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RELIGION LIBRARY

Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam is an African American movement founded in 1930 by Wallace D. Fard (or W. Fard Muhammad) which gained prominence through his successor, Elijah Muhammad. With its headquarters in Chicago, the Nation of Islam has been characterized by its blending of Black Nationalist ideals with traditional Islamic religion. The teachings of W. Fard Muhammad were passed to Elijah through written lessons compiled as The Supreme Wisdom. Elijah Muhammad taught the basic fundamentals of Islam and combined these beliefs and practices with Black Nationalism in a manner that appealed to African Americans at a time when the Civil Rights Movement was building in America. These teachings promote a doctrine of racial unity and strict moral character. The Nation of Islam supported a program that promoted economic self-sufficiency for African Americans through the ownership of their own black businesses. He also encouraged independence from white structures through changing one's name (either to Islamic names or to a last name of "X" as a rejection of their slave names). After the death of Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam split over disagreements about what some perceived as a transition to a more orthodox Islamic program. Some followed Elijah's brother, while others the Nation's national leader, Silas Muhammad. Malcolm X emerged as a powerful voice of the Nation of Islam in the 1950s and 60s. Although the movement continued to splinter somewhat, it was considerably revived in the 1990s by Louis Farrakkan.

Quick Facts

Formed 1978
Adherents 10,000 - 70,000 (disputed)
Deity Allah, Master Fard Muhammad (Allah incarnated)
Sacred Text Qur'an, teachings of Honorable Elijah Muhammad
Origin United States
Headquarters Chicago, IL (USA)
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