W.D. Fard’s Bible of Islamism Identified: A Century-Old Mystery is Solved
W.D. Fard, the founder of the Nation of Islam, is a fascinating figure. Mysterious, intriguing, and enigmatic, his magnetic personality and revolutionary rhetoric stupefied and mystified the black people of Detroit during the depth of the Great Depression. So mind-blowing was the message that he delivered between July 4, 1930, and May of 1934, that he was proclaimed a prophet. In fact, some of his followers were so edified by his teachings that he was deified. Not only did he proclaim to be the Messiah of the Christians and the Mahdi of the Muslims but he proclaimed to be Almighty Allah.[i] In fact, in a stunning and audacious speech, he proclaimed “I am God Himself.”[ii]
So astonishing are his teachings that even those who do not believe in him are drawn to him. They wonder who he was, where he came from, what became of him, and what were the sources of his captivating and mind-baffling teachings. At first, W.D. Fard attracted his audience by using the Bible, a book that was familiar to them. Later, he introduced the Qurʾan in both Arabic and English. He also produced two texts, Teaching for the Lost Found Nation of Islam in a Mathematical Way, and the Secret Ritual of the Nation of Islam. Both are found in The Supreme Wisdom Lessons.
W.D. Fard also claimed to have authored a work titled Five Guiding Principles, under the name W.D. Feraud, which was supposedly in the collection of the Library of Congress, but has never been located. Authorship of the work was also claimed by Satokata Takahashi (born Naka Nakane, 1870-1945) who was associated with the ultranationalist Black Dragon Society and the Pacific Movement of the Eastern World (PMEW) which presented Japan as the champion of people of color. Perhaps it was originally co-authored by both men while working for the Society for the Development of Our Own. Instead of a book, it appears to have been a one-page tract, the content of which is available and known.[iii]
Of all the works associated with W.D. Fard, the most captivating of all was The Bible of Islamism, which was found among his personal belongings when he was detained by the police in Detroit in 1932. As the Detroit Free Press reported,
On page 354 of the “Bible” is the following quotation, which was underlined, and which Farad claimed he used as part of his teachings — “God is a liar. Ignore Him and do away with those who advocate His cause.” He stated that this was a favorite passage of his and that he used it often in his teachings.[iv]
Like the Five Guiding Principles, notes Patrick C. Bowen, no scholar or member of the Nation of Islam has publicly claimed to have seen The Bible of Islamism “and there is no other known mention of it in any additional press report, government document, or even in any publicly available NOI materials.”[v] Michael Muhammad Knight (b. 1977) went as far as to claim that “we have no access to this Bible of Islamism or evidence beyond police claims in The Detroit Free Press that it ever existed.”[vi] None since now, of course, since I have found it.
Like other as-yet unidentified books used by Fard, Bowen suggested that The Bible of Islamism was self-published in a small run. After all, “since, in 1932, Fard asserted that he was working on a commission basis for a printing company, these various books would have been likely printed by his employer and therefore Fard would have had the power to keep the number of copies very small.”[vii] This is not the case, at least as concerns The Bible of Islamism, a secret that was hiding in plain sight.
The Quest for the Holy Scripture
Since I had a title, The Bible of Islamism, a citation, “God is a liar,” and a page number, I decided to do some detective work. I searched for “Bible of Islamism.” I located sources that described the Qurʾan as the “Bible of Islam.” I searched for “God is a liar,” “God is liar,” and variants such as “Lord is a liar” and found all kinds of results. They were virtually all rhetorical questions, accusations of apostasy, or citations of Satan used in dialogues. I went through many of them monotonously. While I found the phrase “God is a liar,” I could not find the rest of it, namely, “Ignore Him and do away with those who advocate His cause.” Finally, I found it, but the page did not match. It appeared on different pages, including page 275, in various editions. What is more, the original context was completely different from the manner in which it was presented by the police and the press. Finally, I checked various editions of the book and found one in which the citation was found precisely on page 264. Was it a Qurʾan? A compilation of Sacred Writings from the East? Some sort of Satanic text? As I explained in Finding W.D. Fard: Unveiling the Identity of the Founder of the Nation of Islam,
The document found among Fard’s effects was clearly not the Muslim Holy Book. Instead of The Bible of Islamism, it could more appropriately be called the Bible of Satanism for the citation in question is a basic diabolical belief. Obtaining a copy of this book,… would be invaluable to all researchers. Who authored it? Why was Fard using it? Was it Fard himself who penned his own pseudo-Qurʾan as Noble Drew Ali had done with his Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple…? “If Allah is a liar,” asks Charles Upton, “does that mean that Fard is also a liar, since Fard is Allah?” Patrick Bowen considers an even more sinister scenario, one in which W.D. Fard was possibly “involved with Aleister Crowley’s Masonry-derived Ordo Templi Orientis.”[viii]
“Indeed,” writes Bowen, “the known contents of Fard’s Bible of Islamism seem to have a Crowley ring to them.”[ix] So, what was the thick hardcover tome with a dark cover which W.D. Fard was photographed with while in police custody in Detroit in 1932? Be prepared to be baffled.
