Nation Of Islam

Okay, I’ll post this here as it is likely to elicit opinion-like answers though some of what I’m seeking is probably straight fact:

  1. What do "real" Muslims (okay, take this to mean any non-N.O.I. Muslims, because I don't want to debate what real Islam is) think of N.O.I.?  Including what African Muslims (Sudan, etc.) think of black Americans (I think there is some N.O.I. presence in U.K./Canada, but mostly U.S.) espousing Islam?

    –do they stereotype them as not “really” Muslim?
    –welcome them as additional converts?
    –agree/disagree with the black nationalist slant of N.O.I. (arguably a secular political issue that might be deemed irrelevant by a super-pious religious type)?
    –snicker at them for some of the more, uh, colorful beliefs (whites spawned on an island by devils; the interesting numerological discussions at the Million Man March)?

  2. Are N.O.I. types "recognized" by real Muslims as, um, kosher?  I know Islam, lacking a pope/caliph, doesn't have the centralized control over sacraments, membership status, etc. that, say, R.C. Church does -- but can you get into Muslim sacred areas at Haj with your N.O.I. membership card?  If a real Muslim is in Chicago and goes to Friday prayers at a N.O.I. 'mosque' does it 'count?'
  3. Do N.O.I. types, in large numbers:

    –observe halal rules the same as “real” Muslims?
    –read/understand Arabic?
    –study hadith?

  4. Theology:

    –Are N.O.I. leaders (or do they claim to be) imams? If so, is their qualification process (if any) the same as for real Muslim imams?
    –Do they publish theological studies or have any substantial body of (non-nationalist) religious theory unto themselves?
    –If so, how does it jibe with “orthodox” Muslim theology?
    –How many rank and file participate in bible-study type groups or independent religious study?
    –What is the level of Muslim theology/doctrine understood by the average N.O.I. man in the street? N.B. my impressions on this point come mostly from HBO’s Boxing After Dark, wherein a number of ex-con boxers have given less-than-scintillating apologia for the creed, and I realize that judging the level of theological sophistication in the Xn population, say, based on post-game interviews with born-again MLB players might not yield too favorable an impression either – but overall I have subjectively not seen or heard too many N.O.I. members for whom extensive theological study or doctrine seemed to loom large.

  5. Are U.S. N.O.I.s being used, or at risk of being used, as useful stooges by radical real Muslims who (arguendo) disdain them as pretend Muslims but are happy to use them as sacrificial cutouts (this Q. not specific to events of the past day in D.C. area only)?

The Nation of Islam is not generally considered to be “actual” Islam by most of the Muslim world. The general perception is that it’s heretical, and that N.O.I. believes some pretty un-Islamic stuff, like it’s racial theories, and the almost deification of Walid Deen and Elijah Muhammed.

Non N.O.I. African-American Muslims, on the other hand, are considered the same as any other Muslims by the Muslim world. Islam is a universal religion, and accepts converts from any country and racial group.

I apologize. I accidentally confused Walid (Wallice) Deen with Wallace Ford, who founded the N.O.I. Mr. Deen is the son of Elijah Muhammed. He, along with other members of the N.O.I. left the N.O.I. and became mainstream Muslims.

Besides the near-deification of Elijah Muhammed, I’d say the larger part of Dar al-Islam would have a problem with NOI because they refer to Elijah Muhammed as “Prophet Elijah Muhammed.” Muhammed (the one who received the Qur’an) was the last prophet according to “mainstream Islam.”

& IIRC, Cassius Clay/Mohammed Ali converted from NOI to Sunni Islam a while back.

I’m not a member of either the Muslim of NOI faith, but my understanding is that “mainstream” Muslims do not recognize the Nation of Islam faith as a legitimate branch of Islam. But the issue is not the Nation of Islam’s racial beliefs. According to mainstream Islam, Muhammad received a perfect revelation from Allah, part of which was that there would be no future prophets. The NOI on the other hand is based on the prophecies of the founders of that faith (although there is some question about who specifically made which prophecies). So by Islamic doctrine, the Nation of Islam is fundamentally in error.

Actually the racial issue is a big problem for mainstream Muslims, as Islam has been a universal faith since at least the 8th century ( note that it didn’t start out that way ). The vast majority of what used to be the Nation of Islam in the U.S. has now mainstreamed with the greater Sunni Muslim world ( starting in mid-70’s and largely complete by the mid-80’s ) and is now known as the The American Muslim Mission.

