Nation of Islam (a.k.a Black Muslims)

By: Dr. James Bjornstad; ©1999
How and when did this movement begin? What are its theological distinctives? How can you witness effectively to someone in this movement? Dr. Bjornstad explores these issues and more in this informative article.


Nation of Islam—(a.k.a. Black Muslims)


The beginning of this movement may be traced back to Noble Drew Ali [formerly Timo­thy Drew], who established the Moorish-American Science Temple in Newark, NJ, in 1913. Their teachings, which came from their understanding of the Holy Koran, included their own version of creation, the fall, and the origin of the black race.

Wallace Fard Muhammad [formerly Wallace Dodd Fard] was a silk salesman who appeared in Detroit, MI in 1930, teaching Black supremacy. He claimed to come from the city of Mecca (Muhammad, Message, 16). Wallace Fard Muhammad mysteriously disap­peared in the summer of 1934.

Elijah Muhammad [formerly Robert Poole] declared Master Fard to be an incarnation of Allah, and himself, the last messenger of Allah. Elijah Muhammad died on February 25, 1975.

Malcolm X [formerly Malcolm Little] was converted to the Nation of Islam in 1948, but in the early 1960s became disenchanted with Elijah Muhammad. On May 21, 1964 he made a life-changing pilgrimage to Mecca and converted to orthodox Islam. Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York on February 21, 1965.

Wallace Al-Din [formerly Wallace Deen Muhammad], the son of Elijah Muhammad, was his appointed successor (to the chagrin of many). He took the movement in the direc­tion of orthodox Islam, and changed the name of the group from the Nation of Islam to the World Community of Islam, and later to the American Muslim Mission.

Louis Abdul Farrakhan [formerly Louis Eugene Walcott] was converted to the Nation of Islam by Malcolm X. In 1978 he separated from Wallace Muhammad over doctrinal dis­agreements. He formed a splinter group using the original name, the Nation of Islam, and re-established the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. Louis Farrakhan elevated Elijah Muhammad to Saviorhood and claimed to be his earthly representative.


A. Scriptures

The Nation of Islam feels that both the Koran and the Bible have been tampered with. “The Bible and the Holy Qur’an are filled with truth that leads up to the judgment…. The enemy [the white man] has tampered with the truth in both books; for he has been permit­ted to handle both books” (Muhammad, Message, 90).

They are looking for another book, which is forthcoming. “Both the present Bible and the Holy Qur’an must soon give way to that Holy Book which no man as yet but Allah has seen. The teachings (prophecies) of the present Bible and Qur’an take us up to the resur­rection and judgment of this world, but not into the next life” (Muhammad, Message, 97).

The Bible is referred to as “the Poison Book” (Muhammad, Message, 94).

B. Ultimate reality

In contrast to biblical teaching, the Nation of Islam teaching that in the beginning a triple blackness of space, water, and divinity existed.

C. God/gods

Seventy-six trillion years ago God willed himself into existence out of the blackness of space and water. This process took him six trillion years. God is a black man and His name is Allah.

There are many gods of varying degrees. No god is eternal; he lives and dies (Muhammad, Message, 9).

Allah, who created the universe, was the most powerful god. He is surpassed only by Elijah Muhammad, the god whose coming was prophesied in the Holy Scripture. Elijah Muhammad is wiser than all the other gods.

At one time there was a council of 24 black-scientist gods. One of them acted as God while the others worked on getting the future together for the Nation.

D. Creation

After Allah came into existence, he created the black race out of the black material in the darkness of space. He then created the universe.

E. Man

The original inhabitants of earth were all black, belonging to the tribe of Shabass. They were divine beings and created good.

The black people became divided. An evil scientist named Yacub was born in the dissenting group. From childhood he determined to develop a race that would rule the black people.

Yacub and his followers were eventually imprisoned for voicing their dissatisfaction and exiled to the island of Patmos. There he began to develop a new race by experiment­ing with mutations. In the process he created the red and yellow races and, after 600 years, a completely white race devoid of any of the original, divine substance. This new race of people was neither human nor made by God, but “devils,” without any capacity for good.

