https://www.namb.net/apologetics/nation-of-islam Official Name:The Nation of Islam (NOI)
Leader: Louis Farrakhan
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
Date of Beginning: 1978. The Nation of Islam follows the teachings of W. D. Fard.
Adherents: The Nation of Islam does not release statistics, but there are an estimated 25,000 to 100,000 members. Many more people admire Louis Farrakhan as a national leader. In 1995 he called for a Million Man March and several hundred thousand men answered his call.
The NOI was created by Wallace D. Fard, also known as Wallace Fard Muhammad. Fard claimed to come from the Islamic city of Mecca. He began a mosque in Detroit in 1930. He taught that Christianity should be rejected since it was the "slave-master's religion." In 1934 Fard disappeared and was neither seen nor heard from again. Fard was succeeded by Elijah Muhammad (Elijah Poole). Elijah Poole was born in Sandersville, Georgia on October 7, 1898. He changed his name to Elijah Muhammad after joining the NOI. After Fard disappeared, Elijah took over the leadership of NOI.
Malcolm Little was born in 1925. He joined the NOI and changed his name to Malcolm X. He achieved fame in the early 1960s as the spokesperson for Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm was removed as spokesperson because of an inappropriate remark about the assassination of President Kennedy and was severed from the NOI because of his accusations of sexual misconduct between Elijah and female staff members (C. Eric Lincoln, The Black Muslim in America, 3d. ed. [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994], p. 258). After he left the NOI, Malcolm began the Muslim Mosque, Inc., in 1964. Less than one year later, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was killed by assassins.
Warith Deen Muhammad became the new leader of the NOI after his father, Elijah Muhammad, died on February 25, 1975. Warith eliminated from NOI teaching that Fard was Allah. Warith led the NOI to adopt beliefs compatible with traditional Islam. He changed the name from the NOI to the World Community of Islam. Later, he altered the name to the American Muslim Mission but eventually disbanded the organization and his followers became part of traditional Islam.
The NOI was resurrected by Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott in New York City on May 11, 1933. He attended college for two years in North Carolina, but left to begin a career as an entertainer. He sang in nightclubs until he joined the NOI. Louis Farrakhan separated from Warith Deen Muhammad in 1978 because of doctrinal disagreements. Farrakhan formed a splinter group using the original name--the Nation of Islam. He reestablished the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and also reinstated the movement's security force known as the Fruit of Islam (FOI).
Several teachings of the NOI are incompatible with Christianity. Many of their beliefs are also incompatible with traditional Islam.
The Nation of Islam claims that God is a man. "God is a man and we just cannot make Him other than man" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman in America, [Chicago: Muhammad's Temple No. 2], p. 6). The NOI teaches that Fard was Allah in physical form (Elijah Muhammad, The Fall of America, p. 236, as reprinted in "The Mother Plane," The Final Call 15, no. 25 [July 16, 1996]: 19). According to Elijah Muhammad, Fard told him, "My name is Mahdi; I am God" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, p. 17). The NOI continues to teach that Fard is Allah. The current NOI statement is published in every issue of their weekly newspaper, The Final Call, in an article titled "What the Muslims Believe."
It states, "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 'Mahdi' of the Muslims." The NOI denies that God is spirit. The NOI claims that Christians worship an "invisible spook somewhere in space"(Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, p. 5). According to Elijah Muhammad, "God is in person, and stop looking for a dead Jesus for help, but pray to Him whom Jesus prophesied would come after Him. He who is alive and not a spook" (Ibid., p. 3).
Christian Response: The Bible teaches that God is spirit (see John 4:24) and denies that He is a man (see Num. 23:19). The NOI worships a false god. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (see John 3:16). Jesus is unique; there are no other incarnations of God. Jesus, not Fard, is the true Savior of the world (see Acts 4:12; John 1:1-14).
