Conversion of African Americans to Islam : a sociological analysis of the Nation of Islam and associated groups ; Nuri Tinaz
The Million Dollar Man March
- The Nation of
Final Call - Companion site to the paper of the same name,
published by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Includes articles, news,
features and subscription information.
Call to Power - Online version of a newspaper from the Nation
Of Islam in the UK. Includes articles, features and news.
Al-Muminun - Masjid Al-Muminun is located in Statesville,
North Carolina under the leadership of Imam W. D.Muhammad. Includes an
events list, and details of classes.
Mosque #28: St. Louis - Official website of the Nation of
Islam community, with a message from the minister, information about
services offered, and a study guide.
Mosque No.7 Online - New York City Headquarters of the Nation
of Islam; information about organization and activities, with
additional resources on the movement.
Speaks - A collection of articles and interviews with
Messenger Elijah Muhammad; includes selected quotes.
Study Group - A group in San Antonio, Texas, US, promoting
the religion of Islam, as taught by Elijah Muhammad and Louis
Farrakhan. Information about events and programs, structure and
University of the New Islam - Articles from the Muhammad
Still Speaks magazine, updated monthly. Includes subscription details.
Muslim Journal - Produced for the Muslim American Society.
Includes events diary, circulation and subscription details, and sample
of Islam Muhammad Mosque #55 - Based in Memphis, Tennessee,
US. Includes information about Elijah Muhammad, Nation of Islam
programs, and local activities.
- Nation of
Islam Online - Official website of the Nation of Islam. With
information on the history, activities and philosophy of this
of Islam Settlement Number One - A collection of resources on
Nation of Islam. Includes information about their social, cultural,
educational and economic activities; also forums and writings of Elijah
New Orleans - Nation of Islam in New Orleans, Louisiana, US.
Includes information about the movement, articles and local events.
Religious Movements Page: Nation of Islam - Profile of this
group from a neutral perspective, with information on its history,
beliefs and practices, and controversies.
Nation of Islam Page - Collection of articles of the
Anti-Defamation League about the Nation of Islam.
the Nation of Islam - Christian ministries reach out to
members of the Nation of Islam and African American Muslims.
of Islam and anti-Semitism - This paper examines anti-Semitic
beliefs in a publication of the Nation of Islam.
Nation of Islam: Fact or Fraud? - Details the incompatibility
of Farrakhanism and Islam.
Nation of Islam in 1996 - Argues that the Nation of Islam
continues to use an anti-Semitist discours.
of Islam is not Islamic - Differences between Islam and the
Nation of Islam. Article by a college senior at Kansas State
MILLION MAN MARCH
OCTOBER 13, 1995
African American men from around the United States are to take part in
the Million Man March, in Washington, D.C.. Two views of the march are
surveyed by Charlayne Hunter-Gault in Chicago.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: When it comes to black men in trouble, Chicago
has seen it all: Gang violence, soaring homicide rates, one in four
black men die violently reach year, and a microcosm of a recent
national report showing that one in three black males is either in
jail, on probation, or parole. Unemployment here tops 22 percent among
black males over 16. Over the weekend, a "Chicago Sun-Times" editorial
called for the declaration of a national state of emergency for young
black men. These are the kinds of grim realities fueling interest in
pockets of activity all over Chicago, as blacks here prepare to, in
their words, answer the call by Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan
for a million man march on Washington, D.C..
MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN, Nation of Islam: It is time that we as black
men stand up for the hurt of our families and the hurt of our ancestors!
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: It was two years ago that the controversial
Muslim leader first called for a march that would bring black men from
all over the country to the nation's capital. The purpose of the march
was to have black men atone for their transgressions, especially
against their women and children, to stand up to their
responsibilities, and to call on America to stand up to hers as well.
MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN: I say, on to Washington! (applause and
cheers) And let us go to demand justice! (applause and cheers) Justice
for our people!
DARRIN BANKS: I'm sure we all know what this march is about--
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Darrin Banks is a 30-year-old Chicagoan who
answered the call. Since then, Banks has been working to generate
enthusiasm about the march and participation in it, especially among
the homeless men he works with as a counselor on a daily basis.
MAN: Like I really want to participate in the million man march, but
financially, I'm not able to.
DARRIN BANKS: For the past months, I've been laboring very hard, as
everyone in this room knows, to get sponsorship.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: This shelter, Matthew House, supported by
public and private funds, provides counseling and meals five days a
week. Banks believes that the march will help make the plight of men
here more visible.
DARRIN BANKS: By them being there, it's saying to the powers that be
that we've been stepped on, we've been ignored, we've been walked
across and treated as if we're, you know, treated as if we're less than
people. It's--it's, I think, it's paramount that they are there because
of that reason, to say like, hey, we have some needs and some desires
that need to be addressed as well. That's what we're bring to the
forum. That's our agenda. And I'm trying to help push that.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Banks, a graduate of Northwestern University,
who holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration from the
University of Chicago, is also helping push the atonement part of the
agenda out of his own personal experience.
DARRIN BANKS: Being from a single-parent family, not having a dominant
male role figure--role model in my life, umm, I kind of felt as though
I lost out on some things, and I, myself, wouldn't want, you know,
future generations that come behind me to lose out on some of those
things. If we stand up as a community now, our men, and say, hey, it's
time for us to regain control of our households, not just father our
children's children, but be dads to 'em as well, umm, I think the time
has come for that.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Indeed, it was a message that was getting a lot
of air time. National shows featuring Minister Farrakhan last Sunday
were buttressed here on cable programs with call-ins to key aides like
Shahid Muslim, the Nation of Islam's international representative.
SHAHID MUSLIM, Nation of Islam: I just want to say this for the
listening audience; that this is a part of history that you do not want
to miss out on.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Word is also going out about details of the
march in the Muslim newspaper, "The Final Call." The national
headquarters of the Nation of Islam is here in Chicago, but a lot of
the local activity this past weekend was taking places in churches like
the Fernwood United Methodist. Its pastor is the Reverend Al Sampson, a
former civil rights activist with Dr. Martin Luther King, and unlike
some march supporters, he's also a longtime Farrakhan supporter.
REV. AL SAMPSON, Fernwood United Methodist Church: It seems to me that
the spiritual genius of Minister Louis Farrakhan is that he now has
issued a call for black men to continue what Dr. King did in the
streets of Memphis, Tennessee.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: This is the Park Manor Christian Church. Its
pastor, the Reverend James Demus, is another march supporter. In
services like this, collections were taken up to charter buses and to
buy food for the trip to Washington, although Minister Farrakhan, who
preaches self-reliance, has stressed that men pay their own way, even
if they have to sacrifice. Later, Demus cautioned against equating the
opposition of some church leaders with the positions of their
followers. He said impetus for his involvement came from his members.
REV. JAMES DEMUS, Park Manor Christian Church: I got involved with the
Million Man March at the insistence, the inquiry and the insistence of
one of my members. One of the members of my church and just raised the
question, "Rev. Demus, are we going to do anything with this Million
Man March?" And I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "Well, umm, you
know, this march is being called, and I basically think that I need to
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Rev. Demus meets regularly with representatives
from the Nation of Islam, and like other march supporters defers to the
Muslims on the leadership of the march. One of the several march events
last weekend was held at the predominantly black Kennedy King College
on Chicago's South side. Here, Muslims and non-Muslims passed out free
information and hawked buttons, hats, T-shirts, and other march
paraphernalia. The meeting revealed some of the simmering tensions over
the march. There were especially harsh words for Jesse Jackson, who had
earlier met with some Jewish leaders in New York who were concerned
about Minister Farrakhan's leadership because of his alleged
anti-semitism. Former Chicago Congressman Gus Savage.
GUS SAVAGE, Former Congressman: I have praised Jesse Jackson. I marched
with, as you know, campaigned for him in '84, '88, at my own expense
around this country. But if he were brother, when he is wrong, he is
MAN IN CROWD: Right!
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Earlier, at the headquarters of Operation PUSH,
the economic and social justice organization founded by Rev. Jackson,
he defended his meeting with Jewish groups and addressed some of the
criticisms aimed at Minister Farrakhan.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, PUSH Founder: I met with Minister Farrakhan about
it, and discussed it head up. He is sensitive to how he is viewed by
many beyond the black community. His focus on atonement and
reconciliation is the right direction.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Rev. Jackson once said he would not attend the
march but changed his mind.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: I determined that the march would have a moral
tone, i.e., a real tone of reconciliation, of bridge building, real
strong in its positions against racism, against sexism, against
anti-semitism, against homophobia.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Polls show that there is overwhelming support
for the Million Man March in the black community, but there is still
some reservation, although most of those voices have been muted in the
last few days here in Chicago. Some 14 African-American Christian
ministers from the Chicago area endorsed the march last week, but
nationally, only one of the top six black church organizations, the
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, has officially endorsed it.
Black religious critics, including two of the major black Baptist
organizations, said they were concerned about very strong theological
differences with Minister Farrakhan's Muslims and about the
participation of women. But critics here in Chicago refused to go on
camera. Tamara Kerrill, a reporter for the "Sun-Times," has been
reporting on the march and measuring support.
TAMARA KERRILL, Chicago sun Times: It seems that somehow publicity
about this march or information that has, you know, come across on the
television via Farrakhan or whatever, has kind of, umm, pacified a lot
of people and convinced them that this march is worthwhile.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Kerrill said that the biggest complaint she had
heard was about the call by the organizers for women to remain at home.
TAMARA KERRILL: The black women in the newsroom are pretty, pretty
diverse and pretty divided on how they feel. Some of them are--don't
understand opposition at all, and, you know, these are all, you know,
independent but reasonably liberal women. The other components that are
there also are the religion of Islam, which is, is a religion that does
not, you know, permit women a lot of civil freedoms, and so you put
that in the mix, plus the history of the Civil Rights Movement, in
which a lot of black women felt that they were asked to take a back
seat on gender issues that were important to them as black women--you
can't really separate the two--so there's a feeling that maybe this is
kind of a continuation of a trend.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Echoing this sentiment, the Reverend Sanja
Stinson, one of the few Chicago women who agreed to speak on the record
about this aspect of the march. She is the director of Matthew House,
the homeless center.
REV. SANJA STINSON, Matthew House: I really feel that gender should not
play a factor, because I understand the concept and I support the
concept; however, I do have a concern when you separate gender, when
you say African-American man, and unity to me means family, family
means to be together.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But many prominent Chicago women are endorsing
all aspects of the march, including the call for women to stay at home.
Former civil rights activist and alderman Dorothy Tillman serves on the
national organizing committee of the march.
DOROTHY TILLMAN, Chicago Alderman: Well, I don't think black women are
being asked to stay at home. They're being told not to come to
Washington. They didn't go to Vietnam. They didn't go to Korea. What
they're being told is that we need to stay home, back where we live,
and work, making sure that there's an atonement in terms of prayer. Now
I raised my children in church. We pray all the time. Take it--don't
let 'em go to school, don't you shop. You got a responsibility too.
Don't go to Washington, just make sure black women don't shop that day.
You take 'em, you pray, and as you're praying and you are teaching your
children, you talk to them about the problems that's going on in the
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Amin Muhammad, an aide to Minister Farrakhan,
said he was pleased with the response. And what would constitute
MINISTER AMIN MUHAMMAD, Nation of Islam: The pooling of our resources
to make a demand on ourselves and then by doing that make a demand on
government to be more responsible, to see us rebuild the wasted cities.
That--that is success. But us coming together just in the process, this
has never happened in history. And the movement towards October 16th in
and of itself is a success. Every day is a success, and every day, it
makes you feel blessed to be alive in this moment in history, to see
our people coming in to unity.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: You guys going to the Million Man March?
MAN: Million Man March?
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Uh huh.
MAN: Probably so, if we can get off working. (laughing)
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But you want to go?
MAN: I want to go, yes, I do.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Late this week, organizers said they had filled
200 buses so far and that they expected area men to use other forms of
transportation also. They're predicting that some 47,000 men from
Chicago will make the trip to the Million Man March.
MILLION MAN MARCH
OCTOBER 16, 1995
Hundreds of thousands of African American men joined together today on
the Mall, in Washington, D.C. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of
Islam which organized the assembly, asked those gathered to reflect on
their responsibility to themselves, their families, and their
community. Charlayne Hunter-Gault files this report.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: As dawn broke in the capital, the images of
black men on the Mall began to take shape. Many of them had come in the
night and slept here so they wouldn't miss a moment of the Million Man
March that brought them here. An Arabic prayer pierced the air. The day
of atonement and reconciliation had officially begun. (Muezzin Call) As
the sun grew warmer against a bracing morning chill, so did the mood as
the growing crowd of black men of all ages and walks of life, friends
and strangers, acknowledged each other and seemed to celebrate this
call for black men to stand up.
DICK GREGORY, Civil Rights Activist: I love you. God bless you. Go back
home and take care of the family, your family, our family, God's
family. Thank you.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: In the early part of the day, both Christian
and Muslim ministers helped establish the tone and themes of the day.
Chicago Minister Al Sampson, longtime supporter of Minister Louis
Farrakhan, hailed his leadership.
REV. AL SAMPSON, Fernwood United Methodist Church, Chicago: I stand
here today to ask your permission to make a motion. I make a motion
that we accept Minister Louis Farrakhan as our leader all over the
world for black men, for generations yet unborn, that he be our leader
today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: No matter what was going to be said by the
leaders here today, the people who have gathered for this Million Man
March have come from all over America with some ideas of their own. On
Minister Farrakhan, many said, as far as they were concerned, the march
was bigger than any one person.
DeLANE GARNER, Atlanta, Georgia: We don't need to play into the
nonsense about Louis Farrakhan. It's bigger than Louis Farrakhan. This
million men, who else in America could have called for a march and got
this many people? Name me somebody!
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But few echoed the kinds of criticism of
Minister Farrakhan's alleged anti-semitism and racial hate mongering
that caused some black leaders not to endorse the march and to stay at
CHARLES OGLETREE, Harvard Law Professor: And I'm particularly disturbed
that so many of our black leaders, so-called leaders, told people to
stay away. This is--it really is a day of atonement and redemption. Men
are here. They're sober. They're articulate. People are praying. People
are happy. I've probably stepped on a hundred black men's feet today
and, and not a single incident. I've made--you know, created
relationships with other people. My son came up from college, and for
both of us, who couldn't be in the march in 1963, this is our
opportunity to come forward and give thanks for being alive in America
in 1995, and also our time to, to have a sense of responsibility for
the next generation.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: It was a diverse crowd, geographically and
professionally: Doctors, lawyers, academics, and educators, students,
hospital workers, and the unemployed. All came with ideas and hopes
about this day, their words and the words of the speakers almost
interchangeable at times.
