Whence Came You, Moor?
From the logs of the Supreme Grand Commander
Aalim Bey Al Dey 33/72° M.R.D.F
You just can't please everybody. As the restructuring of the Moorish Rite got underway, a “Moor” who disapproved, questioned me, “Why do we need a Moorish Rite when there's so many other rites around; why mess with something that ain’t broke?” Although I considered his question a fair one, I knew it was really a challenge. I was miffed and hurt because he was a friend and former lodge brother whom I loved and respected, and I had asked him to help. I was too crushed to quickly respond. But before I could, he blurted out the unforgiving, “We don’t need a Moorish Rite” he said. Ouch!
Next day, still shocked and quite despaired from that slap in the face, I phoned Bro. Hazel Bey. I just couldn’t accept that a “Moor” rejected the Moorish Rite. Hazel Bey told me to give the fool a week to think over his foolish question and then blast his fez off with the answer. Well, I did answer, and Bro. Hazel Bey loved it. I didn’t wait a week though; I phoned my aberrant colleague the next morning--couldn't wait longer than that. I told him that I regretted his opting out of a great work and was hurt about it. Then I said this:
"Cultural relevance inheres within Freemasonry, that’s why Masonic rites are characterized according to cultural nomenclature (Scottish, York, French, German, American, etc.), and within the disciplines of each, are practices and customs emerging from its culture, not to mention symbols, people, places and other culturally specific themes. Thus, in a huge sense, Freemasonry ever highlights and promotes cultural significance and cultural advancement. Masonic garments, ceremony, letters and phraseology, ritual and rites, symbols and structures are all culturally derived fixtures of the institution worldwide. Moreover, without cultural relevance, Freemasonry lacks proper educational and moralizing effect on its votaries, because people learn best when their cultural values and cultural symbols are linked to cognitive learning processes. Thus,“The moral of the story” is always best comprehended within its cultural context, as it reflects that of the reader or listener. Nothing is more educationally and morally compelling than cultivating the customs and glyphs of one’s own ancestral estate. This evidences the wisdom of the Ancients who made cultural elasticity a primary instructional feature in the fabric of the sacred sciences.
Have you ever questioned why you and other Moors are York, French, German or Scottish Rite Freemasons, etc., when none of these are directly relevant to your own ancestral heritage? How is your Moorish history Masonically linked to those cultures, since you do claim to be a Moorish National--if that has any relevance to you? And if other civilized cultures claimed Freemasonic representation with cultural relevance, where is your claim? What happened to your rite? Did you ever have one? If you did, where is it now? And if not, why not?"
Garbling a few incoherent words, he had no answers. I resumed my discourse:
"Ancient Moors (not necessarily so called at the time) originated a system of salvation which other cultures throughout the world freely emulated. Freemasonry was that system. It actually began in Africa and was then carried everywhere else, specific and custom-fit for each land and culture, teaching the people through the norms they could best understand and embrace. That’s how masters taught the world, with cultural relevance, of course. In the Agricultural Age, the world was far more tolerable than it is today. As the world turned in the Middle Ages, however, world viewpoints diverged and people became increasingly intolerable of one another; especially Europeans and Moors, as this resulted in global conflict. The Moors occupied and governed the Iberian Peninsula, mainly, and other parts of Europe at the time. Freemasonry (not necessarily so called at the time), their primary discipline, was a sacred science carefully maintained by high Masters. The Moorish governments were Masonic. All government officials were Freemasons who governed accordingly. The powers of Europe, unwilling to tolerate Moorish Rule or the Moorish presence in Europe, moved violently against the Moors. And as European forces united to finally defeat the Moors, killing hundreds of thousands, they fractured Freemasonry and altered its course forever.That you now carry the cultural standards and symbols of other cultures as an identifying marker (Masonically), indicates that you lost your own cultural investment while others have secured theirs. Now you are everything and everyone else, but yourself. Let’s face it; you’ve lost your identity, and you’ve lost your culture. You must understand: Freemasonry archives the preservation of culture and makes it and the people it speaks for, primary and relevant. Moorish culture has not been truly preserved, thus, Moors have been made historically secondary and irrelevant. No one will claim you because you refuse to claim yourself. You are so concerned about Masonic recognition, and yet, you foolishly refuse to recognize yourself while clamoring for everybody else to recognize you! Something is drastically wrong with that picture. Think about it: as Moors/Blacks/Afro-Americans, Africans, etc., we have done everything in the way of social protest and social uplift. We have adhered to everyone's religion and philosophy and method, we have engaged every form of protest, we have entered politics, and we've even tried to reverse racism and become racists ourselves.
We've done it all. All, except one thing: Claim a Freemasonic Rite. Now we are finally doing that, and the Moorish Rite will exist as such! The nautical symbolism of the Moorish Rite will honor and recall the legacy of our ancestors who created the maritime sciences and mastered the seven seas. And when the Moorish Rite is established it will be true to Masonic form; all people will be welcome, regardless of race, creed or color. That is the Moorish way. That's how our ancestors practiced Freemasonry and governed civilization. We will have our style of Freemasonry according to our culture. And we are only doing what others cultures would do and have done. It is only right that we should have a rite to call our own; the Moorish Rite is not only right, it couldn't be more right! As Brother Hazel says, ‘If you’re not practicing your own Freemasonry; whose Freemasonry are you practicing?'"
Of course, again, there was no answer and I didn't expect one. And then suddenly (no exaggeration) he said, "I feel like my fez has just been blown off." I said, "Better your fez than your head." At least now he asked a sensible question, "Was there ever a Moorish Rite before?" My answer: That's another discourse. Until then:
Think about it.
Aalim Bey Al Dey