Theology Thursdays: Q & A With Minister Lucius Bey Re: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan And The Nation Of Islam Part II
Minister Lucius Bey is known as “The Dean” of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Ministers in the Nation Of Islam, and with good reason. Just consider the following questions. How many people were personally taught and trained directly by the leader of the Nation Of Islam and lived with him, for years, in his home, in the 1950s? How many people alive today were already Ministers when the children of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad were growing up and when Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan were just entering the Nation Of Islam?
And how many people can explain, with that background and basis; a grasp of American and World History; and from the Bible and Holy Qur’an, why they view the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as properly sitting in the seat of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad?
Having first heard the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the 1930s, and later becoming a Minister in the Nation of Islam around 1947; the 91 year old Minister, Lucius Bey, is an exceptionally rare witness bearer among us today, with knowledge, wisdom and understanding of both the history of Black America; and of theology, religion and the scriptures, but more specifically, of two men – The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan - whom he refers to as his leaders.
Minister Lucius Bey granted BlackElectorate.com Publisher Cedric Muhammad a wide-ranging, in-depth interview on September 22nd, and on October 5th and 6th. What follows are combined excerpts and portions of those discussions which cumulatively were near five hours in length.
Cedric Muhammad: What was your view in 1995 as we were leading up to the Million Man March and the Minister began to use the word ‘atonement' and it was decided that it would be called a “Day Of Atonement”? And as you know we are coming up the celebration of that day in the Nation Of Islam.
Minister Lucius Bey: This month…
Cedric Muhammad:…Yes Sir
Minister Lucius Bey: I think that was a great move on his part but I will have to say that we are not looking at it that we may reap its benefit and its substance. Now let me go back and I don’t care if 10,000 would (go against this view), I still would say this generally speaking. Let’s look back at what the atonement meant in the Bible. Those people called Jews, every year they had an atonement and coming up to that they were indicating that their sins had gathered up and were not destroyed or taken care of or atoned for, and they had a lamb and a goat, that they would confess their sins over this lamb, and this was to get rid of all of the sins that had accumulated with them that year...and they killed the lamb which indicated their sins were gone, then they would lay their hand over the goat and put all of their sins in this metaphoric and symbolic way, on the goat. Then they would turn that goat loose into a barren land and this was an indication that all of the sin that has been gathered during the year was now away, gone.
But then they go right back and accumulate sins again, every year, and every year they had to have this atonement. The same type of atonement, every year. Because of their wickedness and the sins that were there.
Now, we have a Day Of Atonement and it is good. This is a day that we, Muslims, are to confess all of our (sins), because atone means “one” to come together in unity as one. Now, if we as Muslim are...righteous in nature...why do we have to allow…our sins to accumulate (over) a year, and now we have to come back and get rid of them again?
I think the Day of Atonement is done, if we understand it.
Now why would I have to every minute and every second, confess my sins to you? You mean to say that I am sinning against you that regularly? Now I don’t think a Muslim should do that knowingly. I can’t see (that), the way I read the Qur’an, the way I read. No Muslim can presumptuously, knowingly, willingly do a Brother wrong, and be a Muslim. This is my understanding and it is my teachings. Now I am not saying that we wouldn’t make a mistake. I might make a mistake but I cannot treat you wrong knowingly, willingly, presumptuously, I can’t, and be a Muslim. I don’t care what anybody says and how they say it. I cannot do it and be a Muslim…
I think that what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has is a wonderful thing that we would get right. But I hope that we don’t go right back after we leave and keep (committing the same sins and mistreatment) like the… Jews did (according to the Bible). That’s my point. It is wonderful to atone…(But) we ought to take this atonement more seriously. Not just as a tradition, custom or ceremony. And if we take it as seriously as we ought to take it, there is great benefit to come from it, because that means if we are not one, when we leave here now, we are going to leave here (as) one. And that is not an official thing (in accordance with the purpose of the establishment of the Day Of Atonement), that we are one right here and then two when we walk out of the door. That oneness is supposed to follow us throughout the year.
…And if we look at an atonement. “At” and “One”. That means one. And when we leave (Chicago) this month that unity ought to hold tight throughout the year and our unity ought to be strengthened more each year…But I think that these traditions are to keep us strong, and make others that are weak strong…It is a wonderful thing to have that, knowing that we are subject to slip in some way, and knowing that there are some to come in that are weak, knowing that we have got to grow. I think the Atonement is a beautiful thing but we ought to use it for the benefit and purpose for which it was designed, and not just stop as if it were a simple formality as so many of us do and I am not lying. (We) make it a formality just like praying.
