Myth or High Science: The Honeybee, 
Yakub and the term ‘Grafting’

Alan Muhammad

You have to study this word “graft,” because graft is something that is put into something. It is a living thing that is grafted into a living thing from which it sucks and gets its life.

 —Minister Louis Farrakhan

In studying the term grafting, as The Minister asked us to do, one might think there is a mislabeling of the process that we know Mr. Yakub engaged in on the island of Patmos. The term breeding seems to more accurately describe the process explained to us by The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The term grafting is most widely used in reference to a method of plant propagation in the field of horticulture, where the tissues of one plant are encouraged to fuse with those of another. In most cases, one plant is selected for its roots, and the other for its stems, leaves, flowers, or fruits. There are many reasons for grafting plants, such as making them better able to withstand weather conditions, to speed maturity, to repair a damaged plant, to better pollinate, or just to create a more appealing aesthetic. African farmers were grafting both plants and animals for many thousands of years to suit their own purposes.

Those critics of The Messenger’s Teaching on the history of Yakub have cited the word “grafting” as inaccurate, and some have denounced it on that word alone. Others disparaged The Teaching, saying it was a cynical rehashing of the H.G. Wells book published in 1897, The Island of Dr. Moreau, in which the main character carries on breeding experiments with animals and humans on an island in the Java Sea in his diabolical attempts to create a perfect human.

But digging deeper into the word grafting, one finds a fascinating activity in the insect world that seems to fit The Teaching perfectly—and may even illuminate Sura 16 of the Holy Qur’an, titled “The Bee.” The honeybee engages in a process called grafting when it needs to create a ruler in the beehive. If the queen bee is killed or dies, the worker bees of the hive graft female larvae into specialized incubator cells, where they actually create their new queen bees. The worker bees create several of these cells and essentially cultivate a ruler for themselves. When the queen bee emerges she first and foremost kills off the larvae in the other incubator cells by stinging them. If two queens emerge at the same time they fight to the death until one reigns supreme.

The parallels to the history of Yakub are fascinating. In the beehive, workers decide to create a ruler in a place apart from the other cells. Upon her birth, she is first and foremost a murderer and immediately causes the shedding of blood. The workers are actually the creators of this murderer and submit to and protect her as their ruler. But her value and existence are entirely on the backs of the workers that may not know the power they have to create and support her.

Similarly, the bee is unaware of its own power in maintaining “higher” civilizations. If it withholds its ability to pollinate the food supply of human beings, the human being would be extinct in short order. This parallels the enslavement of the Black man and woman—the worker bees—and their creation of the vast wealth for the ruling white people. Understanding the dynamics of the beehive and the relationship between the workers and queen bee helps us understand how the African was used in the Caucasians’ strategies for their own development and enrichment. It is also interesting to note that the ancient Egyptians exalted the bee as a symbol of their own great Black civilization, and likely used their remarkable work ethic as a model in constructing the great pyramids that still confound this world’s highest scientists.

In Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation of the Holy Qur’an, he comments on the healing nature of the bee in his introduction to Sura 16:

This chapter is very appropriately named The Bee, because the bee, guided by instinct…gathers together sweet honey from flowers of all kinds, taking what is best in them, thus producing “a beverage of many hues, in which there is healing for men.” So Divine revelation to the Holy Prophet collected what was best in the teaching of all the prophets and presented it in the Holy Qur’an, which is also declared to be a healing (10:57) for the spiritual diseases of men.

The functions of the bee in its ability to pollinate (and thus bring nourishment and beauty to the world) and generate the healing balm of honey, its harsh capacity for stinging and destruction, and its unique ability to actually create a ruler of itself seem to mirror some of the many attributes of Allah Himself. And the bee’s ability to create, its contribution to humanity, and its seeming obliviousness to its own power seem to parallel exactly the experience, condition, and mind of the Sleeping Giant—the real Children of Israel—the Black man and woman of America.

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