On the Moorish Science Temple of America and Sovereign Citizens

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[Idealism/Religion] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 48]
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On the Moorish Science Temple of America and Sovereign Citizens

Recently, there has been a lot of confusion and/or misunderstanding with regard to the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) and its relation to the Sovereign Citizen Movement. This is partially because some people who may or may not be a part of the MSTA have taken up certain aspects of the Sovereign Citizen Movement.

There are over five different splinter groups who operate under the MSTA that i am aware of, each with its own self-proclaimed leader of the "Movement" established by Prophet Noble Drew Ali. This is why we have this confusion as to what the Moorish National and Divine Movement is about.

Brief Historical Background

The MSTA was founded by Prophet Noble Drew Ali in 1913 and was first organized as a civic organization. In 1928, it was re-incorporated in the State of Illinois as a religious corporation. The stated objective of the MSTA is "to uplift fallen humanity." Humynity meaning all of the people of the world, with the understanding that charity starts at home before it spreads abroad.

The MSTA is decidedly "nationalist." It proclaims Marcus Garvey as the forerunner of Noble Drew Ali. It should be of interest to note that Prophet Noble Drew Ali was pushing the line that New Afrikans (Moors), were a separate and distinct nation here in the United $tates.

While the MSTA is recognized as a "religious" organization, it also functions on a social, economic and political level, as all of these functions are necessary in building and/or re-building a nation. Herein lies the confusion and/or misunderstanding with regard to the Moorish Movement. The political line and direction varies depending on which "Sheik" you are following.

On Nationality

I am a Moor. I am a also a New Afrikan. I am a member of the MSTA and the 1st Crown Prince of the Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO), a New Afrikan revolutionary nationalist organization. For the most part, the MSTA is a cultural nationalist organization.

The line of the MSTA is that we are descendants of Morrocans and born in America. This is based upon the fact that the Moors ruled the Northwestern and Southwestern shores of Afrika, and that this location was the center of the Afrikan Holocaust (aka Atlantic Slave Trade).

We all should recognize that through an imposition of war, Afrikans were brought to these shores from many lands, tribes and cultures with different languages, traditions, etc. But through our collective oppression and hystoric collective resistance, we developed into a social and cultural unit (nation), separate and distinct from any other people on the planet. WE became a New, Afrikan people. Thus, the term New Afrikan. The same can be said for the term Moorish American.

Religion and Communism

BORO demonstrates from a secular form of organization because hystorically and scientifically, secular movements are better political vehicles than religious movements. This is because one's religious orientation does not necessarily determine one's political positions, and it is one's politics that need to form the basis of unity and disunity if a movement is to maintain a clear political focus.

While most religions and religious groups deal in idealism and metaphysics, Moors are taught to be scientists. For Moors, we are taught that the Islamic path to submission to God (Allah) is simplified as a "Creed." Moorish scientists are taught to maintain the principles of Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom and Justice. In fact, Temple members are encouraged to engage the world in the same way as the "spiritual" principles given, Love being the first and Justice being the last. Moors should primarily be concerned with spiritual principles rather than some sort of religious orthodoxy. But again, this is all predicated upon which "Sheik" you are following.

Moorish Science doesn't teach that God (Allah) is some great, mysterious spirit, but that all people have within them the seed of perfect development. Your "devil" or "God" is within you and it is manifested through your thinking and words, actions and deeds; which result from our material conditions.

There are a lot of issues around which the anti-imperialist movement can unite with the MSTA. The struggle against religious thinking is secondary to smashing imperialism, militarism, environmental pollution and other antagonistic contradictions which are manifested in our struggle, mainly national oppression and gender oppression.

Our task should be to try to find common ground in which we can unite with those who have religious thinking as their base. We should unite with them in secular political movement such as BORO, MIM(Prisons), USW, or RAIL.

"Our principle ideological task in organizing such religious progressives — as well as the people who take the bourgeoisie's idealist talk of 'eternal truths' like fraternity, equality and liberty at face value — is to explain our slogan that 'there are no rights, only power struggles.' That is, these rights are denied the oppressed masses through economic exploitation and outright violent suppression. The only way to realize these rights is to overthrow the material systems of imperialism, capitalism and patriarchy — and the only way to combat these material forces is to scientifically analyze the contradictions in society and build a secular revolutionary movement, a movement without religious bias which can unite all the oppressed."(1)

Conclusion

While i don't have the time or space to go into all of the contradictions within the MSTA, it is safe to say that it has no ties to the Sovereign Citizen Movement. It is inherently more progressive than most organized religious groups operating in the New Afrikan community, but there is a leadership vacuum. A scientific leadership, that knows how to balance the spiritual aspects of life, with materialism.