The modern-day Nation of Islam under Farrakhan is a splinter group of “traditionalists” who still adhere to the ideal of racial separation. By and large they are considered heretics or borderline-heretics of one variety or another as the above posters have noted.

  • Tamerlane

Any percentages/numbers as to how many “American”/black Muslims today are N.O.I./Elijah Muhammad followers and how many AMM (does AMM also have white convert/Arab members, or only former N.O.I.)?

Does AMM membership come with full reciprocity benefits to Sunnism (ignore any larger splits in Sunni world, for the moment)? Are they looked at askance if they go to Mecca?

I believe Malcolm X also converted to traditional Islam (don’t know which branch, sorry!) after his pilgrimage to Mecca.

And also – are the “black Muslim” prison crowd still percentage-wise mostly N.O.I. types? I’m pretty sure I recall Tyson talking about the Hon. E. Muhammad as his inspiration . . . .

The followers of Warith Deen Muhammad are fully accepted as full-fledged Muslims throughout the Muslim world. They go to Mecca for the Hajj and all that, not an issue. Only the Farrakhanites hold on to the gnarly stuff that separates the NOI from regular Islam.

Actually, the NOI of Elijah Muhammad had scarcely any resemblance at all to genuine Islam. He just appropriated the name, but improvised stuff that had nothing to do with Islam.

Farrakhan himself, after a bout with cancer, came around in recent years and has made moves to bring the NOI within traditional Islam. The NOI as a heretical racial separatist group will probably die out within a few more years and merge with the wider Muslim community. Farrakhan is old, tired, and sick now. He’s lost interest in keeping the Elijah Muhammad stuff going. It’s doubtful that he believes it himself.

The followers of Warith Deen still pay homage to “the honorable Elijah Muhammad” even though they don’t believe in his doctrines. It’s just showing respect for his fatherhood and the fact that he implanted the idea of Islam, if not the actuality of it, within African-Americans. The first part of a process that was only to reach its fulfillment within time when Warith Deen took over (for which his father had groomed him by sending him to al-Azhar to receive an education in traditional Islam). They excuse Elijah’s heretical ideas by saying that they were not ready at first to receive real Islam, so he told them stuff to get them interested so that eventually they would take to real Islam (as has in fact happened).

Well, it’s now called the American Muslim Society (they changed their name again(, and members of any race can attend their mosques or participate in the activities of the Society.

Members of the American Muslim Society are orthodox Sunni Muslims, and enjoy the same “benefits” as any other Sunni Muslims in the world.

In the New York prison system, Islam and the Nation of Islam are recognized as two distinct religions with seperate memberships. I can’t give you state wide figures, but from what I’ve seen, Muslims clearly outnumber NOI followers.

That’s an interesting take on their approach if true. The most stereotypically jesuitical Jesuit couldn’t come up with a more cynical form of apologetics than this that you attribute to the N.O.I. Bait and switch theology.

Huerta88, that is what Warith Deen Muhammad said regarding his father, and according to him that was Elijah’s deliberate strategy.

OK, so can anybody clarify–John Allen Muhammed, sniper bastard–definitely Nation of Islam or mainstream Islam? I mean, most of the guys at the Million Man March weren’t NOI–heck, most were probably Christians.

The press doesn’t seem to be making the distinction, which is a shame.

He is a member of NOI:

I’m not sure which way it would cut if you were correct that some/many MMM atendees were mainstram Muslims/Xns, or if Muhammad or other bad actors (cf. James Ujaama of Seattle) were not “really” NOI – couldn’t this also suggest that the NOI doctrine (esp. that which went beyond relgion per se to fantasies of racial superiority, conspiracy theory, and Fruit of Islam thuggishness) was especially pernicious, in that it was capable of inspiring even non-members of the sect to self-styled acts of jihad?

It looks likely to me that John Allen Whatsisname may be a Five Percenter (a splinter group from NOI, which says that black men are “Gods” — sound familiar? — and cannot be considered within Islam by any stretch of the imagination, although they kept some of the trappings of NOI).

Thanks folks. And I shudder to think how out there you have to be to be in a splinter group from the Nation of Islam.

Yeah, don’t use that ‘Godhood’ to start a charity, or become a millionaire and do good works, or even be a good husband…sheesh, this guy.