JESSE BOYKIN, Brooklyn, New York: This day is a day of atonement. This
day we come together, and I believe when we leave here, and go back to
our various homes, we will have something to build upon. If nothing
else, we have come together as a people.
UMAR KASHIFF, Houston, Texas: What I hope to be accomplished today is
that, uh, unity amongst African-American males who have felt as though
for many years that their voices have not been heard, have not been
seen, and have really, has been taken the wrong way, so much negative
in the media about our roles and the way we are perceived: We're lazy;
we don't want to work. So today this is why I came, and my brothers,
you know, from all over the world, from all over the world have come to
say that that's not the image that we want the world to see us here.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: There were even some who said they saw this as
a turning point for black leadership.
MEL PERRY, New York City: What's starting to occur right now is the
beginning of a paradigm shift. You have people from different economic
backgrounds, social backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, who are meeting
together to sit down and have a dialogue. I think it's very important
that men have come together to sort of reason. I think the women who
are really serious about it should have been here, and I'm glad those
who were concerned showed up, and it's about unity. It's not a black
thing; it's a people thing.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Where are you from?
CARMEN ANDERSON, Burlington, North Carolina: Burlington, North Carolina.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Oh. What are you doing here today?
CARMEN ANDERSON: I just came out to support my black men, to let them
know we're standing behind them all the way.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What do you think is going to be accomplished
CARMEN ANDERSON: I hope that unity will be accomplished, that we show
that we can get together for something that's good and not something
that's always bad.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: A scattering of women attended the march and
some were also featured on today's program. Although some women's
groups took exception to the call for women to stay at home, one of the
women featured was civil rights leader Dorothy Height.
DOROTHY HEIGHT, National Council of Negro Women: I am here because you
are here. I am glad that you are here, because so much is said negative
about the black family and about our black men. We know that one out of
every four may be in the correctional system or may be in some kind of
destructive pattern, but what is seldom said is that three out of four
are not. Three out of four are responsible parents, are good citizens,
are carrying their responsibility, and I salute you, because you are
the demonstration that there are strong African-American men who are
not only our leaders but who are working in all of our communities.
African-American women are women who seldom do what they want to do but
always do what they have to do. And I feel that we are part of a
partnership that is strong, but each of us honors the other.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Some of the most prominent black leaders spoke
in the afternoon, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who broke ranks
with other blacks to support the march.
REV. JESSE JACKSON, National Rainbow Coalition: We can change our
self-destructive behavior and use our vote to bring about change. What
can a million men do when you go home? If I could get a million men to
do five things, take your child to school, meet your child's teacher,
exchange home numbers, turn off the TV three hours a night, pick up
report card every nine weeks, and sign your child's report card, we can
send our children from jail to church to home. What can a million men
do? What can a million men do? Meet with judges. Let them--let us
nurture our children and let them come home and not jail. What can a
million men do? Eight million unregistered black voters on this Hill.
Gingrich--they keep asking on television, who organized the march? Who
gets credit for the march? Who organized the march? Did Minister
Farrakhan organize the march? No. Clarence Thomas and Gingrich
organized the march just like Bull Connor organized the march in 1963.
(applause) Clarence Thomas, who betrayed our trust, organized the
march. Gingrich organized the march. We will not bow. Here's the good
news. The Gingrich forces won--this is what they don't want to
hear--the Gingrich forces won by 19,000 votes. They're cutting
Medicaid. They're cutting Medicare. They're cutting scholarships.
They're cutting legal assistance for women who are battered, victims of
domestic violence. Well, my friends, we've got the power. Victims.
We've got the power. Kennedy beat Nixon by 112,000 votes. What does 8
million votes mean? Nixon beat Humphrey by 500,000. What does 8 million
votes mean? We have the power by 1996 to send Gingrich and Gramm and
Dole back in private life. Use your vote! We have the power to change
the course! (applause) When you go back home today, somebody is going
to ask you, you didn't come to work today, you went to Washington, what
did you do, say I turned pain into power and promise. What did you see?
Well, I didn't see your face. Tell them, I was one of a million. I was
one in two million. I didn't see you. Tell 'em they were in the trees,
in the cars, in the hospitals, in office buildings, in parks. Tell them
for a moment the world stood still. They'll ask you, who are you, I
didn't see you in Washington. Well, I was one in a million. Tell them,
I have a light and I'm going to let my light shine. Tell them I'm
dreaming now, my dream is bigger than my ghetto. Tell them, I'm
dreaming again, it's bigger than my jail cell. Tell them, I saw a
number like John that no man can number. Tell them, I'm on Patmus
Island and yet I see something now, I see power in unity and coalition.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: The last word of the day was reserved for Louis
Farrakhan. He responded to President Clinton's remarks on race earlier
MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN, Nation of Islam: Now, the President spoke
today, and he wanted to heal the great divide. But I respectfully
suggest to the President, you did not dig deep enough at the malady
that divides black and white in order to effect a solution to the
problem. And so today, we have to deal with the root, so that perhaps a
healing can take place. I heard the President say today "E pluribus
unum"--out of many one. But in the past, out of many comes one meant
out of many Europeans come one people. The question today is: Out of
the many Asians, the many Arabs, the many native Americans, the many
blacks, the many people of color, who populate this country, do you
mean for them to be made into the one? If so, truth has to be spoken to
justice. We can't cover things up, cover them over, give it a pretty
sound to make people feel good. We have to go to the root of the
problem. Now, why have you come today? You came not at the call of
Louis Farrakhan, but you have gathered here at the call of God, for it
is only the call of Almighty God, no matter whom, through whom that
call came that could generate this kind of outpouring. God called us
here to this place, at this time, for a very specific reason. And now,
I want to say my brothers, this is a very pregnant moment, pregnant
with the possibility of tremendous change in our status in America and
in the world. And although the call was made through me, many have
tried to distance the beauty of this idea from the person through whom
the idea and the call was made. Some have done it mistakenly, and
others have done it in a malicious and vicious manner. Brothers and
sisters, there is no human being through whom God brings an idea that
history doesn't marry the idea with that human being, no matter what
defect was in that human being's character. You can't separate Newton
from the law that Newton discovered. It would be silly to try to
separate Moses from the Torah, or Jesus from the Gospel, or Mohammed
from the Koran. Well, you say, Farrakhan, you ain't no Moses, you ain't
no Jesus, and you're not no Mohammed, you have a defect in your
character. Well, that certainly may be so; however, according to the
way the Bible reads, there is no prophet of God written of in the Bible
that did not have a defect in its character. So today, whether you like
it or not, God brought the idea through me, and he didn't bring it
through me because my heart was dark with hatred and anti-semitism. He
didn't bring it through me because my heart was dark and I'm filled
with hatred for white people and for the human family of the planet. If
my heart were that dark, how is the message so bright, the message so
clear, the response so magnificent? (applause) And now, in spite of all
that division, in spite of all that divisiveness, we responded to a
call, and look at what is present here today. We have here those
brothers with means and those who have no means, those who are light
and those who are dark, those who are educated, those who are
uneducated, those who are business people, those who don't know
anything about business, those who are young, those who are old, those
who are scientific, those who know nothing of science, those who are
religious, and those who are irreligious, those who are Christian,
those who are Muslim, those who are Baptists, those who are Methodists,
those who are Episcopalian, those who of traditional African religion.
We've got 'em all here today! And why did we come? We came because we
want to move toward a more perfect union, and if you notice the press
triggered every one of those divisions. You shouldn't come, you're a
Christian, that's a Muslim thing. You shouldn't come, you're too
intelligent to follow hate. You shouldn't come. Look at what they did!
They excluded women. You see, they played all the cards; they pulled
all the strings, all but you better look again, Willie, there's a new
black man in America today, a new black woman in America today, but I
stand here today knowing, knowing that you are angry that my people
have validated me. I don't need you to validate me. (applause and
cheers) I don't need to be in any mainstream. I want to wash in the
River of Jordan and the river that you see and the sea that is before
us and behind us and around us is validation. That's the mainstream.
MR. MAC NEIL: Minister Farrakhan spoke for nearly two and a half hours
standing behind a shield of bulletproof glass.
BLACK MUSLIMS AND THE NATION OF ISLAM
Ever since entering the spotlight of public attention (about 1984),
Louis Farrakhan has been a controversial figure. He thrills the hearts
of some, scares the daylights out of others, and offends many more.
When he called the African-American community to participate in a
"Million Man March" on Washington, D.C., 400,000 responded—twice the
number who walked with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963. Unlike Dr. King,
everything Farrakhan said was dedicated to Allah.
Few people have reminded Americans of Islam’s presence on this
continent more pointedly than Farrakhan. But what many people do not
know is that Farrakhan does not represent Islam. He is the leader of
the Nation of Islam, a distinctly American invention that has its roots
in the opening years of the twentieth century (see Bijlefeld, 1993;
Gudel and Duckworth, 1993; Ahlstrom, 1972; Morey, 1992).
In 1930, a Detroit clothing merchant named Wallace D. Fard (a.k.a. Wali
Farad Muhammad) began preaching an Islamic-flavored message among
blacks. Fard had been a follower of the “Noble Prophet Ali Drew,”
founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America. Drew’s message was a
mixture of Christian principles, Islamic ideals, and black nationalism
that offered hope to an oppressed community of people. After Drew’s
assassination in 1929, Fard, claiming connections with Mecca, began
calling black Americans to renounce Christianity (a “white man’s
religion”), and to embrace Islamic ideals. He founded the Temple of
Islam in Detroit, and by 1934 had a following of 8,000. After Fard
mysteriously disappeared in 1934, his most famous disciple, Elijah
Muhammad (born Elijah Poole), carried the movement forward.
Elijah Muhammad claimed that Allah had appeared in the person of Fard,
and that he himself was a prophet of Allah. He saw white people as
devils and preached against integration. In his view, the black man
would win ultimate victory over the white man in the battle of
Armageddon. He offered the impoverished and persecuted black community
a sense of dignity. Blacks were not simply the white man’s equal, but
someday would rule the Earth.
In 1947, Elijah Muhammad’s message was heard and believed by the
imprisoned Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little) who, upon his release in
1952, joined the Black Muslims. He was an outspoken minister of the
group until 1963, when he became disillusioned with Muhammad. After a
trip to Mecca a year later, Malcolm X converted to orthodox Islam and
no longer endorsed racial antagonism. Eleven months later he was
When Muhammad died in 1975, he was succeeded by his son, Wallace Deen,
who sought unification between the Black Muslims and orthodox Islam.
This trend was unacceptable to Louis Farrakhan, who preferred the
teachings of Elijah Muhammad. So, in 1977 Farrakhan broke from the
Black Muslims, returned to his mentor’s teaching, and started the
faction that bears the name “Nation of Islam” (a name also used by
Without Farrakhan, Wallace Deen Muhammad led Black Muslims to full
unification with orthodox Islam. This group is not to be confused with
the Nation of Islam, which still is considered heretical by Islam
Some of the more troubling views of Elijah Muhammad that are evident in
current Nation of Islam rhetoric are well summarized by Sidney
[Their] eschatology teaches that God has come; there is no life after
this life; heaven and hell are only two contrasting earthly conditions;
the hereafter (which will begin to appear about A.D. 2000) is but the
end of the present "spook" civilization of the Caucasian usurpers,
including the Christian religion. It will be followed by the redemption
of the Black Nation and their glorious rule over all the earth (1972,
Ostensibly, the message of the Nation of Islam (as presented by
Farrakhan at the Million Man March) is one of social atonement and
reconciliation; it is a call for the black community to strive for
moral and ethical superiority. Farrakhan called the audience to give up
drugs, prostitution, and violence, and to commit to improving
themselves “spiritually, morally, mentally, socially, politically, and
economically” (1995). These are laudable concerns that should transcend
race. If lower crime rates, higher economic productivity, and an
over-all improvement in the quality of life for African-Americans
result from the efforts of Farrakhan, then all people will have reason
The problem with the Nation of Islam, however, is at least two-fold:
(1) it is not the religion of Jesus Christ; and (2) it is preoccupied
with “white supremacy.” In his Million Man March speech, Farrakhan
argued that the United States is rotten at its very foundation because
it has been characterized from the beginning by white supremacy. For
example, He said:
The Seal and the Constitution [of the United States—BB] reflect the
thinking of the founding fathers, that this was to be a nation by White
people and for White people. Native Americans, Blacks, and all other
non-White people were to be the burden bearers for the real citizens of
this nation (1995).
Clearly, anyone with a cursory understanding of American history can
respect (even if only to a limited degree) the sense of anger and
frustration that minorities feel about their position in this society.
Prejudice is a dangerous and painful thing. Its effects have not
disappeared, and the wounds it has inflicted still are very fresh in
many places (and in many lives). But the answer is not found in the
Qur’an or the doctrines of Elijah Muhammad. Cornel West succinctly
...one’s eyes should be on the prize, not on the perpetuator of one’s
oppression. In short, Elijah Muhammad’s project remained captive to the
supremacy game—a game mastered by the white racists he opposed and
imitated with his black supremacy doctrine (1993, p. 100).
The only hope for a world torn by racial hatred is Jesus Christ—not a
black Jesus or a white Jesus, but the Jesus of Scripture—Who like all
of us is the Son of Adam, but unlike us, is also the Son of God. By His
self-sacrifice for all humanity, He offers to break down the walls of
enmity that sin erects between us (Acts 10:34; Ephesians 2:14;
Ahlstrom, Sidney E. (1972), A Religious History of the American People
(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).
Bijlefeld, Willem A. (1993), “Black Muslims” The New Grolier Multimedia
Farrakhan, Louis, (1995), Transcript from Minister Louis Farrakhan’s
remarks at the Million Man March [Online], URL
Gudel, Joseph P. and Larry Duckworth (1993), “Hate Begotten of Hate,”
The Christian Research Institute [Online], URL
Morey, Robert A. (1992) The Islamic Invasion (Eugene, OR: Harvest
West, Cornel (1993), Race Matters (Boston, MA: Beacon).
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Louis Farrakhan and the
Nation of Islam, Part I
By Eric Pement
Part One of a Two-Part Article
In Part One, we will examine the history of the Nation of Islam, the
lives of its leaders, and some of the things which make it attractive
to African-Americans. In Part Two, we will investigate its belief
system, comparing it with traditional Islam and with Christianity.