The white people were released from the island of Patmos. They began conquering nations around the world, making slaves of black people, imposing on them an inferior religion—Christianity, and depriving them of their cultural heritage. Allah allowed this white supremacy to occur for 6000 years, a period that ended in 1914. Now is the time for the Nation of Islam to regroup and regain an ascendant position.

F. Jesus

From various sources, we find that according the Nation of Islam, Jesus was:

  • only a mortal man and a prophet, not God (Muhammad, Our Savior, 195),
  • a black man who tried to redeem the black Moabites and was executed by the white Ro­mans,
  • a Muslim, not a Christian (Muhammad, Message, 22), and
  • He did not rise from the dead (Muhammad, Our Savior, 195, 210).

G. Salvation

Black people can reach perfection and realize their divine potential by doing what is right and forbidding what is wrong (i.e. following the Holy Koran). Eventually they will be­come a nation of gods and dwell in paradise for all eternity.

No possibility exists for reforming white people because they are pure evil. For perfec­tion to occur, they must be annihilated.

H. Judgment

A great spaceship, the Mother Plane, will carry out Allah’s judgment (Muhammad, The Final Call, 19). This judgment will not only destroy the white race but also Christianity.


In your attempts to witness to a person involved in the Nation of Islam, bear in mind the following points:

1. Christianity, far from being the “white man’s religion,” is a universal faith open to all men and women.
2. A major theme of the Bible is the care and love that true believers are to show for each other (John 13:34-35) and for the poor and oppressed (Isaiah 58:6-7; Proverbs 29:7; 30:14; Micah 6:8; Amos 8:4-5). That many professing Christians have failed to live up to this standard is the fault of human sinfulness, not Jesus Christ or biblical teaching.
3. In a world seething with distrust and hostility, Jesus’ radical teaching, “Love your en­emies” (Luke 6:27-28, 32-33, 35), desperately needs to be applied by people of all races. Only then can the vicious cycle of hate be broken.

Focus your witnessing on:


a. There is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-6; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). He exists eternally [i.e. without beginning or ending] (Psalm 90:2). His nature is Spirit (John 4:24).
b. He is Triune [i.e., He eternally exists in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit] (Galatians 1:1; John 1:1; Acts 5:3-4).
c. He created the universe from nothing (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6, 9; 148:5) and made everything in it (Genesis 1). He made all men, black, red, yellow and white (Acts 17:26- 29). Man is not divine and God is not a man (Hosea 11:9).

Jesus Christ

a. Jesus Christ is God, the Second Person of the Triune God. He became man [i.e. the God-man] (John 1:1, 14, 18; 5:18).
b. He died for the sins of all men, black, red, yellow and white (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 2:2)
c. He rose bodily from the dead and is returning to earth one day (Luke 24:36-39; John 2:19; 20:24-29; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7).


a. Man’s nature and spiritual condition, whether black, red, yellow or white, is sinful (Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6; Matthew 15:18-19). Every person is lost and alienated from God (Romans 5:12; 3:23).
b. No person, whether black, red, yellow or white, can save himself (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
c. Salvation is a gift from God to be received by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Acts 4:12; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Selected Bibliography

Akridge, Colin P. Why I Cannot Be A Black Muslim. Newport, PA: Research and Educa­tion Foundation, 1995.

Gardell, Mattias. Countdown to Armageddon: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. London: Hurst, 1996.

Lincoln, C. Eric. The Black Church Since Frazier. New York: Schocken, 1989. —. The Black Muslims in America. Lawrenceville, NJ: Red Sea Press,1994.

Muhammad, Elijah. Message to the Blackman in America. Chicago: The Final Call, 1965. —. Our Savior has Arrived. Newport News, VA: United Brothers Communications System, n.d.

Muhammad, Warith Deen. Al-Islam Unity and Leadership. Calumet City, IL: W. Deen Muhammad, 1991.

Sources Cited

Muhammad, Elijah. Message to the Blackman in America. Chicago: The Final Call, 1965.

Our Savior has Arrived. Newport News, VA: United Brothers Communications System, n.d.

“The Mother Plane.” The Final Call, July 16, 1966, 18.

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