On this occasion of the Holy Month of Ramadan, let us reflect on the life of the man whom the Qur’an was revealed to, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in connection to the life of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the greatest reformer of the Black man and woman of North America. Just as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) cleaned up the lives of the Arabians in the East 1,400 years ago, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, with the backing and teaching of Allah in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, cleaned up and is cleaning up the lives of Black people in America today.
It is because of the Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that Islam gained a place in America. The early followers of this great teacher were persecuted for their religion. They were jailed for establishing a system of independent education for their children. Their mosques, or temples, as they were called prior to 1975, were raided by police. They were spied on and lied on. Simply put, the early followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad fought for the establishment of Islam in America. It is in that vein that we can draw similarities between the life of this Black teacher of Islam in America and the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) life is intertwined with the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, as it is through him, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, that the first verses of the Holy Book were revealed. Surah (chapter) 2, verse 185 of the Holy Qur’an reads, “The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion.”
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, National Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, has spoken on the revelation of the Holy Qur’an in relation to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and has stated that the knowledge of both would help provide further knowledge on the identity of his teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
On August 25, 2002, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered a lecture titled, “The Beauty of the Holy Qur’an.” In that lecture, he stated: “As you mature and become a person of discernment, you should know the root from out of which the Qur’an came. You should learn to love, honor and respect the root of the Qur’an, which is Muhammad ibn Abdullah (peace be upon him) of Arabia. And until you can know him, love him and honor and respect him, you will never gain acceptance in the Muslim world.”
He continued: “Master Fard referred to us as the lost-found members of the Nation of Islam, and then He said: ‘Join on to your own kind.’ How can you join on to the Muslim world and not be rooted in the book and in the man who brought the book? Now, when you hear the Muslims speak and they say, ‘Ash-hadu an la ilaaha ill-Allah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah (I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah),’ they are not talking about Elijah Muhammad; they’re talking about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The people will learn of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad after we become knowledgeable of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They will learn of the way in which the Honorable Elijah Muhammad used the Sunnah (Practices) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to establish a foundation upon which we could build an Islamic reality.”
“You cannot join the Muslim world and not understand the Qur’an,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan added. “You must at least have a basic understanding of it. You cannot join the Muslim world and not understand the Prophet (peace be upon him) that God used to convey His message. Master Fard Muhammad knew the book. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that Fard Muhammad gave him 104 books to study and He told him that the best of those books was the Qur’an, and that the other 103 books contained aspects of the life of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.”
Master Fard Muhammad met with and started teaching the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1931, and taught him for three years. Is it fair to theorize, then, that perhaps one of the 103 books Master Fard Muhammad gave to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was “Muhammad The Prophet,” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, who also compiled the English translation of the Holy Qur’an, which is still widely utilized today? Maulana Muhammad Ali penned the first edition of his book, “Muhammad The Prophet,” in 1924. The second edition came out in 1933, during the time span Master Fard Muhammad would teach the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Though Maulana Muhammad Ali passed away in 1951, new editions of the book continued to be printed, with the seventh edition publishing in 1993.
It is from that seventh edition that the basis of this article comes.
Chapter 1: The Dark Age
The book starts on the geography of Arabia, including that of Mecca/Makkah and Medina/Madinah. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) started his journey in Mecca and later settled in Medina after being on the run. Similarly, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad started his journey in Detroit, Michigan, went on the run from authorities, and later settled in Chicago, Illinois.
Maulana Muhammad Ali writes that “Madinah lies 270 miles to the north of Makkah … .” Chicago and Detroit are a similar distance apart: a little over 230 miles when flying and a little over 280 miles when driving.
After describing the geography and people of Arabia, Maulana Muhammad Ali describes, in-depth, the state of the Arabians before Islam cleaned them up. The period has been designated as “the Dark Age,” he writes. It was a time when the practice of idolatry, the worship of other people and things as “god” besides God, was high. The nations of the earth had become decrepit, and the people had been overcome with evil.
“It seemed then that the great civilization that it had taken four thousand years to construct was on the verge of disintegration and that mankind was likely to return to that condition of barbarism where every tribe and sect was against the next, and law and order were unknown,” Maulana Muhammad Ali writes. “The new sanctions created by Christianity were working division and destruction instead of unity and order … Civilization like a gigantic tree whose foliage had over-reached the world… stood tottering… rotted to the core… It was among these people that the man was born who was to unite the whole known world of east and south.”
Furthermore, the evils of “drinking, gambling and adultery” were in “full swing even in those days.”
Fast forward to 1,400 years later in the United States of America on the opposite side of the world, in the western hemisphere, and the Black man and woman are in a deplorable condition. After having gone through the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, they lost touch with all aspects of their previous civilization, including their language, culture, religion and God. Christianity was forced upon them by their slave masters. In the inner cities of America, in the modern day colonized ‘hoods,’ ‘ghettos’ and ‘slums,’ people surviving on little to nothing split up into ‘sects’ called ‘gangs.’ Slavery had made the Black man and woman of America into a disunified people. They had become an adulterous nation of drunkards, thieves and murderers. Simply put, they had become savage, described in the Lessons of the Nation of Islam as “a person that has lost the knowledge of themselves and is living a beast life.”
It was among such a people, the despised and rejected, the bottom rail, that a man was born, Master Fard Muhammad, who gave birth to another man, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who would teach and unite the masses of Black people through his own life and through his chief student, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
Maulana Muhammad Ali writes that “it was this fallen humanity whom the Holy Prophet raised to the highest level of moral rectitude. He welded these discordant elements into a brotherhood unique in the history of the world. A mighty transformation!”
The Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad transformed life for Black people in America. You were no longer “negro,” “colored” or “African American.” You were Black. The impact of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad on Black life in America can be seen in every social construct. Those who accepted the Teachings and joined the Nation were brought under a law of high morality: the Restrictive Law of Islam. It is through that law that Black people began to transform.
Within the reformation of the Arabian people through the establishment of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also worked to reform women and the treatment of women.
“The debasing treatment of women was another signifier of the deterioration of civilization amongst the Arabs,” writes Maulana Muhammad Ali. “Woman occupied a very low position in Arab society. … Prostitution was a recognised profession. Captive women, kept as hand-maids, were forced to make money for their masters in this debasing manner.”
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad stated that three-fourths of his work was with the woman. He taught on the sacredness of the Black woman. He changed the culture of disrespect toward the Black woman to honor, respect and protect.
Just as “history will vainly turn its pages to point to a parallel of the wholesale reformation and elevation of a fallen people such as the Arabs were,” so, too, will history forever recognize the great reformation work of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, to take a dead people who were nothing and transform them into a living, breathing civilization.