The Nation of Islam, long known for its promotion of black nationalism and self-reliance, now is calling attention to another core belief that perhaps isn't so well-known: the existence of UFOs.
When thousands of followers gather in suburban Chicago this weekend for the group's annual Saviours' Day convention, one of the main events will include a panel of scientists discussing worldwide UFO sightings, which they claim are on the rise.
"There's enough evidence that has been put before the world and public," Ishmael Muhammad, the religion's national assistant minister, told The Associated Press. "There have been enough accounts and sightings and enough movies (documentaries) made, I don't think you would find too many people that would call it crazy."
During last year's Saviours' Day speech, Farrakhan for the first time in years discussed in detail a vision he had in Mexico in 1985 involving an object he calls "the wheel." Using charts, photos and drawings, he spent almost four hours describing how he was invited aboard and heard Elijah Muhammad speak to him. Farrakhan says that experience led him to inklings about future events.
Farrakhan, 77, has said the wheel, with its great capacity for destruction, contains the "wisdom to purify the planet," but has harmed no one so far. He also claimed there have been governmental attempts to cover-up proof of the wheel, which he says many call UFOs.
Some experts have made comparisons to the Biblical concept of Rapture, which teaches believers will be taken up to heaven, while everyone else will remain on earth for a period of torment, concluding with the end of time.
"It is written, that these things would happen," he said about Scripture. "We should prepare for such calamities."