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Nation of Islam
The Five-Percent Nation, sometimes referred to as NGE or NOGE, the Nation of Gods and Earths, or the Five Percenters is a cultural movement 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 dispute with Elijah Muhammed over the fact that Elijah taught that the white man was the devil, yet did not teach that the black man was God. Specifically, Clarence 13X denied that the Nation's biracial founder Wallace Fard Muhammad was Allah and instead taught that the black man was himself God personified. Members of the group call themselves Allah's Five Percenters, which reflects the concept that ten percent of the people in 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.
Initially, the Nation of Gods and Earths, as it is known today, was viewed as little more than an offshoot 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 several investigations of such "so called" hate groups), representatives of the Nation teach that Islam is a natural or mathematical way of living, not a religion. The New York City areas of Harlem ("Mecca") and Brooklyn ("Medina") were named after notable Islamic cities by members of the organization. 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").
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. 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 is God and his proper name is Allah, the Arabic word for God.
- 1 Founding
- 2 Teachings
- 3 Customs
- 4 Influence and interactions
- 5 Criticism
- 6 Hip hop
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 Notable current and former members and associates
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The Nation of Gods and Earths was founded by Allah 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 his questioning of Fard's Godhood due to the fact that Fard was born of a Caucasian mother. 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, 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.
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 street youth. 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.
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 female practitioners use 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.
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 part of the eighth degree of the Supreme Mathematics. The other half is Destroy. Gods and Earths can build their minds, which means to elevate or add on to the knowledge one has. To destroy is to take away from or to destruct. This can mean destroying the wrong ideas of the 85 percent or other Gods. 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.
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). Gods and Earths sometimes refer to themselves as scientists, implying their search for knowledge and proof. 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."
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. 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.  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." 
Origin of Five-Percent title
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
The Supreme Mathematics is a system of understanding numerals alongside concepts and qualitative representations that are used along with the Supreme Alphabet. The Supreme Mathematics is thought to be the highest system of numerology in the NGE, used to give qualitative value to numbers in addition to quantity. How the values associated with each number were derived is unclear. The numerals are as follows:
- 1. Knowledge
- 2. Wisdom
- 3. Understanding
- 4. Culture Freedom
- 5. Power Refinement
- 6. Equality
- 7. God
- 8. Build Destroy
- 9. Born
- 0. Cipher
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 method by which letters were associated with certain values is unknown.
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. Instead, they change the meaning and celebrate how they want to. 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
City Hall and the Urban League
The NGE established a headquarters in Harlem. 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 assassination of Smith in a Harlem housing complex in 1969 remains a mystery. 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 his friend Justice assumed an acting leadership role. In the years to follow, the Gods and Earths gained a varied reputation, from presenting themselves 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 identified as an unruly and unintelligent group of easily confused African-American teenage thugs and even categorized as a gang.
The gang identification 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. 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.
The Nation has tried to answer these accusations by denying them. 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".
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.
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.
As Michael Muhammad Knight 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.'" 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." Michael Muhammad 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." Knight also said in the Vice article, "A Five Percenter elder told me that if I rejected white supremacy and strove for righteousness, I could not be called a devil; though he believed in the Five Percenter doctrine of white devils, he would not hold that against me as an individual."
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 lords of the earth, and the rightful rulers of the world and its people. Women are known as 'Earths', fulfill their needs and assist them in its rule. 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.[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.
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 terms like 'ciphers' and '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."
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.
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 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 and Busta Rhymes. 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.
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". 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. Furthermore, Raekwon breaks down the science of his life story on the track "North Star," rhyming the words "sun, moon, and stars, rock on". 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. 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.
Other examples of hip hop and R&B acts who are (or have been) associated with Five Percent teachings include Killah Priest, Digable Planets, J-Live, Nas, Jay Electronica, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah and Planet Asia.
In popular culture
Maurice Broaddus's alternate history story "(120 Degrees of) Know the Ledge" centers on an analogue of the Five Percent Nation called "The Lost Nation", and quotes actual Five Percent doctrines.
Supreme Allah is a fictional character of the HBO drama Oz, a low intelligence gang member 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
- Big Daddy Kane
- Nas was influenced by the Five-Percent Nation but does not claim to adhere to any specific religion.
- Wu-Tang Clan - Ghostface Killah and Raekwon have since converted to traditional Islam
- Lakim Shabazz
- Guru (rapper) 
- MF Doom
- Busta Rhymes 
- Black Thought - Lead MC of the Philadelphia-based hip hop group The Roots
- Freedom Williams - Lead vocalist of the group C+C Music Factory
- Jus Allah - Member of the rap duo Jedi Mind Tricks
- Allah Mathematics - Hip hop producer and DJ of Wu-Tang Clan
- Brand Nubian
- Erykah Badu - Her Grammy Award-winning song "On & On" features teachings of the Five Percent Nation
- The World Famous Supreme Team
- MC Shan
- Black Sheep
- Poor Righteous Teachers
- Large Professor
- Positive K
- Digable Planets - Grammy Award-winning jazz-rap group
- St. Lunatics
- Supreme Understanding - author and historian
- GQ - an R&B and disco group, best known for its 1979 hit "Disco Nights (Rock Freak)"
- God Shammgod - Former NBA player
- Tragedy Khadafi
- DJ Kay Slay
- LL Cool J said in his autobiography that he joined the Five-Percent Nation in school and took the name "Lord Supreme Shalik", but he also said, "We were just using the Five Percenter label as a shield to do our dirty work - fighting and eventually robbing."
- Carmelo Anthony - NBA player for the New York Knicks
- Kase2 - Graffiti writer and innovator featured in the documentary Style Wars
- Cipha Sounds - DJ and radio personality
- Bruce Lamar Mayfield (Chip Banks) - Former member of the American Cream Team
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