Book Review: Minister Jabril Muhammad's Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still Physically Alive???
In Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still Physically Alive??? Jabril Muhammad, in a bold, reasoned and yet cautious manner approaches an explosive subject that, as an idea, has only entered into the mind of a few, and which as an issue of critical importance, has been seriously considered by an even smaller number of persons.
In this patient and seminal treatise, Jabril Muhammad considers, explores and analyzes theological, anecdotal, circumstantial and first-hand evidence that supports the basis of the thinking, held by a growing minority, that Nation of Islam's patriarch, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, escaped a death plot twenty-six years ago, and is in fact, still alive, today. Although the author, who lived in the home of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad for six years, does not exhaust all that he currently knows of the subject today, or even that which he knew of the subject over 26 years ago, it is his stated aim, with this book, to only raise the possibility, that his teacher, though out of the sight of the general public, is still physically alive.
Presented in an interesting and at times riveting fashion, Jabril Muhammad, a theologian and a registered member of the Nation Of Islam since January 1955, makes a compelling case that the actual events of February 25th 1975 may not at all correspond with the news accounts of that day, which included an announcement, circulated throughout the world, that Elijah Muhammad had died.
That the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, over a period of years, discussed the subject of this book, before 1975, and that this book contains the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan's own articulation of how his belief that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is physically alive motivates his work and success, makes this book essential reading for any person seeking to understand the Nation Of Islam.
Furthermore, anyone who is represented as an expert on the Nation of Islam who omits Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still Physically Alive??? from his or her research process, is not only uninformed, but even worse, intellectually dishonest. This little book, the cogency of the arguments contained within it, as well as the demonstrated impact of its contents, are too important to ignore.
Jabril Muhammad makes clear the motive and the implications of his work when he writes, "This comes to stimulate and deepen thought in an area of information dangerous to some, helpful to others, affecting everyone in America and throughout the world." And while the subject is awesome in nature and scope, and possibly intimidating to some, the book is extremely reader-friendly, laid out in an easy-to-understand and convenient manner, with Minister Muhammad even providing, within the text, excerpts from numerous translations of the Bible and Holy Qur'an, as well as portions of several commentaries from religious scholars. By doing this, the author saves the reader and serious student valuable time, money and energy.
That Jabril Muhammad is able to include so much information from a variety of sources in such a small amount of space, as he simultaneously writes from his own perspective, is quite an accomplishment and one that ensures that the reader explores this controversial subject with the benefit of more than one point of view.
In just 96 pages the author makes a provocative introduction regarding the underlying logic, historical context, and tangible importance of considering the possibility that the man who visibly lead the Nation of Islam for 40 years did not die, and as a result, has not lost his guiding influence over the community that he gave birth to and taught and trained.
The argument put forth in this book, that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, like the Moses of the Old Testament, left behind a believing community, but not due to physical death, should influence the thinking of the community of Believers in the Nation Of Islam, who have accepted Islam before and after 1975, as well as that community's worst detractors.
But in between those two points of view, the book should more than adequately engage students and educators of Black history; journalists in the Black and mainstream media; leading academics and intellectuals who have weighed the impact of Islam in the Black community in America; and the most serious of religious scholars, theologians and scriptural scientists. In fact, several chapters particularly lend themselves to an embrace from each of these groups, simultaneously.
An example of a portion of the book that at once appeals to readers of different disciplines and backgrounds is the 2nd chapter called, "Update On The possibility : 1989" which deals with a particular spiritual experience of Minister Farrakhan, while he was in Mexico in September of 1985. The spiritual experience, which the Minister publicly revealed the contents of in February 1986, involved his being told by Honorable Elijah Muhammad that the President of the United States had met with the Joint Chiefs of Staffs and planned a war.
As Jabril Muhammad describes, in 1987, the ,Atlanta Journal-Constitution, among other publications, reported that in fact, weeks before the Minister had his experience, President Reagan did in fact meet with his joint chiefs of staff and planned a war against Libya, confirming the truth of the information the Minister received in his spiritual experience involving the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
The chapter, intimately connected with the subject and title of the book, and written in a methodical style, should impress both political scientists and scriptural scientists alike with the manner in which he handles the most serious of "political" and "spiritual", and some may even say "metaphysical" of realities, without offending the sensibilities of other readers, of varying backgrounds and interests.
