The United Nation of Islam (UNOI) is a religious group based in Kansas City, Kansas. It was founded circa 1978 as a breakaway group from Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam by Royall Jenkins, who continues to be the leader of the group and styles himself Royall, Allah in Person, in defiance of the teachings of all traditional Islamic groups and the original Nation of Islam.
Royall Jenkins was born in 1942 in South Carolina and grew up in eastern Maryland, later moving to New York and then Chicago, while working as a long-distance truck driver delivering publications of the Nation of Islam. He remained a member until after the death of Elijah Muhammad but split from the organization in 1978 after its leaders rebuffed his claims of being Allah. According to Jenkins, he spent the years from 1978 to 1991 on a spaceship with angels, where he learned that he was the Supreme Being and how to govern the world. Public records show Jenkins working as a truck driver and living mostly with friends as he tried to recruit followers, including his daughter Maureen, who joined him in 1985 in a house in Waldorf, Maryland, that was rented for them by Joseph Kelly, one of Jenkins' first converts. The UNOI eventually grew, and was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in New Jersey in 1993.
The beliefs of the United Nation of Islam are based on the beliefs of the Nation of Islam with considerable modifications by Jenkins. While believing that W.D. Fard was Allah in person, Jenkins claims that Fard was the Original Allah, referred to in the Qur'an, and that Jenkins himself is the New Allah, who is more powerful and who is given the task of coercing the submission of all things and perfecting everything used to magnify Him, after which men [specifically males] will all be God or will be gods.
Jenkins stresses the relations between different races and sexes, referring extensively to Black Man, Black Woman, and White Man. Black men are said to be the real and original men, whereas white people are claimed to have been created by a scientist named Yakub 8,000 years ago, the same belief held, at least in a metaphorical sense, by followers of the Nation of Islam prior to the death of Elijah Muhammad. Jenkins also claims that Black men created Black women as a natural pleasure, that women are inferior, and that following female guidance leads to Hell. He believes that Black women are in league with white men, whom he considers enemies, and condemns women seeking child support, custody, and alimony though courts.
Jenkins also claims that the current Nation of Islam has been led astray by its leader Louis Farrakhan, whom he asserts is the most "formidable enemy to Allah," and that Farrakhan uses tricks and deceptive tactics to "silence anyone else's voice" and "prepare the masses to fight for him," through appearing "to be against the Whiteman [sic] and his government."
Members of the UNOI work as volunteers in various businesses owned by the organization. UNOI-owned businesses include a full-service gas station (Your Gas Station), several restaurants and bakeries (Food for Life Supreme), a sewing factory, an urgent-care medical facility (Your Colonic Center) and a construction company, among others. UNOI claims that it provides for all the needs of all full-time volunteers. The group has roughly 200 full-time members in Kansas City, with perhaps 300 spread across several other cities. Most of the latter are part-time.
UNOI hosts several call-in TV and radio programs across the United States. Jenkins appears regularly on these programs, as well as touring various US cities. The UNOI also offers classes and has a Web site that provides extensive writings by Jenkins and recordings of his TV appearances.
After moving to Kansas City in 1996 (although its headquarters was not moved there until 2001), the UNOI received commendations for apparently aiding in the renewal of an area along Quindaro Boulevard that had a reputation for high crime rates and as a slum. The group purchased several properties in the area at minimal prices and used them to house its various businesses. As this happened, crime rates fell dramatically and property values rose. Commendations extended to the Wyandotte County government donating several additional (vacant) buildings to UNOI.
Critics of the UNOI note that members work for Jenkins's benefit in UNOI businesses and receive no income, apply for and receive welfare from the government, and are given only the minimal necessities for survival, while Jenkins and a small group of close family/allies use UNOI funds for their own benefit (including free vacations in the Caribbean). UNOI leaders also censor mail and monitor long-distance telephone calls. Furthermore, UNOI members and their children are required to be educated by the UNOI, which does not instruct them in many basic skills or provide opportunity for accredited higher education. Members do not receive health insurance and are not permitted to receive medical care outside that offered by the UNOI at Your Colonic Center, which does not include any physicians licensed in Kansas. At least one child of UNOI members has died without being taken to Kansas City emergency medical services.
The UNOI has also overstated its success—on one occasion stating that the Kansas City site is free of all crime, in the same month as a gunman fired twenty shots at a UNOI-run gas station. The Kansas City police department said it was unable to judge the effectiveness of UNOI in reducing crime. In 2002, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported five health violations at a UNOI-operated diner. In 2003, the gas station was the UNOI's only profitable business.
Jenkins has also taken several wives from among his followers, including a teenaged stepdaughter (after having impregnated her). From these unions, he has fathered at least 15 children. Jenkins claims that he is justified in practicing polygamy, comparing himself to Solomon and claiming "In the near future, a man will be known for his wisdom according to the number of wives that he has."
Notable among the UNOI's critics are over 10 former members, including Moreen and Hanif Jenkins, two of Royall Jenkins' children from his first marriage. Hanif Jenkins was only a member of the UNOI for six months and then became a critic of its operations. Moreen Jenkins joined the UNOI in 1985. She claimed that her father ordered her to marry Joseph Kelly, one of the first members of the UNOI, and also forced her to study UNOI theology for several hours a day for three years. In 1997, Royall Jenkins declared that Kelly was a reincarnation of Elijah Muhammad, a claim that the Nation of Islam rejected, causing the marriage to disintegrate. Ms. Jenkins also claimed that, in 2002, after she attempted to intercede with her father to apologize to the victim of a beating by UNOI members, he threatened the lives of her and her youngest child. At this point, she took the infant and left UNOI. She experienced continued harassment from UNOI members, and stated that the UNOI was blocking her attempts to communicate with her other children and her attempts to gain custody of them. As of 2003, she had filed for divorce and still sought custody of her children. Ms. Jenkins died at her home in May 2008 .
In 2003, the UNOI stated that Ms. Jenkins was "operating out of vengeance, scorn, anger, desire and treachery" and proposed that she seduced reporters with "the guise of a scoop." In the same statement, Royall Jenkins is quoted as announcing “the time when those who conspire against the rise of the Blackman —including Black women—will no longer be tolerated." After her death, Jenkins described his daughter as a traitor, stated "the death of my daughter Moreen was more than justified" and exhorted his followers not to mourn.