RISE OF ISLAMIC MOVEMENTS IN AMEICA

The Nation of Islam (Arabic: أمة الإسلام‎‎, abbreviated as NOI) is an African American Islamic religious movement founded in Detroit, United States, by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad on July 4, 1930.[2] Its stated goals are to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans in the United States and all of humanity.[3] Critics have labeled the organization as being black supremacist[4] and antisemitic.[5][6][7] The NOI is tracked as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[8]

Its official newspaper is The Final Call. In 2007, the core membership was estimated to be between 20,000 and 50,000,[1] confirmed figures being unavailable.

The original newspaper of The Nation of Islam was called The Final Call to Islam and was published by Nation of Islam Leader Messenger Elijah Muhammad in the 1930s. This small newspaper evolved into Muhammad Speaks in the 1960s and attracted a circulation of 900,000 per week, with monthly circulation of 2.5 million.[2] Founded by Louis Farrakhan, The Final Call follows the traditions of the Muhammad Speaks newspaper with national and international news and coverage of political issues. It is the official communications organ of the Nation of Islam. Today, the weekly Final Call serves a readership of diverse economic and educational backgrounds and is distributed in North America, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. The current editor-in-chief is Richard B. Muhammad, and the managing editor is Starla Muhammad[3]

The Final Call Online Edition was a simple promotional tool developed by Final Call Muslim college students for the historic Million Man March in 1995. Receiving millions of visits since its inception, it has grown into the online companion to the Final Call newspaper.[2]

According to the publication’s website, The Final Call “aims to serve as an essential source of information for those who thirst for uncompromised reporting in today’s arena of corporate driven media”.[4]

After Fard disappeared in June 1934, the Nation of Islam was led by Elijah Muhammad, who established places of worship (called Temples or Mosques), a school named Muhammad University of Islam, businesses, farms, and real estate holdings in the United States and abroad.[9] There were a number of splits and splinter groups during Elijah Muhammad’s leadership, most notably the departure of senior leader Malcolm X to become a Sunni Muslim. After Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975, his son Warith Deen Mohammed changed the name of the organization to “World Community of Islam in the West” (and twice more after that), and attempted to convert it to a mainstream Sunni Muslim ideology.

In 1977, Louis Farrakhan rejected Warith Deen Mohammed’s leadership and re-established the Nation of Islam on the original model. He took over the Nation of Islam’s headquarters Temple, Mosque Maryam (Mosque #2), which is located in Chicago, Illinois. Since 2010, under Farrakhan, members have been strongly encouraged to study Dianetics, and the Nation claims it has trained 1055 auditors.[10]

Nation of Islam Symbol.png
Abbreviation NOI
Formation July 4, 1930; 85 years ago
Founder Wallace Fard Muhammad
Founded at Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Type Political religious movement
Legal status Active
Headquarters Mosque Maryam, Chicago, Illinois
Location
Fields Politics, religion
Membership (2007 estimate)
20,000–50,000[1]
Official language
English, Arabic
Leader
Louis Farrakhan
Key people
Subsidiaries
Slogan “Justice or Else!”
Website www.noi.org

The NOI was founded in Detroit, Michigan, on July 4, 1930, by Wallace Fard Muhammad, also known as W. D. Fard Muhammad, in order to, as the Nation of Islam states, “teach the downtrodden and defenseless Black people a thorough Knowledge of God and of themselves, and to put them on the road to Self-Independence with a superior culture and higher civilization than they had previously experienced.”[11] The NOI teaches that W. Fard Muhammad was both the “Messiah” of Judaism and the Mahdi of Islam. Fard chose his assistant minister, Elijah Muhammad, in 1931 to succeed him as head of the movement, calling Muhammad “His Divine Representative”. Fard trained Muhammad night and day for 3½ years before he took over NOI in 1934. Muhammad[clarification needed] and the movement were widely rejected during his 44 years as the NOI leader. Muhammad[clarification needed] established a newspaper titled The Final Call to Islam and attempted to create schools founded upon Muslim teachings.[12]

