Who Are the Moors?

By D.A. Horton

The Founder and Formation of the Movement

North Carolinian Timothy Drew (1886–1929), later Noble Drew Ali, felt his duty was to save nations from the wrath of Allah.[1] Ali taught ‘‘Negroes’’ in America were Asiatic because their ancestry traced directly to the Moors of southwest Africa before being enslaved in North America. Ali claimed Marcus Garvey[2] was his forerunner like John the Baptist was for Jesus.[3]

In 1913, Ali founded the Canaanite Temple in Newark to remind his followers of their Asiatic roots in Canaan. After a congregational split in 1916, Ali changed the name of his movement to the Holy Moabite Temple of the World, and in 1925, moved his congregation to Chicago.[4] In 1928, the organization was reorganized under The Moorish Science Temple of America (TMSTA).[5]

During Ali’s lifetime, the movement grew to more than 30,000 followers in New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Michigan, and Illinois.[6] TMSTA claims 70% of the African American population in the United States was somehow connected to TMSTA.[7]  Ali passed away in 1929 and shortly thereafter future leaders split the movement in three ways. Although each faction exists today, they all share Ali’s goal to see divine salvation brought to their people.

In the Circle Seven Koran[8] (the scriptures of TMSTA), Ali instructs his pure nation not to marry the pale skin nations of Europe or serve the gods of the Europeans. The call then is for the TMSTA to return “the Church and Christianity back to the European Nations, as their forefathers prepared it for their earthly salvation. While we, the Moorish Americans, are returning to Islam, which was founded by our forefathers for our earthly and divine salvation” (48:6–8). This profession reduces Christianity to a European religion while negating its Asiatic roots which quickly produced fruit in Africa.[9]

The Friction of TMSTA Teachings with Christianity

Who is God? (Theology Proper)

When speaking to members of TMSTA, its necessary to consider how they view God’s nature. The Circle Seven Koran presents Allah and God the Father as the same being. Allah sent Jesus (3:20–21), who taught that Allah is God (7:23–26). This belief builds on the assumption Allah is mentioned in the Bible. This teaching cites alah (Hebrew) andelahh (Aramaic), as directly addressing Allah.[10] However, the Hebrew word alah means to “wail”[11] and fails to align with the Arabic term for God. The Aramaic word elahh does correspond to the Hebrew Eloah[12], which means God. Yet, it’s necessary to compare the characteristics of Allah and Eloah to see if their actions and words are consistent.

In the Bible, God reveals His nature as triune, meaning He co-equally and co-eternally exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God the Fatheras His one unique Son (John 3:16–17). Jesus said He and the Father were one (John 10:30)  and emphasized the deity of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). Scripture never records Jesus addressing God the Father as Allah.[13]

Considering this, Ali claims Jesus taught Allah is worshipped universally, saying, “All people worship Allah, the One; but all the people see Him not alike” (10:13). Ali also claims while Jesus was teaching Hindus He said, “Man names the part of Allah he sees, and this to him is all of Allah; and every nation sees a part of Allah, and every nation has a name for Allah. You Brahmans call Him Parabrahm; in Egypt he is Thoth, and Zeus is His name in Greece, Jehovah is His Hebrew name; but everywhere He is the causeless cause, the rootless root from which all things have grown” (10:18-19).

To be clear, Ali declares Jesus’ teaching united Allah the with YHWH as well as:

  • Parabrahm—is not a tangible or personal god, rather an “all inclusive—kosmos,” the “highest spiritual sense.”[14]
  • Thoth—the Egyptian god of the moon, math, the sciences, and magic who was created by Ra’s spoken word rendering Thoth motherless.[15]
  • Zeus—the chief ruler of the Greeks gods, son of Cronus and Rhea.[16]

No Scriptures support any such teachings of Jesus. The characteristics of Parabrahm, Thoth, and Zeus contradict how God the Father reveals Himself in Scripture regarding His personhood (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 32:8; and Matthew 3:16-17). The Bible identifies God as the creator of all creation while He is not created (Isaiah 40:28). The incarnation of God the Son took place through a miraculous conception through God the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:34-37) that resulted in the virgin birth (Luke 2:1-7). This brief comparison highlights that the God of the Bible and Allah of the Circle Seven Koran are not the same being.

