Did W.D. Fard have a son with Pearl Allen? A century old mystery solved

January 14, 2024

Bilal Muhammad is a Fellow and Research Assistant at the Berkeley Institute for Islamic Studies. He is also an MA Candidate at the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, B.Ed at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and Honors BA in Political Science and History at the University of Toronto. He is an educator and researcher based in Toronto, Canada.

In 1914, Fred Dodd, known now as W.D. Fard, briefly married Pearl (or Pearle) Allen.[1] [2] Just over five months later, on September 23rd, 1914, Fard and Pearl Allen divorced. The divorce petition suggests that Fard objected to Pearl’s lifestyle; namely, her drinking, partying, and her frequenting of other men.[3] Less than a year later, Pearl married Tony Campagna on July 19th, 1915, and on September 11th, 1915, she gave birth to a son named Donald Lloyd Campagna.[4]

Obviously, Pearl must have conceived this child many months before she married Tony Campagna. Some researchers, including Karl Evanzz, suggest that this son belonged to Fard.[5] Donald Lloyd Campagna was not issued a birth certificate, but his birth was recorded on the Indian Census in October 1916 – over a year after his birth.[6] Pearl was a Native American, so this makes sense. Morrow suggests that the boy’s date of birth “may have been modified to make it appear that Tony Campagna was his father.”[7] On the same page, Morrow asks, “Was Donald Lloyd Campagna the son of Fred Dodd? It is possible.”

It has already been established by researchers that Fard had a son with his common law wife Hazel Barton in 1920 named Wallace Max Ford, who tragically drowned in an accident while serving in the U.S Coast Guard in Lynnhaven Roads, Virginia in 1942.[8] [9] However, this Ford did not have any children, and thus, there is no relative who can consent to a DNA test. Such a test would give us some certainty on the origin of his father, W.D. Fard, which has been a topic of debate for researchers. Donald Lloyd Campagna, on the other hand, does have living relatives till this day.

The mysterious origins of W.D. Fard

For NOI adherents, W.D. Fard (known to them as Master Fard Muhammad) was from Mecca, Arabia. His father was said to have been a black-skinned man, and his mother was said to have been a white-skinned woman.[10] Fard was perhaps light-skinned, and researchers have theorized that he may have been white, New Zealander, Arabian, Persian, Turkish, Syrian, Indian, Afghan, Greek, Jewish, Jamaican, Bosnian, Algerian, Albanian, and African American.[11] What complicates things is that Fard covered his tracks well, giving different origin stories to different people; and he would eventually disappear without a trace in 1934. The extant photographs of Fard also make him appear racially ambiguous.

The national origins of W.D. Fard would help researchers understand where he got his unique religious teachings from. NOI theology is partly original and partly a smorgasbord of different influences. In his book Finding W.D. Fard, Morrow explores possible connections Fard’s teachings have with esoteric forms of Shiism. However, even if this were the case, does that definitively prove that Fard came from a Shia Muslim (or Alawite, Ismaili, Druze, Ahl e-Haqq) part of the world? Or could it be that Fard found these doctrines during his sojourn in America, in the same way that he studied the Jehovah’s Witnesses?[12] [13] Researchers also have no consensus on Fard’s intentions: was he a conman, was he an agent trying to stir schism and dissent, or was he genuinely calling people to salvation?

None who directly heard W.D. Fard preach ever noted an identifiable accent.[14] According to a 1935 article in the Chicago Daily Tribune, Fard may have known Arabic; Elijah Muhammad claimed that Fard’s Arabic handwriting was masterful, and his son Akbar Muhammad claimed to have seen Fard’s Arabic writing.[15] In Beynon’s 1938 article, he says that Fard read directly from an Arabic-only copy of the Quran.[16] In 2013, researcher Paul Guthrie sent me a copy of two NOI membership cards issued by Fard in Detroit in 1932. He told me that they were taken at an NOI exhibit.  They include Arabic handwriting, purportedly from Fard, which may be the best extant physical evidence. However, several languages use Arabic script, and we cannot be sure that these samples were written directly by W.D. Fard.

