Today is a very special holiday for the Nation of Islam. They call it Savior’s Day. It commemorates the birth of its founder, Master Wallace Fard Muhammad, whom they believe to be an incarnation of Allah and the last prophet, reason for which they are rejected as infidels by “normal” Muslims. This “second Muhammad” told Blacks in Detroit in the early 20th Century that they were the descendants of the Tribe of Shabazz, and that he had been sent to redeem them. In the book Black Crescent, Michael A. Gomez explains that the Tribe of Shabazz
… was the only survivor of thirteen tribes that lived on earth 66 trillion years ago. After a rogue scientist blew up the planet, splitting off the moon, the other tribes perished. The Tribe of Shabazz relocated to the rich Nile valley of Egypt and the present seat of the Holy City, Mecca, Arabia.
Nation of Islam is an African-American crackpot, racist, homophobic, and anti-Jewish cult that has been labeled a hate group by The Southern Poverty Law Center and other cult- and violence- watchdog organizations.
NoI apologists caution that Nation of Islam gets many young black men off the streets, freeing them from the influence of drugs and violence, but what NoI does is tap into the anger of marginalized black men to recruit private security for its cult leaders. The most prominent member of Nation of Islam historically has been Malcolm X, who was killed by thugs from the cult after converting to traditional Islam and threatening to disclose the predatory sexual acts that their “honorable” leader was engaged in.
But what I’d like to illuminate today in celebration of Savior’s Day is the big lie that is at the heart of NoI: the cult insinuates that many or most of the ancestors of African Americans were Muslim prior to their enslavement, and that a return to Islam is a return to a revered ancestral African spirituality. But Islam did not emerge in Africa: it emerged in Asia, in the Arabian peninsula.
Like all religions, NoI cherry-picks bits and pieces of its canon to appease its base and sell its cool-aid. They make a big deal of the fact that Muhammad freed his slave Zaid, and that the first muezzin who made the call to prayers–Bilal al-Habashi–was black. But it’s also true that Muhammad took new slaves as war-booty and that in the Quran he makes it permissible for a man to have sex with his female slaves. In other words, slavery is not only legal, but the ownership of the body of another implies sexual rights in Islam.
The other exhibit in the evaluation of NoI’s claims is the fact that slavery persists in predominantly Muslim countries in Africa, still in the 21st Century. It is estimated that today, about 20% of the population of Mauritania is enslaved: this country is at the heart of what once was the celebrated Songhai empire, a sultanate that existed around Timbuktu in the Middle Ages and that many Black Muslims are eager to trace their ancestry to. The likelihood is that many of the ancestors of the African Americans who converted to NoI were enslaved BY Muslims, and sold into slavery BY Muslims from the Songhai empire and its successor cultures, and that their “return” to Islam merely represents the triumph of the initial Arab and Black slave-masters rather than the more recent European ones.
Louis Farrakhan, the current leader of NoI, over the years took great care to celebrate and sanctify Gaddafi, of all tyrants. He felt that he was “good” for Africa, that he was doing many good things for Black people, and claimed that the Jewish bankers wanted him killed because he wanted to return to the gold standard in the national currency of Libya. But a recent documentary by Al-Jazeera titled Orphans of the Sahara reveals that Gaddafi was a racist who denied Libyan citizenship to thousands of Black men from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel region that he had lured into his country and hired to fight the good jihad on his behalf and keep his country terrorized. After the death of the dictator, these men have had to return to their home countries penniless. Many of them will likely join terrorist groups, or migrate to France or some other country after being denied citizenship by oil-rich Libya, even after their military service.
Then there’s the reference to “blue-eyed devils” among the cult leaders, who use Quran verses to promote and enshrine anti-white hatred.
On the day when the trumpet shall be blown, and We will gather the guilty, blue-eyed, on that day. – Quran 20:102
The term actually has roots in an obscure verse of their scripture, and shows how easy it is to cherry-pick one verse to take an already-vindictive religion in the direction of racist hatred. The use of this one verse to reproach people of European ancestry is no different from Mormon and Christian theological sleights-of-hand like Cain’s mark and Ham’s curse, which have been used to justify slavery and racism against Blacks.
The religions of common folk are lies, but some cults have lies that are bigger, more deplorable, and more ironic than others, and there is a long-standing tradition of religion and racism joining forces to curse the world with misery and violence. With cults like Nation of Islam, the best way to celebrate their Savior’s Day is by exposing it for what it is: a fraud sculpted by racist opportunists, just like the Identity Christians, the Mormons, and many others.
Having said all this, it’s true that the brutality, the racism, the abuse, the erasing of all identity that took place during and after slavery, is a hugely traumatic experience for any community, and that Nation of Islam sought to retrieve or create something of a soul for African Americans, to help them regain dignity and self-respect in the face of a difficult history. African Americans for Humanism serves a similar purpose for those who have seen through the lies and dangers of traditional religion. On their webpage, you’ll find a blog, links to local groups, a large collection of the many stories they have to tell, and other content.