Beliefs and theology of the Nation of Islam
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This article is about the Beliefs and theology of the Nation of Islam.
The main belief of The Nation of Islam and its followers is that there is no god but Allah. Their most important worship is praying five times a day. The official beliefs as stated by the Nation of Islam have been outlined in books, documents, and articles published by the organization as well as speeches by Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, and other ministers. Many of Elijah Muhammad's teachings may be found in Message to the Blackman in America and The True History of Jesus as Taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (Chicago: Coalition for the Remembrance of Elijah, 1992). Many of Malcolm X's teachings of NOI theology are in his The End of White World Supremacy, while a later more critical discussion of those beliefs can be found in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, co-written with Alex Haley. It is important to note that near the end of Malcolm X's life, Malcolm, along with Elijah Muhammad's son, Wallace Muhammad, broke away from major parts of Elijah Muhammad's theology. This was spurred originally by immoral actions by Elijah Muhammad, which were incongruent with the Nations own teaching, but then mainly from Malcolm's experience at the Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca. Malcolm, following Wallace's footsteps, along with many other followers entered traditional Islam (Autobiography of Malcolm X). They rejected that Fard Muhammad was God incarnate, as God cannot be in human form, and that Elijah Muhammad was a prophet sent by God, as the Prophet Muhammad from 570 CE to 632 CE is the last prophet for humankind, according to Islam - Qur'an Verse 40, Surah Al-Ahzab (chapter 33).
Passed down via written lessons from 1930 to 1934 from Wallace Fard Muhammad to his student Elijah Muhammad, referred to and titled The Supreme Wisdom, the Nation of Islam continues to teach its followers that the present world society is segmented into three distinct categories. It teaches that from a general perspective, 85% of the world's people of all races and faiths are the deaf, dumb and blind masses of the people who "are easily led in the wrong direction and hard to lead in the right direction". This 85% of the masses are said to be manipulated by 10% of the people who are referred to as the rich slave-makers of the masses of the people. Those 10% rich slave-makers are said to manipulate the 85% masses of the people through ignorance, the skilful use of religious doctrine, and the mass media.
The third group referred to as the 5% is the poor righteous teachers of the people of the world who know the truth of the manipulation of the 85% masses of the people by the 10% and that 5%, the righteous teachers, are at constant struggle and war with 10% to reach and free the minds of the masses of the people. (Assignment of Mr. Elijah Muhammad, The Supreme Wisdom, February 20, 1934; Power at Last Forever, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Madison Square Garden, New York, October 1985)
Black experience of slavery was Bible prophecy
The NOI teaches that Black people constitute a nation and that through the institution of the Atlantic slave trade they were systematically denied knowledge of their history, language, culture, and religion and, in effect, lost control of their lives. Central to this doctrine, NOI theology asserts that Black people's experience of slavery was the fulfilment of Bible prophecy, and therefore, black people are the seed of Abraham referred to in the Bible, in Genesis 15:13–14:
- Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
And Acts 7:6:
- And God spoke on this wise, that his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.
Both of these passages, however, actually refer to the Babylonian exile of the Jews beginning around 597 BC.
Teachings on race
The Nation of Islam teaches that black people are the aboriginal people and that all other people come from them. Louis Farrakhan has stated "If you look at the human family—now, I'm talking about black, brown, red, yellow and white—we all seem to be frozen on a subhuman level of existence. In Islam and, I believe, in development. But when moral consciousness comes and we have a self-accusing spirit, it is then that we become human beings. Right now, we have the potential for humanity, but we have not reached that potential because we are functioning on the animalistic plane of existence." 
The Blackman is the Original Man. From him came all brown, yellow, red, and white people. By using a special method of birth-control law, the Blackman was able to produce the white race. This method of birth control was developed by a Black scientist known as Yakub, who envisioned making and teaching a nation of people who would be diametrically opposed to the Original People. A Race of people who would one day rule the Original People and the earth for a period of 6,000 years. Yakub promised his followers that he would graft a nation from his own people, and he would teach them how to rule his people through a system of tricks and lies whereby they use deceit to divide and conquer, and break the unity of the darker people, put one brother against another, and then act as mediators and rule both sides.— Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman in America, Muhammad's Temple No. 2, 1965 & Dorothy Blake Fardan, Yakub and the Origins of White Supremacy, Lushena Books, 2001
You know, it's not unreal to believe that white people—who genetically cannot produce yellow, brown or black—had a Black origin. The scholars and scientists of this world agree that the origin of man and humankind started in Africa and that the first parent of the world was Black. The Qur'an says that God created Adam out of black mud and fashioned him into shape. So if white people came from the original people, the Black people, what is the process by which you came to life? That is not a silly question. That is a scientific question with a scientific answer. It doesn't suggest that we are superior or that you are inferior. It suggests, however, that your birth or your origin is from the black people of this earth: superiority and inferiority are determined by our righteousness and not by our color.
