The 1899 Moorish Zionist Temple founded (3 decades) after the United States Civil War

Moorish Jews, 1929 (Brooklyn NY)

“In 1899 Leon Richlieu established the Moorish Zionist Temple in Brooklyn. Rabbi Richlieu, as he was called, maintained that he was of Ethiopian origin and that his congregation was composed of black Jews from Palestine and norther Africa.”

Source: African American Religion: Varieties of Protest and Accommodation By Hans A. Baer, Merrill Singer

West Africa Year: 1743. This great Historic Map print shows ancient “Aethiopia included West Africa from Gabon in the south to Niger, Mali, and Mauritania in the north. The Tribes of Judah and Benjamin fled from The Land of Judah in 70 A.D. to the West Coast of Africa and Spain.

“Some were isolated and orthodox, such as Rabbi Leon Richlieu’s Moorish Zionist Temple. Others counted mainstream movements. “Ethiopian Hebrew” Arnold J. Ford tried in vain to have his Beth B’nai Abraham congregation and its emigrationist ideology declared the official religion of Marcus Garvey’s back to Africa Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).”

Source: Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 1

Rabbi Mordecai Herman has been memorialized on the streets of Jerusalem — a Jewish homecoming for a forgotten religious figure. 

Mr. M. Shapiro, a mild mannered Jewish businessman, stopped to chat a few moments with his kosher butcher. The butcher was chuckling: “Funny thing,” he explained, “Some colored people came in this morning and wanted some kosher meat. Real negro people from up in Harlem. They say they are Jews!” He laughed.”

Source: The New York Sun January 29, 1929

Rabbi W.M. Matthew is celebrating his sixteenth year as head of the Commandment Keepers, the Harlem Jewish sect….In defense of his program, Rabbi Matthews explains that the philosophy of the Jews is to acquire wealth and command respect….Rabbi Matthew is certain that the sooner the black man is imbued with this philosophy, the sooner will come the race’s forward movement.”

Source: The Afro-American February 8, 1936

1855 Antique Palestine Israel Map – Ancient Jerusalem

In the early decades of the twentieth century, there appeared in New York and other American cities a set of unusual religious congregations which came to be known as the Black Jews. African in ancestry, Jewish in faith, these groups claimed to be the direct and true heirs of ancient Israel. Although they did not forge strong ties with the wider African American or Jewish communities, they drew steady interest from both…

Source: The Black Jews of Harlem: Representation, Identity, and Race, 1920-1939

1852, Philip Map of Palestine, Israel, Holy Land

“A possible genealogical connection to African American Islam can also be seen, especially in the advent of the black Jewish congregations that were called “Moorish,” similar to the immediate forerunner of the Nation of Islam, the Moorish Science Temple, a black Islamic sect founded in Newark, New Jersey, in 1913.  In 1899 Rabbi Leon Richlieu established the Moorish Zionist Temple in Brooklyn, and in 1921 Mordecai Herman or Mordecai Joseph reformed the Moorish Zionist Temple in Harlem, with affiliate branches in Newark and Philadelphia. See Shapiro, “Factors in the Development of Black Judaism,” p. 266, and Landes, “The Negro Jews of Harlem,” p. 181.”

Source: Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism edited by Yvonne Patricia Chireau, Nathaniel Deutsch, Both Associate Professors of Religion Nathaniel Deutsch

“A similar group, the Moorish Zionist Temple, which was more exclusively Judaic in its beliefs, was founded by Rabbi Leon Richlieu of Brooklyn, New York, in 1899. Richlieu claimed to be of Ethiopian origin, to have been ordained by three rabbis, and to have studied in an Orthodox yeshiva. The group later reformed under the leadership of Mordechai Herman, who set up branches in Philadelphia and in Newark, New Jersey.”

Source: Black Jews in Africa and the Americas By Tudor Parfitt

Source: Islam, Black Nationalism and Slavery: A Detailed History By Adib Rashad

“The History of African Jews, one of the most understudied chapters in African history, would extend back to the days of king Solomon…. By the eighth century there were communities of Jews in most major oases on the desert edge such as Sijilmasa, Tu’at, Gurara, Ghadamis, Sus, and Wadi Nun ” (Lydon, Ghislaine, 2009, p. 66). ‘” The so-called Maghreb jews were the WaKore and Wa’Kara/Wa’n’Gara. Beriberi, Soninke, “El-Berabir” or the ancient Berbers, and the earliest Jews in Africa were but one people.”

