HISTORIC LOOK AT THE MOST HONORABLE ELIJAH MUHAMMAD
By 1935, Mr. Muhammad faced many new challenges. His teacher had instructed him 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.
Also, after assuming the leadership of the Temple of Islam by the order of the Founder of the Nation of Islam, Mr. Muhammad faced a death plot at the hands of a few disgruntled members. Mr. Muhammad avoided their evil plan and went to Washington, D.C. to study and build a mosque there. He was known under many names, “Mr. Evans,” his wife’s maiden name, “Ghulam Bogans,” “Muhammad Rassoull,” “Elijah Karriem” and “Muhammad of ‘U’ Street.”
Consequently, Mr. Muhammad, while in Washington, D.C. Was arrested on May 8, 1942, for allegedly evading the draft. “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. After World War II ended, Mr. Muhammad won his release from prison and returned to Chicago. From Chicago, the central point of the Nation of Islam, Mr. Muhammad expanded his membership drive to new heights. Among the many new members enrolled in the ranks of Islam included Brother Malcolm X and his family.
During the 1950s, Mr. Muhammad promoted Min. 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. Membership was increasing when, in 1955, Minister Louis Farrakhan, then 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 large scale. By the early 1960s, the Readers Digest magazine described Mr. Muhammad as the most powerful Black man in America. In Washington, D.C., Mr. Muhammad delivered his historic Uline Arena address and was afforded presidential treatment, receiving a personal police escort.
Subsequently, 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 misrepresents 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. Muhammad. At the same time, white political leaders such as Senator Al Gore Sr., began to denounce the Nation of Islam and hold hearings on alleged “un-American” activities.
Minister Louis Farrakhan and the ministers of Islam defended the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam against these attacks in mass media in their public speeches, written editorials and other public relations thrusts.
By 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 Hon. Elijah Muhammad Nevertheless, the atmosphere of rancor on both sides made ripe the environment for the secret police to meddle in the affairs of the Nation of Islam, according the late attorney, William Kuntsler.
Mr. Kuntsler cited a declassified memo obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that revealed that the U.S. Government played a role in the 1965 assassination of Brother Malcolm X.
After the assassination of Brother Malcolm X, 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.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad meet in 1966.
By the 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 others places, according to the Muhammad Speaks newspaper, the religion’s chief information apparatus.
A host of Islamic and African governments received the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and donated generously to his mission. He visited the Holy City of Mecca where he performed “Umrah” (which is Pilgrimage to Mecca at a time other than the “Hajj season”) during his trip to the Middle East in 1959 and advocated worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood.
Every February 26, he brought together the faithful for Saviour’s Day conventions in Chicago to remember his Teacher’s birthday, to re-emphasize his message of moral and spiritual renewal and to announce his plans and agenda for the upcoming year. Economic development combined with moral and spiritual renewal began to show signs of progress with the establishment of farms, livestock and vegetable cultivation, rental housing, private home construction and acquisitions, other real estate purchases, food processing centers, restaurants, clothing factories, banking, business league formations, import and export businesses, aviation, health care, administrative offices, shipping on both land, sea and air, and men’s and women’s development and leadership training units. In 1972, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad opened a $2 million mosque and school in Chicago. During this important grand opening of Mosque No. 2, he praised and let it be known who his top helper was in his work.
He asked Min. Farrakhan to come before the religious community and then 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 ensued).
“We have with us today,” the Messenger 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.
“I 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, Min. 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 Min. Farrakhan. I thank you.”
In watching Minister Louis Farrakhan and the followers of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, the legacy of the Nation of Islam continues to make unlimited progress as witnessed in the miracle of the Two Million Man March among other truly amazing accomplishments. noi.org