- Wallace Fard Muhammad
Wallace Fard Muhammad Photograph of Wallace Fard Muhammad Leader of the Nation of Islam In office
Succeeded by Elijah Muhammad Personal details Died June 1934 (presumed) Occupation Minister Religion Nation of Islam Part of a series on the Nation of Islam Leaders Wallace Fard Muhammad
Elijah Muhammad · Malcolm X
Warith Deen Mohammed
History and beliefs Saviours' Day
Nation of Islam and antisemitism
Tribe of Shabazz · Yakub
Million Man March
Publications The Final Call
How to Eat to Live
American Society of Muslims
Fruit of Islam
The Nation of Gods and Earths
New Black Panther Party
United Nation of Islam
Your Black Muslim Bakery
Wallace Fard Muhammad was a minister and founder of the Nation of Islam. He established the Nation of Islam's first mosque in Detroit, Michigan in 1930, and ministered his distinctive religion there for three years, before mysteriously disappearing in June 1934. He was succeeded by his follower Elijah Muhammad.
Fard's real identity is not definitively known. Alternative names on record include Wallace/Wallie Dodd Ford, Wallace Dodd, Wallie Dodd Fard, W.D. Fard, David Ford-el, Wali Farad, Farrad Muhammad and F. Muhammad Ali. Within the Nation of Islam he is generally known as Master Fard Muhammad.
Wallace Dodd Ford
A World War 1 draft registration card for Wallace Dodd Ford, from 1917, indicated he was living in Los Angeles, California, unmarried, as a restaurant owner, and reported that he was born in Shinka, Afghanistan on February 26, 1893. He was described as being of medium height and build with brown eyes and black hair. As of 1920, he was still living in Los Angeles, as 26 year-old Wallie D. Ford, with his 25 year-old wife, Hazel. In the 1920 United States Census he reported his race as white, his occupation as a proprietor of a restaurant, and gave his place of birth as New Zealand. He provided no known place of birth for his parents, nor his date of immigration. In 1926, Ford was arrested and imprisoned for attempting to sell drugs to an undercover police officer, serving three years in San Quentin State Prison between 1926 and 1929. When he was released from prison, he disappeared from the public record until "Wallace Fard" was arrested in 1932. He was identified as Wallace Dodd Ford on the basis of photographs and matching fingerprints.
The Nation of Islam rejects this identification of Wallace Dodd Ford as Wallace Fard Muhammad, interpreting it as part of a smear campaign. They also say that he was born in 1877 (which would put him in his 50s when photographed), and that he came from Mecca. Elijah Muhammad, Fard Muhammad's student and successor as Nation of Islam leader, wrote in his book Message to the Blackman:Allah (God) came to us from the Holy City Mecca, Arabia, in 1930. He used the name Wallace D. Fard, often signing it W. D. Fard. In the third year (1933), He signed His name W. F. Muhammad, which stands for Wallace Fard Muhammad. He came alone. He began teaching us the knowledge of ourselves, of God and the devil, of the measurement of the earth, of other planets, and of the civilizations of some of the planets other than earth.
Elijah Muhammad also challenged the Hearst press, which had publicized the story, and offered US$100,000 to anyone who could prove W. F. Muhammad was an alias of Wallace Dodd Ford. Soon enough Ford's former alleged common-law wife, Hazel Ford, stepped forward with what she claimed was proof that W. F. Muhammad (alias Wallace D. Fard) and Wallace D. Ford were indeed the same person. She also claimed to have a child fathered by Ford. These accusations were never considered credible, so the money was never placed in escrow and Ford was never paid the money.
While the question of W. F. Muhammad's identity is controversial, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, does accept that Fard was imprisoned, but only after the events of 1932. He insists that this was because W.F. Muhammad's preaching threatened the racial status quo, and not because of any criminal acts.
Involvement with the Moorish Science Temple
According to several authors, in spring 1929, after his release from prison, Dodd/Ford, joined the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded by Timothy Drew, where he was renamed David Ford-el. Timothy Drew, by then known as Noble Drew Ali, needed someone capable of overseeing his organization while he was awaiting a trial on suspicion of accessory to the murder of his rival Sheik Claude Greene. He put Fard in charge of the Chicago Temple.
