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Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Syracuse’s Moorish Science Temple of America is one of 15 chapters in nation

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By Renée K. Gadoua, The Post-Standard on July 26, 2011 at 7:05 PM, updated July 27, 2011 at 7:27 PM Editors’ note: This story was originally published on Feb. 22, 2008.​

Syracuse, NY — Jakada Makkah Bey begins Friday prayer services for Syracuse’s Moorish Science Temple of America by raising all five fingers on his left hand and two on his right.

“Seven is a perfect number, ” he says. “Our goal is to perfect our ways. Our ultimate goal is to be at peace.”

Bey is the spiritual leader – referred to as governor or sheik – of Moorish Science Temple No. 4, which has met in Syracuse since 2001.

The group is one of 15 Moorish Science temples in the country, said Chief Minister Ra Saadi El, who is based in Atlanta. The Syracuse group attracts as many as 20 people to its Friday services, Bey said. There are about 200 members nationwide in the group known as the Moorish Temple of America (1928 Portion), officials said.

The sect is considered the oldest African-American Islamic group in America, founded in 1913 by the Prophet Noble Drew Ali.

“Our core belief is there is no God but Allah and Prophet Drew Ali is his prophet in these days, ” Bey said. “He is the prophet sent to us to alleviate the ills of the Asiatic people. He is the savior of the world.”

Other Muslims consider Muhammad their prophet. Muhammad is said to have received the Quran, the Islamic holy book, through the angel Gabriel in the seventh century. Members of the Moorish Temple follow a version of the Quran attributed to Ali.

Beginning around 1913, Ali taught that blacks are descendants of the Moors and their return to Islam will redeem them from racial oppression. He taught that people brought to America as slaves were denied their names, religious practice and culture.

Moorish Temple members often wear fezzes or turbans and add “Bey” or “El” to their names as signs of their Moorish heritage.

Ali was born in 1886 and died in 1929. Biographical accounts differ. One describes him as the son of former slaves; another says his father was Moroccan and his mother Cherokee.

Ali was influenced by Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican black nationalist, and his Universal Negro Improvement Association. When Ali died in 1929, Wallace D. Fard became a leader of the movement, which splintered into several groups. Fard, also known as Wallace Fard Muhammad, founded the Nation of Islam in 1930.

2011-07-27-ap-moorish-science2.JPGView full sizeLauren Long / The Post-StandardJakada Makkah Bey leads a local Moorish Science Temple of America group that meets weekly in downtown Syracuse.

El said Moorish Science Temple members pay dues, follow the religion’s precepts, pray and fast. “You must be mindful. You must be respectful to others and to the government, ” he said. “We give everybody a fair shake regardless of race, creed, gender or whatever. We’re friendly to anyone who is friendly to us.”

Robert L. Harris, professor of African-American history at Cornell University, said the Moorish Science Temple of America was considered radical in the 1920s and’30s. “In that day, they sought to differentiate from people who had a slave mentality, ” he said. “They were considered quite rebellious. I don’t think they are viewed in that way today.”

The group is neither very visible nor influential, he said. “They are earnest people who are proud of their heritage, ” he said. “This is a variant of Islam.”

On a recent Friday, Bey preached to three adults and one child in the storefront of a kung fu studio on West Onondaga Street in Syracuse. “Islam, ” he said, explaining later that the group interprets the word to mean “peace.”

“Islam, ” the group responded.

“We give honor to Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, ” Bey said.

“We give honor to Marcus Garvey, ” he said.

“Love, truth, peace, freedom and justice must be proclaimed, ” he said.

For nearly an hour, Bey read from texts of the Moorish Temple and talked about topics including characteristics of Muslims (the group prefers the spelling “Moslem”), scientific and cultural contributions of Muslims, and similarities between Islam and other religious traditions.

“We take joy in walking the straight path, ” he said. “It’s a hard path. We take joy in following the path of our father and the tenets of our national creed.” As he spoke, his eyes often focused on photos of Drew Ali on the wall.

Shante Harris El joined the Moorish Temple in 2005. “The teachings of nationality and how they relate to the prophet drew me, ” she said. “You need to know your nationality to connect with your God.”

Her parents are Christian, she said. “This was definitely where I felt at home, ” she said.

Bey said up to 20 people attend Friday services; about eight people were at a Jan. 8 celebration of Ali’s birthday.

Bey volunteers at Auburn Correctional Facility and teaches for the University of the Muslim Science Temple of America, an online and correspondence school. He wouldn’t say how much he earns but said he ministers and teaches full time.

El, the chief minister, said Bey’s job is to set an example and build up the Moorish community. “A true Moorish American way of life is worship, ” he said. “Everything we do is a consciousness that we are serving God and making the world better.”

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Bogus court filings spotlight little-known sect

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — From New Jersey to California, police, courthouse officials and real estate agents are being confronted with a baffling new problem: bogus legal documents filed by people claiming to follow an obscure religion called Moorish Science. Their motives range from financial gain to simply causing a nuisance.

No one is more exasperated by the phenomenon than the leaders of the century-old Moorish Science Temple of America, who say the growing crop of “paperwork terrorists” has nothing to do with their faith or its teachings.

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“It’s just distressing that some individuals would take something as pure and righteous as this organization and try to tarnish it,” said Christopher Bennett-Bey, grand sheikh of the group’s temple in Charlotte, one of more than 30 located around the country.

It’s not clear why the flimflam artists are invoking the group. But one expert said divisions dating back to the death of the sect’s founder have resulted in small pockets of people who claim to be followers but have little understanding of the faith.

The bad filings include deeds, liens and other documents, often written in confusing pseudo-legal jargon and making outlandish claims about being exempt from U.S. law. In some cases, filers have actually moved into foreclosed houses and changed the locks. Other times, people seeking to slip their mortgages have used bogus documents to waste the time and money of their banks. Fake liens have also been maliciously filed to target enemies.

