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Elijah Muhammad

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Elijah Muhammad

Elijah Muhammad (October 7 1897February 25, 1975) led the largely Black American spiritual and political organization, the Nation of Islam from 1934 to 1975.

Born Robert Poole in Sandersville, Georgia, he claimed to have received the word of Allah, in 1931, from Wallace Fard Muhammad. This teaching became the basis of the Nation of Islam's radical spiritual and political theology. Elijah Muhammad was born in Georgia but later moved to Detroit where he came into contact with Fard Muhammad and accepted his teachings. Elijah Muhammad began preaching that W.F. Muhammad was literally God in person. He eventually travelled all across America setting up mosques or temples (as they were commonly called) and named them based upon his sequence of arrival. In New York, to this day, the mosque there is still referred to as Mosque No. 7 because that was the seventh place visited by Elijah Muhammad during his travels. Controversy arose when it was alleged that Elijah Muhammad had had affairs with several female members, a charge that eventually led to his split with his protégé; Malcolm X. Initially, however, Malcolm insisted he could defend Elijah Muhammad's actions as fulfillment of Prophecy, using the term "wives" instead of "teenaged secretaries". The reasons for Malcolm's change of position remain unclear. Muhammad was succeeded following his apparent death by his son Warith Deen Muhammad, who brought about many reforms bringing the Nation of Islam closer to mainstream Sunni Islam, and eventually renamed the organization. Louis Farrakhan later broke away and eventually decided to resume the Work of Elijah Muhammad and rebuild the Nation of Islam.

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