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Islam after Liberalism$
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Faisal Devji and Zaheer Kazmi

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190851279

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190851279.001.0001

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The Political Meanings of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam

The Political Meanings of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam

(p.263) 13 The Political Meanings of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam
Islam after Liberalism

Edward E. Curtis IV

Oxford University Press

Known for its radical resistance to white supremacy, US foreign policy, black Christianity and the liberal dream of racial integration, Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam (NOI) was a prime target of US governmental surveillance and repression. Its very presence was perceived as a threat to the ideological foundations of 1960s US liberalism, which rested on anti-communism and the suppression of political dissent both at home and abroad, on the rhetoric of equal rights under the law and sometimes racial integration, and on federal welfare programs. At the same time, the Nation of Islam’s leadership appropriated and furthered what were at the time several other modes of liberalism: it policed its members’ middle-class, straight sexuality; it embraced the dream of black capitalism and encouraged entrepreneurship; it used the US courts to argue for freedom of religion and framed its activities as such; and it forbade its members from engaging in violent revolution or even nonviolent political resistance against many of the very liberal institutions that it identified as a religious evil.

Keywords:   Elijah Muhammad, Nation of Islam, White supremacy, 1960s US liberalism, Liberalism, Liberal institutions

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