Minneapolis Moorish Orthodox Temple
A salaam melekum!!
Welcome to the Minneapolis Temple home page.
This page was created to gather interest in creating a functioning temple in the Minneapolis area.
Orthodoxy is not a new religion. Historically it began with the message
of the American prophet Noble Drew Ali, born Timothy Drew in North
Carolina in 1886, son of former slaves, raised by Cherokee
Indians and adopted into that tribe. At sixteen Drew began his
wanderings as a circus magician, befriended by a band of Rroma, which
took him to Egypt where he received self knowledge and direction from a
priest, the last of a cult of High Magic practiced for centuries in the
pyramid of Cheops. This magus recognized the young American as a
reincarnation of a former leader of the cult, and saw him for the
prophet he was.
From him Drew Ali learned the messages of The Circle Seven Koran, as
well as much higher truths; he returned to America where he was told in
a dream to found a new religion "for the uplifting of fallen mankind."
He began the first mosque, or temple, in Newark --- but because he and
his followers refused to fight in World War I he was forced to move to
Chicago, where his movement, the Moorish Science Temple, began to grow.
The Moorish Science Temple attracted mostly Black Americans. Noble Drew
however was no racist, though he held certain racial theories. Blacks,
he said, are Moabites or Moors, and under this identity he taught pride
to a race of oppressed sufferers. Moors are an "Asiatic Race" --but so
are many others. For example, Noble Drew identified Celts as an Asiatic
Race; later, when Whites of various sorts became interested in Moorish
Science, he identified all such as "Persians," a sort of spiritual
rather than factual identity.
For Moorish Americans Morocco is a "promised land";
this provides an interesting link between Moorish Science and
Rastafarianism. Moorish Orthodoxy (despite its name) gives all these
teachings an esoteric significance. For us, "The Asiatic Nation of
North America" includes all who embrace some form of the Oriental
Wisdom, whatever their other affiliations, and "Morocco" signifies
their goal, "illuminated" consciousness.
In Chicago Noble Drew issued many Moorish Passports, and it is said
that some new converts, in the zeal of their newfound nationality,
began to grow less and less subservient in their dealings
with the oppressor empire ("Pharoah" or "Babylon"). This culminated in
a full scale attack on the Science Temple in which (despite the secret
escape route, an essential feature of all Moorish Science Temples) many
of the faithful were martyred.
Shortly thereafter (in 1929) Noble Drew prophesied the hour of his
death. He was "taken for questioning" by the Chicago Police and
brutally beaten, and died soon after his release.
After this, the Moorish Science Temple began to split into sects or
factions, one headed by Noble Drew's chauffeur, another by Elijah
Muhammed, who betrayed his Moorish Science origins and taught a
pseudo-science of race hatred disguised as the "Nation of Islam." Until
Elijah's death, many Moors expected him to recant.
In the 1950's in the Baltimore/DC area, some white poets and jazz
musicians came into contact with the Science Temple and acquired
passports. They formed another offshoot of Moorish Science, the Moorish
Orthodox Church of America. At that early stage, the M.O.C. was seen as
partly Moorish and partly Eastern Orthodox, and there existed certain
ties with "Errant Bishops" of the Old Catholic Church, Syrian
Orthodoxy, etc. Some of these founding fathers drifted eventually into
Sunni Islam, others remained faithful to the M.O.C. and friendly to the
In the early 1960's on Manhattan's Upper West Side, one of the youngest
of these, Walid al-Taha (Warren Tartaglia), jazz saxophonist and author
of -The Hundred Seeds of Beirut-, initiated some friends into the
Church shortly before his tragic death (in his early 20's). A new
Temple was established in a basement on 103rd street off Broadway,
along with a head shop "The Crypt," and a Moorish Science Reading Room.
The Church maintained a M.O.C. Motorcycle Club at various neighborhood
garages, and a campsite of 123 acres was acquired in northern New York.
Close ties were formed with the Ananda Ashram in upstate NY. Members in
Baltimore renewed ties with elders and missionaries of the Moorish
Science Temple, including the Moorish Governor of Maryland, who ran a
junk shop that smelled of rose attar and woodstove smoke, and talked
like a Persian poet from Alabama -- an echo, no doubt, of Noble Drew's
own perfect Moorish Voice. Ties were formed with the M.S.T. in
Brooklyn, which provided copies of The Circle Seven Koran, Catechisms,
At that time the Church more or less abandoned all "Orthodoxy" (though
not the name) and found its true spirit in Sufism. What interested us
most was Sufism of various unorthodox varieties, including Ismailism
(the teachings of the Assassins). But many other strains were woven
into the M.O.C. in the 60's, including Advaita Vedanta, Tantra, and
The 70's and early 80's in retrospect seem a rather dim period in
Church history. Members scattered around the world and interest waned.
