations that dwell on the tendency to crystallize around hereditary structures or the priesthood. He announced that he was “abolishing” the organization, and that he was no longer the leader of the so-called “Black Muslims” of America.

    Imam Muhammad also disbanded the entire administrative establishment of the organization at the central level, and suggested that the local Muslim "ummas" (communities) organize themselves around their "masajid" (mosques) in collaboration with their Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. Thus from the death of his father Elijah Muhammad in 1975 to the Imam's announcement in 1985 that the members of the American Muslim Mission are an integral part of the universal Islamic umma - and therefore did not need a separate identity of their own - the transition from a cult-like religious sect based on elements of ethnic nationalism to the universality of orthodox Islam was now complete.

    When Elijah Muhammad was on his deathbed, many American journalists and analysts speculated about the fate of the Nation of Islam (NOI). Some predicted violence and fragmentation; others went to the extent of saying that the organization would fizzle out in a decade. As history would have it, their predictions came to naught. The Muslims disappointed the pundits and elected Elijah Muhammad’s son, Wallace Deen Muhammad, as their new leader.

    Of course Elijah Muhammad’s successor was known to the organization’s inner circle, for much earlier in the history of the NOI, the mysterious founder of the organization, Master W.D. Fard Muhammad, had told Elijah Muhammad – his second-in-command – that his son Wallace was the heir-apparent. This profound prediction by the founder of the organization was to be heeded and the elders of the organization complied accordingly. And so in 1975 Wallace Deen Muhammad succeeded his father and began a new chapter in the history of the Nation of Islam.

    During the next ten years Imam Muhammad introduced many fundamental changes in the NOI, and, in fact – through subtle means and gradual measures – transformed the entire structure of its theological beliefs and practices. His brother, Akbar Muhammad, studied at the University of Al-Ahzar in Cairo, Egypt, the great citadel of Islamic orthodoxy, and in studying with him he learned the true tenets and precepts of the religion of Islam, and understood from the very beginning the heretical nature of his father’s teachings. But he also knew that he had to proceed cautiously in order to prevent any major dissension or revolt in the ranks of his father’s enthusiastic followers, of which his former spokesman, the articulate Min. Louis Farrakhan, was most prominent.

    The history of the movement from 1975-1985 was thus a history of gradual but fundamental changes effectuated by Imam Muhammad in order to bring his followers into the mainstream of the Islamic umma. The first and most widely felt change was the demilitarization of the NOI. Rather than maintain the FOI (Fruit of Islam), which his father established to maintain discipline and keep away unruly elements in both the Black and white communities whom were likely to disrupt Muslim meetings and gatherings, Imam Muhammad disbanded them altogether. He believed at the time that the movement had reached such a level of maturity that paramilitary activities were uncalled for.

    This was a bold move on the part of the Imam, since it wiped out a hierarchical order that had exercised tremendous influence among the members of the group. Although this decision did not go unchallenged, the forces identified with its opposition resisted only by voting with their feet. Some of them who decided to split from the reconstituted organization started their own groups, and elements from this era are now found in the resurrected NOI under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan, and other splinter groups such as the “Five Percenters.”

    The second decision, which had a more fundamental transformative effect on the history of African-American Muslims, was the change of name itself. By moving away from the “Nation of Islam” to the “World Community of Islam in the West,” Imam Muhammad made it categorically clear that he wished to correct the errors associated with his father. This new name helped the new movement in three important respects: First, it removed the stigma that American society and other Muslims in the East had attached to the NOI. Henceforth, Imam Muhammad was accepted as a Muslim leader seriously working for the successful transplantation of Islam in America.

    This was not an easy journey to orthodoxy; there were many Sunnis among African-American Muslims who remained skeptical, as revealed in the pages of Jihad ul-Akbar: Al-Islam and the Western Sunrise. The same sense of uncertainty prevailed among many immigrant Muslims, but as the changes within the new movement under Imam Muhammad unfolded, it became more and more evident that he was serious about his moves and deserved the benefit of the doubt. The pages of the renamed Bilalian News and later World Muslim News – to the current Muslim Journal – amply demonstrated the new trend toward orthodoxy.

