Who Will Take Over From Farrakhan?

The Nation of Islam thinks about succession

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Following Louis Farrakhan’s recent surgery, speculation abounds about who will become the Nation of Islam’s next titular and spiritual leader. Longtime Farrakhan friend and adviser Akbar Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s international representative, who lives in Ghana, was in the U.S. last week to visit the hospitalized Muslim leader. Muhammad told TIME that during Farrakhan’s four-to-six-month medical leave, the organization will be headed by the National Board of Laborers, a group chaired by Farrakhan’s chief of staff and son-in-law Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad. Sources close to the Nation of Islam say none of the candidates have the requisite religious credentials to lead the Nation, including Leonard Muhammad, Farrakhan’s son Mustapha, 39, or younger daughter Donna, who is married to Leonard. Farrakhan’s personal physician, Abdul Alim Muhammad, and former NAACP president Ben Chavis, who is a recent convert to Islam and heads the New York mosque, have similar problems with religious credentials. Before 1993, the most likely heir apparent was Khallid Muhammad, the former supreme captain of the Fruit of Islam, the Nation’s élite paramilitary security force, who is a gifted speaker. But he proved too extremist for Farrakhan and split with the group.