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The Nation of Islam
An insightful interview with Robert T. Pardon, M.Div., Th.M.
Bob Pardon is director of the New England Institute of Religious Research (NEIRR) in Lakeville MA (see www.neirr.org), and has been an AIIA Resource Associate since 1995.
The Nation of Islam (NOI) is most commonly defined as a quasi-religious, U.S.-based, black nationalist organization with an estimated membership of 100,000 in 1995 and perhaps somewhat less today. Its headquarters are in Chicago IL.
The Black Muslim movement gained wide attention in the middle part of the last century, due in part to the influential advocacy of Malcolm X (1925-1965), a strong proponent of black nationalism.
Who is the leader of the Nation of Islam today, and is the movement still relevant in today’s world?
Louis Farrakhan is today’s NOI leader – and, yes, NOI continues
Tell us about NOI’s history.
The historical basis for the NOI is very dubious. Wallace D. Fard arrived in Detroit, Michigan, on July 4, 1930. Apparently, Fard had been released from San Quentin Prison the year before, after serving three years on a drug trafficking charge. He was a door to door salesman who, when asked by the Detroit police to identify himself, responded, “I am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.” He passed himself off to other black Americans as a mystic and a prophet from the Middle East. Soon the NOI was 8,000 strong.
What happened next?
An unemployed Georgia migrant worker, Elijah Poole, was renamed “Elijah Muhammad” by Fard. Then, in 1934, Fard himself mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again, and Elijah Muhammad became his successor for the next 41 years. He taught that even though Fard was believed to be Allah in human form, when Fard died, Allah did not die. God then manifested Himself in Elijah Muhammad who was revealed to be the ‘Messiah’ of the Jews, the ‘Jesus’ of Christians, and the ‘Mahdi’ of Muslims.
In 1975 Elijah Muhammad died and his son, Wallace Muhammad, took over, only to disband the NOI. Shortly thereafter, Louis Farrakhan broke away from Wallace Muhammad and reorganized the NOI, assuming absolute control of its leadership. Farrakhan presently owns “ornate palaces” in Chicago IL and Phoenix AZ, a Mexican villa, and a 77-acre estate in Michigan. His vehicles include a Lexus, a Mercedes, a Rolls Royce, and a Lincoln Town Car. Farrakhan has said, “I am a Messiah, Elijah Muhammad was raised by Master Farad Muhammad to become the Messiah and he raised me to become the little Messiah.”
In what way is NOI related to Islam itself?
The NOI is not part of mainstream Islam. It is viewed simply as a fringe cult by true Muslims. It is a strange mixture of Islam, Masonry, Christianity and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Contrary to the theology of Islam, NOI teaches that Allah appeared in the person of Master W. Fard Muhammad in July 1930; that all black men are gods; that the God who created all things does not exist today; that there is no life beyond the grave; that all white men are devils; that the ‘wheel’ of the prophet Ezekiel was actually the ‘Mother of Planes,’ sent to destroy the present world of the enemies of Allah; etc. These are only a few of the major deviations from Islam.
Any other pertinent information?
While it is commendable that the dignity of black Americans is raised in the NOI, it ought not be done at the expense of other races. NOI teaches that all black men are gods and that all white men were created by an evil black god (Yakub) who was a scientist. As Farrakhan has said, “You (white people) are the devil… you are nothing but the devil in the plainest language.”
Jews are viewed as “blood suckers,” and those who have historically taken advantage of the downtrodden state of the black man. Farrakhan has described Hitler as “wickedly great,” and Judaism as a “dirty religion.”
By way of contrast, I would urge careful consideration be made of the claims of Jesus Christ. Jesus also claimed to be God in human form, but only He truly fulfills a 1000-year plus prophetic history. While here on earth Jesus pointed toward His own death and resurrection as evidence of who He really was/is – credentials that can still be tested historically.
Who’s to Blame for Natural Disasters?
by Daryl E. Witmer
The following exchange is a composite based on a number of actual conversations in which I’ve been engaged over the past few years.
ALEX: I consider myself a Christian, but I have a very hard time making any sense of natural disasters. You know, so-called ‘Acts of God.’
DEW: The idea that God might be responsible for such events doesn’t fit with your concept of God?
ALEX: Right. I can understand how sinful human beings are at fault for many problems in our world today. Lung cancer is often directly related to smoking. Many traffic fatalities result from drunk driving. Certain diseases are attributable to wrong lifestyles. Death and injury in war are in most cases the direct consequence of hostile aggression, or pride, or selfish ambition.
DEW: But you’re asking about floods and earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes – events which do not seem so directly related to human sin and wrong behavior.
ALEX: Exactly. How do you explain such events? Is God cruel?
DEW: Well, to begin – let’s just suppose that God really is responsible for certain aberrant weather patterns. Can you think of any reasons why He might deliberately unleash a terrible storm or disaster on the world from time to time?
ALEX: Not really. Can you? DEW: Well, how about the account in the Book of Exodus (11:1) concerning the plagues on Pharaoh and Egypt? Or the Divine strategy in allowing that terrible windstorm to kill all of Job’s children (Job 1:19)?
ALEX: Okay – but then there are those cases where it seems that truly innocent people suffer through no apparent fault of their own, and when God doesn’t seem to be up to anything.
DEW: Do we always have to be able to justify, understand, or explain God’s ways?
ALEX: Well, it’s natural to want to understand the ways of the God in whom we are supposed to place our trust, isn’t it?
DEW: Perhaps so.
ALEX: So – are you suggesting that God is always directly and deliberately responsible for perpetrating natural disasters in our world?
DEW: On the contrary, I suspect that in the great majority of cases, natural disasters are plainly, first and foremost, attributable to human sinfulness.
DEW: Well, for example – it seems rather evident today that pollutants have a direct bearing on the atmospheric ozone layer, which in turn clearly affects both weather patterns and health conditions here on earth. Large scale deforestation is often a direct cause of flooding, which in turn often leads to homelessness, disease, and death in underdeveloped countries. Wrong human stewardship of the ecology can assume many forms.
An insightful article in the L.A. Times by Janet N. Abramovitz of the Worldwatch Institute included the following statement: “By destroying forests, damming rivers, filling in wetlands, and destabilizing the climate, human actions are unraveling the strands of a complex ecological safety net that protects against storms and other calamities.”
ALEX: How about earthquakes?
DEW: In January of 2000 our son Stephen was involved in a disaster relief effort in Turkey, following the terrible destruction in that place from a series of earthquakes. He saw first-hand evidence of what we’d already heard about – a high percentage of the toll in human death and injury resulted from shoddy work – contractors who had deliberately violated building codes when they constructed homes that were then unable to withstand the stress of an earthquake.
ALEX: Do you suppose that there would have been earthquakes in the Garden of Eden – before the Fall of humanity into sin?
DEW: Who knows? Dr. Norman Geisler points out in his book, Unshakeable Foundations (no pun intended; ©2001 Bethany House), that earthquakes recycle valuable nutrients and serve a number of other useful purposes. One thing is certain – before the Fall mankind enjoyed a level of communication with God that would have offered its own inherent protection against the dangers of wandering into high-risk locations.
ALEX: Does this therefore mean that we today are all hopelessly doomed?
DEW: Apart from God’s redemptive work, it’s true that humanity remains largely vulnerable to the precarious nature of life here on earth. But those who choose to receive God’s gift of grace through faith in Christ are offered a security that far transcends the dangers of this present age, and an assurance that can carry them through to the life to come.