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The Nation of

By Carlton & John January

World Religions 110-DO1

Understanding the NOIs Beliefs

The movements doctrine cannot be truly understood
without studying the sociological and cultural soil from
which the NOI grew. ~ The Nation of Islam:
Understanding the Black Muslims by Steven Tsoukalas
Also, the NOIs basic beliefs cannot be understood
without mention of slavery among certain black people
or without a study of a few black leaders who promoted
black nationalism and those that preceded the rise of
the NOI.

Black Nationalism
Black Nationalism: Consciousness of who blacks are as a people; knowledge
of their true origin; a sense of their ultimate purpose or destiny; in some cases
a desire to set up an independent state in Africa for the emigration of African
Americans, with an independent economy, commerce, and political power.
Has been heavily criticized on a wide front in the context that it encourages
the inherent racial superiority of blacks. Some say that it goes well beyond
racial pride and courage, crossing over into the arena of racism to battle the
racism of whites.
Several factors birthed by Americas black nationalist movements shaped a
majority of the social and religious beliefs of the NOI, the most important
being the reaction by blacks to slavery and all of its accompanying racist
phenomena. A spirit of unity dominated the black community within the
cultural milieu of black nationalism, a spirit forged with inherent black pride
and identity. As this grew, so did various black leaders with their expressions
of black nationalism, black theology, and black anthropology. ~ The Nation of

Brief History of Islam in the

United States
Islam first arrived in Spanish Florida and French
Louisiana by way of the slave trade before colonization
by the British.
In the first decade of the 19th century, possibly tens of
thousands of Muslims from Senegambia and other parts
of West Africa were transported to North America as
slaves. ~ An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah
Muhammad by Claude A. Clegg
For more information on Islam in the U.S., check out
Servants of Allah: African Muslims enslaved in the
Americas by Slyviane A. Diouf

Forerunners of the NOI

The 19th centurys cultural, political, and religious
soil produced two early 20th century black
nationalist activists - Marcus Garvey and Noble
Drew Ali, who in turn influenced the social and
religious belief system of the NOI.
Marcus Garveys Universal Negro Improvement
Association (UNIA) and the Moorish Science
Temple of Noble Drew Ali were in essence the
political and religious forerunners of the NOI.
Some scholars believe that Garveys movement
emphasized more the political and social, while
Alis group was largely religious and esoteric.

Marcus Garvey The Black Moses

Marcus Garvey, who was born on August 17th, 1887
in St. Anns Bay, Jamaica, is most known as the
man who had fashioned the largest mass
movement in the history of the African American.
In 1914, he founded the United Negro
Improvement Association (UNIA) to help bring
millions of lower-class African Americans to a
sense of racial pride and self containment both
commercially and educationally. He joined and
practiced Prince Hall Freemasonry (masonry for
blacks) which played an important role in molding
his organization of the UNIA.
He firmly believed in One God! One aim! One
destiny! and that all Africans were the true heirs
of the ancient Egyptian civilization.
Of all the black leaders, Marcus Garvey would be
the most influential upon leaders of the NOI. His
independent commerce and industry, his desire for
a separate state, his ideology that saw white
Europeans as an inferior race, and his support of a
black God were all to become trademarks of the
Every student of history, of impartial mind, knows

Noble Drew Ali - The Prophet


Timothy Drew was born on January 8th, 1886 in Clinton, Sampson County, North
Carolina. Accounts of Drews ancestry describe him being the adopted son of a
tribe of Cherokee Native Americans.

In 1902, during his early teenage years (16 years old), he became a merchant sea
mariner and traveled to Egypt. He also traveled to Saudi Arabia and Morocco to
study mystical Islam (Sufism) among the great Imams of North Africa. Tradition
has it that on a visit to North Africa, Timothy Drew received a mission from the
King of Morocco to teach Islam to the Negroes in the United States.

In 1913, the Moorish Science Temple Divine and National Movement of North
America was established after moving to Newark, New Jersey (The name of the
organization was changed to Moorish Science Temple of America in May 1928). In
the late 1920s, it was estimated to have over 35,000 members with 17 temples in
cities across the Midwest and upper South. Considering numbers alone, the Moorish
Science Temple was not as influential as the Garveyite movement.

Members of the Moorish Science Temple believed that that Marcus Garvey was a
forerunner to plant the seed in the people and prepare them to be received by
Noble Drew Ali.

Ali joined and practiced Freemasonry. He also stated that he was a Shriner of the
Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and a Rosicrucian.

