The Nation of Islam, long known for its promotion of black nationalism and self-reliance, now is calling attention to another core belief that perhaps isn't so well-known: the existence of UFOs.
When thousands of followers gather in suburban Chicago this weekend for the group's annual Saviours' Day convention, one of the main events will include a panel of scientists discussing worldwide UFO sightings, which they claim are on the rise.
The idea of seeking the divine in the skies is deeply rooted in the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, whose late leader Elijah Muhammad detailed in speeches and writings a massive hovering object loaded with weapons he called "The Mother Plane" - although religion experts, Nation of Islam leaders and believers offer very different interpretations of what exactly happens aboard the plane, its role or how it fits into religious teachings.
It's one of the group's more misunderstood - and ridiculed - beliefs, something organizers took into account when planning the convention, which starts Friday and ends Sunday with Minister Louis Farrakhan's keynote address.
"There's enough evidence that has been put before the world and public," Ishmael Muhammad, the religion's national assistant minister, told The Associated Press. "There have been enough accounts and sightings and enough movies (documentaries) made, I don't think you would find too many people that would call it crazy."
During last year's Saviours' Day speech, Farrakhan for the first time in years discussed in detail a vision he had in Mexico in 1985 involving an object he calls "the wheel." Using charts, photos and drawings, he spent almost four hours describing how he was invited aboard and heard Elijah Muhammad speak to him. Farrakhan says that experience led him to inklings about future events.
Farrakhan, 77, has said the wheel, with its great capacity for destruction, contains the "wisdom to purify the planet," but has harmed no one so far. He also claimed there have been governmental attempts to cover-up proof of the wheel, which he says many call UFOs.
Nation of Islam leaders often quote Biblical references to the prophet Ezekiel - along with Elijah Muhammad's teachings - when it comes to the wheel. In his book of articles on the subject, Muhammad described a planet-sized manmade vessel that orbits earth and is purported to be loaded with 1,500 planes or wheels, words that have since been used interchangeably. Their purpose is unclear. ...
via Nation of Islam convention to include talk of UFOs.