Mr. Hoover, who became well-known for employing numerous counter-intelligence operations against people of color, sent agents to arrest Mr. Muhammad in 1942 for “draft evasion” (although he was technically one year over the age of draft) and for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” (for not allowing the children in the NOI to attend public schools). Elijah Muhammad would be convicted and spend five years in prison at Sandstone Correctional Institution in Sandstone, Minnesota, but by the time he was released in 1948 for “good behavior,” he had also established temple services in prison. It is not widely known that, Clara would run the affairs of the NOI in his absence through correspondence with him. During this stint in prison, he would unfortunately develop or have exacerbated certain health problems such as asthma and bronchitis that would plaque him for the rest of his career. Once out of prison, Elijah firmly established himself in Chicago and in the next few years would be introduced to one who would become the single most effective representative of the Nation of Islam at that time: Minister Malcolm X Shabazz.
Another little known fact is that, Clara Muhammad is the mother of home schooling in the United Sates. What would later become the “University of Islam” (although a grade school, it was called a university) began in her living room during this period. Wallace D. himself was home-schooled until the age of 10, after which he was then allowed to attend the University of Islam which by that time had become officially and independently established. During one particular occasion, a local policeman and truant officer had come by Clara Muhammad’s home in an effort to force her to return the children to public school. They threatened her with everything they could think of, but she would not open the front door past the crack which she used to speak to them from behind. 10 year old Wallace D. stood by his mother’s side as her defender during this exchange. The officers could see Wallace D. peeking at them from behind the crack also and this enraged them to the point where they then threatened to bust in and take the children by force. Mrs. Muhammad calmly opened the door until it was wide enough for them both to come through; but she admonished them first by stating, “There’s one of them right there (pointing to Wallace). But, I’ll tell ya, I’m ready to die as dead as this door wood if you put your hands on any of my children!” The officers turned beet red, mumbled a few more words and then walked away infuriated.
Wallace and his younger brother Akbar were the main ones in the family to learn how to read the Qur’an in its native language of Arabic. Their father was wise enough to hire an Arabic instructor, Dr. Jamil Diab, a native of Palestine, to teach at the University of Islam in Chicago, Illinois. Akbar’s forte was grammar while Wallace’s was translation into English and interpretation of meanings. Despite the prediction by Mr. Fard, as a young adult, Wallace D. Mohammed would be ex-communicated from the NOI on at least three different occasions for disagreeing with the concept of G-d as espoused in the Lessons. These Lessons clearly suggested that Mr. Fard was G-d incarnate (in the flesh), although he himself never made such a direct statement. He was, however, spoken of as a “prophet” in several of their early periodicals. Both ideas are spoken against in strong terms in our Holy Book, the Qur’an.
When Wallace D. turned 25, he was appointed by his father to be the minister at Philadelphia’s Mosque # 12. Wallace was arrested not soon afterward for failing to register for selective services. As a member of the NOI, it was unthinkable that a male member would join the armed services to fight on the side of the “devil” against any nation of dark-skinned people. However, during his 3 ½ years of imprisonment, he was able to thoroughly examine the Qur’an and contrast it with the Lessons of “Master Fard Muhammad”. This finally convinced him that there was a definite difference in the concept of Allah in the Qur’an when compared with what was being said concerning Mr. W. D. Fard being “Allah in person”.
Beginning in 1962, once released and back in his position as minister, Wallace D. Muhammad began to speak to these contrasts, not in a condescending and disparaging way, but in a way to bring gradual understanding of the true message of the Qur’an to the local body of his father’s followers. The NOI was going through a severe financial crisis at this time and in order not to lose the people, much of the focus was on keeping the followers enchanted with the core message and teachings of the NOI one of which was “Do For Self”. But a contradiction was developing. It seemed as though the bigger the organization grew the more financially depleted it was becoming.