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Elijah Muhammad and The Nation of Islam Research Paper


Living in the multinational world, the problems of racial discrimination are absent and many nations try to reduce the remains of this issue. However, remembering the middle of 1900s, when racial discrimination was an ordinary issue even though the demolition of slavery took place, the problem of racial inequality was rather urgent.

The declaration about abolition of slavery was an important issue on the way to the democratization of that society. Still, the remnants of discrimination, the inability to black people to gain heights in professional development and many other political, economical and social factors reminded about the presence of discrimination in such countries as the USA. Many people tried to affect the situation, however, most of the failed.

Elijah Muhammad was a leader who managed to continue the development of the Nation of Islam as social, religious and political organization and contributed to the development of the movement aimed at making the rights of black people equal with those of whites by means of trying to assure others in the domination of black nation as the main race on the planet.

Elijah Muhammad

The Most Catching Parts in Elijah Muhammad’s Biography

The development of the organization the Nation of Islam started before Elijah Muhammad entered it, however, it achieved its heights with such leader as Elijah Muhammad. Berg calls this person as “one of the most significant figures in the history of Islam in the United States” (Berg Elijah Muhammad and Islam 35).

During his life, this person struggled for increasing the rights of the African Americans in the American society, he fought for the development of the Islamic nation. The life of this person was directed at serving people. Imprisonment for four years was one of the most important periods in his life as jail gave him much. Elijah Muhammad understood that spiritual life wss important, however, to gain domination strong financial support was to be present (Clegg “Rebuilding the nation” 53).

The whole life of this person was devoted to serving people and trying to convince them in the importance of Muslim religion as the only way to sacrifice their lives and to return the dominating regime of African Americans. 1949-1954 were the years of Elijah Muhammad flourish as the messenger and active social and political leader whose work could be seen now through the years of his ruling and after his death (Clegg An Original Man 65).

The day of the death of this great person is considered as a day of “ceremonial importance in the Black Muslim world” (“Mourns Elijah Muhammad” 70).

Contribution to religious aspect

Being a leader of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad tried to find relief in religion. Having a desire to unite African Americans and to create a movement for fighting for and protecting African American rights, Elijah Muhammad referred to religious aspects as for uniting ones.

Having found relief in religion, the messenger wanted to escape from poverty and racial brutality. Even though one of the main directions in work of this person was social, political and economical improvement of conditions in the life of African American, his spirituality could not be questioned.

Going from one home to another, gathering people and teaching them Muslim religion, Elijah Muhammad also wanted to be useful economically for them. The Messenger understood that life without God was impossible as well as life without money. People have to eat something both physically and spiritually. This is one of the most important aspects in Elijah Muhammad’s vision of life.

Making people comfortable physically and financially, people were able to perceive his teaching of religions. Taking the basic principles of Islam, Elijah Muhammad wanted to teach all African Americans this religion as the one which is the oldest and which was initially the religion of African American ancestries. The contribution of this person in the religious life of African Americans is that he opened this religion to people and that he managed to convince them in passion to it (Lichtenstein 11).

The prophet of Islam

Elijah Muhammad once said, “since we cannot get along with our former slave masters in peace and equality after giving them 400 years of our sweat and blood and receiving in return some of the worst treatment human beings have ever experienced, we believe our contributions to this land and the suffering forced upon us by white America justifies our demand for complete separation in a state of territory of our own” (Massaquoi 78).

Being a prophet of Islam, Elijah Muhammad tried to convince people that Black nation was higher than the white one. Reconstructing Lost-Found Nation of Islam in the Wilderness of North America, Elijah Muhammad convinced African Americans who inhabited the USA that their place was much higher.

The considerations of this man were perceived as something sacred and which does not require any proofs. It should be stated that before the creation of the Nation of Islam and the work of Elijah Muhammad, African Americans were mostly Christians. However, the work and enlightening activity of Elijah Muhammad have made many African Americans Muslims.

One of the strongest positions of Elijah Muhammad was his message which was as follows, black nation was dominant, but about 6,000 years ago the rebellion of one black savant set the creation of the white nation which managed to dominate due to the absence of unity in black race. Elijah Muhammad came to the planet to solve that problem and to unite all black nations under the Islam religion to make it the main religion among black population of the world (Pipes 33).

Practical contribution

Following the leader, people saw how Elijah Muhammad contributed to the development of Islamic population in the USA. Having created the farming complex for improving the economical condition of Muslim African Americans, he also contributed to health care development, education and other particular issues which could be useful not only for spiritual development of people, but also affected their economical condition and social position.

Convincing people in spiritual importance of his organization, he also stressed on the further creation of a new society where African American Muslims are going to be the main nation, the Messenger stressed on the educational and scientific development as well. He was sure that spiritual clearness and devotion to their God was important, however, to create a strong dominating nation education, science development, heath care and other particular social needs were to be met (Massaquoi 82).

Political Views

Elijah Muhammad managed not only to convince people in taking Islam as their religion, he also brought the political crisis in the USA. Being an influential person in the USA during1949-1954, he affected the development of the political life. It is obvious that an emergence and development of a new religion, the Nation of Islam was a problem for the Anti-Defamation League. The conflict between these organizations led to the crisis in the political sphere of America from the point of view of authorities.

Elijah Muhammad was sure that Europe supported the political direction of America, and these views contradicted the development of the Nation of Islam. The Messenger chose the way of critical approach to the political situation in Europe and America with the purpose to show that religious aspect also played great role. Being dependant on the religious consideration, political life of the country could be either flourishing or not.

The example of the affect of religion on politics may be seen during the late 18th and the early 19th centuries when “despite the European-American founding fathers and their intellectual descendants’ attempt to justify “in God we trust”, some African Americans were gravitating toward new formulations on the religious and political authority” (Wright and Louis 52). Therefore, introducing new religion for African Americans Elijah Muhammad tried to influence the political situation in the society as well.