The Bible of Islamism Identified
The book that W.D. Fard presented as The Bible of Islamism, which he relied upon for inspiration and citation when preaching at lecture halls, is actually titled Deliverance!, not the “squeal like a pig” Deliverance (1972), but the work of Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942), the second president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Known also as Judge Rutherford, this American religious leader played a primary role in the organization of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their doctrinal development. In fact, he gave that very name to the group, which emerged from the Bible Student movement founded by Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), in 1931. The Jehovah Witnesses, one would be well to remember, are not Muslims, but rather a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the police department revealed that page 354 of The Bible of Islamism contained the quote: “’God is a liar. Ignore Him and do away with those who advocate His cause.’ He stated that this was a favorite passage of his and that he used it often in his teachings.”[x] Actually, the citation is found on page 264. A mistake was made by the police department or the Detroit Free Press. Alternatively, a typo was made when transcribing the original newspaper article into digital format. The original quote, found in the 1926 edition of Deliverance!, reads:
The “Dragon,” the Devil and his organization, by its efforts to destroy the seed of promise, boastfully says: “God is a liar and his Word is unreliable. Ignore him, and away with those who advocate his cause!”[xi] [The bold print, which I have provided, represents the decontextualized segments cited in the police report completed by Detectives Oscar Berry and Charles Snyder from the Homicide Squad]
Millions of copies of Deliverance! were printed and distributed in numerous editions. The one photographed with W.D. Fard was printed in 1926, and it has Deliverance! in yellow or gold at the top. The cover is dark blue or black and is embossed. In size, shape, and color, it is very much the same book. The dimensions match. The police department or the Detroit Free Press truncated the citation in question to give it a diabolic sense. If this were done by the newspaper, it would be yellow journalism at its finest. The paper had been running stories about black Muslims and human sacrifice. Misrepresenting the quotation, and attributing it to The Bible of Islamism, was intended to demonize W.D. Fard and his followers, denigrate black people, undermine Islam, shock readers, and increase sales. It was deceitful, dishonest, and despicable. “CAN THE DEVIL FOOL A MUSLIM?” asked W.D. Fard in The Supreme Wisdom Lessons. “NOT NOWADAYS.” As Bowen notes, “the Tribune-Independent, Detroit’s main black newspaper” denounced the fact that the Nation of Islam was being persecuted because of white America’s loathing of blacks and Muslims.[xii]
If something as benign as the citation in question was distorted to such a point, turning its meaning upside down, one can only imagine how much the media twisted and transmogrified the facts surrounding the so-called Voodoo Murders, the Nation of Islam, and W.D. Fard. In retrospect, it was naïve to believe the claims of the Police Department regarding The Bible of Islamism and its content and its coverage by the Detroit Free Press. All of the reporting was biased and prejudiced. The articles in question speak repeatedly of “Voodoo Murders,” “Voodoo Chieftain,” “Voodoo Slayer,” “voodoo sect,” “Voodoo beliefs,” “fear of Voodoo,” “voodoo king,” “GRIP OF VOODOO IN THE CITY,” “voodooism,” “VOODOOISM’S GRIP,” “the sinister influence of voodooism,” “VOODOO KING,” “Voodoo-Moslem hybrid cult,” “weird rites,” “voodoo cult,” “voodoo gathering,” VOODOO VICTIM,” “murders on rude altars devoted to the mad cult of voodoo and elements of ‘Islamism,’” “menacing voodoo cult,” “voodoo sacrifice,” “weird charlatans of voodooism,” “voodooism is an extremely dangerous cult,” “voodoo net,” and “cult rituals.” It speaks repeatedly of chilling “human sacrifice” to the “jungle gods” of “Islam.”[xiii]
The Allah Temple of Islam is depicted as a “cult” over a hundred times. It is labelled as a “Negro cult,” a “jungle cult,” “ominous cult,” a “menacing cult,” a “sinister cult,” a “mad cult,” and a “vicious cult” with “strange Islamic symbols and titles” that is “savage and barbarous.” It is depicted as a “Voodoo-Moslem hybrid cult.” The articles speak of “cult members,” “cult killer,” and “cult slayer.” They are referred to as “Mohamedans” whose “Mohammeddanism exists only in meaningless and impressive mixture of Allahs, Mohamets, and other Mohammedan incantations.”[xiv]
