Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, the Branch Davidians, Scientology: These are but a few of the strange and unusual religious movements that have their origin in the United States. One of the most bizarre that sprang up in the last century was the Nation of Islam (NOI). In the first installment of this two part series, we reviewed the history of that movement from its obscure beginnings in Detroit, Michigan, led by a mysterious character named Wallace D. Fard. We looked at Fard’s successor and most important figure in the growth of the movement, Elijah Muhammad. We finally examined its current incarnation led by the charismatic and enigmatic Louis Farrakhan.
In August 2017, the 84-year-old Minister Farrakhan was reported to say:
“I thank God for guiding me for 40 years absent my teacher. So my next journey will have to answer the question. I’m gonna say, I know that my redeemer liveth. I know, I’m not guessing, that my Jesus is alive. I know that my redeemer liveth and because he lives I know that I, too, will pass through the portal of death yet death will not afflict me.
“So I say to the devil, I know I gotta pay a price for what I’ve been teaching all these years. You can have the money, you can have the clothes, you can have the suit, you can have the house but, me, you can’t have.”
Some African-American Christians read that statement and thought it meant that Farrakhan had changed his theology, and perhaps had even converted to Christianity. It certainly sounds like something someone who is a Christ Follower would say. But does it mean what those hopeful Christians may think? The answer is definitely not. If we understand the beliefs of Farrakhan and the NOI, then we can know that he has not really altered his theology at all.
In this second part of a two-part series, we will examine the beliefs of the NOI. We will see that it is absolutely not Christianity, nor is it really what it claims to be: Islam. It is important to keep in mind that some beliefs of the NOI and Louis Farrakhan can be traced back to those of Elijah Muhammad. The NOI’s basic statement of faith, called “What The Muslims Believe,” was originally formulated by Elijah and is still published in the Final Call newspaper and online at the NOI official website: https://www.noi.org/muslim-program. Let us examine the key articles of faith of that esoteric system as written by Elijah Muhammad and then interpret and analyze each one. (Note that in analyzing these articles, there are some that we have taken out of order to more clearly and easily explain them.)
What the Muslims (i.e.: NOI) Believe
1. WE BELIEVE In the One God whose proper Name is Allah.
12. WE BELIEVE that Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard Muhammad (Wallace D. Fard), July, 1930; the long-awaited “Messiah” of the Christians and the “Mahdi” (“Chosen One”) of the Muslims. We believe further and lastly that Allah (Fard) is God and besides HIM there is no god and He will bring about a universal government of peace wherein we all can live in peace together.
According to Elijah Muhammad, God (Allah) is a man who created the world to be a wonderful place for his people (the Black race) to live in harmony. And who was that man? Elijah Muhammad said he was actually incarnated in the person of Wallace D. Fard (AKA: W. Fard Muhammad). According to Elijah’s Muhammad’s teaching, Fard appeared in 1930 to initiate and teach the essentials of his faith, and then, in 1934, when his work was done, turned it over to Elijah. Elijah then took control and started his own security force called the Fruits of Islam. Fard was supposedly taken up to the “Mother Plane” to await the day when he will return to save the world as the Mahdi or Messiah.
The “Mother Plane” is apparently a giant spacecraft orbiting the earth (like Ezekiel’s wheel). NOI artists renderings appearing in the NOI’s Final Call newspaper show the Mother Plane (with its 15 smaller attendant vehicles) to look a lot like the giant round UFOs in the 1996 science fiction movie Independence Day. It supposedly now houses Fard and his prophets, including Elijah Muhammad who was resurrected at his death in 1975 and joined Fard in space. (Note: In 1989, Louis Farrakhan claimed that on September 17, 1985, while in Mexico, he was personally taken up to the Mother Plane himself where he conversed with its occupants and then returned.)
