WEB POSTED 04-01-2002

The student and the teacher

This is from the January 28 interview of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, conducted by myself.

Minister Farrakhan: And then from the writings of Paul, in this instance, I keep saying it over and over like a mantra, “I can do all things through Christ, or through Allah, which strengthens me.” This keeps me focused on God, because without Him I will not be able to do this, at all. Without God’s intervention I would not represent Beethoven as well as I would like.

So I’m begging Allah and believing that He’s going to be with me and help me to take an ordinary talent and do something, maybe, a little more than ordinary, by His grace.

Brother Jabril: You told me of this conductor the other night—

Minister Farrakhan: You know, the fact that you ask me questions over the years, that you didn’t prompt me on, so I never knew the question, but as you give me the question the answer is formulating in my head. So you, more than anybody, can attest to the truth that this is not regular; it’s not necessarily ordinary, but that God is with Brother’s mouth.

Brother Jabril: One of my purposes, in these interviews, is to show, through you, what God has and is doing with and through you for us, to help us to have more confidence that He is with us.

Brother Minister, I don’t fully remember the man’s name, it starts with a “V” and you said that he talked about what you are attempting to do, is like walking on a tight rope—

Minister Farrakhan: Charles Veal.

Brother Jabril: Please repeat what you told me that he said of the difficulty factor involved in what you are preparing to do.

Minister Farrakhan: He said that the difficulty factor in what I intend to do this is compared to a man walking a tight rope, a hundred feet in the air with no safety net. When he first heard me play, a few weeks ago, he said, “You know, there were some moments of brilliance in what you did.”

He said, “You’re close.” But he came back then days later, after giving me some guidance, he said, “Man, what you’ve done in a week’s time is amazing.” He said, “You’re there now.”

Brother Jabril: All praises are due to Allah for blessing us with an example such as He has given us in you.

Now Brother Minister, be it the will of Allah, I intend to make of these interviews another little “Gap Two” book, for in your words are many lessons for others—young Brothers, Sisters—who want to teach; who want to help advance the Nation of Islam.

So now, in a summary fashion, what would you want them to get out of your experiences, that you have just outlined, that would help them do what they are trying to do, or will try to do?

Minister Farrakhan: I wish that every Believer could see me in the role of a student. They always see me in the role as a teacher. But you can never be a good teacher unless you first become a good student. And you can never be a good leader unless you first become a good follower.

Now there are characteristics one must develop to become a good student. The reason I believe that I excel, as a student, is because my desire is so intense to know and to improve. So it doesn’t make any difference how you critique me, my heart has been made by God so humble and my desire to be better is so great, that I suck up what you tell me like a sponge.

Brother Jabril: Of criticism or critique?

Minister Farrakhan: Yes, of both. So that when you leave me I go to practice what you showed me that I was deficient in. I say this that most of us, as students, become [seemingly] knowledgeable too quick and with that kind of [superficial] knowledge we become arrogant and we lose the desire to know. If we don’t have the desire to [really] know, and our heart is so crippled by false pride, then we won’t humble ourself enough to even accept critique.

So when we meet again, I’m meeting the same person that I met the last time and that person is no better, after being critiqued, than he was before critique. But every time my teacher meets me, I’m better than the last time because my heart has accepted the critical analysis because I want to be better at whatever I do.

Brother Jabril: The Bible says that Jesus was not a learned man and Paul was a highly learned man, according to the world’s standard at that time.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, as we know, had four grades of this world’s education, which I heard him say one day, was just enough to teach him how to read and write. Although you did not graduate from college, you had, in comparison to him, quite a bit more of this world’s education. Please comment.

Minister Farrakhan: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was the most learned man that I ever met in my life. He may not have been learned in terms of what the world says is learning, but how could he be unlearned and teach those of us who had learning that which overwhelmed our knowledge, that we became his followers? Without a doctoral degree, he mastered those courses of study that we had spent years trying to study; trying to master, while the Honorable Elijah Muhammad could show us in our own choice of subject matter, that which we had never seen before.

He taught bankers, banking. He taught architects, architecture. He taught scientists, science. He taught doctors, medicine. So then you have to ask yourself, since he did not have formal learning, who taught him? The student absolutely is a witness of his teacher. I bear witness that God taught the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Brother Jabril: Thank you. Now Brother Minister, that leads me to this.

I am among those who have sat at your dinner table many times when there had been a table full of Ministers; medical people, who not only are formally trained, but had years of experience; in short, many who are in all of the major fields of learning and practice that represent the institutions that hold this society together. There are many of us who have witnessed that all these people were/are profoundly impressed with your ability to educate them in their own disciplines, which you have not studied. You provided them with insights into their own field. How would you account for that?

Minister Farrakhan: Because I’m a student of the man I just described. If my teacher, having not letters, yet is learned, and I am his student having not letters either—because the only diploma that I can show you is a high school diploma because I never finished college in order to have letters, although I was above average as a student—so then its my being his student that has caused me (and any of us who would diligently study the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) to have the ability to help others in their chosen fields, even though, we may not necessarily have known much of their field.

More next issue, Allah willing.

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