The articles speak of “High priestesses and priests clad in pseudo-Oriental costumes” who prey on the “superstitions and susceptibility of Negroes” whom they have robbed of their savings. The leaders of the Allah Temple of Islam are described as “ringleaders.” The articles describe Wallace D. Fard as an “Oriental fakir” and an “Arabian” who taught Negroes that they were “Turkish.” They cite a report from the Psychopathic Ward of Receiving Hospital which claims that he suffered from “delusions that he is a divinity.” The articles claim Robert Harris professed to be the “King of Islam,” that Ugan Ali claimed to be the “God of the Asiatic Nation” and “God of the Asiatics,” and that Wallace D. Farad professed to be the “supreme being on earth.” And it goes on and on and one. The purpose of the Detroit Police Department and the Detroit Free Press was to demonize and discredit W.D. Fard and the early Nation of Islam. The police were very clear that they viewed the spread of “Islamism” among blacks as a danger.[xv] Since the content of these articles is overwhelmingly false, none of the information should be treated as factual unless it is verified by other sources.
In light of journalist dishonesty, the question begs to be asked: did W.D. Fard actually identify the book in question as The Bible of Islamism or was this a false attribution on the part of the police department and the Detroit Free Press? One could only presume that the police officers and the journalists could read. The book’s title was emblazoned in large print: DELIVERANCE! Its author was readily identified in the front matter. Unlike the Nation of Islam, which numbered in the thousands at the time, there were approximately one hundred thousand Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1932. Are we to believe that police officers and journalists could not tell the difference between The Bible of Islamism, some sort of Muslim scripture, and Deliverance!, a millenarian Christian work?
Why did W.D. Fard read and cite Judge Rutherford’s Deliverance? Only because it is “a vivid description of the divine plan outlining God’s progressive steps against evil and showing the final overthrow of the devil and all of his wicked institutions.” It basically explains how every leader since ancient times was a devil. It denounces the government of devils, the organized religions of devils, the politics of devils, and the economic system of devils. In fact, Rutherford typically accused anyone who disagreed with him of being the devil. He shared the same absolutist, black or white, psychological, and spiritual profile as W.D. Fard.
As Elijah Muhammad acknowledged, W.D. Fard “knew the Bible better than any of the Christian-bred Negroes.”[xvi] Louis Lomax also wrote that “Fard was … well versed in the Bible and … used it as a textbook.”[xvii] He also reported that he preached in the style of a Southern Baptist preacher.[xviii] According to the New York Times, Judge Rutherford “had a reputation as an eloquent, forceful, speaker.”[xix] Fard was certainly inspired by other Christian preachers; however, Rutherford was most certainly one of them. Cedric Muhammad, an economist, scholar, researcher, and activist, has gone as far as to claim that W.D. Fard actually met with Judge Rutherford in the 1930s.[xx] While this has yet to be proven, it is certain that he read Rutherford’s writings, and that he listened to his speeches on the radio. It is also possible that he attended a speech in person and that he might have met with him at such an event. After all, Rutherford used to lecture to large audiences throughout the United States. Amazingly, as a result of his intellect, appeal, charm, and charisma, W.D. Fard did in fact befriend many leading scholars, intellectuals, preachers, activists, and religious leaders like Gerald B. Winrod (1900-1957), David N. McInturff (1902-1957), Frank Norris (1877-1952), and Louis Wirth (1897-1952).[xxi] It is interesting to note that three out of four of these individuals belonged to the same age group and would have been very young when Fard was active. If he was not a socialite, one who passed himself off as a sharifian prince, he could have been taken as a spy. He was constantly changing his colors like a chameleon. Such mimicry and mirroring is a trait of Borderline Personality Disorder.
