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Islam, the Mideast, and Freemasonry
Posted: 28 May 2010 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Dear All ....

As an Arab & Muslim man from the middle east, I’m so so happy to know & hear from a lodge member in Syria, & about that, I have to re-mention about the great historic rule of Syrian Freemasons in our area, truly they Were very loyal to the great masonic message, & the masters of Freemasonryry in the middle east before others, so I hope that This great & important achievement will be a step on the right way of getting things as it was, with the efforts of the Syrian brothers.

before weeks, I was noted that Freemasonry starts to re act again in Syria with very low profile, I deiced not to mention that as some other things (because of our guys in the middle east of course), , when you want to speak about Freemasonry in our area, always put in your mind not to cause any harm.

I have sent a PM to syrianmason & wish to them good luck, I hope that they will particpate & post here more in this thread & others, also this re open an issue I post about once here about what may the Foreign grand lodges can do for the arabs freemason, to took their hands to rise again, to have their own strong freemasonry which can defend it self against ignorance (Mr Reyoung , I agree 100& with you about over seas lodges, its very important & its rule is very needed).
again Congratulations ( MABROOK ), peace ... SALAM to evrey one.
LOJ

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Posted: 21 June 2010 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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Greetings ...

Sufism is the mystical side of Islam (like Gnostic in Christianity , Kabbalah in Judaism), Sufism included a lot of orders or paths (tariqats), The most famous Sufi order which were associated with freemasonry was Bektashi Sufi order, which Attributed to ibn Ibrahim al-ATA, famous by haji Baktash. The Bektashi order practiced a very secret rituals similar to Masonic ones, they meetings were closed to non-members & with organization & degrees similar to freemasonry, its been said that Bektashi Showed a real willingness to belong to Freemasonry & were driven by the true Masonic spirit, also many Islamic sheikhs & members of Sufism joined lodges like Abd El qader the Algerian – the Qadiriya order (I spoke about him in an earlier post at this thread), a lot of that Emerged in Arabic region, turkey & Balkans During the Ottoman era in nineteenth century.

I will refer to some of initiation rituals & ceremonies which took place by some of Sufi orders, (I don’t know if its Masonic) but The candidate (student) came accompanied with sponsor from the members, standing in front of the Sheikh with a rope tied to the student neck, he make an oath in front of the Sheikh, also they made the student walking or goes like in a circles around the room, They also use a bitter & sweet syrup or water during this ritual.

I want to quote here a paragraph from freemasonry Encyclopedia by Albert Mackey “Nearly all of the old {islamic} buildings in India, such as tombs, mosques, etc., are marked with Masonic symbols, and many of these structures, still perfect, were built in the time of the Mogul Emperor Akbar, who died in 1605. Thus Masonry must have been introduced into India from Middle Asia by the {muslims} hundreds of years ago.”

Mackey meant by akbar (Jalal al-Din Abu’l-Fath Akbar, 1556 - 1605) one of the greatest Mogul or Moguhal muslims sultans who ruled India, & from what Mackey said, it may believed that muslims played a role in introducing freemasonry into India, and that some Islamic architecture contains(Masonic arts).

I saw some pictures of buildings & mosques built by Sultan Jalal al-Din Akbar in India, there is Some similarities with some Cathedrals built by the Masons in Europe (the three big doors, the three towers – Domes,..), also I saw the Six-Pointed Star in Hisam Palace & Akbar’s Palace at Fatehpur Sikri, also on his personal armor .

Sultan Akbar was a Sufi, Known by his unique policy of ruling India, he prevented any forcing to join Islam, he tried to support the political unity of the state, unifying the community by demolished the differences between races and religions, In the end he made a new doctrine to represent the unity of all religious beliefs, he was a great patron of architecture, art & literature, his court was a rich culture & wealth. Queen Elizabeth I of England sent its ambassador Sir Thomas Roe to akbar’s sultanates at that days.