The Nation of Islam

African American Muslim Content and Muslim Faith

Stressing not on a leader, Elijah Muhammad, but on the very teaching he tried to deliver to people, it should be stated that the Nation of Islam differed slightly from the Muslim religion established in the whole world. One of the main reasons for this difference was the situation and the environment.

The Nation of Islam was an organization which developed in America among African Americans. This was the place where Christianity and white race dominated. It was very difficult to make people change their opinion and shift to another religion.

Almost all African Americans were Christians in 1950s. However, a correct religion with a good leader managed to convince about one million of African Americans in the domination of the new religion. The first step on attracting attention to the very movement was the declaration of white race as “wicked” (Berg “Mythmaking in the African American Muslim Context” 685) and stress on the only correct and spiritual Islam religion.

Much attention was paid to the correct version of the first person who was black one and to the further development of the story where a black savant betrayed black nation and created a new white one on an island. Therefore, when the situation was critic nothing could be done and white nation began to increase until became the dominant one. However, initially, black people run the world.

The work of the Nation of Islam was not limited by the religious convictions, however, the role of religion played an important role. Being an initial religion of African Americans, the leader of the movement wanted to integrate this idea into their minds with the basic principles of Islam teaching (Talhami 130).

Rebuilding the nation

One of the main ideas of the Nation of Islam was to rebuild the nation by means of introducing a new religion. The Nation of Islam pursued the following considerations, “racial separatism, white devilry, and coming Armageddon (Clegg “Rebuilding the nation” 49). The organization wanted to affect the religious life of people, however, this was just the starting point in discussion. It was important to make sure that the organization was full of supporters and followers.

Thus, when a particular number of people were gathered, the organization began other changes. Convincing people in the domination of black race over white one the nation of Islam did not want to burn the weapon conflict, however, it encouraged many African Americans on fighting for their rights at work or in other administrative organizations.

Furthermore, rebuilding the nation, Elijah Muhammad as the leader of the organization wanted to reconsider social, political and economical life of the society. However, Clegg in his article wrote that a new society which was predicted by the Nation of Islam was based on the quasi convictions (Clegg “Rebuilding the nation” 53)

Opportunities and Challenges for the Nation of Islam

During the reign of Elijah Muhammad the Nation of Islam experienced its greatest upraise. This was the period when the organization had many followers and increased opportunities. Having created a positive image inside the country, the Nation of Islam managed to convince African Americans that their religion was the only correct.

Those who wanted to follow Christianity were reminded that all they know was offered by the white nation who were devilry and could not offer true knowledge to black nation. Even though some scholars and politicians consider the work of the Nation as Islam as separatist one which could be referred to only as harmful, a lot of opportunities were offered for African Americans.

First of all, the nation felt that it was important and necessary. Living under constant pressure and with the remnants of discrimination, African Americans felt the power and support which could protect them. However, there were many challengers on the way of the organization. Proclaiming the domination over white race, Elijah Muhammad could not even expect to have the political, social and economical power of America in his hands.


Therefore, it may be concluded that the Nation of Islam is the organization which still continues its work, however, it is not that spread and active as it was while the life of Elijah Muhammad. The day of the death of this great leader is called “the day of the death of the nation” (Walton 65). The life and activities of Elijah Muhammad cannot be overestimated as leading poor and difficult life he was sure that African Americans deserve better life and he tried to reach this life.

Assisting others, Elijah Muhammad did not lose the faith as there were many difficulties on the way to enlightenment. The Nation of Islam as the non-government religious organization led by Elijah Muhammad contributed not only to the spiritual life of African Americans, it created social, economic and political preconditions for making white and black races equal.

Elijah Muhammad was sometimes blamed for separatist ideas and nationalist thoughts, however, the only purpose Elijah Muhammad wanted to meet was to make sure that African Americans was a nation which deserved living in one country with white race without discrimination and other types of prejudice. The day of the death of the Messenger is celebrated as the day of the honor of this great person. Even though the company has remained and the idea is alive, the active fight died with the death of Elijah Muhammad.

Works Cited

Berg, Herbert. “Mythmaking in the African American Muslim Context: The Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, and the American Society of Muslims.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 73.3 (2005): pp. 685-703. Print.

Berg, Herbert. Elijah Muhammad and Islam. New York: New York University Press, 2009. Print.

Clegg, Claude Andrew. “Rebuilding the nation: The life and work of Elijah Muhammad, 1949-1954.” Black Scholar, 26.3/4 (1996): pp. 49-60. Print.

Clegg, Claude Andrew. An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997. Print.

Lichtenstein, Alex. “Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.” Footsteps, 8.2 (2006): p. 11. Print.

Massaquoi, Hans J. “Elijah Muhammad: prophet and architect of the separate Nation of Islam.” Ebony, 25.10 (1970): pp. 78-89. Print.

“Mourns Elijah Muhammad.” Ebony, 30.7 (1975): pp. 69-75. Print.

Pipes, Daniel. “How Elijah Muhammad Won.” Commentary, 109.6 (2000): pp. 31-37. Print.

Talhami, Ghada Hashem. “America’s Early Experience with the Muslim Faith: The Nation of Islam.” Middle East Policy, 15.3 (2008): pp. 129-138. Print.

Walton, Anthony. “Death of a nation.” Harper’s Magazine, 301.1804 (2000): pp. 65-71. Print.

Wright, Jerry, and Eliot Louis. “Elijah Muhammad’s political thought on God and authority: A quest for authenticity and freedom.” Journal of Religious Thought; 51.2 (1994): pp. 47-76. Print.

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