The Moorish Science Temple of America

Overview

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

1928—2017
103

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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You are Not Negroes, Colored Folks, Black People or Ethiopians

With the incorporation of the Moorish Science Temple of America in 1928 came a new charter, Divine Constitution and By-Laws consisting of seven acts.  Act 6 of The Divine Constitution and By-Laws states: 

With us all members must proclaim their nationality and we are teaching our people their nationality and their divine creed that they may know that they are a part and a partial of this said government, and know that they are not Negroes, Colored Folks, Black People, or Ethiopians, because these names were given to slaves by slave holders in 1779 and lasted until 1865 during the time of slavery, but this is a new era of time now, and all men now must proclaim their free national name to be recognized by the government in which they live and the nations of the earth, this is the reason why Allah the great God of the universe ordained Noble Drew Ali, the Prophet to redeem his people from their sinful ways. The Moorish Americans are the descendants of the ancient Moabites who inhabited the North Western and South Western shores of Africa.

Prophet Noble Drew Ali (standing center) and temple members, at religious service of the Moorish Science Temple of America, circa late 1920s

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Prophet Noble Drew Ali (standing center) and temple members, at religious service of the Moorish Science Temple of America, circa late 1920s" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/187626e0-9903-0132-01d4-58d385a7b928

Prophet Noble Drew Ali - Founder Prophet Noble Drew Ali The Beginning In 1913, Prophet Noble Drew Ali founded the Canaanite Temple in Newark, New Jersey. The Canaanite Temple was an early indication that the so-called Negroes were of Asiatic origin from the Holy Land of Canaan. The Movement spread across the country during the 1920's as the Moorish Holy Temple of Science, as Prophet Noble Drew Ali pioneered in attempts to instill racial pride. Before he came to Chicago in 1925, the movement proliferated to Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and some southern cities. During his lifetime, membership may have risen as high as thirty thousand members.

Prophet Noble Drew Ali - Founder Prophet Noble Drew Ali The Beginning In 1913, Prophet Noble Drew Ali founded the Canaanite Temple in Newark, New Jersey. The Canaanite Temple was an early indication that the so-called Negroes were of Asiatic origin from the Holy Land of Canaan. The Movement spread across the country during the 1920's as the Moorish Holy Temple of Science, as Prophet Noble Drew Ali pioneered in attempts to instill racial pride. Before he came to Chicago in 1925, the movement proliferated to Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and some southern cities. During his lifetime, membership may have risen as high as thirty thousand members.

In 1925, Noble Drew Ali wearing a flaming red fez appeared on the streets of Chicago, proclaiming to the people of the colored race that they were not Negroes, Colored Folks, Black People or Ethiopians. People began to gather to hear this young man speak. He stated that the fallen sons and daughters of the Asiatic Nation of North America need to learn to love instead of hate, and know of their higher self. His words were impressive because it wasn't long before he established himself in a sizeable meeting hall on Clayborne Avenue on the north side of Chicago.