What is Nation of Islam? How The Cult Was Shaped By Drew Ali, Fard, Elijah, Malcolm X and Farrakhan

Nation of Islam is a hot search topic following the deadly attack on the US Capitol on Friday. The vehicle-borne assailant killed a Capitol police officer and tried to advance into the premises wielding a knife. The attacker, Noah Green, was shot dead some 90 meters away from the Senate Gate of the Capitol.

It has been revealed that Noah Green was a follower of the Nation of Islam and he had exalted its leader Louis Farrakhan in numerous social media posts. Green also signed a recent social media post as 'Brother Noah X', in the long-held tradition of the cult whose one-time leader was Malcolm X.

Nation of Islam, a Black-Muslim cult organization with the primary objective of campaigning against the Jews and the White Race, has had a complicated history in the last 100 years or so. The outfit is a radical Islamic organization but is vastly different from the hardline Islamist organizations elsewhere in the world. The main difference could be that the cult does not follow the Koran as such or share the Islamic tenets followed by others, despite keeping a well defined Islamic identity.

Bizarre World View

Louis Farrkhan
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrkhan [R] with wife Khadijah Farrkhan. John Mathew Smith & www.celebrity-photos.com/Wikimedia Commons

One of the bizarre beliefs of the cult is that the world used to be a paradise of Black people, which was in turn destroyed by the White race. They believe that a "scientist" from the white race created the "White" devil who suppressed the black race. The followers believed that this domination of the White race was over early in the last century and that the world is up for grabs.

An article in the Encyclopedia Britannica explains this belief of the Nation of Islam. "Elijah Muhammad believed that the white race was created by Yakub, a Black scientist, and that Allah had allowed this devilish race to hold power for 6,000 years. Their time was up in 1914, and the 20th century was to be the time for Black people to assert themselves."

On his part, Green said in a Facebook post last month, "Satan's rule over us is up." He believed that he was the victim of federal "mind control", and had blamed agencies like the FBI. He had traveled to Africa to seek 'solace' and found comfort in religion and extremist ideology.

Noah Green
Noah Green Facebook

Nation of Islam - History

The Black-Muslim movement came into being in the beginning of the last century, but underwent a series of transformation under various leaders. Initially, the movement amalgamated traditional Islamic beliefs with a strong Black nationalist identity.

The movement's ideological underpinnings can be traced back to the Moorish Science Temple of America, under which religious centers were set up in Newark, New Jersey, in 1913. At this stage, the founders of the cult followed the teachings of Black nationalist leader Noble Drew Ali.

Later, Wali Fard Muhammad claimed that he was the reincarnation of Drew Ali and established the Nation of Islam in Detroit, Michigan, in 1930. Fard Muhammad then assigned his close follower Elijah Muhammad the task of establishing the Nation's second center in Chicago.

Islamic Tenets

"Elijah taught that Fard was a Prophet (in the Muslim sense) and a Saviour (in the Christian sense) and the very presence of Allah," a scholarly article in the Encyclopedia Britannica notes.

"His teachings included many of the basic tenets of Islam, including monotheism, submission to Allah, and a strong family life, and these tenets were promoted in the Nation's parochial schools," it adds.

Elijah then beefed up the Islamic founding principles of the organization further and presented them in ways that appealed to the African Americans. "Elijah also borrowed from traditional Islamic behavioral practices, including the refusal to eat pork or to use tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs. He tied these beliefs and practices to a myth designed especially to appeal to African Americans," says Britannica.

Malcolm X
Malcolm X was a powerful orator and black activist YouTube screen grab

Political Move

At one point, the Nation of Islam wanted the creation of a separate Black nation by carving out the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. The outfit burnished its anti- or un-American credentials during World War I by refusing to join military service.

The emergence of Malcolm X in the leadership of the Nation of Islam made the outfit more political in nature. Malcolm X even justified the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, saying it was a "case of chickens coming home to roost." He then embraced traditional Islam and performed the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. He was, however, killed by some of his own followers in the Nation of Islam in 1965.

Much later in the 80s, the Nation would support the presidential race of African-American leader Jesse Jackson in 1984. Again, a few decades later the group offered its support to the presidential campaign of Democrat Barack Obama but was rebuffed by Obama.

Ruse of Louis Farrakhan

Elijah Muhammad died ten years later in 1975, after passing the control of the organization to his son. The decades after this saw splinter groups taking shape inside the Nation. This period also saw the rise of Louis Farrakhan to the leadership of one of the splinter groups of the Nation.

Farrakhan published the books of Elijah Muhammad and finally inherited Muhammad's mosque in Chicago. Even as he grew influential in the Black and Muslim community, he also remained controversial.

In a 2009 speech Farrakhan said the western Christian theology and beliefs were lies. He also praised German dictator Adolf Hitler as a great man. One of the highlights of Farrakhan's later career was the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. in 1995. His teachings increasingly became highly extremist in nature and he was banned from Facebook in 2019.