For the student and educator in the field of history, the book is filled with anecdotes and facts that are not available in any other trade paper published on the Nation of Islam. In the book's fourth chapter, "Minister Farrakhan And This Book", the words of Minister Farrakhan are provided to explain his interaction and some of the impact that the original letter that grew into Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still Physically Alive??? had on the Muslim leader. With humor, candor and great attention to detail, Minister Farrakhan provides an informative chronology from 1977 to 1981 of his early thinking and work juxtaposed to the original written material outlining the possibility that his Teacher was still alive.
As is evident, from the onset of the book, Jabril Muhammad's work is actually part of the story that it tells, having grown out of a letter written to two men, one of which was Minister Farrakhan, begun on December 25, 1975. Through a very interesting turn of events, and some important encouragement, described in this final edition's first three chapters, the letter evolved into a book.
Properly placed in context, the fifth chapter of this final edition, entitled, "On The Possibility Of The Escape From A Death Plot By The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Messenger Of Allah", is the letter, as it was originally titled. It was this letter, now presented as a chapter which was first published in 1983, in the first edition of this book.
Although originally written, first to one person and then to Minister Farrakhan, this fifth chapter should be of great interest to all of its readers, particularly Muslims and Christians in the Black community and the Pastors and Imams that shepherd and educate them. Here, Jabril Muhammad makes the argument, with the Bible and Holy Qur'an, that the life of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Black people in America, in particular, is intimately connected, related and intertwined with the actual lives of the prophets of old as well as the narrative and storyline of the scriptures.
That relationship, as Jabril Muhammad, argues throughout the book, but particularly in this chapter, was a central reality in the fate of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad 26 years ago. He writes, "Not many people know that there was 'death plot' talk during January and February, 1975... . Just as the 'Jesus' of the Bible expect a death plot, so did the Messenger...There are certain parts of the Bible that describe a situation so much like what happened just before and just after February 25, 1975, that will force you to wonder if you are not reading a word picture taken and written thousands of years ago..." and, "aimed and taken," to paraphrase him, of these times in which we live.
In this chapter, Jabril Muhammad explores and analyzes both the general and most intricate of details contained in seldom-studied portions of scriptures, particularly the Holy Qur'an that deal with the subject of the death and even the assassination attempt on God's Messenger(s). A striking aspect of Minister Muhammad's presentation is the manner in which his arguments provoke deep thought regarding the agreement between the Bible and the Holy Qur'an in reference to the Messiah.
It is a subject that few deal with in public but one that this writer recognized the importance of in December of 1997, in a discussion that I had with a member of the prestigious Jesus Seminar - a group which, with painstaking detail, analyzes the words of Jesus contained in the scriptures from theological, scholarly and anthropological perspectives. The group's work is covered annually, and is often featured on the cover of popular magazines like U.S News and World Reports and Time. Among other things, the Jesus Seminar has concluded that as much as 80% of what is written in the Bible as the words of Jesus were not stated by the man, Jesus, who lived 2,000 years ago.
Beginning in December of 1997 and in our subsequent exchanges, a Jesus Seminar member, Mr. Art Dewey ( who is also a prominent Catholic theologian ) expressed his interest, to this writer, in the fact that the Holy Qur'an's view of Jesus is almost identical to that of the earliest Christians, a fact rarely discussed in public.
Those scholars who have intensely studied both the Bible and Holy Qur'an have formed the opinion that there is persuasive evidence that both books are in major agreement over Jesus, the Messiah, even the conspiracy against his life and his ultimate fate. It is a fascinating subject that Chapter 5 of "Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still Physically Alive???"explores and makes relevant to today.
Chapter 6, "Minister Farrakhan's Magnificent Answer" is one for the historical record as the author provides an interview in which the Muslim leader explains the importance and some of the process of his growth into the belief that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad did not die on February 25, 1975. In response to a single question from Jabril Muhammad, Minister Farrakhan not only explains the inspiration that such a realization has provided for him, personally, but he also explains what he believes the implications of such are for the Black clergy. The chapter provides a rare window into some of what has motivated the Muslim leader in his activities with the Christian community, which have included numerous speaking engagements in Black Churches.
