[Editor’s note: The following article contains excerpts from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s message “‘Death’: The Rider of The Pale Horse,” which he delivered at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Illinois on December 17, 1989.]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
Brothers and sisters, as many across the world are celebrating what is commonly called “Christmas,” I know that many of you have probably purchased your Christmas greeting cards and have sent them out to your friends. And while some of you really didn’t know how you were going to pay the rent this month, you managed to find a little money to buy a Christmas tree and presents, and are busy decorating your trees and getting ready for the “holidays.”
The word “holiday” is another way of saying “holy day”; and a “holiday,” or holy day, is a day that carries great significance with the people who celebrate it. If we are talking about a simple holiday such as “Valentine’s Day,” or this one’s birthday or that one’s birthday, we might expect some frivolity; or really, maybe some light insanity going on in the celebration. But when you talk about the birthday of the man Jesus: That should be one of the holiest days; not only in the history of America, but it should be one of the holiest days in the history of all humanity—shouldn’t it?
Why should the birthday of Jesus be holy in every society on the Earth? If we properly understand it, the birthday of Jesus should be sacred to every nation and every people because since The Fall of Adam, all humanity has suffered a loss and a death that is only corrected when this highly prophesied individual comes into the world.
The death that The Human Family—Black, Brown, Red, Yellow and White—has experienced is the death of the spirit and the death of the mind that would allow us to be reflections of The Divine Supreme Being; so that today, man and woman are so far beneath what we should be and what we could be that our condition is a stench in the Nostrils of God.
The ‘Pale Horse’ whose rider is ‘Death’
In the Book of Revelation, Chapter 6, verse 8, the scripture teaches: “… I beheld a pale horse! Its rider was Death, and Hell followed closely behind … ”
“I beheld a pale horse!” It didn’t say a “white” horse. It said a pale horse. A horse is the most intelligent of the beasts, so the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that we do not eat horse meat. Not because horse meat is not a good meat to eat, but that the horse, in its intelligence, is so close to the human being that as we do not eat the flesh of another human being out of respect for our humanity, we don’t eat the flesh of the horse out of respect for its great intelligence.
“Its rider was Death … ” The “rider” of the horse is “Death.” The word “rider” and the word “rudder” have some significance: A rudder is a small member of a huge boat; and it is the rudder that turns the boat in the water. Well, what is the “rider,” and how does the rider compare to the “rudder”? The thing that gives man or woman direction is your intelligence. Your intelligence, or “the nature of you,” is small in comparison to the body, but it is what turns you and moves you about in the world as the turning of the rudder moves a great ship about. “Death” is The Rider of The Pale Horse … Isn’t that something? In other words, “Death” is “the guiding principle” of the pale people. What do you call “death”? The Bible puts it like this: “Sin is transgression of the law and the wages of rebellion to the law brings death,” so here the Bible writer is telling us that a pale horse is being ridden by a Mind that is driven by a force within its being that is in direct rebellion to The Law and The Will of God. So wherever “the pale horse” goes with “death” as its “rider”: “Hell follows closely behind.”
The condition of ‘Hell’ that follows rebellion to God
“I [saw] a pale horse”: An intelligent creature who is “pale,” but who is considered a member of The Family of Beasts—not “human,” but who is the highest manifestation of beasts. Now, this “pale horse” represents the pale-faced people who are highly intelligent, but not intelligent enough to be “human” and “humane” in their actions toward self and the rest of The Human Family of the Earth. The pale horse whose rider—whose nature, whose governing principle—is rebellion to The Law of God, so that whatever God said “thou shalt do,” White people say: “It’s alright. You don’t have to.” Their whole way of life is rebellion to The Law of God, to The Way of God, to The Mind of God, so they, in their person, represent “death” to The Mind and Spirit of God in The Human Family.
“And I saw a pale horse whose rider was death and hell followed closely behind”: Everywhere The Pale Man went, he brought death and hell to the inhabitants of that part of the Earth. The areas of Tahiti and in the Isles of the Pacific were once called “Paradise,” but they don’t call it that now. After he got there, it was “Paradise Lost” because he brought his way of rebellion; he brought death—and hell came right behind—so now death is over Africa, in The Caribbean, and in Central and South America, and Hell is there because the pale horse is there.
And so White people have messed up the world, they messed up their lives, and they have messed up a beautiful country, America. Yes, they have built up this great country with its beautiful cities and fine roads, but they killed the environment. They are killing the Earth, they are killing the atmosphere; they poisoned the water, they poisoned the Earth and the air, and now they are dying from their own hands, their own rebellion—and they have spread their rebellious way over you, over me, over Africa, over Asia, Central and South America. The whole world has been deceived by The Arch Deceiver.
