Clara Muhammad

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Clara Muhammad November 2, 1899 – August 12, 1972, aka Clara Poole, was born Clara Evans in Macon, Georgia. She was the first wife of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. They married in Georgia in 1917, before he changed his name from Elijah Poole. Between 1917 and 1939, Elijah and Clara Muhammad had eight children: six boys and two girls, including Warith Deen Muhammad.

Known as the First Lady of the Nation of Islam, Muhammad is credited with introducing her husband to the teachings of Nation of Islam founder W.D. Fard.[1] She guided the organization during her husband's absence from 1935 to 1946 as he fled death threats from rival temple leaders and was then incarcerated for sedition during World War II.[2][3]

In the NOIs earliest days she helped establish and run the University of Islam and Muslim Girls Training schools, which provided education for NOI members' children, considered one of the nation's early versions of religious homeschooling. Children's attendance at the schools was considered truancy and resulted in prosecutions and violent confrontations between Temple members and police in Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois.[3][4][5]

Clara Muhammad died on August 12, 1972 after a long bout with stomach cancer. Her son, Warith Deen Mohammed, who assumed leadership of the Nation of Islam in 1975, renamed the University of Islam schools the Sister Clara Muhammad Schools in her honor. There are now roughly 75 Clara Muhammad Schools across the country.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Karl Evanzz, The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad Random House, 2001
  2. ^ Claude Andrew Clegg II, An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad, St. Martin's Griffin 1998
  3. ^ a b The Messenger
  4. ^ Rosetta E. Ross, Witnessing & Testifying: Black Women, Religion, and Civil Rights Fortress Press 2003
  5. ^ An Original Man
  6. ^ Rosemary Skinner Keller, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Marie Cantlon, et al., Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America University of Indiana Press, 2006