By Damion Boycott
The Father Allah (formally known as Clarence 13 X) is one of the most respected, and probably one of the most loved of all the of all of the African American leaders of the late 20th century. His teachings are some of the most enduring philosophical ideas to emerge from the struggle for black liberation of the 1960s. His organization, known as the 5% Nation, now known as The Nation Of Gods And Earths continues to inspire millions to this day.
The Father Allah was in The Nation Of Islam for some time before he became a powerful figure in his own right, he was known then as Clarence 13 X. While in The N.O.I. he began to develop some ideas of his own, some of which conflicted with what The N.O.I. taught at that time. He began to convey the idea that there was no unseen god in the sky and that he himself was god. New Yorks Muhammads Mosque Number Seven was being run by Malcolm X, who was not too keen on some of Clarences' ideas. At this point the story is told two different ways, some say he was put out of The N.O.I., some say he left on his own accord. Either way he broke with The N.O.I. and forged ahead with his new ideas.
He emerged in 1963 to become a dominant influence among young people in Harlem. Clarence, who was referring to himself as Allah by this time, threw all of his energies into teaching adolescents in Harlem his new philosophy. During a time of forced segregation based on race in America, Allah taught racial pride to youths that were not being exposed to the kind of information he had to give. He also taught them that they were gods, a radical idea that completely went against the status quo. He was the Akhenaten of his time, introducing ideas that were based on logic, as opposed to ideas based on mythology, allegory or belief. Much like Akhenaten, his ideas were challenged and not well received by the multitude.
He gave the youths lessons that he called The 120 Lessons. A portion of his lessons included some of the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. Allah taught not to believe the teachings of the 10%, meaning don't accept everything taught in the school system or in the church. Like Elijah Muhammad before him, he taught that the first civilizations on earth were black, and that black people are gods.
However, he chose to call his new philosophy I.S.L.A.M. He explained that it was not Islam as a religion, but I.S.L.A.M. as a culture. I.S.L.A.M. stands for "I self lord am master', meaning 'I am the lord and master of myself'. This idea is understood by many, but misunderstood by many more. If he had a new philosophy with new ideas, perhaps he could have given it a new name, as opposed to the name of a religion that already exists, to eliminate confusion.
However, his message spread through out New York City and eventually the world. There are philosophical ideas in his lessons that date back many thousands of years. His lesson talk about "Equality", an idea that was referred to as Maat in ancient Kemet. Before ancient Kemet, our oldest known African ancestors lived egalitarian lifestyles were everyone was seen as equal. The principle of duality that the Chinese call Yin And Yang is present in his lessons as the concept of "Build And Destroy".
Obviously there is a lot philosophical ideas that can be drawn from Allahs 120 lessons.
Millions of people world wide are claiming membership in the Nation Of Gods and Earths. These teachings have profoundly impacted Hip-Hop culture as well. Much of the vocabulary of Hip-Hop culture comes from The Nation Of Gods And Earths. Even the so-called B Boy stance comes from The Nation Of Gods And Earths, it is symbolic of "standing on your square". A countless number of artists in Hip-Hop have proudly represented The Nation Of Gods And Earths on record, Rakim, Brand Nubian, Lakim Shabazz, King Sun, Brand Nubian, Poor Righteous Teachers, Wu-Tang Clan and many more.
The life of The Father Allah is a portion of black history that is not spoken of in the mainstream, more focus should be put on his life and his lessons. He was very adamant about his philosophical views and was revered as the embodiment of that philosophy.
Today, February 22, we celebrate the birth of the man known As Clarence Smith, Clarence 13 X and The Father Allah. Salute...!