Islamic Studies Nation of Islam
by
Herbert Berg
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0130

Introduction

The Nation of Islam began in 1930 in Detroit with the appearance of a mysterious man known variously as Master W. F. Muhammad (also Mohammed), Wali Fard (pronounced “Farrad”) Muhammad, and Allah. His origins are much disputed, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asserted that he was the petty criminal Wallace D. Ford—though Elijah Muhammad, his successor, would vehemently deny the FBI’s claim. Fard Muhammad taught his followers a racialist formulation of Islam, which was elaborated by Elijah Muhammad: Islam was the only natural religion and Arabic the natural language of all people of color, especially blacks. White humanity was grafted out of the original black humanity using a wicked eugenics program 6,000 years ago. They were considered devils, whose greatest evil was the enslavement of Africans and who became the Lost-Found Nation of Islam (in the wilderness of America). The only hope for peace and justice for the descendants of these slaves lied in the separation from whites and their wicked Christian religion in preparation for their imminent destruction at the hands of Allah in the person of Fard Muhammad. After Fard Muhammad’s mysterious disappearance in 1934, the movement of several thousand fractured, but eventually Elijah Muhammad came to be seen as the sole leader. After itinerant preaching in the cities of the northeast United States and a prison sentence for draft dodging during World War II, Elijah Muhammad saw his efforts rewarded with a rapid expansion of his movement, especially with the efforts of his protégé, Malcolm X. After their split in 1964, Elijah Muhammad led the movement during the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. After his death, he was succeeded by his son Warith Deen Mohammed (then known as Wallace D. Muhammad) who had been expelled several times for his Sunni Islam inclinations. Soon after assuming leadership, he moved the Nation of Islam toward Sunni orthodoxy. By 1977 some conservatives led by Louis Farrakhan resurrected the Nation of Islam with its original doctrines and institutions.

General Overviews

Essien-Udom 1962 and Lincoln 1994 are the earliest examinations of the Nation of Islam, the latter of which has been updated since its first publication in 1961. The former sees the movement as an expression of black nationalism and the latter as a socioreligious protest movement. Numerous works chronicle the Nation of Islam and its social context. Most of these surveys also have particular interests. Barboza 1994 is unusual in that it presents portraits of numerous African American Muslims, many of which have connections to the Nation of Islam. Curtis 2002 also presents such portraits but only of the most prominent figures in the Nation of Islam. Clegg 1997 (cited under the Leadership of Elijah Muhammad) focuses primarily on Elijah Muhammad, but as the leader for four decades, it is also a history of his movement. McCloud 1995 and Lee 1996 both have a sociological interest. Banks 1997 focuses only on the positive aspect of the Nation of Islam, whereas Tsoukalas 2001 takes a hostile Christian theological perspective.

  • Banks, William, Jr. The Black Muslims. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1997.

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    A largely hagiographic history of the Nation of Islam that ends with Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March, depicting him in the tradition of Garvey, Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammad, and Malcolm X while glossing over Warith Deen Mohammed’s African American Muslims.

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  • Barboza, Steven. American Jihad: Islam after Malcolm X. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

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    A collection of autobiographical portraits of various black Muslims, including Louis Farrakhan, Warith Deen Mohammed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Attallah Shabazz, and many others who are not famous. Highlights the diversity within the Black Muslim movement in the United States.

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  • Curtis, Edward E. Islam in Black America: Identity, Liberation, and Difference in African-American Islamic Thought. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.

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    Examines the prominent figures of African American Islam, including Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Warith Deen Mohammed, with particular emphasis on how each dealt with the black particularism.

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  • Essien-Udom, E. U. Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.

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    An early analysis of the history, beliefs, organization, and religious life of the Nation of Islam. Includes interviews with Elijah Muhammad and members of the Nation of Islam and observation of their day-to-day activities. Emphasizes the political activities of Black Nationalism at the expense of its religious activities.

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  • Lee, Martha F. The Nation of Islam: An American Millenarian Movement. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

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    Analyzes the Nation of Islam from a sociological perspective as a millenarian movement that then transformed itself under the leadership of Warith Deen Mohammed, Elijah Muhammad’s son, when the father’s apocalyptic prophecies of the fall of the United States and the white race failed to materialize.

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  • Lincoln, C. Eric. The Black Muslims in America. 3d ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1994.

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    Originally published in 1961, this was the first in-depth analysis on the Nation of Islam. Uses a sociological approach, seeing the Nation of Islam as a social and religious protest movement against a racist society. The third edition also discusses the reformulation of the movement under Warith Deen Mohammed and the reformation of the Nation of Islam under Louis Farrakhan.

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  • McCloud, Aminah Beverly. African American Islam. New York: Routledge, 1995.

