Nation of Islam
By Bill Gordon
Official Name: The Nation of Islam (NOI)
Leader: Louis Farrakhan
Headquaters: 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, Calif.).
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 Pss. 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.
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
- Learn the primary Christian truths about God, Christ, the Scripture, and
salvation. Know what you believe and why you believe it.
- Acquaint yourself with the teachings and arguments of the NOI and be ready
to give a Christian response (see 1 Pet. 3:15).
- Listen to those in the NOI and discover why they joined.
- 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?"
- 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.
- 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.
- Witnessing to those in the NOI may be frustrating. They often need to hear
the gospel several times before trusting in Christ.
- Trust God's Spirit to guide you and to convict the unsaved.
Bill Gordon is on staff at the North American Mission Board.