History of the Nation of Islam

History of the Nation of Islam

This article outlines the history of the Nation of Islam.

NOI: 1930–1975

The original Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit in the United States of America in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad. Wallace Fard Muhammad (1877, 1891 or 1893- 1934?), is believed by the NOI to be “the long-awaited Messiah of the Christians and the Mahdi of the Muslims”. [http://www.noi.org/muslim_program.htm]

One of Fard's first disciples was Elijah Poole, whose name Fard later changed to Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975). Elijah Muhammad deified Fard by preaching that he was literally God in person.

Elijah Muhammad was born in Georgia, but later moved to Detroit, where he came into contact with Fard Muhammad through his wife Clara Muhammad and accepted his teachings. He eventually traveled the country, setting up mosques, and named them according to his sequence of arrival. In New York to this day, the mosque there is still referred to as Mosque No. 7, because it was the seventh mosque Elijah Muhammad visited. Over time, Elijah Muhammad's followers spread his teachings, from streets and meeting halls to correctional institutions.

One of the Nation of Islam's core beliefs is that the so-called American Negro has been miseducated by public schools with the express intent of preserving a system of white domination. Highly critical of the facilities and quality of education available in the nation's public schools, which were segregated at the time, the NOI established an independent, parochial school in various cities, calling each one the University of Islam. This move led to confrontations with the authorities. In Detroit in 1934, a squad of police officers raided the NOI school and arrested 12 teachers for “contributing to the delinquency of minors.” Because students were not enrolled in a state-accredited school, legally, they were considered truants. According to reports, Nation of Islam members demonstrated for the teachers' release, asserting their support of the NOI private school in front of Detroit Police headquarters. (Desiree Cooper, "Helping turn a sect into a nation", Detroit Free Press, March 31, 2005)

Commenting on the confrontation and the Nation of Islam's decision to set up independent schools, Elijah Muhammad said,

:In Detroit, Michigan, where we were first attacked outright by the Police Department in April 1934, we were also unarmed. There were no deaths on the part of the Believers, however. They fought back against the policemen who attacked them for no just cause whatsoever but that they wanted our Muslim children to go to their schools. We refused to let children take their first courses in the public schools, although the high-school children in their upper teens could do so. But let us shape our children first. (Elijah Muhammad, "Message to the Blackman in America", Muhammad's Temple No. 2, 1965)

One follower who was to become one of his most well-known adherents was Malcolm Little, later to become known as Malcolm X. While serving a prison sentence for robbery, Malcolm was introduced to the Nation of Islam by his brother Philbert. Upon his release from prison in 1952, Little joined the Nation of Islam and, in the custom of the Nation, became known as Malcolm X. NOI doctrine explains that because in mathematics the "X" represents an unknown variable; followers use it to represent their lost, unknown African surnames. The followers accept this “X” as a symbol of the rejection of their slave names and the absence of a “proper” Muslim name. Eventually, the “X” is replaced with an Arabic name more descriptive of a person’s personality and character. Eventually, Malcolm X took the name El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz after rejecting the Nation’s beliefs and accepting traditional Islam.

1955 brought the arrival of future NOI leader Louis Eugene Walcott, later to be known as Louis Farrakhan. A calypso singer and violinist, Walcott first became acquainted with the teachings of Elijah Muhammad after attending the NOI's annual Savior's Day convention in Chicago. Walcott accepted Elijah Muhammad's teachings that day and became Louis X before being renamed Louis Farrakhan by Muhammad years later. After the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, Farrakhan became imam of Mosque No. 7 and the official spokesman for the Nation. In the wake of a doctrinal schism in the organization after Elijah Muhammad's death ten years later, Farrakhan would become the leading voice of a “purist” faction, which sought to adhere to Muhammad's teachings and the black nationalist dogma.

One day after Elijah Muhammad's death in February 1975, the succession of his son Wallace was approved unanimously during the annual Savior's Day celebrations February 26. Wallace Muhammad was suspended from the NOI for “dissident views” and ideological rifts with his father over religious doctrine, but had been restored to the organization by 1974. [ [http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/people/warith_deen_mohammed.html This Far by Faith - Warith Deen Mohammed] ]

By the time Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, there were 75 Temples across America. [ [http://www.muhammadspeaks.com/Temples.html Muhammad's Temple of Islam] , Information taken from the October 4, 1974 edition of Muhammad Speaks Newspaper]

Muslim American Society: 1975

When W.D. (Wallace) Muhammad was installed as Supreme Minister of the Nation of Islam in 1975, he immediately began to reformulate his father's beliefs and practices to bring NOI closer to mainstream Sunni Islam. He renamed his organization a number of times, settling on the Muslim American Society, and many of his followers assimilated into traditional Islam. Wallace Muhammad publicly shunned his father's theology and black separatist views, changed the spelling of his last name from the Nation’s preferred “Muhammad” to the older form “Mohammad,” accepted whites as fellow worshipers and attempted to forge closer ties with mainstream Muslim communities in the United States. Wallace later changed his own name to The Honorable , Al-Imam Warith Deen Muhammad.