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    A focus on the diversity in African American Islam including that of Warith Deen Mohammed and Louis Farrakhan. Particular attention is paid to family life, social issues, and women.

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  • Tsoukalas, Steven. The Nation of Islam: Understanding the “Black Muslims.” Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2001.

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    A historical survey of the development of the Nation of Islam from Fard Muhammad to Louis Farrakhan. Provides a sociological and religious context of the movement, as well as a theological analysis of its teachings from a Christian perspective.

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The Formative Years

Scholarship on the early years of the Nation of Islam focuses mostly on Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad. Beynon 1938 provides the earliest account of the formation of the movement. A mass of information is provided by the three FBI files, Elijah Muhammad, Nation of Islam, and Wallace Fard Muhammad, which include firsthand insights into the activities and doctrines of the Nation of Islam, starting in 1941. An insider’s perspective can be found in the short newspaper The Final Call to Islam (Muhammad 1934). Sahib 1995 provides the earliest scholarly analysis of the movement, and Evanzz 1999 makes new claims about Fard Muhammad’s background.

  • Beynon, Erdmann Doane. “The Voodoo Cult among Negro Migrants in Detroit.” American Journal of Sociology 43.6 (1938): 894–907.

    DOI: 10.1086/217872Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The earliest analysis of the Nation of Islam describing the ministry of Fard Muhammad in Detroit, his role as prophet, and his message; the Nation of Islam’s organization and activities; the accusation of human sacrifice; and the divisions in the movement after Fard Muhammad’s disappearance. A very thorough sociological analysis of the Nation of Islam is provided by Sahib 1995. Evanzz 1999 delves into the founder, Fard Muhammad.

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  • Elijah Muhammad. FBI Records: The Vault. Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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    Includes interviews, speeches, and publications of Elijah Muhammad from 1953 on. Details his travels and activities and the beliefs and organization of the Nation of Islam. Contains reports of media coverage and communications between key figures in the Nation of Islam.

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  • Evanzz, Karl. The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad. New York: Pantheon, 1999.

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    Makes the claim that that Wallace D. Ford was also known as George Farr and had made an unsuccessful bid for the leadership of the Moorish Science Temple of America after its leader’s death in 1929 before heading to Detroit to create the Nation of Islam’s precursor, the Allah Temple of Islam.

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  • Muhammad, Elijah. The Final Call to Islam. Detroit, 1934.

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    A short and short-lived newspaper published by Elijah Muhammad in 1934 in Detroit. Refers to Fard Muhammad as “Prophet” and to Elijah Muhammad merely as “Minister of Islam in North America.” Still uses the title of Temple of Islam for the movement.

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  • Nation of Islam. FBI Records: The Vault. Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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    Contains three monographs analyzing of the history, teaching, organization, finances, and activities of the Nation of Islam and includes several documents written by Fard Muhammad as well as some early writings and pamphlets by Elijah Muhammad. The third monograph examines the power structure of the Nation of Islam in the mid-1960s.

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  • Sahib, Hatim A. “The Nation of Islam.” In Special Double Issue: Islam & the African American Connection: Perspectives Old & New. Edited by Ernest Allen Jr. Contributions in Black Studies 13.3 (1995): 48–160.

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    The earliest in-depth study of the Nation of Islam, originally published as a master’s thesis in 1951 (University of Chicago). A sociological study of leadership; conversion; background, age, and gender of the followers; economics; institutions; beliefs; and rituals and activities in the Nation of Islam.

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  • Wallace Fard Muhammad. FBI Records: The Vault. Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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    Makes the connection between Fard Muhammad and Wallace D. Ford. Includes interviews with Muhammad and police reports, outlines the Nation of Islam’s beliefs and practices, and contains much of its early literature, including Fard Muhammad’s Lesson No. 1 and Lesson No. 2. Covers the Nation of Islam from 1941 to 1976.

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The Leadership of Elijah Muhammad

A number of works have been published that focus on the biography of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam until his death in 1975. The two most comprehensive are Evanzz 1999 and Clegg 1997. Many of the other works, while providing valuable insights, tend to be hagiographic. The various declassified FBI files (see the Formative Years) are extremely useful because of the agency’s intense scrutiny of the movement from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s, but they are difficult to work with. Clegg 1997 and Evanzz 1999 sort through these files for the most salient material. Elijah Muhammad’s own views on the formation and important events in the Nation of Islam are available in Muhammad 1993. Elijah Muhammad was a prolific producer of columns in newspapers and speeches. His teachings, and therefore the religious doctrines and social, economic, and political programs of the Nation of Islam, are encapsulated in Muhammad 1957 and more thoroughly in Muhammad 1992.

