“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me,”—John 14:9
One of the great and legendary oral histories of the Nation of Islam describes a very tender and touching moment between Master W. Fard Muhammad and the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. This historical moment is one of the various occasions where the historical record exposes Master W. Fard Muhammad’s pastoral care of His young eager student, Elijah Muhammad.
The specific episode I am reflecting upon, that is my frame through which I am viewing and contemplating the 90th birth anniversary of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, is when Master W. Fard Muhammad was departing to move on to other aspects of His mission.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad did not want to see his teacher depart and he we was feeling the weight of such a pivotal moment in his life; yet to comfort him, Master W. Fard Muhammad took a copy of the 23rd Psalms and pressed it into the hand of Messenger Muhammad and reminded him that He would always be with him.
Fast forward to the year 1954, and hear the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in his Savior’s Day message say these words:
“We have been so greatly misunderstood that I desire that Allah send to me a little helper. For 22 years I have worked hard wherever I was or may be to try to get into your ears and into your hearts the truth that Allah has revealed to me.”
It was the very next year in 1955, the 23rd year of Messenger Muhammad’s mission, that Minister Farrakhan joined the Nation of Islam. History now bears witness that Minister Farrakhan has been and is, the answer to the plea and prayer of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad for a helper. These words of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad from his 1954 Savior’s Day message remind me of the words of the Holy Qur’an wherein we read of Moses’ prayer to Allah for a helper.
“And my brother, Aaron, he is more eloquent in speech than I, so send him with me as a helper to confirm me. Surely I fear that they would reject me. He said: We will strengthen thine arm with thy brother, and We will give you both an authority, so that they shall not reach you. With Our signs, you two and those who follow you, will triumph.”
So, in witnessing the phenomenon, that has been and is, the very special ministry of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, we seek to fully and properly understand just what it is that we have been so blessed to witness. Jesus told his disciple Philip that despite him having been among them a long time, they yet did not know Jesus. I would argue that the same could be said of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. We see the Minister, but do we really know him?
Minister Farrakhan is more than a bold truth-teller; he is so much more than a charismatic spokesman for the message of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad; he is far more than a popular Black leader. For I argue that in examining the beautiful 90-year life of Minister Farrakhan, we are witnessing the intersectionality of the secular and the sacred.
We are being blessed to witness a man whose life can be examined while he is yet physically alive and such examination causes us to appropriately conclude that he is a divine and anointed servant of Allah (God). He was prepared by Allah to be the principal helper of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Minister Farrakhan has been a gift given and prayer answered.
When Master W. Fard Muhammad gave Messenger Muhammad the 23rd Psalms to comfort him in the 1930s, he gave him Minister Farrakhan 23 years later to provide comfort to Messenger Muhammad because it would be Minister Farrakhan’s profound and prolific ministry that would emerge to prove and confirm the message of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, so that he would no longer be misunderstood by his beloved people whom he was raised and appointed to save.
For the past 46 years, as the National Representative of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan has emerged on the national and international stage to serve in the role of Black America’s most trusted and courageous leader and champion. Minister Farrakhan has been and is “the good shepherd” given to us, as a people, by Allah (God), that if we, as a people, would follow both his sterling personal example and his unimpeachable exhortations, admonitions and instructions, we would achieve our divinely destined liberation and exaltation.
As we reflect on the momentous occasion of the Minister’s 90th birth anniversary, we see that it has great historical significance. May 11, 1933, is the birth “day” of Minister Farrakhan. One of the very important historical significances of the Minister’s birth anniversary recalls the history of government-sponsored opposition to the presence of Islam among Black people. According to esteemed scholar Sylvia-anne Diouf:
“After the first slave uprising in the New World, led by the Wolof in 1522, a royal decree of May 11, 1526, specifically forbade the introduction of “Gelofes” (Wolof), Negros (blacks) from the Levant (or Middle East), those who had been raised with the Moors, and people from Guinea without a special license from the Casa de Contratación, which regulated the slave trade and put levies on the slaves. All the groups that the decree prohibited were either completely or mostly Muslim.”—Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved In The Americas
It’s clear that Minister Farrakhan’s destiny is related to the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. At 90 years of age, we can clearly see Minister Farrakhan as a man born to frustrate the continued enslavement of our people. He has also become the most prolific proselytizer of the revolutionary message of Islam within the Black community, the kind of Islam that produces the “fighting spirit” that Spain, England and all the European slaving countries feared.
