I thought it was very interesting in the Sernett reading that the speaker focused on the physical needs of the people. It focused on what they pragmatically needed in order to live a healthy, stable life. This mentality allows them to avoid an attitude that might be dismissive of these needs and simply used religion as a temporary escape as they wait for the afterlife. It does well in trying to find that balance between both spiritual and physical needs and the interplay between the two, discussing how simply because fullfilment of physical needs is the first step is does not mean that it is the most important one.
Malcolm X was a man of many words, cause he had a lot to say (obviously) but Malcolm’s goal was to talk enough to get most of the population talking and one example where it worked was “The message to the Grassroots”in 1963. He did not only address the racism, but conflict within black communities. Not only did he mention lack of intelligence, but also the intelligence of black people and they were pretty upset, but it got them talking. It did boost till later, but it got people thinking. Even though Malcolm X is a man of many words, his words have some meaning.
I found the Wallace D. Muhammad chapter this week to be interesting, mainly because of the attitude regarding progress, goal setting, and conversion. Wallace D. Muhammad speaks several times of setting goals, with notes such as “His first aim was to get us firmly grounded in reality…” and “Master Fard told the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to get the people to come into the temple at any cost.” (Sernett 504). He also mentions steps to reach a final goal, saying “Revolution is not the final object or the final aim of his great work, revolution is a means for reaching the final object.” and “The emphasis has to be taken off of revolution and put on objectives and aims one day.” (Sernett 506).
I found this passage interesting because it reminded me heavily of a lesson I was taught in training for my job. We were discussing goal setting, and the steps to creating an efficient goal. We were told about the ‘SMART’ method, in which goals are structured to be reachable and precise. This passage made me think of goal setting primarily in a visualization sense, particularly when Wallace D. Muhammad spoke of ideals and pictures that were spoken of, such as “He said to tell us that there was real gold over there.” and “He said that we would get money, good homes, and friendship.” (Sernett 502). It then brought to mind the ‘SMART’ goal-setting method because of the sequential aspect of the progress discussed in the chapter. It seemed to be spoken of in a step-by-step idea, where the overarching goal was divided into smaller, more reachable goals such as welcoming more people. I found this particularly interesting, as it seems to be a very realistic and practical mindset. I remember in the early readings this semester, such as the Francis Le Jau reading, many writers spoke of various efforts made to convert and welcome more and more people to their church. Each strove to accomplish this goal in various ways, but few seemed to take the same step-by-step approach as Wallace D. Muhammad.
I had mixed feelings about this week’s reading. For one thing, I would very much call Malcom X an extremist. The reason why I say this is because I comparing the readings last week of MLK. One of the post obivious differences between the two of them is King’s stance on passivism, and Malcom X’s conviction that the race has to completely rid themselves of “white men” in order to thrive as a society. For me, Black Man’s History was hard to get through. Maybe I am missing something that was in plain sight, but I got the impression that Malcom X was not fond of labels whatsoever. I also find it interesting that in this speech, Malcom X’s focal point centers on African Americans understanding their history, but he seems almost offended by the concept of “Black Africa” which goes against pretty much the mainstream thought of the era. I think for many African Americans, being able to link themselves back to Africa, and incorporate those beliefs into who they were as individuals. I also get the sense that for Malcom X, to bring blacks and whites together on the same grounds of equality was his nightmare. In Black Man’s History, Malcom X coins this phrase a lot, but I do very much get the sense that in his eyes, the best thing for blacks was to be self-governing, they could no longer show mercy or really depend on whites to help them, so he very much empathized that the black community needed to only support each other. In addition, I kind of feel like Malcom X manipulated his followers bit. As we can see from the Sernet reading, he knew that money didn’t really matter wealth wasn’t the number one concern for his followers. He knew his audience and I don’t doubt that he very much used that to his advantage. I do understand where he was coming from though. Having only been familiar with one of his speeches prior, I did still get that, “By any means necessary” vibe from him and that’s unsettling for me.
This chapter taught me a lot about the separation in the African American Muslim community during this time. WD Muhammad does a great job describing the views and beliefs of Fard Muhammad and his close relationship to Elijah Muhammad. I found it interesting how Fard Muhammad views white people and how he wanted to completely separate African Americans from and rename African Americans. While reading my book for the book report that was due back in October there was no mention of Fard Muhammad at all. This may be due to the fact that when Muhammad came to “power”, Malcolm X had already left the Nation. This is was previously stated in the prologue and Muhammad gained “power” after the assassination of Malcolm X.
