Islam and Eugenics


'Stain your prayer-carpet with wine'

- Hafez - In Persian alchemy the highest stages of transmutation are called Black Light (nur-i siyah) and Green/Gold. Some place one higher, some the other, but the two can also be seen as manifestations of each other. Black Light is the nothingness that is also total luminescence, the dark side of god, Chaos and Old Night, the Sun at Midnight, presence of absence as light. Green/Gold, (colours of the Prophet, and of the Philosopher's Stone as 'emerald' in Egyptian Hermeticism) represent the other half of Hesiodšs first theogeny, Eros and Gaia - Desire and the greenness of the living world. 'And three things of this world are worthy of the Gaze: water, green things, and a beautiful face' (hadith). According to the sufis, the Black Light is a beauty-spot, (mole or freckle) on that very face. Black and Beautiful. The banners of revolutionary and esoteric Islam are black and green - although another possibility is black and red, as the Prophet said enigmatically, 'I come for the black and red'. Oddly enough black and red are the colours of the goddess - reminding us that the Byzantines accused the Moslems of worshipping 'a head of Aphrodite'. Also the colours of anarcho-syndicalism. A coincidence, no doubt.

( 2. .)

Religion of the Sword

The Huntingdon/CIA' Clash of Cultures' model of Islam (as the new version of the 'evil empire') proposes it as a kind of disease that has to be kept isolated and confined. The neo-liberal 'Global Market' view of the 'Orient' views it as a source of raw material (such as black gold) and cheap labour that must be exploited. The resources are to be taken away, the labour is to be kept in place. Obviously, Moslem immigration to the 'North' does not fit well with either of these models. If Islam is a disease, then 'refugees' are a virus, penetrating borders like immune systems. But these disruptions are also inevitable, given the 'logic of the Market'. The old liberal response to the problem of immigration was to turn the migrants into Europeans or Americans, to erase their difference into sameness. The new liberal response, however, relies more heavily on overt repression - isolation in 'zones of depletion' - incredible proliferation of border patrols, immigration police, surveillance. Instead of bleating a few NGO-style humanitarian platitudes about the plight of the refugees, (perhaps we should give them all PCs so they can join the WWW!) I think it would be more interesting to admit that immigration really is a problem; - and that Islam really does pose a threat to 'Global Culture'. Immigration at the forced/repressed pace of globalisation puts unfair pressure on the hospitality of the 'hosts' who have their own local crisis of downsizing and privatisation to deal with. Meanwhile the migrant, whether lured to El Norte by the gleam of McDisneyfication, or simply in flight from the economic and political ruin at home, (caused directly by predatory Global Capital), will be bitterly disappointed by the 'freedom' of the free world. Any memories of organic communitas in the homeland, however eroded by poverty and corruption, will soon seem utopian compared with the new poverty of the North, its racism and alienation. On a crude level, this nostalgia gives a seductive quality to the rhetoric of fundamentalism. However, it's worth considering that Islam possesses a far deeper and more sophisticated critique of 'the modern world' than that proposed by the 'Islamists'. In fact, more than one such critique. To mention a few at random, (without judgement or evaluation): - The militant anti-colonialist sufism of Emir Abdel Kader, or the Sanussi Order of Libya - The strange sufism of Col. Qaddafi's Green Book (Qaddafi rebelled against a sufi king, but was himself raised as a sufi) - the Shiite socialism of the martyred Ali Shariati - the idea of the Mahdi or Redeemer as a collectivity - the ideal of Social Justice - the ban on usury, (which makes Global Capital impossible of course) - the heroic Naqshbandi Order in Chechnya, resisting Russian Imperialism for centuries - going back in time, the Persian and Syrian Nizaris or 'Assassins', who went so far as to proclaim the Day of Resurrection, and to liberate a network of castles in the cause of esoteric enlightenment - etc. etc. - or even further back in time, the Prophet himself: professional revolutionary, guerilla leader, returned from exile to establish egalitarian iconoclastic mystical/militant regime in Mecca... and so on...

( 3.)

A Green Thought in a Green Shade

Khezr, the Green man, the Hidden Prophet, the trickster, the dream-master of all those seekers who need no other master. He drank the Water of Life in Hyperborea and became immortal. He appears with water to travellers lost in the desert. He wears green. He might be the unknown face in any gathering. According to one version he is a water spirit, like one of the 'Believing Djinn', and wherever he walks, flowers and herbs spring up in his footsteps. He should be considered the patron saint of sufi eco-warriors - an order should be founded in his name, the Khezriyya, more militant than Greenpeace or Earth First!, but in defence of ecological agriculture as well as sacred wilderness.

( 4.)

