Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam: Part Two
Cornerstone, vol. 26, issue 112 (1997), p. 32-36, 38
In part 1 (published in issue 111 of Cornerstone), we looked at the history of the Nation of Islam (NOI). This installment will examine the belief system of the Nation of Islam and evaluate it from a Christian vantage point.
The belief system of the Nation of Islam is a curious mix. On the one hand, Louis Farrakhan claims to preserve the teachings of "the Honorable Elijah Muhammad." In many ways, Minister Farrakhan fulfills this promise by distributing tapes and books of the late Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975). Yet over the past decade, as Louis Farrakhan has enjoyed closer contact with traditional Muslims and achieved wider entrance into Christian churches, the "classic" beliefs of Elijah Muhammad are being seemingly modified, so that the NOI appears less sectarian and more like a bona-fide Islamic movement.
To start with, the Nation of Islam identifies itself as Islamic. Members call God "Allah," they call themselves Muslims, they teach and worship in mosques, they appeal to the prophet Muhammad, they recite the Muslim creed, and they view the Qur'an as inspired Scripture.
The chief leaders of the NOI (Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Minister Farrakhan) have all made pilgrimages to Mecca, and at the present time NOI members are instructed to fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan and to consult the hadith or traditions ascribed to Muhammad to determine proper conduct and doctrine. Thus, for broad purposes of classification, it seems reasonable to place the NOI somewhere within the Islamic camp.
Yet despite these outward appearances, it can also be argued that the NOI is in fact pseudo-Islamicjust as many Christians would argue that Mormons are pseudo-Christian (though wearing the trappings and emblems of Christianity, they deny certain of its basic tenets).
To illustrate: evangelical Christians would say that Mormons must possess more than the Bible, the name of Jesus, baptism, and good works to be considered genuine Christians. They also must not deny one of the fundamental essentials of Christianity, namely, monotheism. Since the Mormons believe in the existence of Creator-Gods both prior to and in addition to God the Father, this heresy alone is sufficient to exclude them from the circle of bona-fide Christianity.
In like manner, the NOI also has some polytheistic beliefs which deny the fundamentals of theistic religion. According to the Institute of Islamic Information and Education, "Islam and the so-called 'Nation of Islam' are two different religions. The only thing common between them is the jargon, the language used by the both." The Muslim Student Association at the University of Southern California affirms that the NOI is "misusing" the word Islam and is "in fact clearly and absolutely in violation of certain basic principles contained in the Qur'an and Sunnah." Many other orthodox Muslims would agree.
The principal heresy of the NOI that both Muslims and Christians find objectionable is Elijah Muhammad's teaching on the nature of God. Elijah Muhammad taught that there are many Gods (polytheism); that some of these Gods had a beginning and later died; that one of them was Wallace D. Fard who literally was Allah; and that God is a man, the black man in general and Master Fard in particular. Throughout his teaching Elijah Muhammad gives credit to W. D. Fard (whom he also calls "Master Fard Muhammad, God in Person") as the true and praiseworthy source for his teachings.
In many respects, Louis Farrakhan perpetuates these errors, though we acknowledge that Minister Farrakhan's writings are noticeably less heretical than those of his predecessor. However, he maintains that Elijah Muhammad was a divinely commissioned Messenger of God, and to that degree he becomes culpable for promoting the errors of his spiritual father.
THE GODS OF ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
According to Elijah Muhammad (who claimed he learned it from Master Fard), the universe began seventy-eight trillion years ago when God created Himself from a single atom which formed itself from nothing. Out of a universe of darkness, an "atom of life" appeared: "He was the only One in the whole entire dark Universe. He had to wait until the atom of life produced brains to think what He needed. How long was that? I don't know, Brothers. But He was a Black man, a Black man! . . . The Black God produced Himself; He's Self-created." Not only that, but "Allah (God) was created on the very earth that we are on today."
However, according to Elijah Muhammad, the Black Creator was not eternal and at some point He died. "There is no God Living Who was here in the Creation of the Universe, but They produce Gods from Them and Their Wisdom lives in us." For the past sixty-six trillion years, he claimed, the universe has been ordered by a council of twenty-four black deities. Twenty-three are described as Scientists; the twenty-fourth as God or Allah over the others.
