Volume 3, Issue 1, 2015
Fathie Ali Abdat
The Sheiks of Sedition
Father Prophet Mohammed Bey, Mother Jesus Rosie Bey, and Kansas City’s Moors (1933–1945)
This paper examines the development of the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA), a Black American Islamic religious organisation from 1933 to 1945, a period largely unexplored by academics. Through the lens of Father Prophet Mohammed Bey and Mother Jesus Rosie Bey—two controversial vernacular Moorish-American leaders in Kansas City—I hope to illustrate how Kansas City Moors coped with the organisation’s fissiparous tendencies and exegetically revised and reframed Moorish-American Prophet Noble Drew Ali’s 1920s Black Asiatic Orientalist doctrines vis-à-vis the 1930s and 1940s subversive socio-political culture. In the process, both Father Prophet Mohammed Bey and Mother Jesus Rosie Bey shaped and advocated an early form of Black theology and Black power, though they differed in their modus operandi. While Father Prophet Mohammed Bey militantly confronted Kansas City’s local racist institutions, Mother Jesus Rosie Bey internationalized and politicized the Kansas City Moors to collaborate/contend with the looming spectre of Japanese agent provocateurs, America’s Selective Service Act, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) interrogations. While the size and scope of the Kansas City Moors remained limited, their unique orientation to militant Moorish Islam is vital for historians’ understanding of the re-flowering of Moorish-American Islamic activism in the 1930s as well as the eventual decay of the religious organisation by 1945, due in part to the theological softening of other Moorish communities.