  • Clegg, Claude Andrew, III. An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.

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    An extensive biography of Elijah Muhammad with detailed examination of his leadership of the Nation of Islam for four decades. Excellent coverage of his relationship with others in the central leadership. Covers the historical and social context of the Nation of Islam and the appeal of its beliefs and practices to many African Americans. Provides excellent description and analysis of the formation and development of the movement and of the inner circle of the Nation of Islam.

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  • Evanzz, Karl. The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad. New York: Pantheon, 1999.

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    A detailed examination of Elijah Muhammad’s personal relationships with the key figures of the Nation of Islam. Employs the declassified FBI files and focuses on the agency’s surveillance and interference with the Nation of Islam.

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  • Muhammad, Elijah. The Supreme Wisdom: Solution to the So-Called Negroes’ Problem. Vol. 1. Newport News, VA: National Newport News and Commentator, 1957.

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    A short book that presents the teachings of the Nation of Islam on topics ranging from Islam, Allah, and the Qur’an to the origin of the races, slave names, and the destruction of America.

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  • Muhammad, Elijah. Message to the Blackman in America. Newport News, VA: United Brothers Communications Systems, 1992.

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    Originally published in 1965, this book covers Elijah Muhammad’s definitive teachings regarding Islam, God, the origin of the races including the white devil, the Qur’an and the Bible, the importance of prayer, and imminent judgment day. It also outlines his economic and political programs and challenges his opponents, including Malcolm X, and his critics, including other Muslims.

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  • Muhammad, Elijah. History of the Nation of Islam. Phoenix, AZ: Secretarius Memps, 1993.

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    A booklet of lectures, writings, and private conversations of Elijah Muhammad. Not an actual history but includes interviews that discuss Fard Muhammad’s origins, Elijah Muhammad’s first meeting with him, the defection of Malcolm X, the use of violence, the purpose of the Fruit of Islam, Fard Muhammad’s connection to Noble Drew Ali, and Essien-Udom’s and C. Eric Lincoln’s books on the Nation of Islam.

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Malcolm X

As the most famous member of the Nation of Islam from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s and then its most prominent critic after his departure from the movement, Malcolm X has received considerable scholarly attention. The most detailed source is X and Haley 1987. Marable 2011 provides the most recent and extensive biography. The FBI file Malcolm X provides much detail about these turbulent times up to the assassination of Malcolm X. Carson 1991 reproduces much of the most salient information from the files, and Evanzz 1992 uses the file to suggest the FBI caused Malcolm X to leave the Nation of Islam. DeCaro 1996 and DeCaro 1998 examine his religious development before, during, and after his time in the Nation of Islam.

Reactions to Malcolm X’s Departure

Shabbaz 1964, X and X 1964a, X and X 1964b, X 1964, Muhammad 1965, and Ali 1969 all reveal the vehement animosity within the Nation of Islam at Malcolm X’s departure. X 1964 emphasizes how many great religious leaders were betrayed by someone close to them. X and X 1964a and X and X 1964b reinterpret Malcolm X’s past efforts and current actions as attempts at self-aggrandizement. Shabbaz 1964 promulgates the leadership of the Nation of Islam’s official view that Malcolm X is the chief “hypocrite.” Muhammad 1965 provides one of the few direct attacks on Malcolm X by Elijah Muhammad. Ali 1969 highlights that Malcolm X and his reputation are being used by whites.

Islam and Religion

Several scholars have argued that the Nation of Islam is a form of Islam. More recent scholarship has sought in a variety of ways to associate the Nation of Islam with other formulations of Islam.

Muslim Disavowals of the Nation of Islam

Ansari 1981 and El-Amin 1991 draw a sharp distinction between the Nation of Islam and traditional formulations of Islam.

The Nation of Islam as a Formulation of Islam

Curtis 2006 examines the religion within the Nation of Islam for the fifteen years under Elijah Muhammad’s leadership. Turner 2003 situates the Nation of Islam within the much larger context of Islam and African Americans. Dannin 2002 sees the Nation of Islam as a first step toward traditional Islam. Berg 2009 emphasizes the relationship between Elijah Muhammad and Islam. Tate 1997 provides an insider perspective on the move for many from the Nation of Islam to traditional Islam. Tinaz 1996 and Lincoln 1997 present the Nation of Islam as an adaptation of Islam to meet the needs of African Americans, whereas Jackson 2005 sees Islam being adapted to black religion.

  • Berg, Herbert. Elijah Muhammad and Islam. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

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    Examines the Nation of Islam in relation to Islam and other Muslims though Elijah Muhammad’s formulation of Islam, use of the Qur’an, rituals, and his debate with other Muslims.