At the same time, "some people talk about a 'nation' but really don't wanna be one (independent), as evidenced by their efforts to crawl back on the plantation. How can we tell? You can identify those trying to crawl back on the plantation by the way they identify themselves, i.e. 'black', 'African-American', 'ethnic group', 'minority nationality', 'underclass', anything and everything except New Afrikans, an oppressed nation. Amerikkka is the plantation, and continuing to identify yourself within the Amerikkkan context is evidence of the colonial (slave) mentality. Ain't no two ways about it."(2)

It is the people who make hystory and it is our responsibility to create the type of society that we want to live in. Otherwise, you ain't got no right to complain about the oppression you face.

  1. MIM, Religion and the Anti-Imperialist Movement, MIM Theory 13: Revolutionary Culture, 1997, pg 49.
  2. James Yaki Sayles, Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings, 2010, Spear and Shield Publications.

MIM(Prisons) has received a number of other responses to discussion around the MSTA, following the article "Talks about Sovereignty: A Scientific Approach" printed in Under Lock & Key 44.

One Illinois prisoner wrote: [The article] described these groups aforesaid as Sovereign Citizen movements which, in many instances, can obliquely misrepresent the actual objective these organizations have struggled to attain. The author's paralogism can be easily made by relating the agenda's of New Afrikan groups like the Moorish Nation and the Washitaw Nation of Moors to that of the white nationalist groups, though indeed there are many concrete similarities between the two movements, yet to the contrary, there are also conceptual differences, which in respect to the Moorish Divine National Movement and the Washitaw Nation of Moors theoretical systems warrants elucidation.

...what the author fails to clarify is the Moorish Divine National Movement in fact has a much different historical perspective on such matters. Moorish partisans do not acknowledge the feudal British empire (feudal at the time) nor their posterity, imperialist USA as legitimate authorities of the land. They recognize that all Moorish people here in the colonial USA are colonized and have the right for self-determination and national sovereign independence.

And I thought it would be also critical for comrades to note, that the Moorish nationality is not a pseudo-scientific theory, it actually has a historical foundation to support its concept.

A comrade from Michigan wrote: Comrades, I truly appreciate you and all the things that you have taught me and put me in tune with as far as the revolutionary movement. Comrades, you have opened my mind and changed my point of view because I had got caught up under religion but not the political, social, economic and cultural perspectives. Islam isn't a religion at all, it's a way of life, and this is why Islam is the fastest growing way of life in the world today.

The letter you sent me asks the question is the Moorish Science Temple of America a sovereign movement? The answer was No! This is correct because the MSTA is a religious organization that was founded by Prophet Noble Drew Ali in 1928... But in the late 1920s the Moors started fighting over positions and for power. The Moorish movement split up into many different organizations.

I'm a product of the new generation of Moors. Prophet Noble Drew Ali said, "there are going to be new Moors coming into the Temple with their eyes wide open, seeing and knowing they are going to set you old Moors in the back, and they are going to enforce my laws."

I see myself as a new generation Moor and I see and understand the weak and ineffective leadership that's in the Moorish movement. ...I have decided to bring about a serious change in the Moorish movement and its ideology and to become politically, socially, economically and culturally in the struggle to remove oppression and exploitation of the New Afrikans, poor people and Third World countries. This is the reason why I founded the Moorish Islamic Liberation Movement as its Chief Executive Ruler.

...There are more MSTA Temples in the prison system than society now, this is a damn shame. But Moors in society have forgotten where they came from.... And yes, I support the Sovereign Freedom Movement, and I recognize the U.$. Empire government but I'm not a 14th Amendment Federal Citizen, I'm a state citizen under the 11th Amendment of the U.$. constitution. ...

The Moors are indigenous to the Americas because the old Moorish Empire extended from the northeast and southwest Afrika across the great Atlantis even unto the present day North, South and Central America... This Moorish Islamic Liberation Movement has many different associates and alliances because to destroy and overthrow imperialism is going to require a great many alliances. I'm against no other Moorish organization but I disagree with the methods and ideology of teachings because it's too many secrets and not enough action.

