It was obvious to many by now that, some people in situations of authority were taking undue advantage of their positions. Much of the wealth being garnered by the NOI was due to the diligent work of the young and fiery minister, Malcolm X Shabazz, who entered the NOI doors literally straight from prison about a decade earlier, and whose voice had reached many young, zealous, nationalistic and idealistic men and women who themselves began to come into the NOI in droves. There was a tremendous increase in, not only temples/mosques, but also NOI owned businesses, homes and farmland throughout the United States. Malcolm had a way of presenting the “teachings” so that the average person would be “fired up” to do all he or she could in support of Mr. Muhammad’s programs. Even a young boxer named Cassius Clay would be affected and infected by Malcolm’s veracity so much so that the world would come to know him as the great boxing champion, Muhammad Ali.
As Minister Malcolm X crisscrossed the country representing Elijah Muhammad’s leadership, his popularity grew, and so did the jealousies. Some eventually accused Malcolm of trying to take Mr. Muhammad’s place. Others felt that, with Mr. Muhammad being sporadically ill, Malcolm was in the most advantageous position to replace him in the event of an untimely death. In addition, Malcolm was thought to be a puritan by some, especially when it came to the handling and/or spending of money. He would personally drive the collections every month from the New York Mosque #7 where he was minister, directly to Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. It was speculated that, if Malcolm X were to become the leader of the Nation of Islam, he would surely tighten up the reins on the loose flow of cash circulating throughout the businesses under the NOI’s auspices. This was a period of tremendous strain. Especially for the sincere followers who joined the NOI seeking better understanding of both the religion of “Islam” and ethnic identity as “blacks” in America.
When President John F. Kennedy was felled by snipers’ bullets in November of 1962, all NOI ministers were instructed by Elijah Muhammad to make no comments to the press. Malcolm disobeyed the edict and was ex-communicated as was the protocol. Malcolm had excommunicated many at Mosque # 7 for much smaller infractions. However, he found it extremely difficult to stay out of the public eye and away from the media’s cameras and microphones as per his instructions from his leader.
Hoover’s FBI found it useful to intensify existing tensions between the leader and his ace student. Malcolm, after realizing the futility of his efforts in reconciling with his mentor, would go on to form two organizations: The Muslim Mosque, Inc. as well as the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Tremendous tension continued to mount until on February 21st, 1965, Malcolm X Shabazz was assassinated in cold blood at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom by renegade members of the NOI itself. Two innocent men were convicted of the crime, along with one who was caught at the scene. All of them served over 20 years in prison and all three have accepted Islam proper as it has been taught by Wallace D. Mohammed in the post Elijah Muhammad era. The famed Minister Louis Farrakhan would succeed Malcolm X Shabazz as the National Representative of the NOI.
It should be noted that, during the time of Wallace’s excommunication in both the 60s and early 70s, there were assassination attempts on him also. Wallace D. actually started his own organization back in 1964, but disbanded it soon thereafter. Malcolm tried to coax Wallace into joining him as the head of the Muslim Mosque, Inc., but Wallace refused. His interest was in preserving the good work that had been established by the sincere people within the Nation of Islam. These were people he had known all of his life, some of whom had cared for him as a baby, child, and young adult.
In 1972, a meeting was held at the home of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and on the agenda was statements that Wallace was reported to have made during a recent local radio interview. Much of the interview was spent explaining Al-Islam as it is found in the Qur’an and the life example of Muhammed the Prophet. He barely spoke on the version of “Islam” that Mr. Fard had imparted upon his father. Mr. Muhammad heard excerpts from that taped interview at the meeting. At first, his already light-complexioned face completely lost its color; he then clapped his hands together and, although sickly, he jumped up from his chair and declared, “My son’s got it! Boy, you can go anywhere on this earth and teach that gospel.” It seemed that, after Malcolm’s death, and after some serious soul-searching, Elijah Muhammad began to realize that Wallace Muhammad did indeed represent the “help” that Mr. Fard had instructed him to look for close to 40 years ago. Wallace Mohammed turned 40 on October 30th, 1973.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad would pass from this life on February 25th, 1975. The very next day, on February 26th, 1975, “Supreme Minister” Wallace D. Muhammad (later to be spelt “Mohammed”) succeeded his father as leader of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in the Wilderness of North America. The younger Muhammad’s succession was the result of majority consent from rank and file followers of the NOI as well as the leadership of the majority of ministers and officials. Among those who consented was Minister Louis Farrakhan, who was now the International Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
On January 15th, 1975 in Harlem, New York, one month prior to Elijah’s passing, Minister Farrakhan told a group of NOI followers that, “Wallace D. Muhammad has more wisdom in his pinky than I have in my whole being.” The minister then related to his audience that, in 1965, he commented to Elijah Muhammad how insightful he believed Wallace to be—especially in terms of his knowledge of the Qur’an. Farrakhan said that Mr. Muhammad then replied, “If you think he’s something now, wait until you see him ten years from now.”
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