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The Messenger
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The Messenger
The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad
Creators: Karl Evanzz
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
Pub. date: 09/07/2011
Lib. SRP: 65.00 USD
Ret. SRP: 22.95 USD
Format: Adobe EPUB eBook
ISBN: 9780307805201
PublisherCatalogNumber: 47441
DRM Level: Adobe Content Server 4
Min. Version: Adobe Digital Editions
File size: 5211 KB
Languages:
   English
Subjects:
   Biography & Autobiography, History, African American Nonfiction, Nonfiction
Keywords:
   biography, religion
  null
Short Description:
   

Here, eagerly anticipated, is the definitive biography of Elijah Muhammad (né Elija Poole), a sharecropper's son with a fourth- grade education who became one of the most controversial Americans of the twentieth century, the founder and "Prophet" of the Nation of Islam, a movement dedicated to black separatism and self-empowerment.

Though Muhammad's main argument--that white people were innately evil ("devils," he called them)--ran counter to the precepts of orthodox Islam, he was the chief influence in the conversion of nearly four million African Americans to Islam, touching in the process the lives of figures ranging from Muhammad Ali and Jesse Jackson to Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan. But in his desperate grasp for power, Muhammad also amassed a huge personal fortune at the expense of his followers. He was a party to ritualistic homicides, had illicit affairs galore, and was quick to betray his friends and charges, most notably Malcolm X. In brief, he violated...

Full Description:
   

Here, eagerly anticipated, is the definitive biography of Elijah Muhammad (né Elija Poole), a sharecropper's son with a fourth- grade education who became one of the most controversial Americans of the twentieth century, the founder and "Prophet" of the Nation of Islam, a movement dedicated to black separatism and self-empowerment.

Though Muhammad's main argument--that white people were innately evil ("devils," he called them)--ran counter to the precepts of orthodox Islam, he was the chief influence in the conversion of nearly four million African Americans to Islam, touching in the process the lives of figures ranging from Muhammad Ali and Jesse Jackson to Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan. But in his desperate grasp for power, Muhammad also amassed a huge personal fortune at the expense of his followers. He was a party to ritualistic homicides, had illicit affairs galore, and was quick to betray his friends and charges, most notably Malcolm X. In brief, he violated every ideal and principle that he espoused.

With the cooperation of some of Elijah Muhammad's children and former apostles and with access to previously unreleased FBI files, Karl Evanzz gives us an unprecedented account of the life of the man whose philosophy continues, long after his death, to shape race relations in America.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts:
  From the book
     

Prologue: UndercoverOn September 20, 1942, under the cover of still slumbering skies, a swarm of Chicago police officers and FBI agents surrounded the South Side home of a fugitive proclaimed by his adherents as the "Prophet." In a moment, they hoped, their extensive counterintelligence operations against the fugitive's group and other black "pro-Japanese" organizations would pay the ultimate dividend: the arrest and apprehension of black nationalist leaders on sedition charges.

They were especially eager, though, to capture the Prophet, an elusive religious zealot who changed names faster than a chameleon changes color. The head of a sect blacklisted by the U.S. attorney general, the Prophet jumped bail in July while awaiting trial in Washington, D.C., and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was damned angry about it.

The Prophet, known to law enforcement officials in seven states as Ghulam Bogans, Muck Muck, Mohammed Rassoull, or by one of a dozen other aliases, headed a sect called the Allah Temple of Islam. Most of his followers called him the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and referred to themselves as the Lost-Found Nation of Islam.

At seven o'clock, three FBI agents, armed with warrants and weapons, approached the front entrance to 6026 Vernon Avenue; other agents and police officers covered the side and rear. An agent banged on the door. Awakened by the loud knocking, Nathaniel Muhammad, the fugitive's sixteen-year-old son, went to the door and peered through the pane.

"May we come in?" an agent asked the silhouetted figure on the other side of the door. "We'd like to talk to your father."

"Just a minute," Nathaniel replied as he hurriedly backed away.

The agents waited for several minutes and then one of them knocked again, this time nearly hard enough to break the glass. Again, he saw a male figure peering at him through the curtain. The shadow and the silence angered him.

"This is the FBI, boy! Open this damn door or we'll break it down!"

Nathaniel quickly complied.

"Are you Ghulam Bogans's son?" the agent in charge asked gruffly.

The reason Elijah Muhammad used so many aliases was because other Muslim ministers who challenged his heirship of the Nation of Islam had pursued him sporadically since 1934 with the intent of killing him. Another reason was that police officers in several cities had been injured during fracases with Muslims and some were engaged in a vendetta against him. Ghulam Bogans was the alias he had used most recently, and that was the name on his arrest record when he was taken into custody in Washington on May 8, 1942, on charges of draft evasion.

"No one lives here by that name," Nathaniel answered.

"Well," the agent asked angrily, "is Elijah Muhammad here?"

"No, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is not here right now."

The white agents and several police officers pushed past the youth and began searching the house. As they reached the top of the stairway on the second floor, several women and children peered out of bedroom doorways. One woman walked toward the agents.

"I'm Clara Muhammad," she said. "What right do you have to barge into my home at this hour of the morning?"

"We're looking for Elijah, ma'am, alias Ghulam Bogans," an agent answered contemptuously. "We're the FBI."

"Well, you can just look somewhere else because he's not here."

"Do you know where your husband is at this hour of the morning, ma'am?" the agent asked sardonically.

"No," she answered, "I have no idea where he is right now."

The agents ignored her, and proceeding as though the house belonged to them now, approached a woman standing at a...

Reviews:
  David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi and First in His Class: The Biography of Bill Clinton
     

"Karl Evanzz is both a meticulous historian and an effective chronicler. For anyone seeking to understand the history of the Black Muslim movement and its place in America during thetwentieth century, this book is essential."

  Publisher's Weekly
     

Starred review from November 1, 1999
As a followup to his acclaimed The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X, Evanzz recounts the "incredible and multidimensional" life of Elijah Muhammad, cofounder of the Nation of Islam. Evanzz begins by meticulously reviewing the history of Muhammad's family during slavery and Reconstruction, leading up to his birth in Georgia in 1897, during the brutal Jim Crow era, which shaped his belief that whites are inherently evil. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with Muhammad's family, former associates and rivals, Evanzz reveals a determined, wily and resourceful figure who got rich from his schemes, ruled his followers by intimidation and fathered an enormous number of illegitimate children. He also chronicles Muhammad's powerful influence on key players of the civil rights movement, such as Dr. King, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson and the Black Panthers. Fresh access to FBI files provides several surprises about the NOI's rocky start, the pro-Axis orientation of its leaders during WWII and the government's extensive surveillance and harassment of its followers. The book also includes one of the most complete accounts to date of the final, bitter confrontation between Muhammad and his chief disciple, Malcolm X, arguing that the FBI's COINTELPRO campaign forced the rift between the pair, which resulted in Malcolm's grisly Harlem assassination and the disintegration of the Nation of Islam into a fractured "Tower of Babble." Although Evanzz's first-rate analysis may generate dispute among the NOI's thousands of faithful followers, it is a fascinating, long overdue study of one of the most intriguing personalities of the 20th century.

Creator Marketing:
  Karl Evanzz     
     

Karl Evanzz is an on-line editor at the Washington Post. He has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, MSNBC, and Tony Brown's Black Journal as an authority on the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan. He is the author of The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X. He lives in suburban Washington, D.C.

Adobe EPUB eBook Rights:
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