Muslim parents agreed with the foundation of these new schools, but the Michigan State Board of Education did not. Muslim teachers were charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors and jailed. The charges were later dropped and the teachers were freed; Muhammad was given six months probation to relocate the children to a standard state school, but he refused because the classes were predominantly taught by white Christians. Muhammad left for Chicago in September of that year.[clarification needed] He was soon joined by W. D. Fard Muhammad, who was run out of Detroit by the police.[12]

In 1942, during World War II, Elijah Muhammad was charged and convicted of violating the Selective Service Act and jailed. Many other Nation of Islam members were charged for the same thing, as NOI opposes serving in the United States military. Upon his release years later,[when?] Elijah Muhammad slowly built up the membership of his movement through recruitment in the postwar decades. His program called for the establishment of a separate nation for black Americans and the adoption of a religion based on the worship of Allah and on the belief that blacks were his chosen people.[12][13]

During this time, the Nation of Islam attracted Malcolm Little. While in prison for burglary from 1946 to 1952, Little joined the Nation of Islam. He was influenced by his brother, Reginald, who had become a member in Detroit. Little quit smoking, gambling and eating pork, in keeping with the Nation’s practices and dietary restrictions. He spent long hours reading books in the prison library. He sharpened his oratory skills by participating in debating classes. Following Nation tradition, Elijah Muhammad ordered him to replace his surname, “Little”, with an “X”, a custom among Nation of Islam followers who considered their surnames to have been imposed by white slaveholders after their African names were taken from them.[14]

Malcolm X rose rapidly to become a minister and national spokesperson for the NOI. Highly influenced by Malcolm X’s membership, the Nation claimed a membership of 30,000.[when?] In March 1964, Malcolm X was excommunicated from the Nation due to disagreements with Elijah Muhammad; among other things, Malcolm X found issues with Muhammad’s lack of adherence to Muslim teachings, and Malcolm X’s fame had led to media attention and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) infiltration into the Nation of Islam.[14] In April 1964, one month later, Malcolm X founded Muslim Mosque Inc., stating, “I never left the Nation of Islam of my own free will. It was they who conspired with Captain Joseph here in New York to pressure me out of the Nation.”[15] In March 1966, three NOI members were convicted of assassinating Malcolm X.[16][17]

In 1955, Louis Walcott had joined the Nation of Islam. Following custom, he also replaced his surname with an “X”. He was given his new name, “Farrakhan”, by Elijah Muhammad. In 1965, following the assassination of Malcolm X, Farrakhan emerged as the protege of Malcolm. Like his predecessor, Farrakhan was a dynamic, charismatic leader and a powerful speaker with the ability to appeal to the African-American masses.[18]

By the time Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, there were 75 NOI centers across America.[19] The Nation’s leadership chose Wallace Muhammad, also known as Warith Deen Mohammad, the fifth of Elijah’s sons – not Farrakhan – as the new Supreme Minister. At the time, Nation of Islam was founded upon the principles of self-reliance and black supremacy, a belief that mainstream Muslims consider heretical.[20] He shunned his father’s theology and black pride views, forging closer ties with mainstream Muslim communities in an attempt to transition the Nation of Islam into orthodoxy more similar to Sunni Islam.[21] Under W. D. Mohammed’s leadership, the Nation of Islam decentralized into many bodies of followers led by many different leaders. This made it hard to track the exact number of NOI members, but it is estimated to have been in the tens of thousands.[22]

In 1977, Farrakhan resigned from Wallace Muhammad’s reformed organization. He worked to rebuild the Nation of Islam upon the original foundation established by Wallace Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad. Farrakhan traveled across America speaking in cities to gain new followers. Over time, Farrakhan regained many of the Nation of Islam’s original properties. There are now mosques and study groups in over 120 American cities attributed to Farrakhan’s work as a leader.[23]

In 1995, the Nation of Islam sponsored the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. to promote African-American unity and family values. Estimates of the number of marchers were given between 400,000 and 840,000. Under Farrakhan’s leadership, the Nation of Islam tried to redefine the standard “black male stereotype” of drug and gang violence. Meanwhile, the Nation continued to promote social reform in African-American communities according to its traditional goals of self-reliance and economic independence.[23]

