- The Nation of Gods and Earths
The Nation of Gods and Earths, sometimes referred to as NGE or NOGE, the Five-Percent Nation, or the Five Percenters is an American organization founded in 1964 in the Harlem section of the borough of Manhattan, New York City, by Clarence 13X, a former student of Malcolm X, who left his mosque because he disagreed with the Nation of Islam over the nature and identity of God. Members of the organization call themselves Five Percenters, which reflects their belief that ten percent of the people of the world know the truth of existence, and those elites opt to keep 85 percent of the world in ignorance and under their controlling thumb. The remaining percentage are those who know the truth and are determined to enlighten the rest. They are the Five Percent Nation.
Initially, the Nation of Gods and Earths was viewed as little more than an off-shoot of the Nation of Islam (NOI). However, while the Nation of Gods and Earths has been characterized as an organization, an institution, a religion, or even a gang, representatives of the Nation teach that it is a way of living.
The Nation of Gods and Earths teaches that Black people are the original people of the planet Earth, and that they are the fathers (Gods) and mothers (Earths) of civilization.  The Nation believes that the science of Supreme Mathematics is the key to understanding man's relationship to the universe. The Nation does not believe in a traditional God but instead believes that the asiatic Blackman is God [sic] and his proper name is Allah, an acronym for Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head.
- 1 Founding
- 2 Teachings
- 3 Customs
- 4 Influence and interactions
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 Notable current and former members and associates of the Five Percent Nation
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 External links
The Nation of Gods and Earths was founded by Clarence 13X after he left the Nation of Islam's Temple Number Seven in Harlem, New York (the same temple where Malcolm X was a minister from 1960 to 1963). Multiple stories exist as to why Clarence and the NOI parted ways: some have him refusing to give up gambling; others have him questioning the unique divinity of Wallace Fard Muhammad, whom the NOI deified as the True and Living God in person; or questioning his position as God due to the belief that Fard was born of a Caucasian mother. The story states that Clarence was then disciplined by the NOI and excommunicated in 1963, but another version of events says that he left on his own free will along with Abu Shahid, who agreed with Clarence's questioning of Wallace Fard Muhammad. That same year Clarence met James Howell, a sea merchant, who would later become Justice, and Clarence's closest associate until his death.
Clarence proselytized the streets of Harlem to teach others his views based on his interpretation of NOI teachings. After failing to reach elder adults whom he saw as already set in their ways, he found success with the disenfranchised street youth. This young group formed the First Nine Born of what officially became the 5% Nation of Gods and Earths on October 10, 1964. In December of that year, Clarence was shot in a basement gambling den called the Hole. After surviving the shooting, he assumed the name Allah, and, according to some, boasted that he was immortal.
He taught the 120 Lessons to his young followers (who came to refer to him as the Father), but instead of teaching them to be Muslims, he taught them that they were God the same way he was. The women who came into Allah’s growing movement to study along with the males were taught they were symbolic of the planet Earth, because it is the planet on which God produces life (hence the female practitioners using Earth as their title). The NGE does not consider itself a religion—its position is that it makes no sense to be religious or to worship or deify anyone or anything outside of oneself when adherents themselves are the highest power in the known universe, both collectively and individually.
In addition to the 120 Lessons, the Father taught a system he developed called Supreme Mathematics, which can be compared to a version of the Jewish mystical traditions of Kabbalah or even more closely Gematria, or the Arabic Abjad numerals. In this system, the numbers from one to nine, and zero all represent principles and concepts. Coming together to discuss the Supreme Mathematics is the most fundamental regimen of the NGE. Whenever members meet, they discuss about the Supreme Mathematics and 120 Lessons. This dialogue is referred to by the NGE as Building, which is the eighth degree of the Supreme Mathematics. Gods and Earths can build their minds, which means to elevate or add on to the knowledge one has. Building also refers to the building of their physical bodies, their financial status, or institutions, among much more that the principle of Building can represent.
Representatives of the Nation of Gods and Earths view themselves (black men of their Nation) as their own God (both individually and collectively as the Original Man). Gods and Earths sometimes refer to themselves as scientists, implying their search for knowledge and proof. In recent years the Nation has sought constitutional protection for their identity as a God-centered culture. According to the Five Percenter Newspaper, "God first means that it is no longer a judicial arguement; centered means everything we do is about God. Culture is the practices and principles of a people at any given time."
The teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths are passed on through a modern oral tradition. The advancement of a God or Earth is based on his or her memorization, recitation, comprehension, and practical application of the Supreme Mathematics and the Supreme Alphabet and also the 120 Lessons, sometimes referred to as degrees, a revised version of the Supreme Wisdom lessons of the NOI, originally written by Wallace Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad.
