A comparative study of the Nation of Islam and Islam

by Yuliani-Sato, Dwi Hesti.

Abstract (Summary)
Dr. Lillian Ashcraft-Eason, Advisor This study compares the Nation of Islam with the religion of Islam to understand the extent of its religious kinship to Islam. As with other religions, there are various understandings of Islam and no single agreement on what constitutes being a Muslim. With regard to that matter, the Nation of Islam’s (NOI) teachings and beliefs are regarded as unconventional if viewed from the conventions of Islam. Being unconventional in terms of doctrines and having a focus on racial struggle rather than on religious nurturing position the Nation of Islam more as a social movement than as a religious organization. Further, this raises a question, to some parties, of whether the NOI’s members are Muslims in the sense of mainstream Islam’s standard. It is the issue of conventional versus unconventional that is at the core of this study. The methodologies used are observation, interview, and literary research. Prior to writing the thesis, research on the Nation of Islam in Toledo was conducted. The researcher observed the Nation of Islam in Toledo and Savannah, Georgia, and interviewed some people from the Nation of Islam in Toledo and Detroit as well as a historian of religion from Bowling Green State University. The research questions are around the teachings and beliefs of the Nation of Islam in the past and today, the development of the Nation of Islam, and how its members see themselves and their organization both in relation to race relations in the United States and to Islam as a religion of Muslims worldwide. The result of the research indicates that the Nation of Islam has gradually taught the teachings of Islam as embraced by the Muslim world while continuing to hold to the iv teachings of Elijah Muhammad in contradiction with the accepted conventions of Islam. It is hoped that the research will have important implications for the American public’s view of the Nation of Islam and of Islam, to the Nation of Islam itself, and to other Muslims who do not belong to it in their understanding of each other’s differences and of the factors that lead to them. There are two implications. The first implication is to correct American people's perception of the Nation of Islam as a racist and anti-white organization (if it has changed). The second implication is to create mutual understanding and brotherhood among the Nation of Islam and other Muslims in the United States and other countries so that they can cooperate in positive activities that may help clear Islam’s image as a religion which loves peace and never suggests hatred, racialism, or even terrorism often pointed out to Islam. Hence, this thesis is aimed at the understanding of the Nation of Islam as what leads to its radical views that are often considered by the American mainstream as provoking racism and separatism. America has made the Nation of Islam as it has been. This thesis is also aimed at the mutual and dual process of learning and understanding for both the Nation of Islam and the so-called “orthodox” Muslims. The unique circumstances of the African American diaspora work as the background of the NOI’s ideology that sets it apart from the rest of the Muslim world. It must be understood that Islam as a universal religion for all people never suggests hatred (even less terrorism) and superiority of a people (race) over the other(s). At the same time, however, it is necessary to understand the Nation of Islam’s insistence on black power, pride, and self-reliance when the American system is not in favor of many poor blacks whose voices are unheard. v
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:islam black muslims


Date of Publication:

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