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  • Curtis, Edward E., IV. Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960–1975. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

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    Examines how members of the Nation of Islam practiced Islam and formulated their Islamic identities from 1960 to 1975. A convincing argument that the Nation of Islam was a religious group, not just a political or black nationalist group. Directly addresses the issue of whether the Nation of Islam was “Islamic” during this time.

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  • Dannin, Robert. Black Pilgrimage to Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    Focuses on stories and history of the “orthodox” majority of African American Muslims rather than the Nation of Islam. In so doing, Dannin provides a deeper context in which to understand the Nation of Islam and its conflict with other Muslims.

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  • Jackson, Sherman A. Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195180817.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the Blackamerican Islam, as expressed in the Nation of Islam and like black Christianity, is an expression of “black religion,” a religious protest against antiblack racism. Argues that black religion functioned as the core, with the trappings of Islam serving as the outer shell. Also provides an excellent analysis of why Islam was so well suited to the needs of African Americans.

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  • Lincoln, C. Eric. “The Muslim Mission in the Context of American Social History.” In African-American Religion: Interpretive Essays in History and Culture. Edited by Timothy E. Fulop and Albert J. Raboteau, 277–294. New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    A concise history of the black Islam in America from slaves to the American Muslim Mission of Warith Deen Mohammed. Argues that Islam, like Christianity, was adapted to fit the needs of African Americans.

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  • Tate, Sonsyrea. Little X: Growing Up in the Nation of Islam. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.

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    The author’s autobiography of growing up as a woman within the Nation of Islam and her family’s shift to a more traditional formulation of Islam. Provides a useful perspective, since most histories focus on the men at the head of the movement.

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  • Tinaz, Nuri. “The Nation of Islam: Historical Evolution and Transformation of the Movement.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 16.2 (1996): 193–209.

    DOI: 10.1080/13602009608716338Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Traces the history of the Nation of Islam from Fard Muhammad through Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X to Warith Deen Mohammad and Louis Farrakhan. Argues that the Nation of Islam sought to combine black identity with Islam to form a myth of black supremacy.

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  • Turner, Richard Brent. Islam in the African-American Experience. 2d ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    Surveys African American Islam from notable African Muslim slaves to the Moorish Science Temple, Ahmadiyya missionaries, the Nation of Islam, and the latter’s trajectories after the death of Elijah Muhammad. Emphasis on the “jihad of words” of prominent figures in these movements.

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Social, Economic, and Political Programs

Baldwin 1963 provides a contemporary black intellectual perspective on the Nation of Islam and its programs. McCloud 2004, in contrast, focuses on the media’s coverage of the Nation of Islam in the 1960s. Tinaz 2001 examines African Americans’ conversion to the Nation of Islam. Garnett 1970 explores the Nation of Islam’s farms, particularly in the American South. Marable and Aidi 2009 discusses black feminism within the Nation of Islam. McAlister 1999 explores the significance of the Middle East in African American cultural politics in the late 1950s and 1960s.

  • Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time. New York: Dial, 1963.

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    A personal reflection of an African American intellectual and activist on his interactions with Elijah Muhammad. Provides insight into the appeal of the Nation of Islam as well as the reasons so many African American civil rights leaders rejected its message.

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  • Garnett, Bernard E. Invaders from the Black Nation: The “Black Muslims” in 1970. Nashville: Race Relations Information Center, 1970.

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    Examines the Nation of Islam’s farms in the South, particularly Alabama.

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  • Marable, Manning, and Hishaam D. Aidi, eds. Black Routes to Islam. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1057/9780230623743Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of essays, some of which deal with the Nation of Islam and transnational Islam during the Arab cold war, and others of which deal with black feminism and the Nation of Islam.

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  • McAlister, Melani. “One Black Allah: The Middle East in the Cultural Politics of African American Liberation, 1955–1970.” American Quarterly 51.3 (1999): 622–656.

    DOI: 10.1353/aq.1999.0042Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the Nation of Islam developed a black cultural and political affiliation in which the Arab Middle East was central. By examining the influence of its ideology in the arts and the alternative geography it portrayed, the political imaginary is shown to be not simply black nationalism or self-contained but transnational.

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  • McCloud, Sean. Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives, and Journalists, 1955–1993. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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    The second chapter examines how journalists portrayed the Nation of Islam in the early 1960s as a dangerous subversive threat to the United States and not a “real” religion, and then by the mid-1960s as a minor annoyance focused on making money.

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  • Tinaz, Nuri. “Conversion of African Americans to Islam: A Sociological Analysis of the Nation of Islam and Associated Groups.” PhD thesis, University of Warwick, 2001.

