Monday, May 11, 2009
The Five Percenters
Islam, Hip Hop And The Gods of New York
By Michael Muhammad Knight
Though building on a unique cosmology and legendary characters, Allah positioned himself as anti-religion. Known as a High Scientist during his time in the mosque, he later discouraged high science in favor of "city science". Many Gods take a practical look at their divinity; the word God to both Fard and the Father, in I Majestic's interpretation, "has no religious context here, it's not claiming to be an astral being" The Five Percenters would respond to anarchism's ethos of "no gods, no masters", with I God, I Master. For a black man to call himself God means that he will take responsibility, as the Father of Civilization , to lift himself up in the here and now- as opposed to waiting for a mystery to solve his problems or reward him in the afterlife...
I thought of Allah and the Desert Fathers that came before him: Father Divine, Noble Drew Ali, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. They were all born in the south and came north as young men in search of a better tomorrow, but found the American Dream to be a mystery god: an empty promise that took blind faith and gave only hard times.
There really is a devil, and like the Lost-Found Muslim Lesson No 1 says, he does keep you from his social equality. The bloodsucking Ten percenters, peddlers of the Mystery God, rule the Eighty-five Percent with priests, imams, ministers, mullahs and theologians, trained experts in phantoms, selling what cannot be seen. An old man who has only been an MTA bus driver all his life cannot stand up in a mosque and give khutbah on what he learned while struggling in the city and supporting a family. It's not enough, he has to go to Al-Azar, perfect his Arabiyya, master tajwid, eat up the medieval scholars, fill his head with fiqh and learn all the schools of thought. But in the new Mecca of Harlem, he can come to the front of the Harriet Tubman's auditorium in his MTA work jacket and he's God as is.'