Dana Reynolds Marniche commented in a post on Andalusia that certain groups claimed descent from the Jews and in particular Aaron and Jethro in Tarikh el-Fattach

She wrote –

“The Tuareg Inaden blacksmiths caste who are mostly Soninke in fact claims descent from the Jews of Wargla. Similarly the Wangara/Garawan (Soninke) related groups further west and south had traditions of Jewish origin.

‘In today’s Mauretania, endogamous groups of blacksmiths claim Jewish descent and some oral traditions maintain that it’s early inhabitants, the Bafur, were Jews from Wadi Nun…. Other traditions from Mali document the prevalence of Jews in the pre-Islamic period, some claiming that Maghribi Jews from the Dra’a and the Sus regions shared with the Mande their knowledge of blacksmithing.

The History of African Jews, one of the most understudied chapters in African history, would extend back to the days of king Solomon…. By the eighth century there were communities of Jews in most major oases on the desert edge such as Sijilmasa, Tu’at, Gurara, Ghadamis, Sus, and Wadi Nun ” (Lydon, Ghislaine, 2009, p. 66). ‘”

The so-called Maghreb jews were the WaKore and Wa’Kara/Wa’n’Gara. Beriberi, Soninke, “El-Berabir” or the ancient Berbers, and the earliest Jews in Africa were but one people. They were the people of the Niger bend, and many parts of West Africa, i.e. the Negro. Believe it, – or do not!”

Source: Historical References on the Black African Skin color of the original Berber Tribes

Source: Berber Country referred to the ancient Hamitic stock of North Africa


Ezaldeen, Muhammad a.k.a. Lomax Bey Founder Of The Addeynu Allahe Universal Arabic Association


Ezaldeen, Muhammad Born: 1886 Died: 1957 Occupation: founder of the Addeynu Allahe Universal Arabic Association From: Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History. Detroit was directed by the temple’s first leader, James Lomax who formed what may have been called the “Mohammedan Church Temple.” Noble Drew Ali reportedly personally came to Detroit to remove Lomax from his position and accused him of grafting funds from the temple, though at his trial a month later, Lomax was found innocent of the charge. The schism, though, still resulted in violence, including a shootout with police, six months before Ira Johnson’s in Chicago.  Ultimately, the Detroit temple schism had major implications for the future of Islam in America. Fearing for his life, Lomax fled from Detroit and ended up in, first, Turkey, where he struggled to start a colony for African American Muslims, and then Egypt where he was trained by an important emerging Sunni organization. Now going as Muhammad Ezaldeen, he returned to the U.S. in late 1936 and became, with Sheik Daoud Faisal, one of the leading African-American Sunni leaders in the 1930s to 1950s, organizing and uniting Muslims all along the East Coast (from New York to Florida) and as far west as Detroit. His group, the AAUAA, which still exists today, even developed connections to Malcolm X.

This is a photo from the MSTA convention in 1928, and in this front row of people are MSTA leaders from that time. Noble Drew Ali is standing and wearing a white turban and robe. Lomax/Ezaldeen is the man standing to the right of Drew Ali  See Notes on the MSTA Schisms in Detroit and Pittsburgh, 1928-29  You can download this paper website: Click Here Muhammad Ezaldeen founded the Addeynu Allahe universal Arabic Association, an early Sunni Muslim organization comprised predominantly of African Americans, in the late 1930s. Ezaldeen, who received his religious education in Egypt in the 1930s, was a pioneering figure in the spread of Sunni Islam among African Americans. Perhaps his most noteworthy contribution was the design of a religious curriculum that both adhered to the main teachings of Sunni Islamic tradition and addressed the particular social and political concerns of African Americans.

“Ezaldeen was born James Lomax on October 14, 1886, in Abbeville, South Carolina. After attending school in Columbia, South Carolina, he traveled north to Chicago, where he was a founding figure of the Moorish Science Temple of America (MST) in 1926. He was appointed to lead the MST temple in Detroit. In a 1928 photo, Lomax appears directly next to Noble Drew Ali, perhaps symbolizing his proximity to power in the MST. During this decade, he was also known as Lomax Bey and Ali Mohammed Bey and became a regional governor of the group, but in 1929, after political infighting, Ezaldeen left the MST and never returned.”

“In 1930, Ezaldeen reportedly traveled to Turkey under the name Ali Mohammed Bey to deliver a petition to Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk on behalf of African Americans facing prejudice and legal segregation in the United States. The petition included a proposal to relocate a group of his followers to Turkey to settle on any underpopulated farming land. Harkening back to the ideal of the yeoman farmer who could determine his own fate, the idea that African Americans could be free only by owning and farming their own land had deep roots in U.S. and African-American history. For Ezaldeen, land was the key to the liberation of 20th-century blacks still largely economically dependent on whites. Although Ezaldeen’s hopes to relocate to Turkey did not materialize, reports of his travels abroad caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which regularly tracked African Americans who had any ties to foreign persons or states.”

