The UnIslamic Nation of Islam

The mention of the “Nation of Islam” will undoubtedly cause an immense number of

responses in any situation. To some, this organization symbolizes blatant racism. To others, it is

seen as a savior of the black community. Regardless of one’s opinion of the Nation, though, the

differences between Al-Islam(traditional Islam) and the beliefs of the Nation cannot be denied.

The Nation of Islam is a social movement. This social movement is undoubtedly rooted in

religion, and its principles are derived from those of traditional Islam, but their basic philosophies

are so strikingly different that the Nation of Islam cannot be considered Islamic.

In 1930, the Nation was founded by an African immigrant who called himself Wallace

D. Fard Muhammad. He stated that his mission was to take “the black nation to the full range of

the black man’s possibilities in aworld temporarily dominated by the blue-eyed

devils”( This philosphy

was carried on to the next leader of the Nation, Elijah Muhammad, and eventually to the current

leader, Louis Farrakhan. The Nation was founded as a black organization, and has remained as

such. Islam, on the other hand, is all encompassing.

The first, and most astonishing, difference between the Nation and traditional Islam is

the role of race in the church’s philosophy. the Nation’s philosophy clearly states that, “We

believe that intermarriage and race mixing should be prohibitted ( program.html)”.

The traditional wording of the Koran, however, states that diversity in race is one of Allah’s

greatest creations(Koran, 30.22). The Nation of Islam restricts its membersip to those who are

black. the beliefs of traditional Islam, however, state that all persons are born Muslim, and that

“every person is endowed by Allah with the spiritual potential and intellectual inclination that can

make him a good Muslim.(4) The Islamic church ignores the issue of race when examining one’s

spiritual purity. Rather, It is the spirit itself which defines a Muslim.

Traditional Muslims and members of the Nation of Islam also differ in their definition of

what it means to be Muslim. The belief in Islam is defined by five Pillars: shahada(the belief in

only one Allah), salah(prayer), zakuh(obligatory charity), sawm(fasting), and hajj(pilgrimage)

( Of these Five Pillars, the Nation

of Islam requires none of its members. The shahada is rejected by the Nation because it belives

that Wallace D. Fard Muhammad was Allah incarate. (noi.index) Salah, or the five daily prayers

in the direction of Mecca, are also not required of members of the Nation(coolguy). Zakuh is

rejected by the nation, as it believes charity is a “way to benefit the dominant classes of the

culture.(coolguy). Sawm is also not required of Nation members, nor is the hajj to

Mecca(coolguy). (Ironically, it was the hajj of Malcolm X which led him to abandon his

separatist beliefs, and to preach unity). The rejection of the five basic requirements of Islam is

representative of the distances between the Nation of Islam and traditional Islam. Because of

these differences, the Nation cannot be accepted as just another chapter of Islam, but it must be

treated as a different and distinct religion.

The third difference between the Nation of Islam and traditional Islam is the manner in

which other religions and their members are regarded. Islam accepts the existence of all

prophets from Moses to Muhammad. (Koran, 2:91) The Nation, however, believes that

Wallace D. Fard Muhammad is the true prophet(Noi.program). Traditional Islam regards

members of all religions as holy. The Koran states that, “those who believe, and those who are

Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans-whoever believeth in Allah, and the Last Day doeth right-

surely their reward is with their Lord, and their shall no fear come upon them neither shall they

grieve”(2:62). Farrakhan, on the other hand condemns those of other religions and races. In a

speech in January 1994, Farrakhan warned members of the Nation of Islam that “they(the jews)

are plotting against us even as we speak (” He

proposes that other religions are inferior to Islam, as well as proposing that different races are

unequal. The Nation of Islam believes that the white race was created by a botched experiment

of mad scientist named Yakub, 6,000 years ago(7). It is beliefs such as this which create the

image of the Nation which is common to most: a racist organization which preaches Black


Some may argue that the often outrageous methods and beliefs of the Nation of Islam

have done more good than harm. In 1996, Farrakhan organized the Million-Man March which

brought over 400,000 black men to the nation’s capitol. Those