Out of all the readings, Malcolm X’s speech, “Black Man’s History,” was the most interesting to me. In the beginning, I didn’t see Malcolm X as the most polished or charismatic speaker, like Martin Luther King for example, but a lot of the ideas he put forward were interesting and explained in such a way that they were actually believable. His explanations about how christianity and judaism weren’t God’s religions strangely made sense. I still don’t see him as the most polished, and as I read on, a lot of the stuff he said stopped making sense, and I was a little weirded out, but still interested. If i’m being honest, The Nation of Islam reminds me of a cult. But still, some of the things he said still resonated with me, like his explanation for why he couldn’t say “all white people,”
“And this is true; this is how they do it. They take one little word out of what you say, ignore all the rest, and then begin to magnify it all over the world to make you look like what you actually aren’t. And I’m very used to that.”
It just reminded a lot of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the way people reacted to it.
The essay starts off with a feud on “real” and “fake” Muslims. According to William Cummings, the real Muslims are Indonesian and everyone else that practices it is fake (pg. 660). And this would begin the “who’s the real ancestors of this religion” question that is popping up more and more. As in many other storytelling of religion, there is an origin story of the black Muslims sort of similar to the black Jews. Apparently in West Africa was where you could find the first black Muslim.
Drew Ali writes how black people were descended from the Asian race and that their natural religion was Islam (pg. 666). He blamed Africans for being enslaved because they were not as Islamic as their parents and grandparents. I personally do not agree with this. I remember reading somewhere that if the parents did a wrong, then their children would suffer. But that was in the Bible and since we are discussing Islam that would not be the case here. I am also confused on how many religions were the first and ideal religion of a certain race.
This guy Omar or Umar was the first to oppose Islam and did some other wrongdoings. He beat his servant when he found out that she was Islamic. Then during his tyrant, he states that he has to kill the Prophet. Some person tells him that his sister is a Muslim and he hits her. He feels bad and apologizes, then she gives him the Qur’an and he reads it. Omar goes to the Prophet to embrace Islam and it is a happy ending. This story has an okay ending, but Omar does not face any consequences for going around hitting people and saying that he is going to kill the Prophet. Surely that would bring some sort of punishment, but no he gets off scotch free. The only bad thing that happens to him is the feeling of regret for hitting “his own flesh and blood” (pg. 671). This is clearly different than the story o Job from the Bible or any Bible story for that matter.
The idea that Black Muslims are normal because it can be inferred that Africans were Asians that dissipated in the sun for generations makes me wonder. If we are going that far back, then we can hold up the idea that everyone is technically African because that is where the first human emerged from. I think the idea of Africans historically being Islamic is accurate. The problem I have is the idea that it seems as if “Black Muslims” are only accounted for because of that reason. People should be allowed to practice whatever religion they want regardless of skin color, and I feel like the idea as a whole is just a justification of why it’s “okay” for Blacks to be Muslims. That’s just my discrepancy with Drew Ali’s majority idea that Eli Muhammad believed in. Maybe I’ve been reading too much into it and that is why I feel so strongly. On another note, prior to Curtis’ essay, I thought that Black Islam started with W.D. Fard. I thought that he created the entire movement. I thought he was the conductor of Islam within the Black community in the US. I wish Curtis went into more detail about Fard. His role was a lot more vital in this topic than the three lines he was allotted.
I thought this week’s reading was very interesting. I liked the part where he says that “you cannot teach the ‘heavens’ to a society that has not yet been formed in the earth.” He states that for people to comprehend religion, they must first have a solid society and foundation on the earth. He goes on to compare the Bilalian people to Adam and Eve in that they had no basis for their society, and thus needy help establishing their earthly lives before contemplating their spiritual lives. This logic makes sense, but I’m not sure about the comparison to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were the first two people on earth and had no society or concept of life at all. While the Bilalian people during this time certainly did not have as solid of a society as many other peoples, they at least had a very basic foundation for society and life, making the two situations actually very different.
In chapter 52, Wallace D. Muhammad talks about how he and the nation of Islam want to be free in the new world. All they wanted was their own self-government. I have found this chapter to be interesting because how Wallace D. Muhammad and nation of Islam make that push to become their own country. Muhammad did not push to make Islam their own country just by fighting and doing anything violent. In my opinion, he did it in a more wiser way. He taught the nation of Islam how something you start of with is weak and small and then it grows and gets stronger over time. I think that lesson helped the nation of Islam become free and have their own self-government.