Muhammad Ezaldeen was a Pennsylvania native and early member of the Moorish Science Temple in Newark, NJ. He had a master’s degree in English and was an elementary school principal earning him the title of “Professor.” In 1929, during the power struggle between Noble Drew Ali and Claude Greene, Ezaldeen went to Egypt where he spent several years learning Arabic and studying Islam.
Upon his return from Egypt, he disassociated himself from the Temple and launched an organization based on the true teachings of Islam. The organization was called, Adenu Allahe Universal Arabic Association (AAUAA). The AAUAA soon established its units in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. The AAUAA offered courses on the Qur’an, the Sunnah, the Hamitic (Black) Arab heritage, and the Arabic language. Professor Ezaldeen strongly believed in the physical separation of Muslims from the non-Muslims within the context of the concept of Hijra. In 1938, he led his followers to incorporate the Community of Jabul Arabiyya in West Valley, NY. Another one was formed in the rural area of New Jersey outside Philadelphia, later known as Ezaldeen Village. Other units were located in Youngstown, Rochester, Jacksonville and Detroit. Each unit was expected to follow the pursuit of West Valley.
In 1943, Ezaldeen joined Wali Akram (1904–94), a former Ahmadi Muslim American and founder of the Sunni Muslim mosque First Cleveland Mosque, to unite Sunni African-American Muslims around a common agenda. Differences of opinion between Imam Wali Akram and Professor Ezaldeen on matters of religion, dawah methodology, and community development, however, curtailed the organization’s progress, slowly dissolving by 1946.
Professor Ezaldeen was one of the nation’s foremost early proponents of African American Muslims gaining fluency and proficiency in the Arabic language. Adults and children in his movement developed outstanding Arabic language skills. He established a national Muslim organization with branches throughout the northeast.
Professor Ezaldeen convinced hundreds of African American Muslim families to withdraw from the un-Islamic environments of the country’s inner cities and to establish land-based communities in rural areas where they could more easily learn the religion of Islam and implement its practice uninhibited.
Professor Ezaldeen’s most glaring shortcoming was his limitations in developing sustainable economies for the land-based communities in his network. This was a particularly daunting task due to the distance from potential jobs and trade to Professor Ezaldeen’s land-based rural communities.
Professor Ezaldeen demonstrated the feasibility of establishing land-based Muslim communities in rural areas in the country. He was a forerunner among American Muslims in this regard. Few Muslim organizations have emphasized the mastery of the Arabic language as a prerequisite for the practice of Islam as insisted upon by Professor Ezaldeen.