The AliitesRace and Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali

The AliitesRace and Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali

Spencer Dew

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226647968

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Noble Drew Ali, leader of the Moorish Science Temple of America movement in the early twentieth-century, taught that "citizenship is salvation." This book examines the legacy of Ali's thoughts on citizenship, law, and race in the MSTA and two other Aliite religions, the Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah and the Nuwaubian Yamassee movement. In all three African American religious movements, members insist on an identity other than "negro, black, or colored" as a way of insisting upon full citizenship as a status. Thinkers within these religions also reiterate Ali's claims about citizenship as a process, a work of "sacred duty" wherein, through activity ranging from voting to pro se legal performance, citizens contribute to the perfection of the world. Such claims not only respond to American racism in creative ways, they also advance an understanding of "law" as an eternal, metaphysical reality, divine, aligned with justice and truth. The work of citizenship, then, is aimed at aligning the unjust and oppressive legal system of the state with that of True Law.