The wikipedia entry about Malcolm X says:

Sexual misbehavior by Elijah Muhammad

Rumors were circulating that Muhammad was conducting extramarital affairs with young Nation secretaries—​​which would constitute a serious violation of Nation teachings. After first discounting the rumors, Malcolm X came to believe them after he spoke with Muhammad's son Wallace and with the women making the accusations. Muhammad confirmed the rumors in 1963, attempting to justify his behavior by referring to precedents set by Biblical prophets.

The source provided for the claim is ambiguous. It says "Perry, pp. 230–234." I googled the term but found no useful results.

Did Elijah Muhammad admit having extramarital affairs with young Nation of Islam secretaries?

  • The term Perry refers to one of two books by Bruce Perry that are listed under "Works cited": (1) Malcolm X (1989). The Last Speeches. Bruce Perry, ed. New York: Pathfinder Press. ISBN 978-0-87348-543-2. (2) Perry, Bruce (1991). Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America. Barrytown, N.Y.: Station Hill. ISBN 978-0-88268-103-0. Have you looked at those?
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 1, 2017 at 3:31

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: Manning Marable in his book Malcolm X: A life of reinvention writes that Elijah Muhammad justified to Malcolm X about his extramarital affairs by comparing his exploits to characters from the Bible and the Quran.

Malcolm recounted what was being said about Muhammad’s extramarital affairs and, without waiting for a reply, suggested a way forward. “Loyal Muslims could be taught that a man’s accomplishments in his life outweigh his personal, human weaknesses . . . Wallace Muhammad helped me to review the Quran and the Bible for documentation. David’s adultery with Bathsheba weighed less on history’s scales, for instance, than the positive fact of David’s killing Goliath.” Muhammad immediately focused on Malcolm’s solution. “Son, I’m not surprised. You always have had such a good understanding of prophecy, and of spiritual things.” He did not focus on his sexual relationships with specific women, but chose instead to look to the biblical past to justify his behavior. “When you read about how David took another man’s wife, I’m that David,” he told Malcolm. Although the two men parted in friendship, in retrospect it is clear they already held two strikingly different agendas. Muhammad wanted to have the rumors suppressed. Source: Malcolm X A life of reinvention


  1. Scholar Karl Evanzz a former prospective convert as detailed here estimated that the total number of children born from Elijah Muhammad's adulterous affairs was between thirteen to twenty-one.

As early as the mid-1950s, Elijah Muhammad began having sexual liaisons with his personal secretaries and other NOI women. For years, Muhammad's chief lieutenants at Chicago's Temple No. 2 were able to contain the rumors, sometimes through fear and intimidation. Scholar Karl Evanzz estimates that the total number of children born from Elijah Muhammad's adulterous affairs was between thirteen to twenty-one.

Elijah Muhammad then became sexually involved with her. As Evelyn X Williams later informed the press, "He told us that under the teaching of the Holy Koran, we were not committing adultery and that we were his wives." By 1962, when Clara Muhammad became fully aware of her husband's eight children born out of wedlock to different women, she painfully withdrew from an active role in the organization for several years. When media sources learned about Elijah Muhammad's sexual affairs, the women were censured and described as "prostitutes" in Muhammad Speaks. In July 1964, after his break with the NOI, Malcolm X persuaded Evelyn X Williams and another woman sexually victimized by Elijah Muhammad to file paternity suits. Both women suffered extreme harassment, and were forced to move when explosions occurred next to their shared living quarters. Source: The exploitation of women and Elijah Muhammad

  1. A court document also confirms that Elijah Muhammad had a number of illegitimate children.

Elijah Muhammad, the leader and Supreme Minister of an organization known as the Nation of Islam (the Nation), died in 1975 and was survived by a number of legitimate and illegitimate children.A number of his legitimate and illegitimate children (the Estate) filed a recovery citation proceeding on behalf of the estate against the Bank, asserting that the funds which had been transferred to the Nation were Elijah Muhammad's individual accounts and were therefore a part of his estate. Finally, the Bank contends that the illegitimate children of Elijah Muhammad are estopped from taking part in the recovery citation proceeding because they had no legally recognized interest in the accounts at the time of the alleged conversion. Source: IN RE ESTATE OF MUHAMMAD

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