Following the ancient dictum of ‘Man Know Thyself’, Korean War veteran Clarence Edward Smith upon returning to the United States joined the African-American political and religious movement – Nation of Islam.
It was founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad and inherited by Elijah Muhammad.
Smith’s service in the Korean War earned him a Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Service Star.
Upon joining the Nation as custom demanded, he assumed the name Clarence 13X. He was a member of Temple No. 7, which was under the leadership of Malcolm X. His intelligence and fiery-speaking style led Elijah Mohammed to appoint him a student minister.
By the early 1960s, Smith found it hard to accept Wallace D. Fard’s doctrine that God was black, yet he was biracial. He split from the Nation in 1963 founding his own Five Percent Nation in 1964 in the Harlem section of the borough of Manhattan, New York City.
It was from here onwards Smith assumed the name Allah the Father. Other names the group went by was Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE/NOGE) or the Five Percenters.
Its tenets range from Black people being the original people of the planet Earth, Black people being the fathers and mothers of civilization, that the science of Supreme Mathematics is the key to understanding man’s relationship to the universe.
Their core principal held: “Ten percent of the people of the world know the truth of existence, and those elites opt to keep 85 percent of the world in ignorance and under their controlling thumb. The remaining percentage are those who know the truth and are determined to enlighten the rest. They are the Five Percent Nation.”
“Clarence 13 X also rejected the traditional Muslim belief that God was separate from man. Instead, Clarence 13 X claimed that the black man was God personified, and that each black man could cultivate and eventually realize his godliness through meditation, study, and spiritual and physical fitness.”
Allah the Father “took his message to the youth on Harlem’s city streets, teaching them that black Americans had inherited a legacy stretching back to the great civilizations of Africa, and that they should reclaim their greatness by fighting for racial equality and self-determination.
“To help his students tap their divinity, Allah the Father also taught an elaborate philosophical system called “Supreme Mathematics” and the “Supreme Alphabet.” By applying both, devotees believe they can interpret ordinary numbers and words as spiritual messages to guide them through life.”
Allah’s mesmerizing speaking style in the streets of major urban centres throughout the United States earned him followers quickly. His group soon began to play an influential role in urban black communities, particularly in hip-hop culture and music.
Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, Brand Nubian, Nas, Common and Poor Righteous Teachers have all used phrases and symbology of the Five Percent Nation underlying its enduring legacy.
Once a Black man has realized his own divine nature, he becomes Allah, a God, and a black woman becomes an Earth notes the group. The Five Percenter breakdowns “Allah” as “Arm Leg Leg Arm Head” and “Islam” as “I Self Lord And Master.”
A mentee of Allah the Father, Allah B acknowledged the positive impact his mentors work had on the community.
“We could have been little hoodlums in the streets of Harlem — high school dropouts,” NPR reported. “But he showed us the love… He not only had the care and courage, but also the knowledge, to empower us and give us a sense of direction to actualize our fullest potential.”
The FBI opened a file on the Five Percenters in 1965, the height of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in America. The Five Percenters were treated as a criminal gang. It was only in 2003 that a federal district court judge allowed the Nation of Gods and Earths the right to practice their religion or way of life in prisons.
With time, the NGE websites and articles held, “We as a collective are not anti-white nor pro-black. We are pro-righteous and anti-devilishment.”
Allah was assassinated by unknown attackers on June 13, 1969 at 21 West 112th Street in Harlem, the residence of his wife and children. His murder remains unsolved. The murder was a blow to the movement. He led the Five Percent Nation for only five years.
In March 2019 the intersection of 126th Street & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd in New York was officially co-named “Allah, Justice & The Five Percenters Square.”