Nation of Islam

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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). 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. Within its first three years, the NOI attracted more than 8,000 members with its condemnations of white racism as the work of white "devils" and its calls for Black people to establish a separate state. Fard's teachings also attracted significant government surveillance of the movement, and after several clashes with local authorities, he was forced to leave Detroit. When he departed in 1933, he named his most dedicated student, Elijah Muhammad (formerly Poole), as his successor. Upon assuming leadership of the NOI, Elijah Muhammad moved the headquarters to the newly established Temple No. 2 in Chicago and set about building a national movement with temples throughout the country. Mr. Muhammad maintained most of the fundamental precepts advanced by Fard Muhammad and facilitated the expansion of the movement's economic base, in keeping with the Nation's advocacy of economic independence for Black people. By the 1950s, the Nation had become a significant holder of land and owned restaurants and businesses. The Nation eventually acquired 15,000 acres of farmland in several states, created dairy and poultry farms, and owned cattle, warehouses, and cold-storage facilities. It stressed political conservatism and separation from the political and cultural life of the U.S. In time, the group came to national prominence with the broadcast in 1959 of the television documentary The Hate that Hate Produced and as a result of Malcolm X's public pronouncements during the course of the early 1960s. The Nation also disseminated its political viewpoint by contributing columns by Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X to newspapers in various parts of the country and created its own paper, Muhammad Speaks, which became the most widely read newspaper in the U.S. By the time of Elijah Muhammad's death in 1975, there were reportedly seventy-six temples or mosques in the U.S., Bermuda, Jamaica, Trinidad, Central America, England, Ghana, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.