The history of the world is determined in advance by these Scientists, and "every twenty-five thousand (25,000) years, each God Coming After the Other God made a new civilization. His Belief, Teaching, and Theology were Different From the Other God Who Preceded Him." Occasionally, these time cycles may be stretched to thirty-five thousand years.
As we might expect, Elijah Muhammad teaches that these Gods are not eternal, and in fact they even die after a few hundred years. "Allah . . . taught me that there are not any gods Who live forever. Their wisdom and work may live six thousand or twenty-five thousand years, but the actual individual may have died within a hundred or two hundred years, or the longest that we have a record of, around a thousand years."
It is clear that the Nation of Islam believes that many Gods have existed. (That's an understatement: if only one God appeared every twenty-five thousand years, after sixty-six trillion years we have had over 2.6 billion Gods come and gone.) Furthermore, we're told that several Gods can exist in the same time cycle. For instance, the founder of this time cycle is different from the black God Yakub, who created the white race over 6000 years ago.
Finally, Elijah Muhammad's doctrine of Allah, complex as it is, boils down to the belief that Allah is a man. As we read a few paragraphs earlier, Allah, the first Creator of the universe, was "a Black man." Furthermore, Allah is also a corporate name for all Muslims generally: "Allah Is all of us. . . . He Is rooted in all of us. Every righteous person is a god. We are all God. When we say 'Allah' we mean every righteous person."
The first five chapters of Message to the Blackman in America attempt to reinterpret biblical statements that "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24), that God is invisible and "not a man" (Num. 23:19, 1 Sam. 15:29, Job 9:32, Hos. 11:9). Elijah Muhammad wrote, "In the past, we have been taught that God and the devil were something other than human, while the truth from Almighty God, Allah, who is now among us in Person, makes it clear that these two characters are human beings." "God is a man and we just cannot make Him other than man . . . if I would say that God is not man, I would be a liar before Him and stand to be condemned."
For Elijah Muhammad, the name Allah not only covers the original Black God and the generic Black Man, but it especially designates one particular man:
When we say "Allah," that Name means God and covers all Muslims. All Muslims are Allahs, but we call the Supreme Allah the Supreme Being. And He has a Name of His Own. This Name is "Fard Muhammad."
"Fard" is a Name meaning an independent One and One Who is not on the level with the average Gods (Allahs). It is a Name independent to itself which actually means One whom we must obey, or else He destroys us. This honorable, Majestic Person comes in the last day. The reason why we call Him the Supreme Being is because He is Supreme over all beings and or is wiser than all. The Holy Qur'an teaches: He is wiser than them, meaning all the Gods before and all who are now present.
Thus, Elijah Muhammad taught that there is a succession of Gods, that these Gods are always mortal human beings with a physical body, that the sacred name "Allah" can be applied to human beings, and that though these Gods write human history for thousands of years to come, they themselves usually die like men in two or three hundred years.
The Supreme God of all is Master W. D. Fard, who is wiser than all previous Gods and who should be worshipped. Elijah declared, "I say to the world of Islam, Bow To Him. The Holy Qur'an teaches us that, You shall see all nations bowing down to him,' Who Makes All Things New, Master Fard Muhammad, to Whom Praises are due forever."
THE DEVILS OF ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
In the Nation of Islam, both God and the devil are human beings. Elijah Muhammad identified the devil as the white man, the Caucasian race. According to Elijah, though the black race is many trillions of years old, the white race began a mere six thousand years ago with Yakub, one of the Black Gods of this time cycle.
Elijah explained, "The white race is not equal with darker people because the white race was not created by the God of Righteousness. . . . They were made by Yakub, an original Black Manwho is from the Creator. Yakub, the father of the devil, made the white race, a race of devilsenemies of the darker people of the earth. The white race is not made by nature to accept righteousness."