Although akbar was illiterate (did not know reading & writing) but he had a great deal of intelligence, strength of observation, memory & meditation, he believed in the freedom of opinion & research, he rushed after studying the philosophical issues & ideas of Sufism to reach truth, akbar believed that all religions symbols represent the secrets surrounding the universe, He had been serving a unique times in a cave for reflection & intimacy. he collected thousands of manuscripts (24000 of Arts and Sciences), Surrounded himself with writers, scientists, musicians, painters & translators. he was enjoying the religious debates, his passion for religious & philosophical issues activate the cultural movement in his era, translated into Farsi (common in India that days as the language of culture), books from Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit, the Bible & religious books, the Portuguese send their delegations to his court, he allowed Christianity to build churches & preaching in India, sultan Akbar tried to end the religious fanaticism in India, his era was the last ages of Islamic power in India .

More will come in next posts , REGARDS.

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Posted: 21 July 2010 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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I received a new message from Lion of Jordan with interesting and detailed information about Masonry in the Middle East. He has graciously agreed to have it posted here.

My friend, There is a little available information about Freemasonry in the Middle East, truly you should rely on what the senior early Arab freemason said about it, such as Shaheen Makarios & Georgy Zeidan …ect, But through some follow-ups & attempts to Learn, most of Arab freemason said that There has been a long Masonic traditions in the Islamic World, what made me believe more in that when you told me Bob that there is points where Islam touched the Masonic traditions, I really hope that some day, Islam will again be represented in Freemasonry normally & that Freemasonry will be represented in the Islamic world, so I would like to tell you master Bob what I know about the (Arabic Masonic authorities or Arabic grand lodges) in the middle east, & of course the western grand lodges which also appears strongly because its rule in the emergence of modern Freemasonry in the Arab countries, I thought that it will be good that you get an idea about it.

I looked to that from 2 Angles, first is the European modernity which Arabs tried to make a benefits & advancement from it, it was a factor, also There is another key factor which is the existence of the already mysticism local basis in the middle east, our area is the source of the 3 great religions, & from that I mean in Specifically, the kab - Jews, Gnosticism - Christians, Sufism – Muslims, it was normal that Freemasonry raised & spread in middle east.

(May be) the first Masonic lodge was founded in Egypt in 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte, General Kleber & number of French freemason officers founded Isis lodge, working by Memphis rite, then other lodges in Cairo & Alexandria, the important one was Al-Ahram (Pyramids lodge) In 1845 under the grand orient of France, where Prince H Mohamed Ali Pasha, Prince Abdul Qadir the Algerian & MW Salvatore Zola joined the lodge, Zola was a really western great freemason in Egypt, also Rob Morris’s visited the Ottoman province of Syria in 1869, he meat Prince Abdul Qadir & there was an attempt to form a lodge in Damascus, he also visited Palestine at that time.
the grand lodge of England (I don’t know if it was the united) established lodges in Cairo in 1867 by the English army officers, they founded an Arabic Working lodge (kawkab al sharq – the star of the east) for Egyptians & Arabs only, a very important Muslim clerics joined this lodge like Jamal al-Din Afghani, Mohammad Abduh, in 1867, Prince H Obtained a license from England to establish an English district grand lodge for Egypt.

in 1876, the first Independent Arabic Masonic authority established (the Egyptian National Grand Lodge), It was chaired by MW. Idris Ragheb for 31 years, he was a very close Egyptian freemason to the grand lodge of Scotland & the UGLE, this grand lodge witnessed many splits, & fell into schism in 1922, but was reunited by the end of World War II, At the famous battle of El-Alamein, these lodges responded to a government request for aid, delivering food to allied forces at the front, Among the members of this lodge in 1952, were various members of the reigning Egyptian royal family. By 1960 this Grand Lodge was recognized by several American jurisdictions. In 1964, The Egyptian President Jamal Abdul Nasser decided to ban freemasonry just like that.

In Lebanon, Georgy Zeidan said that the first lodge was established in Beirut in 1862 by the grand orient of Scotland, (Palestine lodge # 415), where the British Consul And many large number of VIP Lebanese & Foreign joined, in 1869 another lodge Founded in Beirut by the grand orient of France (Lebanon orient lodge), then many lodges founded, then the Masonic society expanded & evolved, especially by MW. Shaheen Makarios, who established many lodges in Lebanon & Egypt, then there was was the World War 1 and the French mandate over Syria & Lebanon .

