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WHY I AM A FIVE PERCENTER by Michael Muhammad Knight


by Michael Muhammad Knight

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58542-868-7
Publisher: Tarcher/Penguin

Thorough investigation of a misunderstood branch of the Nation of Islam, seen through a white Muslim’s perspective.

Often disregarded as a religion for rappers, gangsters and convicts, Five Percenters have long been marginalized as a dangerous and mystical offshoot of the also-scorned Nation of Islam. Even Knight (Blue-Eyed Devil: A Road Odyssey Through Islamic America, 2009, etc.) admits, “Don’t get me wrong—before my first trip to Allah School, they had me scared shitless.” So begins the author’s exploration of a religion founded in 1964 by Clarence Smith after breaking from the mosque led by Malcolm X in Harlem. But as much as this book is an investigation into the far reaches of American Islam, it also reads as a justification for the author’s own religious identification. Inspired by the references to Islam in the lyrics of the hip-hop artists he loved as a youth, such as Public Enemy, and a fascination with Malcolm X, Knight’s passion was further cemented when, at 15, he first met his absent father, only to discover he was a white supremacist. The Five Percenters, he writes, “offered both freedom and discipline, politics and spirituality, salvific manhood and then more salvific manhood.” Through song lyrics, doctrine and his own spiritual journey, the author distills the essence of the Five Percenters’ take on race, religion, sex, personal power and refinement.

An insider’s view of a largely unknown belief system woven tightly with the author’s own journey of spiritual discovery.