"The Black Muslims learned much from Marcus Garvey and Noble Drew Ali.  Like those earlier prophets of black nationalism, they capitalize on the lower-class Black Man's despair and reservations about the white man, and they have developed black consciousness into a confession of faith.  The Black Man, they teach, has a manifest destiny, and the white man is the personification of the evil that separates the Black Man from his freedom, his moral development, and his God. . . .For the black nationalist, the Black Man's Zion is where the white man is not."[1]




                   The Nation of Islam (NOI) was a religious separatist organization whose founder, W.D. Fard, believed that the African population in America would never achieve freedom, justice and equality as US citizens.[2]  The solution was a separate black nation where black people would govern their own affairs of state.[3]  Elijah Muhammad was the frail and aged yet charismatic leader of the Black Muslims who advanced a black nationalist agenda under the guise of Islam for more than 40 years.[4]  After Muhammad's death in 1975, his legacy was restored by Louis Farrakhan who created a new Nation of Islam.[5]  This paper focuses on the laws and operations of the NOI during the tenure of Elijah Muhammad, 1934-1975.  Less has been documented about the Nation since his death but, where possible, updates of changes to any policies under Farrakhan have been included.

                  Most of the main sources used for this paper are books written in the early 1960s. During that period, Muhammad gave permission to C. Eric Lincoln and E. U. Essien Udom, both black social scientists, and Louis Lomax, a black journalist, to conduct case studies of the Nation.[6]  These authorized studies appear to be the only ones ever permitted and most other books on the subject rely quite heavily on them.

Lincoln's work started as his doctoral thesis and evolved into his book The Black Muslims in America.  He was considered a trusted ally and good friend of both Muhammad and Malcolm X.[7] Reportedly, Muhammad was hoping a positive light would be shed on the movement to counterbalance the mainstream media's negative and inaccurate portrayal, but Lincoln was not opposed to providing his own views as a sociologist of religion.[8]  It was this author who coined the term "Black Muslim," thus distinguishing them from orthodox Muslims who he called "moslems".[9]  He characterized the NOI as primarily a social protest movement rooted in the discontent of black lower-class migrants in the northern industrial cities.

                  Essien Udom was a Nigerian political scientist at Harvard.  He also characterized the NOI as "a special type of political behavior" instead of a religion due to its focus on race.[10]  In his book, Black Nationalism, Essien Udom details the difficulty of studying the Nation and attributes it mainly to a deep-seated suspicion of the outsider.[11]  As he describes in the book, "The Muslims' sense of persecution and fear of the so-called 'enemy' thus makes their cooperation difficult to secure.  Sometimes, they simply do not know what information is permissible from the point of view of those in authority.  Suspicion, fear, and the apparent atmosphere of secrecy which surrounds the movement made it difficult for the writer to secure exact data . . .."[12]  And this was an author who was given permission to do the research!

Louis Lomax produced a book, When the Work is Given . . ., that focuses on black consciousness, the Nation as a religion, and Malcolm X's role in the movement.  His account provides an inside report on his observations after spending four years as an embedded journalist.  Malcolm X's autobiography, co-authored by Alex Haley, was completed in 1965 after Malcolm had been suspended from the Nation in 1963 and just before his death.  During his final editing phases, he was subject to harassment and death threats that he believed were ordered by Elijah Muhammad.  Thus, while his perspective can be characterized as being "top-down," it is certainly tempered by his position as a rejected outsider.


History & Development

                  In order to understand the NOI it's best to look at the social environment of blacks in the US at the time the movement began. Between 1900 and 1930, 2.25 million blacks left the South with most of them moving to urban areas in the North such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit.[13]  These departures were motivated by floods, crop failures, boll weevils, and the revival of the Ku Klux Klan.[14]  Also between 1900 and 1930 more than one thousand African Americans were lynched, mostly in the south, by white mobs.[15]  The NAACP reported that blacks were being lynched an average of every other day during this period.[16]  The summer of 1919 alone saw twenty-six race riots.[17]  Between 1918 and 1921 records show that 28 blacks were burned alive.[18]  It is no surprise then that the black American population would be open-minded to a new religion when Christianity was the faith of the lynch mobs.

The first American Black Islamic society was formed in New Jersey in 1913 by a man named Noble Drew Ali and was called the Moorish Science Temple Movement.[19]  By 1920, there were 25,000 Moorish Scientists.[20]  Unsettling for whites, some of the more outspoken members of the Movement took great pride in informing whites that they were devils and that Allah, through the Prophet Noble Drew Ali, was going to destroy white America.[21]  By 1929, Ali was taken into custody by Chicago authorities and mysteriously disappeared.[22]  Once their leader was gone, the Movement could not sustain itself and so ended.[23]

Overlapping somewhat with the efforts of Noble Drew Ali was the work of W. D. Fard Muhammad (known by many other aliases).  Fard was a door to door peddler who sold his wares to the black community in Detroit between about 1914 and 1930.[24]  Once he gained access to people within their homes, he claimed to be from Mecca with a mission to "wake the 'Dead Nation in the West'; to teach [them] the truth about the white man, and to prepare [them] for Armageddon."[25]  He also preached the greatness of Africa as a place of art, culture, and science.[26]

                  Little is agreed upon about Fard's actual background.  The NOI believed he was indeed from Mecca and was born of black and white parentage, explaining his light skin color and making his wisdom more valuable because he "knew the nature of both races."[27]  According to FBI files, he had more than 50 aliases and may have been born in Portland Oregon, in 1811; Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1873, 1877 or 1900; or New Zealand in 1894.[28]  They listed his race alternately as black and white and his parents were said to have both been born in Hawaii.[29]  The FBI listed some of his aliases as Wallace D. Fard, W.D. Fard, Farad Mohammed, F. Mohammad Ali, Professor Fard, Abdul Wali Farad Muhammad Ali, and Wali Farrad.[30]  The litany of cryptic names he gave himself may have been to create an aura of mystery and spirituality for his followers.[31]

What seems certain is that Fard had sufficient charisma to entice blacks in Detroit to listen and start thinking about themselves and their destiny in a different, more liberating manner.  In order to ease people into the ideas of Islam, he used the Bible.[32]  Utilizing the only religious book people knew, he interpreted it carefully to serve as a bridge to the Koran.[33]  Eventually, Fard wrote two manuals containing his doctrine, Teachings for the Lost-Found Nation in a Mathematical Way and Secret Ritual of the Nation of Islam.[34]  Secret Ritual of the Nation of Islam is only transmitted orally; students in the movement's parochial schools learn it verbatim.[35]  While Teachings for the Lost-Found Nation in a Mathematical Way was published in print, it was done in Fard's secret symbolic language and required his interpretation.[36]  Neither of those sources was available for use in the research for this paper.

The first temple of the Nation of Islam was established in Detroit,[37] where between 1930 and 1933, 8,000 blacks had been recruited.[38] Around 1930, Fard met a special recruit named Elijah Poole who soon thereafter joined Fard's "Nation of Islam."[39] As Fard became more popular, he insisted that black converts replace their "slave names" with holy names.[40]  "The true believer who becomes a Muslim was expected to cast off his old self and take on a new identity.  He was no longer a Negro, so long despised by the white man that he has come almost to despise himself.  Now he was a black man - divine ruler of the universe, different only in degree from Allah Himself.  This rebirth was commemorated by a change in name."[41]  He chose the name "Muhammad" for Elijah Poole who became Elijah Muhammad.[42]  Fard trained Elijah Muhammad as one of the first ministers of this Nation and eventually elevated him to Chief Minister of Islam.[43]  Fard himself was called The Prophet.[44]

In 1932, Elijah Muhammad moved to Chicago to establish Temple #2.[45]  Meanwhile Fard was in and out of prison until he eventually disappeared in 1934 never again to resurface.[46]  At this time, Elijah Muhammad assumed leadership of the NOI and named Temple #2 as the new headquarters.[47]  As part of his development of the NOI's structure and history, Muhammad taught that Fard chose to suffer the abuse of whites by allowing himself to be placed in white jails.[48]  Through this and other reasoning, Muhammad declared that Fard was actually "Allah", God himself.[49]  As one who had served directly under "Allah", Muhammad then could assume the role and designation of "Prophet."[50] Eventually Muhammad became widely known as "The Messenger of Allah."[51]

One of Muhammad's most significant converts to the NOI was Malcolm X.  Malcolm contributed greatly to the progress of the movement, drawing substantial interest by the mainstream press and attracting a large number of young educated blacks, previously untapped by recruitment efforts.[52] One of Malcolm's mentee's was Louis Walcott,[53] soon to follow as a national leader in his own right.[54]  Muhammad led the organization for 41 years, until his death in February 1975.[55] Under his leadership, the NOI gained one million followers, 76 mosques, and assets estimated at $85,000,000 by the 1970's.[56]

After 1978,[57] the Nation split into two with Muhammad's son Wallace leading followers towards an orthodox form of Islam and Louis Farrakhan, formerly Louis Walcott, maintaining the hybrid form of black American separatist, nationalist Islam.[58]  Farrakhan's faction retained the name "Nation of Islam" and sticks more closely to Elijah Muhammad's doctrines.


