Five-Percent Nation

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Not to be confused with Zaidiyyah, who call themselves "Fivers".
Five-Percent emblem

The Five-Percent Nation, sometimes referred to as NGE or NOGE, the Nation of Gods and Earths, or the Five Percenters is an American organization founded in 1964 in the Harlem section of the borough of Manhattan, New York City, by a former member of the Nation of Islam named Clarence 13X (born Clarence Edward Smith and later known as "Allah the Father"). Clarence 13X, a former student of Malcolm X, left the Nation of Islam after a theological dispute with the Nation's leaders over the nature and identity of God.[1] Specifically, Clarence 13X denied that the Nation's biracial founder W. Fard Muhammad was Allah and instead taught that the black man was himself God personified.[1] Members of the group call themselves Allah's Five Percenters, which reflects the concept that ten percent of the people of the world know the truth of existence, and those elites and agents opt to keep eighty-five percent of the world in ignorance and under their controlling thumb; the remaining five percent are those who know the truth and are determined to enlighten the rest.[2]

Initially, the Nation of Gods and Earths, as it is known today, was viewed as little more than an off-shoot of the Nation of Islam (NOI). While the Nation of Gods and Earths has been characterized as an organization, an institution, a religion, or even a gang(by the F.B.I. under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover who launched many Counter-intelligence programs against black organizations) , representatives of the Nation teach that Islam is a natural or mathematical way of living. The New York City areas of Harlem ("Mecca") and Brooklyn ("Medina") are named after notable Islamic cities by members of the organization.[3][4] Other areas include Detroit ("D-Mecca"), New Jersey ("New Jerusalem"), Chicago ("C-Medina"), Queens ("the Desert"), Connecticut ("New Heaven"), St. Louis ("Saudi"), Seattle ("Morocco"), and Dallas ("the Sudan").[5]

The Nation of Gods and Earths teaches that black people are the original people of the planet Earth, and therefore they are the fathers ("Gods") and mothers ("Earths") of civilization.[1] The Nation teaches that Supreme Mathematics and Supreme Alphabet, a set of principles created by Clarence 13X, is the key to understanding humankind's relationship to the universe. The Nation does not believe in a mystery God but instead teaches that the Asiatic Blackman (sic) is God and his proper name is Allah, the Arabic word for God.[1]


One of the few extant photographs of Clarence 13X, the founder of the Nation of Gods and Earths, date unknown.

The Nation of Gods and Earths was founded by Clarence 13X after he left the Nation of Islam's Temple Number Seven in Harlem, New York (the same temple where Malcolm X was a minister from 1960 to 1963). Multiple stories exist as to why Clarence and the NOI parted ways: some have him refusing to give up gambling; others have him questioning the unique divinity of Wallace Fard Muhammad, whom the NOI deified as the True and Living God in person; or questioning his position as God due to the belief that Fard was born of a Caucasian mother.[citation needed] The story states that Clarence 13X was then disciplined by the NOI and excommunicated in 1963, but another version of events says that he left on his own free will along with Abu Shahid,[6] who agreed with Clarence's questioning of Wallace Fard Muhammad. That same year Clarence met James Howell, a sea merchant, who would later become Justice, and Clarence's closest associate until his death.[7]

Clarence proselytized the streets of Harlem to teach others his views based on his interpretation of NOI teachings. After failing to reach elder adults whom he saw as already set in their ways, he found success with the disenfranchised street youth.[8][9][10][11][12][13] On October 10, 1964, this young group formed the First Nine Born of what became known as the Five Percent Nation, or later the Nation of Gods and Earths. In December of that year, Clarence was shot in a basement gambling den called the Hole. After surviving the shooting, he assumed the name Allah, and, according to some, boasted that he was immortal.[6]

He taught the 120 Lessons to his young followers (who came to refer to him as the Father), but instead of teaching them to be Muslims, he taught them that they were God the same way he was. The women who came into Clarence 13X's growing movement to study along with the males were taught they were symbolic of the planet Earth, because it is the planet on which God produces life (hence the female practitioners using Earth as their title). The NGE does not consider itself a religion—its position is that it makes no sense to be religious or to worship or deify anyone or anything outside of oneself when adherents themselves are the highest power in the known universe, both collectively and individually.[citation needed]

