English 9 honors
March 21, 2012
The Nation of Islam was founded in Detroit, Michigan in July, 1930 by W. D. Fard Muhammad (1877–1934). The N.O.I. teaches that W. Fard Muhammad is both the "Messiah" of Christianity and the Mahdi of Islam. Within one year, he had approximately 25,000 followers who knew him as Prophet W.D. Fard, at Mosque of Islam #1. Fard's assistant minister Elijah Muhammad succeeded him as head of the movement in 1934. Muhammad slowly built up the membership of the Black Muslims through recruitment in the postwar decades. His program called for the establishment of a separate nation for black Americans and the adoption of a religion based on the worship of Allah and on the belief that blacks are his chosen people.
During this time the Nation of Islam attracted Malcolm Little. While in prison for robbery from 1946 to 1952, Little joined the Nation of Islam. He was influenced by his brother, Reginald, who had become a member in Detroit. Little quit smoking, gambling and eating pork, in keeping with the Nation's practices and dietary restrictions. He spent long hours reading books in the prison library, even memorizing a dictionary. He also sharpened his oratory skills by participating in debate classes. Following Nation tradition, he replaced his surname, “Little,” with an “X,” a custom among Nation of Islam followers who considered their surnames to have been imposed by white slaveholders after their African names were taken from them.
Malcolm X rose rapidly to become the minister of Boston Temple No. 11, which he founded; he was later rewarded with the post of minister of Temple No. 7. Elijah Muhammad named Malcolm X the National Representative of the Nation of Islam, his second in rank. Under Malcolm X's lieutenancy, the Nation claimed a membership of 500,000. Malcolm X left the Nation in March 1964 and in the next month founded Muslim Mosque, Inc., claiming, "I never left the Nation of Islam of my own free will....