Nation of Islam
|Motto||"Justice or Else!"|
|Formation||July 4, 1930|
|Founder||Wallace Fard Muhammad|
|Founded at||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|Type||Political and religious movement|
|Headquarters||Mosque Maryam, Chicago, Illinois|
Membership (2007 estimate)
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The Nation of Islam (NOI) is an African American political and new religious movement, founded in Detroit, Michigan, United States, by Wallace Fard Muhammad on July 4, 1930. Its stated goals are to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans. Critics have described the theology of the organization as promoting antisemitism and anti-LGBT rhetoric, and of promoting racial separatism, black nationalism and of having promoted black supremacist beliefs in the past. The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks the NOI as a hate group which, it claims, teaches a "theology of innate black superiority over whites". Its official newspaper is The Final Call. In 2007, the core membership was estimated to be between 20,000 and 50,000.
Fard disappeared in June 1934. His successor Elijah Muhammad established places of worship (called temples or mosques), a school named Muhammad University of Islam, farms, and real estate holdings in the United States and abroad. The Nation has long been a strong advocate of African-American businesses.
There were a number of splits and splinter groups during Elijah Muhammad's leadership, most notably the departure of senior leader Malcolm X to become a Sunni Muslim. After Elijah Muhammad's death in 1975, his son, Warith Deen Mohammed, changed the name of the organization to "World Community of Islam in the West" (and twice more after that), and attempted to convert it to a mainstream Sunni Muslim ideology.
In 1977, Louis Farrakhan rejected Warith Deen Mohammed's leadership and re-established the Nation of Islam on the original model. He took over the Nation of Islam's headquarters temple, Mosque Maryam (Mosque #2) in Chicago, Illinois. Since 2010, under Farrakhan, members have been strongly encouraged to study Dianetics, and the Nation claims it has trained 1,055 auditors.
The NOI was founded in Detroit in 1930, by Wallace Fard Muhammad, also known as W. D. Fard Muhammad. Prior to the founding of the NOI, Fard was a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America, known then as David Ford-el and had tried to claim its leadership by proclaiming himself to be the reincarnation of founder Noble Drew Ali but failed. His goal, according to the Nation of Islam, was to "teach the downtrodden and defenseless Black people a thorough Knowledge of God and of themselves, and to put them on the road to Self-Independence with a superior culture and higher civilization than they had previously experienced." According to the NOI, Fard chose Elijah Muhammad to be his assistant in 1931. According to Muhammad, Fard trained him daily for nine months, then less frequently for about two years. In May 1933, shortly after naming Elijah Muhammad Minister of Islam, Fard disappeared without notifying his followers or designating a successor. In the wake of Fard's disappearance, several potential leaders emerged. Muhammad asserted that Fard had selected him to be his successor and trained him "day and night" for three years. He argued that Fard was God incarnate, and that Fard had revealed this to him alone. Muhammad established a newspaper, The Final Call to Islam, initially referring to Fard as a prophet and later as Almighty God. He prevailed over his rivals as leader.
In 1942, during World War II, Elijah Muhammad was convicted of violating the Selective Service Act and jailed. Many other Nation of Islam members were similarly charged, as NOI opposed serving in the United States military. Upon his release in 1946, Elijah Muhammad slowly built up the membership of his movement through recruitment in the postwar decades. His program called for the establishment of a separate nation for black Americans and the adoption of a religion based on the worship of Allah and on the belief that blacks were his chosen people.
During this time, the Nation of Islam attracted Malcolm Little. While in prison in Boston for burglary from 1946 to 1952, Little joined the Nation of Islam. He was influenced by his brother, Reginald, who had become a member in Detroit. Little quit smoking, gambling and eating pork, in keeping with the Nation's practices and dietary restrictions. He spent long hours reading books in the prison library. He sharpened his oratory skills by participating in debating classes. Following Nation tradition, Elijah Muhammad ordered him to replace his surname, "Little", with an "X", a custom among Nation of Islam followers who considered their surnames to have been imposed by white slaveholders after their African names were taken from them. The X was meant to represent a "lost heritage and a personal unknown history."
