Escape from the Nation of Islam

Farrakhan Heir Bolts from Black Muslim Following to Lead a Hip Hop Movement

After Khallid was shot in an assassination attempt in May 1994, the Voice broke the story that a year and a half previously, he had accused Conrad and other ministers in the mosque of setting him up to be killed. At an August fundraiser for Khallid at Friendship Baptist Church, two days after the Voice story appeared, Conrad vehemently denied he was involved in a plot and professed his love for Khallid. But his public stand failed to impress Conrad's old friend, Eric Muhammad, who attacked Conrad about a month later at a rally at the Slave Theatre in Brooklyn.

"If you remember, at Friendship Baptist Church there was a pledge made by Minister Conrad," Eric claimed. "He pledged $500 to support Brother Khallid. It was a beautiful show of unity... because you were stung by what you saw, what you read in the Village Voice. The point is that the pledge was made but it was never delivered."

At the time, Conrad was under suspension for alleged insubordination. In his remarks at the Slave Theatre, Eric alluded to this. "Ask them what happened to Minister Conrad," he urged the audience. "How come he's been removed from the city? How come there's a petition orchestrated to ask Minister Farrakhan not to allow him to resume the post? If there is no discord... where is Minister Conrad?... You better think. Better think."

Upon his return, Conrad's leadership style continued to infuriate his critics in the mosque. It is NOI tradition for the captains and lieutenants to attempt to wrest control of the mosque from the minister. The Harvard-educated lawyer H. Nasif Mahmoud, who became a member of the Nation in the 1970s, was confronted by "these jealous paper captains and these lieutenants trying to get some kind of position in the temple to have some kind of social stature." In the book American Jihad: Islam After Malcolm X, Mahmoud writes of "these goons who came down from Boston" and promised to teach the Muslim who "spoke correct English" a lesson after their attempt to psychologically abuse him failed.

"I said, 'Bring a dozen of you motherfuckers when you come -- because I ain't got that much time!'" Mahmoud writes. "'I got civil procedure and property and contracts and international trade to study! So I'm going to whop all your motherfucking asses in one swoop to get rid of you! Now, keep fucking with me, hear!'"

"After Malcolm left Temple No. 7, the captains were determined not to have any minister become as strong as he was," according to Alfred Muhammad, a former minister in the Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad. "In New York, we had Captain Joseph, who never wanted to let Farrakhan take over the leadership of Temple No. 7: He tried to get Farrakhan busted and Farrakhan tried to get him busted. There were always power struggles going on. Ministers come and go, but captains always remain."

When Farrakhan reshuffled his government last winter, Captain Dennis Muhammad, who frequently opposed Conrad, also was removed but was reassigned to Farrakhan's personal security detail. Muhammad Abdul Aziz, who spent 19 years behind bars for killing Malcolm X, was appointed captain earlier this year to help run the mosque. If indeed ministers come and go, the "hip hop minister" is back -- on the streets.

Research: W. Michelle Beckles and Vicki Shiah

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