Declaration of Non-Existence of the Autonomous Moorish Orthodox Church
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
What are “I” and “You”?
In the niches of a lamp
Through which the One Light radiates.
“I” and “You” are the veil
Between heaven and earth;
Lift this veil and you will see
How all sects and religions are one.
Lift this veil and you will ask —
When “I” and “You” do not exist
What is mosque?
What is synagogue?
What is fire temple?
Mahmud Shabistari – One Light
It is said that when the Revivifier of his Age left Còrdoba for Damascus in AH 619, so true religion departed the West. But is there anywhere so far-flung and desolate that a desiring heart cannot find its true path to the East ? Six centuries after that epic departure, at the 1893 Columbian Exposition at Chicago (so it is said) a visiting Sheikh from the Maghreb converted the parents of one Timothy Drew to Islam. He who was to be recognised in his time as Saviour Noble Drew Ali, founder of the Moorish Science Temple, himself journeyed to Egypt, and was initiated into the secrets of the deathless Masters. Cynics may dispute whether his journey took place in the historical past ‘as it really was’. This need not concern us. The time of the seekers is eternal and all who journey Eastward encounter those who have walked ‘before’ them. The path we have chosen (though ‘we’ have ‘chosen’ nothing) is that of Noble Ali Drew, the ‘Episcopi Vagantes’, Cagliostro, the Free Spirit, and many seekers and scientists ‘before’ and ‘after’ then – yet it is also nothing but our own. The mirror shows us nothing but our own faces. And we call on all those who wish to journey with us to join us, whilst knowing that we all travel utterly alone. As ‘founders’, we are all too aware of our own futility. The Church of the Free Moors is an impossible enterprise, as it lies in a realm beyond time and space, beyond both worlds, and ultimately beyond words.
The Autonomous Moorish Orthodox Church will be a Utopia or it will be nothing
All too often in these times, mere information is mistaken for knowledge, mere measurement is taken for wisdom. Psychometrics, biometrics, econometrics and sociometrics – these are the horsemen of our Apocalypse. The obsession with simply enumerating things comes down to counting the shadows dividing them. Dazzled by the variety and profusion of the many, what is forgotten is the One…
…And yet, in the disreputable basements and old warehouses, at gatherings of pleasure-seekers and drinkers of wine – where to live is to dance – the Scientists presiding over the proceedings know that however fast you can chop, break or shatter the beats, making a void – a tiny nothingness – between them, it is all for nothing without the whole, without the flow of the music, which passes infinitely from one dance floor to another, as night and revelry move across the globe, chased Westwards by the sun. Yet, this infinite, unstoppable rhythm itself is nothingness, is non-existence. One loves not the one who sits, but the sitting, not the notes of the music but the dance. The dying fire flares, leaving glowing embers – solve et coagula. As Moorish Scientists, we seek out all the True Sciences – the deciphering of sacred letters, alchemy, and that mystical optics which reveals the unique in many; This is the vision of God-in-things which, the sheikh says is higher than things-in-god.
The Autonomous Moorish Orthodox Church will be a Science or it will be nothing.
Even here where we stand, at the edge of the World, traces of the East lie dormant, shining sparks of once glorious empires. As the Brethren of Purity met in the bazaars and coffee houses of Baghdad and Basra, so a shabby alleyway in the most desolate of Northern industrial towns can reveal itself, for those who know, as the shining gateway that leads to the courtyard of the House of Sciences. What we have been taught to call ‘Europe’ – in truth the oldest and most blameworthy of heresies – has pushed ever onwards from its reprieve at the walls of Vienna. But the Caliph failed because he was mistaken – there is no need to besiege the city walls when the foundations are rotting. The first coin minted by an English King was marked with the Declaration of Faith. Hadrian’s wall stands upon the ruins of Mithric temples. The cloisters of Oxford were once walked by the Moorish Scientist Roger Bacon, and the adepts of the Order of Divine Love – founded there in 1898. But the True Moors have need of such geographical determinism – the True East knows no compass, map or GPS satellite. The Sheikh al-Ishraq, Suhravardi the murdered, tells of the Prince of the East, who, having lost his way woke at the bottom of a well, exiled to the occident. The path to the East is not to the left or the right but upwards and out of the well.
The Autonomous Moorish Orthodox Church will Be – and it will be Nothing.
For the Secretariat of the Consistory of the See of the Far Maghreb
-1 Safar 1431