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Moorish Orthodox Church


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Often when people ask me what religion I am, I say I'm Moorish Orthodox. This is probably because it's the most ambiguously named of the religious organizations I identify with (Buddhists, Church of Satan, Daoists, Voodoo, and Secular Jews are the others) and the most theologically loose.


The Moorish Orthodox Church, as it is today, was started by a Jazz musician named Warren Tartgalia who had contact with a small, eccentric religious sect called the Moorish Science Temple. The Moorish Science Temple was based around a charismatic leader who called himself Noble Drew Ali and a book called The Circle 7 Koran (which is nothing like the Muslim Koran- it's 64 pages long and is made up of plagarized Masonic and Thesophical writings, along with a few bizarre essays about how the Celts are "really" a West African tribe that immigrated to Europe, and a story about Jesus boxing Apollo for control of the souls of emancipated slaves.) The Moorish Science Temple taught Black Americans were really Moors (and were part of an ancient empire that also included the Irish, Hispanics, and Native Americans) and he was the first to advocates Islam in black communities, though as stated above his definition of Islam was NOT a conventional one.


Tartgalia decided to take Ali's strange aesthetic and create an universalist religion. In the basement of a head shop, he held religious services which were inspired by a mixture of Noble Drew Ali's Theosphical Islam, New Age mysticism, Timothy Leary's LSD inspired message, Sufism, sexual mysticism, and the local Hindu ashram's teachings. Eventually, he dropped all Orthodoxy and created a true counterculture religion. He made the hierarchy "self-appointed"; there was no clergy and every person came up with their own titles. He destroyed what little theology he developed and declared that every person should come up with their own religious doctrines and think for themselves. There is no holy text, no rules, and no doctrines in the MOC besides what you come up with for yourself. As the Catechism says,


"What is Moorish Orthodoxy? What is its "Catechism"?... (what is) it's doctrine ...In effect, there is none. Moorish Orthodoxy is like a mirror in which each seeker beholds a beloved form, each one different. We have no required ritual and no source of authority other than those the individual imagination provides. We do however perhaps share a certain "taste" or spiritual aesthetic."

(The rest of the Catechism is here: http://deoxy.org/moorish.htm)


The religion is popular with anarchists because it fits their vision for society; no rules, everything is up to the individual. Hakim Bey is the most famous proponent of it today. Bey has written dozens of essays on his vision of a New Age inspired anarchism. There is also a "mosque" in Minnesota that opperates as a "Pro-Gay" center, offering free condoms, sex ed, and (currently unofficial by law) gay marriages.


Today, there are thousands of people of all faiths and no faith that identify themselves as MOC. It is primarily a statement of non-conformity against the major religions.


It appeals to me because it is a religion made by the eccentric for the eccentric. And anyone who knows me, knows I am eccentric. :grin:

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Some more about us...


We have no formal holidays, but these are some customs and traditions...


Our holiest day is St. Patrick's Day, which we call Tag Day. This originated with a story Noble Drew Ali told in which he claimed the snakes that were chased out of Ireland were actually the Moors and that he would "return the snakes to Ireland." Tag Day is celebrated in different ways by different groups. The Moorish Scientists have their Christmas that day. Moorish Orthodox often get drunk and play tag in public areas while wearing either Irish or Arabian traditional clothing.


In October, we have "Moorish Ramadan" which consists of fasting from 7AM to 7PM. The goal of many Moorish Orthodox: find creative ways to get out of Moorish Ramadan. The purpose of this exercise is to parody how people often demand others follow ridiculous religious laws while trying to get out of them themselves. One blogger I saw got drunk every night and slept during the day so that he would technically be fasting during the day. Others do fast but they fast in ways that are more interesting. One I knew vowed to fast from "being an asshole" (he actually wrote it down on an index card: "Fasting from being an asshole.") Another fasted from speaking to experience the world in a new way.

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