On July 20, 1929, less than a month after he named Fard acting head of Chicago mosque, Drew Ali was found dead in his home. David Ford-el claimed Drew Ali had left him in charge and declared himself the reincarnation of Noble Drew Ali (aka Timothy Drew). Arguments erupted over the issue of successor. Those who had been loyal to Greene argued that Fard had not been with the MSTA long enough to succeed Drew Ali, and insisted that Charles Kirkman Bey, one of Greene’s closest allies, had the authority to assume the mantle of leadership. Another faction, headed by Ira Johnson Bey, claimed that Kirkman Bey was unfit. On September 25, 1929 four of Johnson Bey’s lieutenants went to Kirkman Bey’s home and kidnapped him. Police were called, and a shootout with police occurred.
One month after the shootout, the stock market crashed. Ford allegedly claimed that the crash proved he was the reincarnation of Noble Drew Ali. Some of Drew Ali’s followers swore allegiance to him.
The Nation of Islam have denied that their founder, Fard was involved in these events, insisting that he was never a member of the Moorish Science Temple and that Ford-el and the Nation of Islam's Fard were two different people.
Founding of the Nation of Islam
In November 1929 Fard arrived in Detroit, where he sold coats, fine silks and trinkets under the names Wali Fard, Wallace D. Fard and Wallace D. Fard Muhammad. He made friends in the local African-American community, telling them that the silks he sold were similar to the fabrics worn in their ancestral homeland. When his customers inquired about his experiences in his homeland, he responded with stories that combined theosophy, traditional Islam and ideas similar to Moorish Science Temple of America. After he developed a following, he declared that he had come from Mecca and that he would soon appear in his "royal robes." He organized his movement as the Allah Temple of Islam, establishing the University of Islam, which was not a university but a "school" that taught black students from grades one through twelve. He also established a group of male security guards called the Fruit of Islam, which he copied the military drill from Booker T. Washington, an African-American educator during this period in time.
However, Fard's activities were brought to wider public notice after a major scandal erupted involving an apparent ritual murder in November 1932, reportedly committed by one of Fard's early followers, Robert Karriem. He later said he had committed the murder "to bring himself closer to Allah." Karriem had quoted from Fard's booklet titled "Secret Rituals of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam": "The unbeliever must be stabbed through the heart." This quotation, as well as stating that "every son of Islam must gain a victory from the devil. Four victories and the son will attain his reward," convinced the Detroit police to seek out Fard in connection with the murder.
Although not charged with any crime, Fard was asked to leave town in early 1933 and not to return. Fard left, but returned secretly to Detroit the next year. Fard was arrested and again asked to leave Detroit.
One of Fard's first followers had been Elijah Poole, who later changed his name to Elijah Muhammad. Elijah began preaching that Wallace Fard Muhammad was the Mahdi and thought that it was God directly intervening in the world through Fard. He taught his followers that, Allah appeared in the person of Master Fard. He taught that Fard was the same person referred to in the Bible as, "The Son of Man". He taught as his followers believe today, that The True and Living God operated in Fard's person. Shortly before he departed Detroit for the last time, Fard had conferred leadership of the Nation of Islam on Elijah Muhammad.
In June 1934, Fard left Detroit for Chicago and disappeared without a trace. When nothing further was heard from him, some rumored that he had been killed by police. Others asserted that he had returned to Mecca to prepare for his eventual return. The later official view of the Nation of Islam was that he was in Mecca. Others believe he had been killed by Elijah Muhammad. Today, The Nation of Islam teaches that he boarded the Mother Plane and is still alive.
There is some evidence that Fard lived at least until the 1960s; his alleged lover stated that he had returned to New Zealand. The FBI maintained an open file on Fard Muhammad up until as late as 1960, according to documents published through the Freedom of Information Act.