If Fard loved the quote from Judge Rutherford, and the book Deliverance! from which it was drawn, it was because the white devil testified against himself. This is why “Fard instructed his followers to read the works of Judge Rutherford, the Jehovah’s Witnesses leader.”[xxii] In fact, “he explicitly encouraged his followers to… listen to…. Rutherford.”[xxiii] Fard may have derived many ideas from Islam, orthodox and heterodox. However, the sources upon which he developed his ideology included many non-Muslim ones, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses. As Bowen elaborates, the teachings shared between the Nation of Islam and the Witnesses, include:
The 1914 date: a belief in a coming battle of Armageddon; a belief … in the idea that only 144,000 true believers would survive the battle and enter the new civilization on Earth; a belief in the non-immortality of souls; criticism of certain elements of the capitalistic system; and rejecting the legitimacy of all other religions. To this list we might add a few other concepts: Rutherford, for instance, had tendency to refer to all those who opposed him as “devils:’ the Witnesses had from their early years labeled modern churches as “Babylon” (the NOI sometime used that word for American society); like Fard, the Witnesses’ founder, Charles Taze Russel, showed an interest in knowing the distance from the Earth to the sun; and both groups adhered to the popular premillennial view that the six “days” – in other words, 6,000 years – of oppression had passed and they were now living in the seventh “day.”[xxiv]
As I demonstrated in Finding W.D. Fard, the ideology of the founder of the Nation of Islam featured disparate elements drawn from Christianity, Judaism, the Moorish Science Temple of America, the Ahmadiyya, the Yezidis, Sevener, Twelver, Ghulaṭ, Druze, Babī, and the Bahai.[xxv] He also appears to have drawn his doctrines from the Black Hebrews, Marcus Garvey, Rastafarianism, Theosophism, Gnosticism, Freemasonry, apocalyptic Baptism, and the Church of Latter-Day Saints.[xxvi] In a History of Conversion to Islam in the United States, Patrick D. Bowen identified many possible sources of of Fard’s doctrines, including Masonic works, and books written by European scholars of religion.[xxvii] The influence of J.F. Rutherford and the Jehovah’s Witnesses on the teachings of W.D. Fard has been detailed by many scholars.[xxviii] As Bowen rightly recognized, “the Witnesses are the most obvious non-Islamic source of his teachings.”[xxix] The identification of the identity of W.D. Fard’s Bible of Islamism confirms that this is the case.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
The following photographs demonstrate the 1926 edition of J.F. Rutherford’s Deliverance! matches the images of W.D. Fard’s Bible of Islamism in size, color, binding, and content.
(Deliverance! By J.F. Rutherford, 1926 edition)
(Deliverance! By J.F. Rutherford, 1926 edition)
(Deliverance! By J.F. Rutherford, 1926 edition)
(Deliverance! By J.F. Rutherford, 1926 edition)
(Deliverance! By J.F. Rutherford, 1926 edition)
The following image is of page 264 of the cited 1926 edition of Deliverance! with the passage in question.
The following images of W.D. Fard, which were compiled by Alam Khan Publications, show him in possession of the mysterious Bible of Islamism, which seems to have been none other than J.F. Rutherford’s Deliverance!
