Temple 25 Project

This new book explores Temple 25 and the Nation of Islam (NOI) in Newark, New Jersey between 1955 and 1975. It was a time when the 1960s Civil Rights and Black Power movements were in full force, the Vietnam War was raging, and the country soon embarked upon a “Me Decade,” shifting public interest away from political marches and moving many Americans toward self-help remedies.

During this period, the NOI affected millions with temples stretched nation-wide, Black pride slogans, and a viable economic “Do-for-Self” philosophy. While its actual membership probably did not exceed one-hundred thousand, it effectively captured the imagination of Black communities across the country and abroad, eventually enticing an American media mystified by the fiery rhetoric of the group’s national spokesman, Malcolm X.

In 1975, the group’s leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who had directed the organization for over 40 years, passed without officially naming a successor. Thousands made the transition to a more “orthodox” version of Islam, but many more refused. Some entered the Black Church, while others were simply stuck. NOI members reacted to the challenge of institutional change, leaving some mentally distraught or even rebellious and others hopeful of a religious rebirth.

This forthcoming book will trace the birth and transitions, twists and turns, challenges and triumphs of one of the Nation of Islam’s most notable mosques: Newark’s Temple 25.