According to Elijah Muhammad, Yakub was born 20 miles from the Holy City of Mecca about 6,600 years ago. From the age of six he knew he was "born to make trouble, break peace, kill and destroy his own people with a made enemy to the black nation." He had a very large head and grew up to be called "the big head scientist." He decided to conquer and subdue the black race, and through lies he gathered 59,999 followers, whom the King of Mecca exiled to the island of Patmos. There Yakub worked to create the white race by allowing marriage only between brown or lighter-skinned Negroes and by killing all newborn black babies. His followers obeyed him; the penalty for disobedience was decapitation.
Yakub died after 150 years, but his project to make a race of lawless criminals lived on (Elijah's term for this misguided eugenics project was "grafting"). After two hundred years, only brown people were left alive. After another 200 years, Patmos was home to only yellow and red people. At the end of "the six hundredth year, Mr. Yakub had an all-pale white race of people on this Isle," said Elijah Muhammad.
The white race left the island and returned to Paradise (Mecca). But in less than six months they had caused warfare and controversy among the people, so the King of Mecca had them escorted to Europe by "a caravan, armed with rifles, to keep the devils going westward." Here begins the white man's history, for he was granted six thousand years to rule the earth.
The first two thousand years were squandered while the whites lived as naked savages in the caves of Europe, eating their meat raw and without even a knowledge of fire. They tried to "graft" themselves back to black by reverse breeding, but succeeded only in making gorillas (this is the origin of the monkey and gorilla family). Then Moses came to them. He taught them how to wear clothes, use fire, cook their food, and to believe in Allah. The whites rejected Moses, who set a trap and blew up three hundred of them with dynamite, but it was through Moses' efforts that the teaching of civilization gradually seeped into the mind of the white man. Over the centuries, the white man used this knowledge, combined with his innate craftiness and "tricknology," to dominate the world.
The twenty-four God-Scientists who wrote the history of this world foreordained that the period of white rule should be limited to six thousand years. To accomplish this, "the Black Man or Gods were put to sleep in order that the Wisdom of the Black Man did not interfere with what the white man is made for (to rule us under wickedness, enslavement, deceit, murder, and death for six thousand years)."
THE JESUS OF ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
Elijah Muhammad taught that two thousand years after the coming of Moses, Jesus came to the Caucasian race to reform them, but they rejected His rule. Jesus was not miraculously born of a virgin, as the Bible and the Qur'an teach. Rather, said Elijah, "The real truth that the Christians hate to confess is that Joseph had gotten the child, Jesus, by Mary while he was married to another woman and at that time had six children by the first marriage. So Master Fard Muhammad (God in Person) has taught me."
Elijah also stated that the angelic prophecy, "He shall save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21), does not refer to Jesus of Nazareth saving His people (in Muhammad's mind, the white people) from sin. Rather, it refers to "a modern-day Jesus," Fard Muhammad, who comes to save the black man. Much of the New Testament was not just reinterpreted by Elijah Muhammad, but totally rewritten.
He claimed that Jesus died, not by being crucified on a cross, but by being stabbed in the heart by a police officer in Jerusalem with a large hunting knife or small sword. Elijah claimed that Jesus was standing in a spread-eagle position, with His back to the wooden wall of a storefront. The Jewish authorities offered twenty-five hundred dollars in gold to anyone who brought Jesus to them dead and fifteen hundred dollars if He were brought in alive. The officer told Jesus, "They are going to kill you anyway, so why not let me kill you and make the twenty-five hundred dollars as I am a poor man and have a wife and family to care for?" Jesus agreed. He "knew that he would be killed but did not care."
The sword blow through the heart literally pinned Jesus to the wall. The blood stopped circulating so quickly that Jesus' arms were frozen in the stretched-out position. Thus, Elijah corrects a popular misconception: Jesus "died in the form of a cross and not on the cross!" Afterwards, His father Joseph (not Joseph of Arimathea) "mortgaged all of his little land and embalmed Jesus in a liquid in a glass tube. As long as the air does not get to him, he will be there just as he was the day he was killed two thousand years ago. He is buried in Jerusalem." Any talk about Jesus' resurrection is dismissed by Elijah Muhammad as ignorant foolishness.