(Photographs from Nov. 23, 1932, showing The Bible of Islamism)
(Two photographs from Nov. 23, 1932, showing The Bible of Islamism)
(Photograph of W.D. Fard dated between 1930-1934. The book he is reading is not the Qurʾan. It shows every indication of being The Bible of Islamism)
(Image of W.D. Fard in 1934. Not an original file. Subsequent Files and Paintings were Doctored. The book he is holding does not appear to be the Qurʾan. It appears to be The Bible of Islamism)
(Doctored image of W.D. Fard. Not only have his facial features been modified, but the original book he was holding, The Bible of Islamism, is now much thicker. An attempt was made to change his appearance and the identity of the book from which he preached. The Bible of Islamism has been changed into a Qurʾan.)
Mysterious, intriguing, and enigmatic, the idiosyncratic ideology that W.D. Fard preached has left an indelible mark on American Islam and the black American experience. An eclectic ideologue, who drew liberally from sources that suited him from East and West, the founder of the Nation of Islam created an original and unique formulation of the Islamic faith whose intertextuality is becoming increasingly less obscure. For some, the more the origins of his teachings are unraveled, the more Master Fard is exposed as Master Fraud. For others, it manifests the inner working of a mystifying mind, that of an autodidact intellectual. So mesmerizing was the man that thousands of people who came into contact with his person or his teachings came to believe in his divinity sincerely and genuinely. Few in history have had such an impact.
If W.D. Fard was presenting Judge Rutherford’s Deliverance! as The Bible of Islamism, preaching from it, posing with it, drawing from its doctrines, and pretending that it was his Qurʾan, and the holy book of the Nation of Islam, the influence of the Jehovah’s Witnesses appears to have been even greater than previously proposed. Many teachings of W.D. Fard, even their very tone, seem to be echoes of J.F. Rutherford’s Deliverance! with all of its fiery preaching against Satan, Serpents, Beasts, Dragons, and Devils. It even mentions the Isle Patmos and beasts who will be gathered together at Armageddon.[xxx]
Fard’s blackboard, with the question, “who will win the war of Armageddon?” comes to mind, even though this parlance is not as prominent in later Nation of Islam teachings. Fard was using Rutherford’s writings and teaching aids. He was reading from Deliverance! Fard may also have been delivering the speeches that Rutherford gave on the radio and at free lectures around the nation.
What is more, Rutherford also quotes Hebrews 11: 37-38 in Deliverance! This passage in question speaks of people who “went about in sheepskins and goatskins,” who “wandered in deserts and mountains” and who lived in “caves and holes in the ground” much like Fard’s account of Yakub’s creation, namely, the development of a race of white devils by a mad scientist.[xxxi]
Deliverance! repeatedly specifies that the End of Times started in 1914.[xxxii] It describes the Final Battle and the destruction of the devils.[xxxiii] It breaks downs the world population into groups.[xxxiv] It also teaches that hell is not a place of eternal suffering.[xxxv] When one reads Deliverance!, particularly chapter twelve on “The World Established” and “The Final Battle,” it is as if we hear Master Fard preaching. A detailed and systematic comparison of the teachings of J.F. Rutherford, the Witnesses, and particularly the work Deliverance! with those of W.D. Fard is certainly in order. However, that should be the focus of future studies.
This groundbreaking discovery, namely, the identification of W.D. Fard’s Bible of Islamism as J.F. Rutherford’s Deliverance!, further reinforces the views of those, like Faheem Shuaibe, a former minister of the Nation of Islam, and a lifelong student of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed (1933-2008), who described the movement as “Christianity painted black.”[xxxvi] After all, if your scripture is Christian, can you truly be Muslim? Was W.D. Fard a Christian in Islamic garb? Was he some sort of mutant pseudo-Muslim-Jehovah’s Witness who went door to door fishing for souls in Detroit? Was the Nation of Islam a Christian offshoot? Or was it an Islamo-Christian sect of Messianic, theologically extreme, Shiite Muslims that was influenced by the apocalyptic teachings of J.F. Rutherford? It may have been that, in part, but it was far more than that. Hence, these, and many more questions, remain to be answered by the deductive minds of intrepid investigators and academic detectives. Let the quest continue!
