[Editor’s Note: This article was published online on May 23, 2006.]
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (NIV Romans 8:28-30)
In 1974 I wrote an article for The Black Scholar that refuted a position taken by many – both black and white intellectuals – that perverted the truth of the mindset and motives out of which the majority of the followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad were attracted to and joined him. Moreover, they exaggerated the importance of their perversion, thus setting up a “straw-man argument” in their efforts to discredit the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia we read that the “straw-man argument” is this: “Present the opponent’s argument in weakened form, refute it, and pretend that the original has been refuted. Present a misrepresentation of the opponent’s position, refute it, and pretend that the opponent’s actual position has been refuted. Present someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, refute that person’s arguments, and pretend that every upholder of that position, and thus the position itself, has been defeated. Invent a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs that are criticized, and pretend that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.”
It was a lengthy article.
A fundamental part of my answer was that whether or not one grew in their adherence to the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, was whether or not they grew in their acceptance and understanding of his self-concept. I went on to show that this was ultimately irrelevant to the truth of himself and his ultimate success.
Whether or not one became a follower of his, and increased in their commitment to him, was in direct proportion to the maturity of their growth in their understanding and acceptance of his self-concept; theirs too.
That article included the identity of the source of his self-concept.
I never sent it.
Years later, with the permission of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, I interviewed him on January 10, 1996 in Phoenix, Arizona.
The purpose of my question, in that interview, was to get from Minister Farrakhan a short but comprehensive response to my question that involved how he saw himself – in terms of his mission – in relation to the mission of his teacher.
It was a one question-interview. His answer is presented below.
Brother Jabril: Brother Minister, on the night of June 4th, right after your Phoenix speech in 1995, you spoke to a little over 40 of us, at your dinner table, about the relationship between the mission of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and your mission, with your mission coming out of his mission. You spoke of your mission and his mission as being mutually compatible and complimentary. Would you please elaborate?
Minister Farrakhan: If a man is to be a helper of another man, the question becomes what help does he need? And based upon that necessity, persons are probed. Persons are sending their resumes. Persons are interviewed and persons are selected to help in whatever phase of the work or assignment that the main man has.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, like Moses desired a helper. That desire was in him from the time he started his mission. He knew that he needed a helper but not for the reason that he thought. But it would later come to him, as he grew in understanding his assignment, exactly what kind of help he would need. So he scanned the persons that surrounded him. And he measured them based upon his knowledge of the scripture and the help (in persons) that God gave to former prophets that shared the assignment of those prophets. So in Surah Taha, Surah 20, Moses asks God for a helper. And the first thing he says is, “Expand my breast for me and ease my affair. And loosen the knot in my tongue that they may understand my words. And Make him to bare of my burden or an aider to me.”
Now if we look at those words, “Expand for me my breast… ” well, that could mean when your breast is expanded you can take in more oxygen. The more oxygen you take in the more power you have taken in to give your body more power for the energy of life is in the oxygen that we breathe into ourselves.
So this also goes for the spiritual world and these words mean “Expand my breast for more inspiration, more understanding that would give me more power to do a greater work. ” Again, since in the chest cavity, or in the breast cavity, there is the lungs and the heart, then he’s asking God to grant him broader compassion; broader sensitivity; a greater love coming from his expanded breast for an expanded mission.
As you may recall, the mission of Moses was one in the West then in the East. So his breast had to be expanded; for first he had to deal with a savage people in the hills and cavesides of Europe and later, according to the scriptures, deal with another type of sickness in Egypt. So he has two assignments. One West; one East.
So the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has an expanded assignment. He has an assignment in America. He has an assignment in the Caribbean. And he has an assignment that covers the whole of the children of both the first and the second Adam. So his breast has to be expanded to fit that requirement.
Well it takes time to expand your breast. It takes time to open you up to the depth of understanding of your mission. He said that he had come to fully understand, the last aspects of his mission at the time that he was to leave.
He was given forty nights. Thirty and then he was given ten more. And he then calls his helper and says to his helper, “Take my place among the people and follow not the way of the mischief maker.” So the helper is not to look exactly like the person he is helping but the helper helps in the expanded version of the mission of the master who preceded him and laid the foundation for him.
So when the master leaves, with his fully developed understanding of the depth and the breath of his mission, he can now guide the servant who works in the expanded aspects of the mission, to help him in an expanded way. Thus, his work compliments the initial work that was done by the master.
In the scriptures, Jesus’ focus, at one point, was exceedingly narrow. So he told his disciples, “Go ye not in the way of the Gentiles. Go ye not in the way of the Samaritans. But go ye to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But then at another point he says, “Go ye into all the worlds and preach this gospel to every nation, kindred and tongue.”
Well those disciples who preached the gospel only to the lost sheep – how would they be prepared to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth except their breast was expanded; their understanding was expanded?
More next issue, Allah willing.