Everyone one of us Brother don’t even know the real, honest and true significance of prayer. Everyone don’t. And I will challenge Orthodox Muslims on it.
Cedric Muhammad: You have shared this with me before. Could you go through just some of what you learned from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad about the movements in prayer?
Minister Lucius Bey: Well, I learned that the different movements were an indication of an outward expression of something inwardly. Just as you would put your hands up to your ear and say Allah-u-Akbar four times turning, you are acknowledging outwardly that Allah is the God of the East, North, West, and South, and that your ears are open to hear him. Well, now if we don’t mean that from the heart then we just went through a formality with no substance. The substance is carried out in our actual heart and practice. And all of the different bows are different forms of our condition and position of what Allah has brought us from. (The significance of the “ruku” position is that) He brought us from the earth (that is why) we look down. And (the sitting and prostrate positions – “jalsah” and “sajdah”) we were once crawling like a baby – like an animal even. Now we stand up (in the Qiyam position), and since we stand up, our prayers are to keep us reminded of what Allah has brought us from. That ought to keep us strong. But sometimes we just go through the (motions). And I just give a general statement sometimes that the different forms (of prayer) are an outward expression of an inward struggle. That’s what the pilgrimage is. That’s what going through the Desert and making that journey is about. The journey actually starts from within. And walking through the Desert, and going to Mecca – that is an outward expression of what ought to be going on within. And when you notice…that when they get to a certain point from Mecca, from the Kabbah, they change and everybody puts on White. That means you can’t tell a servant from a master or a master from a servant. We all become one. And that is why we all are to wear White. And that means when we get to Mecca that represents the final journey of our pilgrimage progress. And it starts within. But we take it to be only physically. And then when they go around the Kabbah, they kiss the Black stone. Well he (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) told them all about that. He said, “That’s Us”. And there was an Orthodox Muslim king who told him (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) that the Black ones are the best. One day they are going to have to hug this old slave, silly, foolish Black man. But we are going to be made different from what we are now.
…Cedric Muhammad: Now I have read where the Minister (Farrakhan) said that he watched the March On Washington in 1963 with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and at that time the Honorable Elijah Muhammad told him that one day he (Elijah Muhammad) would have a very serious march. And so I wanted to know if, when you saw the Million Man March and the Day Of Atonement established did it trigger certain things in your mind that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad had said to you, or taught previously?
Minister Lucius Bey: Well, in some way – (like) how we were to grow. And I admire the Honorable Minister Farrakhan and he did something that proved that Allah was with him there, that ought to bring us more to respect him. He asked for a million men, and he got over a million. He had preachers going. He had every walk of life, every denomination…across the board, was with him at that Million Man March. See what I look at Brother is what he said, and his accomplishments. That’s what gets me. That’s what got me with the Messenger. That’s why I honor Brother Minister Louis Farrakhan…A little Brother asked for a million Blacks, across the board, and got ‘em. Now that is the power of Allah in my understanding. (It) proved that he was representing God. He had ‘em. And you didn’t catch anybody drinking. You didn’t catch anybody smoking. You didn’t catch anybody fighting. There was Baptists there. There was Methodists there. There was Baptist preachers and Methodist preachers, and everything came out calm. This is what I look at. That’s why the Bible says, ‘you shall know the tree by the fruit it bears’.
I am not looking at the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan as a proper, handsome or nice-looking man. Or as simply a good speaker. I’m looking at his work, his accomplishments, what he does. That’s what I look at. So that’s what has got me with him. And I guess I will die with him.
.Cedric Muhammad: Now, in terms of my understanding, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad had indicated to some, that I believe, in the early 1930s, there were certain wise Jews who recognized him and his identity (as Messenger Of Allah).
Minister Lucius Bey: That’s right.
Cedric Muhammad: And I believe they were in Washington, D.C. but I am not sure. I just wanted to ask you about that, in the context of what we are talking about (The Day Of Atonement).
Minister Lucius Bey: Yeah. There were some (Jews) and there were many Whites with him, in secret. There were many with Jesus in secret. Jesus had a lot of followers, big shots in high places in secret. Look at Joseph of Arimathaea. Look at Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a true follower of Jesus but mostly in private. Joseph (of Arimathaea) was (a follower in private). He (Jesus) had many. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad had many following him in secret. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has got some following him, in secret. He’s got some Whites with him. We aren’t supposed to know all of this and a lot of us are not qualified (to know). Even if we go back to chattel slavery. Did you know there was Whites back there that almost entrusted their lives to help Blacks (become) free? Ok. There is always exceptions to the rule…When you speak in general terms there is always, whether you clarify it or not, it is understood that there are exceptions to any rule. There are Whites right now with the Honorable Louis Farrkahan, it may be one, two, or few or far apart but they are there. And they were with the Messenger. And you’ve got a few Whites with Islam. But they do it in secret. You don’t force people to come out in the public where it will do more harm than good. It is supposed to have been secret.