“In 1931, Ezaldeen traveled to Egypt, where he remained until 1936. During his five years in this Muslim country, Ezaldeen studied Islamic religious traditions under the auspices of the General Centre World Young Men Muslim Association, which reported that he “embraced Islam, and stayed in the hospitality and good care of the General Centre for five years.” According to other reports, he also studied, although to a lesser extent, ancient Egyptian culture and history and was trained to be a tour guide of the historical sites. Ezaldeen may have also studied at al-Ahzar University, one of the oldest continuously operating universities in the world, but evidence for that claim is inconclusive.”

“Once he returned to the United States, Ezaldeen put his training to use by establishing an organization devoted to community development and the teaching of the Qur’an and the sunna, or the traditions of the prophet Muhammad. From 1936 to 1938, he lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he tried to establish the Addeynu Allahe Universal Arabic Association (AAUAA) in August 1938. The first branch formally incorporated was in Camden, New Jersey, in August 1938. Unable to secure a charter by state officials, he left for Buffalo, New York, where, it is reported, some local residents were anxious to learn Arabic. On October 29, 1938, Ezaldeen was chosen as imam, or leader, of a nascent community of black Muslims, and sometime thereafter, he incorporated a unit of the AAUAA in West Valley, New York.”

“Over the next five years, Ezaldeen’s followers contributed part of their salaries, often earned in factories around Buffalo, to the purchase of a farm. Called Jabul Arabiyya, or the “Mountain of Arabic-Speaking People,” this farm became the first headquarters of the AAUAA. Ezaldeen instructed members to build homes, a mosque, stores, and a jail so that they could establish their community life and govern themselves according to shari’a, or Islamic “law and ethics.” Financial and social challenges brought hardship, but a 1946 article in the Buffalo Courier-Express pictured a vibrant, if poor, farming community that tended to livestock and educated children in a small house on the farm. Another unit of the AAUAA soon emerged in Hammonton, New Jersey, outside Philadelphia, now called Ezaldeen Village.”

“In 1941, Ezaldeen relocated to Newark, New Jersey, where he eventually moved his headquarters above a curtain shop at 95 Prince Street. It is unclear why he moved to Newark. One observer has speculated that the move may have had something to do with the wishes of his wife, Set or Karema, who at one point may have also been a Moorish American. She lived in the East Ward of Newark upon her death in 1995. Prince Street had become a thriving commercial center, and there was an active MST community in the vicinity at 230 Court Street. An article in the Newark Evening News of September 26, 1940, states that by that year there were more that 1,200 members of the MST there.”

“Ezaldeen proceeded with the establishment of the new AAUAA unit, which became a competitor to the program and teachings of the MST. The AAUAA offered courses on the Qur’an, the sunna, the Hametic (Black) Arab heritage, and the Arabic language. Tensions between the MST and the AAUAA were evident but kept to a minimum and did not contain Ezaldeen’s influence. Wahab Arbubakar, a student of Ezaldeen’s, recalled that when he met Ezaldeen, he spoke about the one true Allah, the prophets, the holy books, and the hereafter. Arbubakar had not known much about Islam prior to meeting Ezaldeen; he recalled that the most profound religious teaching he heard from Ezaldeen was the al-fatiha (opening chapter of the Qur’an) and the adhan, or “call to prayer.”

“Ezaldeen also taught his students that the term Arab was a linguistic term and not a racial one. Although he taught that the original Arabs were black (Hametic), the emphasis in his teachings was placed on language and faith, not race, as the highest form of identification for a person. Malik Arbubakar, son of Wahab Arbubakar, stated that “Professor Ezaldeen was keen to pointing out that we were Hametic Arabs and he taught us that just because our foreign-born brothers and sisters came from Arabia and other Muslim countries, did not give them any greater claim on al-Islam than we had.”

“Ezaldeen adopted two flags for the organization. One symbolized the belief in the Islamic faith and the other was the flag of the United States of America. The first was described as the Universal Al-Islamic flag. Green in color, it featured two crossed golden swords and Arabic writing containing the declaration of Islamic faith that “There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This flag and the U.S. flag came to symbolize Ezaldeen’s desire for a marriage between what he described as the best of Eastern and Western values. Ezaldeen thought of Islam as an integral part of the American identity of African Americans.”

