When and why the members of the nation of Islam begin to stay bow ties v suits? When have actually they embraced their signature red bow ties?

The leader that the nation of Islam Elijah Muhammad begun wearing a bow tie in ~ least because 1961, yet his bow ties to be either white or black/dark.

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I don’t think over there has ever before been a real academic discussion (as protest to a passing mention) that the use of bow ties in the country of Islam. So here’s what I have the right to say based upon my own study that the movement.

First that all, we have actually several photographs the NOI members—including Elijah Muhammad—in the 1930s and also 1940s, and, as far as ns am aware, not one of those photos shows a Muslim wearing a bow tie. However, in photos native the 1950s, Elijah Muhammad is frequently—if no always—depicted in a bow tie. Most other NOI males did not wear bow ties during this time decade, but it doesn’t seem the they to be prohibited from doing so: There space photos from 1956 and 1957 the depict a couple of NOI ministers and also even male youngsters wearing bow ties. The use of bow ties seems to have increased in the 1960s, together Malcolm X and also several other ministers and also members were displayed in bow ties. Bow ties to be so usual in the NOI through the mid-1960s, that once Malcolm X damaged off indigenous the NOI in 1965 to begin his very own Islamic group (the Muslim Mosque, Inc.), his followers still wore red bow ties. Shortly (I’m not certain when), the Fruit of Islam—a sub-group for masculine Muslims, whose project it was to carry out security and also maintain order because that the NOI—started having actually bow ties it is in a required part of the uniform, and also this an ext than likely affected the dress format of typical members who were not actively participating in the FOI. From then on, bow ties have actually remained very popular in the group, although long ties have not to be abandoned. Nevertheless, I have not seen main NOI rule that show them having required the attract of bow ties through non-FOI members. Generally, the dominance has to be a dark suit with a plain, whether it be bow or long.

Now, how and also why go the bow tie rise to prominence? I simply don’t know. Perhaps it was just Elijah Muhammad’s style preference, and, due to his affect over the group, rather imitated him. Maybe there was another reason. As far as ns am aware, no one has described it.

As for color, although there room reports about Muslims’ “ties” (it is not stated what type) being black in the so late 50s/early 60s, there are certainly some reports from the time of red “ties”—most especially in the classic study the the NOI, C. Eric Lincoln’s black Muslims book. So, even though in the black and white photos native the 1950s and also the beforehand 1960s it appears as if the dark ties castle wore were always black, they were probably frequently actually a dark red. And we do have testimonies indigenous the mid-1960s the the bow ties in specific were undoubtedly usually red.

Why red though? an initial of all, we recognize from testimonies and also photographs that red was not the only appropriate color for ties, at least through the mid-1960s. We do see black ties gift worn, and in one picture from the 1950s Malcolm X is attract a white lengthy tie. The rise of the dominance of red appears to have synchronized with the climb of bow tie put on generally.

However, it need to be mentioned that before the mid-1960s, and also even earlier into the 1940s, there to be reports that NOI members wearing red lengthy ties. Also, earlier in the 1930s and also 1940s, masculine members frequently wore red fezzes and female members periodically wore red turbans and robes, return this practice passed away off in the 1950s. So the shade red has constantly had some prominence in the NOI, and this calls for some explanation. First, red is the background shade for the NOI flag, i m sorry is very similar to Turkey’s flag, and also the flag of various other older Muslim communities. This truth alone gives the shade red importance in NOI culture—just as the colors red, white, and also blue are frequently connected with the American flag and also patriotism generally.

But it’s likewise important to suggest out the the focus on the shade red for clothes has even older roots amongst black Muslims and among African americans generally. Prior to the breakthrough of the nation of Islam, there was the Moorish science Temple that America, one more black Muslim organization, in which its male members wore (and tho wear) red fezzes and also female members regularly wore (and tho wear) red turbans and also robes, and also its flag had a red lift (it being based upon the Moroccan flag). The is most likely that the NOI arisen “out of” the MSTA—meaning number of MSTA aspects were obtained into the NOI when it was formed, and also the choice for red clothing and a red flag was one of those elements.

But why did the MSTA like the color red? Well, the most most likely reason is that it due to the group fostering a kind of ethno-religious rebirth (just together the NOI would later on do). The MSTA said (as the NOI would later) that Islam was the “original” religious beliefs and culture of the Africans that were carried as servants to the Americas, and also that in bespeak to boost their stays they have to return to the religion and also culture. Component of that religion and also culture, they were taught, to be the put on of red fezzes and also turbans and also other red clothing, and also showing their red flag—just as many Muslims in north Africa did. The interesting thing is the red was undoubtedly the preferred shade for numerous slaves, and also several over the century were videotaped as attract red brimless hats (which were, essentially, prefer fezzes and turbans) and also other red pieces of clothing. For this reason for many MSTA (and NOI) members, the idea of return to wear the color read probably reminded lock of your grandparents and also great-grandparents who were slaves and who had actually probably chosen red themselves. Also, there to be a widespread story in african American folk society about how Africans loved the shade red so lot that the slave traders to be able to entice them onto slave ships by placing on the pearl red cloth and also waving a RED FLAG—in fact, that exact same story to be told through members the the MSTA and also NOI, who had actually apparently provided that story to assist justify their identification with the assorted red flags from Islamic countries.

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But again, I execute not have a an excellent explanation because that the climb in the popular of the red bow tie in specific in the 1960s. Ns suspect, just similar to the bow tie in general, that it was simply a stylistic tendency that obtained popularity due to the affect of Elijah Muhammad and then Malcolm X put on it.

Sources: Lincoln, black Muslims; ashmore, the various other side of Jordan; bowen, history of conversion to islam in the US, vol 2; Muslim World and also the USA (1956-57); Abdullah, “narrating muslim masculinities”; Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll; Gomez, trading our Marks