MESSENGER ELIJAH MUHAMMAD MEETS THE PRESS
Reprinted from the January 28, 1972 edition of Muhammad Speaks Newspaper
On Friday, January 14, sixteen Chicago-based journalists representing several local and national newspapers and magazines were received in the home of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Messenger of Allah. In this rare hour-and-a-half long group interview, Messenger Muhammad placed no limitations on questions asked. Though granted this rare privilege to talk at length with a man the press usually describes as “inaccessible,” the journalists’ editors have permitted very little of the interview to appear in other news media. Therefore, Muhammad Speaks presents the interview in an EXCLUSIVE SERIES as was recorded by Sister V. Najieb, one of the Messenger’s secretaries.)
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: My reaction is to continue to teach them to not do those things as I have always. I do not believe in carrying weapons. When a man puts weapons in his pockets, or a gun, I will make it clear, it takes his mind off God’s protection and puts it on the gun to protect him. This I have taught my followers ever since God left me: Do not carry weapons, because that is not a protection for the people who manufacture such weapons. They cannot save their own lives with them, today.
QUESTION: What is the reason in your estimation for the violence that has occurred? What do you think is the reason for the violence that has taken place?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: It is just people who are not ready to join up with the righteous and who wish to destroy the righteous and let evil and unrighteousness triumph, if it can.
QUESTION: Is there an effort to take over the Organization?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: I do not think our people are that foolish as to think they can take it over. There may be some people that think they can take it over. There may be some people that think, “If such one and such one is out of the way I could get his place.” That may be in the minds of some of the people but I do not believe actually they really believe it themselves (that they are going to take over). Do you think, Sir that it is true? The Mayor of Baton Rouge thought this.
QUESTION: Have you heard anything to the effect that government officials are trying to put pressure on the Black Muslims similar to the pressure that was put on other Black organizations in the past?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: As I said, a minute or so ago. I have been doing this work for forty years. I have known many groups to rise up since that time and carry into practice what you have in mind. But actually our people in L.A. and New York or any other place, here in Chicago, they have been mistreated right along. They go to prison and the federal penitentiary, as they call it (institutions). But, that is all given to us. The trial of the Black Muslims in America must come to pass. We must be tried.
QUESTION: Has police brutality in Chicago increased or decreased?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: No I do not say that it has increased against us. I think it is just about the same as it always has been.
QUESTION: Has anybody brought it to your attention, has any member brought it to your attention, that they are dissatisfied with how that money is used?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: I do not pay any attention to any such talk, because most of my followers are satisfied with what happens to the money that is donated for the upkeep of the work that we are doing and wish that they could give more.
QUESTION: The Nation of Islam does have considerable holdings financial assets and there in the South, recently, I forgot whether it was Alabama or Mississippi, there was a lot of “hullabaloo” about not allowing Black Muslims to obtain farmland, due to the number of people trying to cut down on…..
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: We have been living in the world that goes like this “Keep the nigger down.” And we are not out of it yet. And what we are doing today, we are trying to do something for ourselves. Therefore, we go to the farm, where there is the place where everyone, if he wants to be successful, can go back to the earth and get it from the earth. This is where the white man got it from. He has been successful ever since he has been on the Western Hemisphere. He has raised enough food to supply his brother in Europe and even our Brothers in Africa, right here in America.
QUESTION: The group in Baton Rouge that has been identified as Black Muslims, what was their status at the time of the shooting in Baton Rouge?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: I do not know, because we did not have them on our register; therefore, we do not know just what was what. We do know this, that they were not on our registry as good Muslims. We could not locate them and if they were on our registry, as good Muslims, we would try to do the best we could to uphold their goodness…. We did not know these people in the beginning. Their names, some of them are foreign to us, altogether.
QUESTION: Do you have a central registry of all through out the country?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: All of them that come to register, we do have.
QUESTION: Can you give us a number of those you have?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: They come so fast. Right at this hour they are trying to get to us now, in the Registry of Islam. We never know how many we have. We believe we have quite a few hundred thousand over the country. And they are coming in faster now than ever.
QUESTION: Authorities in Baton Rouge released a vast itinerary (of the group in Baton Rouge), trying in many reports from various sources saying that this group has come there, asking for support.
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: No, I have not received any report. No, I do not have anything that I can say accurate report that these people came to the Temple there.
QUESTION: (Referring to the shooting of Theodore Bey and Captain Raymond Sharrieff) Why do you think someone would be shooting at Mr. Sharrieff, and why do you think some would be shooting Theodore Bey?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: I do not know what you have in your heart. I do not have that knowledge. Why would they go shoot at the man? What was he doing to them to cause their anger to rise that high to want to kill an innocent man sitting behind the wall in his own office?
QUESTION: What do you mean when you say, “a good Muslim?”
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: A good Muslim is one who observes and obeys the laws of the Religion of Islam, designed by God, Himself.
QUESTION: Does that mean that they are only people, I suppose, people ousted from the religion at times? If someone is found not to obey the laws, they are expelled?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: We have such punishment if we find you not obeying the laws of the religion of Islam as it is taught to me by God, Himself, and that I put the law out before the world and especially before the world and especially before those who believe, to follow and obey, we put you out of the circle and we give such time as from thirty days to six, nine, or twelve months and one to five years and that to seven years. But, we never have had to put a man out or woman out for seven years. But, these are the numbers of times that you are to pay for your disobedience.
QUESTION: If you are expelled or suspended are you listed on the registry? Do you have a list if someone is suspended for a period of seven years for not obeying the laws? Would you still have that person listed on your registry ?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: Yes, we have to keep him on there.
QUESTION: So if the people were members at any time, you would know that.
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: If we consult our register, to find out whether or not any of these people were listed (the name), we will find it. We are still searching. We never stop searching to see if such and such people are not on our register, just in case, say, we punish ourselves. We have a punishment as I just listed to you, for disobedient Muslims and we are always checking our registry for such things that a Muslim may do and cause us trouble.
QUESTION: It appears from your check so far, that none of the people in Baton Rouge are members of your organization?
MESSENGER MUHAMMAD: So, far, we have not found wherein those people that were charged with beginning a shooting riot down there were on our registry. I want to accelerate this “Baton Rouge staff.” We do not consider a Muslim is Muslim, who is running around over the country, trying to start trouble. We do not even consider him.