Malcolm X rose rapidly to become a minister and national spokesperson for the NOI. He is largely credited with the group's dramatic increase in membership between the early 1950s and early 1960s (from 500 to 25,000 by one estimate; from 1,200 to 50,000 or 75,000 by another). In March 1964, Malcolm X left the Nation due to disagreements with Elijah Muhammad; among other things, Malcolm X cited his interest in working with other civil rights leaders, saying that Muhammad had prevented him from doing so in the past. Later, Malcolm X also said Muhammad had engaged in extramarital affairs with young Nation secretaries—a serious violation of Nation teachings. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot and killed while giving a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York. In March 1966, three NOI members were convicted of assassinating Malcolm X.
In 1955, Louis Wolcott joined the Nation of Islam. Following custom, he also replaced his surname with an "X". He was given his new name, "Farrakhan", by Elijah Muhammad. In 1965, following the assassination of Malcolm X, Farrakhan gradually emerged as his successor. Like his predecessor, Farrakhan was a dynamic, charismatic leader and a powerful speaker with the ability to appeal to the African-American masses.
At the time of Elijah Muhammad's death in 1975, there were 75 NOI centers across America. The Nation's leadership chose Wallace Muhammad, also known as Warith Deen Mohammad, the fifth of Elijah's sons—not Farrakhan—as the new Supreme Minister. At the time, Nation of Islam was founded upon the principles of self-reliance and black supremacy, a belief that mainstream Muslims consider heretical. He shunned his father's theology and black pride views, forging closer ties with mainstream Muslim communities in an attempt to transition the Nation of Islam into orthodoxy more similar to Sunni Islam. Under W. D. Mohammed's leadership, the Nation of Islam decentralized into many bodies of followers led by many different leaders. This made it hard to track the exact number of NOI members, but it is estimated to have been in the tens of thousands.
In 1977, Farrakhan resigned from Wallace Muhammad's reformed organization. He worked to rebuild the Nation of Islam upon the original foundation established by Wallace Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad. Farrakhan traveled across America speaking in cities to gain new followers. Over time, Farrakhan regained many of the Nation of Islam's original properties. There are now mosques and study groups in over 120 American cities attributed to Farrakhan's work as a leader.
In 1995, the Nation of Islam sponsored the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. to promote African-American unity and family values. Estimates of the number of marchers were between 400,000 and 840,000. Under Farrakhan's leadership, the Nation of Islam tried to redefine the standard "black male stereotype" of drug and gang violence. Meanwhile, the Nation continued to promote social reform in African-American communities according to its traditional goals of self-reliance and economic independence.
Under Farrakhan's leadership, the Nation was one of the fastest-growing political movements in the country. Foreign branches of the Nation were formed in Ghana, London, Paris, and the Caribbean islands. In order to strengthen the international influence of the Nation, Farrakhan attempted to establish relations with Muslim countries. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1991 and had a near-death experience in 2000 due to complications. After that, Farrakhan toned down the politics of the NOI and attempted to strengthen its relations with other minority communities, including Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians.
Since the announcement in 2010, the Nation of Islam has hosted its own Dianetics courses and its own graduation ceremonies. At the third such ceremony, which was held on Saviours' Day 2013, it was announced that nearly 8500 members of the organization had undergone Dianetics auditing. The organization announced it had graduated 1,055 auditors and had delivered 82,424 hours of auditing. The graduation ceremony was certified by the Church of Scientology, and the Nation of Islam members received certification. The ceremony was attended by Shane Woodruff, vice-president of the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre International. He stated that, "[t]he unfolding story of the Nation of Islam and Dianetics is bold, [i]t is determined and it is absolutely committed to restoring freedom and wiping hell from the face of this planet."
Beliefs and theology
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The main belief of the NOI and its followers is that there is no other God but Allah. They teach that their founder, Fard Muhammad is the Mahdi. The official beliefs of the NOI have been outlined in books, documents, and articles published by the organization, and in speeches by Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Farrakhan, and other ministers. Many of Elijah Muhammad's teachings may be found in Message to the Blackman in America.