    It was because of these changes that some African-American commentators began to say that the Imam was “Malcolmizing” the organization of his father. This was not necessarily the case, however. The Imam was certainly espousing views similar to the great martyr Malcolm X, but his mode of operation was very much in the tradition of another great martyr, Dr. Martin Luther King. Rather than use religion as a battering ram against the American establishment, Imam Muhammad was now teaching that after having reached the psychological heights intended by his father, African-American Muslims should now self-confidently confront the wider American society. In effect, the Imam was telling his followers that religion should now be used to transform all America, so that the best of American society is made available to all. This was certainly an “integrationist, middle-class” approach to the racial and religious problems in America.

    Secondly, it granted international recognition to Imam Warithudin Muhammad’s leadership. Besides the removal of the stigma of a racist organization, the name-change made it possible for the Imam to travel abroad as a Muslim VIP. Soon he was a guest of Rabita al-Alim al-Islami, the Muslim world body. This conferring of legitimacy by Rabita opened doors to other Muslim world bodies and governments; soon the Imam was attending as a distinguished observer the sessions of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

    Thirdly, in his search for true Muslim identity for himself and his people, Imam Muhammad first embraced a historically sound nomenclature, “Bilalian,” after the name of Bilal ibn Rabah, the great African Muslim who was the first muezzin of the original Islamic movement led by Prophet Muhammad (saw) in 632 AD. By using his name as the historically significant symbol of the experience of slavery and of conversion to true Islam, the Imam made it clear to the historically aware members of his movement that there is a parallel between their journey in America and the Africans of Bilal’s generation, who achieved both spiritual and material liberation under Islam. To the Imam, then, Islam is the answer to America’s spiritual barrenness, and the salvation of the latter-day “Bilals” in America lies in the successful conversion of a significant majority of Americans to the path of Islam. With Islam, racism is weakened and social justice is guaranteed.

    The third decision the Imam took – which had a significant impact on the movement’s history – was the liquidation of the businesses of the movement. This decision was criticized by outsiders and perhaps insiders as well, yet in retrospect, one can argue that the decision has proved to be quite rewarding. Rather than put an end to the entrepreneurial drive of the movement, the decision has served as a galvanizing factor. Millions of dollars were saved by “de-nationalizing” many of the uneconomical business enterprises run by the movement on perpetual loss, and the decision also encouraged individual members to venture into private businesses of their own, rather than continue to depend on the movement for their livelihood.

    The fourth significant decision by Imam Muhammad was to open the gates of the masajid (mosques) to the members of other races. This was symbolically the most revolutionary change – not only in that it struck at the very foundations of the old theology of Elijah Muhammad, but it also summoned the followers to change their attitudes towards whites and to learn to live amicably with “the other side.” This decision, which some students of the movement have traced even before the death of Elijah Muhammad, was a major reason for the defection of many older members of the NOI. The Imam felt that those who were sufficiently influenced by his father’s message of self-confidence should have no fear of whites, and therefore must be able to venture out of the protective cover of the NOI, and journey into the deserts of white society.

    Opponents maintained that the decision was hasty. The levels of maturity among the membership of the NOI varied greatly, and it was presumptuous on the part of the Imam to open the floodgates of racial integration within the movement too soon. Those who embraced that kind of reasoning maintained that the deluge drowned many whom were ill-equipped to face the complications of racial integration. For the Imam, however, the question of rehabilitation and racial desegregation in America was integrally linked with the notion of universal brotherhood in Islam, and thus could not be postponed any longer.

    Finally, Imam Muhammad transformed the very existence of the movement by his announcement to disband the American Muslim Mission. This was the most significant decision taken by the Imam so far, and his announcement made it abundantly clear that he was no longer the leader of the individual mosques scattered across the country. The various groups formerly identified with the AMM must now learn to fend for themselves, and grow as mature, integrated Muslim communities in America. He urged these Muslim groups – organized around their respective mosques – to open up to the larger Islamic umma, and desist from identifying themselves according to nationalities and ethnic groups.

    The reaction of the rank-and-file members to this announcement indicates that the time was ripe to take this big leap forward, and to demolish the remaining barriers between African-American Muslims and the universality of the Islamic religion. The bottom line of Imam Muhammad’s message was that Muslims are one, and in America also there must be only one Muslim umma...

