Women of the Nation

Between Black Protest and Sunni Islam

288 pages

6 halftones

July, 2014

ISBN: 9780814737866



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Dawn-Marie Gibson is a Lecturer in Twentieth-Century U.S History in the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London.

All books by Dawn-Marie Gibson

Jamillah Karim is an international lecturer in race, gender, and Islam in America. She was formerly Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Spelman College. She is the author of American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah.

All books by Jamillah Karim

With vocal public figures such as Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, and Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam often appears to be a male-centric religious movement, and over 60 years of scholarship have perpetuated that notion. Yet, women have been pivotal in the NOI's development, playing a major role in creating the public image that made it appealing and captivating.

Women of the Nation draws on oral histories and interviews with approximately 100 women across several cities to provide an overview of women's historical contributions and their varied experiences of the NOI, including both its continuing community under Farrakhan and its offshoot into Sunni Islam under Imam W.D. Mohammed. The authors examine how women have interpreted and navigated the NOI's gender ideologies and practices, illuminating the experiences of African-American, Latina, and Native American women within the NOI and their changing roles within this patriarchal movement. The book argues that the Nation of Islam experience for women has been characterized by an expression of Islam sensitive to American cultural messages about race and gender, but also by gender and race ideals in the Islamic tradition. It offers the first exhaustive study of women’s experiences in both the NOI and the W.D. Mohammed community.


  • Women of the Nation will prove an essential resource for any scholar or teacher interested in the experiences and contributions of black women to both Islam and black nationalism in American history.” 

    The Journal of American History

  • "This text emerges to provide some transparency for readers about these women’s lives and the lives of those who left the Nation to follow Warith Deen Mohammed. Women are in the foreground, but not without the persistent and sometimes overriding presence of the men that they marry, contend with, and serve. The co-authors actually have different strengths—Karim is an insider while Gibson is the outsider. The resultant collaboration provides readers with varying lenses into this community of women."


  • "A fascinating and well researched book that expands our knowledge about Islam in the United States. Its analysis of the interactions between the Nation of Islam and mainstream Islam is a model for the scholarship on African American Islam. Anyone who wishes to understand the complex religious identities of contemporary African-American Muslim women should read this book."

    —Richard Brent Turner, author of Islam in the African-American Experience Second Edition

  • "Will add handsomely to the growing body of scholarship on the important topic of Islam in America, with particular reference to Islam in the black American community. The authors have provided us a useful and fascinating glimpse into an extremely interesting and undertheorized subject."

    —Sherman A. Jackson, author of Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Towards the Third Resurrection