The six thousand years of white rule was said to have ended in the year 1914 (a year which is also important to Jehovah's Witnesses). However, no visible changes occurred that year. Elijah explained, "A few years of grace have been given to complete the resurrection of the Black man," because "they (so-called Negroes) have been made so completely mentally dead by the enemy (white race) that the extra time is allowed." He did not say how much extra time is permitted, but his books (written in the 1960s and early 1970s) state several times that America should be destroyed by the 1970s or 1980s.
Elijah's books read much like those of Jehovah's Witnesses, warning that the total destruction of America and the literal removal of the wicked (for the NOI, the white race) will come any time now. The devils who have overrun America will be utterly destroyed, swiftly and irretrievably. "The black nation and our God, Who is the Originator of the universe, have decided to remove the troublemakers from our planet Earth, as there is no way of the black nations getting along in peace with this wicked, grafted race known as the white race."
Elijah stated that after the white race has been decimated, the black race will resume its former position as world rulers: "The Black man is the true owner of the earth. Now the God of Justice Has Risen up to Deliver the rule back to the Black Man and give him a place in the sun that justifies his ownership."
THE SALVATION OF ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
According to Elijah Muhammad, salvation is achieved by recognizing the true God (the black man) and the true devil (the white man). For the black man, Islam is his religion by nature and righteousness is his natural condition. For the white man, Christianity is his religion by nature, and sinfulness is his natural condition.
Virtually without exception, statements about Christianity are applied to the white race, and Christianity is seen as an invention of the white man: "There is no hope for us in Christianity; it is a religion organized by the enemies (the white race) of the Black Nation to enslave us to the white race's rule."
As taught by Elijah Muhammad, salvation has nothing to do with forgiveness of sins or the promise of heaven. Life after death is a myth, he claimed, and no one goes to heaven or hell after death. "I have no alternative but to tell you that there is no life beyond the grave! There is no justice in the sweet bye and bye! Immortality is now, here!" Biblical and Qur'anic references to heaven were reinterpreted as peace of mind, safety, and material comfort in this life.
The NOI taught that "salvation" requires conforming to a standard of righteousness: living in truth, shunning immorality, detesting theft and slavery, practicing justice, worshipping Allah, and taking on one of the names of Allah (the NOI renamed incoming members). The white man would find this course of action much more difficult than the black man, since, according to NOI beliefs, the white man has an innately sinful nature and the black man does not: "The white race was born and made to be an enemy of Allah (God). The Black Man is not born to be an enemy of Allah (God)." Though it is difficult, a few individual white people can escape destruction if they become Muslims.
But who is Allah, the Savior, whom Muslims must believe in? According to Elijah Muhammad, it is W. Fard Muhammad: "You will have to be punished, divinely beaten and destroyed until you accept Master Fard Muhammad, to Whom praises are Due forever, as your God and Saviour, as I and thousands of my followers are doing." One of Elijah Muhammad's best-known books is entitled Our Saviour Has Arrived, which refers to W. Fard Muhammad. On February 26 of each year the NOI celebrates Saviour's Day, honoring the purported birthday of W. Fard Muhammad.
W. Fard Muhammad was viewed as Allah, Almighty God, the Savior, the return of Christ, the Mahdi, and the Messiah to the Jews. Yet in addition, Fard's disciple Elijah Muhammad also served in a role as Savior or intermediary between the black man and God. Using imagery lifted from the Gospel according St. John, consider the following statement from Elijah Muhammad:
I am the Door. By no means can you get by except you come by me. Your prayers will not be heard unless my name is mentioned in them. I am saying that you cannot get a prayer through to Allah (God) unless you mention me in your prayer. Try it and see. I am satisfied that those who know this will bear witness.
I have the key to your salvation, and I have the key to your hell. I can, if you will let me, pull you out of hell and set you into heaven. Then I can keep you in heaven; or I can keep pushing you and push you into the punishment of hell until you acknowledge that there is no God but Allah Who came in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, to Whom praises are due forever, and that Elijah Muhammad is His Servant.