                  Elijah Muhammad ran the Nation of Islam with absolute authority on all matters of ideology, theology, and policy.[59]  The temples were not autonomous, as orders had to first be cleared through Muhammad.[60]  He appointed Ministers of each temple as well as a "captain" for each to lead the Nation's secret army.[61]  Each temple had an officer cadre called the Fruit of Islam (FOI) that was a unit of men who were trained to protect and enforce the rules of the Nation.[62]  Each temple also had a head (captain) for the women's unit, known as the Moslem Girl's Training and General Civilization Class (MGT).[63] The captain of each unit reported primarily to the appropriate male or female Supreme Captain, not the local minister.[64]  On local matters where there was a clearly defined doctrine, the FOI and MGT did work under local ministers, but for national matters that affected the movement as a whole, the minister had to get clearance from Chicago before he could issue orders.[65]

The Supreme Captains that served directly under Muhammad were Muhammad's own son-in-law, Raymond Sharrieff,[66] and Muhammad's second daughter, Sister Lottie.[67]  Sharrief was the chief liaison officer between Muhammad, the ministers, and the followers and served as the Messenger's "eyes and ears."[68]  He was the only officer of the Nation that had full knowledge of all of its day-to-day activities.[69]  Muhammad's son, Elijah Jr., was second in command and served as the captain of the FOI in Temple #2.[70]  This section of FOI was responsible for providing Muhammad's own personal security force.[71]

The ministers had heavy workloads and were in charge of their temple's operation and management.[72]  Some of their specific duties included presiding and teaching at religious meetings, attending all temple activities and, at times being delegated to represent the Messenger at other temples and public functions.[73]  Besides the captains and ministers, the other main officers at the temples were the secretaries, treasurers, and investigators.[74] 

Secretaries were either male or female full-time employees who assisted the captains and ministers while serving as the official recorders.[75]  Each temple had two treasurers, one in charge of the general income and ordinary expenditures of the temple, the other functioned as the "Poor treasurer" and managed funds for the assistance of the sick and needy and for funerals.[76]  Temples also had two investigators, one man and one woman, who were responsible for the general welfare and conduct of the members.[77]  Their job was to determine the material needs of members and to make recommendations for assistance.[78]  Furthermore, they investigated family conflicts and problems between members and proceeded to settle the disputes or to refer them to the appropriate officers.[79]

                  The first three temples (Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee) were established in the early 1930's during the reign of Fard.[80]  The first temple in a prison was created in 1942, when Muhammad and his son Emmanuel were arrested for refusing to comply with the Selective Service Act.[81]  They served four years in a federal penitentiary in Michigan where they established the temple, made many converts, and held services 3 times per week.[82]  While they were inside, Muhammad's wife, Clara, ran the organization and passed down her husband's orders from the prison to the ministers and captains.[83]  She communicated with him by correspondence and through prison visits.[84] By the time Muhammad and his son were released Temple #4 had been founded in Washington, D.C.[85] Once Malcolm X got involved as a dynamic minister of the NOI in the early 1950's there was an explosion of new temples established around the country.[86]  By the end of 1959, fifty temples were reported in 22 states and the District of Columbia and this number would grow to 76 in the 1970's.[87]  In 1961, Muhammad visited the Muslim countries and, upon his return, directed that the NOI temples would now be called "mosques."[88] 

Purpose & Goals

                  Elijah Muhammad published a book in 1965, Message to the Blackman in America, where he explained the essential doctrines of the NOI as taught to him by Fard, with his own elaborations.[89]  One of the chapters of this book details "The Muslim Program" with a list of relatively simple statements detailing what Muslims want and what they believe.  (See Appendix 1).  The main goals are unification of black people, racial separation, economic separation, and some quantity of land.[90]  These goals were to be furthered through Islamic-based education of blacks.

Though it was never reached, the NOI had a goal of five million members by 1965.[91] Ultimately, they wanted "every Black Man in America be reunited with his own."[92]  Muhammad preached, "In unity, we can accomplish much."[93] In espousing the need for unity, Muhammad proclaimed, "We are trying to reach all black men, those in the colleges and those in the jails.  We need leaders at every level to challenge the lies of the white man.  We need scholars to search out the truth independently of what the white man has written."[94]

Note that within the Nation, the term "Black" was used "both as a national/racial concept and as a theological one, signifying the Original People, goodness, and Godliness, and, as such, transcends the color of skin.  A Native American, a Native Hawaiian, a Hispanic, and an African American are all 'black' at this level of meaning."[95]  In Muhammad's Message to the Blackman, he explicitly includes "the brown, red and yellow races" in his references to Black Men.[96]  Muhammad himself was a light-skinned black man and the movement did not seem to create a hierarchy based on tones of brown.  One drop of "black" blood served as enough to identify as a black person.

                  Even junkies, in fact, many junkies, were brought into the Muslim fold by the NOI.  The regeneration of criminals and other fallen persons was regularly undertaken by the Nation and with great success.[97]  They employed a "6 point therapeutic process" to cure addicts:[98]

·          Help addict admit to himself that he was an addict.

·          Teach him why he used narcotics.

·          Show him that there was a way to stop addiction.

·          Build up addict's shattered self-image and ego until he realized that he had, within, the self-power to end his addiction.

·          Addict undergoes a voluntary cold turkey break with drugs.  Ex-addict Muslims arrange to spend the necessary days in around-the-clock shifts attending to him.

·          Finally cured, an ex-addict completes the cycle by "fishing" up other addicts whom he knows, and supervising their salvation.


                  One of the most controversial aspects of Muhammad's plan, and one that Malcolm X grew hesitant about after his trip to Mecca, was complete racial separation.  Muhammad declared that whites are a race of devils and were created by an evil scientist 6,000 years ago to hate blacks who are the "Original Race."[99]  Following the teachings of Fard, Muhammad espoused this non-orthodox version of human history as a reaction to white American supremacy.  Separation was necessary, as blacks are a superior race that will fall ill if diluted by the white devil.[100]  With the eventual destruction of the white world, blacks must disconnect.[101]  One author suggested that the doctrine of racial separation filled another practical role.  He points out that blacks traditionally have used separate forums such as black churches as a place to release pent-up feelings of frustration and anger toward the injustices of white society and for the shortcomings of their own community.[102]  As things work out, excluding whites from the forums where this venting takes place saves both races from direct confrontation and reduces the occasion for violent conflict.[103]

                  Economic separation goes hand-in-hand with racial separation.  Elijah Muhammad understood that the white man's economic domination gave him a lot of power over blacks, too much.[104]  Muhammad focused on the need for blacks to trust each other, work together, and to be thrifty for their own success.  "On matters of economics there is entirely too much distrust among us.  We trust everyone but ourselves.  We, therefore, have to build or produce trust in ourselves in order to do something for self and kind.  We cannot depend upon the white man to continue to care for us and build a future of good for us and our children."[105]

There are five propositions for the black man to solve his own economic problems called the "Blueprint": [106]

1) Recognize the necessity for unity and group operation (activities);

2) Pool your resources, physically as well as financially;

3) Stop wanton criticism, of everything that is black-owned and black-operated;

4) Keep in mind - jealousy destroys from within; and

5) Observe the operations of the white man.  He is successful.  He makes no excuses for his failures.  He works hard - in a collective manner.  You do the same.