The White man has come to you in The Name of God because you, by nature, have a respect for God; but he cleverly stands in the place of God, giving directions that are misdirection, giving you guidance that is no “guidance” at all, giving you Falsehood in the place of Truth all the while creating a hell for the whole world.
“Well, what do all of these things have to do with the merry Christmas holiday, Brother Farrakhan?” If a man rebels against God, how then can his “holiday” be a true praise of God? The world of Caucasian life is full of rebellion; therefore, so confused today are the people who follow that lifestyle, that way of rebellion, that they don’t know what’s right from what’s wrong anymore.
Open your Bible to the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 10, verses 2-5, where God says: “Go [Learn] not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain, for one cutteth the tree out of the forest, the work of hands of the workmen with the ax, they deck it with silver with gold. They fasten it with nails and with hammers that it moves not. They are upright as the palm tree but they speak not. They must be borne or carried because they cannot move themselves. Be not afraid of them for they cannot do evil neither also is in them to do good.”
What do you do? You didn’t go into the forest and cut the tree down—but the heathen did, and he has them all around our neighborhoods for sale. So what do you do with it? “Bring it in my living room and fasten it down.” Some of you nail it down, right, and you get your little silver and gold tinsel and balls, and you dress the tree.
You should know what these customs mean when you perform them.
The lies, deceit and hypocrisy of this so-called ‘holy day’
How could your Christmas be “merry”? Here you are: You don’t know yourself, you don’t know God, you don’t know The Enemy of God; you don’t live in a decent home, you have hardly any friend that you can trust; you are “friendless.” But yet it’s a “Merry Christmas.”
What makes it “merry”? “Well I looked under my tree and I saw some gifts under there, and I was so glad that somebody gave me a pair of gloves (that didn’t fit), a tie (that was the ugliest tie I had ever seen), a sweater… But it’s not the gift, it’s the thought!” Or, “Merry Christmas! Get out the eggnog, Sam!” Eggnog? What does that have to do with Jesus? “Shut up! Drink the Eggnog. Get the brandy! Get the Courvoisier! Let me drink to your health—until I lose my own!”
Today, it’s not the beer that you drink every other day, but to your Christmas parties you bring the best wine, the best brandy, the best whiskey, the best scotch; bring the reefer, bring the cocaine, bring the crack, bring your pipe, “Bring your paper and we’ll roll a few together!”
A “Merry Christmas”: What does that have to do with Jesus Christ? And when you turn on your television, you’re bombarded with “buy the new car,” “buy the refrigerator,” “buy the diamond,” buy this and that. But what does that have to do with Jesus Christ? These things are “commercial.” “I saw a pale horse whose rider is Death and Hell followed closely behind…” You have to watch any “holy day” that The Pale Horse sets up because it’s a mockery of The Holy One, because The Pale Horse cannot show respect for Divine.
“Santa Claus” has moved Jesus out! These children are more interested in Santa than in Jesus: “What is Santa going to leave under my tree this year?” and because you’ve become a lying mother, a deceitful mother, lying to your children that some White man who lives in the North Pole and doesn’t even know you exist, is going to slip down a chimney, and you live in an apartment, then when you damage the confidence of your children with a lie, that sets into motion a whole chain reaction that breaks their confidence in you.
You say, “But it’s just a little fun. It’s a little ‘white lie’”—just like that pale horse. It hurts children to learn that you lied to them. You call it “fun,” but it is never fun to lie to your children! It is better that you tell your children, “I am the Santa Claus, baby. And me and your daddy worked hard all year to save up money to get you these gifts, and we hope you like them.”
Why let the love and the gratitude go to a Caucasian image? Why not let your children show you the love for what you gave them? Why not let your children give you the honor and the respect for what you gave them? Why give some blue-eyed, blonde-headed, fat White man that has no thought for you; and then when your children grow up you wonder why they always expect White people to give them something? It is because you start them off as children looking to The Enemy to give them what you’ve given them all along.
What you are celebrating is not a “holiday” or a “holy day.” These are lies! You’ve corrupted that day and you’ve made mockery of the most sacred human being of all.
Within the name “Christmas” you have two words: Christ and mas. Do you know what it means? A “mas[s]” is a group of people organized for the purpose of the worship of Christ (Christ-mass). But not you! You’re not “organized” on Christmas for the worship of Christ; that’s just a day that you don’t have to go to work, everybody gets drunk, has a party, all “in the name of Jesus.” And there’s a few of you that will go to a midnight mass; some others of you will go to church and sing “Joy to The World The Lord Is Come,” or “Silent Night, Holy Night”—but this is hypocrisy, because “December 25th” was never the birthday of Christ.