There is no escape for you today. The only way is through me to Allah (God). Me first, for you cannot get to Allah (God) without getting to me first.
Thus, Elijah Muhammad taught that there were two Saviors: W. Fard Muhammad in the 1930s, and Elijah himself. Elijah does call W. D. Fard "my God and my Saviour" several times, but Elijah saw his own position as so important that he, Elijah, functioned as the black man's Savior alongside of Fard himself.
ANSWERING ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
Once again, we recognize that Minister Farrakhan has reinterpreted some of the teachings of Elijah Muhammad to bring a different message, as we shall see shortly. However, since he still promotes Elijah Muhammad as a divine Messenger and as "the Messiah," we must respond to these teachings. Our use of the Qur'an here is only because NOI leadership claims to believe it.
First, the Bible and the Qur'an both affirm that only one God exists. Not just that only one God exists at the present time, but that only one God has ever existed. God is eternal (Deut. 33:27), "the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End" (Rev. 1:8), who has been God "from everlasting to everlasting" (Ps. 90:2). Moreover, God declares, "I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me" (Isa. 43:10).
This is fundamental monotheism. The two facts that God is eternal and that no Gods have existed before Him nor will come after Him are together sufficient to refute the idea that a series of Gods have lived and died by the billions.
Second, the Bible affirms that "God is Spirit" (John 4:24, Greek). Spirit is God's essence and nature. Elijah Muhammad tried to construe this to mean that God is a man with a spirit, but the Bible says that God is Spirit. It is also contradictory to say that God (or one of the Gods) was created on this earth. A God who suddenly appeared on the earth could not have been the Creator of the earth.
By identifying God with a man, the NOI propagates the sin of idolatry (Rom. 1:25). Even to orthodox Muslims, the NOI teaching that Master Fard was Allah is the sin of shirk, associating a human being with Allah. If the Nation of Islam had promoted these same beliefs in a country with an Islamic government (such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, or Afghanistan), Elijah Muhammad would have been executed for blasphemy and apostasy.
It was said to me by one Muslim that the NOI is doing nothing worse than the Christians have done. That is, Christians associate God with a man, Jesus; and the NOI also associates God with a man, W. D. Fard. So if the NOI theology is implausible or idolatrous, that criticism should apply to the Christian community as well.
To this charge, several replies must be made: Christianity teaches that there is one God, not a series of Gods. The Bible's testimony to the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit maintains at the same time that only one God exists, not two or three. On the other hand, the NOI's teaching leads to billions of Gods.
Next, in the Incarnation of Jesus, we have the one God taking on human form; the eternal God becomes a man. We do not have the newest or "greatest" Allah suddenly coming into being. As God the Son, Jesus existed before the beginning of time.
Moreover, the Bible predicts that God would appear as man in Isaiah 9:6, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Micah 5:2, Zechariah 12:10, and so forth. Though orthodox Muslims may not accept these verses from the Bible, they were part of Jewish scripture over one thousand years before the composition of the Qur'an. Thus, the possibility of God appearing in human form is not unscriptural. Indeed, it is predicted.
Finally, it is one thing to claim to be God; it is another to prove it. Though both Jesus Christ and W. D. Fard claimed divinity, their lives differed immensely. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, from the tribe of Judah, from the house of David, according to the Scripture. He fulfilled prophecy throughout His life and God the Father validated His ministry with miracles and mighty works ("Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, Arise, take up your bed and walk'?"). W. D. Fard fulfilled no definite prophecy from the Qur'an or the Bible (except 2 Peter 2:1), and he did no miraculous works such as walking on water or healing the blind. (Anticipating an NOI response, I would add that Fard did not heal "mentally blind" black people either, since he and Elijah left them in deception, believing that they are Gods, rather than sinners.)
In many other ways, Elijah Muhammad showed himself to be a false teacher. For example, the Bible and the Qur'an both agree that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Matt. 1:23-35, Luke 1:27-35; Sura 3:47, 19:20, 21:91, 66:12). Elijah Muhammad denied this.
