Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Islamic movements in North America: Appearance and division

Tuesday 13/August/2019 - 12:33 PM
The Reference
Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar

The relationship between the black Muslims and the American state has evolved with the various events it has gone through, as well as the relationship of the United States with the Islamic world, with Morocco being the first country in the world to recognize America as an independent state from the British empire.

Islamic movements
With the end of the American Civil War in 1865, hundreds of thousands of blacks, including Muslims, immigrated to the northern states. The nation discriminated against them, which led to an escalation of their anger, and the stage is now set for a group of leaders to emerge from these angry crowds.

Here came a group of preachers, most notably Satti Majid, of Sudanese origin, who arrived in the United States in 1904. His first appearance was when he led a campaign to defend Islam against articles in the New York Times. He engaged in large-scale skirmishes against the newspaper, which ended with a court ruling in favor of Majid and obliged the newspaper to publish his articles on its pages. Muslims at that time name Majid the “Sheikh of Islam in North America.”

Majid founded Islamic charities, including the Islamic Union, the Islamic Charitable Society, the Islamic Missionary Society, the Red Crescent Society, and others he sought to publish under a religious name.

The United States also witnessed during this period the emergence of several movements with an Islamic background, the most prominent of which was the Moorish Science Temple of America. The organization was the first to appear in the American arena, through its founder Timothy Drew, who later claimed prophecy and moved between different American cities, before arriving in Chicago and establishing his temple.
There is also the Nation of Islam, which emerged in the city of Detroit in 1930 through its founder Wallace D. Fard Muhammad, who claimed his lineage belonged to the tribe of Quraish. Fard used the phenomenon of black despair from racism to spread his doctrine, and he also exploited the discontent of followers of Moorish Temple because of their immense wealth. He also claimed prophecy in America.

Fard rented a large hall called Temple 1, before establishing a large school called the University of Islam and asking his followers to bring their children to the school to be taught the “correct Islam”.

All this occurred before Fard established a paramilitary apparatus in 1934, dubbed the Fruits of Islam, whose mission was to monitor the members, care for sectarian affairs, and protect schools and temples from attacks, especially from white citizens.

With the sudden disappearance of Fard in 1934, Elijah Muhammad emerged as his successor after many opponents were silenced, ending the division that hit the ranks of the organization. He and his family were able to achieve great material and economic gains through the organization.

It is clear that there are many individual efforts that tried to spread Islam in America, but did not do so properly, confirming that the United States in the early twentieth century was devoid of any efforts to spread the religion properly, making the process of deceiving individuals in the name of religion simple.

The Islamic organizations that emerged during this period witnessed cases of assassinations of their figures and suspicions of corruption. This contributed to the process of rapid division of these groups, while the conflict between their leaders presented a negative image of Islam.