Five-Percent Nation

An offshoot of the Nation of Islam, promoting a doctrine that teaches the empowerment and divine nature of Black people.

Religion: Islam
Offshoot of: Nation of Islam
Founder: Clarence 13X (Clarence Edward Smith)
Founded: 1964
Location: Primarily in the United States
Other Names: Nation of Gods and Earths, Five Percenters, Five Percent Nation of Islam

The Five-Percent Nation, also known as the Nation of Gods and Earths, is a movement that emerged from the African American community in Harlem, New York, during the early 1960s. Founded by Clarence 13X, a former member of the Nation of Islam, the group advocates a blend of Islam-influenced teachings and Black nationalism. Clarence 13X, who later became known as Allah the Father, initiated the movement after leaving the Nation of Islam, disagreeing with some of its doctrines, particularly the divine status attributed to its founder, Wallace D. Fard. He found contradictions in the teachings about the nature of God, especially regarding Fard’s light skin and the claim that God was black.

The Five-Percent Nation is named for its core belief that only five percent of the world’s population knows and teaches the truth about God, which is that the black man is the divine being. The movement posits that 85% of people are ignorant of God’s true identity, led astray by the remaining 10% who know the truth but use this knowledge to deceive and exploit others.

A central component of the Five-Percent Nation’s teachings is the concept of “Supreme Mathematics,” a framework used by its followers to interpret the world and their place within it. This ideology emphasizes self-sufficiency, education, and the reclaiming of black people’s divine status. The group initially established itself as a dynamic presence in urban areas, particularly in Harlem, but its influence has since spread across various cities in the United States, finding a particularly receptive audience among young African Americans and within the hip-hop community.

While the Five-Percent Nation promotes a message of empowerment and self-awareness among black men, whom it refers to as “Gods,” and black women, whom it calls “Earths,” it has also faced criticism and controversy. Its teachings have been described as radical and, by some, as promoting black supremacy. This perception has been compounded by the association of some of its rhetoric with that used by other groups labeled as Black Nationalist or extremist, which have been implicated in acts of violence and radicalism. Critics and law enforcement have expressed concern over the potential for such ideologies to foster criminal behavior and extremism.

Despite its controversial aspects, the Five-Percent Nation has made a significant cultural impact, especially in the arts, influencing numerous artists and musicians. Its teachings on the divine nature of the individual and the power of knowledge continue to resonate with those seeking alternatives to traditional religious and social doctrines​​​​.

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