Written lessons from 1930 to 1934 were passed from Fard Muhammad to his student, Elijah Muhammad. These were collected and entitled The Supreme Wisdom. The NOI continues to teach its followers that the present world society is segmented into three distinct categories. They teach that from a general perspective, 85% of the population are the "deaf, dumb and blind" masses of the people who "are easily led in the wrong direction and hard to lead in the right direction". Those 85% of the masses are said to be manipulated by 10% of the people. Those 10% rich "slave-makers" are said to manipulate the 85% masses of the people through ignorance, the skillful use of religious doctrine, and the mass media. The third group is referred to as the 5% "poor righteous teachers" of the people of the world, who know the truth of the manipulation of the 85% masses of the people by the 10%. The 5% "righteous teachers" are at constant struggle and war with the 10% to reach and "free the minds" of the masses of the people.
An official Nation of Islam platform referred to as "The Muslim Program" was written by Elijah Muhammad in his book Message to the Blackman in America (1965). The itemized platform contains two sections; "What The Muslims Want", consisting of 10 points; and "What The Muslims Believe", consisting of 12 points.
Elijah Muhammad once said that the Moon was once a part of the Earth, and that the Earth is over 76 trillion years old. The entire land mass on the Earth was called "Asia". This was, Elijah Muhammad claimed, long before Adam. Elijah Muhammad declared that Black People in America are descendants of the Asian black nation and of the tribe of Shabazz. He writes on page 31 of his book, "Message to the Blackman in America", "...who is this tribe of Shabazz? Originally, they were the tribe who came with the earth (or this part) 66 trillion years ago when a great explosion on our planet divided it into two parts. One we call earth and the other moon. This was done by one of our scientists, God, who wanted the people to speak one language, one dialect for all, but was unable to bring this about."
Tim Russert: "Once a week, on the back page [of your newspaper] is The Muslim Program, 'What the Muslims Want' [written in 1965]. The first is in terms of territory, 'Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by white America justifies our demand for complete separation in a state or territory of our own.' Is that your view in 1997, a separate state for Black Americans?"
Minister Louis Farrakhan: "First, the program starts with number one. That is number four. The first part of that program is that we want freedom, a full and complete freedom. The second is, we want justice. We want equal justice under the law, and we want justice applied equally to all, regardless of race or class or color. And the third is that we want equality. We want equal membership in society with the best in civilized society. If we can get that within the political, economic, social system of America, there's no need for point number four. But if we cannot get along in peace after giving America 400 years of our service and sweat and labor, then, of course, separation would be the solution to our race problem."
While a separation of races was always the goal of the Nation of Islam, it all came from a desire to disrupt the moral and normative attitude that Western philosophy and religion imposed during colonialism. With different aesthetics and a rejection of normative ideals, and with a different nation, the Nation of Islam essentially wanted agency and self-determination in the economic development of their own lives. They saw the only way out of the past was with a radically different future.
"For instance, to combat the eradication of black religiosity initially practiced by enslaved Africans, the NOI introduced, or, in some cases reintroduced Islam, a religion that had historically challenged Western religious ideas. In addition, to address efforts to obliterate other aspects of African culture, such as names, dress, food, education, socialization and marriage practices, the NOI constructed a new way of life. As black self-determination remained its primary objective, the NOI focused on designing unique clothing and uniforms, introducing bean pies and other dietary changes and creating its private black schools and culturally-centered curriculum. Finally, the Nation created an economic plan that envisioned a collaborative enterprise built on non-European control. All of these initiatives intended to repair Black people and prepare them for active engagement in the increasingly liberated non-European global community, particularly but not exclusively in Africa." 
In their pursuit of self-determination, many African Americans turned to Christianity to reclaim autonomy of their historically emasculated and defiled bodies. The problem for many, however, was that Christianity was used to justify gender-based violence. Edward E. Curtis notes that Christianity was used in tandem with American nationalism, and therefore was purposely misinterpreted to make arguments for the continuation of slavery. Therefore, a new found autonomy of the human body, according to the members of the Nation of Islam, could not be found in Christianity. It was already entrenched with Western ideals. Islam, they found, was a way to return to African heritage, a pan-African identity, a re-imagination of African-American bodies, and thus fathomable post-colonial future. Of course, this post colonial nature of self determination could not have been accomplished within notions of self love According to those in the nation of Islam, this self love could not be practiced under the American democracy and in American courts. Self determination (fueled by love of self and others) could only be found in the Sunni Islamic faith and in separation from American institutions.
