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For most scholars, there is a misconception that the Nation of Islam is similar to Traditional Islam as a sect. However, researches done into these two reveal that they are sects with a wide range of differences. The Nation of Islam and Traditional Islam hold different teachings and beliefs. To some level, it is said that the two sects do not coincide at all. This is especially true to the teachings of the Nation of Islam. According to the history of this sect, most people that follow the teachings are black and racist individuals. As a result, they are not regarded true Muslims. Based on this, Traditional Islam denounces the teaching of the Nation of Islam as a sect.
The Nation of Islam
A close review of the movie, Inside Islam, it is evident that Islam is essentially embedded in God’s obedience that He put upon his people. This mandate was given through His prophet Muhammad. In addition, believers of Traditional Islam recognise only one true God called Allah. They, as well, believed in angels of Allah and the books Torah and the Bible. Based on these books, Traditional Islam has a wide range of prophets. In the video, it is clear that traditional Muslims as Christians have faith in the end of days, otherwise called the Day of Judgment. Traditional Islam holds Muhammad as a prophet ordained by God to carry His message to all people in the world. This is why his teachings remain untill this day. A unique characteristic of Traditional Islam is that all believers of the religion follow by heart and actions. This is a belief in their five pillars. Such pillars come out clearly in the video. Traditional Islam believes in:
- Testimony of faith
- Pillar of faith
- Paying charity
- Fasting when the Ramadan month is celebrated
- Pilgrimage to Mecca
Contrary to the Traditional Islam, the Nation of Islam began its existence in 1930 by Wallace Fard. As mentioned earlier, the Nation of Islam believes that Blacks is a superior race than any other race in the world. According to Fard, this people have the ability to be elevated to the same status as Allah, the creator. Since followers of the Nation of Islam are mainly black, they consent that the white denomination is a replica of Satan himself. As opposed to the Traditional Islam, the Nation of Islam does not agree with the beliefs of Muhammad PBUH as well as his teachings. In the place of Muhammad PBUH, followers of NOI believe in the teachings of Muhammad Elijah. This figure is a student of Ford renamed after his title. The Nation of Islam also interprets the Judgment Day in another way. According to them, this is expected as a celebration of paradise after the Blacks take over the evil laden world of the white people.
The last thing on the differences between the two is that Traditional Islam is a religion for everybody. There is no need for a person to be black or white to become a follower. Traditional Islam strictly denounces people from equating themselves with Allah or God for that Matter. Historically, Traditional Islam believes that there are no more novel prophets to come after Muhammad PBUH.
Farrakhan, Malcolm, and Elijah, Walter Williams and Martin Luther King Jr
Looking at these figures, it is evident that they all stand to improve the standards of black people on religious basis. This is particularly true with Farrakhan, Malcolm, and Elijah since all the three represent figures that have taken precedence in leading the Nation of Islam religion. Under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam is based on strange and, basically, anti-white ideologies. As a result, his concept about oppression against black religion makes Farrakhan an anti-Semite. He constantly accuses Jews of manipulating the Unite States of America’s government as well as controlling the levers of the world power. Some of the ideas that Farrakhan fought against include slave trade, slavery in the plantations, Jim Crow, sharecropping and black oppression in general. This is evident in his own words when he said, “The Jews, a small handful, control the movement of this great nation, like a radar controls the movement of a great ship in the waters … the Jews got a stranglehold on the Congress.”
On the other hand, Malcolm X advocated for Black Nationalist’s point of view. This includes all ideas strongly inclined on the history of black religion. Malcolm forms part of the larger society of Black Nationalists and the non-Christian Nation of Islam. His campaign against oppression of the black religion came out clearer during the 1960s. This was a time when Cone’s personal theological framework was established. This figure believed that America was a nightmare and not a dream. A manifestation of this came out when black clergy watched their society go up in flames.
Focus given to Martin Luther King Jr reveals that he is more than anything a result of black Christianity and its tradition. This takes a different perception as compared to the rest of the figures. His concepts are based on Christian values, whereas others like Farrakhan have their theology inclined on Islam. Martin King believed that people who fight for justice should be ready to suffer the struggle. However, he insisted that such individuals should not inflict suffering on others. King’s concept was based on democratic traditions of freedom in conjunction with biblical conventions of justice and liberation as written in the book of Exodus and the prophets. In this regard, King incorporated both values of the New Testament concerning love and suffering as seen in the story of the death of Jesus. He believed that through nonviolent suffering, the blacks would free themselves from bitterness and that feeling of inferiority in correlation to whites. According to him, such suffering would also affect the conscience of whites, freeing them from their perception of being superior.
Lastly, Elijah Muhammad is a black separatist and the leader of the Nation of Islam. He is among the proponents of ideology that oppose oppression against the black religion. His contributions are well established in the fact that he joined the sect and built the second temple in Chicago. This followed the disappearance of the leader of Nation of Islam, Wallace Fard. His philosophies spread when he started holding meetings with a group of people aimed at drawing their attention to the black kinship. He encouraged them to emulate their black brothers and sisters in terms of values and mode of dressing.
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