Under Farrakhan’s leadership, the Nation was one of the fastest growing of the various political movements in the country. Foreign branches of the Nation were formed in Ghana, London, Paris, and the Caribbean islands. In order to strengthen the international influence of the Nation, Farrakhan attempted to establish relations with Muslim countries. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1991 and experienced a near-death experience in 2000 due to complications. After that experience, Farrakhan toned down the politics of NOI and attempted to strengthen relations with other minority communities, including Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians.[23]

On May 8, 2010, Farrakhan publicly announced his embrace of Dianetics and has actively encouraged Nation of Islam members to undergo auditing from the Church of Scientology.[24][25] Since the announcement in 2010, the Nation of Islam has been hosting its own Dianetics courses and its own graduation ceremonies. At the third such ceremony, which was held on Saviours’ Day 2013, it was announced that nearly 8500 members of the organization had undergone Dianetics auditing. The organization announced it had graduated 1,055 auditors and had delivered 82,424 hours of auditing. The graduation ceremony was certified by the Church of Scientology, and the Nation of Islam members received certification. The ceremony was attended by Shane Woodruff, vice-president of the Church of Scientology‘s Celebrity Centre International. He stated that “The unfolding story of the Nation of Islam and Dianetics is bold, It is determined and it is absolutely committed to restoring freedom and wiping hell from the face of this planet.”[10]

 Nation of Islam leader (1981-present) Louis Farrakhan

The main belief of the NOI and its followers is that there is no other God but Allah. They teach that their founder, Master Fard Muhammad is the Mahdi.[26] The official beliefs of the NOI have been outlined in books, documents, and articles published by the organization, and in speeches by Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, 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.[27]

Written lessons from 1930 to 1934 were passed from W. Fard Muhammad to his student, Elijah Muhammad. These were collected and entitled The Supreme Wisdom. The NOI 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”. Those 85% of the masses are said to be manipulated by 10% 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 is 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%. The 5% “righteous teachers” are at constant struggle and war with the 10% to reach and “free the minds” of the masses of the people.[28][29]

Official platform

Members of the Nation of Islam, San Francisco, California, 1994

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 (1965). The itemized platform contains two sections; “What The Muslims Want”, consisting of 10 points; and “What The Muslims Believe”, consisting of 12 points.[26]

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 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:

And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

— King James Version

Separatism

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

Tim Russert: “Once a week, on the back page [of your newspaper] is The Muslim Program, ‘What the Muslims Want’ [written in 1965]. The first is in terms of territory, ‘Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by white America justifies our demand for complete separation in a state or territory of our own.’ Is that your view in 1997, a separate state for Black Americans?”

Minister Louis Farrakhan: “First, the program starts with number one. That is number four. The first part of that program is that we want freedom, a full and complete freedom. The second is, we want justice. We want equal justice under the law, and we want justice applied equally to all, regardless of race or class or color. And the third is that we want equality. We want equal membership in society with the best in civilized society. If we can get that within the political, economic, social system of America, there’s no need for point number four. But if we cannot get along in peace after giving America 400 years of our service and sweat and labor, then, of course, separation would be the solution to our race problem.”[33]

Black Muslims

Black Muslims, African-American religious movement in the United States, split since the late 1970s into the American Society of Muslims and the Nation of Islam. The original group was founded (1930) in Detroit by Wali Farad (or W. D. Fard), whom his followers believed to be “Allah in person.” When Farad disappeared mysteriously in 1934, Elijah Muhammad assumed leadership of the group, first in Detroit and then in Chicago. Under his leadership, the black nationalist and separatist sect (then called the Nation of Islam) expanded, mainly among poor blacks and prison populations. Although the group numbered only about 8,000 when Muhammad took over, it grew rapidly in the 1950s and 60s, particularly as a result of the preaching of one of its ministers, Malcolm X. Tension between Muhammad and Malcolm developed, however, and Malcolm’s subsequent suspension (1963) and assassination (1965), possibly by Muhammad’s followers, caused great dissension in the movement. When Muhammad died in 1975, his son, Wallace D. Muhammad (later Warith Deen Mohammed) took over, preaching a far less inflammatory version of Islam. He aligned the organization with the international Islamic community, moving toward Sunni Islamic practice, and opened the group (renamed the World Community of al-Islam in the West, then the American Muslim Mission, and later the American Society of Muslims) to individuals of all races. In 1977 a group of Black Muslims, led by Louis Farrakhan, split off from the organization, disillusioned by the son’s integrationist ideals and lack of allegiance to his father’s brand of Islam. They named themselves the Nation of Islam and sought to follow in the footsteps of Elijah Muhammad. In the late 1990s the Nation of Islam began to embrace some traditional Islamic practices, and Farrakhan and Mohammed publicly declared an end to the rivalry between their groups in 2000. W. Deen Mohammed resigned as head of the American Society of Muslims in 2003.