Teachings on race
Wallace Fard Muhammad taught that the original peoples of the world were black and that white people were a race of "devils" created by a scientist named Yakub (the Biblical and Qur'anic Jacob) on the Greek island of Patmos. According to the supreme wisdom lessons, Fard taught that whites were devils because of a culture of lies and murder that Yakub instituted on the island to ensure the creation of his new people. Fard taught that Yakub established a secret eugenics policy among the ruling class on the island. They were to kill all dark babies at birth and lie to the parents about the child's fate. Further, they were to ensure that lighter-skinned children thrived in society. This policy encouraged a general preference for light skin. It was necessary to allow the process of grafting or making of a lighter-skinned race of people who would be different. The idea was that if the light-skinned people were allowed to mate freely with the dark-skinned people, the population would remain dark-skinned due to the genetic dominance of the original dark-skinned people. This process took approximately 600 years to produce a blond-haired, blue-eyed group of people. As they migrated into the mainland, they were greeted and welcomed by the indigenous people wherever they went. But according to the supreme wisdom lessons, they started making trouble among the righteous people, telling lies and causing confusion and mischief. This is when the ruling class of the Middle East decided to round up all the troublemakers they could find and march them out, over the hot desert sands, into the caves and hillsides of Europe. Elijah claimed that this history is well-known and preserved, and is ritualized or re-enacted within many fraternal organizations and secret societies. Fard taught that much of the savage ways of white people came from living in the caves and hillsides of Europe for over 2,000 years without divine revelation or knowledge of civilization. The writings of Elijah Muhammad advise a student must learn that the white man is "Yacub's grafted Devil" and "the Skunk of the planet Earth".[unreliable source?]
The Nation of Islam teaches that black people are the original people, and that all other people come from them. Farrakhan has stated, regarding spiritual ascension, "If you look at the human family—now, I'm talking about black, brown, red, yellow and white—we all seem to be frozen on a subhuman level of existence. In Islam and, I believe, in Christian theology and Jewish theology as well, there are three stages of human development. The first stage is called the animalistic stage of development. But when we submit to animal passions, then we can do evil things to one another in that animalistic stage of development. But when moral consciousness comes and we have a self-accusing spirit, it is then that we become human beings. Right now, we have the potential for humanity, but we have not reached that potential, because we are functioning on the animalistic plane of existence."
The Blackman is the original man. From him came all brown, yellow, red, and white people. By using a special method of birth control law, the Blackman was able to produce the white race. This method of birth control was developed by a Black scientist known as Yakub, who envisioned making and teaching a nation of people who would be diametrically opposed to the Original People. A Race of people who would one day rule the original people and the earth for a period of 6,000 years. Yakub promised his followers that he would graft a nation from his own people, and he would teach them how to rule his people, through a system of tricks and lies whereby they use deceit to divide and conquer, and break the unity of the darker people, put one brother against another, and then act as mediators and rule both sides.— Elijah Muhammad.
In an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Farrakhan said the following in response to host Tim Russert's question on the Nation of Islam's teachings on race:
You know, it's not unreal to believe that white people—who genetically cannot produce yellow, brown or black—had a Black origin. The scholars and scientists of this world agree that the origin of man and humankind started in Africa and that the first parent of the world was black. The Qur'an says that God created Adam out of black mud and fashioned him into shape. So if white people came from the original people, the Black people, what is the process by which you came to life? That is not a silly question. That is a scientific question with a scientific answer. It doesn't suggest that we are superior or that you are inferior. It suggests, however, that your birth or your origin is from the black people of this earth: superiority and inferiority is determined by our righteousness and not by our color.
