The Nation of Islam is a nationalistic movement that began in the early 20th century, whereas Islam is a religion that was revealed in the 7th century. The original Nation of Islam was also a single, hierarchical organization. However, in 1975 Elijah Muhammad’s son W.D. Muhammad disbanded the organization and moved his followers towards traditional Islam. The Nation of Islam was revived within a few years by various individuals, with the organization headed by Louis Farrakhan being the most prominent of these. Today, followers of his organization number less than 100,000 people, far fewer than the number of African-Americans who follow Islam.
In ideology the Nation of Islam differs from the beliefs of the majority of Muslims in two major ways: the founder of the movement, W.D. Fard, is considered God incarnate, and Elijah Muhammad is considered a prophet. While there are other differences between the two, the Nation has adopted many Islamic traditions, such as women’s dress, holidays, and some Islamic terms.