The growth of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and the increasing influence of
Louis Farrakhan demand our special attention to this movement. Louis
Farrakhan, now sixty-three, has been promoting the teachings of the
late Elijah Muhammad (founder of the Nation of Islam in the 1930s) for
over forty years. “Minister Farrakhan,” the preferred term to designate
the leader of the revived Nation of Islam, has twice been on the cover
of Time magazine and been the featured subject for hundreds of
newspaper and magazine articles worldwide.
Chief organizer of the Million Man March on Washington, D.C. (October
16, 1995), Farrakhan found begrudging recognition and admiration even
among his longtime critics. While many thousands said they attended the
March for black people, not for Farrakhan, still Minister Farrakhan’s
ability to organize the March, gathering close to one million peaceful
black men, gave him a unique position in the eyes of black America.
Long before the March, Louis Farrakhan had become established as a role
model for tens of thousands of blacks. His dynamic preaching and his
stance for a drug-free society, moral fidelity, black potential, and
for blacks to share their material and moral gains with their fellow
blacks—all positive and commendable individually—served to give him
credibility and moral leverage.
Yet the growth of the Nation of Islam is cause for concern because its
doctrines challenge the Christian truth claim on every major front: on
the nature of God, the validity of the Bible, the person and work of
Christ, and the idea of life after death. Many people believe
Farrakhan’s teaching is basically theistic or Islamic. As we shall see
in the next installment, this is not the case.
Another development stands to make the Nation of Islam an impending
challenge to the Christian church: money. On February 25, 1996, at the
annual “Savior’s Day” conference in Chicago, Louis Farrakhan described
his recent visit to Libya and various nations of Africa. Farrakhan told
thousands of listeners that Libyian leader Mu’ammar Gadhafi promised to
give the Nation of Islam a grant of one billion dollars to build
schools, industries, mosques, and other facilities to advance the cause
of Islam under Louis Farrakhan. Given the size of this gift, plus
the fact that Libya is considered a “terrorist nation” by the United
States State Department, in March 1996 the federal government suggested
that Farrakhan register as an agent of a foreign government. This
never materialized. However, if the offer is legitimate, that amount of
money would have a serious effect on the political and religious
landscape of America by anyone’s reckoning.
The fundamental philosophies of Western civilization are rooted in
white supremacy. You can’t bring a black child into that kind of
educational environment and produce a child who loves and respects
itself. You produce a child who bows down to white people and looks at
white people as being God. . . . This is why Malcolm X left school and
went into criminal life.
A Torchlight for America
Origins of the Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam began in 1930 with the arrival of Wallace Dodd Fard
to the black ghetto of Detroit. To the black underclass, Fard presented
himself as a merchant allegedly from “the holy city of Mecca.” He sold
silks, hats, and other artifacts allegedly imported from his homeland,
though Elijah Muhammad once stated that Fard was not a silk peddler but
a tailor of custom-made clothes. Poor black families would invite
Fard to their homes, where he who assumed the role of a Muslim teacher,
reading to them directly from an Arabic edition of the Qur’an. At
the dinner table Fard warned his hosts against pork, polished rice, and
other foods: “Now don’t eat this food, it is poison for you. The people
in your own country do not eat it. Since they eat the right kind of
food they have the best health all the time.”
In various ways Fard undermined his hearers’ faith in Christianity and
the Bible, which for generations had sustained downtrodden black
families. He encouraged his followers to listen to radio broadcasts of
Jehovah’s Witness president Joseph Rutherford, whose rallying cry at
that time was “Religion is a snare and a racket.” Fard also used
Jehovah’s Witness literature to teach his followers that the time of
“Gentile” (i.e., Caucasian) domination had come to an end in 1914; that
the resurrection of the “so-called Negro” had already occurred as a
mental and invisible fact, and that the coming New World was just
around the corner. In just a few years, he claimed, the oppressed black
man would receive the kingdom and the New World would arrive by 1936 at
the very latest.
When Fard arrived, Elijah Poole was an unemployed migrant laborer from
rural Georgia, suffering, together with his wife and eight children,
the consequences of the Great Depression. Though interested in Negro
improvement, Elijah testified that before meeting “Master Fard,” he
often took refuge in drunkenness. Within a year of Fard’s arrival,
Elijah Poole and two of his brothers joined the new movement. Very
quickly, Poole became Fard’s most trusted and ardent follower; Fard
renamed him Elijah Muhammed, now the “chief minister” of Islam.
Fard told his eager listeners that black America had been craftily
deceived by the dominant Caucasian society, a perverse race of
“blue-eyed devils” who used the Bible to enslave black people. The
white man’s heaven, he often said, was the black man’s hell. Elijah
Poole had witnessed a vicious lynching when he was a small child, and
this saying rang true. For many years, a painting of a Negro hung at a
lynching adorned the front podium at NOI temples and meeting places.
The true religion of black people, Fard said, was Islam; their God was
Allah, and their book the Holy Qur’an. His audience was keenly aware
that the white culture which professed Christianity was the same
culture that (in spite of its positive accomplishments) sired the Ku
Klux Klan, the Jim Crow laws, racism, murder, castration, and
unrestricted exploitation of Negro workers. His logic was simple. If
Christianity was the religion of the white society, then its god must
be Satan. The alternative offered by “Master Fard” was a complete
rejection of Christianity and conversion to Islam.
In fact, Fard’s religion was not Islam, but a contradictory blend of
Islam, Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, gnosticism and heretical Christian
teachings. Fard’s doctrines were transmitted orally in The Secret
Ritual of the Nation of Islam, which had to be memorized verbatim, and
also in book form in The Teaching for the Lost Found Nation of Islam in
a Mathematical Way, distributed only to registered, loyal followers.
His followers were required to give up their surname, or slave name,
and he would give them a new name—not an African name, but an Arabic
name, such as Sharrieff, Muhammad, or Karriem.
Fard taught that the black man was not African, not even Arabic, but
“Asiatic” in origin (on Malcolm X’s draft card, under the category of
race, he wrote “Asiatic”). According to Elijah Muhammad, Fard taught
that black people, both individually and as a race, were God.
Furthermore, there were a series of special Gods who would live for
hundreds of years at a time. Besides Fard’s claims about the origins of
the white race, one of his more exotic stories was about the “Mother
Plane” or “Mother Ship,” an aircraft built by black scientists in Japan
many thousands of years ago. This aircraft, undectable by radar, still
circled the earth and carried powerful weapons which would be used on
white America if she dared to harm the members of the Nation of
Both Fard’s origins and disappearance are topics of debate. Ethnically,
Fard was probably biracial; surviving photos show a man with very
straight hair and dark, Caucasian features. Elijah Muhammad said Fard
“taught me that His Father was a real Black Man. His Father went up
into the mountains (governments of the Caucasians) picking out a white
woman to marry so that she would give birth to a son looking white but
yet the Father is Black.” Though some NOI critics have confidently
asserted that Fard was white, he “passed” as black and was probably of
There is also no unanimity regarding Fard’s real name or true identity.
Certain authors spell his name as if he were an Arab, Wali Farad.
Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X spelled his name Wallace D. Fard, born in
Mecca in 1877. FBI files from the 1950s say that Fard’s
fingerprints identify him as Wallie D. Ford, a white ex-convict from
San Quentin, born in Portland, Oregon, in 1891. Ford’s former
common-law wife claimed his real name was either Fred or Wallace Dodd,
born in New Zealand in 1891 of Polynesian and English parents. Not to
be outdone by alleged FBI disinformation, a recent author maintains
that he was really Arnold Josiah Ford, a black rabbi from a kabbalistic
Black Hebrew group in New York.
After a bizarre human sacrifice in November 1932 involving two NOI
members in Detroit (one of them a willing victim), three NOI members
were arrested: Robert Karriem (the confessed sacrificer), Wallace D.
Fard, and Ugan Ali, an NOI teacher. The following day over five hundred
NOI members marched on the police headquarters in protest. Karriem
(whose real name was Robert Harris) thought he was carrying out NOI
teachings, and the police were suspicious of a black voodoo cult. Fard
told them, “I am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe,” though his
followers were dismayed that he told the police so much more than he
told NOI adherents. Fard and Ali were finally released, and Harris
was committed to an insane asylum.
Further investigation by police led to the discovery that “Lesson 1” of
The Secret Ritual included statements such as, “All Moslem [sic] will
murder the devil because they know he is a snake and also if he be
allowed to live, he would sting someone else.” Fard was ordered out
of Michigan in May 1933. He moved to the newly-built Chicago Temple no.
2, and was arrested again in Chicago. However, in June 1934 W. D. Fard
mysteriously disappeared, leaving no explanation for his followers. At
the time, people speculated that Fard fell victim to foul play, but
nobody had hard information until 1963, when a sensational article
appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Los Angeles
Herald-Examiner claiming that Fard was really Wallace Ford/Dodd, the
ex-convict from San Quentin. The reporter asserted that after leaving
Chicago, Ford returned to Portland, visited an ex-wife and child
briefly, and then moved back to New Zealand.
Elijah Muhammad countered by publicly offering the newspapers $100,000
if they could conclusively prove their claim; this challenge was not
accepted by the media. After all the interest devoted to Fard’s origins
over the past sixty years, it is unlikely that any single explanation
will prove unassailable.
Shortly after Fard’s disappearance, Elijah Muhammad expanded the
movement, strengthening its radical emphasis on race and openly
professing that Master Fard (whom he pronounced “Far-ad”) was Allah in
human form. After 1935, Elijah Muhammad and his family moved to
Washington, D.C., then traveled from city to city spreading the message
which he had been taught by “Allah” (i.e., Master Fard). In September
1942, Elijah Muhammad and his son, Emmanuel Karriem, were arrested
along with many other leaders of black nationalist groups. Elijah was
charged with sedition and failing to register for the draft. It is true
that Elijah had urged his followers to avoid the white man’s war; World
War II was seen as the first stage of the Battle of Armageddon, and the
(“Asiatic”) Japanese were seen as the heroes of the battle against
When the FBI interrogated Elijah Muhammad in 1942, he replied, “Allah
has taught that blueprints of a plane which carries bombs was given to
the Japanese from the Holy City of Mecca, and that these blueprints had
been there for thousands of years. These bombs would go into the earth
for at least a mile and would throw up the earth to a distance of one
mile, so that it would make a mountain. I have reminded registered
Moslems of this [sic] teachings.”
Elijah Muhammad and his son were released from prison in 1946. The
following year Malcolm X would join the Nation of Islam, and his
efforts would catapult it into a national phenomenon.
Malcolm was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925. Malcolm
was the son of Earl Little, an occasional Baptist minister who was
killed by a streetcar (or, Malcolm believed, was murdered) when Malcolm
was six. Malcolm’s mother, Louise, was a light-skinned woman from the
West Indies; she never saw or met her father, a white man.
Malcolm’s Autobiography tells the story of his upbringing in poverty,
the breakup of his family after his mother was institutionalized in
Michigan, his move to Boston and his descent into crime, and his
conversion to NOI-style Islam in 1948 while in prison in Norfolk,
Massachusetts. Malcolm was introduced to their teachings by two of
his brothers, then members of the Detroit Temple. Like other Black
Muslims, when Malcolm joined the movement he gave up his slave surname,
Little, and took on the name X, signifying the unknown tribal name of
his ancestors. Malcolm’s formal education never went beyond the eighth
grade, but his studies while in prison more than compensated for this
lack. He went on to achieve an influence with both the man on the
streets and the media that few men have possessed.
Very quickly, Malcolm became the leading spokesman for (by now) “the
Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Messenger of Allah.” In 1959 a documentary,
“The Hate That Hate Produced,” was aired on national television,
presented by Mike Wallace and Louis Lomax, an in-depth look at the
racist movement led by Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. This documentary
created a firestorm of controversy, exposing how white racism had
created a black reaction of resentment. A portrayal of the ugly side of
Malcolm X appears in the chapter on Black Muslims in the first edition
of The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin (1965). However, in the
mid-1960s Malcolm X experienced another conversion.
Malcolm, the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam, who told
newspaper interviewers to use a stock photo of “Mr. Elijah Muhammad”
instead of an on-site photo of Malcolm, found himself slowly becoming
disillusioned with Elijah Muhammad. Certain contradictions gnawed at
Malcolm: the incredible teachings about the Mother Plane and “Mr.
Yakub” (founder of the white race), the doctrine that white people are
irredeemably evil and there is nothing they can do to change. These
didn’t square well with what Malcolm learned of human history and human
Malcolm discovered that Elijah Muhammad had fathered several children
through his secretaries, who were then expelled from the mosque when
they became pregnant. Malcolm interviewed three of these women and
later questioned Elijah Muhammad privately about these changes. Elijah
Muhammad replied, “I’m David. . . . When you read about how David took
another man’s wife, I’m that David. You read about Noah, who got
drunk—that’s me. You read about Lot, who went and laid up with his own
daughters. I have to fulfill all of those things.”
Malcolm had thought that Elijah Muhammad would explain or face up to
his moral failures, which were already whispered scandals in Chicago
where Elijah lived, as the sins of a prophet like David. Instead,
Elijah privately tried to discredit Malcolm as a false accuser. “What
began to break my faith was that, try as I might, I couldn’t hide, I
couldn’t evade, that Mr. Muhammad, instead of facing what he had done
before his followers, as a human weakness or as fulfillment of
prophecy—which I sincerely believe that Muslims would have understood,
or at least they would have accepted—Mr. Muhammad had, instead, been
willing to hide, to cover up what he had done.”
Malcolm did not openly disavow Elijah Muhammad. A few months later, in
November 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. Interviewed by the
press for his reaction to the assassination, Malcolm made a careless
remark about the assassination being as a case of “the chickens coming
home to roost,” implying that Kennedy had brought his death upon his
own head. Then Malcolm added, “Being an old farm boy myself, chickens
coming to roost never did make me sad, they’ve always made me glad.”
The next day Elijah Muhammad, who was no fool about the negative impact
this statement would have, suspended Malcolm for ninety days from all
speaking and official duties. He could not even teach in his own
mosque. Elijah Muhammad suggested that Malcolm would not be reinstated,
and one of Malcolm’s personal assistants told Malcolm he had been
ordered to kill him. But Malcolm was too well known and respected
to be disposed of easily. In 1964, Malcolm founded two new
organizations, the Muslim Mosque, Inc. (religious), and the
Organization of Afro-American Unity (secular). He also extensively
toured Africa and the Middle East. While overseas he took the classic
Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, which changed his life.
From Mecca, Malcolm (now El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) wrote a letter to
his loyal assistants in Harlem.
Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming
spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and
races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad,
and all the other prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I
have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see
displayed all around me. . . .