According to Ali, Morocco was the place of origin for all blacks, who he called
Asiatics, and that all white people were of European decent. He taught that
blacks were, in reality, descendants of the Moors - a group of Africans (Moabites)
inhabiting the north and south western shores of Africa. In the 8 th century they
conquered Spain as well was other parts of Africa and Europe, bringing with them
the religion of Islam to the West. In a book called Stolen Legacy by G. M. James,
the author calls these people custodians of African culture and the ancient
Egyptian mysteries.

Drew was praised by Elijah Muhammad on many occasions; Elijahs teachings were
drawn from the doctrinal well of Ali (sometimes with variations). Like Garvey, Drew
promoted the idea of racial superiority of blacks and the eschatological hope of the
destruction of the white Europeans, but he did not seek the emigration of blacks
back to Africa. He believed that Christianity is for the European; Islam is for the
Asiatic, therefore, membership in the Moorish Science Temple was only open to
Asiatics, which was a reaction that rose out of the oppression of black people.

Moorish Science Temple Of America: Beliefs &

Practices that influenced the NOI
Also known as the Moorish Science Temple Divine and National Movement of North America,
Moorish Holy Temple of Science of the World, Moorish Science Temple of Islam, or simply just
Moorish Science Temple.
The Moorish Science Temple did not teach classical Islam, but instead mixes the Islamic
expressions of Ismailiyya, Ahmadiyya, and Sufism with Freemasonry, the Gnosticism of Eliphas Levi,
the curriculum of the ancient Egyptian mystery system, Rosicrucianism, and black nationalism.
Members believed that Noble Drew Ali was the 3 rd reincarnation of Muhammad, the prophet of
Islam, who was a reincarnation of Jesus (Fard stated that he was a reincarnation of Noble Drew Ali
and Elijah Muhammad taught that Wallace Fard, his teacher, was Allah in person, God of the NOI).
They called themselves Moors and rejected labels they considered derogatory, such as Black,
colored, Negro, and Ethiopian.
For Ali and his followers, the white man is the Devil (one cannot read material from the NOI for long
and not find this teaching).
Interracial marriages are forbidden.
Women are separated from men during worship services and prayed 3 times a day while facing
Newly initiated members are given ID cards with new names, usually a suffix attached to their
surnames like Ali, El, Karriem, Abdul, Shabazz, Muhammad or Bey (The same thing is done today
in the NOI).
Temple ushers wore a black fez on their heads. Males wore burgundy fezzes and females would
wear turbans with clothing that covered up their bodies.
The leader of a particular temple was known as a Grand Sheikh or Governor.
Members must abide by a strict moral code and dietary sanctions (infidelity, slothfulness, alcohol,

Beliefs & Founding Principles of the NOI

There is no God but Allah. (Monotheistic, influenced by traditional Islam)
All Blacks are Asiatic, and of Moorish decent. They are the original inhabitants of
the Earth and the progenitors of all non-white nations. (Black Nationalism,
influenced by Garvey and Ali)
God (Allah), Jesus and Muhammad are black. (Influenced by Garvey and Ali)
Honor all the Prophets: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, etc. (Influenced by
The black race are Gods chosen people and through their struggles will be
redeemed at the end of days. (Influenced by Garvey, Ali, and Fards Eschatology)
The white European race is the personification of evil, the black (Asiatic) race is
superior to them by nature and they will be destroyed by Allah in the battle of
Armageddon. (Taught by Fard; Elijah Muhammad taught that they would be
destroyed by The Mother Plane.)
The Star and the Crescent are the symbols of the movement. (Influenced by
Traditional Islam)
7 is considered a sacred number. (Influenced by Ali)
JFEI = Justice, Freedom, Equality, & Islam. (Influenced by Ali)

Wallace D. Fard The Stranger of the East


Wallace D. Fard (pronounced Farrad) is the founder of

the Nation of Islam. Very little is actually known about his
life; there are many theories and speculations. According
to the NOI, he was born February 26, 1877. Fard arrived in
Detroit, Michigan on July 4th, 1930 (Independence Day)
with a mysterious background and used several different
aliases; no one had known where he came from. For this
reason, Independence Day has taken on a new meaning
for the NOI - Saviors Day. He set up the first temple in
Detroit where it is said he had as many as 8,000 followers
between 1930-34. He disappeared in 1934 under unknown

During his first appearance in 1910, before coming to

Detroit, he most likely came under the influence of Marcus
Garvey and was in direct contact with Noble Drew Ali. It is
believed that he was a former Moorish Science Temple
leader or childhood friend of Ali (Fard claimed to be a
reincarnation of Ali). To some, he was a charlatan who
capitalized on the absence of Garvey and Ali. To others, he
was a messenger sent by Allah to continue the work of
these two men (The NOI held the latter view).

