There was standing room only at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Nov. 7, 2010. Photo:

[Editor’s note: The following article contains excerpts of a message delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on November 7, 2010 live from Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Illinois.]

In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.

In our Lessons that Master Fard Muhammad gave us, Lesson No. 1 asks the Question: “Why does [the enemy] keep our people illiterate?” The Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave this answer when he was three years old in the Teachings: “So that he can use them for a tool and, also, a slave. He keeps them blind to themselves so that he can master them. Illiterate means ignorant.”

How many of you are in high school, or have dropped out? Do you know that many millions of Americans are getting high school diplomas and are considered functionally illiterate? I’m not talking about a “few” people, I’m talking about millions! A “functional illiterate” means one who cannot read or write at the grade level on which they received their high school diploma, but are out in the world now.


The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks on the importance of true education. Photo: Timothy 6X
Do you really think that we are “free”? Then why did Jesus say, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free”? How can you “know the truth” except there’s somebody willing to sacrifice their life to tell it, because there are those who don’t want the masses to learn, so that they can keep us as “tools” and “slaves.”

In Chicago alone, nearly 50 percent of our children drop out of school. Among Whites and Hispanics, the number is outrageously large as well. They use sports figures and entertainment figures to tell you: “Stay in School,” but that’s like going to Cook County Jail and telling the inmates: “Stay in Cook County.”


Gaining knowledge should be a pleasurable experience. When you’re in school, if it’s not pleasurable, who wants to be there? If I’m not growing, who wants to be there? If I’m not learning something useful, who wants to be there? Staying in a school that will let you out as a functional illiterate is a waste of your life and your time! Something is wrong with the educational system that this is the result of what it produces.

If I can’t read, books don’t excite me. If I can’t read, then I am an oral person: So my ear is the most important instrument in my life, because it is through the ear that a word will come that will keep me ignorant and it is through my ear that a Word will come that can start me growing toward Wisdom.

Knowledge is your birthright

In the Bible, when God speaks to Israel, I’ve never seen once where God told Israel to “read.” God told Israel, “Hearken”—hear, listen—“to the Voice of God.” So most people get their knowledge from what they hear, not necessarily from what they read.

Knowledge is your birthright: Every human being should be gifted with the right to know self, and the environment, and the Universe into which God gave us birth and life. For us to come out of our mothers’ wombs, and be 20 or 30 years old and not able to read, we are now victims of where we place our ears. But who do you listen to?

Well, if you’re a “gangbanger,” you listen to your buddies. And some of them have knowledge that they pass on to the members of their group, but not necessarily wisdom. If the leader knows more than the followers, and the leader is ignorant, then the scriptures of the Bible are correct: “If the blind lead the blind, both fall in the ditch.”

Or, if I turn on my radio, my ears, and the airwaves are feeding my brain cells which produce my mind.

“Why does the enemy keep our people illiterate? So he can use them as a tool…” A tool for what? What is a “tool”? It is an instrument or utensil held in the hand and used to form, shape, fashion; add to, take away from, or otherwise change something by cutting, hitting, digging, rubbing.

But it is also a person used to accomplish another’s purposes. He keeps us ignorant so that he may use us as a tool, and also, a slave: Now, we wouldn’t want to think that in 2010, we are functioning as “slaves,” but a “slave” is a human being who is owned as property and is absolutely subject to the will of another.

My God, do you really think that we are “free”? Then why did Jesus say, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free”? How can you “know the truth” except there’s somebody willing to sacrifice their life to tell it, because there are those who don’t want the masses to learn, so that they can keep us as “tools” and “slaves.” This is not a “race” thing: There are White people that are in this condition. There are Hispanics; there are Asians.

But we are the worst off, so the Bible teaches, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.”


Unshackling the uncivilized, unlearned masses

In the Lessons and Teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he talked about the “85 percent,” the “10 percent” and the “5 percent.” The Question asks: “Who is the 85 [percent]?” and The Answer is: “The uncivilized people; poison animal eaters; slaves from mental death and power; people who do not know the Living God or their origin in this world, and they worship that which they know not what—who are easily led in the wrong direction, but hard to lead in the right direction.”

The Enemy keeps us shackled. A “shackle” is a metal fastening, usually one of a linked pair—you know how when we get arrested, and the feet are shackled: Can you walk well? But the worst kind of “shackle” is when you are supposed to have an education, and yet, the education does not give you power to make a life for yourself. Those are serious shackles.

The blight of ignorance that is on the people is so shackling them, because on television shows like Jerry Springer, who has become an icon of filth, degeneracy, and the manifest ignorance of the people, there is laughing and cheering on the ignorance in others. For a woman who will get on television, and just pull down her garment and show her breasts, that’s not “civilized.” While that’s a human being who could be as great as any other human being, they are shackled in their mind, and they’re shackled to their sexual depravity.

That’s the condition of the ignorance of the people. And this is madness that’s making money for a few at the expense of the mental state of the American people. If you don’t demand better, you will never get better!

Do you understand that the masses of our people are in that condition? Eighty-five (85) percent of the people, whether they are Black, White, Hispanic, Asian; Jew, Gentile, are uncivilized. This is a serious problem! That’s the condition of the masses in Africa, in Asia, in Israel, I don’t care where they are! The masses are under this kind of mentality, which is from Satan himself! That’s the 85 percent.