In 1981, Pakistani scholar Zafar Ishaq Ansari researched Fard's life and claimed that Fard was identical with Muhammad Abdullah, a Pakistani Ahmadiyya Muslim. He was an adviser of Elijah Muhammad since the late 1950s and was the tutor of his son and successor Warith Deen Mohammed. After Elijah's death, Warith Deen appointed Abdullah imam of Mosque #77 in Oakland, California. The 26 November 1976 issue of the Nation of Islam journal Bilalian News reports Muhammad Abdullah's first khutbah at the mosque and shows a photo. Abdullah himself denied that he was Fard, saying "It is all right to say I am Fard Muhammad for Wallace [Warith] D. Muhammad. I taught him some lessons. But I am not the same person who taught Elijah Muhammad and I am not God."
Fard claimed that Armageddon was imminent. He maintained that black people in the United States had a duty to discover their origins and purpose. Out of all the nations of the Earth, diasporic Africans, particularly those in "the hells of North America," were the only nation without any knowledge of their history, no control of their present lives, and without any guidance for their future. Black people had been systematically denied knowledge of their true history by their white oppressors. Fard also claimed that Christianity was a religion of the slave owners that had been forced on enslaved or subordinated black peoples.
The scientist Yakub
He claimed that Islam was the original faith and nature of black people prior to slavery and that the original peoples of the world were black. He described white people as a race of "devils" created by a scientist named Yakub (the Biblical and Qur'anic Jacob) on the Greek island of Patmos. He would point out the bloody history of whites as they conquered and encountered indigenous or original people wherever they went. Fard claimed that Prophet Muhammad of Arabia was a white skinned Arab and that he was the best example for all mankind, emphasizing to his followers that The Holy Qu'ran and the life of Prophet Muhammad must be studied. He gave Elijah a reading and study assignment upon his departure to prepare him for his mission. According to Elijah's book "Message to the Black Man in America," Fard instructed him to find 104 books, most of which were about the history of Islam and the life of Prophet Muhammad. Elijah located most of the books in the Library of Congress. Fard also taught his followers that his own mother was a white woman from the Caucasus Mountains and that she was a righteous Muslim woman. Fard's lessons teach that it was not the color of one's skin that makes them evil, but that the evil devilishment that Yakub taught made people weak and wicked.
According to the supreme wisdom lessons, Fard taught that whites were devils because of a culture of lies and murder that the black man Yakub instituted on the island of Patmos or Pelan to ensure the creation of his new people. According to Elijah, Fard taught that Yakub established a secret birth control policy among the ruling class on the island. They were to kill all dark babies at birth and lie to the parents about the child's fate. Further, they were to make sure that the lighter-skinned children thrived in society. This policy encouraged a general preference for light skin. This was the establishment of the idea of White Supremacy. It was necessary to allow the process of grafting or making of a lighter skinned race of people who would be different. The idea was that if the light skinned people were allowed to mate freely with the dark skinned people, the population would remain dark-skinned due to the genetic dominance of the original dark-skinned people. This process took approximately 600 years to produce a blond-haired, blue-eyed group of people. As they migrated into the mainland they were greeted and welcomed by the indigenous people wherever they went. But according to the supreme wisdom lessons, they started making trouble among the righteous people, telling lies and causing confusion and mischief. This is when the ruling class of the Middle East decided to round up all the troublemakers that they could find and march them out, over the hot desert sands, into the caves and hillsides of Europe. Elijah claimed that this history is well-known and preserved, and is ritualized or re-enacted within many fraternal organizations and secret societies. Also, Fard taught that much of their allegedly savage ways came from living in the caves and hillsides of Europe for over 2,000 years without any divine revelation or knowledge of civilization.