“In 1943, Ezaldeen joined Wali Akram (1904–94), a former Ahmadi Muslim American and founder of the Sunni Muslim mosque in Cleveland, in an effort to unite Sunni African-American Muslims around a common agenda. Ezaldeen’s work in propagating the faith, especially among African Americans, had been recognized by Akram, and together they organized a meeting to establish the Uniting Islamic Society of America (UISA). Its 1943 conference, held in Philadelphia, was hosted by Ezaldeen’s AAUAA, and Akram was elected president of the new organization. As president, he drafted a “Muslim Ten Year Plan” and assigned responsibilities to the delegates. Ezaldeen was given a prominent role as spiritual adviser to the group, and members of the AAUAA were also assigned to important posts.”

“Differences of opinion between Akram and Ezaldeen on matters of religion, dawah methodology, and community development, however, curtailed the organization’s progress, and it dissolved by 1946. The backgrounds of both men were factors that contributed to some of the disagreements. While Akram had been a Muslim in the United States for at least 20 years, Ezaldeen had been the only one from America to formally study Islam in a Muslim country. The knowledge and political recognition that Ezaldeen acquired from Egypt certainly helped to legitimize him as an authentic teacher of Islam in the United States.”

“As Ezaldeen’s reputation for being a learned man in the religion grew, especially in the Mid-Atlantic States, he attracted more members to the AAUAA. Among his most prominent students in the Newark and New York area were Wahab Arbubakar, Heshaam Jaaber, Akeel Karam, Musa Hamad, and Daoud Ghani. In Newark, even followers and sympathizers of NOI leader Elijah Muhammad would sometimes visit Ezaldeen when he established the AAUAA on Prince Street because they respected him for his knowledge of Islam. Members of the Council of the Brothers, a social reform organization of the 1950s, would sit down with Ezaldeen and listen to his teachings.”

“In the years after the last conference organized by the UISA, Ezaldeen’s health began to deteriorate. He suffered health problems after having stepped on a nail while building a house for his family in West Valley. His leg had to be amputated, and then he lost his remaining leg due to a life-threatening infection. He used a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Many people, both local and foreign, continued to visit him at his Prince Street location in Newark. By the 1960s, the AAUAA unit that Ezaldeen founded in Newark remained small compared to the growing local branch of the Nation of Islam, but it retained its status as a national association. Members could be found in Hammonton, Whitesboro, and Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Cleveland; Columbus; Buffalo; Rochester, New York; and Jacksonville, Florida.”

“Ezaldeen died on June 5, 1957, and was buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey. Throughout his life, Ezaldeen shared his knowledge of Sunni Islam and confronted the racism suffered by his followers. He played a major role in helping to establish Islam as a lasting part of African-American and American religious life.”

Source: Patrick D. Bowen Blog

Source: Dannin, Robert. Black Pilgrimage to Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Source: Hakim Quick, Abdullah. Deeper Roots: Muslims in the Americas and the Caribbean from before Columbus to the Present. London: TaHa Publishers, 1996.

Source:  Islam and the African in America: The Sunni Experience. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Islamic Academy of Canada, 1997.

Source: Nash, Michael. Islam among Urban Blacks, Muslims in Newark, New Jersey: A Social History. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2008.

Source: Walker, Dennis. Islam and the Search for African American Nationhood. Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2005.

Source: Text Citation (Chicago Manual of Style format): Naeem Nash. “Ezaldeen, Muhammad.” In Curtis, Edward E., IV, ed. Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. African-American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. 

Abdul Hamid Suleiman And The Origins Of The Moorish Science Temple

“In 1923, a story coming out of New Jersey was picked up by the well-known national literary magazine The Smart Set. A man, claiming to have religious authority derived from his connection to Mecca, had begun a movement for spreading Mohammedanism among the Negroes of the United States. Moslem groups have been started in New Jersey, one of them at Newark, where a mosque has been established. From there the Islamic missionaries will move upon the South The figure leading this movement had, several months earlier, made headlines in various U.S. newspapers.”

“In one front-page article, this man of African descent was depicted wearing a fez and it was reported that he had been proclaiming his movement to be both Islamic and Masonic —a “Mohammedan Masonry”—and spoke of his mystical and Egyptian connections. 2 It was later relayed that he had been leading a number of New York City Muslims in attempting to “win Negroes to their Mohammedan faith by stressing the fact of the absolute equality of races and genuine brotherhood under Mohammedanism, as in opposition to the well-known attitude of white Christians.”