The NOI teaches that blacks are gods and whites are demons. The NOI claims that blacks are of the same race as God. According to Elijah Muhammad, "To accept your own means yourself and your kind, your God Who is of you and you are of Him. It was your fathers who created the heavens and the earth, while there is nothing that the white man has created independently. He did not even create himself. The Black Nation is self-created, while the white race is made by one of the gods and scientists of the Black Nation" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, p. 42). The NOI claims that one of these black scientists created the moon. They teach that 66 trillion years ago, he decided to destroy the earth. He drilled a shaft into the earth, filled it with high explosives, and then set it off. He failed to totally destroy the earth but he did blow it into two parts. The smaller part became what we now call the moon (Tape of Louis Farrakhan, Dec. 9, 1990, Compton, CA)
According to the NOI, a black scientist named Yakub created the white race about 6,000 years ago. They claim that whites are a race of devils (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, p. 51). According to Elijah Muhammad, "If you understand it [the Bible] right, you will agree with me that the whole Caucasian race is a race of devils" (Ibid., p. 23). The NOI claims that Christianity is the devil's religion and was created to mislead blacks (Ibid., p. 11).
Christian Response: Blacks are not gods and whites are not demons. Both races are descended from Adam and made in the image of God. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl or the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Gen. 1:26). "God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). The moon was created by the God of the Bible, not by a scientist 66 trillion years ago (see Gen. 1:16). The Bible warns Christians not to believe cunningly devised fables (see 2 Pet. 1:16).
While the NOI often refers to the Bible, they claim it has been corrupted. "The original scripture called 'The Torah'--revealed to Musa (Moses)--was Holy until the Jews and the Christian scholars started tampering with it" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, p. 87). Elijah Muhammad taught, "The Bible is not all holy, nor is it all the word of God" (Ibid., p. 89)! Contrary to traditional Islam, the NOI also teaches that the Qur'an has been tampered with. "The enemy has tampered with the truth of both books: for he has been permitted to handle both books" (Ibid., p. 90).
Christian Response: There is no evidence that the Bible has been corrupted as the NOI claims. Jesus promised, "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matt. 5:18, NIV). There are thousands of biblical manuscripts that support the Bible as being incorrupt.
The NOI denies the physical resurrection of the dead. Their doctrinal statement proclaims, "WE BELIEVE in the resurrection of the dead-not in physical resurrection but in mental resurrection; therefore, they will be resurrected first" (Final Call [July 16, 1996]: p. 39). Despite their denial of a physical resurrection, the NOI apparently believes that Elijah Muhammad is still alive. Every issue of their newspaper carries a statement of The Muslim Program. Included with this statement is Elijah Muhammad's picture and the declaration, "He Lives."
Christian Response: The Bible declares the physical resurrection of the dead (see Psalms 49:15; 71:20; Hos. 13:14; John 5:25; 6:40; 11:25; 2 Cor. 4:14). The dead will rise from the grave. The saved will live forever with the Lord in heaven. The lost will go to hell, a place of everlasting punishment (see Matt. 18:8-9; 25:41-46; Mark 9:43-48; 2 Thess. 1:9).
The Last Judgment
The NOI teaches that a giant spaceship—the Mother Plane—will carry out Allah's judgment. Black scientists will use the same bombs that brought up the "mountains out of the earth" to destroy the white race (Elijah Muhammad, The Fall of America, p. 236, as reprinted in The Final Call [July 16, 1996]: p. 19). They claim this judgment will not only destroy the white race but also Christianity. Elijah Muhammad asserted, "Armageddon has started, and after it there will be no Christian religion or churches. Jesus was a Muslim, not a Christian" (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, p. 22). Louis Farrakhan claims that he was taken aboard the Mother Plane in a vision. While in the giant UFO, he spoke to Elijah Muhammad who had been dead for several years (see Washington Post [September 18, 1995]: D3). Farrakhan also asserts that this giant spaceship follows him when he travels (Tape of Farrakhan, July 13, 1986, Chicago, Ill.).
