The Nation of Islam (NOI) (أمة الإسلام, Ummah al-Islāmu) is a group founded in Detroit, Michigan, United States by a man called Wallace Fard Muhammad in July 1930 with the self-proclaimed goal of resurrecting the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of the black men and women of America. NOI also promotes the belief that God will bring about a universal government of peace.
From 1978 to the present, Louis Farrakhan has been the leader of a reconstituted Nation of Islam, the original organization having been renamed and dissolved by Warith Deen Muhammad. The Nation of Islam's National Center and headquarters is located in Chicago, Illinois, and is also home to its flagship Mosque No. 2, Mosque Maryam.
The original Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad also known as Master W. D. Fard Muhammad (1877-1934 or later). The Nation of Islam teaches that W. Fard Muhammad is both the "Messiah" of Christianity and the Mahdi of Islam. One of Fard's first disciples was Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975), who led the organization from 1935 through 1975.
By the time Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, there were 75 centres across America.
The official beliefs of the Nation of Islam have been outlined in books, documents, and articles published by the organization as well as speeches by Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Louis 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 . Many of Malcolm X's teachings of NOI theology are in his The End of White World Supremacy, while a later more critical discussion of those beliefs can be found in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, co-written with Alex Haley.
Passed down via written lessons from 1930-1934 from W. Fard Muhammad to his student, Elijah Muhammad, referred to and titled, The Supreme Wisdom the Nation of Islam 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 world's people of all races and faiths 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. These 85% of the masses are said to be manipulated by 10% of the people who are referred to as the rich slave-makers of the masses 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 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% and that 5% righteous teachers are at constant struggle and war with 10% to reach and free the minds of the masses of the people.
Pressed by Russert on whether he agreed with Elijah Muhammad's preaching that whites are blue-eyed devils, Farrakhan responded:
While Malcolm X was a member of the Nation of Islam, he preached that black people were genetically superior to white people but dominated by a system of white supremacy.
Louis Farrakhan, commenting on his teacher's description said the following:
Most traditional Muslims consider the Nation of Islam's beliefs to be antithetical to Islam.
A number of Jewish organizations, Christian organizations, and academics consider the Nation of Islam to be antisemitic. Professor David W. Leinweber, Ph.D. 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.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) alleges that NOI Health Minister, Abdul Alim Muhammad, has accused Jewish doctors of injecting Blacks with the AIDS virus, an allegation that Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad has denied.
The Nation of Islam has repeatedly denied charges of anti-Semitism, and NOI leader Minister Louis 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.
Responding to the widely reported assertion that he referred to Judaism as a dirty and "gutter religion", Farrakhan wrote a June 18 1997 letter to a former Wallstreet Journal associate editor, Jude Wanniski, stating in part:
Countless times over the years I have explained that I never referred to Judaism as a dirty religion, but, clearly referred to the machinations of those who hide behind the shield of Judaism while using unjust political means to achieve their objectives. This was distilled in the New York tabloids and other media saying, "Farrakhan calls Judaism a gutter religion."
As a Muslim, I revere Abraham, Moses, and all the Prophets who Allah (God) sent to the children of Israel. I believe in the scriptures brought by these Prophets and the Laws of Allah (God) as expressed in the Torah. I would never refer to the Revealed Word of Allah (God) -- the basis of Jewish Faith -- as "dirty" or "gutter." You know, Jude, as well as I, that the Revealed Word of Allah (God) comes as a Message from Allah (God) to purify us from our evil that has divided us and caused us to fall into the gutter.
Over the centuries, the evils of Christians, Jews and Muslims have dirtied their respective religions. True Faith in the laws and Teaching of Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad is not dirty, but, practices in the name of these religions can be unclean and can cause people to look upon the misrepresented religion as being unclean.
Jude Wanniski also defended the Nation of Islam against charges of racism and anti-Semitism, writing, "I've met dozens of men and women who belong to the Nation of Islam, attended many of their conferences, and prayed with them in their Chicago mosque to the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. I've concluded beyond any reasonable doubt that there is not an ounce of anti-Semitism or bigotry in Farrakhan.
The Nation of Islam has had friendly relations with the Neturei Karta, a small, controversial Jewish group that is well-known for its association with and support for anti-Zionists. Neturei Karta stressed that NOI leader, "Minister Louis Farrakhan is an extraordinary force for good in the Black community. His followers are responsible, industrious, modest and moral. And for this he and they have our respect.
In a letter responding to ADL Director Abraham Foxman's insistence that black leaders distance themselves from the Nation of Islam, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons wrote, "Simply put, you are misguided, arrogant, and very disrespectful of African Americans and most importantly your statements will unintentionally or intentionally lead to a negative impression of Jews in the minds of millions of African Americans", he continued, "For over 50 years, Minister Farrakhan has labored to resurrect the downtrodden masses of African Americans up out of poverty and self-destruction" and indicated that he had personally witnessed Farrakhan affirm, 'A Muslim can not hate a Jew. We are all members of the family of Abraham and all of us should maintain dialogue and mutual respect.'"
Other doctrines of the Nation of Islam are disputed, specifically:
The NOI has a do-for-self philosophy that resulted in the NOI owning and operating hundreds of businesses nationwide, employing thousands of people. The NOI has purchased and now operates food-industry services, bakeries, and restaurants. It owns a large amount of farmland in Georgia. It owns and operates hair-care shops. Some of these business ventures have been success stories. Others have been criticized as Amway-style marketing schemes that have not benefited most of their employees.
The NOI has worked to clean up drug addicts, reform prostitutes, and keep black youth out of gangs. It has helped some newly released ex-convicts make a new start and stay out of jail.
Elijah Muhammad has been able to do what generations of welfare workers and committees and resolutions and reports and housing projects and playgrounds have failed to do: to heal and redeem drunkards and junkies, to convert people who have come out of prison and to keep them out, to make men chaste and women virtuous, and to invest both the male and the female with pride and a serenity that hang about them like an unfailing light. He has done all these things, which our Christian church has spectacularly failed to do. (James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, New York: Vintage International/Random House, 1963)
During the 1980s when crack cocaine became very common, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development employed several private firms run by members of the Nation of Islam to provide security in housing projects in black neighborhoods. The Anti-Defamation League was successful in its controversial lobbying of Congress to sever the HUD contracts , which unfortunately opened up these already impoverished areas to the crime and drugs that the then banned security firms had worked diligently to eliminate.