Fard said that he was a descendant from the Quaryish

tribe in the holy city of Mecca and that he came among
the blacks of Detroit as a messenger of Allah to set his
people on the road to freedom and newfound identity. Not
all blacks where supportive of the NOI. Black leaders from
other organizations saw Fard as a cult leader who was
dangerous to the well-being of society. They encouraged
the Detroit police to keep pressure on the movement.
Fard was under constant observation by the F.B.I. and
when the police asked him who he was, he said, I am the
Supreme Ruler of the Universe. Fards message, like that
of Garvey or Alis, was that blacks were superior to whites

Teachings of W. D. Fard
Marcus Garvey and Noble Drew Ali had a profound
impact upon Fards Nation of Islam. He incorporated
their biblical prophecies, as well as books on
Freemasonic symbolism, the Jehovahs witness
writings of Judge Joseph Rutherford and Baptist
fundamentalism through the preacher Frank Norris into
his theological framework.
His message was characterized by his ability to utilize
to the fullest measure the environment of his
followers. Their physical and socio-economic
difficulties alike were used to illustrate a new teaching
that, in their opinion, came directly from the divine.
Fard taught that blacks are actually a lost Asiatic
tribe, wandering in the wilderness of North America.
To him, they are the original people of the Earth and
are ontologically superior to the white European
devils who are an inferior race that had been
grafted from the black man and lost their original
color. He believed the original homeland of black
people was Mecca and taught that Arabic was their
native tongue (language) with Islam as their true
Fards controversial remarks about white people are
grounded not only in the influence of Noble Drew Ali
and Marcus Garvey. There is an interesting history of
the white race in the doctrinal annals of W. D. Fard that
is the central concept of the NOI the creation of the
white race by the evil scientist Yakub.

Yakub: Creation of the White Race

Yakub is basically a mythological, Arabic version of
the biblical Jacob. He is believed to have been born
over 6,600 years ago. Later on in his life, he
became an evil scientist, who, in rebellion
against his people, started a series of genetic
experiments to create a new man from the original
According to the story of Yakub, the first white man
appeared only about 6,000 year ago on the island
of Patmos in the Aegean Sea after a 600 year
breeding process called grafting. Supposedly, all
black people have another nature along with their
divine nature. This lower nature is in opposition
to the divine nature and was grafted out from the
original man to produce the white man.
Because they came from the original black man,
whites are a hybrid species and are thought of as
inferior in nature to the blacks. (Fard, since he was
half black and white, is said to have mastered the
two natures that are in people). ~ From Black
Muslims to Muslims by Clifton E. Marsh
Despite his inferiority, the white man (the NOI
exchange man for devil) came to rule the
original nation for 6000 years by employing
tricknology - a term used to describe whites as
tricksters who are out to lead the black man to
doom and despair in order to be master over them.
For the NOI, this explains white supremacy in the

Fards Doctrine of God & Jesus

At first, he taught that God was Allah and that he was on a divine mission from
Allah. Later on, he was encouraged by his student, Elijah Muhammad, to see
himself as Allah in the flesh. Fard believed everything black is good and
everything white was evil, which led to him teaching that Allah was black.
Early on, he rejected the so-called mystery God of Christianity. According to
his doctrine, God was not some spook in the sky or a spirit that is
unexplainable to us, but instead, is an embodied black man.
He rejected the image of a white Jesus, believing that he was the son of a
black Asiatic named Joseph Al-Nejjar.
He stated that, Marys father was a rich man and therefore he refused to give
Mary in marriage to her greatest lover, Joseph Al-Nejjar, because he was a
poor carpenter with nothing but a saw and a hammer. Being in love with Mary,
hopeless of marrying her, Joseph had impregnated her with Jesus. ~ The
Nation of Islam by Hatim A. Sahib