As an organization, the Nation also planned to start its own banking system,[107] and did establish black businesses to create jobs for blacks, including farms to provide food.[108]

Education of the general black population took place wherever blacks could be found including the streets, prisons, barbershops, and temples through discussions, open meetings, and the press.[109] Muslims were out daily "fishing for the dead", trying to recruit newcomers.[110]  Every Wednesday, each temple held "Student Enrollment," where the basic issues of Islam were discussed by members; this was similar to Catholic "catechism" classes.[111]  On Mondays, the temples held classes to teach the men to be men and on Thursdays, the women and girls were taught to be proper wives.[112]  Fridays were devoted to "Civilization Night" where classes were taught to both sexes on the subject of domestic relations, emphasizing how both husbands and wives had to understand and respect each others' true natures.[113]

For the Muslim children, there was the "University of Islam" which provided all the education for elementary to high school.[114]  School was in session 50 weeks per year and had few vacations.[115]    The academics were the same for boys and girls (African and African-American history, language skills, math, science, and Islamic relations).[116]  Supplemental gender-based education for the girls took place in "Muslim Girls in Training" courses and for the boys in the Fruit of Islam training.[117] 

It's interesting that Muhammad started these schools without any legal licensing.[118]  In 1934, two years after founding the first and second University of Islam, he was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of minors, and a riot ensued when the Detroit Board of Education tried to close them down.[119]  Afterward, the State Department of Public Instruction compromised and collaborated with the NOI to create a private school with a curriculum that was approvable.[120]  By 1974, the University of Islam had schools in 46 cities.[121]  Now, the institution is known as Clara Muhammad School.[122]


"God is very hard on those who disobey His Messenger.  He warns in His Holy Qur-an not to quarrel and dispute or raise our voices above the Messenger's voice.  Strict respect and honor is demanded for His Messengers.  We should not take them lightly, we may underestimate them without knowledge."[123]


                  "Allah alone is the 'Author of Islam'" according to Elijah Muhammad.[124]  All black men represent Allah and are divine.[125]  Allah's coming had been predicted for 6,000 years and at his coming, the white race was to reach its end.[126]  Muhammad said that America would be the place Allah would arrive.[127]   After Fard disappeared, Muhammad proclaimed that Fard had been a human incarnation of Allah.[128]    As the former Chief Minister to Fard, Muhammad took the title "Messenger of Allah" and gained full authority to interpret the laws of Islam in the Koran and to make the rules of the Nation.[129]  He legitimized his own leadership based on the history, needs, and conditions of black Americans.[130]

                  Many of laws promulgated by Muhammad were passed to him directly from Fard and can be seen as a customization of the laws of Islam to fit the black nationalist perspective and the conditions of the black community in that era.[131]  In order to create a unified community, Muhammad sought to provide blacks with a "spiritual and moral context within which shaken pride and confidence may be restored and unused or abused energies directed toward an all-encompassing goal; to heal the wound of the Negro's membership in American society."[132]  Through his strict rules of order, Muhammad was questing for the respectability of his members, within and without the black community.[133] History shows us that the personal comportment and politeness of Black Muslims were noted and appreciated by the black community at large.[134]  Members took great pride in this.

                  Certain areas were highly codified in the NOI. In order to achieve such high standards of behavior, Muhammad developed detailed rules of conduct and relatively severe punishments for infractions.[135]  All meetings began promptly and members were expected to be punctual.[136]  Muhammad was making an effort to "correct" tardiness that was a habit identified with the non-Muslim black community.[137]  Rules for membership, naming, and morality (rituals, temple activities, eating, marriage & gender roles) were well defined. As a mass movement, the NOI was unified first by faith, then by its doctrines, held together by the glue of self-mastery and self-sacrifice.[138]

                  Gaining membership in the Nation was not made too difficult.  Applicants were required to send a "Savior's Letter" to Chicago headquarters asking permission to join and to receive a holy name.[139] The letter (see Appendix 2) had to be copied by hand without any mistakes, often candidates just traced over a copy.[140]  Once this procedure was completed and the letter accepted individuals were assigned their X to replace their "slave names."[141]  The X represented the Muslim's unknown African surname and that he is no longer what he was.[142]

"The true believer who becomes a Muslim was expected to cast off his old self and take on a new identity.  He was no longer a Negro, so long despised by the white man that he has come almost to despise himself.  Now he was a black man - divine, ruler of the universe, different only in degree from Allah Himself.  This rebirth was commemorated by a change in name."[143]  Furthermore, a member's citizenship changed to Nation of Islam.[144]  The Nation encouraged all Black Muslims to renounce their United States citizenship because "We (so-called Negroes) are not and cannot be American citizens, since we are not American by nature or race."[145]

If there was already someone with the same first name as a member of a given temple, such as John X, and another John was joining he would become John 2X, and so on.[146]    This process changed after 1975 under Farrakhan; instead of writing a savior's letter, a person could just attend classes that taught the theology of Fard and Elijah Muhammad for 1-6 months to get the X.[147] At some point, after being granted the X, the believer would eventually be given a holy/Arabic name by Fard, Muhammad, or Farrakhan.[148]

Through 1975, very few divine names were granted.  In 1975, the Nation had a membership of more than 300,000 less than 1 percent of who had an Arabic name.[149]  Some of those include Muhammad Ali and Louis Farrakhan.  Malcolm X as the Nation's Chief Minister and National Spokesperson never even received one from the Nation.  It wasn't until he made his pilgrimage to Mecca that his Arabic name, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was presented to him by Middle Eastern Muslims.[150]  Under Farrakhan, the tradition died and holy names were granted en mass to whomever he felt like some say cheapening their integrity.[151]

                  In day-to-day living, Black Muslims are governed by a strict code of morality focused on self-reliance and a sense of mutual responsibility.[152]  This is not related to any doctrine of salvation, as the Muslims don't expect an afterlife, but instead represents the style of living appropriate for divine people on Earth.[153]  Many of the rituals were only loosely based on orthodox Islam.[154]  Some authors believe that the morality of the Black Muslims was more compatible with American Christian standards than with Islam.[155]

Rituals included praying toward east (Mecca) five times per day (and a 6th time if he rises in the night) and pre-prayer washing rituals.[156]  In addition to prayers, every Black Muslim was required to attend at least two meetings a week at the temple.[157]  Outside of the temple, members were expected to recruit new members ("Fish for the dead") and to sell the NOI newspaper, Muhammad Speaks (or in the tenure of Farrakhan Final Call).[158]

                  Proper diet was considered an essential aspect of commitment so much that Elijah Muhammad wrote a book How to Eat to Live.[159]  The short life expectancy and the poor standard of health of blacks were blamed on the soul and junk food that they consumed.[160]  Foods that were prohibited included pork, corn bread, and most of the "slave diet" (aka "soul food").[161]  Tobacco and alcohol were also forbidden, presumably as sins due to their harmful nature.[162]  Additionally, one meal a day was considered sufficient "for such restraint eliminates physical and mental sluggishness and leaves more time for industry."[163]  Regular three-day fasting was recommended.[164]  Overeating was discouraged and being overweight was a punishable offense.[165]

                  Sexual morality was strictly enforced and the standards were ultraconservative.[166]  All marriages were monogamous and Muslims were strongly encouraged to date and marry other Muslims only.[167]  Non-Muslim spouses were pressured to convert.[168]  Divorce was discouraged but allowed.[169]  Interracial relationships were strictly forbidden and could lead to expulsion.[170]

                  Clear lines were drawn to designate the proper gender roles.[171]  Elijah Muhammad taught that black women had to be loved and protected.[172]  It was the man's duty to provide for the family.[173]  A Muslim man was to dress in suit and bow tie, work hard, shun alcohol, gambling and other luxuries.[174] Women were expected to be good homemakers and to obey their husbands.[175]  Women were to work at home if the family was able to survive on the man's salary alone.[176]

Muslim Girls in Training courses were held every Thursday night at the temples.[177]  Muslim girls were given instruction in how to keep house, rear children, take care of husbands, sew, cook, proper hygiene, English, spelling, penmanship, refinement, beauty, and art.[178]  All females over 13 years old had a monthly weight check and, in the early 1960's at least, they were fined a penny for every pound they were overweight.[179]  They were also taught the following "Laws of Islam":[180]

·          Do not use lipstick or make-up.

·          Do not wear hair up unless wearing long dress.

·          Do not smoke or drink alcohol.

·          Do not commit adultery.

·          Do not use pork in any form.

·          Do not cook in aluminum utensils.

·          Do not wear heels over 1.5 inches.

·          Do not dance with anyone except one's husband.


