Religion and Black Nationalism of the Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam, commonly known as the Black Muslim movement, appeared during the Great Depression in the black ghettos of the big urban and industrial centers in the northern United States. It was founded by W. Fard Muhammad, one of the probably most mysterious figures in the history of Black America, in whom his followers saw the incarnation of Allah. Its doctrine was a combination of an extremely heterodox or “heretical” Islam and a separatist variety of black nationalism. A quarter of century later, the marginal sect led by Elijah Muhammad as Messenger of Allah became the most important new religious movement to emerge in the U.S. in the twentieth century. It has proved to be the largest and longest-lived nationalist movement among the American blacks. Its activities, including the preaching of “black internationalism”, were seen by the federal authorities as a threat to national security. The outstanding revolutionary leader Malcolm X emerged from its bosom. Rooted in the lowest layers of the black working class, the Nation of Islam durably and successfully questions the liberal middle-class leadership of the northern black communities, which aspires toward integration into white society.
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