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    Examines conversion to the Nation of Islam under the sociological category of “new religious movements.” Employs questionnaires, interviews, etc. Includes discussions of the Five Percenters, the Hanefi Mahdab, and the division between the followers of Warith Deen Mohammed and Louis Farrakhan.

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Black Muslims in Prison

Caldwell 1968, Smith 1993, and Moore 1995 look at members of the Nation of Islam in American prisons. Caldwell 1968 focuses on their activities in prisons, while Moore 1995 and Smith 1993 discuss their legal battles.

  • Caldwell, Wallace F. “A Survey of Attitudes toward Black Muslims in Prison.” Journal of Human Relations 16.2 (1968): 220–238.

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    Examination of black Muslims’ activities including proselytizing, rituals, and violence in prison and the ambivalent reactions to them by wardens and chaplains.

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  • Moore, Kathleen M. Al-Mughtaribūn: American Law and the Transformation of Muslim Life in the United States. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

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    A short but excellent history of cases of litigation by black Muslims in prison, focusing primarily on First Amendment protection for religious groups. Issues include discriminatory treatment, dietary restrictions, and prayer at prescribed times.

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  • Smith, Christopher E. “Black Muslims and the Development of Prisoners’ Rights.” Journal of Black Studies 24.2 (1993): 131–146.

    DOI: 10.1177/002193479302400201Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the motivation and role of black Muslims to engage in litigation in order to redress grievances and discrimination within prisons and to fight for civil rights and constitutional rights to exercise their religion.

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Warith Deen Mohammed

Warith Deen Mohammed (originally known as Wallace D. Muhammad) was the son and successor of Elijah Muhammad. As yet, no complete biography has been written. Ansari 1985 provides a short biography of his early life. Kashif 1975 documents his installment as his father’s successor. Mamiya 1982, Marsh 1984, and Marsh 1996 discuss the transition of the Nation of Islam under Warith Deen Mohammed to a Sunni formulation of Islam. Muhammad Speaks, the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, which was renamed the Bilalian News, also shows the efforts to make this transformation. Sharif 1985 defends Warith Deen Mohammed’s efforts to reform the Nation of Islam. Rouse 2004 studies women within this transformed movement.

  • Ansari, Zafar Ishaq. “W. D. Muhammad: The Making of a ‘Black Muslim’ Leader (1933–1961).” American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 2.2 (1985): 245–262.

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    A biography of the early life of Warith Deen Mohammed (Wallace D. Muhammad) in the Nation of Islam from his birth to his imprisonment in 1961.

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  • Bilalian News. 1975–1981.

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    The Nation of Islam’s newspaper, renamed in 1975 and published until 1981.

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  • Kashif, Lonnie. “Muslim Ministers Declare Support for New Leadership.” Muhammad Speaks, 14 March 1975.

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    First official announcement that Wallace D. Muhammad (later Warith Deen Mohammed) had succeeded his father, Elijah Muhammad, as leader of the Nation of Islam. Indicates that all the leaders within the Nation of Islam, including Louis Farrakhan, publicly supported him.

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  • Mamiya, Lawrence H. “From Black Muslim to Bilalian: The Evolution of a Movement.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 21.2 (1982): 138–152.

    DOI: 10.2307/1385500Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Employs the socioeconomic framework of Max Weber to explain the move of the Nation of Islam to Sunni orthodoxy under Warith Deen Mohammed and the rejection of that move by a resurrected Nation of Islam under Louis Farrakhan. Argues that African Americans in the Nation of Islam who moved up to the middle class favor the former whereas the latter still appeals to the lower class.

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  • Marsh, Clifton E. From Black Muslims to Muslims: The Transition from Separation to Islam, 1930–1980. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1984.

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    Surveys the Nation of Islam from sociological and historical perspectives and its transformation from a black separatist movement to an “orthodox” Sunni movement under the leadership of Warith Deen Mohammed. Contains an analysis of the structure of the movement after its transformation and an extensive interview with Warith Deen Mohammed in 1979.

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  • Marsh, Clifton E. From Black Muslims to Muslims: The Resurrection, Transformation and Change of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in America, 1930–1995. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 1996.

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    Adds material for 1980–1995, focusing on the different trajectories of Warith Deen Mohammed and Louis Farrakhan and the growing presence of the latter in the media, in pop culture, and on the world stage.

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  • Rouse, Carolyn Moxley. Engaged Surrender: African American Women and Islam. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

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    An ethnographic study of female Muslims from two southern California African American Sunni mosques. Undercuts the simplistic notion that all these Muslim women are oppressed.

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  • Sharif, Sidney R. The African American (Bilalian) Image in Crisis. Jersey City, NJ: New Mind, 1985.

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    An impassioned defense of Warith Deen Mohammed as a leader and of his reforms as ideally suited to African Americans. Attacks Christianity for racism.

