Black Muslim Religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960-1975

By Edward E. Curtis IV

256 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 illus., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5771-7
    Published: October 2006
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8141-0
    Published: January 2009
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7744-9
    Published: January 2009

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Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam came to America's attention in the 1960s and 1970s as a radical separatist African American social and political group. But the movement was also a religious one. Edward E. Curtis IV offers the first comprehensive examination of the rituals, ethics, theologies, and religious narratives of the Nation of Islam, showing how the movement combined elements of Afro-Eurasian Islamic traditions with African American traditions to create a new form of Islamic faith.

Considering everything from bean pies to religious cartoons, clothing styles to prayer rituals, Curtis explains how the practice of Islam in the movement included the disciplining and purifying of the black body, the reorientation of African American historical consciousness toward the Muslim world, an engagement with both mainstream Islamic texts and the prophecies of Elijah Muhammad, and the development of a holistic approach to political, religious, and social liberation. Curtis's analysis pushes beyond essentialist ideas about what it means to be Muslim and offers a view of the importance of local processes in identity formation and the appropriation of Islamic traditions.

About the Author

Edward E. Curtis IV is Millennium Scholar of the Liberal Arts and associate professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He is author of Islam in Black America: Identity, Liberation and Difference in African-American Islamic Thought.
For more information about Edward E. Curtis IV, visit the Author Page.


"This text is a 'must-read' for those interested in religion in America, black studies, Islam in America, and the Nation of Islam."--The Journal of Religion

"A fresh, new perspective on the Nation of Islam (NOI) by adopting a religious-studies approach that focuses specfically on religious ritual, ethics, doctrine, and narrative. . . . An important book and it should become a standard text on this small but hotly debated religious movement."--Michigan Historical Review

"A 'must-read' for those interested in religion in America, black studies, Islam in America, and the Nation of Islam."--Journal of American History

"This is a groundbreaking and excellent study of the religious life of the Nation of Islam."--American Historical Review

“An important contribution to the scholarship of a part of the first phase of the Nation of Islam’s history.”--CHOICE

“Provides heretofore unexplored discourse on how Black Muslims perceived, understood, and validated their practice of religion and connected it to traditional Islam between 1960 and 1975.”---Journal of the American Academy of Religion