My Story

The Moorish Orthodox Church is a recognised off-shoot of the Moorish Science Temple, which was founded in Newark, New Jersey by Noble Timothy Drew Ali, a black man adopted into the Cherokee tribe, who travelled as a circus magician in Egypt and was initiated in the Great Pyramid. His Circle Seven Koran is based on theosophical Christianity, and a genuine folk tradition about Islam in America handed down from times of slavery. Moorish Science was very successful, especially in Chicago where Noble Drew Ali was martyred by police in 1929. Noble Drew had racial theories but he was anti-racist. The MST believes that the Celts are an 'Asiatic Race', (which is entirely true in a sense) and that Persians are Moslems who are also Indo-Europeans, (which is true); therefore the MST issued passports to white people as Celts or Persians. This gave rise to various subgroups, including, (in 1964) the Moorish Orthodox Church. The MOC in the sixties was inter-racial, inter-faith, and interested in drugs. Hashish was declared a sacrament, and a branch of the Church existed at Millbrook, on the millionairešs estate inhabited by Tim Leary, the Sri Ram Ashram, The Neo-American Church and other groups. We believe in 'ceremonial entheogenism' The MOC was dormant for a while but revived in 1986 on the Centenary of Noble Drew Ali's birth. The Church today is largely a communication web amongst widespread friends and allies. Issues of the Moorish Science Monitor are occasionally published, and there is - of course - a website , the Moorish Observatory, and related sites. Our view is that difference is a good thing - it allows for the practice of tolerance, communication, presence, and exchange of gifts. 'Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom and Justice'.

( 5.)

The War on Difference

Among the victims of Eugenics in 19th-20th century America were a number of groups with Islamic antecedents. The archetypal explanation was that these groups arose from a 'mongrelisation' of run-away black slaves with Indians and renegade white serfs (usually Irish) - hence they were called 'tri-racial isolates'. Some of these groups had clearly been 'founded˛ (at least partly) by Moslem Maroons, (escaped slaves). The Melungeons descend from Moorish 'convertados' brought as slave-labour to Florida by Spain and abandoned there. The Delaware Moors, the Louisiana Turks, and the Ben Ishmael Tribe of Ohio, all reveal Islamic connections. As for the Celtic part of the mixture, it begins not just with Cromwellian slavery, but even earlier, according to myths and legends of North East Coast Indian tribes. Irish monks and settlers reached Turtle Island even before the Vikings, and much more peacefully ('St. Bredan' as the prototype). Africans too, had no doubt reached the hemisphere before Columbus. The possibility of many 'peaceful trading voyages' before the military arrival of European imperialism, and even settlements like Vinland, or the 'Welsh Indians' (a folktale with disturbing material evidence) must be considered in tracing the unwritten story of the 'tri-racial isolates'. In the 1970's these groups threw off the Eugenic archetype under the influence of the American Indian Movement (AIM). They realised themselves as tribes, 'nations' with identity and history. The Moorish Orthodox Church respects these groups as pure Americans, in the sense that their cultures unite our real 'unwritten history' and excluded heritage - Native American, African and 'White Trash'! - on the basis of tribalism, radical tolerance, and 'empirical freedoms'. It's inspiring for us to think that Islamic ideals play an ancient role in this heritage.

( 6.)


All over Eastern Europe one sees traces of the Ottomans, usually in the form of abandoned, closed, and deteriorating hamans, mosques, kiosks etc. - a neglected heritage. It would be perfectly possible to forget the 'age-old hostility' of the 'borderland between Christendom and Infidelity' simply by invoking an aesthetic judgement on the beauty of these unseen ruins - why should it disturb us? Why not see and enjoy? But our romanticism could go on to evoke the whole form of the 'good things' of the Ottoman world - into gardens, tulips, calligraphy, sufi orchestras, poetic refinement, sensuality, hashish. In a way this is mere 'orientalism' to be sure - but then the 'Orient' has its own romanticism. What exactly is 'wrong' with any of the items listed here? The dusty remains of the Ottomans could also inspire some thought about Ottoman administration. The Osmanli were a single tribe running a vast empire and trade network from Istanbul. (In fact, come to think of it, this was the Roman Empire). The last thing they wanted was 'age-old hatreds' getting in the way of their gold bezants. Under the Millet system, every religious minority had legal autonomy (although Islam maintained prerogatives). The Byzantine Patriarch remains in Istanbul to this day. The Ottoman Empire was about taxes, not ideology or 'race'. The 'Young Turks' rebelled against the Ottomans in order to vent 'ancient hatreds' against Greeks and Armenians, long protected under the Empire. Granted, the Ottomans were monsters - but how do they look after a century of Communism and a decade of Global Capital? Inshallah, some day Sarajevo will rise again as a unique particularity in which European Moslems and European Christians (I'm speaking loosely here of communities, not professions of faith) will co-create in mutual tolerance and synergy a city-state of precious value, with an Islamic heritage. That would help to produce an imaginal infusion, a flow of energy from the past that would now be 'our' past. This would mean far more than an empty apology for the old Ottomans, Caliphs of Islam and inventors of the fez.

( 7.)


'Islam' in Europe and America? Why not? Why not enjoy it? Autonomous enclaves in Berlin, Paris, London - linked by anarcho-federalism with other autonomous zones, squats, social centres, eco-farms, free rural municipalities, other anti-capital entities and non-hegemonic particularities. Revolutionary difference against the idols of Moloch and Mammon, and the cultures of global sameness. Why not introduce into 'Western Culture' the virus of a critique of the tyranny of the image - an iconoclastic breath from the desert? Reactionary fundamentalism has long since shown itself as a counter-revolutionary force. Why not something else, the 'Spirit of Sarajevo' perhaps - or the Castles of the Assassins...

Hakim Bey, NYC

'Ya Hafez'