15 Quotes By Elijah Muhammad On Economics And Nation Building

15 Quotes By Elijah Muhammad On Economics And Nation Building

Here are 15 quotes from the late Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad on economics and nation-building. Elijah Muhammad Photo: Chicago Urban League Photos (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Elijah Muhammad led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975, mentoring Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Muhammad Ali, and his own son, Warith Deen Mohammed.

Muhammad often spoke to his followers of self-sufficiency and nation-building. By the 1970s, the Nation of Islam had owned its own bakeries, barbershops, coffee shops, grocery stores, laundromats, nightclubs, a printing plant and retail stores. It also owned numerous real estate holdings and a fleet of tractor-trailers as well as farmland in Michigan, Alabama, and Georgia. 

In 1972 the Nation of Islam took a controlling interest in a bank, the Guaranty Bank and Trust Co. Nation of Islam-owned schools expanded until, by 1974, the group had established schools in 47 U.S. cities, according to Wikipedia.

In 1972, Muhammad told his followers that the Nation of Islam had a net worth of $75 million, according to the book “The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad.” In 2020, $75 million would be worth $463.13 million, according to the CPI Inflation Calculator.

Here are 15 quotes from Elijah Muhammad on economics and nation building.

Recycling the Black dollar

“The white man spends his money with his own kind, which is natural. You, too, must do this,” Muhammad said, according to “Black Muslims in America.”

Support Black business

“You, the Black man, are the only members of the human race that deliberately walk past the place of business of one of your own kind — a Black man — and spend your dollars with your natural enemy,” Muhammad wrote in “Message to the Blackman in America.”

Know yourself

“First, my people must be taught the knowledge of self. Then and only then will they be able to under-stand others and that which surrounds them. Anyone who does not have a knowledge of self is considered a victim of either amnesia or unconsciousness and is not very competent. The lack of knowledge of self is a prevailing condition among my people here in America. Gaining the knowledge of self makes us unite into a great unity. Knowledge of self makes you take on the great virtue of learning,”  Muhammad said in 1973 in the book “Message to the Blackman in America.”

Economic plan needed

“No nation will ever respect us as long as we beg for that which we can do for ourselves. There has never been a leader of our people who went all-out to set up an economic plan for our people. I use the saying of Jesus, ‘All before me were thieves and robbers’,” Muhammad wrote in “Message to the Blackman in America.”

Do for self

“The duty of the Black man is to do for self and think for self,” Muhammad wrote in Muhammad Speaks newspaper, as per CROE – National Archives Nation of Islam.

Produce, build

“You must first go to the farm, till the earth, and produce your own food. Build stores and warehouses to preserve your food throughout the seasons. We just are not trying to do anything for ourselves. As I have repeated until my throat is dry, one day America (the white man) will not be able to carry this entire nation of 22 million Black people on her back…,” Muhammad wrote in 1971 in “Muhammad Speaks”.

Economic freedom

“We boast that we are free. To boast of freedom of self, means that you are the one who’s responsible for your economic condition,” he wrote in “Message to the Blackman in America.”

Black economy

“Black economy is one of the first steps that are necessary for the Black man to take; from economy in his home to farms and factories,” he wrote in Muhammad Speaks, Feb. 23, 1969, via the Facebook page of Brother Minister Wasim Muhammad.

Accept your greatness

“Accept your place in the sun as it was originally before the creation of this world…The Black man is the first and last, maker and owner of the universe,” Muhammad wrote in “Message to the Blackman in America.”


“Get business-minded; get a creative mind. The degree of education we have today, given to us by the white man, can be used effectively to go for self if we want to go for self,” he wrote in Muhammad Speaks, June 4, 1971, via National Archives Nation of Islam.

Nation-building blueprint

According to Muhammad, this is the “blueprint” to creating a Black nation, according to “Black Muslims in America”:

1. “Recognize the necessity for unity and group operation (activity);

2. Pool your resources, physically as well as financially;

3. Stop wanton criticisms of everything that is Black-owned and Black Operated.

4. Keep in mind — jealousy destroys within.

5. Observe the operations of the white man. He is successful. He makes no excuses for his failures. He works hard in a collective manner. You do the same.”

Asking questions

“Asking good questions is half of learning.”

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For your own

“Get an education, but one which will instill the ideas and desire to get something of your own, a country of your own, and jobs of your own.” From “An Introduction to Elijah Muhammad Studies: The New Educational Paradigm.”

Stop being consumers

“We must become producers and not remain consumers and employees,” Muhammad said on June 4, 1971, from “Muhammad Speaks”.

Don’t depend on others

“We must get away from the idea of depending on others to do for us what we can do for self. Fear, cowardice, and laziness are our greatest enemies,” “Message to the Blackman in America.”

Nation-building starts early

“Begin at the cradle and teach our babies that they must do something for self.” From “Message To The Black Man In America.