Who told you that Jesus was born on December the 25th? It is the same person who told you that you were a “n—-r.” It is The Pale Horse.
The Lie of ‘December 25th’:
Sun-worshipping pagans and Jesus’ birth date
So why “December the 25th”? The scripture in Jeremiah already told you to not learn (follow) the way of the heathen, and “do not be dismayed at the signs of the heavens for the heathen are dismayed at them …” Well, why is it talking about “the signs of the heavens,” and why are the heathens dismayed at the sign of the heavens? The heathens were Sun worshippers: They did not know The True God, so they worshipped the Sun.
Every year you have what is called the “Winter Solstice” which takes place around the 21st day of December, the shortest day of the year. So the people who worshipped the Sun saw the days getting shorter and shorter, and on December 21st, it looked to them as though their Sun God “stood still.” And then every day after December 21st, the days started getting longer and longer, so the heathen would go out and appeal to the Sun God when the Sun God seemed to be “going away from them”; and so on the 21st, during the Winter Solstice, it appeared as though the Sun stood still and their prayers were accepted. And since in Christian thinking, the man Jesus is called the “Son [Sun] of God”: The heathen, when they accepted Christianity, they brought their heathen (pagan) practices into the worship of Jesus Christ.
So, as Jesus is the “Son of God,” is “The Light of The World”: As the Sun “stands still” on December 21st and the days start getting longer, by the 25th of December they fixed the “birth of Jesus” to coincide with the longer days of the Sun. To be taught that Jesus was born on December 25th: Bring me any scholar or preacher of religion, and I challenge you to go in the Bible and tell me when Jesus was born! You can’t do it, and neither can the scholars do it.
On what day Jesus was born, only God and Jesus’ mother, Mary, knows. But because Mary is not here to tell you, and God has kept it a well-guarded secret, the heathen was left to fabricate Jesus’ birth.
The Worship of Nimrod:
Destroyer of Moses’ Civilization and The Enemy of God
Actually the person that was born on that day, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to me and to us, is a man named Nimrod.
Nimrod was one of the most wicked men who ever lived. Nimrod is the man that destroyed the Law of Moses: He broke the civilization of Moses 17 centuries after Moses, and three centuries before Jesus was born into the world. What is meant by “he broke the civilization of Moses” is that Nimrod made the Law of Moses of non-effect. And when you make the law that Moses established of non-effect, you have busted up the civilization of Moses.
Nimrod was a man that had a strange [incestuous] relationship with his mother, Semiramis; and when she died, they say an “evergreen tree rose up out from her grave,” and they would put gifts under the tree. So here you are practicing what the heathens practiced who worshipped Nimrod and his mother. Both of them rebelled against God. So, getting back to that “pale horse whose rider is death and hell followed closely behind”: This pale horse is a rebel against God, so he mocked God and Jesus by having a day for Jesus on the same day as the birth of Nimrod, the enemy of God.
And in the manner and with the traditions that you practice on December the 25th, you cannot tell me that you are honoring Jesus Christ. You are honoring Nimrod: The man who broke the Divine Law which was the basis of Jesus Christ’s message. In truth, if Jesus were born on December the 25th, the way to celebrate his birth is to keep up a feast of joy in righteousness that such a great and holy one has been birthed into the world.
You should stop and reflect on what his birth into the world means and the change that his birth into the world has brought about in your life. It should be a time of prayer, a time of reflection and a time of recommitment of our lives to the principles taught by such a holy man. And that is not the way we celebrate.
Dear beloved brothers and sisters, “The Pale Horse”—The Caucasian, whose nature is rebellion against God who has produced a death and a hell all over the Earth—has set the stage for the coming and the birth of this noble one Jesus, the Christ. Your problem is you’re looking back 2,000 years ago, when it was not time for “The Messiah” to come into the world; it was 2,000 years too soon… And so the Holy Qur’an teaches us that Jesus and his mother Mary were for a “sign.”
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that the knowledge of Jesus is the great test between the world’s knowledge and the Divine revelation of God. And Jesus is the most misunderstood man anywhere among the Muslims, among the Jews and among the Christians.
The Muslims think that the Jesus that lived 2,000 years ago died and is going to come back in the Judgment; they give that credit to Jesus—not to Muhammad, not to Abraham, not to any other prophet. They say Jesus is coming in “the last days” with The Mahdi, and the two of them will be together; and when they come, “joy” to the poor and the oppressed, but great tribulation for the ruler of the darkness of this world.