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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Interview: Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey Explains the Origin and Design of the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America

December 2016
Philadelphia, PA
The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple and Koran Questions for Moorish Americans
October 2016
Memphis, TN
Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Interviewer: What is the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple?

Brother A: The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America was published in the year of 1927. It is our primary piece of literature that we use throughout our meetings and the text which governs our life. It is the owner's manual to life. That's what we look at it as. When you open up the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America at the top of the page, it says Divine Instructions from the holy prophet. So we look it as an instruction manual which we use to guide our lives. This book is the Prophet Noble Drew Ali. As the chairman stated earlier, the Prophet, he served as the epitome. He was the path which we follow. And we're learning how to translate the book into our lives. All throughout the book, the book is dealing with learning to love instead of hate. That's the essence of the book. When you look at the various chapters in the book it oftentimes gives you two points of view - the higher self and the lower self, what to do and what not to do.

It is our primary piece of literature that we use throughout our meetings and the text which governs our life. It is the owner's manual to life.

Interviewer: Who wrote the Holy Koran? There have been accusations of plagiarism and in your 2014 book Prophet Noble Drew Ali: Saviour of Humanity, you write, "Prophet Noble Drew Ali likened 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 that were taught in places such as India, Egypt, and Palestine." Can you talk a little more about this?

Brother A: In the front cover of the Moorish Science Temple of America, as we talked about earlier, the prophet never said he wrote the book. It says it was "divinely prepared." He got the book ready for us. It's a compilation of teachings that are tailor made to fit the conditions of the Asiatic of America who are of Moorish descent. That's the guide for our lives, the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America. And the purpose of it is on the cover. The title of the book is The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America. It has a symbol on the cover, very powerful symbol which is also a universal symbol which is the Circle Seven. The prophet says it was divinely prepared by the guiding of his father, God Allah. And the purpose of that book is to redeem man from his sinful and fallen stage of humanity back to the highest plane of life with his father, God Allah. That's the purpose of the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America. That's the guiding light to our lives right there.

...in your 2014 book Prophet Noble Drew Ali: Saviour of Humanity, you write, "Prophet Noble Drew Ali himself likened 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 that were taught in places such as India, Egypt, and Palestine.' Can you talk a little more about this?

Brother T: One thing that we often hear quoted in our community and society today is that the Europeans felt as though if you want to hide anything from a so-called black person, you put it in a book. How much it hurts that this statement often does ring true. Prophet Noble Drew Ali was very familiar with the plight of our conditions, with the plight of our people. And he knew that would be an issue. Some people will look at that book, and they will say well, "it's such a small pamphlet" or "I read it yesterday" or "I've read it in two hours." However, we have people that have been members for over 40 years that are continuing to read from the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America and are continuing to gain a higher understanding of that which is laid out in the book. I think that's one of the key tools as far as the unification of the Asiatics in North America. Why? Because we were institutionalized and we were forced to practice a religion that did not come to us from our forefathers. We were forced into Christianity. We were taught certain concepts about Prophet Jesus. 

Well, here in the Holy Koran we have the 18 missing years of Jesus' life that are absent from the Bible. And in those years we find key instructions, and it teaches us how to interact with the nations of the earth. Prophet Jesus, he may have been raised among a particular community; however, he taught in India, Africa, and in Europe. As a boy the took trips, journeys to foreign lands to learn the ways of the Brahmin priest and to learn their ways and not only to learn their ways but eventually to teach them the proper interpretation of their particular ways. Those things are key in unifying us in today's society because we're often rigid in our spiritual beliefs. I don't know how we are rigid in spiritual beliefs, but we're just so fixed. So many communities say if you're not doing it like this you're going to hell or if you're not practicing like this, then we're not associating with you. Or there is this practice of telling children they can't talk someone because they don't believe as we do. 

So we can not only relate to the brother that's opening up the church down the street, but we can also relate to a Tibetan monk. We can relate people of all walks of life. It lets us know that the nations of the earth, they all worship Allah but they all see him not alike.

Brother T: The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America gives us something that's totally adverse to that type of teaching. First of all, in Chapter Ten, Jesus spoke of the unity of Allah and man to the Hindus. This is a lesson that had to be taught because there was a division that existed at that time and people had various concepts of God. This chapter let us know that Allah is one, yet he is more than one. All things are one by the sweet breath of Allah. All life is down to one. So those lessons right there, they automatically connect you to whoever you're talking to. So we can not only relate to the brother that's opening up the church down the street, but we can also relate to a Tibetan monk. We can relate people of all walks of life. It lets us know that the nations of the earth, they all worship Allah, but they all see him not alike.

I think that's very liberating to people and it also brings forth more humility within yourself to let you know you don't know everything. You don't have the full puzzle. You may have a few pieces of the puzzle, but you don't have the entire puzzle and until you demonstrate some unity with someone else.

It lets us know that the Brahmins called him one thing. In Egypt he was Toth. Zeus is his name in Greece. Jehovah is his Hebrew name. But everywhere he is the causeless cause, and the rule is the root from which all things have grown. So that right there, it unifies us. It brings us together. It allows me to look beyond the doctrine or beyond the custom and let me look at the spirit that exists within you. I have to acknowledge the fact that we come from the same source. This is the Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America. I think that's very liberating to people and it also brings forth more humility within yourself to let you know you don't know everything. You don't have the full puzzle. You may have a few pieces of the puzzle, but you don't have the entire puzzle and until you demonstrate some unity with someone else. It's not until then that you get other pieces to the puzzle to get a clearer view of that which we are looking at.