In addition to the 120 Lessons, Clarence 13X taught a system he developed called Supreme Mathematics, which can be compared to a version of the Jewish mystical traditions of Kabbalah or even more closely Gematria, or the Arabic Abjad numerals. In this system, the numbers from one to nine, and zero all represent principles and concepts. Coming together to discuss the Supreme Mathematics is the most fundamental regimen of the NGE. Whenever members meet, they discuss about the Supreme Mathematics and 120 Lessons and relate them to life. This dialogue is referred to by the NGE as Building, which is the eighth degree of the Supreme Mathematics. Gods and Earths can build their minds, which means to elevate or add on to the knowledge one has. Building also refers to the building of their physical bodies, their financial status, or institutions, among much more that the principle of Building can represent.[citation needed]



Representatives of the Nation of Gods and Earths view themselves (black men of their Nation) as their own God (both individually and collectively as the Original Man).[9] Gods and Earths sometimes refer to themselves as scientists, implying their search for knowledge and proof.[14] According to the Five Percenter Newspaper, "God first means that it is no longer a judicial argument; centered means everything we do is about God. Culture is the practices and principles of a people at any given time."[15]

The teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths are passed on through a modern oral tradition. The advancement of a God or Earth is based on his or her memorization, recitation, comprehension, and practical application of the Supreme Mathematics and the Supreme Alphabet and also the 120 Lessons, sometimes referred to as degrees, a revised version of the Supreme Wisdom lessons of the NOI, originally written by Wallace Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad.[8][11][16] The first literary Anthology Knowledge of Self: A Collection of Wisdom on the Science of Everything in Life has been published of the teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths by Supreme Understanding.[17] [18] The history of the movement has been written by one of its members Wakeel Allah, who wrote the 3 book anthology "In the Name of Allah: A History of Clarence 13X and the 5 Percenters Vol. 1 & 2" and "The Naked Truth: From the Goal Mind of Abu Shahid, the Elder of the Nation of Gods and Earths." [19]

Origin of Five-Percent title[edit]

The term Five Percent comes from NOI doctrine that sees the world's population divided into three groups: 85% of the people are blind to the knowledge of themselves and God, while 10% of the people know the truth, but teach a lie for their personal gain; seen as part of this 10% are religious leaders that teach that God is an incorporeal being (hence the term mystery God). The 10% can also include the governments of the world that deceive and mislead the majority of the world through most of the available media outlets. The remaining 5% are the Poor Righteous Teachers—those who do not subscribe to the teachings of the 10%, as they know and teach that God is the Asiatic Blackman.

The Universal Language[edit]

Supreme Mathematics[edit]

The Supreme Mathematics is a system of understanding numerals alongside concepts and qualitative representations that are used along with the Supreme Alphabet.[11][16] The Supreme Mathematics is thought to be the highest system of mathematics in the NGE, used to give qualitative value to numbers in addition to quantity.

For example, the numeral 1. Knowledge 2. Wisdom 3. Understanding 4. Culture or Freedom 5. Power or Refinement 6. Equality 7. God 8. Build or Destroy 9. Born 0. Cipher

Supreme Alphabet[edit]

Main article: Supreme Alphabet

The Supreme Alphabet is a system of interpreting text and finding deeper meaning from the NOI Lessons by assigning actual meanings to the letters of the Latin script. For example, the first letter, A, stands for Allah; the 12th letter, L, stands for Love, Hell, or Right; and the 13th letter, M, stands for Master. This Supreme Alphabet was developed with assistance from Justice Cee by Father Clarence 13X.


The Five-Percent Nation holds events known as Universal Parliaments in various cities—usually once a month—to build on their interpretation of the Supreme Mathematics, lessons, and to discuss business concerning the NGE. These meetings usually take place in public areas but can be held anywhere.

