Customer Reviews: The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad
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on February 9, 2000
I have read the reviews of Evanzz' book on and and have been somewhat taken aback by the opposition to what he has done here. I read the book from cover to cover and have also read many of the major books and articles about the Nation of Islam or its members (especially Malcolm X). Based upon my own reading, Evanzz has turned in a work that is carefully considered and should be read with an open mind and heart by anyone who wants to learn more about Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam, or Black politics in the 20th century.
Several reviewers here have objected to Evanzz' use of FBI files, but it should be clear from reading this book, Bruce Perry's _Malcolm_, and the FBI files of Martin Luther King, Jr., Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and many others that while the FBI has repeatedly been the enemy of Black people in America, it has also inadvertently provided excellent documentation of Black leaders' activities, for better or worse. Evanzz recognizes this, and even points out how ham-fisted the FBI could be in its attempts to undermine Black organizations, including the NOI.
Is Evanzz' account totally unbiased? Obviously, no. The further one gets into the book, the clearer his disdain for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the NOI shows through. Given the events he relates, however, it's easy to see why. That an organization that intends to save Black folks could be so cruel to those it would save should give any reader pause.
Evanzz forces us to confront a number of issues: 1) How and why religions are formed; 2) The relevance of the NOI; 3) The weaknesses built into the NOI and its theology; 4) The importance of having a clear-eyed view of ALL leaders.
Was/is Elijah Muhammad important to African American politics and history? Of course he was. Evanzz understands this. He also makes clear, however, that that importance should not excuse us from criticizing him or his spirtual or political heirs.
One final word: I recommend readers check out C. Eric Lincoln's _The Black Muslims in America_, Peter Goldman's _The Death and Life of Malcolm X_, Louis Lomax's _To Kill a Black Man_, and Bruce Perry's _Malcolm_ as sources that will alternately support and correct some of Evanzz' information. (Some minor facts are inaccurate in a few places.)
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on January 17, 2000
After reading the long list of reviews posted in regards to "The Messenger," it is clear to me that those who didn't like the book are expressing opinions based on their political philosophy. That is fine, but to say that Evanzz book is unbiased and untrue is wrong. True, Evanzz clearly doesn't like the NOI and in particular the organization's current leadership (check out the final chapter if you doubt that statement), but the author did point out Elijah Muhammad's important role in the liberation of black people in not just the U.S., but worldwide.
Elijah Muhammad was an important cog in the struggle for equality, but to put on blinders and say he was faultless is incorrect. He did have relations with his secretaries; he did live a life of luxury while his followers suffered; and he did play a part in a number of illegal activities. Condemning Evanzz for describing those indiscretions doesn't make those things go away. Evanzz does lay it on a bit thick at times, but as I said he points out the good things Elijah Muhammad did as well.
I'm not going to say I enjoyed this book because some of the descriptions were unsettling like the mass murder of innocent women and children in Philadelphia, but the book was informative and allowed me to explore some things that as a white person I have never been exposed to before. I would encourage anyone interested in studying the civil rights movement more closely to read this book. Aside from the 10 minutes my history class spent on Martin Luther King when I was in school, we learned nothing about the struggle of black people. That makes books like this so important.
Even though at times Evanzz descriptions were detailed to a flaw, I commend him for the painstaking research he did to write this book and I encourage anyone interested in American History to read it.
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on April 22, 2016
I'm going to start by saying that I, like the author of this book, am a huge fan of Malcolm X; he is my hero. However, as a person who has studied Malcolm, Farrakhan, and the NOI itself for 15 years (I am not a Muslim), I have to say that this book is heavily biased and flawed. If the majority of the book is Mr. Evanzz taking FBI files and putting them in narrative form, then one would therefore have to believe the files as gospel truth, something which the FBI has already admitted that many of the information in the files was either exaggerated or twisted. But even if every file was completely true, the author's contempt for Mr. Muhammad is as transparent as a window. From the opening chapter, Evanzz literally finds and highlights every negative characteristic that Mr. Muhammad ever supposedly had, from alcoholism to infidelity to even bedwetting (a common childhood manifestation of trauma; in Mr. Muhammad's case, his came from literally witnessing others attacked and murdered by mobs before he reached his teens, something the author seems completely unsympathetic of). Moreover, the positive work that Mr. Muhammad did is downplayed immensely, as he is relegated by the end of the book as a murderous, baby-making scam-artist. Petty and biased, to say the very least. A disappointment.
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on February 8, 2016
Its clear that Evanzz is not a historian and his style and tone of writing reflects that. I was taken back at just how biased, one-sided, bitter and sensationally written this biography was. In fact, it reminded me of the muckraking journalism of the progressive era. Although, I appreciated Evanzz's grasp of literature and the time he spent reviewing FBI files on the Nation, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, et al, his apparent disdain for his subject and choice of sources (or lack thereof) makes almost everything he purports and concludes suspect. In short, bad biographies seek to convince, good biographies attempt to inform.Sadly, Evanzz's work does more of the former than the latter.
