1.2 Moorish Science Temple
Moorish Science Temple was first established in Newark in 1913 by Timothy Drew from North Carolina who changed his name to Noble Drew Ali (1886 – 1929). The organization was recreated in Chicago in 1919. Instead of using the actual Holy Qur’an, Drew Ali introduced what became known as the Circle 7 Koran, a combination that included his ideas, Masonic teachings, passages from the Aquarian Gospel, and Eastern religions.
The Temple observes its Sabbath on Fridays and prayers are performed standing facing east. As far as food is concerned, Drew Ali forbade consumption of meat and intoxicants. Beards were prescribed for men. The Star of David, crescent & star and the Masonic compass were introduced into the literature and rituals.
One primary tenet of the Moorish Science Temple is the belief that African Americans are descendants of ancient Moabites and Canaanites with historical lineage descending from Morocco and Egypt. He thus taught that blacks are “Asiatics,” and that that would help them come out of mental and economic slavery. Temple Membership was divided into two “clans,” identified by suffixed names of “El” and “Bey.” The “El’ clan members wore a green fez, while the “Bey” clan wore a red fez. They greet each other with “Islam!” or “Peace!” along with a gesture of two raised fingers and right hand across the chest, which is associated with a Masonic greeting.
Drew Ali claimed to be a prophet and presented himself as a collective embodiment of all prophets based on the prevailing beliefs and customs of various religions.
However, even though Noble Drew Ali used his self-prescribed religion, his approach was racial and his organization was similar to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).
In 1929, Noble Drew Ali was charged for the murder of a high-ranking member, Claude Greene, and was jailed. After being released on bail, he disappeared and was presumed by law enforcement officials and many past and present members of the Moorish Science Temple to have been killed by organizational rivals.
o Initiated an organized response to a violent color-based racial caste system of that time in the American society.
o His Temple was the spearhead of several movements and organizations for African Americans. Some converted to the True Sunni Islam, others remained cults.
o Internal conflicts and rebellions resulted into at least three major sects and independent movements.
o The leadership of the organization remained a race cult and failed to convert to True Islam, despite encounters with Sunni Muslims even by Noble Drew Ali.
o It is stated that Drew Ali went to Egypt and met a mystic who helped him in the formulation of his doctrine. If it is true, how could he miss meeting Muslims? Could it be that he did but Muslim spirit of Dawah was dead in Egypt of that time?
o Failing to equally respect indigenous Americans in Muslim centers and organizations may reinforce and sprout race-based organizations keeping Islam away from them.
o Muslims’ call of Islam should remain open to The Temple. A possible first step maybe to work on mutually agreed upon social justice issues such as race.
o http://msta1913.org/ Moorish Science Temple of America
o Black Pilgrimage to Islam, Robert Dannin