The "New Age" bogged down in various Greed Therapies, guru-scams and
bland-outs. Recently however the time has become ripe for a
Revival. New religions are appearing: Neo-paganism,
Anarcho-taoism, the followers of Eris and others with whom we feel a
natural affinity. We have launched a new edition of our newspaper, The
Moorish Science Monitor (quiescent since 1967!) and many new
conversions have resulted. The sudden upsurge of interest necessitated
this revised edition of the M.O.C. pamphlet, out of print since the
What is Moorish Orthodoxy? What is its Catechism"? Many people have converted to Moorish Orthodoxy simply on hearing its name or seeing the photograph of Noble Drew Ali (frontispiece of the Circle Seven Koran) later, however, they may wish to learn something of Moorish doctrine.
In effect, there is none. Moorish Orthodoxy is like a mirror in which
each seeker beholds a beloved form, each one different. We have no
required ritual and no source of authority other than those the
individual imagination provides. We do however perhaps share a certain
"taste" or spiritual aesthetic.
Moorish Orthodoxy was founded originally to explore the esoteric
dimensions of Noble Drew's teachings, discovered in such passages from
the Circle Seven Koran as these:
"Now cease to seek for
heaven in the sky; Just open up the windows of your hearts and, like a
flood of light, a heaven will come and bring a boundless joy."
"By the sweet breath of Allah all
life is bound to one; so if you touch a fiber of a living thing you
send a thrill from center to the outer bounds of life."
"You are, each one, a priest, Just for yourself."
"Allah and man are one."
The antinomian and egalitarian aspects of lines like these have
reinforced our position, in relation to all organized religion, of
heresy; in relation to all liberatory teachings and beautiful
imaginings we take up a posture of "rootless cosmopolitanism" that
seeks out universal spirit hidden anywhere, revealed in all cultures,
always occult and dissident, an "Invisible College" embracing East and
West but rejecting all official stultifying Consensus Reality. A Moor
might belong to any religion or none, "free either to take up a form or
not take up a form... not bound to any. Forms are for use, not to make
captives" (Hazrat Inayat Khan).
idea of an American heretical Islam is one such form. We appreciate the
aesthetic of Moorish Science, of Noble Drew's unique and prophetic
mixture of Afro-American, Native American, Magical, Oriental and
Moorish symbolism and imagery. We admire his courage, his martyrdom,
his revolutionary stance against "Pharoah," his Americanizing of the
prophetic spirit (he always wore a Cherokee feather in his fez). We
reflect this aesthetic in our lives and creative work. But we are not
bound by it. Like certain esoteric Javanese sects we reject the figure
of the Master (guru or murshed) in favor of the teacher. Anyone can be
a teacher in relation to someone; everyone has something to teach,
something to learn.
To symbolize this attitude, all Moors are encouraged
to create new names and titles for themselves. The Moorish Hierarchy is
self appointed; anyone is free to print Passports, although the old
Manhattan Lodge possesses certain seals and procedures which converts
may appreciate. Popular titles include: Moorish Governor, Metropolitan,
Deacon, Vicar, Exilarch, Imam, Castellan, Papessa, Contessa, Marshall
or just plain Reverend. Moorish Science Temple adherents often add
"Bey" or "El" to their names, others favor other traditions, and some
use their own names. All Moors are entitled to titles, however, since
all Moors have "authority."
Orthodox Catechism, then, consists of no rules or dogmas, but only of
adherence to the "Five Pillars" of Moorish Science as listed by Noble
to which we add a sixth, "BEAUTY."
If you are moved to do so, after
reading these words, by all means contact us. Feel free to ask
any questions, make suggestions, or share concerns.
actual Moorish Orthodox Temple may be coming to Minneapolis!!!
For more info, check the blog section. Ideally, this would serve
not only as a Moorish Orthodox Temple, but also as a Sinti and
Romani Center as well.
Visit the Moorish Temple Gift Shop : www.cafepress.com/moorishtemple
See also: Incunabula; Hakim Bey; Rumi
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