Origin of Five-Percent title
The term Five Percent comes from NOI doctrine that sees the world's black population divided into three groups: 85% of the people are blind to the knowledge of themselves and God, while 10% of the people know the truth, but teach a lie for their personal gain; seen as part of this 10% are religious leaders that teach that God is an incorporeal being (hence the term mystery God). The 10% can also include the governments of the world that deceive and mislead the majority of the world through most of the available media outlets. The remaining 5% are the Poor Righteous Teachers—those who do not subscribe to the teachings of the 10%, as they know and teach that God is the Asiatic Blackman..
The Universal Language
The Supreme Mathematics is a system of understanding numerals alongside concepts and qualitative representations that are used along with the Supreme Alphabet. The Supreme Mathematics is taught to be the highest system of mathematics in the NGE, used to give qualitative value to numbers in addition to quantity. For example, the numeral 1 symbolizes Knowledge, 2 symbolizes Wisdom, and 3 represents Understanding. The system (similar to numerology), is claimed to maximize a person's logical thinking in order to solve life's problems.
Supreme AlphabetMain article: Supreme Alphabet
The Supreme Alphabet is a system of interpreting text and finding deeper meaning from the NOI Lessons by assigning actual meanings to the letters of the Roman alphabet. For example, the first letter, A, stands for Allah; the 12th letter, L, stands for Love, Hell, or [live] Right; and the 13th letter, M, stands for Master. The corresponding mathematical number of each letter is also important to the alphabet's use. This symbolic alphabet was developed with assistance from Justice by Father Allah after splitting from the Nation of Islam, after which he developed his Supreme Understanding.
The Twelve Jewels
The Twelve Jewels are considered a companion to the Supreme Mathematics and the Supreme Alphabet, as axioms by which one should live.
1. Knowledge 2. Wisdom 3. Understanding 4. Freedom 5. Justice 6. Equality 7. Food 8. Clothing 9. Shelter 10. Love 11. Peace 12. Happiness
The Universal Flag is the group's official trademark, which consists of a sun, moon, star, and the number seven. According to its doctrine, it represents the Original Family as the following:
- Seven—The number held sacred in many ancient and modern traditions. In Supreme Mathematics, the number seven represents God, that is, the Original Man, not the mystery god of many organized religions.
- Sun—Another symbol of the male, Knowledge, the Truth, and the Light. The points around the sun symbolize the expanding consciousness.
- Moon—The crescent moon symbolizes the women and wisdom.
- Star—The five-pointed star symbolizes understanding and children as the beginning of a new sun.
The eight outer rays (points) of the Sun have also been spoken as representative of the core components Nation of Gods and Earths’ teachings:
- Supreme Mathematics
- Supreme Alphabet
- Student Enrollment (1–10)
- Lost & Found Muslim Lesson #1 (1–14)
- Lost & Found Muslim Lesson #2 (1–40)
- English Lesson C-1 (1–36)
- Actual Facts
- Solar Facts
The last six of these bodies of lessons (1–10 through Solar Facts) are collectively called 120.
Gods and Earths hold events known as Universal Parliaments in various cities—usually once a month—to Build on their interpretation of the Supreme Mathematics, lessons, and to discuss business concerning the NGE. These meetings usually take place in public parks and in schoolyards.
The Show and Prove is an annual event that takes place in the Harlem section of Manhattan every second weekend in June (on or before the June 13 anniversary of Smith's assassination). Gods and Earths converge from all over the world at Harriet Tubman Elementary School for this gathering, which includes a marketplace, performances, and speeches in the school's auditorium and a science fair in which children participate.
The Nation generally does not recognize traditional holidays, most notably those associated with religion such as Christmas or Easter. However, some regions where the Nation is active may hold events close to dates in honor of Smith's birthday (February 22) or the official founding of the Nation (October 10).
Dietary laws of the Five Percent dictate that adherents are forbidden to eat pork or any pork-based by-products. Many take further steps and eschew meat altogether, often opting for veganism or a raw diet.
Influence and interactions
City Hall and the Urban League
The NGE established a headquarters in the Harlem section of Manhattan. The Allah School in Mecca, previously known as the Street Academy, was founded in 1966 through the Urban League, with the help of the then-current Republican mayor of New York, John Lindsay, and his assistant, Barry Gottehrer. The agreement reached between Smith and the Urban League was a payment of one dollar a day.
The first programs instituted in the school contained 10 to 30 youths, state-certified teachers, and three street workers. Graduates of the street academy would transfer to an academy of transition and then on to college preparatory school. The Father disagreed with the program originally instituted at the Urban League, and so, the curriculum was later turned over to him to manage, while the daily programs switched to math, English, and self defense.