The Campagna Connection

As Morrow notes in his book, there is “detailed information about the descendants of Donald Lloyd Campagna, and many of these individuals are still alive.”[17]

I curiously followed this trail, and I came in contact with two members of the Campagna family. They still live in Oregon, where W.D. Fard and Pearl were married, and where most of Pearl’s descendants still live. While Fard was seemingly a nomad – spending time in California, Oregon, Michigan, Illinois, and elsewhere – Pearl’s family remained in her indigenous homeland. They live in Chiloquin and Klamath Falls.

My main contact, Malaya Campagna, is the great-great granddaughter of Donald Lloyd Campagna. She was incredibly helpful and cooperative, and she was driven by curiosity about her own origins. She is interested in her family background, and she has previously asked elders in her community about them. Malaya is close with her grandfather, who is also named Donald Lloyd Campagna. He is the son of James Warren Campagna, who was the son of Donald Lloyd Campagna (d. 1983), who was the son that Pearl (d. 1960) had shortly after her divorce with W.D. Fard.

Malaya learned from her grandfather that Pearl was originally from Bly, Oregon, which is an unincorporated community in Klamath County. Pearl was married several times, and according to Malaya’s grandfather, Pearl would still party and frequent different men while she was married. Malaya told me that alcoholism runs in the family, which corroborates with the information in Fard’s divorce petition. According to Malaya, her family is unsure of the identity of the biological father of the deceased Donald Lloyd Campagna. The latter’s siblings were apparently adopted out, and they go by different names. Malaya had read briefly about a W.D. Fard, but she did not know that he was the founder of a modern religion. I spoke to her about Fard, my research, and its relevance to civil rights and Black history.

Through her grandfather, Malaya kindly sent me the following two pictures of the original Donald Lloyd Campagna, the son of Pearl:

For comparison purposes, here are the police mugshots and Detroit Free Press photos of W.D. Fard:

Upon my inspection, I did not find any obvious resemblance to Fard, whose wavy hair and pointed ears are distinctive features.

The following is a photograph of Wallace Max Ford, who was Fard’s son through Hazel Barton. If Campagna was the son of Fard, then Wallace Max Ford would have been his half brother.

The resemblance between Wallace Max Ford and his father is much more obvious to me.

DNA Testing

Since we cannot come to certainty by studying these photographs, a DNA test is warranted. I bought a saliva test kit from 23andme for Malaya’s living grandfather, Donald Lloyd Campagna, the great-grandson of Pearl. I also bought a kit for Malaya. If Donald Campagna really is the great-grandson of W.D. Fard, then he would have approximately 12.5% of his DNA, give or take. Since we are fairly sure that Fard came from outside of North America, and since it is perhaps likely that he came from a Muslim country, then a DNA test of his alleged son should show some non-Caucasian ethnicity. Fard may have evaded the paper trail, but he cannot escape DNA.

Here are the results. Unfortunately, Donald Campagna misspelled his first name, but that does not change the results. The “You” in the second table below is Malaya:


As we can see, Donald Lloyd Campagna, the great-grandson of Pearl, is almost entirely Native American and European. He has 1.1% East Asian, 0.1% Sub-Saharan African, 0.1% Western Asian & North African, and 1% unassigned. Therefore, there is a strong probability that Donald Campagna is not a descendant of W.D. Fard. We see no significant DNA from Arabia, Africa, Turkey, central Asia, India, or other areas that have been connected to Fard. Instead, Donald Lloyd Campagna may actually be the son of Tony Campagna, who Pearl married shortly before his birth. Tony was Italian, and Donald Campagna is 19.7% Southern European, which includes 18.4% Italian. Pearl herself was part white or at least identified that way.[18] It is possible that Pearl chose to marry Tony because she knew that he was the likely father of the child.