By 1923, there were in Syria, Lebanon & Palestine more than 30 lodges of some fifteen thousand Masons, belonging to 4 or 5 grand Masonic bodies : grand orient of Scotland (9 lodges) , grand orient of france (6 lodges), the Egyptian National Grand Lodge with Masonic district for Syria & Lebanon, (10 lodges: 7 with MW mohammad ali , 3 with Idris Ragheb because the splits), the grand lodge of france (4 lodges), the grand orient of Italy (1 lodges), then there was the district grand lodge of syria & Lebanon by the grand lodge on new york & the lodges of the grand lodge of scotland which some of its lodge is very old (before that).

In Lebanon, many Arabic grand lodges or orients emerged, operating without general recognition, like the grand orient of Lebanon & some senior freemason lodges like Hanna Abi-Rashed & hanin kotaini who made The ceremonies to our late King Hussein, now a days, the government of Lebanon recognize Dr. Gandhi Al Hawa as the official grand master of the Lebanese Freemasons, but on ground, he is really not.
OK. that what i want to say. i will provide you more about it.

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Posted: 02 August 2010 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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More information received from Lion of Jordan:

There were a lot of Arabic lodges which formed in Ottoman lands before World War I. With the final years of Ottoman Empire, Masonry spread more across North Africa and the Middle East, Traditionally, Freemasonry has been generally allowed in Islamic countries, although a subject to criticism by some Islamic groups. Unfortunately, over the last 45 years, freemasonry has been suppressed in some Islamic areas, especially in the Middle East.

Freemasonry entered Syria - Damascus in 1889 by the efforts & endeavors of Prince Abdul Qadir who joined Pyramids Lodge in Egypt (1864). He Loved freemasonry & the freemasons & didn’t hide his membership, spoke it out; historically, the first lodge was established through Abdul Qadir, the (Syria lodge – east Damascus) under the grand orient of Italy, this was an old lodge, officially documents says that this lodge established in 18 December 1921.

In 1924, Abraham lodge was established in Damascus under the grand lodge of New York state, then the eastern light lodge under the grand lodge of Scotland, many Syrian and Arab elites Joined these 2 lodges, then There was Khaled Ibn Al Waleed lodge, working under the Grand Orient in Egypt, it was an important lodge .

Many lodges founded in Syria by the the Egyptian National Grand Lodge, also Toros Lodge #1249 in Iskenderun under the grand lodge of Scotland, some of these lodges like Zahra lodge , Aziz lodge & Toros lodge joined the grand Syrian Orient (the first independent Masonic Syrian grand lodge).

About that, I would like to say that the year 1937 was important for the Arabic grand lodges, On 14 March 1937, the district grand lodge of Syria was founded under the Grand Orient of Egypt, with 4 regular blue lodges in Damascus: Kassioun, light of East, Farouk & Khalid Bin Al Waleed lodges, many significant Syrian figures joined it, in April 23, 1937, The grand Syrian Orient was established, working by 16 blue lodges, with degrees to 33.

In 1947, there was the grand National lodge of Syria & Lebanon working with (10) lodges, and the grand Arabic - Syrian orient with (4) lodges, this 2 Masonic bodies founded after cutting ties with the Egyptian Masonic power.

As a follow up about Lebanon, In 1900, Peace Lodge #908 was founded in Lebanon by the Grand Lodge of Scotland . By the end of World War II, over a dozen Scottish lodges were formed in Israel , Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. When Israel was founded in 1948, two lodges removed to Arab lands.

The Grand Lodges of England and Scotland chartered lodges in the gulf area , such as Kuwait City, Abadan & Tehran in iran, Basra & Baghdad in Iraq.

In the Arabic countries in North Africa, The Masonic situation is unclear, Most lodges in that area have been influenced historically by the Grand Orient of France, which is as I know not recognized in America, As a result of the lack of information, it is unknown whether these lodges continue to work, but Lodges were formed in Tunisia in 1877. By the early 1950’s, Morocco had 16 lodges, eight chartered by the Grand Orient of France, and eight holding charters from the Grand Lodge of France. Algeria had several lodges by 1950, all of them were affiliated with the Grand Orient of France, now a days, there is the grand lodge of Morocco working normally, they are lucky for that.

As I said before , the Information about freemasonry in the middle east is little , But it shows that once, we had a strong & normal wide Freemasonry in our area , freemasonry used to have an impact on arabic countries & elites until recently, My opinion is that we can not return back to that Masonic situation, unless it starts like its began, were the western & American grand lodges played the major rule.