White Man's burden
Fard taught his followers that whites did not become civilized until the Prophet Moses or Musa was sent to them 2,000BC. Today's European Jews are believed by the Nation of Islam to be the progeny of the first group Musa taught. Fard explained that Whites were considered Devil because they were grafted or altered from the original humans. According to the supreme wisdom lessons by Fard and Elijah Muhammad's 1964 interview with Buzz Anderson, the definition for Devil included any altered or grafted live germ, plant or animal, from its original biological state is devil. In his supreme wisdom teachings he explains that because they are made weak, their recessive biological nature made them more susceptible to doing evil than the original people. He indicated that it was possible for some of them to be righteous, when they study and submit to the principles of religion of Islam. He claimed that black people were divine by nature, created by Allah from the dark substance of space. In "Message to the Black Man of America", Elijah explains that Blacks had primitive forms of evil that occasionally appeared among them, long before the making of White people. Elijah reports from Fard, that dissatisfaction and evil among Blacks caused a major explosion to happen on earth 66 trillion years ago, that created the current moon, orbiting now around the planet. Therefore it is safe to conclude that Fard was more focused on dealing with the root cause of evil that resided within the original people. His ideology on race is believed by his followers to be the root knowledge necessary to correct the problem of White Supremacy and evil in general that is not race related. According to Elijah, Fard wanted the Holy Qu'ran a book of spiritual guidance for all mankind, to become law of the land.
The Nation of Islam continues to teach Fard's ideology, but with more emphasis on devilish behavior found in both Blacks and Whites, understanding that Fard's intentions were apparently directed at removing evil and wickedness from the world, regardless of color, permanently breaking the spell of Yacub. Fard, as all Muslims do, loved and revered Prophet Muhammad as well as his own mother. He was critical but also respected the Muslim world and taught of a time when his followers would eventually reconnect with Muslims of all races and colors world wide, according to Elijah Muhammad's book Message to the Black Man. He referred to righteous people as The 5%, who were people of every race and nationality, that work to save humanity from the evil rule of Yacub's teachings and those who promote them. In the supreme wisdom lessons, those will find Fard's ideology about truth and those who possessed it and the secret knowledge of civilization. He explains that humanity can be divided up in general categories; The 5% who know and teach the truth, the 85% or the majority of humanity that is "blind, deaf and dumb", who do not know the truth and are mislead and exploited by the ruling 10%. The Nation of Islam regards the 10% or ruling class of this civilization as the actual forces of Satan. Today its understood by many, in and outside of the Nation of Islam, that Fard's teaching on the Devil was his method of addressing the ideology of white supremacy and black inferiority that permeates the minds of both people. The Nation of Islam, explains that Fard's teaching helped to reduce the image of whites in the mind of Blacks and at the same time raise that of Blacks from a position of inferiority, within the thinking of Blacks and Whites. By this, both people can see each other on a level of equality vs Whites as superior.
Fard taught that God was manifested as a physical being with supreme technology and aviation that mastered the heavens. Referencing the Bible 2 Kings 2:11 and in many other instances where a flying craft or angels with wings are described, Fard convinced His followers that God has always had and used superior technological power and flying vehicles. Elijah reports in his books that Fard claimed there was hidden technology on earth that secret scientist all around the world are aware of. He explained, according to Elijah Muhammad and many other early followers, that he had a huge "Mother Plane" or "Wheel" constructed and launched it into outer space, from the island of Nippon in 1929. Elijah Muhammad, as does the current NOI leader Louis Farrakhan, continued to preach that Fard's fleet of highly advanced crafts are seen and are described as UFOs by thousands around the world. He taught that the same Wheel or Mother ship is spoken of in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel in the "Book of Ezekiel", and that it would destroy the current world for its supposed evil.
The idea that Islam is the original true religion can be derived from mainstream Islamic theology, which claims that Judaism and Christianity are corrupted forms of God's original message. It is claimed by Muslims that the one and only God Allah sent all prophets in all times and places around the world, including Adam, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, etc. This universal message is what is believed by all Muslims, is that which Muhammad reaffirmed. The presence of Islam in eastern countries such as Indonesia and the Middle East may have led others to think that Fard was using this as a way of justifying the historical faith of Asian peoples as a whole, to his followers.