The very idea that Allah could be a man is regarded as blasphemy by orthodox Islam. So the notion that Fard was God incarnate is completely contrary to Muslim doctrine. This was one of the chief reasons why Malcolm X decided to leave the NOI. It was also one of the first doctrines Elijah Muhammad’s son, Warith Deen Muhammad, changed when he inherited the leadership of the movement in the late 1970s. As we discussed in Part 1, Warith led the organization to renounce his father’s un-Islamic doctrines, change it name, and become an orthodox Sunni Muslim group. It was this reformation that prompted Louis Farrakhan to withdraw from Warith’s group and reform the NOI back to Elijah Muhammad’s teachings.
RESPONSE: As Christians we contend that God, as revealed in the Bible, is the Infinite, Eternal, and Triune Creator and Ruler of the universe. The only legitimate incarnation of God was in Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. Designating Fard, or anyone else besides Jesus, as divine is false and blasphemous.
2. WE BELIEVE in the Holy Qur’an and in the Scriptures of all the Prophets of God.
4. WE BELIEVE in Allah’s Prophets and the Scriptures they brought to the people.
The NOI claims that the Qur’an is their holy scriptures. It contends that Allah revealed it to Muhammad (the founder of Islam) in Mecca. In their view Muhammad was actually a black African man. However, in reality the NOI totally reinterprets the Qur’an to fit its unusual theological ideas as taught by Elijah Muhammad, and currently by Louis Farrakhan. Any Muslim Qur’anic scholar would reject nearly all the NOI’s understanding of their scripture. This leads to next point of NOI theology – its view of the Bible.
3. WE BELIEVE in the truth of the Bible, but we believe that it has been tampered with and must be reinterpreted so that mankind will not be snared by the falsehoods that have been added to it.
Most pseudo-Christian cults or nonChristian world religions agree with the above statement #3. Mormons, Christian Scientists, and Muslims all teach that the Bible, as it was originally written, was distorted by corrupt church leaders in the Middle Ages. Thus they argue that God had to bring new revelation to restore the truths removed from the Bible. The Book of Mormon, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science), and the Qur’an all claim to fix the Bible.
The NOI obviously takes that same tact. They first condescendly say that the Bible contains truth. But, since the Bible cannot be trusted as it now stands, God gave the Qur’an through Muhammad in the 7th century in Mecca. So they assert that it, and the new revelations given by Wallace D. Fard, Elijah Muhammad (who is regarded as a divinely inspired prophet), and Louis Farrakhan must supersede the Bible’s authority.
RESPONSE: The Bible texts, as originally written, were inerrant and infallible as God revealed them to His prophets and the Apostles. And, as we have indicated in previous articles, thousands of copies of those original texts were made by hand shortly after they were written and distributed throughout Israel and the world. Scholars now have many thousands of copies to work with. Some Old Testament texts date as far back as two centuries before Christ (eg.: The Dead Sea Scrolls). Likewise, scholars have more than 5,000 early texts of the New Testament, portions which date as early as AD 135.
We can say confidently that the texts of the Bible have been handed down from antiquity remarkably (some of us might say miraculously) intact. In regard to the New Testament especially, we are more than 99% confident that the all original words of the autographs have been preserved in the various texts now available. Nothing was ever removed or distorted as the NOI contends.
For a thorough critique of the preservation of the Qur’an from a Christians perspective click here: Has the Qur’an Been Perfectly Preserved? https://www.namb.net/apologetics/has-the-qur-an-been-perfectly-preserved
5. WE BELIEVE in the resurrection of the dead-not in physical resurrection-but in mental resurrection. We believe that the so-called Negroes are most in need of mental resurrection; therefore they will be resurrected first. Furthermore, we believe we are the people of God’s choice, as it has been written, that God would choose the rejected and the despised. We can find no other persons fitting this description in these last days more that the so-called Negroes in America. We believe in the resurrection of the righteous.