                  As a part of the larger legal system of the United States, Black Muslims had to interface with "white" laws whether they wanted to or not.  The most significant conflict for some high profile Muslims was the military draft.  As the US entered World War II, Black Muslims wanted to have no part.[181]  They were well aware of the irony that they were being asked to fight in a "war for democracy" when they didn't even have civil rights here.[182]  Followers and leadership claimed NOI citizenship and refused to register for the draft as required by the Selective Service Act of 1940.[183]  About this time, the FBI launched large-scale investigations into the NOI for possible anti-American teachings.[184]  Eventually, they arrested 85 African-Americans from three pro-black organizations, including 65 from the NOI.[185]  Fifty-six defendants received three-year sentences for failing to register for the draft.[186]  Elijah Muhammad was sentenced to four years for evading the draft and influencing others to do so.[187]           

                  In 1966, Muhammad Ali, Heavy Weight Champion of the World and Black Muslim since 1961, came under attack for refusing to serve in the US Army in Vietnam.[188]  He made a claim that he was a conscientious objector due to his religion and thus entitled to exemption from military service.[189]  "I am a member of the Muslims and we don't go to war unless they are declared by Allah himself.  I don't have no personal quarrel with those Vietcong."[190]  He further shared his feelings with the press, "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisiana are treated like dogs?"[191]  One hour after he refused his induction, authorities in the state of New York suspended his boxing license, all other jurisdictions followed suit, and he was stripped of his title.[192]  He was also sentenced to five years in prison.[193]  After six years of the appeal process, the Supreme Court let him off on a technicality.[194]


                  While the white press carried many stories over the years attributing violence to Black Muslims, Elijah Muhammad promoted its avoidance.[195]  He urged his followers to never start a fight and carrying weapons was forbidden.[196]  However, he also taught that Muslims should defend themselves, if attacked, and be willing to lay down ones life to defend a Muslim "brother."[197]   Nevertheless, there is at least one story, under the reign of Farrakhan, where a minister was directed to use his martial arts to enforce rules and regulations at a temple with many rebellious members.[198] Furthermore, many theorists and even Malcolm X himself believed that Elijah Muhammad ordered the assassination of Malcolm X.  This is one of many places where inconsistencies and contradictions show up between what Muhammad preached and what he practiced.

                  In a sense, the entire Nation of Islam is a kind of reserve fighting corps.[199]  The vanguard of this force is the secret, militaristic unit called the Fruit of Islam.[200]  The overall purpose of the FOI is 1) to protect organizational officials and property, 2) to reinforce the doctrine and objective of the organization, and 3) to prepare for the race war known as Armageddon.[201]  As stated earlier, each temple had a unit with the local captain and lieutenants reporting not to the temple minister but to Elijah Muhammad through his Supreme Captain.[202]

                  Selection of the Fruit varied some depending on the size of the temple, but overall were the most physically and psychologically fit males in the movement.[203]  In smaller temples, every male is eligible.[204]  At larger temples, only the best qualified men under 30 years old would be admitted.[205]  Some of these temples have 3 groups Junior FOI for males under 16 years, a prime group for men 16-35 years, and a third group for men over 35 years.[206]  Recruits are screened for the highest standard of moral character and dedication.[207]  All candidates are given oral exams where they must recite long passages verbatim.[208]  

                  Every Monday night the FOI trained at the temple.[209]  The training was both physical (weights, judo, karate, military drill) and mental.[210]  They spent much time in lectures and discussions on men learning to be men, in so-called "Manhood training."[211]  As Malcolm X described it, "They deal with responsibilities of a husband and father; what to expect of women; the rights of women which are not to be abrogated by the husband; the importance of the father-male image in the strong household; current events; why honesty, and chastity, are vital in a person, a home, a community, a nation, and a civilization why one should bathe at least once each twenty-four hours; business principles; and things of that nature."[212]

                  The responsibilities of the FOI could be grouped into two categories: security and discipline.  Furthermore, they were rigorously held to the Muslim ideal and served as living models of the Black Nation.[213]  They were expected to demonstrate self-reliance, ability to defend themselves, obedience to authority, promotion of harmony and complete unity, respect and protection of black womanhood.[214]    In their role as security, they stood guard at temples, checked visitors at all meetings, and provided special guard for all ministers and traveling officials.[215]  To enforce discipline, the FOI held hearings.[216]  


                  As part of their disciplinary functions, the FOI supervised trials or hearings held at the temples.[217]  Common violations seen at trials during the time of Muhammad include adultery, use of narcotics, misuse of temple funds, not attending meetings, sleeping during meetings, failing to bring "Lost-Founds" (visitors) to meetings, reporting temple activities to outsiders, using unbecoming language before female Muslims, eating or selling pork, failing to pay extra dues for being overweight, allowing anyone to enter the temple under the influence of liquor, or stating an unwillingness to die for Allah.[218]   

                  It also appears that the FOI was involved with investigation of facts.  This is an area that sources provided little information about although one testimonial was found that described the "interrogation" process to which a member was subjected.  This particular member had voluntarily left the Nation, committed many sins while out, and then tried to return.  His story also provides an example of how suspension is enforced.  (See Appendix 3)

Once the facts were investigated, the hearing process began with the offending Muslim being put in custody of the FOI.[219]  The proceedings are attended by all the FOI of the temple and, if it's a lesser infraction, all the temple members may be invited.[220]  Conducting the hearings are the temple minister and the FOI captain.[221]  The charges are read, the Defendant may not give any defense, and then a verdict is pronounced by the minister if it's a religious issue, or the FOI captain if it's anything else.[222]  There is no appeals process; all verdicts are final.[223]  

                  Author Vibert White, former NOI minister under Farrakhan, describes "hold-back" meetings where Muslims recite acts of hostilities by other Muslims; it was common for members to issue charges and countercharges.[224]  Some of the accusations White reports seeing are embezzlement of temple's monies, fornication, adultery, and domestic issues of spouses refusing to be gainfully employed (who don't want to work for "white devils").[225]  Unfortunately, White does not go into detailed descriptions of the "hold-back" meetings or even make clear whether these are a particular class of hearings or another name for "hearings."

                  There are at least three types of sentences possible based on the degree of the violation.[226] Minor violations carried a "Class C" sentence which involved performing labor at the temple or other location.[227]  Larger violations carried "Class F" sentences which meant suspension.[228]  (See Appendix 4 for list of violations.)  There were varying degrees of suspension.[229]  "Silencing" was part of the suspension punishment given to Malcolm X in 1963; he was forbidden from speaking with the press and even from teaching at his own Mosque where he was minister.[230]  "Isolation" was a more restrictive degree of suspension; during this time, the offender is barred from all Muslim temples and businesses and other Muslims are forbidden to speak or associate with him.[231]   Two former secretaries of Elijah Muhammad were isolated in 1962 after they reported that Muhammad had fathered their children.[232]  Malcolm X's suspension also included isolation.[233]  The most serious violations, such as interracial relationships,[234] resulted in formal and permanent expulsion from the NOI.[235]    

                  One could argue that there was actually a fourth and more severe category of discipline by the NOI, death.  In 1962, Elijah Muhammad warned Muslims that "'recalcitrant brothers [would] be killed' if they defied the Nation."[236]  Louis Farrakhan spoke out after Malcolm was suspended and encouraged the killing of his mentor, "Malcolm's head should be cut off . . . his tongue should be pulled out of his mouth and mailed to Mr. Muhammad."[237]  Of course, the NOI would not acknowledge this most extreme form of discipline, but it can be inferred to exist from both statements of leadership and history.

