Thursday, May 28, 2015

I continued my walk...

...on Saturday, up Ashland Avenue and west on Augusta Boulevard. (I actually had a destination in mind by this point.) On the way, I happened upon a church, above, which a piece in the Reader described as looking: any of the dozens of Polish churches dotting the Ukrainian Village, with wide red doors, a steepled roof, and a ring of cheery stained-glass windows.

But what's with that sign over the front door?

Moorish Science -- what?

Moorish Science Temple of America? This is going to require a visit to Wikipedia.

Apparently, a guy from North Carolina named Timothy Drew founded the Moorish Science Temple of America in 1913 in Newark, New Jersey. Known to his followers as Prophet Noble Drew Ali, he based his religion on the belief that African Americans had descended from the Moors and thus were originally Islamic.

After claiming the Midwest was "closer to Islam," Drew Ali moved to Chicago in 1925. He established a center here as well as temples in other major cities and the denomination expanded rapidly in the late 1920s.

Drew Ali died at age 43 in 1929 and was succeeded by, among others, David Ford-El. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Drew Ali. When his leadership was rejected, Wallace Fard Muhammad, as he later came to be known, moved to Detroit and formed what would become the Nation of Islam.

The Moorish Science temple in Chicago was known as Temple No. 9 and it bought the building above from Buddhist monks in 1984. From that article in the Reader (my emphasis):

On the third week of September, hundreds of Moors, as they call themselves, travel to the temple from around the country for their annual convention. It's the biggest event of the Moorish calendar, and it's been held in Chicago since the first one in 1928. That makes Temple No. 9 arguably the most important Moorish temple in the country.  

Temple No. 9 only has 23 active members now, many of them quite old—50 is young there—but they tell stories of the 30s and 40s, when there were 10,000 Moors in Chicago alone.

Who knew?  

No comments: