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The Nation of Islam (N.O.I.) is a religious organization founded in Detroit, Michiganmarker by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930, with the goal of resurrecting the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of the black men and women of America. The N.O.I. also promotes the belief that God will bring about a universal government of peace. Mainstream Muslims consider the group a heretical sect of Islam due to the differing beliefs of the concept of God, race, prophecy, and many others. However, in recent years the group has come a little closer to orthodox Islam by observing Ramadan and the Friday prayers.

Since 1978, Louis Farrakhan has been the leader of a reconstituted N.O.I., the original organization having been renamed and dissolved by Warith Deen Muhammad. The N.O.I.'s national center and headquarters are located in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker, which is also home to its flagship Mosque No. 2, Mosque Maryam. As of 2005, the N.O.I. has been included in the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of active hate groups in the United States. A meeting in 2000 gathered about 20,000 members.


The original Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit, Michiganmarker in July, 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad, also known as W. D. Fard Muhammad (1877-1934 or later). The N.O.I. teaches that W. Fard Muhammad is both the "Messiah" of Christianity and the Mahdi of Islam. According to their website they distinguish themselves from followers of the original religion of Islam by stating: 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 One of Fard's first disciples was Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975), who led the organization from 1935 through 1975. [3470]

By the time Elijah Muhammad died in 1976, there were 75 centers across America. In 1975, Warith Deen Mohammed or W.D. (Wallace) Muhammad was installed as Supreme Minister of the Nation of Islam. Thereupon he renamed the organization "The World Community of Al-Islam in the West" which later became the American Society of Muslims and shunned his father's theology and black separatist views, and accepted whites as fellow worshipers and forged closer ties with mainstream Muslim communities in an attempt to bring the Nation of Islam closer into Sunni Islam.

Beliefs and theology

The main belief of The Nation of Islam and its followers is that there is no other God but Allah, redefining "Allah" by saying "who came in the person of W. D. Fard." Fard founded the Nation of Islam and subsequently installed Elijah Muhammad as the organization's leader.The official beliefs of the Nation of Islam have been outlined in books, documents, and articles published by the organization as well as speeches by Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, and other ministers. Many of Elijah Muhammad's teachings may be found in Message to the Blackman in America and The True History of Jesus as Taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad . Many of Malcolm X's teachings of NOI theology are in his The End of White World Supremacy, while a later more critical discussion of those beliefs can be found in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, co-written with Alex Haley.

Passed down via written lessons from 1930-1934 from W. Fard Muhammad to his student, Elijah Muhammad, referred to and titled, The Supreme Wisdom the Nation of Islam continues to teach its followers that the present world society is segmented into three distinct categories. They teach that from a general perspective, 85% of the population are the deaf, dumb and blind masses of the people who are easily led in the wrong direction and hard to lead in the right direction. These 85% of the masses are said to be manipulated by 10% of the people who are referred to as the masses of the people. Those 10% rich slave-makers are said to manipulate the 85% masses of the people through ignorance, the skillful use of religious doctrine and the mass media.

The third group referred to as the 5% poor righteous teachers of the people of the world who know the truth of the manipulation of the 85% masses of the people by the 10% and that 5% righteous teachers are at constant struggle and war with 10% to reach and free the minds of the masses of the people.

Official platform

An official Nation of Islam platform referred to as "The Muslim Program" was written by Elijah Muhammad in his book Message to the Blackman in America, published in 1965. The itemized platform contains two sections; What The Muslims Want consisting of 10 points and What The Muslims Believe consisting of 12 points.


The NOI teaches that the Earth and Moon were once the same, and that the Earth is over 76 trillion years old. The entire land mass on the Earth was called "Asia". This was, Elijah Muhammad claims, long before Adam.

Black experience of slavery was Bible prophecy

The NOI teaches that black people constitute a nation and that through the institution of the Atlantic slave trade they were systematically denied knowledge of their past history, language, culture, and religion and, in effect, lost control of their lives. Central to this doctrine, NOI theology asserts that black people’s experience of slavery was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and therefore, black people are the seed of Abraham referred to in the Bible, in Genesis 15:13–14:


In an April 13, 1997 interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Louis Farrakhan was asked by Tim Russert to explain the Nation of Islam's view on separation:

Teachings on race

The Nation of Islam teaches that Black people were the original humans. Louis Farrakhan has stated that "White people are potential humans…they haven’t evolved yet." However, Farrakhan further expounded by saying, "If you look at the human family — now, I'm talking about black, brown, red, yellow and white — we all seem to be frozen on a subhuman level of existence. In Islam and, I believe, in Christian theology and Jewish theology as well, there are three stages of human development. The first stage is called the animalistic stage of development. But when we submit to animal passions, then we can do evil things to one another in that animalistic stage of development. But when moral consciousness comes and we have a self-accusing spirit, it is then that we become human beings. Right now, we have the potential for humanity, but we have not reached that potential, because we are functioning on the animalistic plane of existence."

