On the Nation of Gods and Earths (5%ers)

By D.A. Horton

The Founder and Formation of the Movement

The founder of the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE) was Clarence Smith (later known as “Clarence 13X and “The Father”) who was born on February 22, 1928, in Danville, VA. After fighting for the US Army in the Korean War he returned to his wife Dora who had converted to the Nation of Islam (NOI). Smith joined Dora in membership at Temple No. 7 under Minister Malcolm X and rose in rank to lieutenant in the Fruit of Islam (FOI), the military training of men in the NOI. He was then provided the opportunity of serving as the student minister where he took liberty to share his interpretation of The Supreme Wisdom Lessons.[1] This led to irreconcilable differences between Smith and Temple No. 7.[2]

Smith used personal application of The Supreme Wisdom Lessons by teaching that every Original Man (every black man) was Allah in the flesh. He expanded The Supreme Wisdom Lessons to include his new revelations the Supreme Alphabet and Supreme Mathematics[3] and shared them with the “poor, delinquent and hardcore”[4] black street youth in Harlem. In 1967 when Smith was released from two years of court-appointed psychiatric treatment, he was welcomed by thousands of followers at the first Universal Parliament (like a Synod) at Mount Morris Park. In the same year Mayor John V. Lindsay met with Smith requesting his intervention with communal disruption and escalating violence in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. In exchange Lindsay agreed to secure a building at Seventh Avenue and 126thStreet (later to be named Allah School in Mecca). Smith received significant media attention and praise for the NGE’s peacekeeping work in Harlem the night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. On June 12, 1969, Smith was gunned down in the elevator of Martin Luther King Towners in East Harlem. After Smith’s death, his nation continued to grow.

Five years later his nation began intersecting The 120 with a newly forming culture known as hip hop and by the late 1980’s the language and teachers of the NGE gained a global platform.[5] Sujan Kumar Dass explained the pedagogical approach of the NGE, which can be understood as systematic catechesis intersected with holistic discipleship,[6] thus producing a communal rhythm like what is seen in Acts 2:42-47. Today, the exact number of adherents of the NGE is not known however, enlighteners (or disciple-makers), rallies, and schools can be found online and in urban metropolitan areas throughout the United States and as far as London, Japan, and South Africa.[7] 

The Friction of NGE Teachings with Christianity

The NGE view of God and Man (Theology Proper and Anthropology)

The 1st degree in the Student Enrollment 1-10 lessons asserts, “the original man is the Asiatic Black Man: the maker, the owner, the cream of the planet earth, God of the Universe”.[8] The name of God is Allah and Allah is manifested in the Original man who exists as; Arm-Leg-Leg-Arm-Head (ALLAH).[9] The NGE teaches “black” is comprised of 16 shades inclusive of brown, and yellow.

At first, the spelling of Allah connected with, Arm-Leg-Leg-Arm-Head seems legitimate. However, when looking beyond the English language the words for arm, leg, and head do not spell Allah or the generic word for God in Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, Farsi, Haitian Kreyòl, Portuguese, Spanish, or Wolof.[10] This nuance becomes important when brought into dialogue with the 5th degree in the 1-36 which states that English is not the language of the original man, but of the European. The burden of responsibility is therefore placed on the NGE to explain why God’s nature being understood as the Original man who is complete in himself only can only be proven in the language of those who are not “original.”

According to the 18th degree in the 1-40, the “Great Commission”, of the NGE is to teach the savage uncivilized people civilization, righteousness, the knowledge of himself, the science of everything in life, love, peace, and happiness.[11]

The NGE view of the Bible (Bibliology)

The NGE positions the Bible and all other sacred texts underneath The 120 and yet, biblical references are used for support. In the 21st degree of the 1-40 the evil scientist Yakub was born twenty miles from the Holy City (Mecca) in the year 8,400.[12] Drawing from Elijah Muhammad’s interpretation, the NGE charge Yakub with genetically grafting (or creating) the white devil (white race) through a breeding process on the Island of Patmos. The NGE applies Genesis 1:26 only to the Original man and not the mutant devils created by Yakub.[13] Alan Muhammad highlights Elijah Muhammad’s connection to Yakub’s grafting with Jacob and Laban in Genesis 30-31,[14] insinuating that Jacob could be Yakub.

