Minister Jabril Muhammad's Interview With Minister Farrakhan Part 2
Brother Jabril: "How does the practice of prayer, the attitude of prayer, the spirit of prayer, help us in these studies?
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan: "Prayer is the preparation of the heart and mind, for the course of our study, for prayer puts us in a right state of mind toward the Author of the study.
"So the oft-repeated prayer of the Muslims sets the mind and heart of the student for advancement. 'In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.'
"Why are you enrolled in such a course? You are enrolled in this course of study because the Beneficent God had shown the utmost quality of mercy in coming to make you and me into Himself.
"So it is right that we start, 'Bi-smi-llah al-Rahman al-Rahim.' Then we say the first verse of the seven oft-repeated verses, 'Al-hamdu li-lla Rabbi-l-alamin - praise belongs to God.
"Why should this be the first verse of the oft-repeated prayer? It's because the God has found us groping and He is now showing us the way, the way from ignominy to eminence; the way from death into life; from weakness into power.
"When one is going to embark on that kind of journey, one must know, all along the path that the praise does not belong to the student. The praise belongs to God, Who is nurturing that student from the time of his enrollment to the time of his graduation and perfection in the study it will be God Himself, Who will be evolving that student, making that student to attain stage after stage on his way toward perfection.
" 'The Beneficent, the Merciful.' At every stage, you will recognize the Supreme, Beneficence and Mercy of Him, Who came to involve us in such study.
" 'Maliki yaumi-a-din' - Master of the day or the law of requital. As students, as we practice this teaching, we are bound to make mistakes and errors, but the Headmaster of our school and the professor is so loving toward the student, who sincerely wishes to succeed in the course, and is the Master of the law of consequences. So that master can withhold from the student the consequences of error and mistake, while pointing it out to the student.
" 'Thee alone do we serve and to Thee alone do we beseech for help.' Every student needs help to get where the student desires to go. Who is the helper? The helper is God.
" 'Thee alone do we serve and to Thee alone do we beseech...' We constantly ask Allah to help us in our study, in our growth, in our development. Guide us on the straight or the right path.
"Part of our progress in developing, as quickly as we can, is if we remain on a right course from the teacher. Sometimes the student will get off course and it's like getting off the main highway onto an excess road that is very bumpy.
"You want to get back on the main highway, so your constant prayer is 'O Allah guide us on the right path;' the path that will keep us moving toward the completion of our study; the path that will keep us moving toward becoming what you enrolled us in class to become; 'the path of those upon whom you have bestowed favor.'
"Doesn't the student want the favor of the teacher? No student would like to have the wrath of the Headmaster and the professor, poured on the student and have the student kicked out of the course. So we have to do that which pleases the Headmaster and the teacher by our constantly being willing to be guided on the straight; the path of those upon whom the teacher would show favors and not the path of those who anger the teacher and get punished or censored by the teacher or even expelled out of the class.
"So prayer frames the mind. Prayer sets the tone. Prayer shapes the attitude of the student. And as one Civil Rights leader said, 'It is your attitude that will determine your altitude.'
"So prayer - the constant remembrance of God - keeps you in the right attitude and therefore, there is no limit to your altitude."
Jabril Muhammad: Brother Minister, this question is really one question, containing three major parts. We ended the last session with the instructions of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to you, at a certain point, in your ministry, "To just stand up and Allah will speak through you." Let's take this up in stages and then move to the relation between this and your music and then to the third part of this question.
First, please outline, your high school education that was so deep, so thorough, that when you got to college, you didn't have to pick up a book.
Minister Farrakhan: My high school education was so superior, that when I went to college, I never bought a book. I never was mentally challenged by anything that was being offered as a course of study. I went there because my mother desired that I have a fall back position, in case music failed.
The reason I went to prep school is because I graduated from high school so young. I was one month into my seventeenth year, when I graduated from high school.
So I, as a track man, who had equaled the state record in the 100 at 10 seconds flat, the coach in the South knew that the Brothers down there were running 9/7, 9/8. So in order for me to be worthy of a track scholarship, he wanted me to have one more year to grow and get stronger and then on the following year, after that one year of prep school, I would be allowed to have a scholarship to college. So prep school is free.
So I went to school and I ran another year strengthening my ability to run the 100 yard dash, as well as the smaller dashes.
Brother Jabril: What were the courses you took in high school?
Minister Farrakhan: Everything that is college preparatory. First, in foreign Languages, I took Latin for three years; German; French; Spanish and of course, English.
My Latin gave me a more profound grasp of English because many of the prefixes and suffixes in English are from a Latin or a Greek root. So having Latin, gave me insight into words and their meaning.
