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
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 (www.noi.org/
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)
(www_leland.stanford.edu/group/Thinker/v2/v2n3/Saudi.html). 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 (www.strang.com/cm/stories/emmy/96tl.html).?
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 supremacy. 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 who enter the Nation swear to refrain from the
use of drugs and alcohol. Thus, being less likely to become addicts, gang members or
victims of violence. But, the hate which Farrakhan preaches outweighs any of the benefits
of his Nation.