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A look at the beliefs of the nation of islam

The Nation follows many of the practices of traditional Islam and is an advocate of black nationalism. Interview Highlights On the core beliefs of the Nation of Islam "The Nation of Islam sort of combined what we would call religious black nationalism with some of the traditional teachings of Islam globally.

So the combination often confounded people because many people weren't accustomed to a kind of nationalist dialogue rhetoric mixed with religion. And so they always have to sort of unpack that idea that they're Muslims, but they're also addressing a black condition of suffering.

But since then though, we actually haven't noticed or heard anything like that. They believe in self-defense, they don't believe in turning the other cheek. They actually do not believe in perpetuating violence against anyone.

Which you mentioned early about the Nation of Islam cosmology, the creation myth was just that. It was a way to explain how black people became disempowered, became victims of a white supremacist system. And many people who joined the Nation of Islam did not really rehearse that as much.

I mean they understood the story, but they weren't there for that story, they were there for black empowerment — economic, social, kind of unity, fight against police brutality, the kind of social conditions that drew them to the organization.

And they have mosques, as they call them now — they used to call them temples — they have mosques throughout the country, perhaps over 100.

They are involved with political activism, they're involved in social critique. They're involved, most importantly, in a kind of moral discipline that they try to rehearse constantly.

Difference Between Islam and the Nation of Islam

And, again, they're self-professed Muslims. Eric Lincoln dubbed them 'Black Muslims,' which they rejected. They don't see themselves as Black Muslims. They see themselves as Muslims who happen to be racially black.

That's a huge violation in Islam. Also they rejected them for the way in which they responded to white racism by calling whites 'devils' and seeing them, mythically, as inherently evil. But again, that response was to the system of white supremacy.

Farrakhan has been very controversial around these issues, but he has also tried to put his statements into context. Unfortunately, again, it's political, but he tries to also explain that he's not an anti-Semite, he's not homophobic, he's not a racist. But he does make these controversial statements, absolutely.

  • Interview Highlights On the core beliefs of the Nation of Islam "The Nation of Islam sort of combined what we would call religious black nationalism with some of the traditional teachings of Islam globally;
  • In his place, they follow what Muhammad Elijah has taught them;
  • This religion strictly forbids man from considering themselves to be at par with God;
  • And so they always have to sort of unpack that idea that they're Muslims, but they're also addressing a black condition of suffering.

But because they respond to white racism — in fact, the idea of calling whites 'devils' predates the Nation of Islam. Even the Chinese, during the Boxer Rebellion, called their white oppressors devils. So it's a way of inverting or changing the narrative about demonized peoples or degraded peoples. As you say, words matter. So their words are a reaction to a kind of Jim Crow system. And so, this is their response, in terms of words.

They believe that it is a mischaracterization of the group. Farrakhan continually denounces that moniker that they are a hate group. And so, I think, because they're a black nationalist organization, they are seen as also perpetuating the same kinds of prejudice. And I just think there needs to be more information on that.