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad The Messenger

Elijah Poole was born October 7, 1897, in Sandersville, GA
as one of 13 siblings. Since both his parents were
sharecroppers, he grew up during the oppression of blacks
by whites. His formal education was minimal. He learned
only the bare rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic
before he had to go to the fields to help his family earn a
Since his father, William Poole, was a Baptist Minister, he
grew up as the preachers son and received special
treatment from people in churches where his father
preached. Elijah came to love the bible through his fathers
sermons and studied the bible frequently, often to the point
of despair for not being able to understand it as he would
have liked.
Occasionally, he and his father engaged in theological
debates when Elijah discovered flaws in logic and biblical
errors. He believed something was missing , from his
fathers preaching, some hidden truth that had not been
made clear.
As a youth, Elijah exhibited a tell it like it is mentality
when it came to Christianity. Theological disagreements
with his father resulted in him not wanting to become a
member of the church unless he fully understood the
churches doctrine, and he was quick to call to account those
who insincerely professed Christianity.
He often voiced opposition to the double standard of a
confession of faith and lack of Christian lifestyle. During this
time Elijah grew up quickly, unfortunately being exposed to
the evils of white society and its violent treatment of
blacks. More violence followed Elijah as he grew up in rural
Georgia, and it played an important role in his view of
Christianity, the religion that these white murderers
professed. These traumatic experiences produced wounds

The struggles of everyday life and the many incidences of racist

violence proved to be too much for Elijah and his family. In April
1923, Elijah and his family moved to Detroit, Michigan. Buy this
time , he had become a bitter man ready for a change that would
impact the rest of his life.
After moving to Detroit, Elijah joined Garveys UNIA (United Negro
Improvement Association) where he found, identity, purpose, and
an avenue through which he could interpret his experiences in
Georgia and Detroit. Sometime in 1924, He had joined the Prince
Hall Masonic Lodge (many of the early converts to Fards NOI were
In 1931, Elijah meets W. D. Fard, who would later on groom him
for leadership of the NOI. Before Elijah Poole changed his last
name to Muhammad, it was changed to Karriem by W. D. Fard.
After this, he was named the Supreme Minister of the Lost-Found
Nation of Islam in Chicago, Illinois.
Elijah Muhammad is to all NOI members a human success story. He
went from poor beginnings in Georgia to leading a mass
movement in Chicago. He would lead this movement until his
death in 1975. Slavery, white racist violence, and an inherent
desire to seek for truth brought the young man from Sandersville,
GA, into the NOI of Master Fard Muhammad, who he recognized as
Allah in person.
Given the mysterious appearance and disappearance of W. D. Fard
along with his relatively short time of leadership, the name of
Elijah Muhammad has, in the eyes of many outside the movement,
become synonymous with the Lost-Found NOI. His 40-year long
ministry as head of the organization and his forthright style of
oratory combined to make him a staple of the movement and
popular in the media.

Teachings of Elijah
Whatever one might think of his theology, Elijahs
experiences as a child and young boy at the hands
of white racism, his economic and emotional
suffering as a young man trying to support his
family, his distaste for Christianity, and his meeting
W. D. Fard, the founder of the NOI, all contributed to
his interpretation of the world around him.
Elijahs Lost-Found NOI, despite acceptance from the
East, continued to be the subject of scorn among
many North American Islamic groups. Elijah did not
believe in the Allah of the Quran and traditional
Islam. Additionally, he wasted no time in attacking
Christianity. Elijah taught that Christianity is the
white mans religion and that it only served the
white mans oppression of so-called Negros;
justifying their brutality and violence and brutality
of Allahs people. His temple speeches and books
are filled with mockery of basic Christian doctrinal
teachings, replacing Jesus with W. D. Fard.
Ultimately the NOI is neither Islam nor Christianity.

Malcolm X El Hajj Malik El Shabazz

Malcolm Little was born May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. Earl and
Louise Little were his parents. He and his 8 siblings were abused by
their parents. His father was a traveling Baptist preacher that died
in 1931 in a streetcar accident (Malcolm believes he was beat to
death). Four of his six brothers died violent deaths, three at the
hands of white men. Malcolms childhood experiences surely played
a profound part in shaping his ideology and preparing him for
conversion to Elijah Muhammads Lost-Found NOI.
Troubled by his experiences as a youth, he moved from foster home
to foster home, finally ending up in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1941
where he became involved in underworld crime living the live of a
drug dealer, numbers runner and thief (he was known on the streets
as Big Red). In 1946, he was convicted of burglary and sentenced
to 6-10 years in prison.
It was in prison in 1947 and 1948 that he had come into contact
with the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Also, while
he was in prison he read widely in philosophy, Christian theology,
world religions, and was exposed to Jehovahs Witnesses literature.
While lying in bed in his cell on night, Malcolm had a vision; he
suddenly became aware of a spiritual presence. Someone, he
claims, was sitting beside him in his cell . They stared at each other
for several minutes before the presence had disappeared. This
man had on a dark suit and was Asiatic in appearance. Malcolm
was convinced that it was the spirit of the deceased W. D. Fard that
appeared to him.
For the next 3-4 years, Malcolm was instrumental in converting
fellow inmates to Fards teachings. He utilized prison-sanctioned
debate competitions to hone his skills toward one day becoming the
premier spokesperson and apologist for the NOI.
In August 1952, Malcolm received parole and traveled to Chicago to
hear Elijah Muhammad preach. Elijah called public attention to
Malcolm, likening his sufferings to those of Job. After this, they
became quite close.