I had Ancient History, Medieval History, American History and some Modern History. I had Algebra, Plain Geometry, Solid Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus. I had Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
So these kinds of subjects put me in a tremendous position of advantage going to a Southern school that was preparing me to be a teacher, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, which would have allowed me to teach on the grammar school level, where once I learned methods, once I learned the history of education, and a little psychology, I could have taught grammar school coming out of high school with the background that I had.
Brother Jabril: So, would you say it's rather obvious then that the nature of the preparation you had in high school, is what made you to whiz through college in three plus years so fast?
Minister Farrakhan: That is correct.
Brother Jabril: Now you come into the Nation. You become registered in 1955. Did you study?
Minister Farrakhan: Oh yes. This was a new field for me. I was so fascinated by the teachings of the most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, as taught by Malcolm X first; Minister Malcolm; Minister Lucius in Washington, D.C., Minister Karriem in Baltimore; the Minister in Detroit and other Ministers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and young Minister George, out of Philadelphia - these were men who were profoundly influential in my development.
Even though there were people over me in authority who may not have had a high school education, they were so well-studied in the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, it meant nothing to me that they did not have the amount of school time that I had, or the quality of preparation that I had. They had what I was trying to get. That was an understanding of the message of Islam, as taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
So, the discipline that I applied in the study of my music, once I gained the love of my violin, my mother no longer had to require me to practice. Every free moment I had, I would practice my craft. Sometimes I would practice four hours, five hours, six hours. Sometimes I would tell my wife "I'm going in this room. I won't be out for eight or nine hours." I would go in and practice my craft.
So when I gave up music and became a follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, my love for music, my love for my craft just was transferred to my love for Allah, my love for the Messenger, my love for Islam. I always had love for God and love for our people but now, I had a message, a vehicle to transfer - not a noun but a verb - in that I could actively demonstrate my love, by bringing Black people up out of the grave of ignorance, by sharing with them the profound message that Master Fard Muhammad had left with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad for our resurrection, restoration, reconciliation and civilizing us to be top human beings.
Brother Jabril: A few of us or some of us in those days are aware of the fact, that there were times when you would go to a hotel room and spend hours studying. Please elaborate.
Minister Farrakhan: I always desired to feed the Muslim community. They were feeding me. They were giving my family and I enough money to at least afford bean soup. It was not the amount of money, because it was very meager, and we were very, very poor. But I felt obligated to study to serve this community. They came to follow the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. In order to follow him, they had to know him, they had to know what he taught and his aim and purpose. So if I loved him and loved them, then it was my duty to study to prepare these who love him, also to be strong helpers of him, in the cause of the rise of our people.
So in those days, I studied every thing I could get my hands on related to the message of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. By immersing myself in his message, then everything that I learned in high school, prep school and college took on greater significance. Biology took on greater meaning. Chemistry, Solid Geometry, Algebra, Calculus, everything that I studied I could now use because Islam, as taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, was a key to use knowledge for the advancement of self, your family, your community and your people.
Brother Jabril: Now Brother Minister, talk to me for a moment about the time you received the order to put up your music.
Minister Farrakhan: Well, I was playing in a nightclub in Greenwich Village, in New York, called The Village Barn. I could not come to the Mosque on that particular Sunday because I had to do a Matinee show at the time of the Mosque meeting. But after I completed my show and my responsibility to the nightclub, I came uptown to Temple #7 luncheonette on 120th Street and Lenox Avenue to chat with the Muslims and get a bowl of bean soup.
When I got in the restaurant and sat down to order my soup, one of the Believers, I don't remember who he was, sat down and said to me "Man you know, the order came down today that all the musicians would have to get out of music or get out the Mosque or out of the Temple." This came as a shock to me. So I didn't drink the soup right then. I got up and I walked out of the restaurant and I walked East on 120th Street, maybe 20, 30 paces thinking, as to what I was going to do. And in that 20 to 30 paces, the thought came to me, 'I can live without music. But I cannot live without the truth.'
So I turned right around and went back in the restaurant and sat down and had my bowl of soup.
Our dear departed Brother Captain Yusuf Shah learned that somebody had said that to me. He was very angry because he wanted to be the one to break it to me in a gentle way and measure my reactions. When he came I told him, 'I already made my decision, Brother. I'm giving up show business.'
I had until the end of December - this was around the first of December during Ramadan or something like that, I think it was - and I had to the end of December. I had thirty days to make that decision.
Brother Jabril: 1955?
Minister Farrakhan: Yes, it was the end of 1955. That's correct.
Brother Jabril: And you just stopped?
Minister Farrakhan: Yes. In fact it was in November. It was not in December, but I had to the end of December to make the decision, but this order came down in November, one month after I had been a registered Muslim.