Again, the Minister is a man whose life joins together both prophecy and history. We thank Allah (God) for our beloved Minister, who really is a messiah in the midst of the people today. We thank Allah for the womb of his beloved mother and the seed of his beloved father. And we thank Allah for the spiritual seed of his spiritual father, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We thank them for the great gift that we have received in the incomparable, indefatigable and awe-inspiring Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
I argue that Minister Farrakhan is Black America’s Good Shepherd, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Consider the following sample of critics and observers whose diverse reactions to Minister Farrakhan actually converge to paint a portrait of Minister Farrakhan as the very man that I am arguing that he is, The Good Shepherd who has proven to be willing to lay down his life for his people!
The One Who Hon. Elijah Muhammad told His followers to follow:
“I want you to pay good attention to his preaching. His preaching is a bearing of witness of me and what God has given to me. This is one of the strongest preachers I have anywhere 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.
So, we are thankful to Allah for this great helper of mine, Minister Farrakhan. He’s not a proud man. He’s a very humble man. If he can carry you across the lake without dropping you in, he doesn’t say when he gets on the other side, “See what I have done?” He tells 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 Minister Farrakhan.”—Hon. Elijah Muhammad
The Inheritor of Dr. King
“Not since the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, has Black leadership spoken in a genuine, effective way to the souls of black folk. Not, that is, until October 16 and the Million Man March. The genius of the event—which is to say the genius of Louis Farrakhan, who conceived it—was to couch its purpose in religious terms: atonement, reconciliation, recommitment to God, women, family, and community.
In so doing, he spoke to the souls of Black folk in a way that not even Jesse Jackson had managed to in the twenty-seven years since Dr. King’s death. In so doing, he transformed the Million Man March into an occasion for re-fusing a cord, for reconnecting with the hopeful, faith-filled religious tradition that King represented and that seemed to fall into decay after his murder.”—Don Wycliff
The One Who Speaks What Blacks Believe But Are Afraid to Say
“Farrakhan says what so many Black people believe but have learned not to say in public: for instance, that Jews wield tremendous influence in the news and entertainment media. That doesn’t mean that most Blacks accept Farrakhan’s notion of a small Jewish cabal that meets in Hollywood or in a Park Avenue apartment to decide which ideas and trends are to be foisted off on the public.
But few of us doubt the disproportionate influence of Jews-for good or ill-on what we see on television or in the movies. Nor do Blacks doubt the disproportionate influence of Jews on American foreign policy, particularly with regard to political and economic support of Israel. But we also know that to say these things is to be accused of anti-Semitism. That’s why blacks can cheer when Farrakhan says them …”—Pulitzer Prize Journalist William Raspberry
The One Who Thwarts White Racial Hierarchy
“Why has Farrakhan been branded a pariah by mainstream media? This writer believes it is because he represents a serious threat to America’s racial hierarchy. The hierarchy cannot control or buy his accommodation or ‘integration’ as a Black leader … The threat Farrakhan poses to the White-favored hierarchy of access and power is seen in the United States government’s refusal in 1996 to allow Farrakhan to receive a $250,000 prize ‘as winner of the Muammar Ghaddafi International Human Rights Award … for orchestrating last October’s Million Man March.’ Nor was it a surprise that the United States government prevented Farrakhan, at the same time, from accepting a donation of $1 billion from Colonel Ghaddafi of Libya.”
—Chaplain William E. Alberts
The Godfather of Hip-Hop
“Admit it, you look to your favorite artists for guidance at times. If you are going through a break up there’s a song for that. If you need to be inspired and uplifted, there is the perfect tune for that. And if you just want to get ratchet and twerk it out, there’s a soundtrack for the moment. But just as much as you use music as a source of inspiration, rappers and singers need seek words of wisdom as well. Minister Louis Farrakhan is their go-to guy.”
—Writer Dominique Zoynee
“Lord only knows what sort of paranoiac frenzy Glenn Beck would spiral into were he to discover this recent trend in hip-hop: Rappers are increasingly seeking the wisdom and counsel of Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. And not just the Muslim rappers you’d expect, like Lupe Fiasco or Mos Def; since the beginning of the year, superstar rappers like Kanye West, Young Jeezy and Killer Mike have all met with Farrakhan.”
