Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups

By Stephen E. Atkins | Go to book overview

N

Nation of Islam (NOI)

The Nation of Islam (NOI), the most extreme black religious movement in the United States, was founded in Detroit, Michigan, in 1930. The founder, Farad Muhammad, had a criminal record, but he was able to convince members of the black community that Islam was its natural religion. Christianity, in contrast, was the religion of their white oppressors. Many of the early followers of Farad Muhammad had been affiliated with the black nationalism movements of Marcus Garvey and Noble Drew Ali. Farad Muhammad taught his followers that they were not Americans and that they owed no allegiance to the American flag. After his disappearance in 1934, probably under Detroit police pressure, Elijah Muhammad assumed the leadership of the Nation of Islam. At the time of Farad Muhammad's disappearance, the movement had about 8,000 adherents. Elijah Muhammad's assumption of power, however, was not without serious challengers. Driven out of Detroit by his enemies, he moved to Chicago where he established the national headquarters of the Nation of Islam. Elijah Muhammad achieved recognition from his followers as the messenger of Allah in the late 1940s. By 1974 the Nation of Islam had mosques or study groups in every state and in the District of Columbia.

Muhammad's views on racial separation and his anti-white philosophy became influential in segments of the African American community. According to the Nation of Islam, God is a black man. All progress in the arts and sciences throughout the ages came from early black civilizations. Among these black civilizations was the tribe of Shabazz. Blacks were the chosen people who would soon be freed from the bondage of white culture. The white race is evil, and white world supremacy would soon be replaced by a new black culture of Islam. For these theological reasons, Elijah Muhammad argued that blacks in America should be given their independence and allowed a separate homeland in either North America or Africa. To help in the struggle against the whites and to encourage the proper behavior of members, the Nation of Islam formed a paramilitary organization, the Fruit of Islam.

Members of the Nation of Islam adhered to a rigid moral code. Black Muslims were forbidden to gamble, smoke, drink liquor, or overeat, and they were discouraged from using credit. All members were expected to give a fixed percentage of their income to the local mosque. Women had a special role as companions and mothers, and the leaders insisted that they be respected. The Fruit of Islam enforced discipline and the rules of the mosque. Elijah Muhammad determined how

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Encyclopedia of Modern Worldwide Extremists and Extremist Groups
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Chronology of Events vii
  • Introduction xxi
  • A 1
  • B 26
  • C 57
  • D 80
  • E 89
  • F 96
  • G 110
  • H 123
  • I 137
  • J 142
  • K 149
  • L 166
  • M 184
  • N 215
  • O 230
  • P 238
  • Q 252
  • R 253
  • S 267
  • T 291
  • U 301
  • V 304
  • W 306
  • Y 326
  • Z 328
  • Selected Bibliography 331
  • Index 339
  • About the Author 375
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