Minneapolis Moorish Orthodox Temple

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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. 


        Moorish 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.
Image       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 deImagealings 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.Image

       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 Science Temple.


       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.

     Image   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, etc. 

       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 insurrectionist activism.Image

       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 late 60's.



       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).

 ImageThe 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 Imageencouraged 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."



 The Moorish Orthodox Catechism, then, consists of no rules or dogmas, but only of adherence to the "Five Pillars" of Moorish Science as listed by Noble Drew:


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.

An 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

For Moor Info:

email: moorishtemple@gmail.com


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