The Best Knower

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Abstract

This article explores the deification of Fard Muhammad by Elijah Muhammad and its essential place in the mythology of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam. It argues that the mystery surrounding Fard’s life allowed him to serve as a locus of identity and authority for the organization and, consequently, his deification was an integral part of the mythology and its acceptance by Nation of Islam adherents. By examining Fard’s deity as it relates to the larger mythology, the article moves beyond questions of religious authenticity to explore the deification’s place as an essential symbol of group identity. As a black god in a black body, Fard became an embodied myth that gave adherents the authority to think of themselves as a distinct and new people.