Christian Response: God, not a giant spaceship, will deliver the last judgment upon the world (see Matt. 25:31-32; 2 Cor. 5:10). God's judgment will not be restricted to one race, but will fall upon all who have not trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (see John 3:18).
Witnessing to People in the NOI
1. Learn the primary Christian truths about God, Christ, the Scripture, and salvation. Know what you believe and why you believe it.
2. Acquaint yourself with the teachings and arguments of the NOI and be ready to give a Christian response (see 1 Pet. 3:15).
3. Listen to those in the NOI and discover why they joined.
4. Explain why you believe the Bible. If they claim that the Bible has been changed, ask them, "When did this happen?" and "What evidence causes you to believe the Bible has been corrupted?"
5. Define your words. Remember that the NOI redefines many terms. For example, when the NOI talks about God, they mean something very different from the God of the Bible.
6. Tell how to become a Christian. Share your testimony about how Jesus has saved you, and the difference He makes in your life. Center your witness on Christ and how to have a personal relationship with Him. Many NOI followers know about Christianity, but they do not know Christ.
7. Witnessing to those in the NOI may be frustrating. They often need to hear the gospel several times before trusting in Christ.
8. Trust God's Spirit to guide you and to convict the unsaved.
Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam
By Eric Pement, April 25, 1998
In this section, we will examine the history of the Nation of Islam, the lives of its leaders, and some of the things which make it attractive to African-Americans. In the next issue, we will investigate its belief system, comparing it with traditional Islam and with Christianity.
The growth of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and the increasing influence of Louis Farrakhan demand our special attention to this movement. Louis Farrakhan, now sixty-three, has been promoting the teachings of the late Elijah Muhammad (founder of the Nation of Islam in the 1930s) for over forty years. "Minister Farrakhan," the preferred term to designate the leader of the revived Nation of Islam, has twice been on the cover of Time magazine and been the featured subject for hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles worldwide.
Chief organizer of the Million Man March on Washington, D.C. (October 16, 1995), Farrakhan found begrudging recognition and admiration even among his longtime critics. While many thousands said they attended the March for black people, not for Farrakhan, still Minister Farrakhan's ability to organize the March, gathering close to one million peaceful black men, gave him a unique position in the eyes of black America.
Long before the March, Louis Farrakhan had become established as a role model for tens of thousands of blacks. His dynamic preaching and his stance for a drug-free society, moral fidelity, black potential, and for blacks to share their material and moral gains with their fellow blacks—all positive and commendable individually—served to give him credibility and moral leverage.
Yet the growth of the Nation of Islam is cause for concern because its doctrines challenge the Christian truth claim on every major front: on the nature of God, the validity of the Bible, the person and work of Christ, and the idea of life after death. Many people believe Farrakhan's teaching is basically theistic or Islamic. As we shall see in the next installment, this is not the case.
Another development stands to make the Nation of Islam an impending challenge to the Christian church: money. On February 25, 1996, at the annual "Savior's Day" conference in Chicago, Louis Farrakhan described his recent visit to Libya and various nations of Africa. Farrakhan told thousands of listeners that Libyan leader Mu'ammar Gadhafi promised to give the Nation of Islam a grant of one billion dollars to build schools, industries, mosques, and other facilities to advance the cause of Islam under Louis Farrakhan. Given the size of this gift, plus the fact that Libya is considered a "terrorist nation" by the United States State Department, in March 1996 the federal government suggested that Farrakhan register as an agent of a foreign government. This never materialized. However, if the offer is legitimate, that amount of money would have a serious effect on the political and religious landscape of America by anyone's reckoning.
