Nation of Islam FAQs

Origins, practices, and more about the controversial faith.


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Fard passed the torch to Elijah Muhammad, who formulated NOI's most controversial tenets, including that he [Elijah Muhammad] was Allah's prophet and that Caucasians were racially inferior. After the death of Elijah Muhammad, his son Warith Deen Muhammad steered the movement away from its previous beliefs to mainstream Islam. Another branch, under Louis Farrakhan, split off and retained the Nation of Islam's more controversial creed.

What practices do NOI members follow?

In the movement's early decades, NOI members had to follow strict rules regarding eating (various foods, such as pork, were forbidden), smoking and drinking (both banned), dress and appearance (conservative, neat clothing and good grooming were required), and all kinds of personal behavior (drugs, the use of profanity, gambling, listening to music, and dancing were all outlawed). They were forbidden to intermarry with non-blacks and were encouraged to resist the U.S. draft because the American military was seen as a tool of white oppression. Recently, the movement has adopted more conventionally Islamic traditions, such as fasting for Ramadan concurrently with other Muslims.

What do traditional Muslims think of NOI?

NOI is generally considered non-orthodox by most Muslims. However, NOI leader Louis Farrakhan has recently made overtures to the wider Muslim community and has embraced some traditional Islamic practices. For example, NOI now holds communal prayers on Fridays and no longer on Sundays.

Of late, NOI has also retreated from its most controversial racial platforms.

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