Suspension of Muhammad Ali

                  In March 1961, a young boxer named Cassius Clay was introduced to the NOI, became a follower, and 3 years later, as his career was on the upswing, was given the name Muhammad Ali.[238] As described above, he had been stripped of his Heavy Weight Champion title and sentenced to prison when he refused induction into the US Army in 1966.[239]  Due to his fame, Ali became a high profile symbol for resistance and black revolutionary Islam.[240]  His visibility and prominence were a great asset for the Nation.[241]  He spent time, while suspended from boxing, lecturing at temples and on college campuses.[242]  However, in 1969, while preparing for his comeback in the ring, Ali made a statement to the media that brought the wrath of Elijah Muhammad.[243]  On television, he stated that he would return to boxing "if the money was right."[244]   

This went over like a lead balloon with the leader of the Black Muslims.  Muhammad's reaction was to issue a statement of suspension, "tell the world we are not with Muhammad Ali . . . in his desire to work in the sports world for the sake of a 'leetle' money."[245]  Although Elijah Muhammad taught against all forms of sports,[246] Ali's sports career had been accepted.[247]  However, after being suspended by the "Devil," it was seen as a disgrace for Ali to crawl back on his knees for the sake of money.[248]

                  After about 3 years, Herbert Muhammad, son of Elijah and former manager of Ali, convinced his father that Ali should be re-embraced by the Nation.[249]  In welcoming Ali back to the fold, Elijah Muhammad proclaimed in his weekly newspaper that Ali was "a good believer [though] full of sport . . . [who has] done nothing that cannot be forgiven if he repents."[250]  Ali then re-entered the Nation and continued to champion its growth.[251]

Suspension (and Execution?) of Malcolm X

                  Malcolm Little spent six years in prison for burglary and came out a converted Black Muslim in 1952.[252]  For 12 years, he was totally devoted to Elijah Muhammad and the Nation and routinely worked 18 hours a day in the name of "The Messenger."[253]  In 1953, Malcolm was appointed as Elijah Muhammad's "Prime Minister" for the Nation.[254]  His recruitment efforts were highly successful and responsible for increasing membership by tens of thousands.[255]  Over the 1950's and into the 1960's Malcolm X achieved great fame domestically and abroad.[256]  Malcolm described his complete dedication to Muhammad: "I believe that no man in the Nation of Islam could have gained the international prominence I gained with the wings Mr. Muhammad had put on me--plus having the freedom that he granted me to take liberties and do things on my own--and still have remained as faithful and as selfless a servant to him as I was."[257]

                  Around 1961, Malcolm began experiencing jealousy and hostility from within the ranks of the Nation.[258]  In response and as an effort to escape the limelight, he worked to deflect media attention from himself to Elijah Muhammad and began to refuse speaking engagements and interviews.[259]  By 1962, the editor of the Muhammad Speaks newspaper steadily declined the coverage given to Malcolm until it was eliminated.[260]   Malcolm was also being actively discouraged by headquarters in Chicago from holding rallies and public speaking engagements.[261]

                  In 1963, rumors began to circulate about adultery committed by Muhammad.[262]  Two women who had been his secretaries were alleging that he fathered their children.[263]  This was extremely disconcerting for Malcolm who launched his own investigation and tried to reconcile Muhammad's moral lapse with teachings from the Koran.[264]  He visited "The Messenger" to ask him about the accusations and Muhammad admitted they were true.[265]  After this, Malcolm began distancing himself from the Nation's doctrine and focused more on social and economic issues oppressing black people domestically and abroad.[266]

                  When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Muhammad issued a directive to all his ministers to refrain from commenting about it.[267]  Soon after, at a speaking engagement in New York Malcolm X was asked his opinion of the assassination.[268]  He said it was, "as I saw it, as a 'case of chickens coming home to roost.'  I said that the hate in white men had not stopped with the killing of defenseless black people, but that hate, allowed to spread unchecked, finally had struck down this country's Chief of State.  I said it was the same thing as had happened with Medgar Evers, with Patrice Lumumba, with Madam Nhu's husband."[269] 

                  On the next day, he had a regularly scheduled meeting with Muhammad.[270]  The Messenger told him, "That was a very bad statement.  The country loved this man.  The whole country is in mourning.  That was very ill-timed.  A statement like that can make it hard on Muslims in general.  I'll have to silence you for the next 90 days--so that Muslims everywhere can be disassociated from the blunder."[271]  Malcolm replied, "Sir, I agree with you, and I submit, one hundred percent."[272]   

Nonetheless, the NOI issued an announcement throughout the Nation that he would be reinstated within 90 days, "if he submitted."[273]  This was the first sign to Malcolm that he was being "set up."[274]  As he saw it, Muslims were given the impression that he had rebelled against Muhammad.[275]  The next step by the NOI that Malcolm expected was that he would remain suspended and then isolated indefinitely.[276]  The final step would be either 1) to isolate him such that he would gradually disappear from the public scene or 2) to provoke some Muslim "ignorant of the truth" to kill him as a "religious duty."[277]  A few days later he learned that one of his immediate assistants at his temple was telling Muslims "If you knew what the Minister did, you'd go out and kill him yourself."[278]  Malcolm said that then he knew Muhammad was involved,  "As any official in the Nation of Islam would have instantly known, any death-talk for me could have been approved of--if not actually initiated--by only one man."[279]

On March 8, 1964, Malcolm, still officially suspended, announced that he was leaving NOI and founding his own Orthodox Islam organization "Muslim Mosque, Inc." and its secular counterpart "Organization of Afro-American Unity" (OAAU).[280]  Then in April 1964, he made his pilgrimage to Mecca.[281]  (See Appendix 5 - Malcolm's letter from Mecca) There he was presented with his holy name, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, by Middle Eastern Muslims.[282]  When he returned in May he found out the NOI had a lawsuit against him to force him to move out of the house his family lived in on Long Island.[283]  For the next 9 months, Malcolm worked to develop his own organization and maintained a high profile in the press where he informed people of his updated points of view.[284]  As El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, he promoted a Third World oriented revolutionary position.[285]  He also adjusted his position on racism and told the press that he no longer believed whites were evil.[286]  This was a big turn around from his exhortations only a few months prior and served to highlight his growth away from the Nation and Muhammad.

On February 13, 1965, after a rash of death threats anonymously phoned to the police, newspapers, the OAAU office, and Malcolm's home, and after confrontations with Muslims on the street,[287] Malcolm's home was bombed.[288]   The perpetrators threw flaming Molotov cocktails through the front window at night while the family was sleeping.[289]  Luckily, Malcolm made it out of the house with his four young daughters and pregnant wife without any injuries.[290]  However, unfortunately, on February 21, 1965 Malcolm X was successfully assassinated.[291]  The three men charged with his murder were former Muslims, which fueled suspicion that the NOI was involved.[292]  Another popular suspect in the murder is the CIA.[293]

NOI vs. Mainstream Islam

                  At the start of the 1950's, it was a goal of the NOI to have their movement accepted by outsiders as a legitimate religion.[294]  By the 1960's, this was no longer important as Muhammad stated that Black Muslims are legitimate and Islamic, thus settling the matter for them.[295]  Except for certain prisons, United States governmental bodies have given the NOI the benefit of the doubt and have treated it as a legitimate religion.[296]  The Universities of Islam were legally approved as parochial schools and the temple and school properties are tax exempt in all states where they exist.[297]  

                  The story is different in the orthodox world of Islam.  Many scholars of Islam take exception with the NOI's claims of being a legitimate sect.[298]  Black Muslims are generally not accepted by other Moslem groups in the U.S.[299]  "The Nation of Islam deviates considerably from the teachings of orthodox Islam. Their idea of black racial superiority and whites as evil is contradictory to the teachings of racial equality found in Orthodox Islam. Although the title of this group seems to infer that they are part of the Orthodox Islam religion, this is not the case."[300]   Table 1, at the end of this section, presents some of the major differences between the doctrines of the NOI and mainstream Islam.

                  Elijah Muhammad proudly admitted that some of the teachings and practices were different based on perspective and interpretation specific to the experiences of Black Americans.[301]  "My brothers in the East were never subjected to the conditions of slavery and systematic brainwashing by the Slavemasters for as long a period as my people here were subjected.  I cannot, therefore, blame them if they differ with me in certain interpretations of the message of Islam."[302]  As Farrakhan described it to dignitaries in Mecca in 1989, "Elijah Muhammad was divinely guided to adopt a gradual approach, based on a knowledge of African-American reality."[303]

                  There was almost no religious ceremony or ritual at Temple meetings.[304]  The meetings were devoted to lectures; prayers were said to open and close the meetings and an occasional verse from the bible or Koran was read during the lecture.[305]  In order to create an environment for listening to lectures that lasted for 2-5 hours, temples are outfitted with chairs whereas orthodox mosques have no seats.[306]

                  Another example of the Messenger's customization of the rituals of Islam for Black Americans is that he prescribed the month of fasting (fourth pillar of Islam) to take place in December (of the Gregorian calendar) instead of the month of Ramadan (based on the lunar calendar).[307]  His reasoning was that he saw no need for it during the fall but thought that it would helpfully distract from Christmas, celebration of the birth of another Prophet, if held in December.[308]  