—Author Matthew Pulver
The Greatest Defender of Black People
“The best of the legacy of Farrakhan is twofold. First, he has demonstrated a deep understanding of and shown an unswerving courage to publicly detail the lived reality of anti-Black racism. There is simply no Black person in the world that has—over so many years—been as consistent, as unrestricted, and as forthright in defending the humanity of Black people throughout the world against its attackers.
This is partially due to the power of black institutions: Minister Farrakhan does not rely on white financial support. It is also due to a sense of discipline and commitment inscribed in his practice as a man of faith. Demonized by some and ostracized by many, Farrakhan’s story has been one of ‘staying the course’ for racial uplift.
Second, Farrakhan’s captivating speaking style and scriptural knowledge have made him, undoubtedly, one of the great religious orators of our time. His entrancing public speeches, which never lose track of race, are crafted at the intersection of the religious and the political. Farrakhan, in the style of the eighteenth-century ‘Great Awakening’ speakers, unapologetically deploys the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam in his public witness.
Yet these ‘religious’speeches are deeply politicized and they rely on different religious traditions. Thus, they stand in a class all by themselves. Further, his visual appeal, stylized voice and phrasing, as well as his effective use of silence are incomparable. When Biblical and Qur’anic scholars begin to attend to the body of his work, this aspect of his legacy will stand even taller.”
—Professor Andre C. Willis
The Most Generous Black Leader
And after talking with us for about two hours or so, along with Reverend Albert E. Love who was my special assistant at the time who accompanied me, I looked at the Minister, I said, “Minister let me just be honest with you. I’m broke. SCLC is broke. We don’t have no money. But if you just help me and loan me a few dollars. In terms of my plight of SCLC. I promise you that I will multiply it and I will pay you back.”
And the Minister looked at me and he said, “My brother, you got my attention.” He said, “Just one thing that I want you to realize. I’m going to give you the money that you asked for because I know you mean well and you are going to do what is right to uplift the organization.” He said, “You must realize you can’t pay me back.
You just go and be successful with Dr. King’s organization and make it work for our people and I will be proud and I will commend the fact that you had enough motivation to come all the way to Chicago and to share with me your vision and your strategy. I encourage you to continue and this is what I will do to help you. But. I repeat you can’t pay me back.”—SCLC President Rev. Charles Steele
The Standard and Litmus Test
“Smart and super articulate, Minister Farrakhan is perhaps the best living example of a black man ready, willing and able to ‘tell it like it is’ regarding who is responsible for racism in this country … Every Black person important enough to be interviewed is asked to condemn Minister Farrakhan.”—Professor Derrick Bell
The Largest Following of all Black leaders
“The appearance of Louis Farrakhan at Madison Square Garden on October 7 demonstrated, without doubt, that he is now America’s preeminent black leader. Benjamin Hooks of the NAACP could not have filled the Garden. There would not have been people standing against the walls on every level of the arena to hear John Jacob of the National Urban League. Jesse Jackson might just have filled the Garden. But Farrakhan filled not only the 20,000-plus seats; he also drew another 3,000 to 5,000 people to watch the whole event on closed circuit television in the Felt Forum next door.”—Critic Julius Lester
The One Who Won’t Sell Out The People
“It’s time to give Minister Louis Farrakhan credit. When he issues a call for people to join him in the nation’s capital, Blacks show up. At least a million showed up for the Million Man March 20 years ago… African Americans trust Minister Farrakhan. Even if [some]strongly disagreeing with some of his views and the well-known antipathy between the Nation of Islam (NOI) leader and Jews, Blacks know that he won’t ever sell them out for personal gain or any other reason.”
—Editor George Curry
“And despite the outer perimeters of controversy that attach to Minister Farrakhan, I think Black people always understood that this was a man who loved Black people, who engaged Black people where they lived, and long before rap singers where talking about keeping it real, Minister Farrakhan was speaking truth to power.”—Prof. Michael Eric DysonDemetric Muhammad is a Memphis-based author and student minister in the Nation of Islam and a member of the Nation of Islam Research Group. Follow him on Twitter @BrotherDemetric. Read more at www.researchminister.com