Who is Jesus? (Christology)

The Circle Seven Koran expands details of biblical accounts with speculative content aligned with The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ. This text supposedly reveals details of Jesus’ life during the years Scripture is silent.[17] Doing this allows Ali to align previously undiscovered teachings of God the Son with a reduced and reconstructed “Jesus” who is the voice of Allah in the flesh.[18] A plain reading of the Bible will provide enough evidence for the reader to see a distinction between God the Son and the “Jesus” fashioned in the mind of Ali.

One example is what the wise men shared with Herod about Jesus’ birth. Ali claims the wisemen satisfied Herod Archelaus by telling him both John the Baptist and Jesus were dead.[19] The timeline of Jesus’ literal birth depicts Herod the Great, not Herod Archelaus, as referenced in Matthew 2:1-18. Herod Archelaus is not mentioned until verse 22, after Herod the Great has died and after Joseph, Mary, and Jesus re-enter Israel from Egypt. Also, Matthew 2:7-12 informs readers that the wise men were warned in a dream by God to not return to Herod; there is no mention of them reappearing before Herod the Great and lying about the deaths of Jesus and John the Baptist. Other examples range from Jesus being called the son of Allah[20], being a pupil in the Temple of Jagannath[21], and teaching that Allah and man are one.[22]

A second example includes an alleged conversation between Jesus and the Greek god Apollo and the Silent Brotherhood in Greece. Ali records Jesus redefining the gospel message and the Great Commission given to His church (Matthew 28:16-20). Ali claims Jesus commissioned Apollo and the Silent Brotherhood to teach “the Gospel of the resurrection of the dead and eternal life through Jesus, the love of Allah made manifest to men” (17:12). , Ali records Jesus clasping Apollo’s hand before saying, “My human flesh was changed to higher form by love divine, and I can manifest the flesh or in the higher planes of life at will. What I can do all men can do. Go teach the Gospel of the Omnipotence of man” (17:13-14).  To be clear, Ali’s claims include Jesus declaring His work can be replicated by any human. Also, the definition given for “gospel” centers on the omnipotence of humanity.

Scripture grounds the gospel message in the announcement of God’s gracious offer to humans for them to be delivered from His wrath which is the just penalty for their sin (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Ephesians 2:8-10). The gospel as revealed in Scripture, is not a message explaining how to work to earn salvation, rather the belief and trust in the unique, unable to be replicated, finished work of Jesus alone (Luke 24:44; Acts 15:7-11 ; Galatians 1:6-10). Lastly, Jesus never commissions His disciples to do anything independent of Him, rather the believers’ dependency is on Him for all things in life, from provisions (Matthew 6:25–34) to every breath taken (Isaiah 42:5).

What is Salvation? (Soteriology)

The TMSTA doctrine of salvation identifies forgiveness of sins results from ceremonial washing and the “purity of life” (4:18). In 4:19–28, Ali explains that as the body is being washed, it is symbolizing the soul’s cleansing. Chapter 7:27 records Jesus describing salvation as “a ladder reaching from the heart of man to heart of Allah.” In addition, the Circle Seven Koran teaches heaven and hell are not above or below, because Allah never created a heaven or hell to put mankind in; mankind self-inflicts this reality (12:9). The TMSTA teaches heaven and hell are a state of mind experienced here and now (12:6).

In Scripture, Jesus declared He alone is, the way, the truth, and the life and no human comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).  Salvation is not a ladder reaching from the desperately wicked heart of a person (Jeremiah 17:9) to God’s heart. It is God removing the heart of the stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26), thus verifying the supernatural process of new birth by God the Holy Spirit (John 3:3–8) who makes the sinner a new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).