The biggest differences were his extreme racial views, emphatic militancy, and unhistorical teachings about the Black Nation.[309]  Perhaps most radical was the teaching that a mere mortal was Allah (Fard) and that Elijah Muhammad was Allah's messenger.[310]   Those beliefs directly contradict the Koran.[311]  Overall, the Orthodox Muslims believe in the equality of all; there is no one superior group over another, whereas, the Nation of Islam is a political movement hoping to find a solution for the plight of the African-American.[312]




Nation Of Islam


Monotheistic - Allah - never has appeared in any physical form

Polytheistic - Including Allah in the form of Fard Muhammad


Allah's last revelation to mankind and that this occurred between the years of 610 and 632 CE

Contradictory - They believe in the Koran and the writings of all the prophets of God and believe that they are the original nation, the writers of the Bible and Koran, and the creators of history

Fasting - 4th Pillar

During Ramadan

During month of December

Last Prophet

Muhammad ibn Abdullah

Elijah Muhammad

Brotherhood of Islam

Universal - All-embracing brotherhood of man

"Blacks" only - racial separatism and superiority

Inheriting of the Earth

The meek/oppressed



Worshippers allowed into the mosques

All races

No whites

Table 1 - Differences Between Orthodox Islam and Nation of Islam[313]


NOI after Elijah Muhammad

                  In February 1975, Wallace Muhammad (aka Warith Deen Muhammad), seventh son of Elijah Muhammad, succeeded his deceased father as Chief Minister and head of the movement.[314]  This was despite the fact that Wallace had had many disagreements over the years with his father Elijah.[315]  He was suspended and reinstated at least four times.[316]  One of the times was for conflicting with Elijah Muhammad "over the philosophy (self help), the theology (Islamic Nationalism), and ideology (black separatism)."[317]  Once he took leadership of the organization he made radical changes in order to bring the Nation in line with orthodoxy.[318]  He changed the name of the NOI, first to the Bilalian Community, then to the World Community of Al-Islam in the West, to the American Muslim Mission (1980s), and finally to the Muslim Mission (1990s).[319]

The seven main changes Wallace made are that he: 1) did away with the doctrine of black racial superiority taught by Elijah Muhammad, 2) redefined Fard as a wise man and not God himself, 3) restored Malcolm X's legacy as a respected and prominent member, 4) separated business from religious practices, 5) ended the desire for a separate state, 6) honored the US Constitution, and 7) aligned the NOI doctrine with Orthodox Islamic practices.[320]

Some NOI followers preferred to toe the line and stick by the praises of racial superiority and separatism espoused by Elijah Muhammad.[321]  They followed Farrakhan who left Wallace's group to form a new Nation of Islam in 1977.[322]  Farrakhan's NOI is popularly considered to be the continuation of the original and has emerged as the largest black nationalist movement in the US.[323]  Throughout the 1990's, Farrakhan increasingly distanced himself and the Nation from the racial superiority rhetoric of the past.[324]  The group, based in Chicago, remains very active in reform of criminals and addicts.[325]

Questions Left Unanswered

There are still substantial unanswered questions in this report.  It is known that each temple has two investigators, but no sources were found that described their process of investigation or even how they determined that there was something to investigate.   It might be that they made regular rounds of members' households, or that they waited for a report of a problem.  Perhaps once they discovered a problem (in a family or between members) they started interviewing people.  This seems reasonable to assume but, because it's not reported, we can only assume.  Nor was the mechanism by which they settle disputes described in any accounts read for this paper.  It was mentioned in one source that if they did not settle a dispute they referred the matter along to another officer, but there is no indication of the types of problems they could resolve and those they had to refer on.

                  Similarly, the investigatory and judicial roles of the Fruit of Islam are mentioned but not well described.  The testimonial of "Brother" gives at least one version of investigation that he called "interrogation."    How prevalent this was/is is undetermined.  It might have been that because he was not a member, the investigators did not have "jurisdiction" and the FOI stepped in.  Perhaps the issue is the degree of the violation.  It might be that work of the investigators was limited to minor violations (Class C) and the FOI served as the finders of fact for greater violations (leading to suspension and expulsion).

                  As mentioned in the introduction, the shortcoming of certain information is likely due to concerns of secrecy in the organization.  This matter of secrecy may have served the function, similar to rumor or myth, to compensate members for the lack of genuine religious rituals and ceremonies.[326]  One author argues that the secrecy may even have helped attract new members who saw a route to social status and were attracted by the pomp and pageantry.[327]  The issue of "Why the secrecy" is left as another question this paper wasn't able to fully address.

Appendix 1

THE MUSLIM PROGRAM  by Elijah Muhammad, The Messenger[328]




What The Muslims Want


This is the question asked most frequently by both the whites and the blacks. The answers to this question I shall state as simply as possible.


1. We want freedom. We want a full and complete freedom.


2. We want justice. Equal justice under the law. We want justice under the law. We want justice applied equally to all, regardless of creed or class or color.


3. We want equality of opportunity. We want equal membership in society with the best in civilized society.


4. We want our people in America whose parents or grandparents were descendants from slaves, to be allowed to establish a separate state or territory of their own--either on this continent or elsewhere. We believe that our former slave masters are obligated to provide such land and that the area must be fertile and minerally rich. We believe that our former slave masters are obligated to maintain and supply our needs in this separate territory for the next 20 to 25 years--until we are able to produce and supply our own needs.


Since we cannot get along with them in peace and equality, after giving them 400 years of our sweat and blood and receiving in return some of the worst treatment human beings have ever experienced, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by white America, justifies our demand for complete separation in a state or territory of our own


5. We want freedom for all Believers of Islam now held in federal prisons. We want freedom for all black men and women now under death sentence in innumerable prisons in the North as well as the South.


We want every black man and woman to have the freedom to accept or reject being separated from the slave master's children and establish a land of their own.


We know that the above plan for the solution of the black and white conflict is the best and only answer to the problem between two people.


6. We want an immediate end to the police brutality and mob attacks against the so-called Negro throughout the United States.


We believe that the Federal government should intercede to see that black men and women tried in white courts receive justice in accordance with the laws of the land--or allow us to build a new nation for ourselves, dedicated to justice, freedom and liberty.


7. As long as we are not allowed to establish a state or territory of our own, we demand not only equal justice under the laws of the United States, but equal employment opportunities- NOW!


We do not believe that after 400 years of free or nearly free labor, sweat and blood, which has helped America become rich and powerful, so many thousands of black people should have to subsist on relief or charity or live in poor houses.


8. We want the government of the United States to exempt our people from ALL taxation as long as we are deprived of equal justice under the laws of the land.


9. We want equal education--but separate schools up to 16 for boys and 18 for girls on the condition that the girls be sent to women's colleges and universities. We want all black children educated, taught and trained by their own teachers.


Under such schooling system we believe we will make a better nation of people. The United States government should provide, free, all necessary text books and equipment, schools and college buildings. The Muslim teachers shall be left free to teach and train their people in the way of righteousness, decency and self respect.


10. We believe that intermarriage or race mixing should be prohibited. We want the religion of Islam taught without hindrance or suppression.


These are some of the things that we, the Muslims, want for our people in North America.


What The Muslims Believe


1. WE BELIEVE In the One God whose proper Name is Allah.


2. WE BELIEVE in the Holy Qur'an and in the Scriptures of all the Prophets of God.


3. WE BELIEVE in the truth of the Bible, but we believe that it has been tampered with and must be reinterpreted so that mankind will not be snared by the falsehoods that have been added to it.


4. WE BELIEVE in Allah's Prophets and the Scriptures they brought to the people.


5. WE BELIEVE in the resurrection of the dead--not in physical resurrection--but in mental resurrection. We believe that the so-called Negroes are most in need of mental resurrection; therefore they will be resurrected first.


Furthermore, we believe we are the people of God's choice, as it has been written, that God would choose the rejected and the despised. We can find no other persons fitting this description in these last days more that the so-called Negroes in America. We believe in the resurrection of the righteous.


6. WE BELIEVE in the judgment; we believe this first judgment will take place as God revealed, in America...


7. WE BELIEVE this is the time in history for the separation of the so-called Negroes and the so-called white Americans. We believe the black man should be freed in name as well as in fact. By this we mean that he should be freed from the names imposed upon him by his former slave masters. Names which identified him as being the slave master's slave. We believe that if we are free indeed, we should go in our own people's names--the black people of the Earth.


8. WE BELIEVE in justice for all, whether in God or not; we believe as others, that we are due equal justice as human beings. We believe in equality--as a nation--of equals. We do not believe that we are equal with our slave masters in the status of "freed slaves."