Chapter 7, entitled, "My Explanation" is the author’s response to a question that was first posed to Minister Farrakhan by Emerge magazine in 1990 that is related to the contents and purpose of the original letter begun on December 25, 1975, which Jabril Muhammad determined on December 26, 1975, that he would give to Minister Farrakhan, along with a much larger untitled work (which Muhammad had already determined he would give to Minister Farrakhan) Jabril Muhammad would give that letter and that larger book to Minister Farrakhan in Hollywood California, a couple of years later, in 1977.
This chapter provides a definitive answer to a subject that not a single one of the major books regarding the Nation of Islam and Minister Farrakhan gets correct. This writer has met with at least three men, including Arthur Magida, author of Prophet Of Rage who have written popular books about the Nation Of Islam who wrote accounts in their books which provide an incorrect, confused or woefully incomplete account of the circumstances surrounding the meeting between Jabril Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan in September of 1977 and the information that was exchanged between the two followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad - a bit over 22 years from the time both men joined the Nation Of Islam in New York City. This chapter also includes a look at the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's view of the relationship between Minister Farrakhan and the Biblical figures, the apostles, Peter and Paul and Jabril Muhammad's recognition of the relationship between Minister Farrakhan and the Biblical figure Paul, in September 1977. This chapter is a valuable contribution that sheds light on one of the most misunderstood and inaccurately described, yet important periods and events in the history of the Nation Of Islam.
In "So What?", the book's riveting final chapter, which is actually an excerpt from an unpublished book, Jabril Muhammad writes a first-person account of a direct experience with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, regarding the Nation Of Islam leader's confidence that he would narrowly escape a future plot on his life. With an attention to nuance and recollection that is striking, Jabril Muhammad describes his interaction, with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, beginning in 1966, in reference to the subject. The chapter highlight is a vivid description of an October 1967 discussion between the teacher and student concerning the relationship between the scriptures and the future event of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's escape from a death plot to once again be with his teacher, Master Fard Muhammad - a reunion which the leader of the Nation Of Islam publicly hinted at, in an article which appeared in the Muhammad Speaks newspaper in the 1973.
The chapter's description of the discussion, the setting and emotions felt and displayed by both men is so clearly depicted that one may feel they are present in the Phoenix, Arizona home of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad when this very serious discussion took place, almost 35 years ago. This chapter should be valuable to those who would like a rare glimpse of the more private side of the man who taught Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, along with Minister Farrakhan, but who is yet so misunderstood. The chapter also provides a window into a subject that many of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's own followers have not adequately looked into - that being the thoughts that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad held regarding his own future, even his ultimate "fate".
In sum, "Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still Physically Alive???" is an essential book for anyone seeking a deeper grasp of the history of the Nation of Islam, the implications of its existence and its contribution to the Black experience in America.
The book also represents a formidable challenge to the world's three major religions and the ability of their representatives to adequately relate the Supreme Being, the prophets, and scripture, to the 400-plus year history of Black people in the Western Hemisphere.
Although Jabril Muhammad's original intention for this writing was for a private purpose, nevertheless, it raises a provocative topic which not only challenges the historical record, but also confronts the most deeply held tenets and dogmas of the world's three major religions.
In the process of stimulating thought over whether or not the Honorable Elijah Muhammad died or departed on February 25, 1975, Jabril Muhammad unearths critical aspects of the buried relationship between race and religion and brings to view some of the most overlooked portions (in the case of some scholars) and even forgotten aspects (in the case of some who joined the Nation of Islam prior to 1975) of the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. As he accomplishes this, Jabril Muhammad shows the relevancy of what has been both overlooked and forgotten, to the mission of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
College students, journalists, historians, theologians, older followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, as well as newer members of the Nation Of Islam under the leadership of Minister Louis Farrakhan would all benefit from a reading and even deep study of this book, which is only "small" in terms of its physical size.
This book can be ordered through The Final Call.com E-Store at
Monday, February 11, 2002
To discuss this article further enter The Deeper Look Dialogue Room
The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of BlackElectorate.com or Black Electorate Communications.