Brother Jabril: What then led to and what were the circumstances, which were preparatory, under which the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to you, "You don't have to study."
Minister Farrakhan: Well, as he made me his National Representative and allowed me to carry on his National Broadcast, he wrote me a letter and gave me the assignment. He gave some subject matter in a letter for four weeks that I would have to deliver these subjects. After the four weeks he was very pleased. He said, "You can go on a little longer."
As I went on longer, he was pleased. So after six months or so, he said, "You can go on for six years."
At that time, it would take me one week to do a half hour broadcast, because I would write down every word that I was going to say; every scripture that I was going to use. Then I would go back over the language and see if I could say it more succinctly and more effectively if I used this word as opposed to that word, this phrase as opposed to the other phrase. So then I would rehearse it because I'm reading from a script. I did that for three years.
One day I went out to visit with him and he told me, "Brother, you don't have to do that." He said, "You go and stand up and Allah will speak through you." I did that immediately. I just obeyed him. I never used notes. I started speaking on a subject and would allow God to feed me. This gave the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I would imagine, a chance to see how God was using me.
So, at the end of the sixth year he called me. He said, "Brother, I will be coming on next week. So you let the public know that Elijah Muhammad will be coming back on the radio next week." So it's like you give your baby a lollipop and he's sucking on it and he gets used to it. But you gave it to him and it's your lollipop. So then you ask him to give me back my lollipop.
Well, now he's looking at the baby to see what kind of attitude the baby had. Well, how would he know that? He would know that by the way I introduce his return to the microphone. So my next broadcast was called, "Hearken unto the voice of God." So when I sent it out for him to play it in advance of his coming out, he then called me and said, "Brother, you may continue."
So I never gave it a thought that I would tell them hearken unto the voice of God and then he allows me to continue after I'm supposedly introducing him, and he puts me back on. Well, what was he saying?
Subsequent to that, it was getting now into the early '70s, and he is about getting ready to make his departure. He never would praise me in the public, as he did Malcolm. And he told me, when I became his National Representative, he said, "I'll never teach another Minister like I taught Malcolm until I have thoroughly tried him."
So he was letting me know that I was going to be thoroughly tried before he would open up the wisdom of his wisdom to me. But what he began to see, I believe, in my extemporaneous teaching of his teaching, that God was already beginning to open up to me the inner or esoteric meanings of the teachings that it seemed like other ministers would only teach what he taught. They seem to be afraid to dig into his words to find all the jewels that were in the word. But I call that intellectual cowardice, wanting to be safe but not wanting to explore the depth of what this man had gotten from God. So I decided I was not going to do that. I was going to dig into the teachings and expose that which God showed me.
One day I came out to Chicago. I had made a speech on the Mother Plane and I was showing its spiritual significance and not dealing so much with the physical. The Messenger was very angry, according to the way his assistant minister, Yusuf Shah, represented it to me. He said, "There he goes, out there showing off; yelling out his wisdom." He was letting them know that I was right in what I was saying but it wasn't the right time, you know. He was whipping me, but praising me at the same time. Somewhere along there, I do not remember the circumstances, he told me, "Brother, you don't have to study." I didn't ask him, "What, everybody has to study. Why are you saying I don't have to study?"
Then as I went on, as it's getting closer to the time of his departure, I began to see, that as it was written, as I started standing up to deliver his message in his absence, that the scripture was being fulfilled.
As Joshua went forward, God said to him, "I will be with your mouth as I was with the mouth of Moses." Again, I saw this in the writings of Ezekiel and with the writings of the prophets. He's just with the mouth of those whom He authorizes. So I was gradually coming into the knowledge that I was authorized by God and the Messenger to deliver this message. So He was with my mouth. He also had told me some years before, "I want you to line your mind up with my mind so that there will be one mind." Well, if that's what he wanted then Allah answers his desire. Well God, through the experiences that he was bringing me through, was lining my mind up with his mind so that it was one mind.
So when I opened my mouth, not only was God with my mouth, but I was speaking that which was from the mind and heart of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad himself. So the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was no longer absent. He was present but he was present in that student that he had made.
I remember one night, at his table in Chicago, I had a tape recorder and I asked him could I tape what he said at the table. He said, "Yes." And during the time at the table he said these words, and unfortunately, I don't have the tape now as a witness, but God is sufficient as a witness. He said to me "Allah has made me to take His place among the people and I am making you to take mine."
"I was shocked at the statement. I knew that "am making" is the present progressive tense. So I was a work in progress and "am making," indicated that he (the Hon. Elijah Muhammad) was fixing me in a way that I could sit in his seat, in his absence, and represent him to the best of my ability to his people.