But then there’s a 10 percent, otherwise known as the “blood suckers of the poor,” that are “the rich; the slave-makers of the poor, who teach the poor lies,” making the poor believe that there’s some “Mystery God up in Space” that is going to do something for you. You’re searching for this “Mystery God,” but it’s really you, that when you find your Self, and your Connection to God, you have found God!

Now get up and do something to prove that you have found God in your life!

Illiteracy: The Blight on the Human Family

Strange, that the only time a Command was given to “read” is in the 96th Chapter of the Holy Qur’an called Al-Alaq (“The Clot”): “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Read in the name of thy Lord Who creates—Creates man from a clot, Read and thy Lord is most Generous, Who taught by the pen, Taught man what he knew not…”

Those are the first verses that Muhammad heard, and you can’t find that Command anywhere else. In my reading of the Bible, it is “hear” or, “listen” to the Word of God. But here, a Command is given to Muhammad to “Read.” But when Muhammad said, “But I can’t read,” the Angel Gabriel never said, “Oh! I understand.” He just said it again: “Read in the name of your Lord … With the Help of God, Read; Who created man from a clot, and taught man by the pen what man knew not…”

If you refuse to “read,” then God cannot instruct you in His Ways except through your ability to read His Communication that He gave to His prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. It’s in the Chapter where we are asked to read, because when you don’t know how to read, you cannot evolve into the great civilized man and woman that you could become. So illiteracy is blight on the Human Family.

Do not be ashamed if you don’t read well. That is not for you to be ashamed of; it’s for the society to be ashamed of an educational system that can turn you out as a functional illiterate. A people that cannot read are as ugly in their development as a clot is in the ugliness of its development. But the clot has to stay in a right environment, attached to a source that will give it life. If there is no “attachment”; if you’re not attached to your school, and we lose attachment, it’s because that school may not be attached to you!

But here, in the Nation of Islam: We love you, and what we hate is the ignorance that disallows you from realizing your full potential.

In the Holy Qur’an, 7th Surah, 157th verse, it’s talking about a “Messenger-Prophet,” “The Ummi.” Ummi means one who neither writes, nor reads a writing. So here is God now choosing a man who could neither read nor write. What should that tell you if you can’t read, if you can’t write?

If God chose a man through whom He gave this Supreme Revelation, who could neither read nor write, but yet taught; and now has 1.6 billion followers, most of whom read and write, and have become the scholars that have set the world on fire. That doesn’t mean that you can’t perform, and manifest your own greatness!

So don’t be ashamed. If it’s a “pride thing”: “I don’t want to admit that I’m having a problem,” let me tell you something: It’s not your fault. But it’s your fault if you don’t do something about it!

Read The Secret Relationship To Become Aware

When the Angel Gabriel spoke to Prophet Muhammad and said, “Read,” the prophet’s words were: “I can’t read.” That didn’t stop the angel from saying it again: “Read!” In other words, “Don’t tell me what you can’t do! I’m giving you an order! Read!”

Now, when God gives you an order, if you’re any kind of soldier, shouldn’t you obey a Righteous Command? What did God ask the Prophet to do except “read?” But the Prophet could have said to him: “Look man! There is nothing here to read, what are you talking about?”

Suppose I tell you that that Book that became The Holy Qur’an came through Muhammad, but it was for a Muhammad that would be in that same condition in the Last Days of the Present World? That The Children of Israel would receive an UmmiMessengerProphetMessiah: A man that could neither read nor write; a man from the hills of Georgia. A man that had to sharecrop—and some of you from the South, you know what I’m talking about! You couldn’t go to school when it was cotton-picking time!

You young people don’t know that, right? I want you to understand why the book, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Vol. 2, is so necessary. We did not put this book out for hate! Most of the common Black people have no inter-relationship with the Jewish people. They don’t own the shops anymore that we used to have a relationship with; the shops are closed. They’ve gone on to other things, so you have no real relationship.

But if you’re a football player, a basketball player, a baseball player; if you are a singer, a dancer, a rapper, a musician, somewhere along the line you’re going to meet with a Jewish entrepreneur who will want to be your manager or agent. See, any of us that have a relationship with the Jewish people, you’re always at a disadvantage, because they know you, but you don’t know them. When you are dealing with a people that you don’t know; and they’re dealing with an entity that they do know, they always have the upper hand with you in any contract negotiation.

Any time you meet them, you are at a disadvantage because you don’t know your origin in the world, or theirs. But when you come here, it’s not about hate! It’s about removing ignorance that allows others to use you as a tool, and also, a slave; to keep you shackled to ignorance.

This is why The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews is so valuable!


Now, to the Jewish people: Listen, I know you don’t like Farrakhan. I understand. But I’m not a “hater” of you. I know how you got where you are; I know how you became who you are. Not that I knew it, but I was taught it by a man that was Taught by God. And, I cannot go back on that Knowledge nor can I act as though I don’t know when I do know!

When a con man knows that you know “the game,” the con man can’t con anymore! The point is: We want to live in a world free of “con.” We want to live in a world free of tricks, free of lies, deceit and treachery. And the only way we can live in a world that’s like that is that we have to become imbued with knowledge!

Love knowledge! Have an insatiable desire for knowledge! And that means we must become readers.