Nation of Islam
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|Nation of Islam|
The Nation of Islam (NOI) is an Islamic religious movement founded in Detroit, United States, by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad on July 4, 1930. The Nation of Islam's stated goals are to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans in the United States and all of humanity. Critics have labeled the organization as being black supremacist and antisemitic, and NOI is tracked as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Its official newspaper is The Final Call. The Nation of Islam does not publish its membership numbers; in 2007, the core membership was estimated between 20,000 and 50,000, but their following was believed to be larger. [according to whom?]
After Fard disappeared in June 1934, the Nation of Islam was led by Elijah Muhammad, who established places of worship (called Temples or Mosques), a school named Muhammad University of Islam, businesses, farms and real estate holdings in the United States and abroad. 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 Sunni Muslim. After Elijah Muhammad's death, 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 headquarter Temple, Mosque Maryam (Mosque #2), which is located in Chicago, Illinois. Since 2010, under Farrakhan, members have been strongly encouraged to study Dianetics, and the Nation claims it has trained 1055 Auditors.[when?] Farrakhan selected Assistant Minister Ishmael Muhammad to deliver the 2013 Holy Day of Atonement key note address in his place. In December 2013, Farrakhan said in Indianapolis that he had been absent from the event because he had suffered a heart attack.
- 1 History
- 2 Beliefs and theology
- 3 Criticism
- 4 Comparison with traditional Islam
- 5 Foreign affiliations
- 6 Press and media
- 7 Noted members/associates, and former members/associates
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The NOI was founded in Detroit, Michigan, on July 4, 1930, by Wallace Fard Muhammad, also known as W. D. Fard Muhammad, on order to, as the Nation of Islam states: "... 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." The NOI teaches that W. Fard Muhammad was both the "Messiah" of Judaism and the Mahdi of Islam. Fard chose his assistant minister, Elijah Muhammad, in 1931 to succeed him as head of the movement, calling Muhammad "His Divine Representative." Fard trained Muhammad night and day for 3½ years before he took over NOI in 1934. Muhammad and the movement were widely rejected during his 44 years as the NOI leader. Muhammad established a newspaper titled The Final Call to Islam and attempted to create schools founded upon Muslim teachings.
Muslim parents agreed with the foundation of these new schools, but the Michigan State Board of Education did not. Muslim teachers were charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors and jailed. The charges were later dropped and the teachers were freed; Muhammad was given six months probation to relocate the children to a standard state school, but he refused because the classes were predominately taught by white Christians. Muhammad left for Chicago in September of that year. He was soon joined by W.D. Fard Muhammad, who was run out of Detroit by the police.
In 1942, during World War II, Elijah Muhammad was charged and convicted of violating the Selective Service Act and jailed. Many other Nation of Islam members were charged for the same thing, as NOI opposes serving in the United States Military. Upon his release years later,[when?] 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 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 debate 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.
Malcolm X rose rapidly to become the minister and national spokesperson for the NOI. Highly influenced by Malcolm X's membership, the Nation claimed a membership of 30,000. In March 1964, Malcolm X was excommunicated from the Nation due to disagreements with Elijah Muhammad; among other things, Malcolm X found issues with Muhammad's adherence to Muslim teachings, and Malcolm X's fame had led to media attention and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) infiltration into the Nation of Islam. In April 1964, one month later, Malcolm X founded Muslim Mosque Inc., stating, "I never left the Nation of Islam of my own free will. It was they who conspired with Captain Joseph here in New York to pressure me out of the Nation." In March 1966, three NOI members were convicted of assassinating Malcolm X.
In 1955, Louis Walcott had 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 emerged as the protege of Malcolm. Like his predecessor, Farrakhan was a dynamic, charismatic leader and a powerful speaker with the ability to appeal to the African-American masses.
By the time Elijah Muhammad died 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's 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 given 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 of the various 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 experienced a near-death experience in 2000 due to complications. After that experience, Farrakhan toned down the politics of NOI and attempted to strengthen relations with other minority communities, including Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians.
On May 8, 2010, Farrakhan publicly announced his embrace of Dianetics and has actively encouraged Nation of Islam members to undergo auditing from the Church of Scientology. Since the announcement in 2010, the Nation Of Islam has been hosting 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 "The unfolding story of the Nation of Islam and Dianetics is bold, It 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, Master 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 and The True History of Jesus as Taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
Written lessons from 1930 to 1934 were passed from W. 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.
The NOI teaches 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.
Black experience of slavery was Bible prophecyThe NOI teaches that black people constitute a nation and that through the institution of the Atlantic slave trade they were systematically denied knowledge of their history, language, culture, and religion and, in effect, lost control of their lives. Central to this doctrine, NOI theology asserts that black people's experience of slavery was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and therefore, black people are the seed of Abraham referred to in the Bible, in Genesis 15:13–14:
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.—King James Version
SeparatismIn an April 13, 1997, interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Tim Russert asked Farrakhan to explain the Nation of Islam's view on separation:
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."
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".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 MuhammadIn 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.
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 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 IslamThe 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.Farrakhan, commenting on his teacher's description said the following:—Ezekiel 1:15–18 (ESV)
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?
CriticismThe 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.
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!".
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."
Professor David W. Leinweber of Emory University asserts that the Nation of Islam has engaged 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. NOI Health Minister Abdul Alim Muhammad has accused Jewish doctors of injecting Blacks with the AIDS virus.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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