MANNING MARABLE ON THE NATION OF ISLAM

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Mon Oct 30 10:47:21 MST 1995


MANNING MARABLE ON THE NATION OF ISLAM

"In the mid-1970s, Vincent Harding notes, 'everything seemed to
change, the organic center fell apart'.  In this environment of
black upper-class success and black working-class poverty and
repression, many blacks turned in large numbers to religion.  With
the overt suppression of revolutionary black nationalist groups,
the Nation of Islam was in a position to recapture some of its
former power.  Most black radicals, heavily influenced by Malcolm
X's public separation from and feud with the Nation in 1964-65,
still viewed the organisation with a great deal of scepticism.
But Elijah Muhammed, the octogenarian who still reigned with an
iron hand, was able to regain a degree of allegiance among new
generations of urban black youth who were searching for spiritual
and political direction.  Simultaneously, Muhammed attempted to
establish closer links with the US government and other foreign
interests in an effort to resolve his group's ongoing political
and economic troubles.  By making peace with Chicago's political
boss, Richard Daley, the Nation was able to eliminate most of the
police surveillance and harassment against the sect.  Imitating
the FBI, Nation of Islam members in Philadelphia destroyed that
city's Black Panther Party headquarters in retaliation for the
group's public advocacy of Malcolm X's ideas.  In 1972, Muhammed
negotiated a $3 million interest-free loan from Colonel Muamar
Kadafi which was used to expand Black Muslim enterprises.  Despite
these gains, the Nation of Islam was still plagued by internal
dissension.  One of the Nation's most dynamic and powerful
ministers, Hamaas Abdul Khaalis (Ernest McGee) denounced the
Nation as a corruption of the true faith, Sunni Islam, in 1972.
Khaalis declared that Muhammed was a 'lying deceiver' and stated
that their leader 'who inspired former dope addicts and
prostitutes to monklike lives of sacrifice, discipline and hard
work, was instead stealing his followers' money and leading them
to hell.'  For devout defenders of Muhammed, Khaalis' challenge
could not remain unanswered.  On 18 January 1973, at least five
armed gunmen, all members of the Nation of Islam, entered Khaalis'
Washington, DC, home and butchered five members of his family."

-- from Marable, Manning.  _Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second
Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1982_.  Jackson: University
Press of Mississippi, 1984.  See pp. 177-178.


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