Moorish Science Temple of America



Chicago, IL

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:



Religious Organization




E. Braswell Bay

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The Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) is an ethno-religious identity movement which draws on Islamic and Christian theology, as well as the teachings of early black nationalists such as Marcus Garvey. Founded in 1913 by Timothy Drew, who called himself “Noble Drew Ali,” the movement started in Newark, New Jersey, but eventually established its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. Members of the MSTA engaged in intimidation and violence towards rivals and non-members, and Drew was arrested in 1929 for his alleged involvement in the murder of a political opponent. He was released, but died under unknown circumstances shortly afterwards. 1 2

There are two websites claiming to represent the movement. The MSTA site describes its followers as “Moslems [sic] who have accepted the religion of our Ancient [sic] forefathers” and are “Moorish American” by nationality. 3 The MSTA 1913 site, referring to the year that the movement was founded, says that its followers are “inspired by the lofty teachings of the Koran.” The site also claims that Islam, which it refers to as “the Mohammed religion [sic],” is “acknowledged by nearly two hundred and fifty [sic] souls” around the world but is also the religion of “over 200 millions [sic] of people.” 4

Religious Teachings

The MSTA follows a text which it calls “The Holy Koran.” This book differs significantly from the Quran which is followed by orthodox Muslims around the world and is believed to have been revealed to Muhammad sometime in the 7th century AD. By contrast, the MSTA “Koran” declares that it was “divinely prepared” by “the noble prophet Drew Ali” with guidance of Allah, the deity of Islam. This “Koran” also recognizes founding Saudi Arabian monarch Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, whom it refers to as “Abdul Aziz Ibu Suad,” as another significant figure for the Moorish Temple. The Moorish Temple “Koran” claims to contain guidance that will “redeem man from his sinful and fallen stage of humanity back to the highest plane of life.” 5

Separatist Movement

An organization which calls itself the “Moorish National Republic Federal Government” maintains an online presence, including a “Moorish American Consulate” webpage styled after an official diplomatic website. The “consulate” features the flag of Morocco and a fictional flag with a color scheme and cedar tree similar to the flag of Lebanon. 6 In August 2011, the “consulate” sent a letter to President Barack Obama proclaiming the “Moorish Nation” to be “The Aboriginal Natural People” of America. The letter also claims that English and other European settlers, who it refers to as “Engla-men,” were “conditionally allowed” to come to America by the Moors. Furthermore, the letter claims that white people are “not originally Europeans” and were given permission to live on the continent by a fictional “ancient Moabite Queen.” 7

In November 2019, a member of a group called Rise of the Moors attempted to sue the Danvers, Massachusetts Police Department over a traffic stop. Lesley Malave, who also goes by the name Mooreno Bey, claimed that local authorities had no jurisdiction over him. He also refused to pay the filing fees for the lawsuit and attempted to offer a silver coin instead. 8

In July 2021, members of Rise of the Moors engaged in a standoff with Massachusetts state police officers by the side of a highway. According to the police, the Moors members were standing outside their vehicles with rifles and other firearms. All eleven members were arrested and charged with crimes including unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition and conspiracy to commit a crime. 9

In September 2021, the New York Times reported that a self-proclaimed member of the “Moorish” nation had attempted to illegally seize the recently purchased home of a New Jersey woman, occupying the house and changing the locks. The man, named Hubert A. John but living under the pseudonym “Jaleel El-Hul,” was charged with criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, and making terroristic threats. The Times also reported that Lamont Butler, another self-proclaimed “Moorish” national, had similarly occupied a house in Maryland in 2013. Butler was arrested and convicted of several crimes for breaking into and occupying the house. 10

According to the New York Times, the MSTA disavows the Moorish separatist movement. 11

Additionally, the “Moorish American Consulate” disavows the Rise of the Moors movement. 12


  1. Moorish Science Temple of America. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  2. “FBI File on the Moorish Science Temple of America.” Gale. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  3. MSTA. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  4. MSTA 1913. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  5. The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America. Library of Congress. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  6. Moorish National Republic Federal Government. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  7. “Proclamations Affirming Moors Are Aboriginals.” Moorish American Consulate. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  8. Tonya Alanez. “Rise of the Moors member sued Danvers police, then sought to pay filing fees with a silver coin.” Boston Globe. July 8, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  9. John Hilliard et al. “Group of men involved in hours-long highway standoff expected to face ‘a variety of charges.’” Boston Globe. July 4, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  10. Sarah Maslin Nir. “She Bought Her Dream Home. Then a ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Changed the Locks.” The New York Times. September 29, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  11. Sarah Maslin Nir. “She Bought Her Dream Home. Then a ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Changed the Locks.” The New York Times. September 29, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2021.
  12. Moorish National Republic Federal Government. Accessed September 30, 2021.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: October - September
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 2019

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    Moorish Science Temple of America

    5001 S. Wabash Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60609-5833