Criticism

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:

Often the minister reads passages from well-known historical, sociological, or anthropological works, and finds in them inconspicuous references to the black man’s true history in the world…. Occasionally the minister chides the audience for its skepticism: “I know you don’t believe me because I happen to be a black man. Well, you can look it up in a book I’m going to tell you about that was written by a white man.” He then reads off references that his hearers are challenged to check.

In recent years, the embrace of Dianetics under Farrakhan has drawn much criticism that the Nation of Islam is becoming too close to the Church of Scientology and the ideas of its founder L. Ron Hubbard, whom Farrakhan has said he respects. Farrakhan has praised Hubbard, saying he was “exceedingly valuable to every Caucasian person on this Earth”. Of followers of Scientology, he stated “You can still be a Christian; you just won’t be a devil Christian. You’ll still be a Jew, but you won’t be a satanic Jew!”[24][25][43]

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 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:

And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

— King James Version

Separatism

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

Tim Russert: “Once a week, on the back page [of your newspaper] is The Muslim Program, ‘What the Muslims Want’ [written in 1965]. The first is in terms of territory, ‘Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by white America justifies our demand for complete separation in a state or territory of our own.’ Is that your view in 1997, a separate state for Black Americans?”

Minister Louis Farrakhan: “First, the program starts with number one. That is number four. The first part of that program is that we want freedom, a full and complete freedom. The second is, we want justice. We want equal justice under the law, and we want justice applied equally to all, regardless of race or class or color. And the third is that we want equality. We want equal membership in society with the best in civilized society. If we can get that within the political, economic, social system of America, there’s no need for point number four. But if we cannot get along in peace after giving America 400 years of our service and sweat and labor, then, of course, separation would be the solution to our race problem.”[33]

Teachings on race

Wallace Fard Muhammad taught that the original peoples of the world were black and that white people were a race of “devils” created by a scientist named Yakub (the Biblical and Qur’anic Jacob) on the Greek island of Patmos.  According to the supreme wisdom lessons, Fard taught that whites were devils because of a culture of lies and murder that Yakub instituted on the island to ensure the creation of his new people. Fard taught that Yakub established a secret eugenics policy among the ruling class on the island. They were to kill all dark babies at birth and lie to the parents about the child’s fate. Further, they were to ensure that lighter-skinned children thrived in society. This policy encouraged a general preference for light skin. It was necessary to allow the process of grafting or making of a lighter-skinned race of people who would be different. The idea was that if the light-skinned people were allowed to mate freely with the dark-skinned people, the population would remain dark-skinned due to the genetic dominance of the original dark-skinned people. This process took approximately 600 years to produce a blond-haired, blue-eyed group of people. As they migrated into the mainland, they were greeted and welcomed by the indigenous people wherever they went. But according to the supreme wisdom lessons, they started making trouble among the righteous people, telling lies and causing confusion and mischief. This is when the ruling class of the Middle East decided to round up all the troublemakers they could find and march them out, over the hot desert sands, into the caves and hillsides of Europe. Elijah claimed that this history is well-known and preserved, and is ritualized or re-enacted within many fraternal organizations and secret societies. Fard taught that much of the savage ways of white people came from living in the caves and hillsides of Europe for over 2,000 years without divine revelation or knowledge of civilization.[34] The writings of Elijah Muhammad advise a student must learn that the white man is “Yacub’s grafted Devil” and “the Skunk of the planet Earth”.[35]