    (This article was excerpted from the July, 1986 issue of ARABIA: The Islamic World View)
     
  2. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Of course I disagree with your egregious, unfounded opinions...
     
  3. Sun Ship

    Sun Ship Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Stick to the facts, my brother!

    Peace Brother ifasehun,

    Though I agree with your overall issues, with the –ism and schism that have plagued the Nation of Islam and I am not, necessarily, a fan of W. D. Muhammad. But, to make the following accusations:

    “ This W.D. is no man of the cloth. He is an agent of the federal government. A traitor and a criminal to the black community”

    You owe your community, factual evidence, BECAUSE ACCUSATIONS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THE TOOL, OF THE ENEMY.

    Remember, these wise and historically infamous statements, that apply to the dangers of demagoguery:


    1.) “Propaganda is to a democracy, as violence is to dictatorship.”

    Quote, Noam Chomsky, 1996



    2.) Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebels once observed, “a lie repeated often enough is eventually believed.”


    I don’t think these quotes necessarily apply to your stated opinions. But, an unequivocal historical record of evidentiary facts, pertaining to our struggle, should stand unchallengeable by revisionists, apologists and romanticists. And must be, unquestionably accurate and documentarily presented for critique, for future research and interpretation, by studious revolutionaries, investigating the ethical mores of their predecessors. Progressive thinkers and radical intellectuals, as yourself, should not be swayed toward reactionary verbiage and personal vendettas, toward those individuals, whose beliefs maybe contrary to your own.

    In other words, what are your sources, my brother?

    Peace,

    Sun Ship
     
  4. ifasehun

    ifasehun Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    well, i will say this: i have no source to verify such a comment. but you like me are probably well aware that all of the living assassins of Malcolm x has since admitted publicly to be paid and/or coherced into murdering the second most influential figure in the Black Islamic community. If you are unaware have your local library order the full collection of "Eye on the Prize" and watch the interviews with these murderers.

    What's most interesting is their admission to being one of many middle and high ranking members of the NOI to betray both the H. Elijah Muhammad and the H. Malcolm X. (Yes, if Elijah is honorable than Malcolm is most definately deserving of this same designation) There has been a quiet stir for many years that some of H. Elijah's own family and high ranking ministers were not only behind the murder of Malcolm but among those that pushed to destroy the NOI through the 70s and 80s -

    Now, with this in mind, how could this be accomplished without either Farrakhan or W.D.? Farrakhan in his own right left the mosque to play gigs in smoky alcohol filled bar rooms and W.D. well, he basically dismantled or tried to dismantle the mosque. While lots of names escape me we know for sure this: many of the highest ranking ministers and their families either left with W.D., left the NOI permenantly upon H. Elijah's death, or went on to pursue clearly taboo lifestyles by Islamic law. So here is a band of wayward men to say the very least.

    But W.D. had something none of the rest had - he could lay claim to openly and aggressively contradicting his own father. Not while he was alive - like man. But after his death, while weak hearts were looking for excuses to not be among the Fred Hamptons, Malcolm X's, MLKs, etc.. Bluntly, he timed his alteration of the NOI with the flight of MANY so-called men away from the Black Nationalist movement. Men that claimed that when the fire got hot they would stand ground, but did quite the opposite.

    But after he dismantles things he doesnt rebuke the title of Imam bestowed on him by his father..Oh no. He keeps that. So tell me this. How does a man that isnt a religious leader give you a title, you assault his work, but keep the title and then use the title to build your OWN image? lol

    Again, no smoking gun. Just sound logic. I stand my ground. W.D. would catch a smack in the face from me (on behalf of the spirit of his father) before I'd shake his hand.

    Perhaps if he had the [email protected] to stand up to the NOI when his father was alive I would be a bit more impressed. Perhaps if he had remained vigilant to fighting the hyprocrisy of the U.S. gov't instead of becoming an overnight beacon of peace which convienantly kept him off the COINTEL-PRO list of "next to die" I would be humbled.

    In my dictionary a picture of W.D. is beside the word coward. Period.
     
