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Book: The Supreme Wisdom Lessons

Chapter: "I Came to North America by Myself": Thirty Years in the Wilderness, 1904-1934

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.45014


This chapter takes us deeper into Fard’s life for the thirty years that we can document his presence in North America and explores various political and metaphysical discourses that could have been salient to Fard’s development, such as the anticolonial revolutionary Ghadar movement in the Pacific Northwest. This chapter gives special attention to Fard’s time in Los Angeles and his imprisonment at San Quentin. Looking at San Quentin in the 1920s, we find a strong Theosophical presence both in the prison library and the state’s official approval of Theosophy as a religion, meaning that the prison regularly held specific services for its Theosophist inmates. I also examine the three-tiered educational program that San Quentin offered its prisoners, specifically its middle “letter box” tier, as foundational to Fard’s own pedagogical strategies. I demonstrate that San Quentin’s “letter box” coursework resonates with the style and structure of Fard’s Problem Book, and then follow Fard after his 1929 release from San Quentin to track the emergence of his Nation of Islam in 1930s Detroit and Chicago. Finally, this chapter concludes with consideration of the various possibilities for Fard’s whereabouts after his disappearance.

Chapter Contributors

  • Michael Knight ( - mmknight) 'University of Central Florida'