WEB POSTED 03-10-2000
Commemorative of The Nation of Islam in North America
Mother Clara Muhammad: An example of
by Nisa Islam Muhammad
In the 1930s and ’40s, few Black women
ventured off the path dictated by their slave master’s children.
The behavior, conduct and demeanor of Black women was more than
And then out of the wilderness of North
American came Mother Clara Muhammad, the late wife of the Honorable
Elijah Muhammad, and together they established the Nation of Islam in
Mother Clara, born Nov. 2, 1899, in Georgia, was a deeply religious and devoted
Black woman. She married
then-Elijah Poole in Georgia in 1917. From Macon, Ga., the Muhammad
family moved to Detroit in April 1923 in search of better economic and
social circumstances as many Blacks migrated north for many of the same
1917 and 1939, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Mother Clara had eight
children—six boys and two girls. Their names are Ayeman (Emmanuel),
Nathaniel, Ethel, Lottie, Jabir (Herbert), Elijah Jr., W. Deen
Detroit was electrified at the mysterious appearance in July 1930 of
Master Fard Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam.
News of this great teacher and humanitarian spread like wildfire
throughout the Black community.
Muhammad got news of Master Fard from a neighbor and wanted to see for
herself what the commotion was all about, but her husband said he would
in September 1931, Mr. Muhammad first heard Master Fard Muhammad and
embraced the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Mr. Muhammad,
subsequently, was able to bring his entire family into this “new
Hon. Elijah Muhammad was a star student in Islam.
Master Fard Muhammad often visited their home and according to
family members, He would also teach Mother Clara and the children.
Mother Clara demonstrated strength and courage in the face of
virulent opposition to the Nation of Islam. They took their
children out of the public school system and became pioneers for home
But then home schooling was illegal.
relentlessly continued to maintain her household and raise her children
while her husband went to jail for the right to self-educate their
children and as a conscientious objector to World War II and all wars
entered into by white America.
internal disputes over the leadership of the Nation of Islam in the
1930s would cause her husband to leave his home in Chicago to preserve
the peace and avoid the evil planning of would be rivals.
times were tough but not too tough for Mother Clara Muhammad.
She carried on her husband’s work while he was away.
Her leadership and courage proved essential to the preservation
of the newly formed Nation of Islam.
her husband was incarcerated she led the Nation of Islam, under his
In Illinois, according to family members, Mother Clara continued
to resist placing her school-age children in the public school system,
and when the white authorities came to her door to take her children
away, she reportedly said, “I will die as dead as this doorknob before
I allow my children to attend public school!”
“As the tenderly beloved help-meet,” the late
Muhammad Speaks editor, Leon Forrest, would write in 1972, Mrs.
Muhammad, “in her deeply moving, quiet way set a sterling, ringing
national standard for all Black women to follow.”
caption: The love, courage and faithful determination of Mother Clara
Muhammad helped to establish the Nation of Islam in America.
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