America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion
that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in
the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who
in America would have been considered “white”—but the “white” attitude
was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never
before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors
together, irrespective of their color.
You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this
pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to
re-arrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss
aside some of my previous conclusions. . . .
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz 
In January 1964, Elijah Muhammad expelled his own son Wallace Muhammad,
who had also been one of Malcolm’s closest friends. Wallace and Malcolm
had both concluded that W.D. Fard could not have been Allah and that
Elijah Muhammad had misrepresented Islam and Fard’s own doctrines.
Wallace had also been the one of the people to confirm his father’s
sexual infidelity to Malcolm. Malcolm eventually helped one of Elijah’s
former secretaries, a woman whom he had recommended to work for Elijah,
to file a paternity suit against him. Elijah Muhammad told his
followers Malcolm’s days were numbered. The NOI newspaper, Muhammad
Speaks, even carried a cartoon of Malcolm’s severed head bouncing down
Both threats and attacks were made against Malcolm and his followers.
He had bodyguards accompany him everywhere and spoke often of his
impending death. On Sunday, February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was
assassinated by at least three members of the Nation of Islam while he
was at the podium of the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York. That
night Malcolm’s followers bombed Temple no. 7, Malcolm’s former temple,
The Coming of Louis Farrakhan and
the Breakup of the Former Nation of Islam
The modern “Louis Farrakhan” was born in the Bronx, New York, on May
11, 1933, as Louis Eugene Walcott. His real father was a light-skinned
Jamaican cab driver, Percival Clark, whose infidelity split up the
marriage before Louis was born. His mother would move herself and
her two sons to Boston by the time Louis was four, and there Louis was
raised. Four years later, Malcolm Little would also move to Boston, and
there he would begin the road which led to his transformation from
nominal Christian to Muslim.
In 1955, Malcolm X introduced Louis Walcott to the Nation of Islam.
Louis was then twenty-two years old, eight years younger than Malcolm.
Louis Walcott changed his name to Louis X, as Malcolm had done, and he
(Louis X) is the talented, articulate, and angry playwright seen in the
opening pages of C. Eric Lincoln’s The Black Muslims in America.
Louis X went on to become one of the leaders of the Boston Temple, a
playwright for the Nation of Islam, and a contributor to the NOI’s
national newspaper, Muhammad Speaks. After Malcolm X left the movement
and made public the infidelities of Elijah Muhammad, Louis X wrote in
the December 1964 issue of Muhammad Speaks that “only those who wish to
be led to hell, or to their doom, will follow Malcolm. . . . Such a man
as Malcolm is worthy of death . . .” When Elijah Muhammad expelled
Malcolm X as leader of Temple no. 7 in Harlem, Louis X was chosen as
The next decade would see the current Nation of Islam draw to a close,
focusing largely on Elijah Muhammad’s seventh child, Wallace Muhammad.
Wallace ping-ponged between acceptance and rejection in the Nation of
Islam. Expelled in 1964, a fully repentant Wallace appeared on the
platform at the annual Savior’s Day convention in 1965, just five days
after Malcolm X’s assassination. Later that year, Wallace would be
expelled again, this time for four years. According to C. Eric Lincoln,
“he was exiled from all contact with friends and family inside the
Nation of Islam” until his readmittance in 1969. However, even
after his readmittance, he cold not resume his full clerical privileges
until 1974. Despite these problems, Elijah Muhammad, relying partly on
the numerological mystique of the “seventh child,” designated Wallace
Muhammad to be the supreme minister of the Nation of Islam and his
authorized successor after his death.
On February 25, 1975 (ten years and four days after Malcolm X’s death),
Elijah Muhammad died of congestive heart failure. After his death,
Wallace Muhammad immediately began making changes in the focus and
beliefs of the Nation of Islam, moving it closer to those of
First, he changed the organization’s name from the Nation of Islam to
the Bilalian Community (1975), then to the World Community of Al-Islam
in the West (1977), then to the American Muslim Mission. Wallace
changed his own name to Warith. The newspaper was changed from Muhammad
Speaks to the Bilalian News, as Warith Muhammad rejected the terms
colored, Negro, black, or Afro-American in favor of “Bilalian,” and
appealed to blacks to use this new term instead. Bilal was the name of
an Ethiopian Muslim martyr, allegedly killed by Trinitarian Christians.
In the early 1980s, the Bilalian News changed its name four times and
is currently called Muslim Journal. In 1985 the movement became fully
incorporated into traditional Islam.
Louis Farrakhan remained with the Bilalian Community for two years
under Wallace’s leadership, but left in 1977 when it became apparent
that Wallace was no longer following the footsteps of his father,
Elijah Muhammad. Since Wallace/Warith had discarded “the Nation of
Islam” as it had been, Louis Farrakhan took up the abandoned identity.
Since Minister Farrakhan had been a long-term and popular leader, many
members who preferred to keep the teachings of Elijah Muhammad left
Over the past twenty years, Louis Farrakhan has generally remained true
to older teachings of Elijah Muhammad. Farrakhan’s newspaper, The Final
Call, still reprints “What the Muslims Want” and “What the Muslims
Believe” on the back pages of each issue, textually identical to what
Elijah Muhammad printed in the 1960s. Reading these statements evokes
memories of newspapers printed by the Black Panther Party or by other
“Black Power” groups.
According to these statements, the Muslims (i.e., members of the Nation
of Islam) want freedom, justice, and equal opportunity for people of
all color (“Want,” items 1-3). They want reparations, preferably a
large tract of land set apart from the United States and given to black
people, plus “our former slave masters are obligated to maintain and
supply our needs in this separate territory for the next 20 to 25
years” (“Want,” item 4). They want the release of all black Muslims
convicted of any federal crimes, and the release of all black people
convicted of any capital crime requiring the death sentence (“Want,”
item 5). The Muslims are against racial integration (“Believe,” item 9)
and against interracial marriage or race mixing (“Want,” item 10).
We want freedom for all Believers of Islam now held in federal prisons.
We want freedom for all Black men and women now under death sentence in
innumerable prisons in the North as well as the South.
We want every Black man and woman to have the freedom to accept or
reject being separated from the slave master’s children and establish a
land of their own.
“What the Muslims Want,” item 5
The Final Call newspaper carries an ever-present emphasis on black
supremacy, on white conspiracies, on white people as devils, and on the
Jews as a special enemy. In this context, there is a certain irony to
learn that in September 1985 Louis Farrakhan invited the infamous Tom
Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance (a neo-Nazi white power
group), to attend an NOI gathering. The Washington Times reports
Metzger’s words of praise: “They speak out against the Jews and the
oppressors in Washington. . . . They are the black counterpart to
us.” Yet when one realizes that both groups would like to see black
people leave the United States and move to another country, it becomes
clearer how well their beliefs mesh together. Metzger, agreeing with
this general principle, donated one hundred dollars to the Nation of
What Attracts Blacks to the Nation of Islam?
According to Dr. Jerry Buckner, a black Christian pastor and an
authority on the Nation of Islam, several factors attract young black
men to this movement. To begin with, the Nation offers positive social
programs to the community. Its members are active in jails and prisons,
recruiting men behind bars and dissuading them from a life of crime.
They have a strong emphasis against drugs, against prostitution and
pimping, and against violence and gang involvement. They urge blacks to
set up black-owned and black-operated businesses, thus working to raise
the standard of living in poor neighborhoods. They also look with
disfavor on black reliance on the government welfare system, which they
perceive as often perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
The Nation of Islam look to restaurants and food service industry as
one focus for economic growth. The Nation of Islam owns thousands of
acres of Georgia farmland, and has operated countless restaurants,
bakeries, clothing stores, bookstores, hair care shops, and other
enterprises. In 1995, the NOI opened the Salaam Restaurant and Bakery
on the south side of Chicago, at a cost of five million dollars. Their
fundamental ideology is to avoid reliance on government subsidies or
white business partnerships and to “Do For Self.”
Perhaps their most successful venture has been in providing building
security at apartments and housing projects across the nation. Since
1991, the federal government has paid over twenty million dollars to
NOI security teams in cities such as Baltimore, Washington, D.C.,
Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The U.S. News & World
Report acknowledges that in some places, such as Baltimore and
Washington, D.C., hiring of the NOI Security Agency by the Department
of Housing and Urban Development was an unqualified success for the
tenants. However, there were drawbacks: when paychecks were late one
week, some NOI leaders blamed “the Jews” for putting a virus into the
computer. NOI security guards will also hawk newspapers or proselytize
for Farrakhan while on duty. Still, NOI security teams, which do not
carry guns, are looked on with favor and have been generally effective
at reducing crime and increasing tenant safety. In order to maintain a
sharp appearance, a fine of ten dollars is levied against NOI security
guards whose hair is too long.
Dr. Buckner notes that the Nation of Islam also emphasizes mentoring,
taking a younger person under one’s wing to model moral principles. Its
members do not (or are not supposed to) use drugs, drink alcohol, smoke
cigarettes, or eat pork. Their use of profanity is supposed to be
limited, but this guideline is bent fairly often. They emphasize
fidelity to one’s spouse, and have built self-esteem and
self-confidence among people badly in need both.
Furthermore, as C. Eric Lincoln observed in 1961, black men are
attracted to the Nation of Islam over against the black church because
of the preponderance of black men in the movement. In the average black
church, over 60 percent of the congregation is female. Those
percentages are fine if one is looking for a wife or a girlfriend, but
for young black men looking for strong male leadership, the Nation of
Islam is more attractive, with about 80 percent of its constituency
Two other things make the Nation of Islam attractive: the discipline,
and the power they have to externally “clean up” a neighborhood. In an
NOI mosque, members are told very strongly that they have to abide by
the rules of the mosque. Infractions could be dealt with by public
tongue-lashing before the Muslim congregation, or even by physical
violence or beating of the offenders. A Muslim who has sex out of
wedlock may find himself and his girlfriend hauled before the
congregation and publicly rebuked for disgracing Islam before the
world. In a white, Christian setting, much lighter “church discipline”
has been instant grounds for a lawsuit against the church and its
pastor; whereas in a black Muslim setting, severe public corrections
are looked on with favor as positive discipline.
Along similar lines, a Detroit pastor told this reporter how the NOI
“cleaned up” a neighborhood: they physically beat up the pimps and drug
pushers in a two-block region, forcing gang activity and prostitution
to entirely leave. Area residents were thrilled with the results, which
the Christian churches had not able to accomplish in years of prayer
and low-key “witness.” The Nation of Islam had a much more aggressive
approach, and was under no obligation to turn the other cheek if
attacked for their deeds. They got credit for the results.
This illustrates the vast difference between Christian and Muslim
ethics. From the New Testament framework, Christians are morally
forbidden from using violence or force to accomplish such goals. We are
told to “turn the other cheek” when smitten (Matt. 5:39). Externally,
our society expects that Christians ought to behave in such a manner.
If the elders of a Christian church forcibly beat up drug sellers from
a street gang, they could expect a stack of lawsuits from the victims
of the beating, not to mention public castigation by the print and
broadcast media. Yet a Muslim group can commit the same action with
relative impunity, since a pacifistic response is not part of their
internal system of ethics and thus the surrounding society does not
expect it of them.
Finally, many blacks can relate to the Nation of Islam for some of the
reasons mentioned by Malcolm X (see sidebar). Many blacks feel targeted
by white society or by law enforcement. Current U.S. statistics say
that by the age of twenty-nine, 30 percent of American black men will
either have been under court supervision or been sentenced in a
criminal case: drugs, theft, rape, violent crime. This percentage
is far higher than that of white men under twenty-nine, so many blacks
are more receptive to Farrakhan’s rhetoric of a white conspiracy
Why the Nation of Islam Grows So Quickly in Prisons
According to Malcolm X, writing in 1963,
The Muslim teachings, circulated among all Negroes in the country, are
converting new Muslims among black men in prison, and black men are in
prison in far greater numbers than their proportion in the population.
The reason is that among all Negroes the black convict is the most
perfectly preconditioned to hear the words, “the white man is the
devil.” . . .
. . . You let this caged-up black man start realizing, as I did, how
from the first landing of the first slave ship, the millions of black
men in America have been like sheep in a den of wolves. That’s why
black prisoners become Muslims so fast when Elijah Muhammad’s teachings
filter into their cages by way of other Muslim convicts. “The white man
is the devil” is a perfect echo of that black convict’s lifelong
—Malcolm X, Autobiography, page 183
Today as well as thirty years ago, blacks in prison are more likely to
convert to the Nation of Islam, and fully one-third of all federal
prisoners today are Muslim of one variety or another. Thus, the Nation
of Islam seems geared to reach the underclass, and its message
emphasizes and capitalizes on the racial inequities and disparities
between black and white people in America.
The Language of Anger
While the NOI undoubtedly draws a higher percentage of people on the
margins of society, an underclass who has felt anger toward the legal
system, it is also true that its rhetoric tends to inflame that anger.
Farrakhan’s speeches often paint American society in terms of oppressed
and oppressor, of slaves and slavemasters. While it is understandable
that blacks can relate to a movement which “addresses” racial problems,
sometimes leaders of that same movement call for bloodshed.
For example, Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, who is head of the NOI mosque in
Washington, D.C., and also the NOI Minister of Health and Human
Services, told a black audience in 1992 that they could find “healing”
in killing white people: “When you let [your anger and anxiety] out,
there’s healing in that. And if in the process, some of your oppressors
and slavemasters die, so what? Everybody has to die some time, don’t
they? So why shouldn’t your slavemaster die now? They got to die
At this point, the congregation responded with their agreement. “If
you’re white today, it ain’t worth living anyhow,” Alim said. “Would
you shoot a dog and put it out of its misery? Or a horse? Well,
certainly white people is equal to dogs and horses.”
On November 29, 1993, Khallid Abdul Muhammad, then the
second-in-command in the Nation of Islam, gave a lecture to one hundred
forty students at Kean College in Union, New Jersey. Entitled “The
Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews,” his talk suggested that
the Jews had brought the Holocaust upon themselves. Turning to South
Africa, he said that when blacks gain political power there, they
should give the whites exactly twenty-four hours to leave the country.
And if they can’t leave fast enough? “We kill the women, we kill the
children. We kill the babies. We kill the blind, we kill the cripples,
we kill ’em all. We kill the faggot, we kill the lesbian, we’ll kill
them all. . . . And when you get through killing ’em all, go to the
[expletive] graveyard and dig up the grave and kill them
a-[expletive]-gain. ’Cause they didn’t die hard enough.”