NOTE: The fundamental philosophies of Western civilization are rooted in white supremacy. You can't bring a black child into that kind of educational environment and produce a child who loves and respects itself. You produce a child who bows down to white people and looks at white people as being God. . . . This is why Malcolm X left school and went into criminal life. —Louis Farrakhan, A Torchlight for America
Origins of the Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam began in 1930 with the arrival of Wallace Dodd Fard to the black ghetto of Detroit. To the black underclass, Fard presented himself as a merchant allegedly from "the holy city of Mecca." He sold silks, hats, and other artifacts allegedly imported from his homeland, though Elijah Muhammad once stated that Fard was not a silk peddler but a tailor of custom-made clothes. Poor black families would invite Fard to their homes, where he who assumed the role of a Muslim teacher, reading to them directly from an Arabic edition of the Qur'an. At the dinner table Fard warned his hosts against pork, polished rice, and other foods: "Now don't eat this food, it is poison for you. The people in your own country do not eat it. Since they eat the right kind of food they have the best health all the time."
In various ways Fard undermined his hearers' faith in Christianity and the Bible, which for generations had sustained downtrodden black families. He encouraged his followers to listen to radio broadcasts of Jehovah's Witness president Joseph Rutherford, whose rallying cry at that time was "Religion is a snare and a racket." Fard also used Jehovah's Witness literature to teach his followers that the time of "Gentile" (i.e., Caucasian) domination had come to an end in 1914; that the resurrection of the "so-called Negro" had already occurred as a mental and invisible fact, and that the coming New World was just around the corner. In just a few years, he claimed, the oppressed black man would receive the kingdom and the New World would arrive by 1936 at the very latest.
When Fard arrived, Elijah Poole was an unemployed migrant laborer from rural Georgia, suffering, together with his wife and eight children, the consequences of the Great Depression. Though interested in Negro improvement, Elijah testified that before meeting "Master Fard," he often took refuge in drunkenness. Within a year of Fard's arrival, Elijah Poole and two of his brothers joined the new movement. Very quickly, Poole became Fard's most trusted and ardent follower; Fard renamed him Elijah Muhammed, now the "chief minister" of Islam.
Fard told his eager listeners that black America had been craftily deceived by the dominant Caucasian society, a perverse race of "blue-eyed devils" who used the Bible to enslave black people. The white man's heaven, he often said, was the black man's hell. Elijah Poole had witnessed a vicious lynching when he was a small child, and this saying rang true. For many years, a painting of a Negro hung at a lynching adorned the front podium at NOI temples and meeting places.
The true religion of black people, Fard said, was Islam; their God was Allah, and their book the Holy Qur'an. His audience was keenly aware that the white culture which professed Christianity was the same culture that (in spite of its positive accomplishments) sired the Ku Klux Klan, the Jim Crow laws, racism, murder, castration, and unrestricted exploitation of Negro workers. His logic was simple. If Christianity was the religion of the white society, then its god must be Satan. The alternative offered by "Master Fard" was a complete rejection of Christianity and conversion to Islam.
In fact, Fard's religion was not Islam, but a contradictory blend of Islam, Jehovah's Witness doctrine, gnosticism and heretical Christian teachings. Fard's doctrines were transmitted orally in The Secret Ritual of the Nation of Islam, which had to be memorized verbatim, and also in book form in The Teaching for the Lost Found Nation of Islam in a Mathematical Way, distributed only to registered, loyal followers. His followers were required to give up their surname, or slave name, and he would give them a new name—not an African name, but an Arabic name, such as Sharrieff, Muhammad, or Karriem.
Fard taught that the black man was not African, not even Arabic, but "Asiatic" in origin (on Malcolm X's draft card, under the category of race, he wrote "Asiatic"). According to Elijah Muhammad, Fard taught that black people, both individually and as a race, were God. Furthermore, there were a series of special Gods who would live for hundreds of years at a time. Besides Fard's claims about the origins of the white race, one of his more exotic stories was about the "Mother Plane" or "Mother Ship," an aircraft built by black scientists in Japan many thousands of years ago. This aircraft, undetectable by radar, still circled the earth and carried powerful weapons which would be used on white America if she dared to harm the members of the Nation of Islam.