John 3:3 records Jesus telling Nicodemus that unless one is born again, one cannot see the kingdom of God. If heaven were simply a state of mind, why would spiritual birth be necessary to experience it? In Luke 20:34–38, Jesus shares a reality of the resurrection—a state of being where death will not be experienced again, showing the resurrected ones were once physically dead. Revelation 20:11–15 records the final judgment of all who rejected the gospel’s testimony of Jesus Christ. Their eternal reality will not be merely a state of mind but, sadly, eternal separation from God, consciously suffering in the lake of fire.


[1] “Moorish American History,” Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc., accessed February 21, 2016, http://www.moorishsciencetempleofamericainc.com.

[2] Garvey, who started a movement causing an exodus out of the Anglo-dominated church, coupled his teachings of the need for blacks to form an independent society with church dogma, evidenced by his appointment of the former Episcopal rector the Rev. George Alexander McGuire as bishop over the Independent Episcopalian Church that would later be brought under Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Elmer T. Clark, The Small Sects in America (New York: Abingdon, 1949), 172.

[3] Clark, Small Sects, 172.

[4] Michael A. Gomez, Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of Muslims in the Americas (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 215.

[5] Gomez, Black Crescent; according to the Moorish Science Temple of America website (“Moorish American History”) with the 1928 incorporation came a new charter, Divine Constitution and By-Laws consisting of seven acts. There also follows seven additional laws to strengthen the guidelines for better cohesion in the organization. The object of our organization is to help in the great program of uplifting fallen humanity and teach those things necessary to make our members better citizens. The Moorish Movement is still alive today. There are many small temples all over America still following the great teachings of Prophet Nobel Drew Ali. The star and crescent, fezzes, turban, membership card, button, Moorish Flag, and the correction of “El” or “Bey” to the surname signify Moorish identity.

[6] Abdul Noor, The Supreme Understanding: The Teachings of Islam in North America (Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2002), 4–6.

[7] “Who Is Prophet Drew Ali?,” accessed February 22, 2016, http://www.themoorishsciencetempleofamerica.org/comments_and_faq.html.

[8] A full version of the Circle Seven Koran can be read here, http://www.hh-bb.com/circle-7-koran.pdf

[9] See chapters 1, 3, and 6 in Global Gospel: An Introductory to Christianity on Five Continents by Douglas Jacobsen, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015).

[10] “Allah in the Bible—Hebrew Lexicon,” accessed January 9, 2016, http://www.allahinthebible.com/.

[11] Robert L Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries, updated ed. (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1998).

[12] Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic.

[13] Drew Ali, The Circle Seven Koran, Chapter 10:18-19

[14] Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, vol. 1 of The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy (reprint., Forgotten Books, 2018), 30.

[15] “Deities in Ancient Egypt – Thoth,” Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum,  https://egyptianmuseum.org/deities-thoth.

[16] “Zeus: Greek God of the Sky and Thunder, King of the Gods”, Greek Mythology, https://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Zeus/zeus.html.

[17] Levi H. Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ, (London: L.N. Fowler and Company, 1920),  http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/agjc/.

[18] Ali, The Circle Seven Koran, Chapter 17:1-8.

[19] Ali, The Circle Seven Koran, Chapter 2:1-3.

[20] Ali, The Circle Seven Koran, Chapter 6:8.

[21] Ali, The Circle Seven Koran, Chapter 6:18-20.

[22] Ali, The Circle Seven Koran, Chapter 7:23-26.










Published August 22, 2022

D.A. Horton

D.A. Horton serves as an Assistant Professor and Program Director of the Intercultural Studies program at California Baptist University. He is also blessed to serve as an Associate Teaching Pastor at The Grove Community Church. He has planted churches in Kansas City, MO and Long Beach, CA. He has been married to his best friend Elicia for 19 years. They have three kids and love calling Riverside home.