A group previously known as a radical Black Supremacist gang is now recognized as a spiritual group in California prisons.
The Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE) will now receive the same rights as all religious groups in facilities operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The change results from a lawsuit by the group, also known as the Five Percenters.
With the settlement agreement finalized on May 27, CDCR will allow NGE to have an approved spiritual leader to help lead its services. NGE members can assist the chaplain in leading activities on a rotating basis.
The agreement extends to those housed in Death Row at San Quentin and to the general population.
“Thanks to the San Quentin prison staff for welcoming the Nation of Gods and Earths into the SQ community,” wrote Death Row resident Darren C. Stanley, in a letter to the San Quentin News.
Stanley, who goes by the spiritual name Knowledge Born God Allah, filed a 1983 civil rights complaint against the San Quentin warden and other CDCR employees. The lawsuit was filed in April 2019 in federal court.
The suit alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution and the infringement of
F freedoms afforded under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).
Historically, prison officials across the United States have treated NGE as a security threat group. The Five Percenter Nation has been described as a violence-prone street gang, a Black supremacist prison gang, and a Black militant group. But in his letter to the newspaper, Stanley wrote, “Love is our greatest weapon.”
“This is long overdue,” said Malik Ali, a 51-year-old SQ resident and Five Percenter, who goes by the spiritual attribute Malik Xtra Smart God Allah. “I am very grateful and appreciative,” he said, explaining that the number 51 is symbolic for knowledge and power.
Ali is a native of New York who has been a practicing Five Percenter since 1986. While in CDCR custody he was only able to participate in the Nation of Islam and other Islamic services but not NGE services. He describes NGE as cultural and spiritual, but not religious.
“It’s for anyone who believes in God. It’s not about being pro-Black or pro-White; it’s about being pro-righteous,” said Ali.
The Five Percenter Nation (NGE) was founded around 1964 in the Harlem section of New York City by Clarence Edward Smith. Ali said Smith left the Nation of Islam and became a student of Malcolm X. He eventually changed his name to Clarence 13X and to Allah The Father.
Allah The Father taught his followers that the Black man is God personified and that each Black man can cultivate and eventually realize his godliness through meditation, study, spiritual and physical fitness.
The term “Five Percenter” was derived from the belief that 10 percent of the people of the world know the truth of existence and those elites opt to keep 85 percent of the world in ignorance and under their control. The remaining percentage are those who know the truth and are determined to enlighten the rest. They are the Five Percenter Nation.
Clarence 13X (Allah The Father) was murdered in a Harlem housing project in 1969. His teachings have been integrated into the Hip Hop culture. Rap groups like Poor Righteous Teachers, Brand Nubian, Wu-Tang Clan, and Busta Rhymes have continued to spread the knowledge of NGE. Rappers, like JAY-Z, have been spotted wearing the emblem with an eight-point nautical star with the number seven inside, a crescent, and another star close by. It
which is the symbol for the Five Percenter Nation.
“We teach through Supreme Mathematics, Supreme Alphabets, the 120s and prove, through much more, that the Black man is God and his proper name is ALLAH!” Stanley wrote to SQ News.
Spiritual services for NGE members are anticipated to begin at SQ in September. “I’m in the process of speaking with the Islamic clergy to set up a meeting time to welcome all those interested in our services,” said Ali.
Those interested may contact Malik Ali, who currently lives in West Block.
Any community volunteers interested in leading NGE services are encouraged to submit an application to the San Quentin Community Resource Manager.