We recognize and respect American citizens as independent peoples and we respect their laws, which govern this nation.


9. WE BELIEVE that the offer of integration is hypocritical and is made by those who are trying to deceive the black peoples into believing that their 400-year-old open enemies of freedom, justice and equality are, all of a sudden, their "friends." Furthermore, we believe that such deception is intended to prevent black people from realizing that the time in history has arrived for the separation from the whites of this nation.


If the white people are truthful about their professed friendship toward the so-called Negro, they can prove it by dividing up America with their slaves.


We do not believe that America will ever be able to furnish enough jobs for her own millions of unemployed, in addition to jobs for the 20,000,000 black people as well.


10. WE BELIEVE that we who declare ourselves to be righteous Muslims, should not participate in wars which take the lives of humans. We do not believe this nation should force us to take part in such wars, for we have nothing to gain from it unless America agrees to give us the necessary territory wherein we may have something to fight for.


11. WE BELIEVE our women should be respected and protected as the women of other nationalities are respected and protected.


12. WE BELIEVE that Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard Muhammad, July 1930; the long-awaited "Messiah" of the Christians and the "Madhi" of the Muslims.


We believe further and lastly that Allah is God and besides HIM there is no god and He will bring about a universal government of peace wherein we all can live in peace together.

Appendix 2

Savior's Letter




                                                                                                                                                                                                      City & State


Mr. E. Muhammad

4847 So. Woodlawn Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60015


Dear Savior Allah, Our Deliverer:


I have been attending the teachings of Islam by one of your Ministers, two or three times.  I believe in It, and I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is Thy Servant and Apostle.  I desire to reclaim my Own.  Please give me my Original Name.  My slave name is as follows:



                                                                                                                                                                                                      City and State[329]             


Appendix 3

Testimonial of "Brother"[330]


I have been out of the Temple for two years.  I got involved sexually with a non-Muslim girl and left the Temple voluntarily.  I was a good Muslim for three years before this happened.  I abstained from sexual relations during that period.  There was a girl in the Temple I wanted to marry but we just couldn't get married fast enough for me; so I took up with this other girl.  After being out for two years drinking, smoking, and whoring I decided there was nothing in this dead world and wanted to get back into the Temple.  I went and told the Captain that I wanted to rejoin the nation.  Tuesday is interrogation day and for four successive weeks I was interrogated by the Captain and others - both formally and informally.  You know, they keep at you for a long time to see if you are telling the truth.  You know, if you lie you cannot remember the same lie next week and you don't always know when you are being interrogated.  You may just think that you are having a conversation with a Brother, but he is taking careful note of everything you say.  After these four weeks of questioning I was brought before the entire Muslim congregation at a Wednesday Night meeting, and court-martialed.  The Captain acted as judge and jury.  I was denounced in vigorous terms for adultery, fornication, gambling, drinking, smoking, and for breaking nearly all the laws of Islam.  I was asked if I had had sex with any of the Muslim Sisters and when I truthfully denied this, the Captain said: "It's a good thing you didn't."  After this period of humiliation I was asked how I pleaded to the charges.  Guilty was my only plea.  The captain found me guilty and suspended me from the Temple for another year.  I was placed also in "Isolation."  This means that no Muslim can speak to me and I cannot attend any meeting, public or private, of the Temple.  There are a few Brothers who say hello to me now, but most will turn their backs if I meet them on the street.  I want more than anything to get back into the Temple.  My time will be up next year and I'll go right back for life.  You know I had worked my way up to being a member of Mr. Muhammad's bodyguard and felt that I was on my way to the ministership.  I moved from the fifth car to Mr. Muhammad's car.  I have to start it all over again.  I know that once I serve my term I will be welcomed back into the Nation.  I'll be eligible for consideration and I have to prove myself all over again.  The Captain said to me: "Do you think that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is joking?  Do you think that he is playing games?  What right have you to go risk disgracing his efforts?"

Appendix 4

List of "laws" given to members in May 1959[331]

Violations of the following laws were subject to 30 days to indefinite suspension from the Temple:

1.       Sleeping in the Temple

2.       Keeping late hours

3.       Using narcotics (dope, heroin, marijuana)

4.       Married and taking up time with other sisters

5.       Abusing your wife

6.       Socializing with Christians

7.       Drinking alcoholic juices

8.       Unclean homes

9.       Personal hygiene

10.  Watching the movements of the sisters

11.  Lying and stealing from one another

12.  Gambling (shooting pool, dice, cards, etc.)

13.  Eating pork

14.  Gossiping on one another

15.  Fornication

16.  Adultery

17.  Disobeying your officers

18.  Disrespecting Ministers and the Supreme Captain

19.  Talking about your Leader and Teacher

20.  Misrepresenting the teachings of Islam

21.  Disrespecting the Messenger of Allah

Appendix 5

Malcolm's letter from Mecca to his loyal assistants with the OAAU

"Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors. . .

"America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered "white"‹but the "white" attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.

"You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to re-arrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. . . .

"All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.


"El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

"(Malcolm X)"[332]





Essien Udom, E. U.  1962.  Black Nationalism.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


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


Haley, Alex. 1964. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  New York: Ballantine Books. 


Lincoln, Dr. C. Eric. 1961, 1973.  The Black Muslim in America. Westport: Greenwood Press, Publishers


Lomax, Louis.  1963.  When the Word is Given.  New York: The New American Library, Inc.


Marsh, Clifton E. 1984.  From Black Muslims To Muslims: The Transitions from Separatism to Islam, 1930-1980.  Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.


Muhammad, Elijah.  1965, 1992.  Message To The Blackman.  Newport News: United Brothers Communications Systems.


Ogbar, Jeffrey O. G. 2004.  Black Power.  Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.


Turner, Richard Brent.  1997.  ISLAM in the African-American Experience.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


White Jr., Vibert L.  2001.  Inside The Nation of Islam.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida.


Woodward, Bob and Armstrong, Scott.  1979. The Brethren.  New York: Simon and Schuster.






Palmer, A.I. Nation of Islam Exposed







[1]Lincoln, Dr. C. Eric. 1961, 1973.  The Black Muslim in America. Westport: Greenwood Press, Publishers. p.69

[2] Marsh, Clifton E. 1984.  From Black Muslims To Muslims: The Transitions from Separatism to Islam, 1930-1980.  Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 3.

[3] Id.

[4] Id at 4.

[5] Ogbar, Jeffrey O. G. 2004.  Black Power.  Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press. p. 203.

[6] Turner, Richard Brent.  1997.  ISLAM in the African-American Experience.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press.  p. 199.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Haley, Alex. 1964. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  New York: Ballantine Books. p. 270.

[10] Turner, p. 200.

[11] Essien Udom, E. U.  1962.  Black Nationalism.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.  p. ix.

[12] Id.

[13] Lincoln, p. xxiii.

[14] Id at xxiv.

[15] White Jr., Vibert L.  2001.  Inside The Nation of Islam.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida. p. 8.

[16] Id at 14.

[17] Id at 8.

[18] Lincoln, p. xxiv.

[19] White, p. 6.

[20] Id at 8.

[21] Id at 9.

[22] Id at 10.

[23] Id at 11.

[24] Marsh, p. 4.

[25] Lincoln, p. xxv.

[26] White, p. 25.

[27] Tuner, p. 161.

[28] Id at 165.

[29] Id.

[30] Id at 160.

[31] Id at 160.

[32] Lincoln, p. 13.

[33] Id.

[34] Marsh, p. 52.

[35] Lincoln, p. 16.

[36] Id.

[37] Id at xxv.

[38] Marsh, p. 53.

[39] White, p. 25.

[40] White, p. 26.

[41] Lincoln, pp. 114-5.

[42] Id.

[43] Marsh, p. 53.

[44] White, p. 25.

[45] Marsh, p. 54.

[46] Id.

[47] Id.

[48] White, p. 30.

[49] Marsh, p. 54.

[50] Id.

[51] Id.

[52] Marsh, p. 73.

[53] Gardell, Mattias.  1996.  In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.  Durham: Duke University Press.  p. 120.

[54] White, p. 32.

[55] Marsh, p. 4.

[56] Turner, p. 224.

[57] White, p. 189.

[58] Id at pp. 32-3.

[59] Essien Udom, p. 143.

[60] White, pp. 32-33.

[61] Lincoln, p. 222.

[62] Id.

[63] Essien Udom, p. 145.

