In 1913, a man named Noble Drew Ali, (born Timothy Drew) Formed a religious organization called The Moorish Science Temple, based on a supposed lost section of the Koran
. Drew's teachings were heavily influenced by Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ
, which was written by Levi Dowling in 1908, and flourished again in the late 60's
and was an influential precursor to the New Age
Although presented as a sect of Islam, the Moorish Science Temple also drew inspiration from Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism and Taoism. It's goal was to present a message of self-determination, personal transformation, indigenous identity
in the Western Hemisphere, pride, uplift, civic involvement, and self-sufficiency. Although much smaller in size than at it's heyday, the organization still exists today. Converts, often added the suffix "Bey"
to their surnames.
After the death of Ali, one of his ministers Wallace Dodd Ford (fictionalized as the character Jimmy Zizmo
in Jeffrey Eugenides Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Middlesex) moved to Detroit, rechristened Himself Wallace Fard Muhammad and founded The Nation Of Islam
. After the disappearance of Fard Muhammad, leadership of the Nation fell to one of his early followers Elijah Muhammad, a former freemason. He combined the teachings of masonry, philosophies of Moorish Science with Black Nationalist ideology
similar to that of Marcus Garvey. The Nation evolved It's own lessons
, including the memorization and recitation of The Actual Facts
Perhaps the most famous member was Malcolm X
*, who served as head of The Nation's Harlem Mosque. One member of his congregation, Clarence 13X, grew dissatisfied with the teachings of the Nation, and set out on his own, forming the Nation of Gods and Earths
(NGE). While adopting the basic philosophies
of The Nation of Islam, The NGE differed from the NOI in that it was based heavily on the idea that every Black man is himself God, and therefore, there is no real need for a central religion, church, or leaders. This philosophy caught on mostly with young people. In the place of organized worship, members of the NGE, known as 5 percenters, spread the beliefs in the form of Supreme Mathematics
and the Supreme Alphabet
. This process is known as "Dropping Science".
The NGE mostly flourished mostly as a Youth movement in New York city and other areas of the Northeast, and inevitably became intertwined with the rise of Hip Hop and Rap Music
). 5% teachings can be found in the music of the Poor Righteous teachers, The Wu Tang Clan, Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, and Brand Nubian
. The 7, star and crescent symbol seen in the Brand Nubian video is the official symbol of the NGE, and is derived from the circle 7
symbol on the cover of the Moorish Science Koran and the Star and Crescent
used by the Nation of Islam. The Masonic symbol prominently features the letter "G"
Which some say stands for god, and is the 7th letter of the alphabet.
*The "X" was considered a placeholder, used to indicate that Nation of Islam's members original African family names had been lost. They acknowledged European surnames were slave names, often assigned by the slaveowners to mark their ownership. Members of the NOI used the "X" while waiting for their Islamic names, which they received later in their conversion.