First the claim of Jacob’s birth being twenty miles from Mecca must be addressed. Genesis 25:11 places Isaac, Jacob’s father as living in Beer-lahai-roi, which was south of Beersheba in the Negev. Genesis 26:1 asserts a famine was present in the promised land causing Isaac to travel to Gerar. In Genesis 26:2 God tells Isaac not to leave the promised land to go to Egypt but to where God led him. Genesis 26 traces Isaac’s migration from Gerar to the Valley of Gerar (26:17) to Rehoboth (26:22) to Beersheba (26:23) which was the most southern location of Isaac’s life. If Jacob were born in Beersheba, he would have been 747.26 miles away from Mecca.[15] If Jacob were born in any of the other locations listed in Isaac’s life, the distance  from Mecca only increase.

Secondly, Genesis 1:26-27 speaks to the uniqueness of all humanity compared to all other forms of creation, since God shared certain non-material characteristics of His with all humanity equally. Adam is identified as the human agent God used to create the whole of the singular human race, made up of various ethnicities, who all trace their ancestorial roots back to Adam (Acts 17:26-27). His wife Eve, is called the mother of all living in Genesis 3:20. Lastly, Genesis 31:18 identifies Jacob’s location as Paddan-Aram, which is in northern Mesopotamia[16], a landlocked locked location opposite of the Island of Patmos.

The NGE view of Jesus (Christology)

In the 5th degree of the 1-14 it is said that Jesus is buried in Jerusalem and the devil uses his name to shield the dirty religion known as Christianity in addition to Jesus’ teachings are not Christianity rather, freedom, justice, and equality.[17] The Supreme Mathematics defines freedom as, “to be free from all the lies and wickedness of the devil civilization”.[18] The Supreme Alphabet defines justice as, “the reward or penalty for one’s deeds or actions” and equality as “the supreme unity amongst the God and the Earths. It is to be equal mentally as well as physically in the mind and body as well.”[19] To be clear, the NGE teaches Jesus should not be aligned with the ‘devilish’ claims of Christianity, which announce Him as the only Savior for humanity. In addition, the NGE teaches Jesus received the reward for His actions and He was equal, not lesser, or greater, than all other original men and women.

In John 5:17-18 Jesus explains His equality with God, which His antagonists understood as a claim of deification as it provoked a desire for them to kill him. In John 8:57-58 Jesus tells the Pharisee’s He is eternal, informing them He existed before Abraham. Their recorded response in John 8:59 provides evidence that they understood this as a claim to deity since they sought to stone; they assumed He was a mere man claiming to be God. According to Leviticus 24:16, this was blasphemy. John 10:22-39 records Jesus saying He and the Father are indeed one. In John 14:6 Jesus declares He alone is the only way, truth, and way to eternal life which results in a reconciled relationship with God. Jesus is truly God, not merely a man (John 1:1-3; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1-2).

Jesus is the one and only, only-begotten Son of the Father (John 3:16), which means that when “puts on flesh and dwells among us” (John 1:14), he becomes the true human after which all humanity is patterned. Because he is truly God, he is perfect and able to save; because he is truly man, he can bleed and die for us. The NGE views of Jesus are wrapped in falsehoods inaccurate to the very claims Jesus Himself made. In addition, it should be noted Jesus’ death on the cross allowed Him to absorb the penalty for the sinful actions of humanity that He himself was not guilty of (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24) so all who embrace His death, burial, and resurrection would be pardoned from their sin debt by God and declared forensically justified (cf. Romans 4-5).

