Cosmology as counternarrative : identity creation in the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Speaks
May 11, 2016
Department or Program
The Nation of Islam, under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad, published a weekly newspaper called Muhammad Speaks between 1960 and 1975. Applying theoretical concepts of counternarratives and myth from Hilde Lindemann Nelson and Wendy Doniger, I argue that the cosmology presented in Muhammad Speaks functions as a multifaceted counternarrative that responds differently to a white master narrative and an orthodox Muslim master narrative. Furthermore, I argue that because the cosmology is a mythic narrative, writers in Muhammad Speaks build authority for the NOI by shifting between lenses, which results in the creation of an identity that is not simply responsive to the master narratives but that is able to stand independently as a constructive identity. By melding Nelson’s theory of counternarratives with Doniger’s theory of myth, I explore the relationship between religion and politics and propose that the two are intertwined.