MBR: Library Bookwatch, Volume 14, Number 7 (July 2019)
Synopsis: Wallace D. Fard, also known as Wallace Fard Muhammad (reportedly born February 26, c. 1877 – circa 1934), was the founder of the Nation of Islam. He arrived in Detroit in 1930 with an obscure background and several aliases, and taught an idiosyncratic form of Islam to members of the city’s black population. In 1934 he disappeared from public record, and Elijah Muhammad succeeded him as leader of the Nation of Islam. (Wikipedia)
Since his arrival in Detroit on July 4, 1930, W.D. Fard, had over fifty other aliases and has elicited an enormous amount of curiosity. Fard claimed that he was both the Messiah and the Mahdi, and who was identified as God in Person by his disciple, Elijah Muhammad, whom he reportedly appointed as his Final Messenger.
The people who actually met him, and the scholars who have studied him, have suggested that he was variously an African American, an Arab from Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco or Saudi Arabia, a Jamaican, a Turk, an Afghan, an Indo-Pakistani, an Iranian, an Azeri, a white American, a Bosnian, a Mexican, a Greek or even a Jew. In an attempt to determine the origins of W.D. Fard, most scholars have relied on his teachings as passed down, and perhaps modified, by Elijah Muhammad. Some have suggested that he was a member of the Moorish Science Temple of America or the Ahmadiyyah Movement. Others have suggested that he was a Druze or a Shiite.
“Finding W.D. Fard: Unveiling the Identity of the Founder of the Nation of Islam” by John Andrew Morrow provides an overview of the scholarly literature related to this mysterious subject and the theories concerning his ethnic and racial origins. This biographical study provides the most detailed analysis of his teachings to date in order to identify their original and multifarious sources.
“Finding W.D. Fard” considers the conflicting views shared by his early followers to decipher the doctrine he actually taught. Did W.D. Fard really profess to be Allah, or was he deified after his death by Elijah Muhammad? A meticulous study of any and all subjects who fit the profile of W.D. Fard and providing the most detailed information regarding his life to date, “Finding W.D. Fard” also offers an overview of turn-of-the-20th-century Islam in the state of Oregon, demonstrating how much Fard learned about the Muslim faith while residing in the Pacific Northwest. This study then finishes with a series of conclusions and suggestions for further scholarship.
Critique: An impressively and meticulously presented work of simply outstanding scholarship, “Finding W.D. Fard: Unveiling the Identity of the Founder of the Nation of Islam” will prove to be of intense interest to students of the Nation of Islam and is an unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library 20th Century American Biography collections in general, and National of Islam supplemental studies lists in particular.
The original review can be found here.