There is another academy, the Allah School in Medina, located in Brooklyn.
The schism between Smith and the NOI led to numerous confrontations. The murder of Smith in 1969 remains unsolved, but it has been widely blamed on the Nation of Islam. The group known as Moorish Americans believe the FBI and the New York Police Department were heavily involved. The murder was a blow to the movement, but according to the direct orders of Clarence before his death, some of his earliest disciples, a group of nine men who were called the First Nine Born carried on the teachings, and an acting leadership role was assumed by his friend Justice. In the years to follow, the Gods and Earths gained a varied reputation, from being known as outstanding members of and contributors to their communities who at one time quelled a potential rebellion when Martin Luther King was assassinated, to being called an unruly and confused group of African-American teenage thugs and even categorized as a gang.
The gang label has caused much trouble for adherents to the teachings of the NGE in the United States. As the Nation has either gained students within the prison system or seen those who at least allege adherence to NGE teachings become incarcerated, the preceding gang reputation brought those with even remote NGE affiliation to be designated as security threats in states such as Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and South Carolina. Literature has been banned from institutions in these and other states, and inmates have been denied privileges enjoyed by those of other persuasions. Such rules were relaxed in 2004 in New York to allow registered sincere adherents to study teachings personally but not share with unregistered inmates during their incarceration.
The Nation has vigorously defended itself against these accusations. Its newspaper The Five Percenter condemns the states who impose restrictions on their practice as those who "attempt to define us in ways that seeks to criminalize us".
In Michigan the Nation challenged a ban on the group's literature among prison inmates after an inmate was designated a security threat until he renounced his membership. Judge Steven Whalen found no evidence that group advocated violence and recommended that it be recognized as a legitimate belief system.
In July 2008, a man in Staten Island, New York already known in the Nation as Black Cream Allah was denied a legal adoption of the name because a judge felt it was sacrilegious and sounded like the name of a hip hop record. He has since filed a second petition for the amended name Original Kreeam Shabazz.
From the early 1980s, the Nation of Gods and Earths has propagated its teachings throughout the United States, as well as abroad. This spread was in part due to early adherents teaching when away at college or in the military and, more famously, because of the rise of hip hop music. The main theme of the NGE doctrine spoken on hip hop records were the teachings that black people were the original or first human life to walk the planet, that the Blackman is God, the Black Woman is Earth, and through the inner esoteric powers of the Gods and Earths, the youth can transform and possess its true potential, which seems to overthrow the overbearing oligarchy by becoming just rulers of themselves. This especially meshed well with conscious themes found in other golden-age hip hop recordings.
Early hip-hop acts affiliated with the Five Percenters, and who spread its teachings through hip hop, include two MC's of the late 1980s–early ’90s conscious-rap era—Rakim of Eric B. & Rakim and Big Daddy Kane. These two acts, as well as some of their other contemporaries, infused Five Percent teachings and symbolism throughout their music and videos. This reputation brought fans of Rakim in particular to refer to him as the God MC. Not soon after Rakim and Kane's heyday rose acts that were even more explicit with allegiance to the NGE, most notably Brand Nubian, Poor Righteous Teachers, Wu-Tang Clan, Killarmy, Public Enemy, and Gangstarr. The popularity of these acts sparked a boom of new NGE students.
Many MCs employ the technique and terminology of the Supreme Alphabet to create acrostics, acronyms and backronyms in their rhymes. For example, in the song Wildflower, Ghostface Killah raps, "I'm God Cipher Divine," spelling G-O-D in the Supreme Alphabet.
Five Percenters in New York City were even known as a visible presence at parties around town during hip hop's formative years of the 1970s. Scene pioneer DJ Kool Herc recalled that while there was a heavy gang presence in attendance, the Five Percenters were also there as a de facto peace-keeping element.
Other examples of hip hop and R&B acts who are (or have been) associated with Five Percent teachings include Busta Rhymes, Digable Planets, J-Live, Nas, Jay Electronica, Erykah Badu, and PRODUX.
In popular culture
Supreme Allah is a fictional character of the HBO drama Oz, a Five Percenter who is serving time for murdering a man who laughed at him during a dice game. He often preaches Five Percent philosophy while simultaneously dealing drugs. He is portrayed by Lord Jamar of the hip hop group Brand Nubian.
