Often referred to as a militant African American organization, the Nation of Islam is a religious and social group. Founded in 1930 by Wallace Fard Muhammad, the organization works toward the betterment of African Americans in a variety of areas, including spiritual, financial, and social. Its supporters hail it as an uplifting organization for African Americans, while its opponents declare it racist, sexist, and anti-homosexual. It is also frequently accused of being anti-Semitic.
The Nation of Islam considers its founder a prophet or redeemer of Islam. In fact, Elijah Muhammad, W.F. Muhammad’s chief minister, claimed the founder was literally God in human form. When W.F. Muhammad disappeared in 1934, Elijah Muhammad took over the movement.
Followers believe Allah is God. They follow basic Islamic beliefs and believe in the Holy Qu’ran. They also believe in the Scriptures of All the Prophets of God. However, the organization is often criticized for not following orthodox Islam’s teachings on equality.
One of the basic concepts touted by the Nation of Islam is the superiority of people of African descent. Followers believe that blacks are the original humans and whites are potential humans. The original teachings of the organization hold that a black scientist created white humans. According to these teachings, the scientist created whites with the intention of forming a race that would oppress and oppose the original people for 6,000 years.
In 1978, after much controversy and change, Louis Farrakhan took over leadership of the Nation of Islam. He continued on with the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. However, he has been less vocal concerning the teachings of superiority. When questioned publicly, he has stated that all races originated from Africans. He’s gone on to say that this does not necessarily mean one race is superior to others.
The organization claims that it promotes independence and self-sufficiency for African Americans. Followers are encouraged to own and operate businesses. In fact, the Nation of Islam owns several businesses, including restaurants, as well as a large farm in Georgia. Businesses owned by the group number in the hundreds and the organization employs thousands.
Women who are members are expected to be modest in public. This includes dressing modestly. Members are taught to respect women as the mothers of civilization. All followers are taught to strive for cleanliness, both inside and out. They do not eat pork and are expected to abstain from alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.