On life after death, the Bible and the Qur'an both agree that the resurrection of the dead is a physical (not a mental) reality which will occur at the last day. "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain . . . [and] you are still in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:13-14, 17). Jesus showed Himself alive after His crucifixion, even inviting the disciples to handle His body (Luke 24:39, John 20:27). The Bible says that God shall raise our "mortal bodies" (not our "minds") from the grave (John 5:28-29, Rom. 8:11, Phil. 3:21).
The Qur'an portrays God pointedly asking those who doubt that literal resurrection is possible, "Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers" (Sura 75:3-4).
The Bible and the Qur'an both describe a future Day of Judgment followed by conscious life after death in either Heaven (Paradise) or Hell, in an abundance of passages too numerous to list here. Elijah Muhammad denied this also and taught his followers that permanent nonexistence follows death.
Generally speaking, Elijah Muhammad's rewriting of ancient history is so fantastic that it's difficult to take seriously. Whether it's Jesus Christ being stabbed by a police officer in a storefront, or His body being preserved in a glass tube, or Moses blowing up rebellious whites with dynamite four thousand years ago, or gorillas being produced by intermarriage of dark Caucasians five thousand years ago the whole tale contradicts science, logic, and history.
Whatever term the reader prefers to apply here, our point is that Elijah Muhammad presented these fabulous stories to his constituents as if they were true, a "real" history of mankind never known before. There is no evidence that he intended them to be taken metaphorically or as teaching symbols. They were presented as new revelations from Master Fard, and Elijah Muhammad never questioned their validity.
In the past twenty-two years since Elijah Muhammad's death, Minister Farrakhan has been seemingly revising aspects of his predecessor's theology. Before different audiences, Minister Farrakhan will preach conflicting messages, which makes it more difficult to determine what he "really" believes. Yet overall, some sort of progress in his teaching can and should be charted.
Louis Farrakhan has increasingly found acceptance before Muslim audiences and been recognized by several nations as a Muslim leader. He is familiar with the shahada, the Muslim confession of faith: "I witness that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Apostle [or Messenger] of Allah." Reciting this creed is all that is necessary to convert to Islam. When Muslims say this creed, the Apostle they mean is Muhammad ibn Abdullah of Mecca, the founder of Islam who died in A.D. 632.
Twenty years ago, Louis Farrakhan taught "that there is no God but Master Fard Muhammad, Who is Allah, and that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is His divine Messenger." (To orthodox Muslims, this is crude blasphemy.) If Farrakhan still believes this, he doesn't say it anymore, and when he quotes the shahada, he now uses the orthodox formula listed above. A review of the introductory words used by Minister Farrakhan each Saviour's Day since 1973 reveals a progressive abandonment of references to Fard as Allah and to Elijah Muhammad as the Last Messenger of Allah, and (by the 1990s) a shift to introductions acceptable to orthodox Muslims.
Minister Farrakhan now describes Master Fard as "the Mahdi," one of the terms Fard used to identify himself. In Islamic thought, the Mahdi (Arabic, "the guided one") was a Muslim imam (leader), Muhammad ibn al-Askari, who went into hiding in the ninth century A.D. and whom the Shi'ite Muslims believe will return prior to the Day of Judgment. This designation is more tolerable to the orthodox Muslim mind, since the Mahdi is not equated with deity. Likewise, Minister Farrakhan now describes Elijah Muhammad as "the Messiah" and avoids referring to him as the Last Messenger of Allah, since this would infringe on the finality of the Prophet Muhammad.
In the past few years, Louis Farrakhan has rarely mentioned the term "Gods" in the plural, nor made references to the Gods dying (at least, that I am aware of). Minister Farrakhan often describes the living God as the Creator of the Universe, Creator of heaven and earth, or by the Qur'anic term "Lord of the worlds." This also is a change from Elijah Muhammad's original doctrine (which we saw earlier) that the Creator of this universe died and another God is in His place.
One area where Mr. Farrakhan has not changed is the assertion that God "started as an atom of life" who "created Himself out of the material of the darkness." For Christians, this means that Minister Farrakhan's God is not truly an eternal God because He "comes into existence" at some point in the remote past.