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Works by Warith Deen Mohammed

The “First Official Interview with the Supreme Minister of the Nation of Islam” 1975 and Muhammad 1975 highlight the delicate position of Warith Deen Mohammed as he came to lead the Nation of Islam and prepared to transform the movement. Mohammed 1980 documents Warith Deen Mohammed’s abandonment of the original doctrines of the Nation of Islam in favor of Sunni Islam. While the main focus remains religious reform, Mohammed 1983, Mohammed 1986, and Mohammed 1988 deal with a variety of social issues affecting African Americans. Mohammed 1991 emphasizes connections between African American Muslims and other Muslims. Mohammed 1995 argues Islam is ideally suited for financial success.

  • Mohammed, Wallace D. Religion on the Line: Al-Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism. Chicago: W. D. Muhammad, 1983.

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    Transcripts of a conversation in 1979 with prison officials in California about the basics of Islam and the needs of Muslim prisoners, a radio interview about various aspects of Islam and other religions, and a speech at a college in 1982 about freedom and dignity in the United States.

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  • Mohammed, Warith Deen. Al-Islam: Unity & Leadership. Chicago: Sense Maker, 1991.

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    A compilation of articles on promoting Muslim unity and Muslim leadership in the world and living with Muslim ethics in the United States. Makes the case that his father privately came to reject Fard Muhammad as God and himself as prophet.

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  • “First Official Interview with the Supreme Minister of the Nation of Islam, the Honorable Wallace D. Muhammad.” Muhammad Speaks, 21 March 1975.

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    Wallace D. Muhammad (later Warith Deen Mohammed) makes his case that Elijah Muhammad prepared him to succeed him and begins to hint at his intent to transform the Nation of Islam.

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  • Muhammad, Wallace. “Saviour’s Day Address: Hon. Wallace Muhammad.” Muhammad Speaks, 14 March 1975.

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    The first address of Wallace D. Muhammad (later Warith Deen Mohammed) to the Nation of Islam. It remains consistent with the teachings of his father, including Fard Muhammad as God in person, but contains some hints of his impending move to Sunni Islam.

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  • Mohammed, Warith Deen. As the Light Shineth from the East. Chicago: W. D. M., 1980.

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    Edited transcripts of speeches from 1978 in which the author explains the changes in the Nation of Islam, suggesting that Elijah Muhammad had begun to change his teachings and that Fard Muhammad was a mystic and many of his teachings were allegorical, designed to free and educate African Americans.

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  • Mohammed, Warith Deen. An African American Genesis. Calumet City, IL: MACA Publication Fund, 1986.

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    A clarification of the author’s understanding of Islam and a discussion of how African Americans can succeed in the United States by building strong families, ethics, and a culture particularly based on Islam.

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  • Mohammed, Warith Deen. Focus on Al-Islam: A Series of Interviews with Imam W. Deen Mohammed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Edited by Ayesha K. Mustafa. Chicago: Zakat, 1988.

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    Transcripts of a series of interviews. Discussions of Islam, Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, white racism, women, and family.

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  • Mohammed, Warith Deen. Islam’s Climate for Business Success. Chicago: Sense Maker, 1995.

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    Suggests that Islam’s emphasis on morality, fairness in trade, and strong families is ideally suited to the needs of poor African Americans and can lead to business success.

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The Second Resurrection

The Final Call chronicles the return of the Nation of Islam under Louis Farrakhan after Warith Deen Mohammed’s dissolution of the movement. Muhammad 1996a and Muhammad 1996a both make the case that Farrakhan is the sole successor to Elijah Muhammad, whereas Muhammad 1992 encourages a rapprochement between the two leaders. Magida 1996 provides the most extensive biography of Farrakhan.

  • Final Call. 1979–.

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    The newspaper founded by Louis Farrakhan in 1979. Covers national and international news and politics from the perspective of the Nation of Islam. The online edition was launched in 1995.

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  • Magida, Arthur J. Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and his Nation. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

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    A biography of Louis Farrakhan with much attention to his music, his relationship with Malcolm X, the break with Wallace Deen Muhammad, and his relationship with American Jews.

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  • Muhammad, Elijah. The Theology of Time. Transcribed by Abass Rassoull. Hampton, VA: UB & US Communications Systems, 1992.

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    The long introduction by the Nation of Islam’s National Secretary Abass Rassoull provides an insight into his conversion, his promotion to National Secretary, the selection of Warith Deen Mohammed to succeed his father, his role in limiting Farrakhan at Elijah Muhammad’s death, and a call for Farrakhan and Mohammed to come together in a United Nation of Islam.