Pressed by Russert on whether he agreed with Elijah Muhammad's preaching that whites are "blue-eyed devils", Farrakhan responded:
Well, you have not been saints in the way you have acted toward the darker peoples of the world and toward even your own people. But, in truth, Mr. Russert, any human being who gives themself over to the doing of evil could be considered a devil. In the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, it talks about the fall of Babylon. It says Babylon is fallen because she has become the habitation of devils. We believe that that ancient Babylon is a symbol of a modern Babylon, which is America.
While Malcolm X was a member of the Nation of Islam, he preached that Black people were genetically superior to white people. Elijah Muhammad respected all people, including Whites, especially those whites who embraced Islam. Elijah Muhammad thought that his teacher Master Fard had a white Muslim mother from the Caucasus mountain region of eastern Europe. Elijah also thought that Prophet Muhammad of Arabia was the last Prophet of God and that he was a White Arab.<Message to The Black Man in America>
Malcolm X said:
Thoughtful white people know they are inferior to Black people. Even [Senator James] Eastland knows it. Anyone who has studied the genetic phase of biology knows that white is considered recessive and black is considered dominant.— The Playboy Interview: Malcolm X, interviewed by Alex Haley, Playboy Magazine, May 1963
The Mother Plane
Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around.— Book of Ezekiel Chapter 1:15-18, Bible, English Standard Version
Louis Farrakhan, commenting on his teacher's description, said the following:
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Mother Plane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects. Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day but a pillar of fire by night. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the Original scientists. It took $15 billion in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this Mother Wheel, which is a half mile by a half mile (800 m by 800 m). This Mother Wheel is like a small human-built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said these planes were used to set up mountains on the earth. The Qur'an says it like this: We have raised mountains on the earth lest it convulse with you. How do you raise a mountain, and what is the purpose of a mountain? Have you ever tried to balance a tire? You use weights to keep the tire balanced. That's how the earth is balanced, with mountain ranges. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that we have a type of bomb that, when it strikes the earth a drill on it is timed to go into the earth and explode at the height that you wish the mountain to be. If you wish to take the mountain up a mile (1.6 km), you time the drill to go a mile (1.6 km) in and then explode. The bombs these planes have are timed to go one mile (1.6 km) down and bring up a mountain one mile (1.6 km) high, but it will destroy everything within a 50-square-mile (130 km²) radius. The white man writes in his above top secret memos of the UFOs. He sees them around his military installations like they are spying.
That Mother Wheel is a dreadful-looking thing. White folks are making movies now to make these planes look like fiction, but it is based on something real. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that Mother Plane is so powerful that with sound reverberating in the atmosphere, just with a sound, she can crumble buildings.— Minister Louis Farrakhan, excerpts from "The Divine Destruction of America: Can She Avert It?, 1996
The NOI has been seen by some as attempting to be its own religion separate of Islam. The first book analyzing the Nation of Islam was The Black Muslims in America (1961) by C. Eric Lincoln. Lincoln describes how religious services use myths and over-generalizations to indoctrinate NOI adherents.
Often the minister reads passages from well-known historical, sociological, or anthropological works, and finds in them inconspicuous references to the Blackman's true history in the world.... Occasionally the minister chides the audience for its scepticism: "I know you don't believe me because I happen to be a Black man. Well, you can look it up in a book I'm going to tell you about that was written by a white man." He then reads off references that his hearers are challenged to check for themselves. A single documented statement, however, may become the basis of a wide range of generalized non-sequiturs. The fact that a North Carolina slaveholder had an Arabic-speaking Muslim slave of unusual mathematical ability may be offered as evidence that all slaves brought to America were Moslem, Arabic-speaking, and learned. Similarly, historical facts may be indiscriminately mingled with myths and countermyths.— The Black Muslims in America, pp. 120–121
Legend of the 1975 death of Elijah Muhammad
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Under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan since 1981, the current members of the Nation of Islam hold that Elijah Muhammad did not die, but was restored to health, and is aboard "that huge wheel-like plane that is even now flying over our heads."
- Million Family March Transcript, Washington, D.C., 10/16/00
- "Million Family March". C-SPAN Video Library
- "Farrakhan Meets The Press", Excerpts from interview on Meet the Press, NBC, Feb 1997, Excerpted in The Final Call
- Louis Farrakhan, "The Divine Destruction of America: Can She Avert It?", The Final Call, 19 Feb 2008, excerpted from his speech 9 Jun 1996, Mosque Maryam in Chicago, accessed 3 Dec 2010