Nation of Islam in the African American Community

March 4, 2003

Source: The Tampa Tribune

On March 4, 2003 The Tampa Tribune reported that "in 1976, after much reflection and research, he cast aside his Christian upbringing and embraced Islam. Three years later, Otha Favors was gone forever when he adopted the Muslim name Askia Muhammad Aquil... 'Being a Muslim has helped me understand what true manhood is all about,' says Aquil, 56, director of the nonprofit St. Petersburg Neighborhood Housing Services... 'In my younger days, I was jousting at windmills and trying to correct injustices and not always doing it with the best judgment. Islam has given me the guidelines to live a more centered, more balanced life...' That's a sentiment echoed by many black American Muslim men in his age group. They were among the disenchanted thousands who turned to the Nation of Islam during and immediately after the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. Nation of Islam, led by Elijah Muhammad and catapulted into national prominence by Malcolm X, gave them a voice and a proud, black community... Although they professed loyalty to the Koran, the Islamic holy book, black Muslims of that era were more radical than religious. They bonded in their hatred of the white race and envisioned building a nation of strong, black leaders."