The Show and Prove is an annual event that takes place in the Harlem section of Manhattan every second weekend in June. Gods and Earths converge from all over the world at Harriet Tubman Elementary School for this gathering, which includes a marketplace, performances, and speeches in the school's auditorium and a science fair in which children participate.

The Nation generally does not recognize traditional holidays, most notably those associated with religion such as Christmas or Easter. However, some regions where the Nation is active may hold events close to dates in honor of Clarence 13X's birthday (February 22) or the official founding of the Nation (October 10).

Dietary laws of the Five Percent dictate that adherents are forbidden to eat pork or any pork-based by-products as well as all other scavengers (shrimp, crab, lobster, etc.). Many take further steps and eschew meat altogether, often opting for veganism or a raw food diet.

Influence and interactions[edit]

City Hall and the Urban League[edit]

The NGE established a headquarters in the Harlem section of Manhattan. The Allah School in Mecca, previously known as the Street Academy, was founded in 1966 through the Urban League, with the help of the then-current Republican mayor of New York, John Lindsay, and his assistant, Barry Gottehrer.


The schism between Smith and the NOI led to numerous confrontations. The murder of Smith in 1969 remains unsolved. The murder was a blow to the movement, but according to the direct orders of Clarence before his death, some of his earliest disciples, a group of nine men who were called the First Nine Born carried on the teachings, and an acting leadership role was assumed by his friend Justice. In the years to follow, the Gods and Earths gained a varied reputation, from being known as outstanding members of and contributors to their communities who at one time quelled a potential rebellion when Martin Luther King was assassinated, to being called an unruly and confused group of African-American teenage thugs and even categorized as a gang.[8][10]

The gang label has caused much trouble for adherents to the teachings of the NGE in the United States. As the Nation has either gained students within the prison system or seen those who at least allege adherence to NGE teachings become incarcerated, the preceding gang reputation brought those with even remote NGE affiliation to be designated as security threats in states such as Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and South Carolina.[20] Literature has been banned from institutions in these and other states, and inmates have been denied privileges enjoyed by those of other persuasions. Such rules were relaxed in 2004 in New York to allow registered sincere adherents to study teachings personally but not share with unregistered inmates during their incarceration.[21]

The Nation has vigorously defended itself against these accusations. Its newspaper The Five Percenter condemns the states who impose restrictions on their practice as those who "attempt to define us in ways that seeks to criminalize us".[22]

In Michigan the Nation challenged a ban on the group's literature among prison inmates after an inmate was designated a security threat until he renounced his membership. Judge Steven Whalen found no evidence that group advocated violence and recommended that it be recognized as a legitimate belief system.[23]

In July 2008, a man in Staten Island, New York already known in the Nation as Black Cream Allah was denied a legal adoption of the name because a judge felt it was sacrilegious and sounded like the name of a hip hop record. He has since filed a second petition for the amended name Original Kreeam Shabazz.[24]


Racist ideology[edit]

According to scholars, including Michael Muhammad Knight who has authored the books The Five Percenters and Why I Am a Five Percenter, the Five-Percent Nation is founded and rooted within race hatred ideology. As Knight also explained in an essay for Vice, "The first lesson I learned from the Five Percent was simple: Fuck white people. Seriously, 'White people are devils.'"[25] He was quoted in the post as saying, "Whiteness is weak and wicked and inferior — basically just an errant child who needs to be corrected." [26] Five-percenters are purported to believe that Black men are physically and intellectually superior as the natural descendants of God, and black men as Gods are the rightful rulers of the world.[27] Five-Percenters are discouraged from marrying anyone of the white race as doing so would dilute the purity of their blood but the anti-white racism is primarily targeted at white men.[28][not in citation given] Like the Nation of Islam, the Five-Percenter ideology promulgates the theory that the white race was created by a black scientist named Yakub, who lived 6,600 years ago and was responsible for creating the white race to be a race of devils. He did this through a form of selective breeding referred to as grafting, while living on the island of Patmos.[29]

Michael Muhmmad Knight has stated, "The Post never balanced my 'Fuck white people' line with my acknowledgment that there were/are actually white Five Percenters, a phenomenon that I had discussed with the writer." [30]