Pressed by Russert on whether he agreed with Elijah Muhammad's preaching that whites are "blue-eyed devils", Farrakhan responded:
Well, you have not been saints in the way you have acted toward the darker peoples of the world and toward even your own people. But, in truth, Mr. Russert, any human being who gives themself over to the doing of evil could be considered a devil. In the Bible, in the "Book of Revelation", it talks about the fall of Babylon. It says Babylon is fallen because she has become the habitation of devils. We believe that ancient Babylon is a symbol of a modern Babylon, which is America.
 During the time when Malcolm X was a member and leader of the Nation of Islam, he preached that black people were genetically dominant to white people but were dominated by a system of white supremacy:
Thoughtful white people know they are inferior to Black people. Even [Senator James] Eastland knows it. Anyone who has studied the genetic phase of biology knows that white is considered recessive and black is considered dominant. The entire American economy is based on white supremacy. Even the religious philosophies, in essence, white supremacy. A white Jesus. A white Virgin. White angels. White everything. But a black Devil, of course. The "Uncle Sam" political foundation is based on white supremacy, relegating nonwhites to second-class citizenship. It goes without saying that the social philosophy is strictly white supremacist. And the educational system perpetuates white supremacy.
After Malcolm X made his pilgrimage to Mecca, he stated that seeing Muslims of "all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans", interacting as equals led him to see Islam as a means by which racial problems could be overcome. He credits his evolving views on Islam and race as a reason for leaving the Nation of Islam and his decision to convert to Sunni Islam.
The Nation of Islam teaches that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited. This is point 10 of the official platform, "What the Muslims Want", published 1965. Farrakhan nevertheless stated in the Tim Russert interview:
The mother of the Leader who came to North America to teach us, Fard Muhammad, His mother was a white woman. His father was a black man. So where there is love, love transcends our racial denomination or ethnicity. Love is the great power of transformation. I don't think that we can say when two people are in love that they shouldn't marry one another. But I would prefer that the black man and the black woman marry into their own kind.
The Mother Plane and Ezekiel's Wheel
Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around.— Ezekiel 1:15–18 (ESV)
Farrakhan, commenting on his teacher's description in 1996, said the following:
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Mother Plane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day but a pillar of fire by night. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the Original scientists. It took $15 billion in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this Mother Wheel, which is a half mile by a half mile [800 m by 800 m]. This Mother Wheel is like a small human-built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said these planes were used to set up mountains on the earth. The Qur'an says it like this: We have raised mountains on the earth lest it convulse with you. How do you raise a mountain, and what is the purpose of a mountain? Have you ever tried to balance a tire? You use weights to keep the tire balanced. That's how the earth is balanced, with mountain ranges. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that we have a type of bomb that, when it strikes the earth a drill on it is timed to go into the earth and explode at the height that you wish the mountain to be. If you wish to take the mountain up a mile [1.6 km], you time the drill to go a mile in and then explode. The bombs these planes have are timed to go one mile down and bring up a mountain one mile high, but it will destroy everything within a 50-square-mile [130 km²] radius. The white man writes in his above top secret memos of the UFOs. He sees them around his military installations like they are spying.
That Mother Wheel is a dreadful-looking thing. White folks are making movies now to make these planes look like fiction, but it is based on something real. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that Mother Plane is so powerful that with sound reverberating in the atmosphere, just with a sound, she can crumble buildings.— Louis Farrakhan, The Divine Destruction of America: Can She Avert It?
The first book analyzing the Nation of Islam was The Black Muslims in America (1961) by C. Eric Lincoln. Lincoln describes the use of doctrines during religious services:
Often the minister reads passages from well-known historical, sociological, or anthropological works, and finds in them inconspicuous references to the black man's true history in the world ... Occasionally the minister chides the audience for its skepticism: "I know you don't believe me because I happen to be a black man. Well, you can look it up in a book I'm going to tell you about that was written by a white man." He then reads off references that his hearers are challenged to check.
Relation with Church of Scientology
In recent years, the embrace of Dianetics under Farrakhan has drawn much criticism that the Nation of Islam is becoming too close to the Church of Scientology and the ideas of its founder L. Ron Hubbard, whom Farrakhan has said he respects. Farrakhan has praised Hubbard, saying he was "exceedingly valuable to every Caucasian person on this Earth". Of followers of Scientology, he stated "You can still be a Christian; you just won't be a devil Christian. You'll still be a Jew, but you won't be a satanic Jew!" NOI Sister Charlene Muhammad, a correspondent for NOI's newspaper The Final Call, received the "Dianetics Auditor of the Year" Award 2018. In her acceptance speech she thanked, in order, Minister Louis Farrakhan, David Miscavige (leader of the Church of Scientology), and “most of all, L. Ron Hubbard.”