The Nation of Islam teaches that black people are the original people, and that all other people come from them. Farrakhan has stated, regarding spiritual ascension, “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.”[36]

The Blackman is the original man. From him came all brown, yellow, red, and white people. By using a special method of birth control law, the Blackman was able to produce the white race. This method of birth control was developed by a Black scientist known as Yakub, who envisioned making and teaching a nation of people who would be diametrically opposed to the Original People. A Race of people who would one day rule the original people and the earth for a period of 6,000 years. Yakub promised his followers that he would graft a nation from his own people, and he would teach them how to rule his people, through a system of tricks and lies whereby they use deceit to divide and conquer, and break the unity of the darker people, put one brother against another, and then act as mediators and rule both sides.

— Elijah Muhammad.[37]

Antisemitism

The Nation of Islam has repeatedly denied charges of anti-Semitism.[44] 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.”[45] However, NOI officials and outlets including Farrakhan have also been accused of repeatedly using anti-semitic and homophobic rhetoric, including saying, “It’s the wicked Jews, the false Jews, that are promoting lesbianism, homosexuality. It’s the wicked Jews, false Jews, that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic!”[8]

Regarding condemnation for having referred to Adolf Hitler as being a ‘great man’, Farrakhan has said, “I have throughout my life referred to Hitler as a wicked man, yet, the national news media insists that I called him a “great man”, with the implied inference that “great” means “good”. However, I did refer to him as “wickedly great”, in the same sense that Genghis Khan stands out in history.”[46]

Professor David W. Leinweber of Emory University 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. Leinweber and others use the original statements of Farrakhan and others as the basis for their evaluation.[47] NOI Health Minister Abdul Alim Muhammad has accused Jewish doctors of injecting Blacks with the AIDS virus.[48][49]

Jeffery Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s longtime leader in Dallas, Texas, stated:

They [Asian-American merchants in black neighborhoods] are just the latest in a long line of people who have come to this country — like Jews, Italians, Indians and now Asians — who have sucked the blood of and exploited the black community.[50]

Foreign affiliations

The Nation of Islam’s links to Libya are well known. The NOI obtained substantial funds from then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, notably a $5 million loan used to pay back-taxes and costs for the home of the movement’s former leader Elijah Muhammad and a $3 million loan from Libya in the 1970s to acquire its opulent headquarters on Chicago’s South Side.[55] Libya channeled funds through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) based in Canada to a Libyan intelligence front in Washington. The money was provided to finance trips to Tripoli by the NOI and American radicals, according to a Canadian parliamentary investigation and a prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in northern Virginia.[56] “At least one gathering attended by Farrakhan in Libya – in violation of a travel ban imposed on Americans by President Reagan after Libya was linked to terrorist attacks in Europe – offered training seminars on weapons and explosives.”[57] The Libyans paid $250,000 in travel and other expenses to stage a pro-Gaddafi demonstration in which NOI played a leading role.[58]

In 1994, the NOI leader visited Khartoum, where he met with Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, the Sudanese head of state and Dr. Hassan Abdullah al-Turabi, who headed Sudan’s ruling party. Farrakhan’s National Assistant Khalid Abdul Muhammed attended the 1995 PAIC meeting. Upon meeting Sheikh Naim Qassem of Hezbollah after a news conference at a Khartoum hotel, Muhammed found a translator to convey his greetings.

In 1996, Farrakhan traveled to Iran, Iraq, and Libya, at which time Gaddafi offered him an additional $1 billion.[59] Farrakhan insisted that the money would not be used to arm his followers, despite a report from Iran that Farrakhan had said there that one day Allah will destroy Americans at the hands of Muslims. The full statement attributed to Farrakhan was:

God will not give Japan and Europe the honor of bringing down the United States. This is an honor God will bestow upon Muslims.[59]

In 2011, Farrakhan continued to portray Gaddafi as a fellow revolutionary who has lent millions of dollars to the Nation of Islam over the years.

It wasn’t the money, but the principles that made me his brother.[60]

References

 

 

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