Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Five Percent Nation

The Nation of Islam had a very simple system for shedding your slave name.
You kept the forename given to you by your parents and dropped the name that your ancestor’s masters would have forced upon them to denote their status as property. In its place you added an ‘X’ to symbolise the unknown name that was lost to slavery.
When Clarence Smith turned up at Temple Number 7 in Harlem, New York in 1961 to join the NOI he discovered that twelve other Clarences had got there before him and so he duly became Clarence 13X.
Clarence was initially popular at the Temple. A confident public speaker and capable martial artist, Clarence 13X was capable of both spreading the teachings of the NOI and defending himself from those who decided to dissent in a more vigorous and physical manner than polite debate demanded.
And the teachings of the Nation of Islam were known to rouse displeasure from many different areas of Society...
Orthodox Muslims took exception to the overtly Islamic stylings of this religion which they believed to be promoting a heretical system of belief.
In mainstream Islam there is one God, Allah, who has his Messenger, Muhammed, and various prophets who spread his word on Earth.
In the Nation of Islam there is a crucial difference in the wording of their belief.
They believe there is one God, Allah, who came in the person of W.D. Fard, the founder of the Nation of Islam who was declared to be Allah by his successor Elijah Muhammed.
The concept of Allah in human form is hugely offensive to conventional Muslims as Islam forbids the idea of creating images of Allah let alone imagining him as a mortal.
Clarence eventually began to have doubts about the teachings of Fard and the NOI and was eventually excommunicated.
At this point Clarence refined the belief system of the NOI to his own vision and began preaching on the streets of Harlem. However Clarence’s new teachings were no less provocative that the Nation of Islam’s.
Clarence changed his name to Allah and taught that, through living a life of righteousness, all Original Men (anyone non-Caucasian) could become Gods.
Even the Caucasians, damned as ‘White Devils’ and unredeemable by the NOI, could become ‘civilised people’ by following Clarence’s teachings.
Despite moving even further away from the teachings of orthodox Islam Clarence continued to use Muslim words and symbols to spread his message.
However, Clarence made it very clear that his use of the words were designed to adapt Muslim teachings for his own purposes.
Clarence declared himself ‘Allah’ and when challenged on this point would observe that his physical form was composed of an ‘Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head’ and that anyone who chose to accept their destiny as ALLAH could do so.
Similarly he used the word ISLAM to denote the individual’s role as ruler of their own existence. To Clarence everyone was their own ‘I, Self, Lord And Master.’
This linguistic manipulation was central to the teachings of Clarence’s new system.
Lessons were taught using two main pillars of study, Divine Mathematics and the Divine Alphabet. Both of these systems involved the study of numbers and letters to analyse and understand the world around you.
This analysis lead to one of the keys teachings of Clarence’s new movement and lead to one of it’s most popular titles. According to the calculations of Divine Mathematics the world is divided into three key groups which can be divided by percentages.
The majority of the world’s people form a group made up of 85% of the total population. These people are blind to the reality of the world around them and follow the lead of the second largest group. This group are the 10% who are aware of the reality of the world and use this knowledge to enslave the 85% and live comfortable yet sinful lives.
That leaves the 5% of ‘poor righteous teachers’ who attempt to free the 85% from their blindness and battle against the evils of the 10%.
Clarence’s followers became known as 'Five Percenters' but the official title for this new movement was ‘The Nation of Gods and Earths’.
The ‘Gods’ were the men who came to study with Clarence while the ‘Earths’ were the women of the group, so named as they are the planets where ‘God’ produces life.
An important element of Clarence’s teaching was the need for self-development.
Rather than looking to an supreme leader or elite group of priests Clarence emphasized that the onus was on the individual to improve their own lot.
Most teaching was passed on through sessions where the ‘Gods’ would ‘build’ their knowledge in groups known as ‘ciphers’. This would involve quizzing one another on aspects of Divine Mathematics and Alphabet.
It was not uncommon to pass through Harlem and hear people refer to themselves and others as ‘God’ or ‘G’ as it would be reduced to by the Divine Alphabet.
Similarly the greeting ‘Peace’ became popularised by the Five Percenters.
No one who had studied the Divine Alphabet would greet anyone with ‘Hello’ as the word had ‘Hell’ in it...
The Five Percenters are largely overlooked in the history of the Black Civil Rights movement of America in the 1960's. In a way that’s understandable, by their very nature they are a minority of a minority, a schism formed from a schism.
However there is something to be celebrated about this group who ignored the militant cries of the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers and saw nothing to follow in the teachings of Dr. King. Why should these people fight or agitate for change? They are Gods. They don’t care which water fountain they are drinking out of or what part of the bus they sit on, whichever fountain or seat they use immediately becomes divine by their very presence.
That’s the sort of power that no Government can grant you...