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Posted: 10 August 2010 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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This is a first attempt on my part to upload images to the Forum. These are some of the pictures sent to my private email address by Lion of Jordan, who has done an outstanding job of research.

The first pic is Judge Ragheb Idriss, Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of Egypt. The second is Grand Master of Syria, Malek Hanna.  There are several more I will try to upload when I figure out how to do them.

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Posted: 10 August 2010 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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More pics. First one is a photo of the GL of Syria mid-1930s; second is a Scottish lodge in Kuwait.

I have more pics, but unable to upload them as they exceed the 75kb limit. They are quite interesting to the Masonic student and give a visual insight into a thriving Freemasonry in an area where Masonry is now forbidden.

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Posted: 17 August 2010 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Brother Young

Thank you so much for posting those photos.

I particularly like seeing that even in 1930’s Syria you still had a few of the older guys falling asleep.

Bob Heruska
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Shoot me a PM or Email if you need help converting those to a lower res.
B

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Posted: 18 August 2010 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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With assistance of Bro. Bob Heruska, I have more pics to share. The first is a tombstone in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery. The inscription reads, “There is a link / Death cannot sever / Love and remembrance / Last forever / JAMES GRANT / 1865 - 1928 / Erected by / The Rising Sun Lodge of Cairo”.  The second is the brethren of Basrah Lodge 5105 in the lodge’s garden in 1945.

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Posted: 18 August 2010 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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More pictures. a meeting in Zahra Lodge with GM Malek Hanna.

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Posted: 18 August 2010 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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Well. My apologies everyone. I may have provided instructions to make the photos too small. Brother Bob, we may have to regroup.

Bob H.

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Posted: 19 August 2010 03:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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Well, friends and brethren, by dint of trial and error, I have managed to get all the photos posted to open at larger size if you click the thumbnail.  In the course of this, I seem to have done something to the ones I have left so that they now don’t want to upload at all.  I’ll confer again with Bro. Bob, but nothing will happen soon—he’s having a good time sailing around Martha’s Vineyard on his boat and I’m not about to interrupt him. The ones left are the least interesting and I might just skip them. But check out the ones posted.

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Posted: 24 August 2010 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Hi to all brethern contributing to this forum. All information about lodges in the Middle East and Arab countries up to my knowldge are correct. The problem in the Craft in the past was the recognition. The first Arab Grand Lodge which was recognized was the National Grand Lodge of Egypt. It lost its recognition in 1922, after Edris Ragheb who was Grand Master was not elected. There was divided between two Grand Lodges. All Arab Countries Grand lodges were chartered by the National Grand Lodge of Egypt or by Grand Orient of Egypt. This made all Arab Grand Lodges unrecognized.

The second problem that faced the craft was the baning of Freemasonary. It started in Iraq 1958, followed by Egypt 1965 then it was a trend of baning it in most Arab countries. The only Arab country that have an open freemasons lodges is Lebanon. The problem in Lebanon they have more than 55 Grand Lodges in a small country. Most of these Grand Lodges are self constituted. The only recognized lodges operate in Lebanon are 5 Lodges work under the Grand Lodge of Scotland and about 10 Lodges operate under the District Grand Lodge of Syria and Lebanon under the dispensation of GL of New York.

There is other recognized lodges operate in other Arab countries but it is better not to mention that.

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Posted: 24 August 2010 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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Jordanian - 24 August 2010 02:46 PM

The only recognized lodges operate in Lebanon are 5 Lodges work under the Grand Lodge of Scotland and about 10 Lodges operate under the District Grand Lodge of Syria and Lebanon under the dispensation of GL of New York.

Thanks brother!

Do you think you could list the lodges in Lebanon that are recognized?  I was recently contacted by a gentleman in Beirut who wanted to know proper recognized lodges to join.  This would be very helpful for him.