Khallid was not initially ashamed of that talk. The Muslims duplicated
the tape and sold copies for ten dollars apiece when Khallid spoke at
other colleges. Complaints came from many quarters to condemn Khallid’s
speech; when Farrakhan finally responded, he said his minister had
spoken “truth” but in a “repugnant” fashion. Farrakhan eventually did
relieve Khallid of his post, and Farrakhan himself never uses language
which calls for bloodshed (except in self-defense). However, his
ministers do not always follow this same path, and sometimes take his
rhetoric about resisting the “oppressors” and “slavemasters” to their
next logical conclusion, in summoning oppressed blacks to “kill ’em
While national NOI leaders do properly raise the problems of racism to
many blacks who have been outraged by the system, they will also use
the language of blame and revenge. For those of us who are Christians,
revenge, even for unjust crimes brought upon innocent people, is not an
option for Jesus’ disciples. This teaching is emphasized in Romans
12:17-21 (“Recompense no man evil for evil”) and throughout the first
epistle of Peter. “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye
suffer for well doing than for evildoing” (1 Pet. 3:17, KJV).
What separates Minister Farrakhan from black Christian pastors is not
primarily his plain manner of speaking or addressing a problem. Rather,
it is that the Islamic sense of how problems should be “addressed” is
very different from the Christian principle. Minister Farrakhan and
other NOI speakers frequently miscast the New Testament teaching as a
trick of the “slavemasters” to lull the black community into blind
submission and further bondage.
Also see Part Two of this article.
1. Louis Farrakhan’s Savior’s Day Speech, Cable News Network (CNN)
broadcast, 25 Feb. 1996. [return]
2. Basil Talbott, “Farrakhan Unfazed,” Chicago Sun-Times, 15 Mar. 1996,
p. 1. [return]
3. Elijah Muhammad, Master Fard Not a Peddler, audiotape of a radio
broadcast (n.p., n.d., distributed by Secretarius MEPS, Atlanta),
quoted in Magida, 217 n.49. [return]
4. Benyon, 900, quoted in Lincoln, 119 n. 31. [return]
5. Benyon, 895, quoted in Lincoln, 11. [return]
6. Wallace Deen Muhammad, 19. [return]
7. Technically, at first Fard named him Elijah Karriem, but soon
changed his name again to Elijah Muhammad. See Lincoln, 15, 181.
8. “White Man’s Heaven is Black Man’s Hell!” is also the title of a
song recorded by Louis Farrakhan in the 1950s. See Lincoln, 108;
Malcolm X, 250. [return]
9. Goldman, 42. [return]
10. Elijah Muhammad, Fall of America, 236-42; Gardell, 158-160; Magida,
54, 221 n. 28. [return]
11. Elijah Muhammad, Our Saviour, 183. [return]
12. Authors who sometimes spell the name “Farad” include Lincoln and
Gardell; Goldman spells it “Farrad.” The spelling “Wallace D. Fard” and
his birth year of 1877 comes from Elijah Muhammad, Message to the
Blackman, 16-17 and 237, respectively. [return]
13. Additional details about Fard as W. D. Ford, Wallace Dodd, or
Arnold Ford can be found in Gardell, 50-58, and Magida, chap. 3.
14. E. D. Beynon, Master Fard Muhammad: “Detroit History” (Newport
News, Va.: United Brothers and Sisters Communications Systems, 1990),
6, 9, 15, quoted in Magida, 46, 49. [return]
15. Gardell, 56. [return]
16. “Black Muslims’ Founder a Fake; Posed as Negro,” Seattle
Post-Intelligencer, 28 July 1963, p. 4, quoted in Magida, 51, 220 n.
17. Gardell, 71. [return]
18. Malcolm X, 157-60. Lincoln, 190, cites a different date for the
19. “Yakub” in Elijah Muhammad’s books is spelled “Yacub” by Malcolm X
and Alex Haley. In Malcolm’s Autobiography, 164-168, he describes
Elijah Muhammad’s teachings and alludes to him as a “faker”; on the
impossibility of white change, see the story of the blonde co-ed on p.
20. Malcolm X, 299. [return]
21. Ibid., 306. [return]
22. New York Times, 2 Dec. 1963, quoted in Lincoln, 191. [return]
23. Malcolm X, 308. [return]
24. Ibid., 339-42. [return]
25. For the best summary of the men behind Malcolm’s assassination, see
Gardell, 76-85; for a full-length treatment, see Goldman’s The Death
and Life of Malcolm X. [return]
26. Magida, 9-10. [return]
27. Louis X, “Boston Minister Tells of Malcolm—Muhammad’s Biggest
Hypocrite,” Muhammad Speaks, Dec. 4, 1964, pp. 11-15, quoted in Magida,
83, and Goldman, 269-70. [return]
28. Magida, 89. [return]
29. Lincoln, 264. [return]
30. Gardell, 101-2. [return]
31. Washington Times, quoted in Free Inquiry, Feb. 1995, 11. [return]
32. Dr. Jerry Buckner, interview by author, 13 Dec. 1995. [return]
33. Ted Gest, “A Shocking Look at Blacks and Crime,” U.S. News &
World Report, 16 Oct. 1995, 53-54. [return]
34. William Gaines and David Jackson, “AIDS Hope or Hoax in a Bottle?”
Chicago Tribune, 14 Mar. 1995. [return]
35. Magida, 176. See also Fred Bruning, “Nothing Produces Hate Like
Hatred,” Maclean’s, 28 Feb. 1994, 13. [return]
Benyon, Erdmann D. “The Voodoo Cult among Negro Migrants in Detroit,”
American Journal of Sociology 43 (July 1937-May 1938): 894-907.
Brackman, Harold. Ministry of Lies: The Truth Behind the Nation of
Islam’s “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews.” New York:
Four Walls Eight Windows, 1994.
Farrakhan, Louis. A Torchlight for America. Chicago: FCN Publishing
Gardell, Mattias. In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and
the Nation of Islam. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996.
Goldman, Peter. The Death and Life of Malcolm X. New York: Harper &
Row, Perennial Library, 1974.
Lincoln, C. Eric. The Black Muslims in America. 3d ed. Grand Rapids:
William B. Eerdmans, 1994.
Magida, Arthur J. Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and his
Nation. New York: Basic Books, 1996.
Muhammad, Elijah. Message to the Blackman in America. Chicago:
Muhammad’s Temple no. 2, 1965.
------. Our Saviour Has Arrived. Newport News, Va.: United Brothers
Communications Systems, [1969?].
------. The Fall of America. Newport News, Va.: The National Newport
News and Commentator, 1973.
Muhammad, Wallace Deen. As the Light Shineth From the East. Chicago:
WDM Publishing Co, 1980.
X, Malcolm, with Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York:
Grove Press, 1966.
First published in Cornerstone (ISSN 0275-2743), Vol. 26, Issue 111
(1997), p. 10-16, 20
© 1997 Cornerstone Communications, Inc.
Electronic version may contain minor changes and corrections from
The following is a brief summary that outlines some of the main points
made by Elijah Muhammad in his 300 page book called Message to the
Blackman in America. It was first printed in 1965 and then again in
1992 by United Brothers Communications Systems of Newport News,
Elijah Muhammad makes many outlandish proclamations in his book, but it
is important to keep in mind that the proclamations are mixed in with
claims about discrimination that are true to varying degrees, and that
even when true to some degree, readers' opinions would differ about the
significance of such claims.
In his book he says that he is a divine messenger who is warning blacks
that they had better pledge to Nation of Islam's version of Islam
before Allah eliminates whites and non-believers in racial Armageddon.
To understand the reasoning behind the belief in the eventual
annihilation of whites, it is necessary to explore Elijah Muhammad's
interpretations of creation, of history, and of events from the 1960's.
He says in his book that Allah created originally the blacks, next the
brown, red, and yellow races, and lastly the whites. A renegade black
scientist named Yakub created the white race 6,000 years ago, and ever
since then, the whites have ruled the other colors.
There are hints in the text that blacks are considered supreme over
whites. After explaining that Yakub extracted the "brown germ" from the
"black germ" and in turn grafted whites from the "brown germ," the
author says Yakub discovered that the "white . . . was the weaker of
the black germ." In discussing "Black Supremacy" versus "White
Supremacy" the author says that "some must rule over the other. It is
the law of nature."
Whites are viewed as inherently evil for "the whole Caucasian race is a
race of devils." While they are usually referred to as "devils," other
titles are applied to whites such as "the great archdeceivers" and "man
of sin." The white race, we find out, "are the people described as
'beast' in the Revelation of the Bible." We read that blacks have been
tortured and murdered by whites principally, and as a result, whites
are the "evil and murderous race."
It is said that blue eyes are ugly while black eyes are beautiful.
Christianity, we are told, was organized in order to make slaves out of
all blacks. Christianity's purpose "was to deceive other races, namely,
the black, brown, yellow and red" in order "to make an easy prey for
the white race." Playing into the hands of whites, black Christian
preachers prevent blacks from learning Nation of Islam's teachings.
Although most denigrations are pointed at white Christians, white Jews
are included at times. Elijah Muhammad gives us his interpretation of
Biblical history as follows: "Jesus . . . gave up His work of trying to
convert the Jews or white race to the religion of Islam."
Nation of Islam changes the names of new members by replacing with
"X's" their last names having European origins. For example, Malcolm
Little became Malcolm X. Eventually members get new last names. For
example, Louis Eugene Walcott first changed to Louis X and then became
Louis Farrakhan. Also, Elijah Poole became Elijah Muhammad. In Message
to the Blackman in America, a name of European origin is called an
"illegal" name while a name of Islamic origin is called "a legal and
Holy name of God." (The words Allah and God are used interchangeably in
the book.) Blacks who keep their names that descended from
"slave-masters" will not see the "hereafter."
Strong demands for racial separation are issued. Elijah Muhammad
commands that God calls for racial separation, and that "IT IS FAR MORE
IMPORTANT TO TEACH SEPARATION OF THE BLACKS AND WHITES IN AMERICA THAN
PRAYER." Integration and intermarriage between blacks and whites are an
attempt by whites to confuse blacks, keep them enslaved, and prevent
them from learning Nation of Islam's teachings. Demands are made to
whites for a separate territory.
Blacks who assimilate into mainstream culture are called "disgraceful
Uncle Toms" and "Stool Pigeons." Such blacks seek to please the
"slave-masters' children" and they prevent blacks from learning Nation
of Islam's teachings.
Elijah Muhammad wrote several passages giving his opinion of Martin
Luther King and about King's involvement in the civil rights movement.
On one page, Elijah Muhammad offered Martin Luther King a sharing of
power on the condition that Martin Luther King would pledge to Nation
of Islam's religious teachings including the demand for a separate
territory. Most passages describe Martin Luther King as ignorant and
foolish for working toward cooperation with whites and for saying,
according to Elijah Muhammad, that blacks "must not seek to rise from a
position of disadvantage to one of advantage substituting injustice of
one type for that of another."
We are told by Elijah Muhammad that police forces beat blacks and that
thousands of blacks are held in prison "unjustly."
Blacks cannot accomplish power through voting because whites will fight
against blacks at the polling places, and even if many blacks were able
to vote, any black candidates allowed to run would be in the pockets of
It is said that whites eventually will stop employing blacks and so
blacks must learn to provide for themselves and each other. Blacks
should buy land, build their own homes, and produce their own food.
There are "enough educated black men and women in this government to
start a government big enough to take care of the world." Thus, blacks
are ready to run the world after whites are annihilated. In the
meantime, the author assures blacks that whites will sell them cloth
Elijah Muhammad asks blacks to send donations to Nation of Islam's
"National Three-Year Economics Savings Plan" that will allow for a bank
to be started and that will turn their millions of dollars into
billions. It is interesting that in a passage that asks blacks to
donate money, Elijah Muhammad tells his readers that whites will have
more respect for blacks if blacks save more money.
He also asks whites for monetary help, 20 to 25 years of it. He seems
to make a distinction between two types of efforts. Blacks who ask
whites for help are labeled shameful beggars when they also want to
assimilate, but Elijah Muhammad does not call himself such when he asks
whites for money and land because he wants it for black independence
The author warns that the white "devils," the orthodox Muslims, and the
black Christians all oppose the "new Islam" that will be brought about
He says that accusations about the black Muslims plotting to overthrow
the government are untrue because Nation of Islam teaches its members
to be non-violent and not to possess guns. The white government will be
ended by Allah alone during destructive Armageddon so that violent
efforts by blacks are not needed.
However, in other passages Elijah Muhammad reserves violent actions as
a possibility. The blacks who marched during the 1960's in Birmingham,
Alabama, would have been justified to kill every police dog that they
confronted, and if the police had fired upon them "they would have been
justified by God and Divine law of self-defense to fight and defend
themselves. . . . Surely the American so-called Negroes would have God
and world sympathy on their side if they would take the right steps or
actions." Concerning the questioning of black Muslims by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation he says: "We want the FBI to know what we are
teaching. We are not teaching what we do not want you to know, FBI. We
want the government to know we have no secrets. The thing you should do
is to keep it a secret yourself, when you can." After explaining that
whites plot to keep blacks fighting amongst themselves, he says the
following about blacks killing whites: "We don't bother about killing
them, as I am not teaching that which I want to be kept as a secret,
but that which the world has not known and should know."
Elijah Muhammad wrote in his book that the years 1965 and 1966 were to
bring in the "Fall of America." He wrote that it was "the touch of the
finger of God" that made the world go off the gold standard, and the
result would be the "crumbling and fall of America."
We are told that among all whites in the world the whites in America
and Germany have been the most vicious to the blacks and so they would
be eliminated first in Armageddon. There would be a delay before other
European whites would be eliminated.
Throughout the entire book it is proclaimed that there is nothing
whites can do to avoid Armageddon because whites were created
inherently evil and because Allah doomed whites in the scriptures. It
is worth noting the use the word "win" in a sentence near the end of
the book because, at first glance, the use of the word seems to give a
glimmer of hope to the "man of sin." First Elijah Muhammad says
America's technology cannot defeat the divine weaponry that Allah would
bring down upon it, and then he says the following: "what America needs
to win is to give freedom and equal justice to her slaves" who are "the
so-called Negroes" and to give a separate territory to them. The use of
the word "win" most likely means, not that American whites can avoid
their annihilation, but that they can buy some time like that already
granted to other whites who are not German. In another quote he allows
for American whites to delay their doom but not to avoid it: "War is
due. War is inevitable. . . . It would be wise for you if you want to
get an extension of time to treat us right." He says that "the whole
Caucasian race" can be reformed but by an action no less than grafting
them back into blacks.
