Nation of Islam

Essay by john smith2University, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

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Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam is a figure as current as

today's headlines, but the movement of which he is a nominal spokesman has a

continuous history of over sixty years in this country. The Nation of Islam

(NOI), as it is officially known, came to the attention of the general public

in the 1960s as the 'Black Muslims.' (1) It is well-known for its doctrine

that the White Man is a devil. but what is probably less well known is another

part of its teaching - that the Black man is god.

Outsiders have done little in-depth research to trace the NOI's doctrinal

predecessors. The NOI itself has denied its connections with previous

movements, specifically the Moorish Science Temple of Noble Drew Ali. Ali,

who was born as Timothy Drew in North Carolina in 1886, taught, among other

things, that Blacks are descended from the ancient Canaanites.

Legend has it

that he was the reincarnation of Muhammad, the Prophet of orthodox Islam.

Eventually relocating to Chicago, Ali built an organization that numbered

perhaps 30,000 adherents at its peak. (2)

On March 15, 1929, Ali was arrested after factional violence resulted in the

death of a rival, Sheik Claude Greene. Arrested and held in the county jail,

Ali was eventually released on bail, but died July 20, 1929, under mysterious

circumstances. (3)

Master Fard Muhammad

The story of the NOI itself starts with a man variously known as Wali Farrad,

W.D. Fard, Wallace Fard Muhammad, and Farrad Muhammad, but who is best known

as Msater Fard Muhammad. (4) According to his sucessor, Elijah Muhammad,

        He came alone. He began teaching us the knowledge of ourselves, of

        God and the devil, of the measurements of the earth, of other planets,

        and the civilizations of some of the planets...