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  • Muhammad, Jabril. This Is the One: The Most Honored Elijah Muhammad, We Need Not Look for Another. Vol. 1. 3d ed. Phoenix, AZ: Book Company, 1996a.

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    The third edition (originally published under the name Bernard Cushmeer) also includes a very long chapter arguing that Farrakhan is the only rightful successor to Elijah Muhammad.

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  • Muhammad, Toure. Chronology of Nation of Islam History: Highlights of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam from 1977–1996. Chicago: Toure Muhammad, 1996b.

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    A brief history of Fard Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad, and Malcolm X. Focuses on life of Farrakhan with most of the book dedicated to a chronological listing of Farrakhan’s activities, subdivided into the restoration of the Nation of Islam, the confrontation with Jews, and the Million Man March.

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Works by Louis Farrakhan

Farrakhan’s writings show his devotion to the teaching of Elijah Muhammad, though he tends to focus on contemporary social, economic, and political issues. Farrakhan 1974 provides insights into the author’s leadership activities under Elijah Muhammad. Farrakhan 1983 demonstrates the author’s reestablishment and reinterpretation of the Nation of Islam’s institutions after his split with Warith Deen Mohammed. Farrakhan 1989 and Muhammad 1986 both highlight some of the more peculiar teachings of Farrakhan and his followers. Farrakhan’s magnum opus is Farrakhan 1993, in which he most systematically outlines his position on major American issues. Muhammad 2006 highlights Farrakhan’s reactions and evolving positions on these issues from 1998 to 2006.

  • Farrakhan, Louis. 7 Speeches by Minister Louis Farrakhan: National Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Newport News, VA: Ramza Associates, 1974.

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    Speeches and an interview from the early 1970s about black women, hypocrites, alleged criminal activity by Muslims, black solidarity, and in support of Angela Davis.

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  • Farrakhan, Louis. The Meaning of F.O.I. Chicago: Honorable Elijah Muhammad Educational Foundation, 1983.

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    A short booklet on the Fruit of Islam—the Nation of Islam’s self-defense force—that argues that the FOI must eschew violence and not carry weapons. The goal is to save blacks, not to kill whites.

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  • Farrakhan, Louis. The Announcement: A Final Warning to the U.S. Government. Chicago: Final Call, 1989.

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    Describes Farrakhan’s vision of a UFO in 1985 in which Elijah Muhammad addressed him.

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  • Farrakhan, Louis. A Torchlight for America. Chicago: FCN, 1993.

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    Farrakhan’s critique of America’s black leaders, public school system, economy, morality, and health-care system, along with his solutions to these problems.

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  • Muhammad, Jabril, ed. Closing the Gap: Inner Views of the Heart, Mind, & Soul of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. Chicago: FCN, 2006.

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    A compilation of interviews of Louis Farrakhan, most of which appeared in The Final Call from 1998 to 2006. Deals with the controversial issues and provides insight into his understanding of Islam and his relationship with and understanding of Elijah Muhammad.

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  • Muhammad, Tynnetta. The Comer by Night. Chicago: Honorable Elijah Muhammad Educational Foundation, 1986.

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    Contains the addresses of Farrakhan to President Ronald Reagan at a press conference in 1986 and at the Conference against Imperialism, Zionism, and Racism in Libya in 1986. Uses the “mathematical code” of the Qur’an to suggest that the end of America is near.

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Analyses of the Nation of Islam Under Louis Farrakhan

Muhammad 2006 and White 2001 both provide insider perspectives of the Nation of Islam under Farrakhan; the author of the latter remains firmly committed to the movement. After the Million Man March in 1995, many more books about Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam emerged. Gardell 1996 is the most extensive and complete. Dodds 1997 represents a reaction against Farrakhan’s alliance with black Christians. Alliances with seemingly antagonistic white movements and leaders are highlighted in Marable 1998, whereas Gardell 1994 focuses on various forms of opposition to Farrakhan. Singh 1997 portrays Farrakhan’s position as conservative and attributes his notoriety to extreme racial interpretations of events.

  • Dodds, Elreta. The Trouble with Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam: Another Message to the Black Man in America. Detroit: Press Toward the Mark, 1997.

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    A black Christian polemic against the Nation of Islam in hopes of averting the rapprochement between Farrakhan and black Christian leaders. It warns black Christians that Farrakhan is an “antichrist,” “guided by Satan,” and racist, by examining several of his speeches.

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  • Gardell, Mattias. “The Sun of Islam Will Rise in the West: Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam in the Latter Days.” In Muslim Communities in North America. Edited by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane Idleman Smith, 15–49. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

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    A brief historical description followed by an analysis of white and Muslim opposition to Farrakhan. Focuses on the importance of the current messianic age, the mathematical code, the mother plane, and the Nation of Islam’s tensions with orthodox Muslims and Jews.

