1.) How did the Nation of Islam begin?
The Nation of Islam started in 1930 with the arrival of Wallace Dodd Fard to the black ghettos of Detroit. “Master Fard” as he would become known - within the NOI- was believed to be God incarnate - The following taken from their official website“The Honorable Elijah Muhammad identified the Master as being the answer to the one that the world had been expecting for the past 2,000 years under the names Messiah, the second coming of Jesus, the Christ, Jehovah, God, and the Son of Man.” Fard later appointed Elijah “Poole” Muhammad to become the chief minister of Islam. The sect became very popular during a time where blacks needed to feel a sense of identity in a country that had maligned and mistreated them for many years. Malcolm X and then Louis Farrakhan would grow to become the most famous and vocal orators of the Nation of Islam’s message.
2.) What do they believe?
This is actually more like a mission statement. The following is also taken from their official website and as printed on the back of every Final Call newspaper:
WE BELIEVE in the Holy Qur'an and in the Scriptures of all the Prophets of God.
WE BELIEVE in the truth of the Bible, but we believe that it has been tampered with and must be reinterpreted so that mankind will not be snared by the falsehoods that have been added to it.
WE BELIEVE in Allah's Prophets and the Scriptures they brought to the people.
WE BELIEVE in the resurrection of the dead--not in physical resurrection--but in mental resurrection. We believe that the so-called Negroes are most in need of mental resurrection; therefore they will be resurrected first. Furthermore, we believe we are the people of God's choice, as it has been written, that God would choose the rejected and the despised. We can find no other persons fitting this description in these last days more that the so-called Negroes in America. We believe in the resurrection of the righteous.
WE BELIEVE in the judgment; we believe this first judgment will take place as God revealed, in America...
WE BELIEVE this is the time in history for the separation of the so-called Negroes and the so-called white Americans. We believe the black man should be freed in name as well as in fact. By this we mean that he should be freed from the names imposed upon him by his former slave masters. Names which identified him as being the slave master's slave. We believe that if we are free indeed, we should go in our own people's names--the black people of the Earth.
WE BELIEVE in justice for all, whether in God or not; we believe as others, that we are due equal justice as human beings. We believe in equality--as a nation--of equals. We do not believe that we are equal with our slave masters in the status of "freed slaves." We recognize and respect American citizens as independent peoples and we respect their laws which govern this nation.
WE BELIEVE that the offer of integration is hypocritical and is made by those who are trying to deceive the black peoples into believing that their 400-year-old open enemies of freedom, justice and equality are, all of a sudden, their "friends." Furthermore, we believe that such deception is intended to prevent black people from realizing that the time in history has arrived for the separation from the whites of this nation. If the white people are truthful about their professed friendship toward the so-called Negro, they can prove it by dividing up America with their slaves. We do not believe that America will ever be able to furnish enough jobs for her own millions of unemployed, in addition to jobs for the 20,000,000 black people as well.
WE BELIEVE that we who declare ourselves to be righteous Muslims, should not participate in wars which take the lives of humans. We do not believe this nation should force us to take part in such wars, for we have nothing to gain from it unless America agrees to give us the necessary territory wherein we may have something to fight for.
WE BELIEVE our women should be respected and protected as the women of other nationalities are respected and protected.
WE BELIEVE that Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W. Fard Muhammad, July, 1930; the long-awaited "Messiah" of the Christians and the "Mahdi" of the Muslims.
We believe further and lastly that Allah is God and besides HIM there is no god and He will bring about a universal government of peace wherein we all can live in peace together.
4.) If the NOI is so obviously different from Historic Christianity then why does Minister Farrakhan quote passages of scripture from the bible?
This is a tactic that continues to shroud the NOI's beliefs in secrecy. Historically, during the NOI's beginnings, both Elijah (Poole) Muhammad and Farrakhan relied somewhat heavily upon the bible because they were more familiar with it than the Qur'an's teachings. The bible is still used extensively during Farrakhan's speeches (whenever it does not conflict with their own errant doctrine), and his followers carefully discuss the bible and try to use non-threatening terms when discussing beliefs. It is important for them to align themselves with Christians in order to win and deceive as many of our people as they possibly can. This tactic proved to be very successful during recruitment for the Million Man March that occured in October of 1995. Please note that wherever the bible contradicts NOI doctrine, the bible will then be accused of being tampered with in that particular scripture.
For more on the NOI, please consult the following article by Eric Pement... It is the most in-depth article that I have found on the net that addresses this organization comprehensively:
Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam Pt. I
Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam Pt. II