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Posted: 24 August 2010 04:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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The Grand Lodge of Scotland have the following lodges:

1- Peace Lodge 908 meets in Beirut First and third Friday, October to June
2- Kadisha Lodge 1002 meets in Beirut Third Wednesday October to June and 4th Wednesday in January
3- Zahle Lodge 1047 meets in Zahle Second and fourth Saturday March to November
4- El-Mizab Lodge 1130 meets in Tripoli Second and fourth Tuesday October to June
5- Mount Lebanon Lodge 1312 meets in Beirut First Thursday October to June and third Thursday January
6- Harmony Lodge 1830 meets Beirut First and third Saturday March to November

The District Grand Lodge of Syria-Lebanon that presently operating are:

Syrio-American Lodge # 1 operates in English, in American Temple Lodge, in Beirut.
New York Lodge # 2 operates in Arabic, in American Temple Lodge, in Beirut.
Fakhruddin Lodge # 3 operates in Arabic, in Beirut.
Souleiman Lodge # 5 operates in Arabic, in Amioun, North Lebanon.
Chouf Lodge # 6 operates in Arabic, in Baaklin.
El Berdawni Lodge # 7 operates in Arabic, in Zahle, Bekaa Valley.
El Marj Lodge # 8 operates in Arabic, in Beirut.
Turbol Lodge # 9 operates in Arabic, in Tripoli, North Lebanon.
Ani Lodge # 11 operates in Armenian, in Beirut.
Three Pillars Lodge # 12 operates in French, in Beirut.

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Posted: 10 October 2010 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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I will try in this post, to Shed some more light on masonry in The Middle East, before and within the Islamic era & countries, its normal to identified masonry by the structures of the prophet king Solomon in the middle east, also by The fortress of Baalbek in Lebanon and Palmyra in Syria, the Arab freemasons pioneers told us about that.

In the year 530 AD, the stone masons guilds made such a (advanced status) in Syria, by building many cities & public structures, the Sassanid state which ruled Persia Called the Syrian Masons to build up its all (landmarks), to establish fortifications, castles, to build temples, The style of stone masonry was mixed (Latin & Byzantine & Persian), the masons guilds works turned into a great arts.

In the era of Islam, and during 750 AD, masonry flourished with the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad, the cradle of civilization, science, arts and also crafts, after the fall of the Tsars in the West, many stone masons guilds moved to Syria and the Arab countries, their works and arts help the Arabic masonry in its progress.

By the year 775 AD during the Umayyad caliphs in Andalusia (Spain), the Arabic & Islamic line of masonry entered that place, one of things that should been pointed to is that all structures works was under the commands and control of the masons Societies, the caliphs called a lot of masons from Baghdad, and they made Cordo (built by the Romans in 252 BC) as their main city center, They founded great buildings, elegant mosques with Byzantine style, the famous Islamic city Cordoba was famous at that time by industries, science & construction, the stone masons traveled to Cordoba from all around the world.

Arab freemasons (1895) said : Since that the General works of the operate Masonic societies was unknown (secrets), the stone masons guilds committed to change some codes before they agree to expand Naturally, in a place where Muslims are the great and advanced in civilization, many masons from the east joined that societies .

At the time of the Umayyad Prince Abdul rahman who was known by his wealth & great love of science, Andalusia was bright and loaded with scientists, Cordo become like a focus points of all masonry works, students traveled to Cordo to quote and learn from masonry sciences, to learn the Andalusian style that has prevailed in that time.

By the year 936 AD during Prince Abdul rahman era, Arabs builders started their works to build the (al Hamra castle) in Andalusia, it was a and still until now a unique elegant building standing on 4300 bright white columns, Prince Abdul rahman also called masons from Baghdad, they united with Andalusia masons, by that, they made al Hamra, a great royal work of art shows the generosity of Abdul rahman , and how skilled the masons are.

I want to say here as a personal point of view, that may be every civilization, religion, take its part in masonry, as what I know about masonry in the middle east, the stone masons guilds contained many masons from different nationalities, religions, races, I think they crossed by their massage and unique unity… all the borders of geography, cultures, extra. respected by all, deserving their privileges in full way and terms because of their good efforts, strengthen civilizations in all over the world, I would like to say here what I feel right now, masonry appeared so much in a beautiful historic and humanitarian moments where civilizations and religions meet in peace together, where & when sciences, arts moved through humanity, when we talk about freemasonry and the middle east, we should remember that middle east was the first arena where humanity shaped in its different crosses, and when we talk about the Islamic civilization, we remember how it played a main rule in the chain of civilizations, received knowledge, science, arts from the old ones, built over it and give it through that normal chain to others by Baghdad, Andalusia and Cairo.
LOJ.

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