According to Elijah Muhammad, Fard taught that Asia was one of the original words that referred to the entire world, not just one land mass. Asia is from the Greek language, but its etymology goes further into its roots in the Afro-Asiatic languages, which includes Akkadian and Phonecian, some of the earliest known languages. The word "Asia" is "Asu" in Akkadian, meaning "to go outside" or "to ascend" -- referring to the direction from whence the sun rises. The opposite in Akkadian is "Ereb" (Europe), meaning "to go in" -- that is, the fall or setting of the sun. Fard taught that Europe was a place where people where sent and bound, as one is sent to prison, implying that the sun, or light, of civilization has gone down on that people. In the Phoenician language the word Asia meant east. In light of the African holocaust and systematic oppression, Fard described the condition of Blacks as being that of mental and spiritual death. Fard claimed that he was born and sent to awaken them and reconnect them with their past in the east. He taught that they would ascend or be resurrected from their mental death. Many old maps describe the rest of the world south and east of Europe as Asia. Fard wanted his followers to see themselves as one race with all non-Europeans. Because the term Asia transcended several geographic locations, continents and cultures, it served Fard's purpose of connecting blacks in America with non-Europeans around the world. He did not want his followers to think that Africa was the only place to which they were racially connected. He pointed out that Caucasians are so called because they were sent into the Caucus mountains of Europe by the people of the Middle East. Fard taught that Asia, or earth, is home to all humans, but that blacks were the original human beings and created first.
The figure of Yakub is derived from the Biblical Jacob (Yaqub in the Qur'an), while his activities on Patmos recall St. John's Book of Revelation. Thus, he combined central figures in the founding of Judaism and Christianity.
Fard's racialization of Islamic beliefs is thought by some to be a part of a widespread preoccupation at the time with racial theory and eugenics among many people from various backgrounds. Fard reversed the common white supremacist idea that black people were less evolved than whites, making blacks the original, uncorrupted peoples of the world, of which whites were thought of as a grafted, or genetically altered, hybrid. According to Fard, Yakub's progeny were destined to dominate the world for 6,000 years, corresponding with the popular Judeo-Christian theology of Satan's rule for 6 days, but upon the 7th day, or millennium, God takes over with the second coming of Christ. In Islamic literature, Christ's second coming is accompanied by the coming of a very powerful but mysterious man called Imam al Mahdi, The Guide. Fard claimed that at this time the original black peoples will return to power. He said this process began in 1914, while his followers said he had been sent to proclaim it. According to Elijah, Fard claimed or admitted to him that he was indeed the one expected by the Muslim world as Imam al Mahdi.
Fard's followers were given Arabic names to replace their given names. His birth date is celebrated 26 February by the Nation of Islam as Saviour's Day. The Final Call organization led by Louis Farrakhan in Chicago celebrates a similar day every fourth Sunday in February regardless of the date called Saviours' Day, but with an apostrophe at the end instead of apostrophe-s indicating that Farrakhan and his followers believe there are saviors other than Fard Muhammad. The Nation of Islam considers it blasphemy to set up other gods besides Fard Muhammad.
In popular culture
A reinterpretation of the historical mantle exists in Jeffrey Eugenides’s novel Middlesex, which won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In the story, Fard's real name is Jimmy Zizmo, and he is a small time bootlegger of rumored Greek-Turkish-Pontian descent who fakes his death upon suspecting that his wife is having an affair and that he isn’t the father to their daughter. Having convinced everyone that he is dead, he assumes the Fard identity, apparently out of a desire to reaffirm his Turkish roots. Just as in real life, the Fard-Zizmo character disappears after the ritual murder scandal.
- ^ Ancestry.com database, Registration Location: Los Angeles County, California; Roll: 1530899; Draft Board: 17
- ^ 1920 Federal U.S. Census, Los Angeles City, Enumeration District 206, Sheet 10B
- ^ a b E. U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism: The Search for an Identity, University of Chicago Presswi, 1995, p.35
- ^ Nation of Islam history
- ^ a b Richard Brent Turner, Islam in the African-American Experience, Indiana University Press, 2003, p.167.
- ^ Turner, R.B, Islam in the African-American Experience, Indiana University Press, 2003, p.165
- ^ Supreme Wisdom Lessons, Lost found muslim lesson 1
- ^ Supreme Wisdom Lessons, Lost found muslim lesson 1 & 2
- ^ Message to the Black Man chapter 125
- ^ Supreme Wisdom Lessons, Student Enrollment
- ^ Message to the Black Man in America Chapter 6
- ^ http://muhammadspeaks.com/Saviour%27sDay2011.html
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