There are other reasons to believe that the original Donald Lloyd Campagna was not the son of W.D. Fard. Firstly, according to a 1914 newspaper article, it appears that Fard and Pearl only lived together in Fard’s home for two weeks during their marriage.[19] Since there were other men in Pearl’s life, Fard is just a candidate among others. Secondly, according to extant records, Donald Lloyd Campagna was born almost a year after Fard and Pearl were divorced. We have no strong reason at this point to place his birth earlier. Thirdly, Fard made an effort to reconnect with his son Wallace Max Ford upon his departure, [20] and he would even write to a then-married Hazel while he lived in Chicago.[21] However, there is no extant record of any correspondence between Fard and Pearl after their divorce, nor any correspondence between Fard and Donald. Lastly, we see no obvious resemblance between the two.

There is, of course, the possible scenario that W.D. Fard was instead white, and that he had a child with Pearl that he did not know or care about, and that the birthdate of the child was fabricated, and that the child inherited his mother’s appearance. However, given the research that places the origin of Fard as somewhere in the Eastern hemisphere, and given the aforementioned doubts, I believe this scenario is highly unlikely.


The elusive W.D. Fard escapes detection once again. Outside of an exhumation of Wallace Max Ford’s grave, which can only occur with the expressed permission of his next of kin (who no longer exists) or the cemetery itself (which has a legal responsibility to protect the peaceful repose of human remains), researchers have no access to W.D. Fard’s DNA.

This research at least closes a chapter in Fard’s life for good, leaving no room for descendants based on the written records that have been retrieved. I saw this as a lead in a case that is important to me personally. I followed the lead as far as I could, I tied up the loose end, and I yielded to the results of my investigation.

Approximately sixteen years after his marriage with Pearl, W.D. Fard would found the Nation of Islam in Detroit, Michigan. He gave Native Americans an honoured position as a member of the aboriginal peoples of the Earth, alongside Black people. Fard even called Caucasians “white devils”, a term he may have learned from Native Americans.

I hope further documents pertaining to W.D. Fard are unearthed and declassified in the coming years. That is where we may see another breakthrough in this field. Or, perhaps, he will tell us more about himself when he returns with the Mother Plane. Until then, the mystery of Fard lives on.

[1] John Andrew Morrow, Finding W.D. Fard, pp. 161.

[2] Karl Evanzz, The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, pp. 399.

[3] John Andrew Morrow, Finding W.D. Fard, pp. 162.

[4] Ibid, pp. 163.

[5] Karl Evanzz, The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, pp. 399.

[6] John Andrew Morrow, Finding W.D. Fard, pp. 163.

[7] Ibid, pp. 163.

[8] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/113416805/wallace-max-ford

[9] Karl Evanzz, The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, pp. 459.

[10] 7th Jewel Productions, “Hon Elijah Muhammad Interview – Part 1”, 2:25-2:46, https://youtu.be/afE-Tej1n28

[11] John Andrew Morrow, Finding W.D. Fard, pp. 4.

[12] John Andrew Morrow, “W.D. Fard’s Bible of Islamism Identified: A Century-Old Mystery is Solved”, https://bliis.org/essay/w-d-fards-bible-of-islamism-identified-a-century-old-mystery-is-solved/

[13] Bilal Muhammad, “The War of Armageddon: The NOI, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Imperial Japan”, https://bliis.org/essay/the-war-of-armageddon-the-noi-jehovahs-witnesses-and-imperial-japan/

[14] John Andrew Morrow, Finding W.D. Fard, pp. 4, 128.

[15] Ibid, pp. 7.

[16] Erdmann Beynon, “The Voodoo Cult Among Negro Migrants in Detroit”, American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 43, No. 6 (May 1938), pp. 900.

[17] John Andrew Morrow, Finding W.D. Fard, pp. 4, 169.

[18] John Andrew Morrow, Finding W.D. Fard, pp. 326.

[19] Ibid, pp. 263.

[20] Karl Evanzz, The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad, pp. 408.

[21] Ibid, pp. 451.


Bilal Muhammad

Bilal Muhammad is a Fellow and Research Assistant at the Berkeley Institute for Islamic Studies. He is also an MA Candidate at the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, B.Ed at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and Honors BA in Political Science and History at the University of Toronto. He is an educator and researcher based in Toronto, Canada.
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