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Nation of Islam Temple #4, established in the early 1940s by Elijah Muhammad, was the first place of worship for Black Muslims in Washington, DC. The Nation of Islam was founded in the early 1930s as a religious movement grounded in the teachings of the Koran and adapted to the experiences of African Americans in the United States.

Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975) was born Elijah Poole in Sandersville, Georgia. He moved with his family to Detroit and there he became involved in the Nation of Islam through its founder, Wallace D. Fard. By 1934 Muhammad had become the organization's leader. Muhammad lived in Chicago and Milwaukee before relocating to Washington and beginning serious study at the Library of Congress. In 1942 Muhammad was arrested for refusing to register for military service. At the time of his arrest, he was preaching out of this storefront. He was imprisoned for four years.

After he was released, Muhammad worked full time on building the Nation of Islam. Prisons would prove to be an important recruiting site for future members, most notably Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz).

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