This dissertation explores two developments in African American religious history – the developments of Judaism and Islam in Black American life. It does so by examining two specific groups, the Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation (Black Jews), which was founded by Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew (1892-1973) on the eve of the 1920s in Harlem, New York, and the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims), which was founded by W.D. Fard Muhammad in the early 1930s in Detroit, Michigan, and ultimately led by Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975). It explores the ways in which the Commandment Keepers and the Nation of Islam challenged the traditional meaning of “Jewish” and “Muslim” identity, respectively, in order to achieve what they believed to be their true identities. Both groups were religious communities of Black people who encountered religion and took the power of identity into their own faithful hands. Through an examination of the histories and religious practices of the Commandment Keepers and the Nation of Islam, this dissertation demonstrates how their diversity of practice and belief created new models for being Black and religious in America. Therefore, in its comparative exploration of Judaism and Islam in early twentieth-century Black America, this project also examines the role of Christianity in the formation of Black identity.
|Advisor:||Fishman, Sylvia B.|
|Commitee:||Sarna, Jonathan D., Weisenfeld, Judith|
|Department:||Near Eastern and Judaic Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religious history, African American Studies, Judaic studies|
|Keywords:||Black Jews, Black Muslims, African American|
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