In an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Louis Farrakhan said the following in response to host Tim Russert's question on the Nation of Islam's teachings on race:

Elijah Muhammad addressing followers
Pressed by Russert on whether he agreed with Elijah Muhammad's preaching that whites are blue-eyed devils, Farrakhan responded:

While Malcolm X was a member of the Nation of Islam, he preached that black people were genetically superior to white people but were dominated by a system of white supremacy.

The Nation of Islam teaches that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited. This is point 10 of the official platform, "What the Muslims Want" published 1965.

The Mother Plane and Ezekiel's Wheel

Elijah Muhammad taught his followers about a Mother Plane or Wheel, a UFO that was seen and described in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel in the Book of Ezekiel, in the Hebrew Bible.

Louis Farrakhan, commenting on his teacher's description said the following:


The first book analyzing the Nation of Islam was The Black Muslims in America (1961) by C. Eric Lincoln. Lincoln describes the use of doctrines during religious services.

Legend of the 1975 death of Elijah Muhammad

Members of The Nation of Islam have long held that Elijah Muhammad did not die, but instead escaped a death plot, was restored to health, and is aboard “that huge wheel-like plane that is even now flying over our heads.” Among Muhammad's passengers on the Mother Wheel is the mysterious figure named W.D. Fard.


A number of Jewish organizations, Christian organizations, and academics consider the Nation of Islam to be antisemitic. Professor David W. Leinweber, Ph.D. of Emory Universitymarker asserts that the Nation Of Islam has engaged in revisionist and antisemitic interpretations of the Holocaust and that they exaggerate the role of Jews in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The charges are based on statements such as the following by Farrakhan:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) alleges that NOI Health Minister, Abdul Alim Muhammad, has accused Jewish doctors of injecting Blacks with the AIDS virus, an allegation that Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad has denied.

The Nation of Islam has repeatedly denied charges of anti-Semitism, and NOI leader Minister Louis Farrakhan has stated, "The ADL .. uses the term 'anti-Semitism' to stifle all criticism of Zionism and the Zionist policies of the State of Israel and also to stifle all legitimate criticism of the errant behavior of some Jewish people toward the non-Jewish population of the earth."

Responding to the widely reported assertion that he referred to Judaism as a dirty and "gutter religion", Farrakhan wrote a June 18, 1997 letter to a former Wall Street Journal associate editor, Jude Wanniski, stating in part:

Countless times over the years I have explained that I never referred to Judaism as a dirty religion, but, clearly referred to the machinations of those who hide behind the shield of Judaism while using unjust political means to achieve their objectives.
This was distilled in the New York tabloids and other media saying, "Farrakhan calls Judaism a gutter religion."

As a Muslim, I revere Abraham, Moses, and all the Prophets who Allah (God) sent to the children of Israel. I believe in the scriptures brought by these Prophets and the Laws of Allah (God) as expressed in the Torah. I would never refer to the Revealed Word of Allah (God) -- the basis of Jewish Faith -- as "dirty" or "gutter." You know, Jude, as well as I, that the Revealed Word of Allah (God) comes as a Message from Allah (God) to purify us from our evil that has divided us and caused us to fall into the gutter.

Over the centuries, the evils of Christians, Jews and Muslims have dirtied their respective religions. True Faith in the laws and Teaching of Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad is not dirty, but, practices in the name of these religions can be unclean and can cause people to look upon the misrepresented religion as being unclean.

Jude Wanniski also defended the Nation of Islam against charges of racism and anti-Semitism, writing, "I've met dozens of men and women who belong to the Nation of Islam, attended many of their conferences, and prayed with them in their Chicago mosque to the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. I've concluded beyond any reasonable doubt that there is not an ounce of anti-Semitism or bigotry in Farrakhan."

The Nation of Islam has had friendly relations with the Neturei Karta, a small, controversial Jewish group that is well-known for its association with and support for anti-Zionists. Neturei Karta stressed that NOI leader, "Minister Louis Farrakhan is an extraordinary force for good in the Black community. His followers are responsible, industrious, modest and moral. And for this he and they have our respect."

In a letter responding to ADL Director Abraham Foxman's insistence that black leaders distance themselves from the Nation of Islam, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons wrote, "Simply put, you are misguided, arrogant, and very disrespectful of African Americans and most importantly your statements will unintentionally or intentionally lead to a negative impression of Jews in the minds of millions of African Americans", he continued, "For over 50 years, Minister Farrakhan has labored to resurrect the downtrodden masses of African Americans up out of poverty and self-destruction" and indicated that he had personally witnessed Farrakhan affirm, 'A Muslim can not hate a Jew. We are all members of the family of Abraham and all of us should maintain dialogue and mutual respect.'"

