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Shoot Hoops, Not Guns: Local Basketball Tournament Held to Promote Community Peace

  “Shoot Hoops, Not Guns” was the slogan for a basketball tournament hosted at the Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center, Saturday, with a mission to promote community peace.

The tournament was sponsored by the Moorish Science Temple of America, Temple Number 11 in Philadelphia.   Grand Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey of Temple Number 11 said that the guiding principles of the organization are love, truth, peace, freedom and justice, and this tournament was held in accordance with these values.

  Six teams played against each other in the three-on-three, half-court tournament.  Teams were made up of men and women from the surrounding neighborhoods and included players of all ages. Teams participating were the Mighty Moors, 4 Horsemen, Drayton-Bey Boys, 23rd Street, Reunited and Get ‘Em Girls + Daddy.

/Ruthann Alexander

/Ruthann Alexander

  The air in the gym was hot and stifling and the competition was fierce, but the players still maintained the values of the Moorish Science Temple and respected each other no matter what the outcome.

  Despite the heat and lack of air conditioning, the crowd was lively and supportive of the teams.

  Hopkins-Bey viewed the tournament as a reminder to the community of several things.

  “Not only is it a time to promote exercise, but it’s also bringing awareness of the violence in our city,” he said. “Shoot hoops, not guns is a reminder for them to take the high road.”

  Hopkins-Bey related the event to a recent incident of violence in Philadelphia in which a young man was shot after a basketball game in West Philadelphia. The teen was killed after a game on July 22, 2016 at 60th and Baltimore Avenue. According to 6abc News, the police believe the shooter was motivated by a dispute that occurred postgame.

Grand Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey/Ruthann Alexander

Grand Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey/Ruthann Alexander

  Hopkins-Bey believes that if more people in the community adopted the values of his organization,  it would lead to a reduction in street violence. He also professes that having positive role models that teach youth self-respect and respect for each other is a key element in reducing street violence.

  Before the game started, he read a chapter and prayer from the book of the Moorish Science Temple to promote peaceful message within all the minds of all teams.

  Nationality is a core value of the Moorish Science Temple, the organization is based on the belief that African-Americans are descended from the Moors of North-West Africa. The overall message of the Moorish Temple is that of pride in one’s heritage and historical education.

  Hopkins-Bey emphasized the importance of knowledge of one’s nationality. Especially, he said, because society tends to refer to a black race and a white race. “But there is only one race, and that is the human race,” he said.


The winning team named themselves Team Champions. They are standing beside the Grand Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey of The Moorish Science Temple No. 11 in Philadelphia.

The winning team named themselves Team Champions. They are standing beside the Grand Sheik Azeem Hopkins-Bey of The Moorish Science Temple No. 11 in Philadelphia.

Another value of the Moorish Science Temple is knowledge of one’s self and heritage, known as self-knowledge. Stressing self-knowledge is important, he said, because knowing about one’s nationality will lead to respecting the lives of other people. He added that teaching sportsmanship is vital to communities because it can lead to peace after competitive games, no matter which team won and which one did not. “We wanted to bring the community together to teach them about sportsmanship, honor and respect,” he said.

  Assistant Grand Sheikess Sister Sue Ann Hopkins-Bey expressed how grateful she was about the day being peaceful.

“I am thankful to Allah that today was a successful day,” she said. “It was very peaceful. It’s amazing that you can have an event such as this and the outcome is peaceful.”

Shambram Hopkins-Drayton-Bey, a team member of the Drayton-Bey Boys team, discussed what she learned from this tournament.

  “I learned cohesion of all players. The fact that they took loss in a positive manner is good for the community. They experienced the adults respecting each other.”

  According to Grand Sheik Hopkins-Bey, the Moorish Science Temple was the first Islamic organization in the United States, and it was founded in 1913. The Moorish Science Temple of America Temple Number 11 is located at 2259 N. Fifth St. and serves communities in North Philadelphia. They are affiliated with the Moorish Science Temple of America based in Washington, D.C.

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