The Five Percenters, also known as the “Five Percent Nation” or “Nation of Gods and Earths,” is a religious cult that teaches many things contrary to the Bible. The movement is a confusing system of beliefs that combines aspects of Islam, black nationalism, numerology, and astrology. While the Five Percent Nation is often considered a form of Islam, traditional Muslims do not recognize the movement as a part of their religious system.
The name Five Percent Nation is derived from the group’s beliefs regarding knowledge of objective truth and reality. They believe that only ten percent of the world’s population knows the truth of “existence” or “self” and intentionally keeps eighty-five percent of the world in ignorance of this truth. The remaining five percent are those who know the truth and seek to intentionally share it with the rest of the population in hopes of enlightening them—thus, they are the “Five Percenters.” Within the movement, men are referred to as “Gods,” while the women are considered “Earths” for their role in giving birth and raising “seeds” to sustain life. Thus, the movement is also referred to as the “Nation of Gods and Earths.”
The Five Percenters originated as a racial movement in New York City in the 1960s under the leadership of Clarence Edward Smith (also known as Clarence 13X). Smith founded the movement after leaving the similar Nation of Islam organization over various disputes, specifically questioning the supposed divine status of their founder and leader, Wallace Fard. After leaving the Nation of Islam, Smith officially changed his name to “Allah the Father” and started recruiting followers to his new movement. A lot of his early efforts focused on reaching the youth of Harlem. After accumulating a sizable following who helped spread his message, Smith was assassinated in June 1969.
Being a black nationalist movement, the Five Percent Nation heavily emphasizes race. One of their key beliefs is that black people are the original humans and, therefore, are superior to other races. In their view, white people are “evil” and “devils.” The Five Percenters believe that black men have a divine status as “Gods” that will be realized through their journey of enlightenment to the truth. This teaching is thought to instill a sense of pride and confidence in black male youth.
Other beliefs of the Five Percent Nation follow a complex and confusing system of numbers and letters referred to as the “Supreme Alphabet” and the “Supreme Mathematics,” established by Smith himself. These concepts are used to interpret some of the teachings of the Nation of Islam (from which the Five Percent Nation was birthed), including lessons on “actual facts” and “solar facts.”
With their mixture of social, racial, and philosophical beliefs, Five Percenters have influenced the hip-hop industry over the last several decades. Some of their religious themes and ideas can be found in the work of artists such as Big Daddy Kane and Jay-Z, who have attributed the Five Percent Nation as being an influence. So the Five Percent Nation is not simply a religious movement but a social one.
Nothing the Five Percent Nation teaches is supported by the Bible. The Five Percent Nation teaches that only fifteen percent of the world’s population can know the truth—the Bible teaches that all can know the truth who come to Jesus in faith (John 14:6). The Five Percent Nation teaches that the black race is superior to all other races—the Bible teaches that all races are equally made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27) and everyone is equally guilty of sin and rebellion against Him (Romans 3:23). More importantly, the Bible teaches that, for those who are in Christ, ethnic and racial differences give no superiority to one race over another (Galatians 3:28). The Five Percent Nation teaches that the black man is divine—the Bible teaches that Jesus was the only divine human to live on the earth (John 1:14; Philippians 2:5–11). The Five Percent Nation teaches that an abstract system of numbers and letters is the way to learn truth—the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 16:13) and that the truth is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:13).
The Five Percent Nation is a false religious and social movement that should be avoided by all. One hundred percent of the world should seek the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).