The NGE teaches since Allah is the black man, he does not need to look outside of himself for salvation. Since there are 120 lessons, if they are known (knowledge), applied (wisdom), and overstood (understanding), then one’s cipher (or being) is complete at 360 degrees. This view bypasses the necessary work of Jesus regarding salvation. Salvation then is understood as a works-based achievement, which is in direct opposition to the gospel according to Scripture.


[1] Master Fard Muhammad, The Supreme Wisdom Lessons, https://www.ciphertheory.net/supremewisdom.pdf. This document is understood as the the initial body of doctrine for the Nation of Islam.

[2] Beloved Allah, “The Bomb: The Greatest Story Never Told”, http://lafivepercent.wordpress.com/the-bomb-the-greatest-story-never-told/, accessed on October 15, 2020. It should be noted that “The Bomb: The Greatest Story Never Told” is universally excepted amongst the Nation as the official biography of “the Father”. It is often posted or a link to another site on the websites of many within the Nation.

[3] The Supreme Wisdom Lessons, in addition to Smith’s Supreme Alphabet and Supreme Mathematics, and to some the inclusion of the 12 Jewels of Islam, are often referred to as “the 120” or the Supreme Lessons of the God’s and Earths.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Felicia M. Miyakawa, Five Percenter Rap: God’s Hop’s Music, Message, and Black Muslim Mission, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press), 2005, 21.

[6] In Sujan Kumar Dass, “Pedagogy of the Five Percent: Education in the Nation of Gods and Earths”, Argosy University, 2006, Dass explains the pedagogical structure of the Nation of Gods and Earths. The 120 lessons are learned in community through a series of catechesis (or question and answering). The process involves the affirmation of dialogue that leads to conscientization. Members in the learning community are held to high levels of accountability for self-learning as well as living a self-controlled life. The culture of the Nation of Gods and Earths involves; artistic expression, dietary restrictions, economic empowerment, ethnic affirmation, environmental stewardship, relational accountability, traditional family building, and veracious reading habits.

[7] Ahmon J. Keiler-Bradshaw, “Voices of the Earth: A Phenomenological Study of the Women in the Nation of Gods and Earths”, Georgia State University, 2010, https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/aas_theses/2.

[8] Supreme Allah, Supreme Lessons.

[9] Pamela Andrews, “Ain’t No Spook God”: Religiosity in the Nation of Gods and Earths”, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2013, 160.

[10] On the dates of September 18-22, 2020, I conducted a survey asking people who are conversant and fluent in foreign languages to identify what the words “God”, “arm”, “leg”, and “head” were in their languages. Out of the 23 responses given, no foreign language outside of English aligned Allah with “Arm”, “Leg”, “Leg”, Arm” and “Head”.

[11] God Supreme Allah, Supreme Lessons of the Gods and Earths: A Guide for 5 Percenters to Follow As Taught by Clarence 13 X Allah, (Plantation, FL: African American Bookstore, 1993).

[12] Supreme Allah, Supreme Lessons.

[13] Muhammad, Message, 116-121.

[14] Alan Muhammad, “Myth or high science? Is there evidence of Mr. Yakub?”, The Final Call, October 24, 2010.

[15] “Distance of Mecca to Beersheba”, https://www.distance.to/Mecca/Beersheba, accessed on October 10, 2020.

[16] “Paddan-Aram”, Jewish Virtual Library, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/paddan-aram, accessed on October 10, 2020.

[17] Supreme Allah, Supreme Lessons.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

Published September 26, 2022

D.A. Horton

D.A. Horton serves as an Assistant Professor and Program Director of the Intercultural Studies program at California Baptist University. He is also blessed to serve as an Associate Teaching Pastor at The Grove Community Church. He has planted churches in Kansas City, MO and Long Beach, CA. He has been married to his best friend Elicia for 19 years. They have three kids and love calling Riverside home.