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  • Gardell, Mattias. In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.

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    Begins by tracing the Nation of Islam from its roots with Fard Muhammad, but focuses on the leadership and ideology of Farrakhan. Particular attention is paid to the Nation of Islam’s relation to other Muslims, Jews, black Christians, and urban black youth culture. Also published as Countdown to Armageddon: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam (London: Hurst, 1996).

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  • Marable, Manning. “Black Fundamentalism: Farrakhan and Conservative Black Nationalism.” Race & Class 39.4 (1998): 1–22.

    DOI: 10.1177/030639689803900401Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Farrakhan’s alliance with Lyndon La Rouche stands in the tradition of Elijah Muhammad’s relationship with the white supremacist groups and Marcus Garvey’s relationship with racists.

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  • Muhammad, Claudette. Memories: Dead to the Old Life, Yielding the New Life of God. Chicago: Final Call, 2006.

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    The autobiography of a woman who rose to the position of chief of protocol within Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.

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  • Singh, Robert. The Farrakhan Phenomenon: Race, Reaction, and the Paranoid Style in American Politics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1997.

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    Suggests that Farrakhan is an “extreme conservative” whose rise to prominence in American politics is a product of his populism and his radical and paranoid reactions to black–white racial issues.

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  • White, L. Vilbert, Jr. Inside the Nation of Islam: A Historical and Personal Testimony by a Black Muslim. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001.

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    Provides a short history on the Nation of Islam starting in 1930, but the focus is on the Nation of Islam in the 1980s and 1990s. Provides the unique perspective of a former insider on the leaders and organization of the movement under Farrakhan.

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Internationalization

Tinaz 2006 and Tinaz 2007 examine the Nation of Islam’s spread beyond the United States.

  • Tinaz, Nuri. “Black Islam in Diaspora: The Case of the Nation of Islam (NOI) in Britain.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 26.2 (2006): 151–170.

    DOI: 10.1080/13602000600937580Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the appeal of the Nation of Islam to Africans and Caribbeans outside the United States, with a particular focus on the Nation of Islam in Britain and the movement’s history and organization there.

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  • Tinaz, Nuri. “Global Impacts of an Ethno-Religious Movement: The Case of Nation of Islam (NOI) in Britain.” Journal of Economic and Social Research 4.2 (2007): 45–71.

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    Examines why some Afro-Caribbeans in Britain, who have not experienced the same slavery, segregation, and racism as African Americans, are drawn to the religious, racial, and political ideology of the Nation of Islam. Provides a history of the movement in Britain.

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Jews

The Historical Research Department of the Nation of Islam 1991 is infamous and led to the strongest accusations that the Nation of Islam under Farrakhan was anti-Semitic. Brackman 1994 refutes the charges made in the earlier book. The Historical Research Department of the Nation of Islam 2010 seeks to further implicate Jews in the exploitation of blacks.

  • Brackman, Harold. Ministry of Lies: The Truth Behind the Nation of Islam’s ‘The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews.’” New York: Four Walls and Eight Windows, 1994.

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    A refutation on the main thesis of The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, dismissing its underlying assumptions as anti-Semitic. Questions the historical methods used and claims made about the Jewish role in the slave trade.

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  • Historical Research Department of the Nation of Islam The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews. Vol. 1. Chicago: Nation of Islam, 1991.

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    Alleges significant involvement of Jews in the slave trade and Jewish ownership of slaves.

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  • Historical Research Department of the Nation of Islam. The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews. Vol. 2. Chicago: Nation of Islam, 2010.

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    Alleges significant involvement of Jews in creating, enforcing, and benefiting from Jim Crow laws. Even suggests collaboration between Jews and the Ku Klux Klan.

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Other Interpretations

Nuruddin 1994 examines a splinter group of the Nation of Islam who sees Fard Muhammad as not the only god. Shabazz 1990 also reinterprets Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad by seeing them as mystics.

  • Nuruddin, Yusuf. “The Five Percenters: A Teenage Nation of Gods and Earths.” In Muslim Communities in North America. Edited by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane Idleman Smith, 109–132. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

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    Provides a history and the ideology of the Five Percenters, which split from the Nation of Islam in 1963 due to doctrinal differences and reinterpreted the teachings of Fard Muhammad.

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  • Shabazz, Hakim. Essays on the Life and Teachings of Master W. Fard Muhammad: The Foundation of the Nation of Islam. Hampton, VA: United Brothers & United Sisters Communications Systems, 1990.

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    Argues that Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad developed the Nation of Islam as a powerful mystical system and that the former was a Sufi.

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