I stand with the oppressed, exploited and the poor people of the world because of the cruel abusive and foul treatment by the imperialist and the powerful of the proletariat and lumpen. We stand together in solidarity as Souljas in the revolutionary cause to establish freedom, justice and equality for all people wherever they may be. Our principles are Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom and Justice. And when these principles are violated, justice then must take its course!

A comrade in Illinois wrote: I am writing to you about your recent article that talks about sovereignty. The Moorish Americans are not on a sovereign citizen movement, get it right. We are not some new organization, the Moors are the true indigenous people and nations of the land as you know that the Moors was denationalized during slavery and given slave names and Black state of mind, they were made negroes, colored folks, black people and in 2015, African Americans. Now take a look at the Constitution of the United States of America, Article 1, Section 2. You know where it says three fifths of all other persons. Do you know what they are talking about? They are talking about Willie Lynch syndrome man breaking and slave making!...


MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank this latter comrade for sending many pages of materials on the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA). Much of our response here is based on the information in those documents.

The MSTA denounces the terms "Negro", "Colored", "Black" and "African American" to describe a people, primarily because it denies the nationality of said people. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees all people the right to a nation and to change their nation, and is cited by the MSTA as part of their claim. We agree with this foundational aspect of the MSTA that recognizes the independent nationality of what we call the New Afrikan nation, which was formed by the importing of slaves of various African nations by European settlers. MSTA looks at the history of Amerika, and the 14th and 15th Amendments, and states that it "could never seriously include people of color, women or commoners." Again, we agree here that there is an antagonistic contradiction between the Amerikan oppressor nation and the oppressed.

As the comrade from BORO describes, MSTA's idea of a Moorish American Nation seems to parallel what we call the New Afrikan nation. They explain their use of the term Moor in that it is an ancient civilization, with a glorious history, that is found in the bible. They imply that a nation not found in the bible does not exist. This is a metaphysical view that nations cannot change, form, or disappear with time. Their need to define their nation as timeless seems to lead them to declare the Moorish American Nation to be the indigenous people of and "Heirs Apparent" to the lands of "North America, South America, Central America, and the Atlantis Islands, referred to as the Caribbean Islands." This is echoed by our comrade from Michigan above. Elsewhere the MSTA seems to contradict this when writing, "the Moorish, were a new nation of people, brought forth on this continent by the European forefathers." It is not clear from what we've read how the MSTA reconciles their identity as an indigenous nation to America with the historical fact of the African slave trade and the many First Nations that existed in America prior to that trade that brought masses of Africans to this land.

Now to this question of MSTA and sovereignty. While none of our correspondents above see the MSTA as a Sovereign Citizen movement, at least one of them was quite well-versed in and supported the Sovereign Citizen ideas. As established above, there are different sects of the MSTA. At least a couple of them publicly denounce the Sovereign Citizens Movement.

Yet, the language in many of the documents sent to us are quite similar to that of the Sovereign Citizen Movement, so it is easy to see how the two have merged in some places in recent years. They speak of "legal trickery" and go on and on about archaic legal language to explain the situation they are in and how to get out of it. But in reality it was brute force and oppression that put New Afrikans where they are as a semi-colony of Amerika. The law is merely a smokescreen to cover that up. So that is where we disagree with the MSTA and those who look to Sovereign Citizen ideology for liberation. They treat the legal concepts they talk about as concepts that define our reality. In contrast, we believe it is people, and ultimately the masses, who define humyn destiny. The MSTA's and Sovereign Citizens Movement's approach is a sort of idealism, where the ideas are these legal concepts that they hold up as the ultimate cause of their predicament and solution to it.

Some of the materials sent to us were from the Moorish Order of the Roundtable, founded in 1982 (rvbeypublications.com). This group happens to be the target of an article "Debunking sovereignty myths" on moorishsciencetemple.org. So we see there is disagreement and even confusion among those calling themselves Moors on this question. We support those who are working towards greater clarity. The piece by the BORO comrade above puts the issue plainly, and the work of BORO speaks to their efforts to put a scientific political agenda into practice. We will continue to work with the comrade trying to start the Moorish Islamic Liberation Movement to move in a similar direction.

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