Alam Khan Publications. “Every Picture of WD Fard (All 10 Photos). YouTube (2022). Internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_LUMJ2IPJg
Beynon, Erdmann Doane. 1938. “The Voodoo Cult Among Negro Migrants in Detroit.” American Journal of Sociology 43.6 (May), 900.
Bowen, Patrick D. 2017. A History of Conversion in the United States. Vol. 2. The African American Islamic Renaissance, 1920-1975. Leiden: Brill.
Detroit Free Press. “New Human Sacrifice with Boy as Victim is Averted by Inquiry.” Detroit Free Press (November 26, 1932): 1-2.
Knight, Michael Muhammad. 2019. “I am Sorry, Mr. White Man, These are Secrets that You are Not Permitted to Learn: The Supreme Wisdom Lessons and Problem Book.” Correspondences 7.1: 167-200.
Morrow, John Andrew. 2019. Finding W.D. Fard: Unveiling the Identity of the Founder of the Nation of Islam. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019.
Mythic Detroit. 1932. “Coverage of the ‘Voodoo Murders.’” Mythic Detroit. Internet:
New York Times. 1919. “Succeeds Pastor Russell: J.F. Rutherford, New York Lawyer, Heads
Watch Tower Society.” New York Times (January 17) Section I: 9.
Rutherford, J.F. 1926. Deliverance! New York: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Internet: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.218253/page/n253/mode/2up?q=is+a+liar
[i] John Andrew Morrow, Finding W.D. Fard: Unveiling the Identity of the Founder of the Nation of Islam (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019), 66.
[ii] Morrow, 210.
[iii] Morrow, 137-139.
[iv] Detroit Free Press, “New Human Sacrifice with Boy as Victim is Averted by Inquiry.” Detroit Free Press (November 26, 1932), 1-2.
[v] Patrick D. Bowen, A History of Conversion in the United States. Vol. 2. The African American Islamic Renaissance, 1920-1975 (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 251.
[vi] Michael Muhammad Knight, “I am Sorry, Mr. White Man, These are Secrets that You are Not Permitted to Learn: The Supreme Wisdom Lessons and Problem Book.” Correspondences 7.1, 169.
[vii] Bowen, 251.
[viii] Morrow, 216-217.
[ix] Bowen, 272.
[x] Detroit Free Press, 1-2.
[xi] Rutherford, 254.
[xii] Bowen, 318.
[xiii] Mythic Detroit, “Coverage of the ‘Voodoo Murders.’” Mythic Detroit (1932). Internet: http://mythic detroit.org/ index.php?n=Main.VoodooMurdersCoverage
[xiv] Mythic Detroit, n. page.
[xv] Mythic Detroit, n. page.
[xvi] Morrow, 38
[xvii] Morrow, 38.
[xviii] Morrow, 38.
[xix] New York Times, “Succeeds Pastor Russell: J.F. Rutherford, New York Lawyer, Heads
Watch Tower Society.” New York Times (January 17, 1919) Section I, 9.
[xx] Morrow, 38.
[xxi] Morrow, 42; Bowen, 253, 261.
[xxii] Bowen, 253.
[xxiii] Bowen, 259-260; Erdmann Doane Beynon, “The Voodoo Cult Among Negro Migrants in Detroit.” American Journal of Sociology 43.6 (May 1938), 900.
[xxiv] Bowen, 260.
[xxv] Morrow, 36-110.
[xxvi] Morrow, 26-27, 37, 44, 49, 61, 110, 135, 192, 217, 295-297, 303, 328, 330, 342.
[xxvii] Bowen, 250-275.
[xxviii] Morrow, 37-38, 92, 132, 192, 328, 330; Walker, qtd. Morrow, 32; Levinsohn qtd. Morrow, 37 Bowen 253, 259.
[xxix] Bowen, 260.
[xxx] J.F. Rutherford, Deliverance! (New York: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1926), 261.
[xxxi] Rutherford, 302.
[xxxii] Rutherford, 227, 238, 239, 240, 246, 267, 294.
[xxxiii] Rutherford, 261-289; 339-340.
[xxxiv] Rutherford, 268-269.
[xxxv] Rutherford, 325.
[xxxvi] Morrow, 39.