…Cedric Muhammad: Brother Minister would you speak on (what you have I have heard you say before) their being no difference, in principle, between a Christian and a Muslim
Minister Lucius Bey: No difference. Now if you notice what I said, I said, no difference in principle. That’s why I tell people I have no denominational doctrine. I don’t represent a denomination. I am a witness bearer of truth. Now the word “Christian” was never used by Jesus in his day, according to the Bible, the word “Christian”. The first time that the word “Christian” was used, according to the Bible, it was used long after Jesus in a place called…
Cedric Muhammad: Antioch…
Minister Lucius Bey: Yeah. Now what did they mean? A Christian is one who speaks like Jesus, acts like him and participates in his life. That is why they were called Christian. You didn’t have to ask them (what they were). They looked at them and called them Christian. And the word, ‘Christian’ was used from the word ‘Christ’ and they added ‘ian’. That means ‘belongs to’. So a Christian is one that belongs to the Jesus. And to belong to Jesus means to believe in what he taught and not what somebody else says. But believe in what he taught, and practice that in your life and you will be a Christian. And Jesus taught Islam – the Oneness of God, and in principle Islam teaches the same thing, the Oneness of God. Now, in the Bible, Jesus said love God with all your mind, heart soul, and strength and your neighbor as yourself. The Holy Qur’an says whosoever submits himself entirely to Allah and to do good to others, which in principle they have the same meaning and are basically the same. Now we come to the word, “Christianity”. A word that I would say was made. But what does the word Christianity mean? The word Christianity means the teachings of Jesus. Now the next question is what did he teach? So we’ve got two forms of Christianity today. We’ve got a form of Christianity about Jesus and we’ve got a form of Christianity of Jesus. The Christianity about Jesus is what other people say and the Christianity of Jesus is what he taught. And if anyone wants to get what Jesus actually taught, then they can get a base of that if they read the Fifth Chapter of Matthew.
…Cedric Muhammad: I wanted to know what you may have heard the Honorable Elijah Muhammad say about two men – Marcus Garvey and Dr. Martin Luther King.
Minister Lucius Bey: Well he said he (Marcus Garvey) was a forerunner. What he (referred to) were two (men) as forerunners.
But of course, Dr. Martin Luther King and him (grew to) become secret friends. And I really think a lot that caused his killing – I think the government was in back of it, maybe not, but someone was in back of it – was two things : 1)he spoke out against the war (Vietnam), and 2) he and the Messenger were pretty close. Because he (The Honorable Elijah Muhammad) told me that with the two of them working together, they could take it.
So you see there is a lot that the average person thinks they know that they don’t know Brother.
Cedric Muhammad: Yes Sir. They don’t know. That is why I have asked you some of things I did about Brother Malcolm. What did the Honorable Elijah Muhammad say about Marcus Garvey, anything to you?
Minister Lucius Bey: Yes, he said, Marcus Garvey …and Noble Drew Ali. And I studied his teaching (Noble Drew Ali’s). I’ve got some of his books. I studied everything in religion Brother. He said Noble Drew Ali was a forerunner of him. And I can believe that. Noble Drew Ali – here is his teaching: he said we are not a Negro and Islam is our religion. But he did not have the Qur’an. The book he put out called “Koran”, I got it. And some of the teaching in it, Noble Drew Ali got it out of a book known as the Aquarian Gospel, because I read that book in the library. Have you ever seen it?
Cedric Muhammad: Yes I have.
Minister Lucius Bey: OK, then you know what I am talking about. A lot of the teaching out of that is in his book. He got it out of the Aquarian Gospel. I read that book. So he was a forerunner (of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) in the religious sense. You know just like a farmer Brother, he has to prepare the land before he puts the right seed in. Ok, as a spiritual (teacher) Noble Drew Ali was a forerunner. As a self-government (leader) Marcus Garvey was a forerunner. Now you know about Marcus Garvey. He wanted a government. He had a ship (line) and he wanted a government and thought we should do trade. So he was a forerunner as a (self) government (leader), and Noble Drew Ali was a forerunner in the spiritual sense. He told me that.
End Of Part II
Please read Q & A With Minister Lucius Bey Re: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan And The Nation Of Islam (Part I)
Thursday, October 14, 2004