Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam is a figure as current as
today's headlines, but the movement of which he is a nominal spokesman has a
continuous history of over sixty years in this country. The Nation of Islam
(NOI), as it is officially known, came to the attention of the general public
in the 1960s as the 'Black Muslims.' (1) It is well-known for its doctrine
that the White Man is a devil. but what is probably less well known is another
part of its teaching - that the Black man is god.
Outsiders have done little in-depth research to trace the NOI's doctrinal
predecessors. The NOI itself has denied its connections with previous
movements, specifically the Moorish Science Temple of Noble Drew Ali. Ali,
who was born as Timothy Drew in North Carolina in 1886, taught, among other
things, that Blacks are descended from the ancient Canaanites. Legend has it
that he was the reincarnation of Muhammad, the Prophet of orthodox Islam.
Eventually relocating to Chicago, Ali built an organization that numbered
perhaps 30,000 adherents at its peak. (2)
On March 15, 1929, Ali was arrested after factional violence resulted in the
death of a rival, Sheik Claude Greene. Arrested and held in the county jail,
Ali was eventually released on bail, but died July 20, 1929, under mysterious
Master Fard Muhammad
The story of the NOI itself starts with a man variously known as Wali Farrad,
W.D. Fard, Wallace Fard Muhammad, and Farrad Muhammad, but who is best known
as Msater Fard Muhammad. (4) According to his sucessor, Elijah Muhammad,
He came alone. He began teaching us the knowledge of ourselves, of
God and the devil, of the measurements of the earth, of other planets,
and the civilizations of some of the planets other than the earth.
He measured and weighed the earth and the water; [he gave] the
history of the moon; the history of the two nations that dominated the
earth. He gave the exact birth of the white race; the name of their
God who made them and how; and the end of their time, the judgement,
how it will begin and end. (5)
According to the same source, Fard had said, 'My name is Mahdi; I am God.'
And according to another source, Fard, when asked who he was by the Detroit
police, responded: 'I am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.' (6)
Master Fard Muhammad is officially noted by the NOI as having arrived in
Detroit on July 4, 1930, and departed on June 30, 1934. (There is an older
tradition of an earlier arrival twenty years previous as well as attendance
at the University of Southern California.) (7) In the interim, Fard
established temples in several cities and created a hierarchical organization
composed of a men's military training unit called the Fruit of Islam (FOI), a
ministers' corps, and a women's auxiliary called the Muslim Girls Training and
General Civilization Class (MGT-GCC). (8) ...