A Religious Movement on Trial: Transformative Years, Judicial Questions and the Nation of Islam
Keywords:Nation of Islam, Islam, dissent, internal religious change, political-religious groups
The Nation of Islam (NOI) is one of the most controversial political-religious groups in the United States. Some define it as an exclusionary race-based group, while others see it as a genuine empowerment movement. Although it has been viewed as an unconventional fringe group, NOI represents an important syncretic movement of its time. Its approach to Islam was marked by a range of currents from the anti-colonial interpretive framework of the Ahmadiyya to Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association forging a highly dynamic narrative to explain the racial injustices and individual and collective requirements of future emancipation. Despite its strong anti-establishment discourse, NOI operates within the parameters legal and judicial system and seeks to reach out to new groups. As NOI faces the challenge of balancing its clashing inner currents rooted in its commitments to orthodox vs. vernacularized Islam or anti-systemic vs. accommodationist policies and often stigmatized by outside observers, it constitutes one of the most promising and precarious black movement.