In 1954, he became the minister of Temple #12 in Philadelphia

and Temple #7 in New York.
On June 5, 1959, Malcolm embarked on a Middle Eastern tour
of the Muslim world. Evidencing his importance and rise to
power and influence within the NOI are the facts that he
preceded Elijah Muhammad in making the trip (by Elijahs
consent and appointment) and that he was treated as a
dignitary while in Egypt.
Malcolm moved to Saudi Arabia where he was rudely
awakened by the first seeds of contradiction as he witnessed
the legal enslavement Africans by Saudis.
The combination of putting up with contradictions between
traditional Islam and the NOI, fighting the turmoil caused by
Elijah Muhammads infidelity, his unsuccessful plea for
reinstatement after he was suspended from his position in the
NOI in 1963, and reports of threats on his life by the NOI left
Malcolm with no choice but to leave the NOI.
After his departure, he formed two organizations in response:
The Muslim Mosque, Inc., and the Organization of AfroAmerican Unity (OAAU).
On April 13, 1964, Malcolm set out to make the Hajj (sacred
pilgrimage to Mecca). Around this time, he changed his name
to El Hajj Malik El Shabazz. Being changed by this experience,
he converted from Fardian Islam and the teachings of Elijah
Muhammad to Sunni Islam, emphasizing that Islam embraced
all people of every race and color.
Malcolm was assassinated February 21, 1965, in New York
Citys Audubon Ballroom by members of different NOI
mosques. To this day, the force behind the order to murder
Malcolm X has not been determined beyond reasonable doubt.

Teachings of Malcolm X
As a temple speaker, Malcolm was explosive. His offensive remarks about white people
and Christianity soon won him recognition as a leader.
From Malcolms perspective, his prison-time study of religious text, especially the bible,
led him to believe that Jesus was a black man, Ezekiels Wheel is the Mother Plane (a
half-mile-by-half-mile space vehicle carrying bombs for Armageddon), and the Book of
Revelation tells of the total destruction of white devils through Fards use of the
Mother Plane.
Malcolms social, political, and theological teachings continued throughout the 1950s
and early 1960s. He rejected integration, ridiculed the white mans government, and
attacked the central doctrines of Christianity.
Likening the Honorable Elijah Muhammad to the biblical Moses, Malcolm praised him as
the one who showed the way to freedom and deliverance, as well as the one who led
them away from integrating with the white system.
He taught that the three gods (the Trinity) of the Christian religion were an abomination
in Allahs sight, and the Christian religion revered only the white mans desire to enslave
the original man, the black Asiatic race.
Malcolm would consistently warn the white devils that pestilence and plagues of every
sort awaited them; they were doom to this fate by Allah in the flesh.

Louis Farrakhan

Other Leaders & Splinter Groups

of the NOI

The FOI (Fruit of Islam)

Saviors Day
Symbolizes the beginning of black peoples
independence from the rule of white civilization.

The Million-Man March

Tribe of Shabazz


The Nation of Islam: Understanding the Black Muslims by

Steven Tsoukalas

The Golden Age of the Moors by Ivan Van Sertima

An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad

by Claude A. Clegg

The Message to the Black Man in America by Elijah


Yakub: The Father of Mankind by Elijah Muhammad

The Theology of Time by Elijah Muhammad

The Fall of America by Elijah Muhammad

The Secrets of Freemasonry by Elijah Muhammad

The God Tribe of Shabazz - The True History by Elijah


The Mother Plane by Elijah Muhammad

The True History of Master Fard Muhammad by Elijah


The Sufis by Idries Shah

The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip-Hop and the Gods of New

York by Michael Muhammad Knight

Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by

Marcus Garvey

Stolen Legacy: Greek Philosophy is Stolen Egyptian

Philosophy by George M. James