Comparison with traditional Islam

The Nation of Islam preaches adherence to the Five Pillars of the Islamic Faith, however these are sometimes avoided, for example the Friday prayers which are obligatory are rarely practiced, furthermore prayers are conducted in temples on seated chairs in church-fashion, instead of mosques and without prostration. The NOI also teaches morality and personal decorum, emphasizing modesty, mutual respect, and discipline in dress and comportment. NOI adherents do not consume pork, frown upon the consumption of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, and stress a healthy diet and physical fitness. However, the Nation of Islam argues that because of the unique experience of the oppression and degradation of slavery, Elijah Muhammad used unique methods for introducing Islam to his people. Traditional Islamic beliefs however, stand in stark opposition to the entire theological and creedal foundation of the Nation of Islam.

Other doctrines of the Nation of Islam are disputed, specifically:

  • God's incarnation
    • NOI teaches 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."
    • Traditional Sunni and Shi'a Muslim doctrine is that it is heretical and blasphemous to believe that God would manifest Himself in human form (or any material form). Likening any individual(s) to God is a form of shirk—a major sin in Islam.

  • Relations with whites
    • NOI teaches that the Black man is the original man, and from him came all brown, yellow, and white people. By using a special method of birth control law (the Yakub teaching), the Blackman was able to produce the white race. NOI does not believe that whites are worthy to be evangelized, and thus does not accept them into the NOI.
    • Traditional Islam teaches that all races are equal, and any person of any race can convert to Islam. Islam recognizes the Biblical and Qur’anic figure, the patriarch Jacob, but this Jacob is viewed by Muslims as a prophet, not the Yakub featured in Nation of Islam theology.

  • Perspectives on the Quran.
    • The vast majority of Muslims, worldwide, believe that the Quran is Allah's final revelation to mankind and that it was given to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad between the years of 610 and 632.
    • The NOI states that they believe in the Qur'an and the writings of all the prophets of God.In addition the NOI believes there are truths in the Bible but it is tampered material and "must be reinterpreted so that mankind will not be snared by the falsehoods that have been added to it."

  • Status of the Islamic prophet Muhammad vs. other prophets.
    • Islam teaches that Muhammad was the last of the messengers that Allah has sent to mankind — there would be no more and all Muslims are to follow the teachings of the Quran and accept monotheism
    • The Nation of Islam believes that Elijah Muhammad was a messenger and was taught by God Himself, who the NOI claim as "Master" Fard Muhammad(W. D. Fard).

  • Practice of Friday prayers:
    • Islam dedicates Friday as the congregational prayer (salat) that Muslims hold every Friday, just after noon in lieu of dhuhr (noon prayer).
    • The Nation of Islam ignores Jumuah, as a pillar of practice for Muslims. This was changed briefly in 2002, when W. Deen Mohammed, a Muslim in opposition of black separatism, delivered the Friday sermon at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The practice of Jumuah prayer for the NOI has since stopped in place of a traditional "Christian" Sunday service.
Table of comparison of mainstream Islam and Nation of Islam:
Belief Mainstream Islam Nation of Islam
God Allah is one, who has no partners Wallace D. Fard came as God incarnate (God is man)
Muhammad The final prophet of Islam, no one comes after him Elijah Muhammad is the prophet to tell about incarnation of Fard
Race All are equal regardless of color of skin, judged on behavior The Black race is superior than others, whites are devils
Creation Allah created the universe, first humans were Adam and Eve Black scientists created the plan which repeats every 25,000 years
Qur'an Revealed to Muhammad from God through the Angel Gabriel Black scientists created and revealed the Bible and the Qur'an
Sharia law Sacred rules and laws of Islamic life, based on Qur'an and Sunnah Not followed, own-created such as 4-6pm meal or avoid white flour cake meals

Actions and programs

NOI preacher in 1999, in England.
A Nation of Islam member sells copies of the Final Call newspaper and what appears to be assorted oils and perfumes.
The NOI has a do-for-self philosophy that resulted in the NOI owning and operating hundreds of businesses nationwide, employing thousands of people. The NOI has purchased and now operates food-industry services, bakeries, and restaurants. It owns a large amount of farmland in Georgiamarker. It owns and operates hair-care shops. Some of these business ventures have been success stories. Others have been criticized as Amway-style marketing schemes that have not benefited most of their employees.

The NOI has worked to clean up drug addicts, reform prostitutes, and keep black youth out of gangs. It has helped some newly released ex-convicts make a new start and stay out of jail.

In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin wrote:

During the 1980s when crack cocaine became very common, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Developmentmarker employed several private firms run by members of the Nation of Islam to provide security in housing projects in black neighborhoods. The Anti-Defamation League successfully lobbied Congress to sever the HUD contracts .

Noted current and former members and associates of Nation of Islam

See also


33. ^

External links

Nation of Islam Links

Non-NOI Muslims

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