Nation of Islam

Herbert Berg

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Nation of Islam


The Nation of Islam began in 1930 in Detroit with the appearance of a mysterious man known variously as Master W. F. Muhammad (also Mohammed), Wali Fard (pronounced “Farrad”) Muhammad, and Allah. His origins are much disputed, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asserted that he was the petty criminal Wallace D. Ford—though Elijah Muhammad, his successor, would vehemently deny the FBI’s claim. Fard Muhammad taught his followers a racialist formulation of Islam, which was elaborated by Elijah Muhammad: Islam was the only natural religion and Arabic the natural language of all people of color, especially blacks. White humanity was grafted out of the original black humanity using a wicked eugenics program 6,000 years ago. They were considered devils, whose greatest evil was the enslavement of Africans and who became the Lost-Found Nation of Islam (in the wilderness of America). The only hope for peace and justice for the descendants of these slaves lied in the separation from whites and their wicked Christian religion in preparation for their imminent destruction at the hands of Allah in the person of Fard Muhammad. After Fard Muhammad’s mysterious disappearance in 1934, the movement of several thousand fractured, but eventually Elijah Muhammad came to be seen as the sole leader. After itinerant preaching in the cities of the northeast United States and a prison sentence for draft dodging during World War II, Elijah Muhammad saw his efforts rewarded with a rapid expansion of his movement, especially with the efforts of his protégé, Malcolm X. After their split in 1964, Elijah Muhammad led the movement during the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. After his death, he was succeeded by his son Warith Deen Mohammed (then known as Wallace D. Muhammad) who had been expelled several times for his Sunni Islam inclinations. Soon after assuming leadership, he moved the Nation of Islam toward Sunni orthodoxy. By 1977 some conservatives led by Louis Farrakhan resurrected the Nation of Islam with its original doctrines and institutions.

Article.  7134 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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