Throughout the book we learn that Elijah Muhammad learned the Nation of
Islam doctrines from Master Fard Muhammad in the 1930's in Detroit,
After the text ends, there is an appendix having documents in which
Elijah Muhammad explains about himself and Nation of Islam. Some
documents are transcriptions of interviews and others are letters
written by him. One letter included is written not by him but by an
Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, namely J. B. Stoner of Georgia,
and a follow-up letter is Elijah Muhammad's racist response to Stoner's
The book has an index, and just after it are several pages that serve
as guides for interpreting "the Bible" and "the Holy Qur'an." There is
a list of titles that summarize passages from the scriptures, and many
of the titles give summaries in a modern day racial context. For
examples, Revelation 14:4 is summarized as "Worship white man as God;"
Revelation 18:4 is summarized as "God pleads with you to get out of
America;" and a section of the Qur'an is summarized as "Black mud
fashioned into shape."
CULTS AND SECTS: NATION OF ISLAM
The Nation of Islam (NOI)
Date Of Beginning
1978. The Nation of Islam follows the teachings of W. D. Fard.
The Nation of Islam does not release statistics, but there are an
estimated 25,000 to 100,000 members. Many more people admire Louis
Farrakhan as a national leader. In 1995 he called for a Million Man
March and several hundred thousand men answered his call.
The NOI was created by Wallace D. Fard, also known as Wallace Fard
Muhammad. Fard claimed to come from the Islamic city of Mecca. He began
a mosque in Detroit in 1930. He taught that Christianity should be
rejected since it was the "slave-master's religion." In 1934 Fard
disappeared and was neither seen nor heard from again. Fard was
succeeded by Elijah Muhammad (Elijah Poole).
Elijah Poole was born in Sandersville, Ga. on October 7, 1898. He
changed his name to Elijah Muhammad after joining the NOI. After Fard
disappeared, Elijah took over the leadership of NOI.
Malcolm Little was born in 1925. He joined the NOI and changed his name
to Malcolm X. He achieved fame in the early 1960s as the spokesperson
for Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm was removed as spokesperson because of an
inappropriate remark about the assassination of President Kennedy and
was severed from the NOI because of his accusations of sexual
misconduct between Elijah and female staff members (C. Eric Lincoln,
The Black Muslim in America, 3d. ed. [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co., 1994], 258). After he left the NOI, Malcolm began the
Muslim Mosque, Inc. in 1964. Less than one year later, on February 21,
1965, Malcolm X was killed by assassins.
Warith Deen Muhammad became the new leader of the NOI after his father,
Elijah Muhammad, died on February 25, 1975. Warith eliminated from NOI
teaching that Fard was Allah. Warith led the NOI to adopt beliefs
compatible with traditional Islam. He changed the name from the NOI to
the World Community of Islam. Later, he altered the name to the
American Muslim Mission but eventually disbanded the organization and
his followers became part of traditional Islam. The NOI was resurrected
by Louis Farrakhan.
Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott in New York City on May 11,
1933. He attended college for two years in North Carolina, but left to
begin a career as an entertainer. He sang in nightclubs until he joined
the NOI. Louis Farrakhan separated from Warith Deen Muhammad in 1978
because of doctrinal disagreements. Farrakhan formed a splinter group
using the original name--the Nation of Islam. He reestablished the
teachings of Elijah Muhammad and also reinstated the movement's
security force known as the Fruit of Islam (FOI).
Several teachings of the NOI are incompatible with Christianity. Many
of their beliefs are also incompatible with traditional Islam.
The Nation of Islam claims that God is a man. "God is a man and we just
cannot make Him other than man" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the
Blackman in America, [Chicago: Muhammad's Temple No. 2], 6). The NOI
teaches that Fard was Allah in physical form (Elijah Muhammad, The Fall
of America, 236, as reprinted in "The Mother Plane," The Final Call 15,
no. 25, [July 16, 1996]: 19). According to Elijah Muhammad, Fard told
him, "My name is Mahdi; I am God" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the
Blackman, 17). The NOI continues to teach that Fard is Allah. The
current NOI statement is published in every issue of their weekly
newspaper, The Final Call, in an article titled "What the Muslims
Believe." It states, "12. WE BELIEVE that Allah (God) appeared in the
Person of Master W. Fard Muhammad, July, 1930; the long-awaited
"Messiah" of the Christians and the "Mahdi" of the Muslims." The NOI
denies that God is Spirit. The NOI claims that Christians worship an
"invisible spook somewhere in space"(Elijah Muhammad, Message to the
Blackman, 5). According the Elijah Muhammad, "God is in person, and
stop looking for a dead Jesus for help, but pray to Him whom Jesus
prophesied would come after Him. He who is alive and not a spook"
The Bible teaches that God is Spirit (see John 4:24) and denies that He
is a man (see Num. 23:19). The NOI worships a false god. Jesus is the
only begotten Son of God (see John 3:16). Jesus is unique; there are no
other incarnations of God. Jesus, not Fard, is the true Savior of the
world (see Acts 4:12; John 1:1-14).
The NOI teaches that blacks are gods and whites are demons. The NOI
claims that blacks are of the same race as God. According to Elijah
Muhammad, "To accept your own means yourself and your kind, your God
Who is of you and you are of Him. It was your fathers who created the
heavens and the earth, while there is nothing that the white man has
created independently. He did not even create himself. The Black Nation
is self-created, while the white race is made by one of the gods and
scientists of the Black Nation" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the
Blackman, 42). The NOI claims that one of these black scientists
created the moon.
They teach that 66 trillion years ago, he decided to destroy the earth.
He drilled a shaft into the earth, filled it with high explosives, and
then set it off. He failed to totally destroy the earth but he did blow
it into two parts. The smaller part became what we now call the moon
(Tape of Louis Farrakhan, Dec. 9, 1990, Compton, Calif.). According to
the NOI, a black scientist named Yakub created the white race about
6,000 years ago. They claim that whites are a race of devils (Elijah
Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, 51). According to Elijah Muhammad,
"If you understand it [the Bible] right, you will agree with me that
the whole Caucasian race is a race of devils (Ibid., 23). The NOI
claims that Christianity is the devil's religion and was created to
mislead black (Ibid., 11).
Blacks are not gods and whites are not demons. Both races are descended
from Adam and made in the image of God. "And God said, Let us make man
in our image after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the
fish of the sea, and over the fowl or the air, and over the cattle and
over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon
the earth" (Gen. 1:26). "God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen.
1:1). The moon was created by the God of the Bible, not by a scientist
66 trillion years ago (see Gen. 1:16). The Bible warns Christians not
to believe cunningly devised fables (see 2 Pet. 1:16).
While the NOI often refers to the Bible, they claim it has been
corrupted. "The original scripture called ÔThe Torah'--revealed to Musa
(Moses)--was Holy until the Jews and the Christian scholars started
tampering with it" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, 87).
Elijah Muhammad taught, "The Bible is not all holy, nor it is all the
word of God" (Ibid., 89)! Contrary to traditional Islam, the NOI also
teaches that the Qur'an has been tampered with. "The enemy has tampered
with the truth of both books: for he has been permitted to handle both
books" (Ibid., 90).
There is no evidence that the Bible has been corrupted as the NOI
claims. Jesus promised, "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth
disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will
by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished"
(Matt. 5:18, NIV). There are thousands of biblical manuscripts that
support the Bible as being incorrupt.
The NOI denies the physical resurrection of the dead. Their doctrinal
statement proclaims, "WE BELIEVE in the resurrection of the dead--not
in physical resurrection but in mental resurrection; therefore, they
will be resurrected first" (Final Call, July 16, 1996, 39). Despite
their denial of a physical resurrection, the NOI apparently believes
that Elijah Muhammad is still alive. Every issue of their newspaper
carries a statement of The Muslim Program. Included with this statement
is Elijah Muhammad's picture and the declaration, "He Lives."
The Bible declares the physical resurrection of the dead (see Pss.
49:15, 71:20; Hos. 13:14; John 5:25, 6:40, 11:25; 2 Cor. 4:14; 1 Tim.
4:16). The dead will rise from the grave. The saved will live forever
with the Lord in heaven. The lost will go to hell, a place of
everlasting punishment (see Matt. 7:13; Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:6,12-13).
The Last Judgement
The NOI teaches that a giant spaceship--the Mother Plane--will carry
out Allah's judgment. Black scientists will use the same bombs that
brought up the "mountains out of the earth" to destroy the white race
(Elijah Muhammad, The Fall of America, 236, as reprinted in The Final
Call, July 16, 1996, 19). They claim this judgment will not only
destroy the white race but also Christianity. Elijah Muhammad asserted,
"Armageddon has started, and after it there will be no Christian
religion or churches. Jesus was a Muslim, not a Christian" (Elijah
Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, 22). Louis Farrakhan claims that he
was taken aboard the Mother Plane in a vision. While in the giant UFO,
he spoke to Elijah Muhammad who had been dead for several years (see
Washington Post, September 18, 1995, D3). Farrakhan also asserts that
this giant spaceship follows him when he travels (Tape of Farrakhan,
July 13, 1986, Chicago, Ill.).
God, not a giant spaceship, will deliver the last judgment upon the
world (see Matt. 25:31-32; 2 Cor. 5:10). God's judgment will not be
restricted to one race, but will fall upon all who have not trusted in
Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (see John 3:18).
Witnessing To People In The NOI
o Learn the primary Christian truths about God, Christ, the Scripture,
and salvation. Know what you believe and why you believe it.
o Acquaint yourself with the teachings and arguments of the NOI and be
ready to give a Christian response (see 1 Pet. 3:15).
o Listen to those in the NOI and discover why they joined.
o Explain why you believe the Bible. If they claim that the Bible has
been changed, ask them, "When did this happen?" and "What evidence
causes you to believe the Bible has been corrupted?"
o Define your words. Remember that the NOI redefines many terms. For
example, when the NOI talks about God, they mean something very
different from the God of the Bible.
o Tell how to become a Christian. Share your testimony about how Jesus
has saved you, and the difference He makes in your life. Center your
witness on Christ and how to have a personal relationship with Him.
Many NOI followers know about Christianity, but they do not know Christ.
o Witnessing to those in the NOI may be frustrating. They often need to
hear the gospel several times before trusting in Christ.
o Trust God's Spirit to guide you and to convict the lost.
All rights reserved. Churches may reproduce this publication in limited
quantities for congregational use.
Scripture quotation marked NIV is taken from the Holy Bible, New
International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International
Bible Society. Used by permission.
Bill Gordon, Associate Director, World Religions, Interfaith Witness
© 1997 Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention,
o Farrakhanism - Exposes the deceptions of the Nation of Islam.
The ROOT & BRANCH INFORMATION SERVICE distributes news, features
and commentary on Jews, Judaism and Israel. Views expressed are those
of the authors alone.
"LOUIS FARRAKHAN AND THE NATION OF ISLAM EXCOMMUNICATED BY THE ITALIAN
by the Board of Ulema [Clergymen] of the Italian Muslim Association
(On March 7, 1998 the Board of Ulema [Clergymen] of the Italian Muslim
Association (AMI) issued the following fatwa [ruling] against the
"Nation of Islam." The official text of the fatwa [ruling] was issued
in Arabic and Italian; the English translation was rendered by Prof.
Abdul Hadi Palazzi, Secretary-General of the Italian Muslim Association
and Muslim Co-Chairman of the Root & Branch Assocation's
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and blessings and peace upon His
servant and Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah, upon his
family, his companions and those who follow his way till the Day of the
Resurrection. Allah, the Most High, says in the Holy Qur'an:
"Of the people there are some who say: 'We believe in Allah and the
Last Day,' notwithstanding their unbelief. Fain would they deceive
Allah and the believers, but they only deceive themselves, and realize
it not. In their hearts there is a disease, and Allah permitted this
decease to increase. Grievous is the penalty they incur, because they
are false." (Qur'an 2:8-10)
During the past few months a group active in the United States that
calls itself the "Nation of Islam" has received world wide press
coverage. Its leader, Louis Farrakhan, met Islamic scholars and heads
of state, introducing himself as a representative of American Muslims.
Some brothers of ours asked this Board: "Can Mr. Farrakhan and his
followers be accepted as 'Muslim' in the sense that this word is
defined by the Shari'a (Islamic Law)?" With the permission and the help
of Allah, after due investigation of the matter, this Board answers as
Praise to Allah, the One Who created good and evil, and who revealed
the difference between the true and the false. Generally speaking, the
'hukm' (Shari'a rule) is that each one who claims to be a Muslim must
be accepted as such by other Muslims, except in the case they have a
clear evidence of the contrary. The most common 'hukm' is that
"unbelief is not proved by actions," but "is proved by the principles
that are believed." The most common way to prove what a man actually
believes is by analyzing his speeches and writings.
That means that the fact that someone does not usually observe the
'hukm' of the Shari'a is not enough to proof his unbelief. This view is
held by the Hanafi, Maliki and Shaf'i schools, but the school of Imam
Ahmad ibn Hanbal says that "unbelief is not proven by actions, expect
for the compulsory ritual prayers (salawat)." According to this school,
a Muslim who refuses to pray a compulsory prayer must be regarded as a
renegade, but the other three schools says he is a Muslim, although a
Notwithstanding this divergence, the four schools are unanimous in
considering non-Muslim someone who - without being under pressure -
says "I do not regard prayer as compulsory," or "There is no need to
fast on Ramadan," or "There is no harm in drinking wine," etc. That
kind of declaration proves that a person has rejected one of the clear
'hukms,' about which there is no doubt or possibility of
misunderstanding. The consensus of Islamic jurists is that rejecting a
single 'hukm' is like rejecting them all, and that missing an element
of faith is like missing them all.
There is no difference between a 'hukm' concerning things that must be
believed by the heart or things that must be done by the body.
As a general rule, it is forbidden to investigate whether Muslims
observe the Shari'a, and even if their belief is correct from all
points of view. Notwithstanding this, as soon as a Muslim hears from
his brother something that can be identified as a wrong belief, he has
the duty to correct him and to teach him the correct doctrine according
to the Qur'an and the Sunna.
In cases when some wrong doctrine can imply unbelief, it is necessary,
for the involved person, to repent and to pronounce again the two
testimonies. The case is different when a person or a group is openly
preaching and teaching doctrines that look unusual. In that case, the
Ulema [Clergy] are bound to investigate the matter, and judge whether
these doctrines imply heresy (bid'a) or apostasy (ridda).