Notable current and former members and associates of the Five Percent Nation
- Rakim - member of the influential duo Eric B. & Rakim
- Big Daddy Kane
- Wu-Tang Clan - Ghostface Killah and Raekwon have since converted to traditional Islam
- AZ - rapper and lyricist
- Gang Starr - A duo consisting of MC Guru and DJ Premier
- MF Doom
- Jay Electronica - He is best known so far for the Just Blaze-produced track "Exhibit C" and as a member of Jay-Z's Roc Nation
- Busta Rhymes
- Chuck D - Leader of the rap group Public Enemy
- Black Thought - He is the lead MC of the Philadelphia-based hip hop group The Roots
- Ras Kass - West Coast hip hop MC
- Jus Allah - Member of the underground rap duo Jedi Mind Tricks
- Allah Mathematics - He is a hip hop producer and DJ for the Wu-Tang Clan, credited for designing the group's highly popular logo
- Brand Nubian
- Erykah Badu - Her Grammy Award-winning song "On & On" features teachings of the Five Percent Nation
- Pete Rock & CL Smooth - The producer of the duo, Pete Rock
- Prince Paul - One of the founding members of the group Gravediggaz
- Black Sheep - An alternative hip hop duo best known for their debut album A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
- Poor Righteous Teachers - The lead rapper in the group, Wise Intelligent
- Talib Kweli
- ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5614846
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- ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5614846
- ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5614846
- ^ a b Allah, Wakeel (2007). In the Name of Allah: a History of Clarence 13X and the Five Percenters. Atlanta: A-Team Publishing.
- ^ http://www.thetalkingdrum.com/nge.html
- ^ a b c d e Knight, Michael Muhammad (2007). The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip Hop, and the Gods of New York. Oxford, England, UK: Oneworld Publications.
- ^ a b c Jane I. Smith (1999). Islam in America. Columbia University press. pp. 101–103, 206.
- ^ a b Mattias Gardell (1996). In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Duke University Press. pp. 225.
- ^ a b c d Juan Williams (2003). This Far by Faith: Stories from the African American Religious Experience. Amistad/HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 286–288.
- ^ Aminah Beverly McCloud (1995). African American Islam. Routledge Publishing. pp. 59, 60.
- ^ Knight, Michael Muhamad. The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip Hop, and the Gods of New York. Oxford, England, UK: Oneworld Publications, 2007. Chapter 16
- ^ Ronald L. Jackson & Elaine B. Richardson (2003). Understanding African American Rhetoric: Classical Origins to Contemporary Innovations. Routledge Publishing. pp. 174, 179.
- ^ Five Percenter Newspaper volume 16.5 p.2
- ^ a b c Jeff. Chang (2005). Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-hop Generation. St. Martin's Press. pp. 258, 259.
- ^ a b Felicia M. Miyakawa (2005). Five Percenter Rap: God-Hop's Music, Message, and Black Muslim Mission. Indiana University Press.
- ^ "Ra'heen M. Shabazz, #170474 vs. SCDOC". SC Administrative Law Court. 2001-11-29. http://www.scalc.net/decisions.aspx?q=4&id=3297. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
- ^ Ed White (2009-09-08). "Judge: No sign that Nation of Gods is prison risk". Associated Press. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g64rgJl1bmeWNY58-UiRaEgWv1CQD9AJC7CO2. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- ^ Five Percenter Newspaper, Vol 16.8, p.2
- ^ Ed White, The Associated Press, September 09, 2009
- ^ Phil Helsel (2009-04-05). "Staten Island man goes to court to seek name change". Staten Island Advance. http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/staten_island_man_goes_to_cour.html. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
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- ^ http://rapgenius.com/Ghostface-killah-wildflower-lyrics
- ^ Five Percenter rap: God hop's music, message, and black Muslim mission Miyakawa, Felicia M., p. 4
- ^ http://www.prefixmag.com/media/ghostface-killah/purified-thoughts/45277/
- ^ http://www.michigandaily.com/content/raekwon-interview
- ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=jSYEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=rakim+five+percenter&source=bl&ots=GfjojH_1fA&sig=n74Ge_Y4RbjVrg_-o_QjKF8tcAg&hl=en&ei=T8OCTpGSEYy-tgea8pHeAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=rakim%20five%20percenter&f=false
- The official Web site of the Nation of Gods and Earths
- A paper presented at the American Anthropological Association's Annual Meeting (Nov 1996) about Five Percenters and its influence on hip hop music, as well as its divergence from traditional Islam
- Official MySpace page of the Allah School in Mecca
- FBI files on the Five Percenters
- The Five Percent Solution – By Spin
- The official Web site of the Lord Jamar's 5% Album
- The Immortal Birth
- Nation of Gods and Earths
- Religious organizations established in 1964
- African and Black nationalism
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