6. WE BELIEVE in the judgment; we believe this first judgment will take place as God revealed, in America…
Apparently Elijah Muhammad did not believe in a physical resurrection from the dead. He taught that the resurrection would be “mental.” He said that the Black race would be first to experience that spiritual form of life after death. This reflects his, and the NOI’s, racial theories, that the Black race is the true chosen people of God.
According to Elijah Muhammad, the White race was created by an evil Black scientist named Yacub. He says that Allah has alowed the devilish White race to hold power in the world for 6,000 years, which ended in 1914. He also taught that Christianity is the devil’s religion, established to keep blacks subservient. He especially regarded Jews as particularly evil, a pernicious form of anti-Semitism. These bigoted teachings are still held by Louis Farrakhan and his movement today.
Also (and this is really strange), according to NOI mythology, as taught by Farrakhan, 66 trillion years ago, an evil scientist decided to destroy the earth. He filled a large hole in the earth with explosives and detonated it. Instead of destroying it, he split the earth into two separate bodies, the earth and the moon. Ever since, the moon has been trying to get its water back. That’s why there are tides in the oceans. One problem (among many) with this scenario is that, according to modern astronomy and cosmology, 66 trillion years ago would have been 65.985 trillion years before the whole universe even existed!
Another oddity is that in recent years, Louis Farrakhan has incorporated some of the terminology of Scientology into his speeches (e.g.: “engrams” – negative thought impulses). Where he learned those words is unclear, he may have attended a Scientology introductory course or read a book about it.
RESPONSE: The Bible teaches that the universe, the earth, and the moon were all made by the True God. All people of all races were created in His image (Gen. 1). Sin came into the world when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2). Satan, or the devil, is the enemy of God and seeks to tempt Christians from doing God’s will. He was never an evil scientist.
NOI eschatology asserts that in the last days (our own time and soon) Wallace D. Fard (Allah) along with Elijah Muhammad will leave the Mother Plane and return to earth where they will bring judgment on the demonic White race (and Jews). They will be destroyed, and only the followers of NOI will live on. America will be first on the list for destruction for its history of slavery and racial injustice.
RESPONSE: Jesus and the Bible teach that at the end time there will be a general resurrection of all humanity: Then will come the final judgment by Jesus. Those who have repented of their sins, accepted the free grace of God through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and have put their faith in Him as Savior and Lord will live forever with the Lord in heaven. The lost, those who have rejected God’s grace, will go to hell, a place of everlasting punishment.
7. WE BELIEVE this is the time in history for the separation of the so-called Negroes and the so-called white Americans. We believe the black man should be freed in name as well as in fact. By this we mean that he should be freed from the names imposed upon him by his former slave masters. Names which identified him as being the slave master’s slave. We believe that if we are free indeed, we should go in our own people’s names-the black people of the Earth.
9. WE BELIEVE that the offer of integration is hypocritical and is made by those who are trying to deceive the black peoples into believing that their 400-year-old open enemies of freedom, justice and equality are, all of a sudden, their “friends.” Furthermore, we believe that such deception is intended to prevent black people from realizing that the time in history has arrived for the separation from the whites of this nation.
If the white people are truthful about their professed friendship toward the so-called Negro, they can prove it by dividing up America with their slaves. We do not believe that America will ever be able to furnish enough jobs for her own millions of unemployed, in addition to jobs for the 20,000,000 black people as well.
We discussed in Part 1 that Elijah Muhammad advocated the separation of all Black Americans into an independent nation located in the southeast USA. He taught that racial desegregation and integration was a deception by whites to deceive blacks. We also explained how he told his followers to renounce their English or European “slave name” for a Muslim name. Thus, most NOI members use an Arabic surname.
RESPONSE: Of course, Elijah’s teaching that Blacks were the original Muslims is incorrect. Muhammad was Arabian, not sub-Saharan black African. Historically, it is well known that Arab Muslims were deeply involved in the African slave trade from early in their history. That being said, for Muslims, no matter what their race, to change their name to an Islamic Arab name is certainly their right. However, the NOI’s reasons for doing so are spurious.
