The United Nation of Islam is a small African-American religious group led by Royall Jenkins, who claims to be “Allah,” the Arabic word for God. It is distinct from the Nation of Islam, a larger religious organization of which Jenkins is a former member. The group, which is said to have up to about 500 adherents, has also played a considerable community role in Kansas City, Kansas.
The original Nation of Islam was founded in 1930 and became an important force for Black Nationalism during the time of the Civil Rights Movement. But after its leader, Elijah Muhammad, died in 1975, his son phased it out in favor of followers becoming mainstream Muslims. However, one influential member named Louis Farrakhan split off from the group, creating a new Nation of Islam under his own leadership in 1978.
Royall Jenkins, a devoted follower of Elijah Muhammad, abandoned the Nation of Islam rather than join Farrakhan. At that time, he claims he was taken on a tour of the universe by two extraterrestrial beings he describes as both "scientists" and "angels," who informed him that he was “The Supreme Being.” After many years of studies, he joined with his daughter Moreen and another former Nation of Islam follower, Abbass Rassoull, to form an organization which they called the “United Nation of Islam."
Members of the United Nation of Islam (UNOI) believe that Royall Jenkins is Allah in human form, and that it is their mission to create a better world through dedication and “mathematical” thinking. According to former members, followers are taught that extraterrestrial scientists will one day arrive to help destroy all negative forces on earth, including the entire white race, though these beliefs do not show through in the group’s public image.
The UNOI is headquartered in Maryland, where state records treat it as a business, though it is registered as a religious nonprofit in neighboring Delaware. It has established temples in several cities around the U.S., but its largest project is a colony located in Kansas City, Kansas, where it has gained the support of many in the community through its members’ politeness and apparent success in cleaning up the neighborhood. It operates its own diner, gas station, grocery store and other shops in the area, with its needs supplied by resources pooled from converts as well as a farm it owns in Maryland.
Followers of the UNOI maintain a polite and clean image in public, and abstain from alcohol, tobacco, soda and red meat, which they believe to be unhealthy. The community in Kansas City is tight-knit, with members sharing resources under the supervision of their local leaders. Its adherents also have a unique way of talking, avoiding words like “hello” and “awfully,” which they consider to have negative associations, and using “share” in place of the word “say."
Despite the mostly positive impression the United Nation of Islam has made upon its neighbors in Kansas City, some former members, including co-founder Moreen Jenkins, have denounced the group as a cult. They say that standards of living in the colony are low, also alleging that members have little privacy and find it difficult to leave the organization. They also complain of “brainwashing” and low educational standards at the community school, which is called the University of Islam.
- The Black Scholar: The Continuing Evolution of the Nation of Islam
- The United Nation of Islam: Royall, Allah In Person - Autobiography (archived copy)
- The Pitch News: Heaven is Hell
- The Christian Science Monitor: Bringing Allah to urban renewal
- The United Nation of Islam: Supporting Black (archived copy)
- Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images