According to an article entitled "Black Gods of the Inner City" (by Prince-A-Cuba), Gnosis Magazine, Fall 1992, pp. 56-63.

It was Elijah Muhammad who was almost single-handedly responsible for the deification of Fard as "Allah." Elijah Muhammad was born Paul Robert Poole in 1897 on a tenant farm in Sandersville, Georgia, the seventh of twelve children; he was given the name Elijah by his grandfather. Later on, Fard would give him the name Muhammad. Elijah married the former Clara Evans and migrated to Detroit in 1923. Working at a variety of jobs until the Depression hit in 1929, he went on relief until 1931. It was in that year that he first met Fard, but says that "it was not until 1933 that he [Fard] began revealing his true self to us."

After Fard's disappearance, the struggle for succesion commenced. Elijah's own brother fell in the bloody internecine warfare that developed. Rivals in the Detroit temple made necessary Elijah's hegira to Chicago, which was destined to become the headquarters and power base; but from 1935 to 1942, he was on the run. In 1942 he was arrested in Washington, D.C., by the FBI on charges of sedition. At roughly the same time, more than eighty members of the Chicago temple were taken in under the same charge by FBI agents working with local police. One of the arrested temple members said the officers "tore the place apart trying to find weapons hidden, since they believed we were connected with the Japanese."

The sedition charge was based on the temple's anti-draft stance and was applied for blatantly political reasons. The arrest of Elijah and his followers, and their subsequent incarceration until the end of the war, greatly enhanced their status as martyrs for the cause.

Like other leaders jailed for their activities, Elijah brought forth innovations for his movement when he was released. Prior to his imprisonment, the movement was based entirely on its theological teachings and traditions. In 1946 it numbered in the hundreds, just possibly the thousands. But that was to change.

Upon his release, Elijah stated, "We have to show the people something - we cannot progress by talk." And so, as his son Wallace later explained, Elijah "changed from preaching his mysterious doctrine to doing something practical. He said, ‘We have to have businesses.’ So he began to promote the opening of businesses. He said, ‘You have to produce jobs for yourself’."

Quietly growing through the 1940s and '50s, the NOI came to enjoy phenomenal growth in the 1960s owing to media exposure and the charismatic gifts of its national spokesman, Malcolm X. As Elijah's chief minister, Malcolm was known in Black inner cities for his dynamic presence and speaking ability. He gained national exposure through Mike Wallace's 1959 television documentary, "The Hate that Hate Produced." The program shocked Middle America, while at the same time grim-faced NOI members met with admiration from inner-city audiences.

Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and the NOI had arrived on prime time. Recruitment skyrocketed.

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