Nation of Islam

note <

Often referred to by the general public as the Black Muslim movement, the Nation of Islam (NOI) was founded as the Allah Temple of Islam in 1930 at the height of the Great Depression in Detroit by Wallace D. Fard (also known as W. Fard Muhammad). He named his most dedicated student, Elijah Muahmmad (formerly Poole), as his successor in 1933. Combining the Black political nationalism of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the Black religious nationalism of Noble Drew Ali's Moorish Science Temple, the NOI presented a syncretic version of Islam that drew from classical Islam, the Black church, and Black nationalism. The most striking feature of the movement was its radical inversion of the cultural value system of white America that promoted notions of white supremacy and Black inferiority. The NOI considered Black people divine and denounced whites as "devils"; they promoted an alternative cultural identity and value system for Black America. As a civilizationist movement, the NOI appealed to the notion of a classical Black civilization and dismissed the vernacular cultural expressions of Black folk culture as the products of a "slave culture." NOI members distinguished themselves from other Black men and women through their conservative dress--suits and ties for men and long gowns and head coverings for women; and even their dietary restrictions against pork--though partially due to adherence to Islamic dietary law--took on a greater cultural significance as the rejection of "slave food" forced upon Black people during slavery by their white slavemasters.