What is the Nation of Islam?
Posted: September 20, 2010
The Nation of Islam, modeled after other socio-religious groups of in early 20th century, was founded in Detroit in 1930 by Fard Muhammad, who taught his followers that he was Allah personified. Upon Fard's disappearance later that decade, his disciple Elijah Muhammad took over and promoted the idea that whites were created by an evil Black scientist and that Blacks are the superior race. Under Elijah Muhammad's leadership, the NOI attracted a sizeable following and amassed a substantial financial empire.
The group expanded in the 1950s and 1960s when Malcolm X, a charismatic speaker who joined the group in prison, became its spokesman. He denounced the group in 1964 (a year before he was assassinated), but by then NOI's future leader, Louis Farrakhan, had joined NOI.
By the time Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, the NOI had a large following across the country. His son, Warith/Wallace Deen Muhammad, inherited the leadership but steered the organization towards toward more traditional Islam. In response, Farrakhan formed a separate group to uphold Elijah Muhammad's original separatist beliefs, taking many members—and the Nation of Islam name—with him.