“The ideas are particularly attractive to people who are hurting economically, although let’s be candid: For some people it’s just pure greed,” said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.

Law enforcement can pursue theft or fraud charges if a case warrants it, but states’ laws vary on whether filing sham paperwork is a crime in itself. Lawmakers in North Carolinafailed to pass a law making bad filings a crime this year.

National numbers on the scheme aren’t available, but the area around the largest city in North Carolina has been a hot spot. In 2011 alone, more than 200 bogus legal documents have been filed with Mecklenburg County by people claiming to be followers of Moorish Science, with another few dozen in neighboring Union County.

As long as a legal document is properly formatted, county officials have to file it alongside valid paperwork, according to Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds David Granberry. The content, however, is often outlandish and includes strange punctuation and capitalization or lengthy digressions about the 14th Amendment, the Constitution or maritime law.

“If we can legally reject it for some reason, we’ll do that. But as soon as they figure out how to correct it, we’ll get a stream of these documents because word gets around,” he said.

Having a bogus lien or deed legally purged requires the county — or the subject of the lien — to go through a potentially lengthy process that often involves hiring lawyers. A document with a $50 filing fee can easily end up costing the county $2,000, Granberry said.

The tactics being used by the Moor impostors originated with tax-dodgers and white supremacist groups in the 1980s, experts said.

“These are people who engage in the most bizarre leaps of logic. They literally believe that if you lowercase the ‘u’ in the phrase United States, you will break the bonds of government tyranny and become a free man,” said Potok, the expert with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The occupation of foreclosed homes appears to be a new wrinkle, Potok said. Such cases have been recorded in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, California and elsewhere. They often end in the arrests of the squatters.

Joe Pipitone, a realtor in Vineland, N.J., encountered the problem earlier this year. After selling a home that had been foreclosed on, he got a call from the new owner to say that someone was already living in the $300,000 house. Pipitone was baffled to find that a deed had been filed claiming ownership by a woman saying she was a member of the Moorish Science Temple. Police said the woman, who was arrested and held on $85,000 bond, had changed the locks and put the utilities in her name.

“I’ve been selling real estate for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Pipitone said. “You’d think nobody would be stupid enough to try something like this.”

Leaders of the largest Moorish Science group are baffled by the tactic.

“I don’t understand the underlying motive,” Bennett-Bey said. “I think it’s just out of convenience, or they’re looking for some status.”

Moorish Science followers trace their faith back to 1913 and revere its founder, North Carolina native Timothy Drew, as a prophet. They call him the Noble Drew Ali. The faith blends aspects of Islam with elements of other faiths and philosophies, and has its own scriptures, generally called the Holy Koran or the Circle 7 Koran. The Moorish Science Temple taught that the people called blacks were actually the descendants of “Asiatic Moors” or Moroccans who had been in North America for hundreds of years.

Establishing a base in Chicago, the group aimed to instill a sense of pride in its members, decked out in fezzes and bearing identity cards proclaiming “I am a citizen of the USA!” at a time when blacks were legally relegated to second-class status. To make an explicit link with their proclaimed Moorish heritage, members of the group added “Bey” or “El” to their names. At its height, tens of thousands of people belonged to the organization.

“The Moorish Science of Temple of America was founded for the express purpose of uplifting fallen humanity,” said Azeem Hopkins-Bey, the group’s national spokesman. “We teach that our members must learn to love instead of hate.”

After Ali’s death in 1929, the group suffered a number of schisms and lost followers to groups that included the Nation of Islam.

Today, numerous groups claim affiliation with Moorish Science. Some consist only a handful of members and in many cases have little understanding of the faith, said Spencer Dew, a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

“There are folks who call themselves Moors or Moes without knowing anything about the history of Moorish Science,” said Dew, who teaches a summer class for the Chicago Police Department on religious groups and crime.

The Moorish Science Temple of America is working to distance itself from the people filing bogus legal claims, calling them “radical and subversive fringe groups” in a recent statement. Moorish leaders are looking into legal remedies, and Bennett-Bey has been advising authorities on how to distinguish registered members from impostors.

“It’s like coming to this country and saying you’re an American citizen,” he said. “If you haven’t gone through the process and gotten the proper documentation, you can call yourself whatever you want, but that doesn’t make it true.”

What is the Moorish National Republic?

March 7, 2013, by 

(Memphis) It’s hard to track down the Moorish National Republic group in Memphis.

They exist according to a woman who is squatting in a $2 million dollar home on Shady Grove.

Most Moorish groups found online said they have nothing to do with the Memphis group.

“We are not a sovereignty group we are not a land grabbing thieving group,” said Shaykh Ra Saadi El with the Moorish Science Temple of America. “We have driver’s license. We pay taxes. We are not a sovereignty group,” he added.

We went to a home in south Memphis where the woman who is squatting at the east Memphis home told Memphis Police she lived when she was arrested in October.

Tabitha Gentry, also known as Abka Re Bey, was charged for attempting to run over officers.

The woman at the home knew Gentry and said she has heard her mention Moorish National Republic.

“I heard about it. I tell them when they come over here, everybody is sitting on the porch. I tell them I don’t want to hear that crazy stuff. Leave because I don’t want to hear it,” said the woman.

After Gentry’s run in with police and claim of being a sovereign citizen who doesn’t follow American laws I wanted to know if Gentry was violent.

“No more than her mouth, other than that they are not violent,” said the woman.

Memphis Police said Thursday they continue to investigate the case.

http://wreg.com/2013/03/07/what-is-the-moorish-national-republic/#ooid=81MTYwYToJ9qe7YDeA9F8WSpTNGDinud

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