Both Fard's origins and disappearance are topics of debate. Ethnically, Fard was probably biracial; surviving photos show a man with very straight hair and dark, Caucasian features. Elijah Muhammad said Fard "taught me that His Father was a real Black Man. His Father went up into the mountains (governments of the Caucasians) picking out a white woman to marry so that she would give birth to a son looking white but yet the Father is Black." Though some NOI critics have confidently asserted that Fard was white, he "passed" as black and was probably of mixed parentage.
There is also no unanimity regarding Fard's real name or true identity. Certain authors spell his name as if he were an Arab, Wali Farad. Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X spelled his name Wallace D. Fard, born in Mecca in 1877. FBI files from the 1950s say that Fard's fingerprints identify him as Wallie D. Ford, a white ex-convict from San Quentin, born in Portland, Oregon, in 1891. Ford's former common-law wife claimed his real name was either Fred or Wallace Dodd, born in New Zealand in 1891 of Polynesian and English parents. Not to be outdone by alleged FBI disinformation, a recent author maintains that he was really Arnold Josiah Ford, a black rabbi from a kabbalistic Black Hebrew group in New York.
After a bizarre human sacrifice in November 1932 involving two NOI members in Detroit (one of them a willing victim), three NOI members were arrested: Robert Karriem (the confessed sacrificer), Wallace D. Fard, and Ugan Ali, an NOI teacher. The following day over five hundred NOI members marched on the police headquarters in protest. Karriem (whose real name was Robert Harris) thought he was carrying out NOI teachings, and the police were suspicious of a black voodoo cult. Fard told them, "I am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe," though his followers were dismayed that he told the police so much more than he told NOI adherents. Fard and Ali were finally released, and Harris was committed to an insane asylum.
Further investigation by police led to the discovery that "Lesson 1" of The Secret Ritual included statements such as, "All Moslem [sic] will murder the devil because they know he is a snake and also if he be allowed to live, he would sting someone else."
Fard was ordered out of Michigan in May 1933. He moved to the newly-built Chicago Temple no. 2, and was arrested again in Chicago. However, in June 1934 W. D. Fard mysteriously disappeared, leaving no explanation for his followers. At the time, people speculated that Fard fell victim to foul play, but nobody had hard information until 1963, when a sensational article appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner claiming that Fard was really Wallace Ford/Dodd, the ex-convict from San Quentin. The reporter asserted that after leaving Chicago, Ford returned to Portland, visited an ex-wife and child briefly, and then moved back to New Zealand.
Elijah Muhammad countered by publicly offering the newspapers $100,000 if they could conclusively prove their claim; this challenge was not accepted by the media. After all the interest devoted to Fard's origins over the past sixty years, it is unlikely that any single explanation will prove unassailable.
Shortly after Fard's disappearance, Elijah Muhammad expanded the movement, strengthening its radical emphasis on race and openly professing that Master Fard (whom he pronounced "Far-ad") was Allah in human form. After 1935, Elijah Muhammad and his family moved to Washington, D.C., then traveled from city to city spreading the message which he had been taught by "Allah" (i.e., Master Fard). In September 1942, Elijah Muhammad and his son, Emmanuel Karriem, were arrested along with many other leaders of black nationalist groups. Elijah was charged with sedition and failing to register for the draft. It is true that Elijah had urged his followers to avoid the white man's war; World War II was seen as the first stage of the Battle of Armageddon, and the ("Asiatic") Japanese were seen as the heroes of the battle against whites.
When the FBI interrogated Elijah Muhammad in 1942, he replied, "Allah has taught that blueprints of a plane which carries bombs was given to the Japanese from the Holy City of Mecca, and that these blueprints had been there for thousands of years. These bombs would go into the earth for at least a mile and would throw up the earth to a distance of one mile, so that it would make a mountain. I have reminded registered Moslems of this [sic] teachings."
Elijah Muhammad and his son were released from prison in 1946. The following year Malcolm X would join the Nation of Islam, and his efforts would catapult it into a national phenomenon.