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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Sunday, October 27, 2002
12:15 PM

Broken Record Dept.... This story says John Muhammad and his wife converted to Islam. This story cites Louis Farrakhan as confirming that Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam in 1997. Two different things.

I see that InstaMan noticed Newsday saying there may be a link to the 5% Nation of Islam, yet another different thing. Insta rightly notes that the 5% Nation is not Islam.

Islam, Nation of Islam, 5% Nation of Islam, what does it all mean? First of all, true Islam is a grand monotheistic religion that teaches the equality of man before Allah regardless of race. This is so despite its current convulsions on the fringes (let us pray it's on the fringes). The Nation of Islam is primarily an American black-identity movement originating in the 1930s that speaks of Allah and other Islamic beliefs but is radically non-Islamic in teachings that include the creation of the white race by a black god and the earthly appearance of Allah in the form of founder Wallace Fard, who by the way disappeared in the mid-1930s and was never heard from again. Fard's successor was Elijah Muhammad. Teachings that date back to Elijah Muhammad include the primacy of the black race and a tradition of anti-semitism. In practice, the Nation of Islam has also functioned as a black self-help movement, including attempts to launch black business enterprises, fight drug abuse, and reduce crime.

Islam and The Nation of Islam have starkly different histories and missions. But the Nation of Islam shares an anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Semitic outlook with many true Muslims. I don't know how precisely to generalize about this, because look--there are plenty of Muslims who hate the West and hate Jews but wouldn't go blowing up buildings. And the same is true of the Nation of Islam's followers. But the point is that radical Muslims may be very content to take advantage of the anti-Western outlook of an NOI follower, regardless of what he'd regard as the NOI's false teaching.

This is a very long way of saying that I agree with speculation that it's possible John Muhammad got help from one of the many anti-Western, radical Islamist groups. There are varying stories about Muhammad's history, which includes lots of jet travel on the one hand and living out of a car on the other. I've also read much lately about black Americans being the single largest source of American converts to Islam. It's clear that some alienated black Americans are attracted to Islam partly because it can be taught as an Anti-American creed.

Now, to what extent is Islam really taught that way in the U.S.? I think it's a pretty darn big extent, partly because of the dominance of the extreme Wahabbist strain of Islam promoted here by Saudi Arabia. Regardless of race, color or creed, you should worry about this if you care about the equality of sexes, civil liberties, the rule of law and the ability of the West to defeat the nightmare of terrorism.

If you don't care about that, go back to sleep.

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