After 1985, and my experience with him, (his more-than-a-vision experience) I even more clearly understood why I didn't have to study. Because this that I'm going to (if it is the will of Allah) bring back from my next meeting with him, is that of which it is written, no eye that has seen, no ear has heard, so no book contains it. So there's nothing for me to study. That's revelation.
So when he reveals it to me, if I'm worthy, I'll reveal it to others, but there's nothing for me to study. It's just for me to get it in me and I believe a portion of it is already in me from my first visit with him. That's what I think the scroll that came down that I saw, it was that he - well something was being written in me, so that even right now, although I'm not a great student of Bible and Qur'an, but I stand and speak and the Bible comes up. The Qur'an comes up. Things come up. They come out of me in a very fantastic order.
[The Minister's study then won't be as study is now. It will be like his teacher did after he departed.]
Brother Jabril: It sure does.
Minister Farrakhan: So others may look at me and think that I'm standing up unprepared. But I've been prepared and am being prepared. So, others should not imitate me. Others should not try to do what God has done to show the people, through me, that He is with my mouth, as He was with the mouth of our father, the most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
I would not say to the students that you don't have to study because in my own way, I'm always thinking, meditating, feeding my mind on words, on images, on circumstances, on events, on people. I look in my Qur'an. I look in my Bible. I look into things. So I'm constantly feeding my mind.
Brother Jabril: What we've covered, thus far, is directly related to what you said the other night concerning the public statement that you're writing for Saviours' Day; for the concert specifically. The essence of what you said to me, the other night was, "I'm about to perform something that's beyond my ability. God would have to help me." Please correlate that statement with what you've just outlined respecting your growth in the delivery of the word of Allah.
Minister Farrakhan: Yes. You know, as you know, I have a passion and a love for classical music, which some of our people would define as European culture. I have a passion for the violin and this is a European - made instrument.
A dear friend said, "It would have been better man if you had played the saxophone rather than a violin man." But all of the instruments that our people play have been fashioned or refashioned by the Europeans. The saxophone, the clarinet, the oboe, the flute, the base violin, the guitar - we have become masters of these European instruments, but not in the European idiom, but rather in that which came out of our culture of suffering and out of our creativity.
Well Beethoven was one of these men that influenced the whole classical and romantic period of the development of music in Europe. They credit him with being the father of this period of music.
One of the Sisters who encouraged me, who is the promoter of this music festival called "Gateways," where I first performed the Mendelssohn, with Maestro Michael Morgan and the tri-city members of the tri-city symphony, (Armenta) said to me, "I don't want to hear you play Mendelssohn or Brook or European composers, I want to hear you do Beethoven." So she put me on Beethoven.
Later my teacher (Mrs. Foreman) suggested it to me. But she also told me, "It's such a deep spiritual piece that your people may not like it, like they would like the Brook or the Mendelssohn because of the bombast, the different dynamics of these things," but Beethoven came at it so different.
I did not realize the difficulty of playing the Beethoven violin concerto. The difficulty is in its simplicity. It's like asking a person freehand, to draw a straight line perfectly. That's the difficulty. It appears that you should be able to do that. But try it. Well, that's Beethoven.
So the more I got into the music I began to see that the playing of Beethoven was far beyond my years of training and study; far beyond the foundation that I had in music.
You have to be at a certain foundational level to attempt to play certain pieces in the classical genre. I guess that's the right word. But now I've jumped into Mr. Beethoven. The more I played him, the more I saw that something was lacking in my foundation that prevented me to really express this man as wonderfully as I would like too.
So I said, I have accepted the challenge to do something far beyond my ability. When one attempts to do something, far beyond the limitations of one's ability, if one is sincere and humble enough to recognize that, that person must seek the help of God. The scholars say, "He took ordinary people, but with their reliance on God and following the discipline of Jesus, ordinary people were allowed to do extraordinary things."
Well that principle applies in everything. So I am an ordinary person with the violin; maybe even less than ordinary, because I have not given myself to that study, with the diligence of a virtuoso, or the diligence of a professional, or a diligence of somebody who has made this their life's devotion. But I wanted to do it.
I knew that I had to do my part. My part was to practice; to give it the time that it would require; to learn as much as I could about that piece; about the state of mind of Beethoven when he wrote it, so that every nuance in the piece could mean something; so that I might be able to interpret his soul.
Well the more I did this the more I realized that, "Boy, do I need the help of God to do this." The more I struggled with my inefficiencies, the more I relied and cried out to Allah, to please help me.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to me, "That when Allah created the heavens and the earth from nothing He destroyed the impossible."
The End Of Part 2
Note: Excerpts of the interview of Minister Farrakhan conducted by Minister Jabril Muhammad will continue to run in The Final Call on a weekly basis for several more weeks.
Thursday, April 4, 2002