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The birth of the Nation of Islam

LONDON, England -- The Nation of Islam has been the subject of much controversial debate over the last decade. Here is a timeline of its history and development.

1930 -- Door-to-door silk salesperson Wali Farad Muhammad (born Wallace Fard) founds the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in Detroit, U.S.

Though he believes Islam to be the natural religion for Africans, Farad does not emphasise the traditional "five pillars" of the faith. He focuses on explaining the historical oppression of the black race.

This mythology includes the claims that black people -- as members of the tribe of Shabazz -- were the original human race and came to the Earth 66 trillion years ago. White people were the result of an experiment performed by the deranged black scientist Yakub 6,000 years ago.

1933 -- After three years teaching Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Poole) his version of Islam, Farad sends him to establish a second temple of the faith in Chicago, U.S.

1934 -- Farad disappears, leaving 8,000 converts to his religion in Detroit. Elijah Muhammad assumes leadership of the Nation and supplements the mythology of Farad with a practical strategy for improving the lives of black people in the U.S.

1952 -- Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little) begins preaching for the Nation at Temple 11 in Boston, U.S. He quickly becomes Elijah Muhammad's principal spokesperson.

1957 -- Former calypso singer Louis X (born Louis Eugene Walcott in New York, U.S.) assumes ministry at Temple 11 after Malcolm X moves to Harlem. He later becomes known as Louis Farrakhan.

1964 -- Malcolm X breaks his ties with the Nation after the "Elijah affair" - the revelation that Minister Elijah Muhammad had fathered children with several of his secretaries. He moves towards orthodox Islam and makes a pilgrimage to Mecca.

In the U.S., Malcolm X starts the splinter movement: the Organization for Afro-American Unity. Farrakhan succeeds him as minister of Harlem temple.

1965 -- Farrakhan denounces Malcolm X in a series of articles in the Nation newspaper which Malcolm X had originally founded -- Muhammad Speaks. Malcolm X is assassinated, and three Nation followers are convicted of his murder.

1967 -- Farrakhan becomes the Nation's National Representative.

1975 -- Elijah Muhammad dies, and his son, Warith Deen Muhammad, assumes leadership of the Nation.

1976 -- Warith Deen Muhammad changes his own name to Mohammed and renames the Nation as the World Community of Al-Islam in the West.

He preaches a message of unity and equality and steers the organisation towards more orthodox Sunni Islam worship, moving Farrakhan to the Chicago mosque and disbanding the Black Muslim militia started by Elijah Muhammad - known as the Fruit of Islam.

1978 -- W. D. Mohammed offers Farrakhan the position of minister of New York, but Farrakhan declines the offer and resurrects the Nation of Islam.

He emphasises the need for strong families and black economic empowerment. Other issues he addresses include education, morality, the media, and the white conspiracy against the black race.

1979 -- Farrakhan begins publishing The Final Call, named after a newspaper originally distributed by Elijah Muhammad in Chicago in 1934.

1980 -- W. D. Mohammed renames his organisation the American Muslim Mission. Farrakhan delivers "his first major address" at the City College of New York.

1985 -- The Nation launches a line of health and beauty products manufactured by POWER (People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth.)

The initiative immediately runs into difficulty after several manufacturers back out of the agreement for fear of alienating Jewish distributors.

1986 -- UK Home Secretary Douglas Hurd imposes an exclusion order banning Farrakhan from entering Britain, citing concerns for racial harmony in the country.

1994 -- In a speech made in Chicago, Farrakhan concedes having created an "atmosphere in which" Malcolm X was assassinated, but denies responsibility for the killing.

Former Nation spokesman Khallid Abdul Muhammad is wounded in an attempted assassination by an expelled Nation minister.

Farrakhan's regrouped Fruit of Islam militia is credited with cleaning up several inner city housing complexes in U.S. cities that co-operated with the Nation to stamp out drugs and violence.

1998 -- UK Home Secretary Jack Straw extends the ban excluding Farrakhan from the UK after representatives from the Nation disrupt an inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence -- a black teenager stabbed to death by a gang of allegedly white youths in the capital city London.

2000 -- Straw renews the ban indefinitely, saying the Muslim leader's presence in the UK "would not be conducive to public good for reasons of race relations."

2001 -- Farrakhan appeals against his exclusion order from the UK on the grounds that his right to free speech is covered by British human rights law.

• Nation of Islam
• The Final Call

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