Regarding the "Nation of Islam", 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. This is a clear contradiction of the Monotheistic faith
(Tawhid), and of the Qur'anic teaching according to which Muhammad
(blessings and peace upon him) is the Seal of the Prophets. That is
enough to say that everyone who belongs to the "Nation of Islam" is
not, ipso facto, a Muslim, but an unbeliever.
Muslims must declare this truth, and each one of them who keeps silent
while listening to Mr. Farrakhan being called "a Muslim leader" is
sinning. Since the matter concerns "faith and unbelief," it is not
permitted to avoid a judgement due to political or diplomatic
considerations. Every marriage between a Muslim and a member of the
"Nation of Islam" is null and void, and whoever, after becoming a
member of this organization, wants to return to Islam, must repent and
be re-converted. In case he was married, he must re-celebrate his
wedding; in case he performed the Pilgrimage, he must perform it again.
We pray to Allah to make all this clear to our brothers in Islam, and
to help them never to deviate from the doctrine that was revealed in
the Holy Qur'an and that is presently accepted by the Islamic
Community. And we call upon Allah as a Witness of what we say.
Shaykh 'Ali Moallim Hussen, President
Board of Ulema [Clergymen]
Italian Muslim Association
ABOUT SHAYKH PROF. ABDUL HADI PALAZZI:
Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi is a Member of the International
Council of the Root & Branch Association. Prof. Palazzi is
Secretary General of the Italian Muslim Association (AMI), an Imam of
the Italian Islamic Community (ICCII) and Director of the Community's
Cultural Institute. Prof. Palazzi holds a Ph.D in Islamic Sciences by
decree of the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Islam-Israel Fellowship of the Root & Branch Association
promotes cooperation between Jews and Muslims both within the State of
Israel and abroad, and between the State of Israel and Muslim nations,
based upon a correct Jewish understanding of the Bible and Jewish
tradition, and a correct Muslim understanding of the Qur'an and Islamic
Dr. Asher Eder of Jerusalem, Israel, is the Jewish Co-Chairman of the
Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi is Muslim Co-Chairman of the
Myth: Islam is a racist, afro-centric cult because:
o Nation of Islam espouses the superiority of the black man
o The Nation of Islam recognizes God as a black man
One of the
great misconceptions of the twentieth century is that the so-called
`Nation of Islam' is a Muslim community, or more precisely: a community
which submits to Allah by following the Qur'an and Sunnah. The `Nation
of Islam' is a man-made way of life which borrowed some elements of
Islam and then mixed them with a large number of inventions and lies to
reach their present doctrines.
It suffices to point out the
`Nation of Islam's deviation in two areas. First, they reject the
essence of Islam by concocting a story wherein the Creator takes the
form of a black man. From their on-line publications, we find that the
`Nation of Islam' believes in
(Allah) and that Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard
Muhammad, July, 1930; the long awaited `Messiah' of the Christians and
the `Mahdi' of the Muslims...
However, the Creator states in the Qur'an (translation),
[6:103] No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He
is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.
`Nation of Islam' also claims that white men are `devils', and that
black people are in general superior to all other races. However, from
the Sunnah, specifically in the Messenger of Allah's farewell sermon,
we find the Messenger (pbuh) saying:
mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a
non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white
has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a
white - except by piety and good action.
There are many other
beliefs which the `Nation of Islam' holds which take it outside of
Islam. It is interesting to note that in the mid-1970's, the
overwhelming majority of the group realized its errors and converted to
true Islam. There is, however, a splinter group which remains active
The "Nation of Islam" or Nation of Kufr?
By Nida'ul Islam Magazine
Quotes of Apostasy by Louis Farrakhan
"The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said it would be 400 years before the
real ship Jesus would come and deliver us from this oppressor and from
the ignorance that this oppression had put us under. That real ship
Jesus, he said, is God Himself. As it is written, Elijah must first
come because Elijah is the trumpet that lets you know that the Messiah
is on His way."(1)
"We call Him Master Fard Muhammad. What has He mastered? He has studied
to become master of what He did not create. Allah created the heavens
and the earth. We don't know when, we just say in the beginning... But
this man was born in 1877, born into a creation that is trillions of
years old, yet, He has become its master, a master who has studied to
master self and then to master the universe and to master all
circumstances where when He come He's called Maliki Yaumi-d-din--Master
of the Day of Judgment. He is a human being, but He is a master of that
time period. He masters it by the power and permission of Allah.
...When he left, He was a friend. His name was Wali Fard Muhammad. Wali
means a friend, but a protecting friend. One that is your friend but
can protect you from your enemies because he is your friend. And you
sing that song, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."... Fard means one we
are obligated to obey... He used the name Fard because He was telling
us that He is one we are obligated to obey. And sooner or later every
knee will bow and every tongue will confess that a Master came to North
America, and with the master grip He pulled Hiram up out of the
A columnist in NOI's "Final Call" magazine says: "...The kind of study
this involves is related to my witness of Min. Farrakhan. The more you
know about him and the more you know about prophecy, the easier it is
to see those prophecies that refer to him, which he is fulfilling. This
makes it easier to understand his words and acts.
It's surpassed only by that Qur'an which Master Fard Muhammad has
written and given to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, according to the
fifth chapter of Revelation, and otherwise. A portion of that book, by
the power of Allah, will be granted to Min. Farrakhan. I am among those
who pray that he is so blessed."(3)
1) Jesus Saves, a talk by Louis Farrakhan on the Saviours' Day,
delivered at the International Amphitheater in Chicago on Feb. 26,
2) After The Million Man March, Now What? (Part I), (From Farrakhan's
Saviours' Day speech delivered February 25, 1996 in Chicago, Il.)
3) Farrakhan The Traveller, by Jabril Muhammad, The Final Call
magazine, Online Edition - 24-3-98.
Although the 'Nation of Islam' still retains its original deviant
beliefs, their popularity has remained dangerously high among many of
the Muslim communities. This has only served to confuse the message of
the real Islaam, and the following should clarify the position of the
Nation in light of the Qur'an and Sunnah.
The religious doctrines of the NOI contradicts the essential teachings
of Islaam, which includes the worship and recognition of One God, who
shares His Dominion with no one and of Whom which there is non like
Him. The Nation however believes that Allaah is a person in the name of
Fard Muhammad who descended on Earth in July 1930. Elijah Poole
Muhammad is recognised as their prophet, the Last Messenger mentioned
in the Qur'an. In Point number 12 of their Testimonials of Faith, the
Elijah Muhammad said: 'We believe Allah (God) appeared in the person of
Master W. Fard Muhammad, July 1930, the long-awaited Messiah of the
Christians and the Mahdi of the Muslims...'"
They also negate the reality of the Day of resurrection, claiming it to
be mental rather than physical, and that the "so-called Negroes are
most in need of mental resurrection; therefore they will be resurrected
Prayer is not accepted without the mentioning of Elijah's Muhammad
name: "I am the Door. By no means can you get by except you come by me.
Your prayers will not be heard unless my name is mentioned in them ...
I have the key to your salvation, and I have the key to your hell. I
can, if you will let me, pull you out of hell and set you into heaven.
Then I can keep you in heaven; or I can keep pushing you and push you
into the punishment of hell until you acknowledge that there is no God
but Allah Who came in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad, to whom
praises are due forever and that Elijah Muhammad is His Servant.."1
We need only refer to Louis Farrakhan's words spoken at his ne plus
ultra "Million Man March", where he opened with the following
invocation, "I am so grateful to Allah for his intervention in our
affairs in the person of Master Fard Muhammad the Great Mahdi, who came
among us and raised from among us a divine leader, teacher and guide,
his messenger to us the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad."
Final Call columnist Bernard Cushmeer, (Jibril Muhammad) states in his
book, Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still
Physically Alive? that Louis Farrakhan today publicly rejects the
belief that Elijah Muhammad is dead, even though Farrakhan saw his
teacher's corpse in a coffin in February, 1975. According to Cushmeer,
this belief is so well established, that Farrakhan has said that if it
is "determined that the body in the ground reported to be that of the
Honorable Elijah Muhammad, was in fact his, he would stop teaching."2
It is for this reason that every issue of Farrakhan's The Final Call
newspaper, prints the words, "He Lives" on the inside back page under
The Muslim Program. Cushmeer also makes the following claim:
"If you will take the time and read the Qur'an, and look at the
arguments of Messenger Elijah Muhammad on the subject of the identity
of the person addressed by its Author (Allah), it will become clear
that Muhammad of Arabia could not be the man for whom it was ultimately
meant...The main thing to know is that the Qur'an was originally
written with The Honorable Elijah Muhammad in Allah's mind as the
On Sept. 1, 1985, Farrakhan's wife, Betty, speaking in Chicago after
her return from Mecca where she accompanied her husband on Hajj, began
her speech with the statement "In the Name of Allah, in the name of His
True Servant and His Last Apostle, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, I
greet you..." Thereafter, Farrakhan stated that while making Tawaf
around the Ka'abah in Mecca, he had loving thoughts about the glorious
Prophets Muhammad, Abraham, Isma'eel, and "my father the Honorable
On Oct. 24, 1989 and February 28, 1990, Farrakhan declared that he
traveled to the "top of a sacred mountain in Mexico where he was taken
in a UFO to a "mother wheel" containing the late Elijah Muhammad"4
Furthermore, in an interview held on December 24, 1989 in Jeddah, Saudi
Arabia, he still maintained that he accepted Islam in 1955 under the
teachings of Elijah Muhammad, and that Fard Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad's
"...a means through which Allah presented himself to Elijah Muhammad in
the same manner as the Angel Gabriel was a means through which Allah
presented Himself to Muhammad (s.a.w) in the form of a man..."
This should leave no doubt in the minds of the Muslims as regards the
true nature of the NOI.
See The Fall of America, p. 205.
See Is It Possible That The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Is Still
Physically Alive? pp. 26-27
See The Washington Post, Oct. 26, 1989; p. B4; and March 1, 1990, page
A1, see also ABC's Nightline, October 15, 1996.
o The Nation of Islam: Relentless Record of Hate - Asserts that the
leader of the Nation of Islam refuses to depart from a bitter, divisive
message of racist and anti-Semitic scapegoating.
What's in a name? - The Problem with the "Nation of Islam"
A court ruling overturning a fifteen year British ban on its leader,
Louis Farrakhan, has propelled the so-called Nation of Islam into the
headlines. Michael Young examines the Islamic credentials of
these self-styled "Muslims".
August 1, 2001
"Nation of Islam" members in their trademark bow ties and suits
The Fundamentals of Islamic Belief
One could be forgiven for assuming that any group with the word Islam
in its title would be Muslim. But when it comes to the group
calling itself the "Nation of Islam", one must be very wary
indeed. To be Muslim means to hold certain fundamental
theological beliefs. The Muslim profession of faith is:
"I bear witness that there is no god but God, and I bear witness that
Mohammed is a prophet of God."
To elaborate on these statements, to be a Muslim means to believe that
God is One, unique. He has no partners, no associates, no Son,
nor did He ever become incarnate. As chapter 112 of the Quran
"He is God, the only One,
God the Everlasting.
He did not beget and is not begotten,
And none is His equal."
In Islam the ascribing of partners to God, referred to as shirk, is the
greatest of all sins. The Quran states explicitly in chapter 4,
"Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him."
Secondly, Muslims believe Mohammed to have been the "Seal" or last of
the prophets. To recognize anyone after Mohammed claiming to be a
prophet, negates one's Islam. As is stated in the Quran:
"O people! Mohammed has no sons among ye men, but verily, he is the
Messenger of Allah and the last in the line of Prophets. And Allah is
aware of everything." (33:40)
This is reinforced by various sayings of Prophet Mohammed :
"The tribe of Israel was guided by prophets. When a prophet passed
away, another succeeded him. But no prophet will come after me; only
caliphs will succeed me." (Bukhari)
"In My Ummah, there shall be born Thirty Grand Liars (Dajjals), each of
whom will claim to be a prophet, But I am the Last Prophet; there is No
Prophet after Me." (Abu Dawood, at-Tirmidhi)
The Errant Theology of the "Nation of Islam"
The "Nation of Islam" does not adhere to these core tenets of Islamic
theology. They believe that God appeared on earth in the person
of their founder, a "great man from the East", Master W. Fard Muhammad,
a preacher who first came to public attention in the USA on July 4,
1930 then mysteriously "departed the scene" on February 26, 1934.
As the NOI website unambiguously declares:
"WE BELIEVE that Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard
Muhammad, July, 1930; the long-awaited "Messiah" of the Christians and
the "Mahdi" of the Muslims."
In 1934 following the unexplained departure of the "Master", the
organization he founded came to be headed by one Elijah Poole, who
became known as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Until very
recently, the "Nation of Islam" accorded the status of prophet to
Therefore it is clear that despite their name and calling themselves
Muslims, "Nation of Islam" beliefs about God and prophethood are
glaringly incompatible with Islam.
Louis Farrakhan, current leader of the Nation of Islam, finally allowed
to enter the UK after a court orders the lifting of a 15-year
"Honorable" Elijah Muhammad, the "prophet" of the Nation of Islam.
"Master" W. Fard Muhammad in whose person God appeared in early 1930's
America, according to Nation of Islam beliefs.
Racist ideology also at odds with universal Islam
A third area of non-compliance with Islam, and the one which receives
by far the greatest attention in the secular media, is the issue of
race. The present "Nation of Islam" leader, Louis Farrakhan, is
on record as having made objectionable anti-Jewish (as distinct from
anti-Zionist) remarks. Among other unfortunate utterances, he is
alleged to have referred to Judaism as a "gutter religion".
Moreover, the NOI is a segregationalist organization exclusively for
black people descended from slaves. Proper Islam is a universal
religion open to people of every race. Muslims are supposed to
differentiate between people on the basis not of ethnic origin but of
piety and upright behavior. As the Quran makes clear:
"And mankind is naught but a single nation." Holy Quran 2:213
"O Mankind! Most certainly, it is We (God almighty) who have Created
you all from a single (pair) of a male and a female, And it is We who
have made you into nations and tribes, that ye may recognize each
other. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is (he
who is) the most righteous of you." Holy Quran 49:13
And in his final sermon, Prophet Mohammed made clear that racism has no
place in Islam:
"O people! Verily your Lord is one and your father is one. All of you
belong to one ancestry of Adam and Adam was created out of clay. There
is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over
an Arab; nor for white over the black nor for the black over the white
except in piety. Verily the noblest among you is he who is the most
In contrast, the NOI has a pronounced anti-white bias. They refer
to blacks as God's chosen people and Caucasians as white devils.
