The Moorish Science Temple of America

Overview

Sheik Robert Webb-Bey, Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey, Chairman Terrence Hopkins-Bey

1928—2017
105

Historical Note

The Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) is a religious organization founded in 1913 by Noble Drew Ali, born Timothy Drew. Among many beliefs, he asserted that Black people are descendants of the Moors who governed North West Africa. As such Black people, or "so-called Black people" as the Moorish community phrases it, are not Black but Moorish Americans "Moslems" of Islamic faith. Noble Drew Ali was reported to have stood on street corners in Chicago proclaiming: "Come all ye Asiatic of America and hear the truth about your nationality and birthrights, because you are not negroes. Learn of your forefathers ancient and divine Creed. That you will learn to love instead of hate." In addition to the assertion of a specific national identity, the MSTA was founded instill national pride and spiritual upliftment at a particular point in American history when "so-called Black people" were searching for a sense of belonging in the midst of the Great Migration and shifting national politics.

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"My father was basically trying to find liberation for himself as well as his people. He was raised in the gang life, the gang atmosphere in the city of Philadelphia. In trying to search for truth he became frustrated and this frustration in a sense boiled over..."
"You have a lot of hearsay. You have a lot of individuals taking a stance that's not based on the orthodoxy as established by Prophet Noble Drew Ali. And often it's an outside view approaching an interpretation of the teachings of Prophet Noble Drew Ali."
"But seeds do not unfold into life, they manifest. So it has to go through stages to grow and unfold as does the bud unfold to show the flower. So while we're here on the earth, we're learning. We're learning to love instead of hate."
"Prophet Noble Drew Ali likened himself unto Prophet Confucius (all spirits are one). Prophet Confucius saw himself as a 'transmitter and not a creator.' [...] He [Confucius] proclaimed that he was a 'transmitter and not a maker' and that Holy Prophet Noble Drew Ali's publishing of The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America is also a transmission of ancient lessons..."
"Who were you before you were enslaved? That's a question that we have to ask and now we have history books where we have so many cloaked names...."Black" was manufactured."
"As an eight to ten-year-old boy, I'm talking to him about us not being Negro, black, or colored and doing physical demonstrations as far as grabbing a crayon, a black crayon, and saying look; this is not us. "
"...we may say they changed forms or they veiled their form which means they just took off this earthly garb that the spirit uses to function on the earth plane, the manifest, and moves on to a higher level of vibration."
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Interview: Chairman Terrence Hopkins-Bey and Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey Discuss Nationality

December 2016
Philadelphia, PA

Interviewer: One of the things that I feel like people most associate with the Moorish Science Temple of America is the adherence to the identifier "Moors" rather than "Black." What's a Moorish American and what is a black person? What is the differentiation between those two?

Who were you before you were enslaved? That's a question that we have to ask and now we have history books where we have so many cloaked names...."Black" was manufactured.

Brother T: One of the core teachings that Prophet Noble Drew Ali is the importance of nationality. If we're going to ask that question, we must first ask ourselves if nationality was not important why were we stripped of it?

Yes, all nations of the earth have experienced slavery. However, we're the only ones that have been stripped of our nationality as well as our divine creed. We're the only ones that have been dehumanized as a people. Knowing that we went through that and looked at the trials that our people are going through on a daily basis, we have to realize that "black" was created. Who were you before you were enslaved? That's a question that we have to ask and now we have history books where we have so many cloaked names. So when you're reading about Berbers or you're reading about Moors or you're reading about Phoenicians or even our connections of a nationality such as Egyptians, we're separated from those individuals once we are claiming "black." 

Negro, black, colored, they're all the same thing. These are legal terms to identify slaves. So for us to break away from the institution of slavery, for us to be full-fledged citizens, we must start with not identifying that which first enslaved us. So let's go back to who we were before slavery.

Black was manufactured. When you allow someone to name you, you allow them to define you. White and black: they had an original intent. If we could go back to the first census of 1790, to be black meant that you were a slave. To be white meant that you were free. Lo and behold both names are enslaved. Why? Because they're not an accurate description of who you are or who your forefathers were. I'll get confused looking at that. I work at a high school and I ask my students where's Egypt. One raised his had, and he said it's in Africa. I said okay, so what would you classify those people as? They said they would call them "black." So I said according to the first census of 1790 they were classified as white but you were still classified as black. It was perplexing to them. They couldn't understand this. I explained nationality and explained that these individuals because they had a nation to claim, they were free. But you, your nationality was stripped from you so you were enslaved and you were looked at as a slave, so you were labeled as "black."

Negro, black, colored, they're all the same thing. These are legal terms to identify slaves. So for us to break away from the institution of slavery, for us to be full-fledged citizens, we must start with not identifying that which first enslaved us. So let's go back to who we were before slavery.

"Black" according to science means death. When we look terms where black is used, blackball, black metal, when we look at even the term we just passed, we're on the way through the season, the holiday season, the term Black Friday. That was not an endearing term. That was not a beautiful term. That was used to explain something that was of a negative nature or something that was of a shady nature. So you look at black, sullen, hostile, gloomy, pessimistic and if you look in an up to date Webster's Dictionary or you look at any other dictionary you will not see beautiful next to "black." So our people, the Moorish Americans, they have a love for themselves and they're seeking to love themselves. You can't change that which has already been established. "Black" already has a meaning. It's already been defined.

But words carry vibration. In the Holy Koran of Mecca, in the Book of Allah, in order for Allah to show Adam's superiority over the angels, Allah did something. And what Allah did, Allah taught Adam the names of things because the nature of things is condensed in their names.

Interviewer: So the term "black" can never hold new meaning or a more liberatory meaning?

Brother T: What we need to do is redefine ourselves, not redefine the term. The term already has a spirit behind it. Words carry vibration. The word Negro is the same as black. It enslaved us. So we must give it up to fully liberate ourselves.

Brother A: Names matter. And as the chairman stated that "black" according to science means death. It's not a nationality. Some people said well, it don't matter what we call ourselves. We could just obey God. But words carry vibration. In the Holy Koran of Mecca, in the Book of Allah, in order for Allah to show Adam's superiority over the angels, Allah did something. And what Allah did, Allah taught Adam the names of things because the nature of things is condensed in their names. So it matters what we call ourselves. And Allah also says in the Koran that he created us in tribes and nations.