In the 1930s Japanese national, and member of the Black Dragon Society, Satokata Takahashi allegedly promised financial aid and military assistance to African Americans in Detroit if they "joined a war against the white race". In 1938 the FBI charged that Nakane had an influential presence within the NOI, speaking as a guest at temples in Chicago and Detroit. A poster was removed from a raid of Muhammad's Chicago home that was a copy of a poster removed from Detroit headquarters of Takahashi. The poster was entitled "Calling the Four Winds". There were images of four guns, each titled "Asia" and they had barrels pointing to the center of the poster, which had an image of the United States. "Calling the Four Winds" is the title of a speech written by Takahashi's wife. Muhammad engaged in the use of various names to elude federal authorities because they were monitoring Black Muslims for sedition and failure to register for the draft. He used names such as Elijah Karriem, Elijah Evans, Gulam Bogans, Mr. Muck Muck, and Muhammad Rasoul. Muhammad went to prison from 1942–1946 for influencing his followers not to register.
The Nation of Islam has repeatedly denied charges of anti-Semitism. Farrakhan has stated, "The ADL ... uses the term 'anti-Semitism' to stifle all criticism of Zionism and the Zionist policies of the State of Israel and also to stifle all legitimate criticism of the errant behavior of some Jewish people toward the non-Jewish population of the earth." However, NOI officials and outlets including Farrakhan have also been accused of repeatedly using anti-semitic and homophobic rhetoric, including saying, "It's the wicked Jews, the false Jews, that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality. It's the wicked Jews, false Jews, that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic!"
Regarding condemnation for having referred to Adolf Hitler as being a "great man", Farrakhan has said, "I have throughout my life referred to Hitler as a wicked man, yet, the national news media insists that I called him a 'great man', with the implied inference that 'great' means 'good'. However, I did refer to him as 'wickedly great', in the same sense that Genghis Khan stands out in history."
David W. Leinweber of Emory University asserts that the Nation of Islam engages in revisionist and antisemitic interpretations of the Holocaust and that they exaggerate the role of Jews in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Leinweber and others use the original statements of Farrakhan and others as the basis for their evaluation.
Anti Asian sentiment
Jeffery Muhammad, the Nation of Islam's longtime leader in Dallas, Texas, stated:
They [Asian-American merchants in black neighborhoods] are just the latest in a long line of people who have come to this country—like Jews, Italians, Indians and now Asians—who have sucked the blood of and exploited the black community.
Comparison with traditional Islam
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The Nation of Islam resembles traditional Sunni Islam with some differences. It preaches the following of the Five Pillars of the Islamic Faith, though somewhat differently. Interpretation of the Five Pillars differs among many different Islamic schools of thought, as well as among different Islamic cultures.
- Belief in one God (Allah): Muslims believe that Allah is the One and only God (known as Tawhid).
- Prayer: Both traditional Muslims and the Nation of Islam believe that the five daily prayers (salat) are mandatory. The leader of the NOI, Elijah Muhammad, was once quoted as saying to his followers that prayer is 'necessary for spiritual advancement'.
- Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan: Traditional Muslims and the Nation of Islam believe that fasting is compulsory at this time, although the NOI gives the option to fast during the month of December instead. This was done to make Ramadan easier for new converts and to break the habit of celebrating Christmas.
- Compulsory Charity (zakat): Both traditional Islam and the Nation of Islam share the belief in charity. Charity can be defined as contributing money, or contributing time to do a service to the community.
- Pilgrimage (Hajj) – pilgrimage to Mecca: Both traditional Muslims and Nation of Islam believe that this is compulsory if one has the means to undertake the journey.
Other doctrines of the Nation of Islam are disputed, specifically:
- Messiah and Mahdi:
- The NOI teaches that its founder, Fard Muhammad, is the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews and the Mahdi of the Muslims.