Hip hop[edit]

In its article on Five Percenter Jay Electronica, Vice Magazine stated in regard to the Five Percent Nation: "It's a movement that's been affiliated with hip-hop from the very beginning, coining lexicon from 'ciphers', to 'dropping science' and influencing everyone, World's Famous Supreme Team, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, Brand Nubian, Common, Poor Righteous Teachers and Nas. With these artists, and any others associated with the Five Percenters, music was more than just a message. It's the reason why no one else, except Jay Electronica, has managed to capture the essence of The Golden Era since."[31]

The Nation of Gods and Earths has propagated its teachings throughout the United States and abroad. In the early 1980s, This spread was in part due to early adherents teaching when away at college or in the military and, more famously, because of the rise of hip hop music. The main theme of the NGE doctrine spoken on hip hop records were the teachings that black people were the original or first human life to walk the planet, that the Blackman is God, the Black Woman is Earth, and through the inner esoteric powers of the Gods and Earths, the youth can transform and possess its true potential, which seems to overthrow the overbearing oligarchy by becoming just rulers of themselves. This especially meshed well with conscious themes found in other golden-age hip hop recordings.[citation needed]

Early hip-hop acts affiliated with the Five Percenters, and who spread its teachings through hip hop, include two MCs of the late 1980s–early '90s conscious-rap era—Rakim of Eric B. & Rakim[32] and Big Daddy Kane. These two acts, as well as some of their other contemporaries, infused Five-Percent teachings and symbolism throughout their music and videos. This reputation brought fans of Rakim in particular to refer to him as the God MC. Not soon after Rakim and Kane's heyday rose acts that were even more explicit with allegiance to the NGE, most notably Brand Nubian, Poor Righteous Teachers, Wu-Tang Clan, Killarmy, Sunz of Man, Gravediggaz, Public Enemy, Godbliss, and Gang Starr. The popularity of these acts sparked a boom of new NGE students. Even the white hip hop group 3rd Bass cited NGE lessons in the song "Triple Stage Darkness" and other songs.[citation needed]

Five Percenters were the innovators behind early hip-hop slang, including "’Sup, G?" (originally "G" means God, not gangsta), "Word is bond," "Break it down," "peace," "droppin' science," and "represent."[2][33] Many MCs employ the technique and terminology of the Supreme Alphabet to create acrostics, acronyms and backronyms in their rhymes. For example, in the song "Wildflower," Ghostface Killah rhymes, "I'm God Cipher Divine," spelling G-O-D in the Supreme Alphabet.[34][35] Furthermore, Raekwon breaks down the science of his life story on the track "North Star," rhyming the words "sun, moon, and stars, rock on".[citation needed] The RZA directly rhymes the Twelve Jewels of life's objectives on his later work with Gravediggaz, rhyming in succession Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, Freedom, Justice, Equality, Food, Clothing, Shelter, Love, Peace, Happiness.[citation needed] He regularly wears an eight-pointed star pendant with a number seven and a crescent, which can be seen on the cover of his album The World According to RZA.

Five Percenters in New York City were even known as a visible presence at parties during hip hop's formative years of the 1970s. Scene pioneer DJ Kool Herc recalled that while there was a heavy gang presence in attendance, the Five Percenters were also there as a de facto peace-keeping element.[36]

Other examples of hip hop and R&B acts who are (or have been) associated with Five Percent teachings include Busta Rhymes, Digable Planets, J-Live, Nas,[37] Jay Electronica, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah and Planet Asia.

In popular culture[edit]

Supreme Allah is a fictional character of the HBO drama Oz, a Five Percenter who is serving time for murdering a man who laughed at him during a dice game. He often preaches Five Percent philosophy while simultaneously dealing drugs. He is portrayed by Lord Jamar of the hip hop group Brand Nubian.

In his one-man Broadway show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, Mike Tyson states that a Five Percenter friend changed his life around by telling him to stop robbing and embrace his new-found family, which consisted of trainer Cus D'Amato.

Notable current and former members and associates[edit]


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External links[edit]