In the Name of Elijah Muhammad

Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam

In the Name of Elijah Muhammad

The C. Eric Lincoln Series on the Black Experience

More about this series

Book Pages: 496 Illustrations: Published: October 1996

Author: Mattias Gardell

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, American Studies, Religious Studies

In the Name of Elijah Muhammad tells the story of the Nation of Islam—its rise in northern inner-city ghettos during the Great Depression through its decline following the death of Elijah Muhammad in 1975 to its rejuvenation under the leadership of Louis Farrakhan. Mattias Gardell sets this story within the context of African American social history, the legacy of black nationalism, and the long but hidden Islamic presence in North America. He presents with insight and balance a detailed view of one of the most controversial yet least explored organizations in the United States—and its current leader.
Beginning with Master Farad Muhammad, believed to be God in Person, Gardell examines the origins of the Nation. His research on the period of Elijah Muhammad’s long leadership draws on previously unreleased FBI files that reveal a clear picture of the bureau’s attempts to neutralize the Nation of Islam. In addition, they shed new light on the circumstances surrounding the murder of Malcolm X. With the main part of the book focused on the fortunes of the Nation after Elijah Muhammad’s death, Gardell then turns to the figure of Minister Farrakhan. From his emergence as the dominant voice of the radical black Islamic community to his leadership of the Million Man March, Farrakhan has often been portrayed as a demagogue, bigot, racist, and anti-Semite. Gardell balances the media’s view of the Nation and Farrakhan with the Nation’s own views and with the perspectives of the black community in which the organization actively works. His investigation, based on field research, taped lectures, and interviews, leads to the fullest account yet of the Nation of Islam’s ideology and theology, and its complicated relations with mainstream Islam, the black church, the Jewish community, extremist white nationalists, and the urban culture of black American youth, particularly the hip-hop movement and gangs.


“Despite the emotional lockdown that has effectively blocked qualitative discourse on the Nation of Islam (NOI), Mattias Gardell has managed to step back from the fray on some levels and write a comprehensive history of the NOI. . . . Based on firsthand interviews and writings of leading spokespersons, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad serves as a resource to move from a place of emotionally fueled ignorance to contextualized cognition. The book presents the philosophy of Black Muslims and a look at the Black American experience . . . [and] is an excellent resource for scholars of religion, African American history, psychology, and sociology. It opens windows onto the Nation heretofore closed to public view.” — C. S’thembile West, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

“A unique and unprecedented view of the enigma of Louis Farrakhan. In putting it together, Gardell has masterfully interwoven the information from an impressive collection of documents not treated by other scholars. His access to Farrakhan and the information make this a very special study.” — Yvonne Haddad, author of Muslims in America

“An outstanding work, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad provides an in-depth analysis of the most recent changes in leadership and structure of the Nation of Islam. Gardell’s theological/ideological discussion is brilliant and insightful, while the chapter on the FBI’s counterintelligence program on the Nation of Islam is a stroke of genius. Gardell’s research is comprehensive, well documented, and powerful.” — Clifton E. Marsh, author of From Black Muslims to Muslims


Availability: In stock
Price: $31.95

Open Access