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on April 10, 2001
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
As a striving Orthodox Muslim, and an African-American, I read "The Messenger" with a great deal of interest. I was impressed with Mr. Evanzz' writing style and the depth of his research. His copious references would satisfy the most discerning scholar. And, despite the historical subject matter, the book is a page-turner. I confess that I read until dawn and finished the book in three days. As one of the earlier reviewers noted, however, I was wary of his frequent references to FBI files. They should definitely be taken with the proverbial 'grain of salt'.
Although he does offer his own opinion in later chapters, it is with the force allowed by the evidence already presented. The murder of Hamaas Abdul Khaalis' family was particularly horrific. I was actually glad that Evanzz interjected his opinion at that point ("They had come to Washington in the name of Allah, or so they thought; they left, for certain, as the devil's advocates." pg. 389 ). It would have been dishonest for him to merely describe the massacre without comment. Evanzz is not a newscaster, forced to smile for the cameras while reporting disaster and mayhem.
I must confess a bias in this regard, since my great uncle, Hajji Zafir El-Jamary, was murdered by Black Muslims in Chicago in 1975. He had dared, much like Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, to suggest that the NOI should practice true Islam. His reward was a beating so severe that his eye was dislodged before they threw him - still alive - into the river to drown.
Abdul Khaalis' story and (of course) the story of Malcolm X, were the most touching vignettes for me in the book. I cried when I realized the loss that Orthodox Muslims in America suffered with Malcolm's demise. The information suggests that he was well on his way to establishing a strong Islamic movement that would have benefited all Americans and Muslims throughout the world. The true focus of Islam is not race at all, but the Oneness of God and respect for His creation.
The word "Islam" is loosely translated as "submission to the Will of God." The most important and central belief of Muslims all over the world is that there is nothing worthy of worship except God. "The Messenger" shows the pitfalls of worshipping human beings instead of God.
The Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad had its place as a socio-political organization. There is no denying that thousands of African-Americans were saved from drugs, prostitution, and self-hatred through his program. However, there is also no denying the theological deviance of any "Muslim" organization that believes that a human being is God. As Allah says in Qur'an:
"Say: 'I am forbidden to worship those - others than Allah - whom ye call upon.' Say: 'I will not follow your vain desires: If I did, I would stray from the path, and be not of the company of those who receive guidance.'" [Holy Qur'an 6:56]
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on June 17, 2015
I was encouraged to read this book with the suggestion that it serves as a compendium to Mr. Evanzz's other excellent work, "The Judas Factor"...

It is that and far more. I highly recommend it as essential reading...
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on June 16, 2016
I enjoyed this book about Elijah Muhammand, it gave some true insight about a man I've known only by images and small tales. The book really gives you an idea about this man and his dealings with his family and handling of the nation of islam. One other thing was the information on Drew Ali and showing that he was a total con man, just like Fard Muhammad , and Elijah himself as a man who appeared on the outside a strong fearless warrior only to find out that he was just like the very people he preached against proclaiming to be one thing and acted totally the opposite. I recommend anyone to get this book if you enjoy reading history get it.
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on June 14, 2004
Karl Evanzz wrote a fascinating account of how power corrupts in "The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad." Evanzz supported his biography of the man responsible for the enormous growth of the Nation of Islam with almost 200 pages of documentation. However, he clearly lost all objectivity toward the second half of the book. Yet, I found this true story to be a compelling one worth reading.
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on January 23, 2000
Like "The Judas Plot," this book - "The Messenger" - is an excellent book. I advise all interested readers who want to grow as conscientous individuals, regardless of complexion and religion,to read this book. Permit me to parrot a truth of the ages reflected in this book. Many people who: 1)wholly invest themselves in any belief or idealogy that is plagued with falsehood, and 2)venerate leaders who are later found to be hypocritical, find it very difficult to accept the truth. "The Messenger" is not good reading for anyone who is unwilling to accept the truth (good and bad)about Elijah Muhammad and the history of the NOI. Such a person (black, white, brown, red, or yellow)would rather hold fast to "truths" that sooth and delude, "truths" that reinforce the person's distortions.
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on February 11, 2012
I love Bro.Karl Evanzz investigative journalism, he gives details in his books that could only be found coming from those that were there, but of course the only naysayers are those of the NOI and those that support the Nation, the funny thing is, when you ask them to prove otherwise that cant give hard FACTS to debunk anything Karl writes about esp on the topic of WD Fard/Ford!
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