Abstract and Keywords
The majority of the earlier literature dealing with the history of the Nation of Islam (NOI) has represented the transition to Warith Deen Muhammad’s leadership as a rupture with the past, characterized by a disavowal and repudiation of Elijah Muhammad’s legacy and African American religious traditions in general. Taking more recent developments in the field as a point of departure, however, this chapter emphasizes the continuities in that transition by illustrating W. D. Muhammad’s multifaceted hermeneutical approach to understanding the legacy of the NOI. By paying attention to this hermeneutical framework, we can see the continuities between Elijah Muhammad’s and Warith Deen Muhammad’s leadership tenures in two ways: First, this hermeneutical approach itself is a form of continuity with past hermeneutical practices in the NOI and African American biblical interpretation. Second, and more important, W. D. Muhammad’s keen attention to hermeneutics served as the epistemic grounds that made possible his community’s experience of religious continuity with the NOI.
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