Book: The Supreme Wisdom Lessons
Chapter: Fard's Syllabus: The Lessons in their World
Taking us into the milieu that informed Master Fard Muhammad and major themes found in the Lessons, Chapter 2 pushes back against a common approach to both academic and popular studies of Fard. Researchers of Fard’s teachings often treat the appearance of similiarities—no matter how flimsy or vague—between the Lessons and possible connections in the larger “Islamic world” as a master key to unlock Fard’s geographic, sectarian, and ethnic background. Well-circulated claims have attempted to identify Fard’s “native” Islam, but I argue that these claims are overly speculative and poorly evidenced, relying chiefly on superficial coincidences and cultural essentialisms. In chapter 2, I demonstrate that it’s more generative to think about the discourses that flowed around Fard (and those who embraced his message) in the times and places where we can reliably locate him. Such discourses include those of Muslim communities in the U.S., most notably the Ahmadiyya and MSTA, but these communities themselves were also deeply connected to a world of metaphysical, esoteric, and occult media, movements, and thinkers. Chapter 2 detonates the idea of tracing Fard’s ideas to a singular “homeland” source or set of sources, given the extent to which many of what would become his key themes were so prolifically circulated in the literatures of his period.