Nation of Islam

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Heterodox black religious movement in America, based on black nationalism. More than 90 percent of converts are African-Americans. The Nation of Islam was founded in 1930 by Wallace D. Fard. Elijah Muhammad assumed leadership in 1934 when Fard mysteriously disappeared. Muhammad taught that Fard was God, proclaimed himself God's messenger, and infused Fard's teachings with black nationalism. The group tried to help blacks develop economic independence and recover an acceptable black identity. Its ethic became one of hard work, frugality, avoidance of debt, self-improvement, and a conservative lifestyle. The group recruited actively in prisons and ghettoes and urged the formation of a separate black nation. The movement split after the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975. The branch following Elijah Muhammad's son Warith Deen Muhammad has moved in the direction of orthodox Sunni Islam. The branch that followed Louis Farrakhan has maintained the black nationalist and separatist stances central to Elijah Muhammad's teachings.

See also America, Islam in

Subjects: Islam — United States History.

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