As Minister Farrakhan has increasingly been invited to speak at Christian churches, he tailors his message to the audience, liberally quoting from memory New Testament passages that even contradict NOI doctrine, such as John 1:1, Romans 5:19, or Colossians 2:9. He quotes passages on the deity of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, salvation by grace through faith, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which no other Muslim in his right mind could deliver to a Christian audiencedoing so with a passion and panache marvelous to behold.
His punchline is that a true Christian, a true Muslim, and a true Jew all worship the same God, and though we each may be separated by theology, if we sincerely and wholeheartedly serve God according to the best examples of our Scriptures, we will all fare well in the end. He called the Christian ministers "the People of God." This accords well with liberal and ecumenical Muslim perspectives in America, but again, it was not Elijah's perspective.
A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO FARRAKHAN
Those who admire the Nation of Islam because of its stance on traditional morality or social involvement must be given sound reasons for looking elsewhere for spiritual leadership. There are many:
Primarily, the NOI is an unbiblical sect laden with false teaching. Jesus asked, "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" Even if the NOI provided its followers with material blessings and an external appearance of righteousness, the loss of one's salvation is sufficient to outweigh all the external benefits it might offer.
The NOI does not believe in an eternal, infinite God. Its founder taught a crude polytheism, and led his followers into the worship of man, especially Master Fard. Its founder instructed them to deny Jesus' divine origin, His miracles, His sacrificial death, His resurrection, and His return. The Jesus of the Nation of Islam came (allegedly) for the white man, not the black man. Jesus is virtually irrelevant to the Nation of Islam, except where His denunciation of hypocrites and Pharisees can be applied to white and Jewish people.
According to Elijah Muhammad, Jesus' death on the streets (not on the cross) provided no salvation or real change of life for either white people or black people, so Christ is fundamentally irrelevant to the NOI thinking. Elijah said Jesus is cold and dead in the grave, so "another Jesus" must come at a later time to do for black people what Jesus of Nazareth failed to do for white people. Who is the Jesus who is to come? NOI leaders have variously identified this "Jesus" as Master Fard, as Elijah Muhammad, or as Louis Farrakhan.
As Christians, we warn that a counterfeit Jesus will bring the Muslims a counterfeit salvation. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). He did not add, "temporarily." He did not say He was the way only for Caucasians. He said "no one" (not "no white person") may come "to the Father except through Me." The NOI concept of salvation bypasses Jesus Christ as the one Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5) and substitutes personal obedience to the commands of Allah. Though we agree that God's law is holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12), we also warn that "by [obeying] the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight" (Rom. 3:20, Gal. 2:16). Trying to achieve salvation through law-keeping is an impossible task.
Black churches and white churches need teaching on Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. White Christians must remember that the Nation of Islam would probably not even exist had it not been for the racism that dominated the black experience in this country since the first slave ship arrived 378 years ago. Both white and black Christians must provide practical answers to the problems of racism which have allowed Minister Farrakhan's message to find fertile soil.
In practical terms, the church needs to solicit more male participation and membership. We need to provide workable solutions in areas of jobs, employment, housing, education, and the reclamation of people in the prisons and under court supervision. Many of us like the idea of a youth ministry but don't like the inconvenience and the "trouble" of reaching out to gangs or crossing racial boundaries. We will find that other groups such as the Nation of Islam will play the good Samaritan to the neighbor we prefer to walk past and ignore.
Bible quotations from the New King James Version.