8. WE BELIEVE in justice for all, whether in God or not; we believe as others, that we are due equal justice as human beings. We believe in equality-as a nation-of equals. We do not believe that we are equal with our slave masters in the status of “freed slaves.”
We recognize and respect American citizens as independent peoples and we respect their laws which govern this nation.
RESPONSE: We commend this article of faith that advocates justice for all. Nevertheless, note the subtle phrasing of the first line, “WE BELIEVE in justice for all, whether in God or not.” The NOI believes only they are “in God” (Fard). Also, the meaning of the second sentence, “We do not believe that we are equal with our slave masters in the status of ‘freed slaves’” is unclear. Since slavery in American was abolished more than 150 years ago, it is difficult to understand how they can ascribe that title to anyone living today. Actually, the NOI regards the Black race as superior to others.
10. WE BELIEVE that we who declare ourselves to be righteous Muslims, should not participate in wars which take the lives of humans. We do not believe this nation should force us to take part in such wars, for we have nothing to gain from it unless America agrees to give us the necessary territory wherein we may have something to fight for.
Elijah Muhammad taught that NOI followers should not fight in wars of the United States. His followers resisted the draft and declared themselves conscientious objectors. Perhaps the most famous such case was that of Muhammad Ali who, in 1966, refused to serve after being drafted. Consequently, he was convicted of draft evasion and stripped of his Heavyweight Boxing Championship title. In 1971 his conviction was overturned by the US Supreme Court. As we mentioned in Part 1, however, Ali later left the NOI and became an orthodox Sunni Muslim.
This particular article of faith was rendered moot in January, 1973, when the military draft was indefinitely suspended.
11. WE BELIEVE our women should be respected and protected as the women of other nationalities are respected and protected.
“Our women,” of course, refers to the women in the NOI. The NOI, like conservative orthodox Islam, has strict rules regarding women’s dress, covering their heads, education, prohibition of makeup, etc. They are checked regularly by the NOIs women’s security force, called the MGT (Muslim Girl Training), to make sure they are adhering to the standards. Women are also expected to sit in the rear of the Mosque during prayers (as is true in all Muslim Mosques).
The NOI, like orthodox Islam, does not have a good record when it comes to women’s rights and their place in society. Basically the NOI is a patriarchal movement wherein women are limited in what they can do or say. Also, historic Islam allows polygamy (up to four wives at a time where legal). It is well known that leaders in the NOI, in the past, were serial philanderers, and illegally had multiple wives.
At the start of this installment, we presented a recent quote by Louis Farrakhan that some interpreted to mean he may have become a Christian. In light of what we have seen in our analysis, let’s now reread Farrakhan’s statement and fill in the blanks, so to speak.
“I thank God (Wallace D. Fard) for guiding me (a modern inspired prophet) for 40 years absent my teacher (Elijah Muhammad). So my next journey will have to answer the question. I’m gonna say, I know that my redeemer liveth (Fard). I know, I’m not guessing, that my Jesus (Elijah Muhammad) is alive. I know that my redeemer (Fard) liveth and because he lives I know that I, too, will pass through the portal of death yet death will not afflict me (I will go to the “Mother Plane”).
“So I say to the devil (all white and Jewish people), I know I gotta pay a price (strong opposition to his racist ideology) for what I’ve been teaching all these years. You can have the money, you can have the clothes, you can have the suit, you can have the house but, me, you can’t have.”
Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have faded somewhat from public view and scrutiny over the past decade or so. Nevertheless, as many as 50,000 African American followers still adhere to its racist and anti-Semitic doctrines. Christians of all races should try to reach out in love to those in the NOI movement. We need to introduce them to the true God and Messiah, Jesus Christ, and encourage them to reject its fraudulent and false teachers.
© 2018 Tal Davis