They call for a separate homeland for American blacks, for racially
segregated education and for a ban on interracial marriage. To
quote again from their website:
We believe we are the people of God's choice.
WE BELIEVE this is the time in history for the separation of the
so-called Negroes and the so-called white Americans.
We want our people in America whose parents or grandparents were
descendants from slaves, to be allowed to establish a separate state or
territory of their own--either on this continent or elsewhere.
We want all black children educated, taught and trained by their own
We believe that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited.
Fellow Muslims with eyes the bluest of blue and skin the whitest of white...
NOI members who recognized anti-white racism as folly and converted to
proper Islam include Malcolm X and the world champion heavyweight
boxer, Muhammad Ali. Both spoke out on the subject:
Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca] was an exhilarating experience to see people
belonging to different colors, races and nationalities, kings, heads of
states and ordinary men from very poor countries all clad in two simple
white sheets praying to God without any sense of either pride or
inferiority. It was a practical manifestation of the concept of
equality in Islam." Muhammed Ali
"During the past eleven days
here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from
the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) -- while
praying to the same God -- with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the
bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin
was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in
the deeds of the 'white' Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt
among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana."
were truly all the same -- because their belief in the one God had
removed the 'white' from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior,
and the 'white' from their attitude."
"This religion recognizes
all men as brothers. It accepts all human beings as equals before God,
and as equal members in the Human Family of Mankind. I totally reject
Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy, which he has labeled 'Islam' only
to fool and misuse gullible people as he fooled and misused me. But I
blame only myself, and no one else for the fool that I was, and the
harm that my evangelical foolishness on his behalf has done to
others." Malcolm X
Any areas of common ground between Islam and the "Nation of Islam"?
the major negatives, there are some elements of NOI beliefs with which
Muslims can more or less agree: For example:
WE BELIEVE In the One God whose proper Name is Allah.
WE BELIEVE in the Holy Qur'an and in the Scriptures of all the Prophets of God.
WE BELIEVE in Allah's Prophets and the Scriptures they brought to the people.
WE BELIEVE our women should be respected and protected as the women of
other nationalities are respected and protected.
And there is
much on the practical side of the NOI which we can admire. The
NOI prohibits among its members drinking, smoking and gambling.
They are also known for their social work among the black community and
their often successful efforts to raise levels of self-discipline and
self-confidence in a community which has suffered from historical
injustice and its debilitating long-term social and psychological
effects often manifested in nihilistic, violent, drug-ridden American
inner city and housing project ghettos and characterized by family
breakdown including a high illegitimate birth rate.
Whither the "Nation of Islam"?
as the lifestyle espoused by the NOI may be, one cannot escape the fact
that despite some of the trappings of Islam, the theology and ideology
they currently espouse are not only non-Islamic but actually anathema
to Islam. There are, however, some signs that things may be
changing for the better.
On the death of Elijah Mohammed in
1976 his son Wallace D. Muhammad (now known as Imam Warrithuddin
Mohammed) assumed NOI leadership, renamed the organization the Muslim
American Society and steered it toward Islamic orthodoxy. After
three years a disgruntled Louis Farrakhan broke away and re-founded the
NOI in line with the teachings of Elijah Mohammed. But in
February this year, Farrakhan, recovering from a serious battle with
prostate cancer which may have given him cause to reflect, shared a
platform with Wallace and made an important move toward mainstream
Islam by declaring:
"Allah sent Mohammed with the final
revelation to the world. ... There is no prophet after the Prophet
Mohammed , and no book after the Koran."
Let us hope that
similarly orthodox statements on the nature of God and on race will
also soon be forthcoming. Let us look forward to the day when
Louis Farrakhan and his NOI follow the example of their former
colleague, Malcolm X, who eventually found his way from the so-called
"Nation of Islam" to genuine Islam and stated:
emphatically that I am no longer in Elijah Muhammad's 'strait jacket',
and I don't intend to replace his with one woven by someone else. I am
a Muslim in the most orthodox sense; my religion is Islam as it is
believed in and practiced by the Muslims in the Holy City of
Allahu a`lam. God knows best.
© 2001 IslamForToday.com
Michael Young is Features Editor of IslamForToday.com www.islamfortoday.com
The Nation of Islam
Founder: Wallace Dodd Fard. Also known as "Master Fard Muhammad"
Key leaders: Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan
Founding Date: July 4, 1930
Official Publications: Message To The Black Man In America, The Supreme Wisdom, Our Savior Has Arrived, The Final Call Magazine.
Nation of Islam was founded during the Great Depression of 1930 in the
ghettos of Detroit Michigan. Having migrated to the industrial north in
search of economic opportunity and to escape the racial oppression in
the South, thousands of Blacks now found themselves in a crisis
situation. As it turned out "the North was no Promised Land [but, in
many ways,] was the South all over again…"1 The main difference being
the racial prejudice in the South was overt whereas in the North it was
"The starving, overcrowded blacks living in the slums of
Detroit (as in other Northern cities) became increasingly bitter
towards the whites who seemed to control their lives. Police officers,
who are the ever present reminder of white power; white workers, who
displaced blacks as jobs became more scarce or who retained their jobs
as thousands of blacks were being laid off; even the welfare workers,
who insulted the blacks and made them wait long hours before passing
out the pitiful supplies of flour and lard — all these became the
symbolic targets of a virulent hatred of whites..."2
resurrect the institutions and social systems that provided them
security and support (i.e. mutual aid societies) in the South, blacks
in the North cried out for deliverance. As Colin Akridge wrote,
"Instead of looking for a spiritual Savior who would save them from
their sins, they wanted a carnal savior who would save them from their
poverty. They wanted their 'pie' now and were no longer interested in
These desires were met in the summer of 1930 when
a mysterious peddler of silks and artifacts by the name Wallace Fard
Muhammad appeared in Detroit. Very little is known about him except
that he is reported to have come from the East. "His mission was to
teach freedom, justice, and equality to the members of the 'lost tribe
of Shabazz in the wilderness of North America.'"4 He also taught poor
blacks that "they were somebody. That they were Black people.… [who
had] a past…[and] a future.… a history and a destiny."5
of the social climate and his teachings, Fard quickly gained a
following. Within about three years he had recruited nearly 8,000
followers. One of these was an unemployed auto worker named Elijah
Poole. Poole, who later changed his last name to Muhammad, was born the
son of a Baptist minister in Sandersville, Georgia. He eventually
migrated to Detroit with his wife, Clara, and their two children, and
became a devoted follower of Fard. Due to his efforts on Fard's behalf
Fard soon chose him to be his Chief Minister.
In the summer of
1934, Fard suddenly disappeared as mysteriously as he had arrived.
Elijah Muhammad was named the new leader and assumed the title of
"Messenger of Allah."
Perhaps the single most important event in
the development of the Nation of Islam took place in 1947 with the
"conversion" of a convict in prison at Concord, Massachusetts. His name
was Malcolm Little but he would become best known by the name he later
took, Malcolm X.
Like Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm was the son of a
Baptist minister. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but spent his
formative years in Lansing, Michigan, where life proved to be a
struggle for Malcolm and his family. At age six, their home was burned
to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan, and a short time later his father
was found dead under a streetcar.
Though his mother tried to
keep the family together, they were eventually separated with Malcolm
being sent to a boy's institution. While in the eighth grade he was
asked what vocation he wanted to pursue. When he responded that he
wanted to be a lawyer, he was informed that such a profession was not
suitable for a Negro.6 This ugly retort proved to be psychologically
devastating. Malcolm would eventually leave the school and rather than
pursuing the law, he would embark upon a life of delinquency and crime
that would send him to prison for 10 years.
The turning point
came in 1948 when his brothers, Philbert and Reginald, introduced him
to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and he converted to the Nation of
Islam. "Upon his release from prison in the spring of 1952, Malcolm
went to Detroit, Michigan, where he became Malcolm X, a minister of
Temple No. 1. From then until 1964 Malcolm X was the main exponent of
Elijah Muhammad's doctrine."7
After years of dedicated service
to Elijah Muhammad, a rift developed between the two. Malcolm's worst
suspicions were confirmed when a news report disclosed that two of
Elijah Muhammad's former secretaries had filed paternity suites against
him charging that he had fathered their four children. Devastated,
Malcolm left the Nation of Islam and formed two organizations, The
Muslim Mosque, Inc., and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).
moved more toward orthodox Islam, traveling extensively in Africa and
the Middle East and participating in the Islamic holy pilgrimage to
Mecca. After returning to the United States he was assassinated —
gunned down at the Audoban Ballroom in Harlem, New York, on February
With the death of Elijah Muhammad of congestive heart
failure on February 25, 1975, his son, Wallace Deen Muhammad became the
new leader of the Nation of Islam.8 Because of his knowledge of
orthodox Islam, Wallace immediately began to make changes. Perhaps the
most dramatic, some ten years later, was when he merged his followers
into traditional, international Islam. This merging "'had been his goal
for the mission from "day one." I have been trying to bring what used
to be called the Nation of Islam to what I call a natural and normal
Islamic community,' he said. 'The idea we have had of a community is
not Islamic and came from the days of black nationalism. Our religion
does not require the degree of organization and centralized control we
have been used to. … Muslims are just Muslims, and they go to the
mosque, and that is it.'"9 Another significant change was the group's
commitment to racial harmony. "The same blacks who once believed whites
were devils and who advocated the overthrow of the government now
profess racial harmony, brotherly love and American patriotism."10
all of Elijah Muhammad's former followers were pleased with this new
direction; many did not agree with the reforms made by Wallace. "One of
the most hurting blows came when a disenchanted faction split from the
fold. That faction, which adheres to the original tenets, is led by
Louis Farrakhan…"11 Farrakhan essentially reorganized the old Nation of
Born Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933, in the Bronx,
New York, Farrakhan was a recruit of Malcolm X whom he had met in 1955.
Shortly thereafter he became a member of the Nation of Islam and
quickly progressed through the ranks. He served under Malcolm for nine
months and became the minister of the mosque in Boston, where he had
spent his formative years. After the death of Malcolm X, this highly
educated young man who had been raised a devout Episcopalian, graduated
from Boston Latin School with honors and who had spent two years at
Winston-Salem Teachers College in North Carolina,12 became Elijah
Muhammad's National Spokesman.
Although Farrakhan's organization
claims to be the authentic Nation of Islam, there are three other
organizations making this same claim. John Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad's
blood brother, heads one, based in Detroit. A second organization is
based in Atlanta and headed by Silas Muhammad. Emanuel Abdulla Muhammad
established a third organization in Baltimore.
The most recognized of the four organizations is that founded by Louis Farrakhan.
I. The Nature of God
A. God is not Spirit, but a man.
is a man and we just cannot make Him other than man, least we make Him
an inferior one... A spirit is subjected to us and not we to the
"Allah came to us from the Holy City of Mecca,
Arabia, in 1930. He used the name Wallace D. Fard, often signing it W.
D. Fard.... He came alone."14
B. God is not eternal (He lives and dies)
we all know that there was a God in the beginning that created all
these things and do know that He does not exist today. But we know
again that from that God the person of God continued until today in His
people, and today a Supreme One (God) has appeared among us with the
same infinite wisdom to bring about a complete change."15
is no God Living Who was here in the Creation of the Universe, but They
produce Gods from Them and Their Wisdom lives in us."16
C. God is one of many gods (Polytheism).
"The Black Man's Gods, according to the history He [Allah] taught me, have All been the Wisest."17
thousand years ago, or to be more exact 6,600 years ago, as Allah
taught me, our nation gave birth to another God whose name was Yacub."18
II. The Person of Christ
A. Christ was only a mortal man and a prophet, not God.
"He [Jesus] was nothing more than a prophet…"19
"Making the Son and the Holy Ghost the equal with the Father is absolutely sinful."20
B. He did not rise from the dead.
"He [Jesus] was nothing more than a prophet, and he has gone back to the earth, never to return alive."21
"We know what happened to him 2,000 years ago. He cannot come back from the grave. He is not in heaven."22
III. The Bible
A. It is incomplete.
"The Bible in not all holy, nor is it all the Word of God!"23
B. It is a poison book.
Bible is now being called the Poison Book by God Himself, and who can
deny that it is not poison? It has poisoned the very hearts and minds
of the so-called Negroes so much that they can't agree with each
"The Bible is the graveyard of my poor people (the
so-called Negroes)... The Bible charges all of its Great Prophets with
evil, it makes God guilty of an act of an act of adultery by charging
Him with being the father of Mary's baby (Jesus), again it charges Noah
and Lot with drunkenness, and Lot with getting children by his
daughter. What a Poison Book"25
1. God the Father is a Spirit Being. Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God.26
2. God is eternal. He has no beginning and no ending.27
3. There is only one God.28
4. Jesus has been raised from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God.29
5. The Word of God is pure, perfect, sure, and inspired.30
1 Lincoln, Eric C., The Black Muslims in America, (Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press, Inc., 1994) p. 13.
3 Akridge, Colin P., Why I Cannot Be A Black Muslim, (Newport, PA: Research and Education Foundation, 1995) p. 2.
4 Gnosis Magazine, p. 59.
5 Lincoln, The Black Church Since Frazier, (New York: Schocken Books, 1989) p. 163.
6 Lincoln, The Black Muslims in America, p. 189.
7 Ellis, Carl F. Jr., Free At Last? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996) p. 100.
8 Lincoln, The Black Muslims in America, p. 263.
9 The Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 4, 1985, p. 3C.
10 San Francisco Chronicle, March 28, 1985.
12 Lincoln, The Black Muslims in America, p. 268.
13 Muhammad, Elijah, Message to the Blackman in America, (Chicago: The Final Call, Inc., 1965) p. 6.
14 Ibid., p. 16).
15 Ibid., p. 9).
16 Muhammad, Elijah, Our Savior Has Arrived, (Newport News, VA: United Brothers Communications Systems, n.d.) p. 97).
18 Muhammad, Message, p. 10.
19 Muhammad, Our Savior, p. 195.
20 Ibid., p. 152.
21 Ibid., p. 195.
22 Ibid., p. 210.
23 Muhammad, Message, p. 89.
24 Ibid., p. 94.
25 Ibid., p. 95.
26 John 4:23; Matthew 1:22.
27 Psalms 90:2; 102:26; Isaiah 43:10–11; 48:12; Revelation 1:8.
28 Deuteronomy 6:3; Isaiah 43:10–11; 44:6–8; 45:5–6, 14, 21.
29 1 Corinthians 15:1–6; Ephesians 1:20; 2:6.
30 Palms 19:7–8; 111:7–8; 2 Peter 1:21.