- Traditional Muslims have different views on the Mahdi. Some Muslims are still awaiting the coming of the Mahdi. Others believe that the Mahdi is not an authentic Islamic belief. Most also believe that the Jews' awaited Messiah is indeed Jesus (the prophet not God) who Christians believe is the Son of God.
- Status of the Islamic prophet Muhammad vs. other prophets:
- The Nation of Islam believes that Muhammad was the last prophet of Allah, and that Elijah Muhammad was a messenger, taught by God in the person of the Mahdi, whom the NOI claims was Fard Muhammad (W. D. Fard).
- The Nation of Islam points to the Quran: "And for every nation there is a messenger. So when their messenger comes, the matter is decided between them with justice, and they are not wronged."—Quran 10:47
- Yakub: Traditional Islam does not hold to the teachings about "Yakub" which the NOI proclaims.
Dispute between the NOI and the Italian Muslim Association
On March 7, 1998 the Board of Ulema of the Italian Muslim Association (AMI) issued a fatwa against the Nation of Islam. The AMI issued the fatwa after being asked their opinion on the NOI; it was the AMI's opinion that members of the NOI were not Muslim, on the grounds that "their official doctrine is that Allah appeared in the form of a human being named Fareed Muhammad, and that this "incarnation of God" chose another man, called Elijah Muhammad, as his Prophet." In the AMI's view, this contradicts the core Muslim tenet of monotheism, and as such members of the NOI could not be considered Muslim; "Muslims must declare this truth, and each one of them who keeps silent while listening to Mr. Farrakhan being called "a Muslim leader" is committing a sin."[unreliable source?]
The NOI obtained substantial funds from the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, notably a $5 million loan used to pay back-taxes and costs for the home of the movement's former leader Elijah Muhammad and a $3 million loan from Libya in the 1970s to acquire its opulent headquarters on Chicago's South Side. Libya channeled funds through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) based in Canada to a Libyan intelligence front in Washington. The money was provided to finance trips to Tripoli by the NOI and American radicals, according to a Canadian parliamentary investigation and a prosecution by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. "At least one gathering attended by Farrakhan in Libya – in violation of a travel ban imposed on Americans by President Reagan after Libya was linked to terrorist attacks in Europe – offered training seminars on weapons and explosives." The Libyans paid $250,000 in travel and other expenses to stage a pro-Gaddafi demonstration in which NOI played a leading role.
In 1994, the NOI leader visited Khartoum, where he met with General Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, the former Sudanese head of state and Doctor Hassan Abdullah al-Turabi, who headed Sudan's ruling party. Farrakhan's National Assistant Khalid Abdul Muhammed attended the 1995 PAIC meeting. Upon meeting Sheikh Naim Qassem of Hezbollah after a news conference at a Khartoum hotel, Muhammed found a translator to convey his greetings.
In 1996, Farrakhan traveled to Iran, Iraq, and Libya, at which time Gaddafi offered him an additional $1 billion. Farrakhan said he would use the money to develop the black community and increase its power in politics. He also denied an earlier report, which originated in the Iranian press, that while in Iran he had said, "God will destroy America by the hands of Muslims. God will not give Japan or Europe the honor of bringing down the United States; this is an honor God will bestow upon Muslims." In August 1996, Farrakhan formally asked the U.S. government to allow him to accept the funds from Libya, a requirement because of sanctions against the African state. His application was denied.
In 2011, shortly after Gaddafi's death, Farrakhan portrayed Gaddafi as a fellow revolutionary who had lent millions of dollars to the Nation of Islam over the years, "It wasn't the money, but the principles that made me his brother".
Press and media
NOI video titles include "Conspiracy of the International Bankers", "Conspiracy of the U.S. Government", "Controversy with Jews", and "Which One Will You Choose, the Flag of Islam or the Flag of America?" In one video Farrakhan is said to state, "I hasten to tell you that the precious lives that were lost in the World Trade Center was a cover, a cover for a war that had been planned to bring a pipeline through Afghanistan to bring oil from that region, oil owned by Unocal, of which Dick Cheney is a stock holder."
