THE NATION OF ISLAM
Leo Muhammad was a regular guest on PCRL's 'Talk-back' show in the 1990's along with other members of the NOI, they came to Birmingham to be on the Show. He also presented a Sunday Morning Breakfast show for a short while. Black Islam programmes were apart of our out-put over the years along with Gospel Music. Leo had been a successful comedy writer and performer on UK television shows prior to changing his name from Chester to Muhammad. The American attacks of 9/11, that had no connections with Black Muslims sadly knocked the N.O.I from a place of doing good things for the Black Community.
His first PCRL Cultural Revolution Show can be heard here:
The Black Muslims are basically black Americans or black Africans with their own interpretation of Islam and a strong militant tendency. That they now prefer to be known as 'The Nation of Islam' is due to their (correct) assumption that the word black does not immediately stimulate sympathy and understanding, especially in white dominated conservative America.
Timothy Drew was known to his friends as Prophet Drew Ali, a Moorish gentleman who in about 1913 suggested that as all black races were originally Moorish and as all Moorish people were originally Muslim, then - logically - all black people should be Muslim. Ali was also fairly sure that an ancient genetic experiment by an evil (although almost certainly black) scientist by the name of Yakub produced a race of white people. From black people. The black people, he said, were good, the white people, he said, were evil and the experiment was to see if the bad white guys could ever become as good as their black creators. Having produced these somewhat illogical theories Ali followed them up with the even more hopeful philosophy that a return to basic Islamic faith would result in perfect equality and harmony between races. Ali was to die a disappointed man.
The real movement was started in Detroit, Michigan, USA in 1930 by W.D. Fard and like many before him W.D. called himself a prophet a saviour and an incarnation of Allah. The big difference to all the other claims was firstly the colour - who was to say that Allah had to be white? Certainly not W.D. and certainly not his black faithful. And secondly that there was to be no after-life. For anyone. (The fundamental error of calling yourself a reincarnation of Allah and almost in the same breath denying the existence of any form of after-life was something that busy Mr Fard was going to sort out later).
After W.D.'s disappearing trick in 1934 there was an urgent need to find a replacement to take up the challenge. Elijah Poole was considered to be the best man for the job and with a quick name change (to Elijah Muhammad) the new Holy Prophet and Messenger of Allah began the daunting tasks of trying to raise the social and moral standards of the oppressed black population and increasing their economic prospects. Elijah became known as The Messenger and successfully guided the Black Muslims into the new and lucrative business of TV Evangelicalising and even managed to obtain the support of high profile (black) personalities for his well publicised rallies. The heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay became converted in 1961 took on the name Mohammed Ali (claiming that Cassius Clay was merely his 'slave name') and took up the Islamic cause with the same fervour that served him so well on the canvas stage.
On a visit to a Boston night club Malcolm spotted the potential oratorical talents of one of the singers and persuaded Louis Farrakhan to join the cause. Louis started preaching In New York City and gave the poor black population something new to think about. Lucky Louis thought that he might onto a good thing.
Malcolm left the Black Muslims in March 1964 to start up the Organisation of Afro-American Unity with the singular aim of achieving racial equality through violence. This radical position only lasted a month due to his personal reassessment of black power after a soul-seeking trip to Mecca, and six months later Malcolm reaffirmed his position as an orthodox (Sunni) Muslim and changed his name from the simple X to the somewhat more complicated El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. The more radical of the Afro-American Unity brigade were not so sure about Malcolm's new name and ever changing views and still believed that the fast track to political power and recognition was still through the gun rather than the ballot box.
On February 21st 1965 in a Harlem ballroom in New York City, Malcolm X was speaking passionately on the subject of political violence but the armed opposition had a more direct approach and Malcolm was spectacularly gunned down. A sad loss to the Black Muslims but a lucky break for Louis Farrakhan who, in 1967, was promoted to Malcolm's old job as National Representative. Now Louis knew he was on to a good thing.
When Elijah Poole (that is Elijah Muhammad, the new Holy Prophet and Messenger of Allah) died in 1975 it was considered by many that Louis Farrakhan should get the ultimate prize and lead The Nation of Islam into a future of equality and opportunity, but it was Elijah's son Wraith Deen who took up the crumbling cause and the fiery preacher Louis who had to wait for another day.
Meanwhile busy Louis had discovered Ali the Prophet's thoughts on the origin of the species and got to work on some of the finer points. Louis suggested that the mad bad scientist Yakub had created the whites to rule for exactly 6000 years and, according to calculating Louis, the date of the experiment was about 5,999 years ago. Time, thought Lou, was up. The other part of the theory, that the black people were the good guys and the white people were the bad ones, had of course been proven beyond any reasonable doubt by the brutality of white Americans over their black slaves. Something that Master Elijah Muhammad had repeatedly repeated and something that Louis was always ready to point out.
In the late 1970's Louis Farrakhan, now in his Chicago 'temple' (actually a loft conversion) assumed the original name Nation of Islam and began to revived the principles of black separatism. In 1995 the now increasingly popular Honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan decided that it would be a nice idea to have a rally of support and so he organised a march in Washington D.C. Washington, and all America could not help but be impressed when a million men and women took to the streets.
For some time Louis has been trying to bring his particular brand of racial discrimination to the United Kingdom but since 1986 the British government have been of the firm opinion that a visit from the Honourable Minister would do absolutely nothing to increase racial harmony. Something that is all too painfully obvious when The Nation sends its formidably well dressed representatives (big men, dark suites, red bow ties and dark glasses) to funerals of young black victims of an already damaged and worried society. The Honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of one of the most powerful political / religious groups in the United States, has taken on an awesome responsibility. And one that will most certainly not go away.