  5. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    From the article:

    "When Elijah Muhammad was on his deathbed, many American journalists and analysts speculated about the fate of the Nation of Islam (NOI). Some predicted violence and fragmentation; others went to the extent of saying that the organization would fizzle out in a decade. As history would have it, their predictions came to naught. The Muslims disappointed the pundits and elected Elijah Muhammad’s son, Wallace Deen Muhammad, as their new leader.

    Of course Elijah Muhammad’s successor was known to the organization’s inner circle, for much earlier in the history of the NOI, the mysterious founder of the organization, Master W.D. Fard Muhammad, had told Elijah Muhammad – his second-in-command – that his son Wallace was the heir-apparent. This profound prediction by the founder of the organization was to be heeded and the elders of the organization complied accordingly. And so in 1975 Wallace Deen Muhammad succeeded his father and began a new chapter in the history of the Nation of Islam.

    During the next ten years Imam Muhammad introduced many fundamental changes in the NOI, and, in fact – through subtle means and gradual measures – transformed the entire structure of its theological beliefs and practices. His brother, Akbar Muhammad, studied at the University of Al-Ahzar in Cairo, Egypt, the great citadel of Islamic orthodoxy, and in studying with him he learned the true tenets and precepts of the religion of Islam, and understood from the very beginning the heretical nature of his father’s teachings..."
     
  6. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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  7. Dual Karnayn

    Dual Karnayn Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    If I understand the teachings correctly....and I should....

    Fard pretty much taught that the Nation was supposed to clean Black people up as quickly as possible not wasting time on rusty locks giving them a thorough knowledge of self and they were to return to their own land while North America is destroyed by fire for 310 years.

    Some where along the way some people missed the plot and apparently not drinking or eating pork and doing for self gave them so much success and confidence in themselves that they decided to stay in America and establish businesses and housing....lol.


    What I don't care too much for his how Wallace disbanned the military disciplined nature of the Nation and disolved most of the businesses.

    Unlike most Muslims around the world, we AfroAmericans had been totally stripped of our morality and civility and NEEDED that discipline and strict order to re-direct us.

    Look how beautiful and intelligent most of the children of those who observed the strict dietary habits of his followers turned out.

    Elijah used to MAKE his followers be punctual and open up thier businesses on time.
    He made them be polite and courteous even when it was against their "street/ghetto" nature to be so.

    The West is a relatively "free" society and if you aren't grounded in a positive culture it's too easy to fall into chaos.
     
  8. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    WHO IS THE CHIEF HYPOCRITE?!


    www.muhammadspeaks.com/Farrakhanadmitshypocrisy.html
     
  9. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    "What I don't care too much for is how Wallace disbanned the military disciplined nature of the Nation and disolved most of the businesses."

    This is essential in understanding the complete abandonment of the NATION-BUILDING program and consider the political climate post-1975.

    MILITANT ISLAM was emerging with the Iranian Revolution, led by the para-military organization of the Revolutionary Mujahadeen and the Fedayeen. Irag and Syria were united under the militarist, Socilaism of the Arab Baath Socialist Party. The Palestine Liberation Organization had the PFLP and Hamas emerging within their wings. Socialist Libya was becoming an outspoken critic of the us foreign policy . At this point, Islamic fundamentalism was RADICAL and REVOLUTIONARY so the AMERICAN MUSLIM MISSION was seen among the MILITANT International, Islamic community as "reactionary" while the various factions of the NOI/Lost-Found NOI, under Farrakhan, Silas and John Muhammad were seen as RADICAL, which speaks to developing relations with the governments of Syria, Iraq and Libya and the proof is in many articles published in either the Muhammad Speaks newspaper or the Fianl Call OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS.

    On the other hand, Warith Deen while developing relations with "Orthodox Islam" clergy, has also developed relations with the Saudi, Kuwaitis and other PUPPETS OF US IMPERIALISM which is evident if one reads his many publications and speeches over the past 30 years.

    Increasingly, Farrakhan has been moving towards closer cooperation with Warith Deen and this is obvious as the two are becoming older and their long-term relationship, dating to at least 1964 is continually exposing itself.


    www.muhammadspeaks.com/WarithD.html
     
  10. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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