[Editor’s Note: This article was published online on May 18, 2004.]
“And thy Lord is Forgiving, Full of Mercy.” (Holy Qur’an 18:58)
“And certainly We have repeated (warnings) in this Qur’an that they may be mindful. And it adds not save to their aversion.” (Holy Qur’an 17:41)
“certainly narratives have come to them, which should deter–Consummate wisdom–but warnings avail not… .” (Holy Qur’an 54:4, 5)
Early in my experience in the Nation of Islam, I learned from reliable sources of a comment made by a captain in the Detroit police force, respecting Master Fard Muhammad when He allowed Himself to be jailed in that city. He was making a demonstration to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad of His love for and the price of redemption for Black people in America.
This captain warned the ignorant to be extremely careful of how they handled Master Fard Muhammad for “He is a capsule of the highest explosives.” Later, I heard of similar statements regarding the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan stated it firmly and humbly, in his May 3 press conference in America’s capital, when he warned the powerful of America to be careful how they handle him. He issued this warning from confirmed knowledge and understanding of his value in the eyes of God Almighty and His Christ. More on this vital point, next article, Allah willing.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that our slavemasters warped our minds. “Warp” means to turn from the true, natural or the right course; to become bent or twisted out of shape; distorted; turned from a healthy, sane or normal condition; biased (said of the mind, character, judgment, etc.).
They did this to our minds by deceiving our parents into thinking they would get a better life after they died—after they killed the slaves, in one way or another. This lie was taught to the slaves to control them. They did not want the slaves thinking over and really wanting the wealth the slaves were producing for the masters while both were alive. The slavemasters knew that no dead slave could return to tell the others that the slavemaster lied.
The slavemasters’ teachings misdirected the slaves’ natural longing for a better life into fantasy and illusions. It still does. They filled the slaves’ imaginations with an illusory heaven to which they would go only if they obeyed their masters. This is still in effect because we haven’t stopped loving their lies.
Moreover, the slaves saw no way to get a better life while they lived. Therefore, the slaves put their hopes for a good life beyond death because of the lies of the masters. They subconsciously planned for death—not for life—because of the lies of their masters.
So, the crushing weight of slavery, combined with the master’s deceptive teachings on Jesus, produced an intense yearning in them for deliverance through a deliverer—JESUS.
Although both master and slave were unaware of it, both were involved in the exercise of powerful laws of the nature of God Himself that were working towards the greatest change, for the better, since time began.
This is to be qualified later.
From the days of physical bondage until July 1930, there were few changes in the Black man’s thinking about God, Jesus and himself. Those changes that did occur were due to such factors as the slaves’ migration to the North; World War I; a little better education; a little better economic conditions and the impact of Mr. Marcus Garvey.
Mr. Garvey was a forerunner of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He reminds me of John the Baptist, who appears in the Bible as a forerunner of Jesus.
Gradually, there developed an almost imperceptible drift among the masses of Black people from white Christianity. This drift was due to the Black man’s ever deepening despair of ever being relieved of the white man’s evils by means of their religion. This despair, combined with an inability to really understand their mystery god, tended to diminish the Black man’s desire to rely on their religion.
It became harder for a growing number of Black people to rely on their religion. But the majority of our people clung to the hope that “Jesus” would make a way somehow. They continued to lean on “Jesus” as their parents and grandparents were taught by the white man. Generation after generation passed and they never got out of the quagmire of the white man’s cruel service.
Those who came to rely less on the white man’s religious teachings began to rely on other teachings of white people. A growing number came to regard “liberal arts” education, especially sociology, civil rights and the like, as holding out a better hope for a better life for them and their children. Despite “advances” in education and otherwise, our people continued to be mired in cycles of despair.
Dr. Benjamin Mays was a teacher of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This Black theologian wrote a book titled, The Negroes’ God. It was published in 1937. He saw that the ideas of the Black masses about God and Jesus had an adverse effect on their everyday life. Their ability to satisfy their material needs were hindered nor could they overcome the countless tricks and depthless deceit that white Christians practiced on them every day.
In his book, he gave examples of sermons preached in Black churches in the early thirties. He wrote that the ideas our people had of God: “do not encourage one to exert himself to actualize his fundamental needs. The ideas savor of the belief that although times are hard, God will take care of us. In some way, God will supply the food and shelter.
“There is little to show that the idea of God helps one to adjust to the realities of the objective world. The present world is to be tolerated and not enjoyed.”
The slaves sung songs called spirituals. They contained many of the ideas of the Black masses during slavery. The spirituals sung by the slaves expressed their intense longing for deliverance and a deliverer.
Of these spirituals, Dr. Mays wrote: “The desire for response, though overlapping with other desires, particularly the craving for recognition, is present throughout the Spirituals. The lonesome, trouble-weary soul failing to get proper attention and sympathetic understanding from man, seeks warmth, satisfaction and recognition from Jesus and God.
“‘Nobody knows de trouble I see, Nobody Knows But Jesus,’ ‘Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child,’ ‘Every time I Feel The Spirit,’ ‘Oh, When I Come to Die, Give Me Jesus,’ ‘Steal Away to Jesus’ are fair examples of the yearning on the part of the Negro to get emotional satisfaction… .
“There is, however, a strain of pessimism so far as this world is concerned. The response is expected to come not from man and not from the earth, but from God and Heaven.
“‘If Jesus don’t help me I sho’ly will die—Jesus my Saviour, on Thee I’ll depen’ when troubles am near me, you’ll be my true friend… .’ ‘In dat great gittin’ up morning,’ ‘I’m going to tell you ‘bout de comin’ of the Saviour, fare you well, fare you well’… .”
Dr. Mays wrote that these spirituals reflected the extent to which Black people sought the white man’s Jesus for relief and emotional satisfaction.
The strongest idea in these songs is that that God will make things right in the end. The end has now arrived, for “Our Saviour Has Arrived!”
More next issue, Allah willing.