Wallace Fard Muhammad

From Academic Kids

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The NOI's acknowledged photograph of Wallace Fard Muhammad

Wallace Fard Muhammad (1877-93? – after 1934) was a preacher and founder of the black nationalist movement the Nation of Islam (NOI), establishing its first mosque in Detroit. He preached his distinctive version of Islam there for three years before mysteriously disappearing in 1934.

Alternative names on record are numerous: Wali Farad, Farrad Mohammed, and F. Mohammed Ali. Within the NOI he is generally known as Master Fard Muhammad.

Contents

Controversy over identity

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The FBI's photograph of Wallace Dodd Ford
According to FBI records, Fard Muhammad is identical to one Wallace Dodd Ford, also known as Wallace Dodd, thought to have been born on February 25, 1891 of mixed European and Polynesian parentage. It is uncertain whether he was born in New Zealand or in Portland, Oregon, of parents who came from Hawaii. A recent researcher believes he was a New Zealander of half-Pakistani descent, born in 1893. [1] (http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=4650) Dodd was certainly in the United States by the 1920s, when he was arrested and imprisoned for drugs offences, serving three years in San Quentin between 1926 and 1929. Photographs and fingerprints of both men exist.

The NOI has in the past rejected this identification of Wallace Dodd with Wallace Fard Muhammad, interpreting it as part of a smear campaign. They also claim that he was born in 1877 (which would put him in his fifties when photographed), and that he came from Mecca. Elijah Muhammad – Fard Muhammad's student and successor – had this to say about his teacher, in his book, "Message to the Black Man":

"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 publicised the story, to prove its assertion that the Fard and Dodd were one and the same person. A woman stepped forward with what she claimed was proof that Fard and Dodd were indeed one and the same. The woman also claimed to have fathered children by Dodd/Fard. Muhammad was not known to have responded to the claims.

The question of Fard's identity is unresolved, however the current NOI leader Louis Farrakhan does accept that Fard was imprisoned, insisting that this was because his preaching threatened the racist status quo, not because of any criminal acts.

Life

Taking the view that Fard and Dodd/Ford are one and the same person, his biography can be partially reconstructed up to 1934. His distinctive mixed parentage allowed him to at various times to claim to belong to several different races, often either African or Arabian. This may have influenced his later doctrine of the "Asian black man" and to his emphasis on Islam as the authentic black person's religion, though he did not originate these ideas. After his prison experience, he became involved with the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded by Timothy Drew. From Drew's ideas he developed his own idiosyncratic theories, mixing aspects of theosophy and Islam, preaching his new gospel among African-Americans. In Detroit, Michigan, he established the Temple of Islam, the University of Islam, a group of male guards called the Fruit of Islam and other Black Muslim organizations.

One of Fard's first disciples was Robert Poole, who later changed his name to Elijah Muhammad. Elijah began preaching that Wallace Fard Muhammad was the Mahdi, and even "The Living God". After a scandal involving an apparent ritual murder, Fard bestowed leadership of the Nation of Islam on Elijah Muhammad. In 1934 he disappeared without a trace. According to the NOI he returned to Mecca. Others believe he was killed by Elijah Muhammad (who was also suspected of ordering NOI dissident Malcolm X assassinated in 1965.) Although there is evidence that Fard was not killed and lived at least until the 1960's. His alleged lover stated that he had gone home to New Zealand.

Ideology

Fard claimed that a race war was imminent. For Black people in America, the duty was to discover their origins and purpose. Out of all the nations of the earth, diasporic Africans are 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. Christianity was a religion of the slaveowners which had been forced on enslaved or subordinated black peoples. Islam was the original faith of blacks prior to slavery. The original peoples of the world were black. White people were a "race of devils" created by an evil scientist named Yakub on the island of Patmos. He also claimed that black people were divine, created by Allah from the dark substance of space, and that a spacecraft was waiting to destroy all white people when the appointed time came.

The idea that Islam is the original true religion is derived from mainstream Islamic theology, which claims that Judaism and Christianity are corrupted forms of God's original message that Muhammad merely reaffirmed. The presence of Islam in eastern countries such as Indonesia as well as the Middle-East may have led Fard to conclude that it was the historical faith of Asian peoples as a whole, but this aspect of his thinking was directly influenced by Drew, who had claimed that all non-Europeans are in fact part of a unified Asian race, which he called "Moorish".

Christian missionary activity under Imperialism may also have contributed to Fard's association of white supremacy with the attempted imposition of 'corrupted' religious ideas. The figure of Yakub is derived from the Biblical Jacob (Yakub being a variant spelling of the name), while his activities on Patmos recall St. John's revelations there. He thus combines central figures in the founding of Judaism and Christianity.

Fard's racialising of Islamic beliefs is part of the widespread preoccupation with racial theory and eugenics among many people from various backgrounds at the time. The common white supremacist idea that blacks were "less evolved" than whites is turned round so that blacks become the original uncorrupted peoples of the world and whites are defined as a degenerate offshoot of them, just as Muslims claim that Judaism and Christianity are corrupted offshoots of Islam itself. According to Fard, Yakub's progeny were destined to dominate the world for six thousand years, before the original black peoples once more regained power. This process had begun in 1914 and Fard had been sent to proclaim it.

Fard's followers were given Arabic names to replace those that had originated in slavery. Fard offered blacks a credo of moral and cultural superiority to their white oppressors. His birthdate is celebrated today by the Nation of Islam as Saviour's Day.

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