Farrakhan's videos also address the U.S. military. During the Millions March in Harlem, Farrakhan discussed the Fort Hood shootings as he addressed the crowd.
You don't join the armed forces to become nation builders. You join the armed forces and they train you to kill. They're killers. So why did Army major Nidal Malik Hassan, a Muslim psychologist at Fort Hood go on a shooting spree after being assigned to debrief soldiers who came back from the theater of war. He couldn't take it any more so he shot up the soldiers. They want you to think he was a terrorist. But he was debriefing terrorists. And unfortunately, it took his balance.
Controversy over the availability of NOI videos and writings surfaced on June 15, 2011, when Representative Peter King, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security hosted a hearing titled "The Threat of Muslim-American Radicalization in U.S. Prisons". During the hearing, former Bureau of Prisons director Harley Lappin testified on the extreme susceptibility of radicalization of inmates through propaganda efforts of groups like NOI. Testimony included discussion of an incident in which two radicalized converts planned a terrorist attack on a military facility in Seattle. The suspects had met in prison and had converted to Islam while there. In July 2011, King and Representative Frank Wolf, worried that prisoners were being radicalized by Farrakhan, asked U.S. Bureau of Prisons Acting Director Thomas Kane to remove Nation of Islam material from prisons and to audit all other Islamic texts and sermons made available to inmates as well as bureau procedures for approving such materials.
The Final Call
The Final Call is a newspaper published by NOI in Chicago, with news stories on a variety of topics, primarily related to Blacks in America. "The Muslim Program" is published in every issue of the newspaper stating the demands of the Nation of Islam. NOI journalists have written about a range of topics, including conspiracy theories on the assassination of John F. Kennedy and a Central Intelligence Agency conspiracy to disrupt rule in Libya. Harold Muhammad, minister of an NOI New Orleans mosque, wrote in the paper that there is enough evidence that AIDS is a man-made disease being used by the U.S. government against Blacks.[unreliable source?]
Ula Y. Taylor, professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, in her book The Promise of Patriarchy: Women and the Nation of Islam writes that the Nation of Islam is a "promise of patriarchy" for black women, or a guarantor of security beyond centuries of physical and sexual exploitation. She writes that the purpose of this patriarchal promise is to overcome the negative stereotypes that had been tattooed onto black people, consequently improving the lives of the urban poor. Thus, "the respect and protection offered by black men in the Nation was appealing given the extreme sexual and economic vulnerability of black women during this period."
Noted current and former members
- Khalid Abdul Muhammad
- Khadijah Farrakhan
- Muhammad Ali – converted to Sunni Islam in 1975 and became a Sufi in 2005
- Mustapha Farrakhan, Jr. – professional basketball player
- Wesley Muhammad – professor and historian
- Clarence 13X – later formed the Nation of Gods and Earths
- Jay Electronica – hip-hop artist and record producer
- MC Ren – later converted to Sunni Islam
- Kam – member of the Nation of Islam, rapper and former associate of Ice Cube
- John Allen Muhammad – Gulf war veteran, former NOI member, perpetrator of the Beltway Sniper attacks
- Benjamin Chavis, former executive director of the NAACP
- John Collins-Muhammad, U.S. Politician in Saint Louis, MO
- Paris – now an agnostic
- Snoop Dogg – later converted to Rastafari.
- Quanell X – member c. 1990s – 2001, now a member of the New Black Panther Party
- David Muhammad – national leader for Trinidad and Tobago
- Humza Al-Hafeez – founder of the National Society of Afro-American Policemen, author, American social activist
- Shahrazad Ali – author
- Tony King
- Salim Muwakkil – newspaper columnist who left the NOI during the late 1970s
- Malcolm X – leading NOI member until March 1964
- Talmadge Hayer – former NOI member, one of those convicted for the killing of Malcolm X
- Black separatism
- The Hate That Hate Produced
- Islam in the African diaspora
- List of topics related to the African diaspora
- Latino Muslims
- Moorish Science Temple of America
- Muslim Girls Training (MGT)
- Nation of Gods and Earths
- The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews
- UFO religion
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