A new NOI: 1978

At the outset of Wallace Muhammad's leadership of the Nation, many members were disturbed at the movement's new, moderate direction; and a minority of them years later formed more doctrinaire splinter groups. The most important of these was Louis Farrakhan, who, in a 1990 interview with "Emerge Magazine", expressed his disillusionment with the changes and decided to "quietly walk away" from the organization in 1976, rather than cause a schism among the membership. In 1978, after wrestling with the changes and consequent dismantling of the NOI, Farrakhan and his supporters decided to rebuild the original Nation of Islam upon the foundation established by W. Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad.

In 1979, the Nation of Islam's newspaper, "Muhammad Speaks" was reestablished by Farrakhan under the name "The Final Call".

In 1981, Farrakhan publicly announced the restoration of the Nation of Islam and went forward with Elijah Muhammad's teachings.

In 1988 the resurgent Nation of Islam repurchased its former flagship mosque and headquarters in Chicago and dedicated it as Mosque Maryam, the National Center for the Re-training and Re-education of the Blackman and Woman of America and the World.

In October 1990, a 2,000-member delegation from the United States traveled to Accra, Ghana, for the Nation of Islam's first International Savior’s Day convention on the African continent. Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings officially opened and closed the five-day convention.

In December 1997, the Nation of Islam sponsored a world tour referred to as the "World Friendship Tour III". [http://worldfriendshiptour.noi.org/] A delegation of Muslim and Christian clergy from America, led by Minister Louis Farrakhan, visited the Caribbean and almost 40 countries as well, including Canada, Mali, South Africa, South Korea, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Russia, Arabia, Libya, Cuba, Egypt, and the Philippines. Using the themes of the Million Man March held two years earlier, Farrakhan declared the mission of the tour to “spread the message of atonement, reconciliation, and responsibility.”

The Million Man March: 1995

In 1995 Farrakhan convened what organizers say was the largest march in U.S. history, the Million Man March.

Reconciliation: 2000

Marking 70 years since the Nation of Islam was founded in America, in 2000 Imam Warith Deen Mohammed and Minister Louis Farrakhan publicly embraced and declared unity and reconciliation at the annual Savior’s Day convention.

In comments to the audience, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed said,

"Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, it is not difficult for Minister Farrakhan and Wallace D. Mohammed to embrace each other. That’s easy for us. When I first met him in the early ’50s, I liked him on first sight, and I became his friend and his brother. And I have not stopped being his friend and his brother. Maybe he has not understood, but I have always been his friend and his brother. For me, this is too big a cause for our personal problems and differences. "Allah-u Akbar" (God is great). [http://www.finalcall.com/columns/mlf/2000/imam_wdm2-25-2000.html FCN, February 25, 2000]

Farrakhan and Mohammed have continued to promote unity between their communities with prayer services and joint projects. [http://www.finalcall.com/national/prayer_service02-26-2002.htm FCN, February 26, 2002]

Millions More Movement: 2005

Ten years after the historic Million Man March, Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan and diverse coalition of Black leaders announced plans to launch The "Millions More Movement" in commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Million Man March. Plans called for a mass march on Washington, D.C., on October 15, 2005, to galvanize public support for the movement's goals. [http://www.millionsmoremovement.com/news/webcast.htm "MillionsMoreMovement.com", May 02, 2005]

External links

* [http://www.noi.org The Nation of Islam Website]
* [http://www.noi.org The Final Call Newspaper, Nation of Islam Affiliated]
* [http://www.seventhfam.com Messenger Elijah Muhammad's Online Books & Other Writings]
* [http://www.seventhfam.com/temple/books/black_man/blkindex.htm Message To the Blackman in America]
* [http://www.seventhfam.com/audio/tot/ Messenger Elijah Muhammad's Theology of Time Lecture Series]
* [http://www.seventhfam.com/audio/lectures/ Messenger Elijah Muhammad's Classic Lectures]
* [http://www.seventhfam.com/audio/broadcasts/ Mr. Muhammad Speaks Radio Broadcasts]
* [http://www.seventhfam.com/video/ Messenger Muhammad's Saviour's Day and other Historic Videos]
* [http://www.emtecfilms.com/page15/page15.html What the Muslims Believe]
* [http://homepage.mac.com/templeno7/ Muhammad's Temple of Islam #7]

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