1. Asim Mughal <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "(Part 10/15): Islam: Farrakhism & Malcolm X," Islam FAQ, 27 March 1995 <http://www.cs.ruu.nl/wais/html/na-dir/islam-faq/part10.html>. (Capitalization and punctuation in text have been altered.) [return]
2. Muslim Student Association, University of Southern California, "Abusing the word Islam," USC Muslim Students Association Islamic Server, 11 Apr. 1997 <http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/notislam> (25 Apr. 1997). The "Sunnah" are the customs or habits of Muhammad and of his early Muslim followers. [return]
3. Elijah Muhammad, Our Saviour Has Arrived (Newport News, Va.: United Brothers Communications Systems, 1969[?]), 39-41, 96. [return]
4. Muhammad, Our Saviour, 146. [return]
5. Ibid., 97. [return]
6. Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman in America (Chicago: The Final Call, Inc., 1965), 108-111. Elijah Muhammad was not consistent in reckoning this group of Scientists. In Our Saviour, page 12, he says the total is 25, not 24. [return]
7. Muhammad, Our Saviour, 119. [return]
8. Muhammad, Message, 109. [return]
9. Muhammad, Our Saviour, 96. [return]
10. Ibid., 26. [return]
11. Muhammad, Message, 210. [return]
12. Ibid., 6, 7. [return]
13. Muhammad, Our Saviour, 56-57. [return]
14. Ibid., 135. [return]
15. The full story of Yakub is told by Elijah Muhammad in Message, 110-126. Also note Muhammad, Our Saviour, 12, 110-126. [return]
16. Muhammad, Our Saviour, 90. [return]
17. Muhammad, Message, 110-115. [return]
18. Ibid., 115-16. [return]
19. Ibid., 117, 119. [return]
20. Ibid., 120. [return]
21. Muhammad, Our Saviour, 99; parenthetic statements in the original text. [return]
22. Ibid., 157-158. [return]
23. Elijah Muhammad, The True History of Jesus as Taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, compiled by the Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah (Chicago: Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah, 1992), 20. Note that in this reference, Muhammad wrongly cites Matt. 1:23, which the author correctly refers to as Matt. 1:21. [return]
24. Muhammad, True History, 13. [return]
25. Ibid., 14. [return]
26. Ibid. [return]
27. Muhammad, Our Saviour, 13. [return]
28. Ibid. [return]
29. Ibid., 200. [return]
30. Muhammad, Message, 221. [return]
31. Elijah Muhammad, The Fall of America (Newport News, Va.: The National Newport News and Commentator, 1973), 14-15. [return]
32. Elijah Muhammad, How to Eat to Live, Book One (Chicago: Muhammad's Temple of Islam No. 2, 1967), 58. [return]
33. Muhammad, Our Saviour, 129. [return]
34. Ibid., 83, 89-91. [return]
35. Muhammad, Fall of America, 143. [return]
36. For example, Muhammad, Fall of America, 143; Message, 16, 294; Our Saviour, 191. [return]
37. Muhammad, Fall of America, 205. [return]
38. Technically, Elijah Muhammad contradicted himself on the afterlife. He seems to teach a "hereafter" or an afterlife in Our Saviour, 89, and elsewhere, but in his chapter on "The Hereafter" in Message, 303-305, he explains that this term refers to the next generation of people living on the planet. [return]
39. Technically, Muslims do not believe Muhammad was the "founder" of Islam. They believe God founded Islam and Adam was the first Muslim. Muhammad might be called the putative founder of Islam. [return]
40. Louis Farrakhan, Seven Speeches by Minister Louis Farrakhan (1974; reprint, Chicago: WKU and the Final Call, Inc., 1992), 74. [return]
41. Mattias Gardell, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996), 192, 193. [return]
42. John Gilchrist, Muhammad and the Religion of Islam (Benoni, South Africa: Jesus to the Muslims, 1986), 372. Shi'ites comprise about 10 percent of the Muslim population. [return]
43. Louis Farrakhan, "The Name of True Religion? Obey God!" The Final Call, 11 Mar. 1997, 21. Excerpts from Louis Farrakhan's Saviour's Day message given at University of Illinois-Chicago Pavilion, Chicago, Ill. [return]
44. Louis Farrakhan, "Proper Preaching: The Way to Revive and Restore the People of God," sermon given at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, Ill., on 3 March 1994. [return]
original filename: CSM1121A.TXT
"Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam: Part Two"
Release A, 25 April 1998
Electronic version contains minor changes and corrections from printed version.
Copyright © 1997 by Eric Pement. This file may be reproduced on electronic media and communications services without charge or permission from the author(s), so long as the wording of the text remains unaltered. For additional information about our publications, please write to: Cornerstone, 939 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60640-5706, U.S.A.