Elijah Muhammad

Herbert Berg

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:
Elijah Muhammad


Elijah Muhammad, born Elijah Poole in 1897, led the Nation of Islam from the time of the disappearance of its founder, Wali Fard Muhammad, until his death in 1975. In the 1960s he was described as the “most powerful Blackman in America” and remains among the most influential American Muslims. It is through his efforts that thousands of African Americans were first introduced to Islam and the Qur’an, including Malcolm X, his son Warith Deen Mohammed, and Louis Farrakhan, even if the former two eventually moved to a more traditional Sunni understanding of Islam. Elijah Muhammad’s unique formulation of Islam—particularly casting Islam in racialist tones, including the origin of the white race six thousand years ago and the struggle between black Muslims and white Christians at end of the world—prompted many other Muslims to assert that Elijah Muhammad and his followers were not “real” Muslims. The scholarly literature is not vast, but Elijah Muhammad’s own teachings are found in hundreds of articles in various newspapers and speeches, many of which are to be found in posthumous collections.

Article.  5853 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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