[64] Lincoln, p. 222.

[65] Lomax, Louis.  1963.  When the Word is Given.  New York: The New American Library, Inc.  p.71.

[66] Id.

[67] Essien Udom, p. 146.

[68] Id at p. 145.

[69] Id.

[70] Lincoln, p. 223.

[71] Id.

[72] Essien Udom, p. 144.

[73] Id.

[74] Id at p. 147.

[75] Id at pp. 147-8.

[76] Id.

[77] Id.

[78] Id.

[79] Id.

[80] Haley, p. 227.

[81] Marsh, p. 60.

[82] Marsh, pp. 60-1.

[83] Turner, p. 169.

[84] Essien Udom, p. 68.

[85] Marsh, p. 61.

[86] Id.

[87] Essien Udom, p. 70 & Turner, p. 224.

[88] Haley, p. 287.

[89] Lincoln, p. 141.

[90] Id at 86-102.

[91] Id at 87.

[92] Id.

[93] Muhammad, Elijah.  1965, 1992.  Message To The Blackman.  Newport News: United Brothers Communications Systems.  p. 61.

[94] Lincoln, p. 87.

[95] Gardell, p. 7.

[96] Muhammad, p. 49.

[97] Id at 84.

[98] Haley, p. 283.

[99] Muhammad, pp. 102-3.

[100] Lincoln, pp. 92-3.

[101] Id.

[102] Essien Udom, p. 230.

[103] Id.

[104] Id at 93.

[105] Muhammad, p. 197.

[106] Id at 174.

[107] Id at 193.

[108] Lincoln, pp. 95-7.

[109] Id at 111.  Marsh, pp. 63-4.

[110] Gardell, p. 63.

[111] Haley, pp. 247-8.

[112] Id.

[113] Id at 248.

[114] Marsh, p. 59.

[115] Id.

[116] Id.

[117] Id.  Note:  other authors have also called this "Moslem Girls' Training."  See Essien Udom p. 145.

[118] White, p. 61.

[119] Id.

[120] Id.

[121] Id.

[122] Marsh, p. 59.

[123] Muhammad, p. 260.

[124] Lincoln, p. 75.

[125] Id.

[126] Id.

[127] Id.

[128] Id.

[129] Marsh, p. 54.

[130] Essien Udom, p. 79.

[131] Id at p. 6.

[132] Id at p. 14.

[133] Id at p. 15.

[134] Id at p. 209.

[135] Id at p. 213.

[136] Id.

[137] Id.

[138] Lincoln, p. 109.

[139] White, p. 72.

[140] Id at 73.

[141] Marsh, p. 55.

[142] Lincoln, p. 115.

[143] Id.

[144] Marsh, p. 45.

[145] Id at 56.

[146] Id.

[147] White, p. 73.

[148] Id at 94.

[149] Id.

[150] Id.

[151] Id.

[152] Lincoln, p. 83.

[153] Id.

[154] Haley, p. 359.

[155] Gardell, p. 61.

[156] Lincoln, p. 83.

[157]  p. 84.

[158] White, p. 91.

[159] Lincoln, p. 141.

[160] Gardell, p. 62.

[161] Lincoln, p. 83.

[162] Id at 84.

[163] Id.

[164] Gardell, p. 62.

[165] Lincoln, p. 84.

[166] Id.

[167] Id.

[168] Id.

[169] Id.

[170] Id.

[171] Lincoln, p. 84.

[172] Muhammad, p. 58.

[173] Lincoln, p. 56.

[174] Gardell, p. 61.

[175] Lincoln, p. 56.

[176] Ogbar, p. 31.

[177] Haley, p. 248.

[178] Ogbar, p. 31.

[179] Id.

[180] Marsh, pp. 59-60.

[181] Gardell, p. 70.

[182] Id.

[183] Id.

[184] Id.

[185] Id.

[186] Id at 71.

[187] Marsh, p. 60.

[188] Gardell, p. 67.

[189] Woodward, Bob & Armstrong, Scott.  1979. The Brethren. New York: Simon and Schuster.  p. 136.

[190] Id at 137.

[191] Gardell, p. 68.

[192] Id.

[193] Woodward, p. 136.

[194] Id at 138.

[195] Lincoln, p. 227.

[196] Id.

[197] Id.

[198] White, p. 82.

[199] Lincoln, p. 222.

[200] Id.

[201] Marsh, p. 60.

[202] Lincoln, p. 222.

[203] Id at 223.

[204] Id.

[205] Id.

[206] Id.

[207] Lincoln, p. 225.

[208] Id.

[209] Haley, p. 247.

[210] Id.

[211] White, p. 46.

[212] Haley, p. 247.

[213] Lincoln, p. 225.

[214] Id.

[215] Id.

[216] Id.

[217] Lincoln, p. 224.

[218] Id.

[219] Id.

[220] Id.

[221] Id.

[222] Id.

[223] Id.

[224] White, p. 83.

[225] Id.

[226] Lincoln, p. 224.

[227] Id.

[228] Id.

[229] Haley, p. 331.

[230] Id at 330-1.

[231]  Marsh, p. 80.

[232] Haley, p. 325.

[233] Id at 331.

[234] Lincoln, p. 84.

[235] Haley, p. 331.

[236] White, p. 32.

[237] Id.  This bold and inflammatory statement originally appeared on 3/13/64, 5 days after Malcolm announced he was starting his own organization, and was published by the Nation in the Muhammad Speaks paper.  So, while it is not known whether Farrakhan denies the statement, it was endorsed by the Nation once they printed it in their newspaper.

[238] Gardell, p. 67.

[239] Woodward, p. 136.

[240] Gardell, p. 68.

[241] Id.

[242] Id.

[243] Id.

[244] Id.

[245] Lincoln, p. 224.

[246] Haley, p. 332.

[247] Gardell, p. 68.

[248] Id.

[249] Id.

[250] Lincoln, p.225.

[251] Gardell, p. 68.

[252] Marsh, p. 70.

[253] Id at 70-1.

[254] Id at 71-2.

[255] Id at 72.

[256] Id at 78.

[257] Haley, p. 319.

[258] Marsh, p. 77.

[259] Id.

[260] Id.

[261] Id.

[262] Marsh, p. 77.

[263] Id.

[264] Id.

[265] Id at 78.

[266] Id.

[267] Id at 79.

[268] Haley, p. 329.

[269] Id.

[270] Haley, p. 330.

[271] Id.

[272] Id.

[273] Id at 331.

[274] Id.

[275] Id at 334.

[276] Id.

[277] Id.

[278] Id.

[279] Id at 331.

[280] Marsh, p. 80.

[281] Marsh, p. 81.

[282] White, p. 94.

[283] Haley, p. 369.

[284] Id at 393-418.

[285] Gardell, p. 66.

[286] Haley, p. 450.

[287] Id at 459.

[288] Id at 466.

[289] Id.

[290] Id.

[291] Lincoln, p. 211.

[292] Marsh, p. 84.

[293] Lincoln, p. 211.

[294] Lincoln, p. 232.

[295] Id.

[296] Lincoln, p. 233.

[297] Id.

[298] Palmer, A.I. Nation of Islam Exposed  http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/4222/noi.html

[299] Lincoln, p. 182.

[300] http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Nofislam.html#21.

[301] Lincoln, p. 243.

[302] Id.

[303] Gardell, p. 193.

[304] Essien Udom, p. 211.

[305] Id.

[306] Id.

[307] Gardell, at 62.

[308] Id.

[309] Lincoln, p. 183.

[310] Marsh, p. 3.

[311] Id.

[312] http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/notislam/

[313] http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/4222/noi.html & http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/notislam/ & http://www.ummah.org.uk/khoei/mahdi.htm citing Qur¹ăn 28:5. "We would like to bestow a favour upon those who have been oppressed in the earth and make them leaders and make them inheritors of the world."

[314] White, p. 49.

[315] Id at 32.

[316] http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Nofislam.html#22t

[317] Id.

[318] White, p. 33.

[319] http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Nofislam.html#22t

[320] Id.

[321] Id.

[322] Ogbar, p. 203

[323] Id.

[324] Id at 204.

[325] Id at 203.

[326] Essien Udom, p. 228.

[327] Id at 229.

[328] Muhammad, pp. 161-4,

[329] Marsh, pp. 54-5.

[330] Essien Udom, pp. 208-9.

[331] Id at p. 207.

[332] Haley, pp. 370-3.