“The man who was leading this movement went by the name of Abdul Hamid Suleiman And was definitely not the same person as Drew Ali.  The findings presented here will show that it is highly probable that Abdul Hamid Suleiman and his movement influenced Noble Drew Ali.Before 1922:

“The Mecca Medina Temple and Dr. Prince de Solomon The man going by the name of Abdul Hamid Suleiman appears to have first achieved recognition in the public press in August 1922 after he attended the African-American Masonic convention held that month in Washington, D.C. At the convention, he formally presented himself to the leadership of the main faction of the African-American Shriner community, known as the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AEAONMS).”

“There, Suleiman communicated to the group’s head, Caesar R. Blake, Jr., his demand for the AEAONMS to come under the protection of what he called the “Mecca Medina temple of Ancient Free and Operative Masons from 1 to 96 degrees,” the “true Shrine,” which, in a later interview, Suleiman claimed to have incorporated himself in New York City, though he gave no date for its incorporation.  The news report, which contained a picture of the man, who clearly looked to be of African descent, indicated that he was an “Arabian.” 

“By the end of the month, Suleiman had written a letter to The New York World newspaper providing more information about his background:I, Abdul Hamid Suleiman, of the City of Khartum, Sudan, Egypt, 10 a Mohammedan by birth, Master of the Koran, having pilgrimaged [sic] to Mecca three times and thus become an Eminent High Priest and head of all Masonic degrees in Mecca, Arabia, from the first to the ninety-sixth degree, am now in the United States for the purpose of establishing the rite of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.”  

“…I am here to answer all questions relative to these degrees until I return home to Mecca to enroll the names of the true Shriners of this country. 12 Reporters who interviewed Blake about Suleiman discovered other biographical information: he claimed to be seventy-seven years old, and Blake, who had several conversations with the man,took him to be “what he represents himself to be,” that is to say, he accepted as authentic the biographical details Suleiman claimed. It was also noted that although Suleiman was very dark-skinned, he had “the blue eyes that characterized Egyptians of the purer type.”

“A “Mecca Medina Temple of A.F.& A.M.” filed for incorporation on July 15, 1920 in Youngstown, Ohio. 15 Ten years prior to this,on February 4, 1910, it was reported that an African-American Masonic lodge by the exact name referred to by Suleiman had been incorporated in New York City “with the approval of Supreme Court Justice Gerard.” 16 This news brief notes that “[a]mong the incorporators are the Rev.Robert B. Mount and Dr. Prince de Solomon.” 17 On February 20th , another news brief indicated that a Henry Ratleray of Long Island City was made the director of the organization. 18 I have found no other mentions of a Henry Ratleray. And, while there are a few newspaper r references to a Robert B. Mount, none indicate any Masonic or Islamic ties. Who these two figures are,then, and their relation to any future Islamic movement, therefore, remain uncertain. The name of the third man, however,—the Dr. Prince de Solomon—may provide us with some clues.”


“The first occurrence is with a Prince De Salomon or De Solomon, listed as a lodger at a building in the twelfth ward of Manhattan in the 1910 census. Here he is described as a single, forty-six-year-old black African who had immigrated in 1908; he was literate (in English, presumably), and in the column titled“occupation” is written the phrase “own income.” 22 This 1910 date, his race, and the New York connection are consistent with the Dr. Prince de Solomon described above. The other census listing is for 1920 (recorded in January of that year); this time the person’s name is Dr. Prince D.Solomon, a single, black, fifty-year-old Arabic-speaking Egyptian. His profession is listed as“minister” and he was residing as a boarder in the town of Mercer in Pennsylvania, just thirty miles from Youngstown, Ohio where, as we have seen, a Mecca Medina Temple would be organized in July of that same year.”

“The New York World interview In response to Suleiman’s letter, the World sent a reporter to his residence of 143 West 130th St. where the two talked for four hours. Suleiman told the reporter that he was aware of the white Shriners’ attempts to sue the AEAONMS in order to prevent them from having their own separate Shriner organization; and Suleiman was“arranging to receive” the African-American Masons and Shriners into his “Mohammedan Masonry.” 

“He insisted that African Americans did not have an authentic Masonic charter, but he would “now…make them authentic by virtue of his authority as Eminent High Priest to grant a charter in a Masonry which he declares to be ancient and widespread throughout the Mohammedan world.” 27 Suleiman said that U.S. blacks would be allowed into his group on two conditions: that they vow, “‘by the beard of the prophet,’ that they will live according to the moral code of the Koran,” 28 —“becoming…Mohammedans,” as one newspaper described it 29 —and “that they will pay to Mecca, through none but Suleiman, a proportion of their lodge dues.”

Source: Abdul Hamid Suleiman and the Origins of the Moorish Science Temple

Source: abdul hamid shriner