I’m currently reading Greece: The Hidden Centuries : Turkish Rule From the Fall of Constantinople to Greek Independence, by David Brewer. A very interesting book. In Chapt. 9, the author describes the operation of the guild system in Greek cities and towns during the Ottoman period, which was typical of the whole Ottoman Empire and similar to how the guilds operated elsewhere in Europe.
“All craftsmen, that is those using local or imported raw materials to make goods and sell them, had to belong to a guild… The leading members of the guild were the master craftsmen, who appointed four officers. One ... to run the business side of the guild and represent his fellows in dealings with other guilds. Another ... to apportion the tax quota and deliver the total to the government [and represent] the guild when taking grievances to the local capital or to Constantinople. A third officer acted as buying agent for the guild’s raw materials and a fourth was responsible for quality and price control. ... Only the master craftsmen could open their own establishments, of which the number was strictly limited. Below the master craftsmen and working for them were the skilled craftsmen who could not open their own shops, the ordinary craftsmen, and at the lowest level the apprentices.
“The guilds would operate in and around the great market in the centre of town… Guild members, who might be Muslim and Christian in the same guild, did not live in the centre but in one of the self-contained quarters of the town.
“There were three important limitations on the guild’s activities. First, nothing could be sold above a price fixed by the government, which was designed to allow a modest profit of about ten percent. Naturally this maximum became standard: to charge less would be to throw away profit, and would undercut and damage other guild members. Second, the guild could only sell the goods allowed to it. This meant that no guild could compete with another guild, but also that diversification was impossible. Third, strict quality control meant that the goods produced could never vary. In Constantinople, even the sale of shoes with pointed toes was forbidden as being agains the ancient mode.
“The guild system was not unique to the Ottomans. It was inherited from the Byzantines, whose rules for the guilds of Constantinople were set down in the tenth century Book of the Prefect, and guilds operated throughout Europe ...”
I think that most of us consider that Freemasonry originated in, or was helped along by, the stonemasons’ guilds in England and on the Continent, who practiced Operative Masonry before evolving into lodges of Speculative Masonry. It is interesting to see the business side of operative masonry, although the above-quoted description does not entirely correspond to how business was done in England, since the English government was not as all-pervasive as the Ottoman government was. But the description of the first two officers sounds like they devolved into the Secretary and Treasurer, which goes to explain why the Treasurer is such a high officer in lodges to this day.
I would like to thank Mr. Young so much for his post above, the Arab freemasons In the nineteenth century confirmed that Constantinople Gained a great importance regarding operative masonry, before Islam & within The Ottoman Empire, so I want to make some clarifications here & try to assemble parts in an attempt to make a full picture (some earlier posts in this thread talked lightly about Constantinople).
The masons guilds Flourished in the era of Constantine the Great, because before his coming, many masons moved to Syria & the middle east , because of the events & persecution against the Christians in Romans era, people felt safe with Constantine coming & many joined the masons guilds, a lot of great & elegant churches were Built Including St. Paul church at the Vatican area, when Constantine made Constantinople, masonry started to act in a lot of construction works & made many architectural achievements, one of that was the great church of Agia Sophia which Constantine ordered in 326 A.D. to be built as the first church in Constantinople, also another school of masons Was established at that time, it was interesting that an Arabic style mixed with the Greek & the roman, and grew up the style of Byzantine, the Famous architect Antimoszeos & Isidore made the engineering & engraving this great Church.
The masons who moved to Syria & some Arabic lands Received orders from Constantine to build churches, they did so in Jerusalem, Baalbek, Bethlehem & Antioch, one of that was the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (if I name it correctly), I saw & entered this church personally , the ancient, the holy beauty there is unbelievable guys .
As I mentioned in a post before, the Sasanianed state asked the masons in Syria in this era to build temples & structures.
masonry has (increased) in Constantinople which became a center of Masons guilds, after 10 years of building this city, there were 23 large church & small ones is Constantinople alone, from Constantinople many masons groups spreaded to the rest of Italy, Sardinia, Sicily & part of Africa, temples & churches founded & some in building style like Agia Sophia Church.
After the burning of Agia Sophia, the Emperor Justinian 1 ordered in the Year 550 AD the Church to be build again by the masons guilds, a hundred master mason took the responsibility of working on that, every one of them had a 100 fellows , then a five thousands workers on the right side of the building, and as in the left side, 16 years of work & the great church was done again.
When Islam came, Specifically In the era of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan used masons guilds in building in Damascus, Jerusalem and other places in 706 AD, he also asked the help from the king of Constantinople at that time, he sent to him a 100 masons, also Abdul Malik used the masons in Syria with them, not to mention also The style of of Constantinople which appeared in Andalusia by the masons guilds (for more info look at some posts in the page 1 & 3 in this thread) .
When Islam came to Constantinople in 1453 AD by the Sultan Mehmet 2 (Mehmet the Conqueror), He Was admired by the greatness & breadth of Agia Sophia Church, from here, I think that we should re look at what Mr Young post above. LOJ
Lion of Jordan has sent the following interesting information in two parts. Below is the first part.
I would like to post some about old Arab freemasons leaders in Middle East & to talk about some of their Masonic activities, so that we may learn more about Freemasonry in the East, also to point to the strong relationships & ties that prevailed the Masonic world including the Arabic areas. I will focus here on the American lodges & masons (I hope to translate the names correctly).
There are two of the many Arab freemasons who provided a valuable service to Freemasonry in the nineteenth century, Shahin Makarios and Idris Ragheb, the Grand Master of Masons in Egypt.
Shahin Makarios (1853–1910): Christian Lebanese Born in south Lebanon; his father was killed in the 1860 incident between Christians and Druzes. The orphaned Makarios grew up poor in Beirut, where his mother moved to work in Dr. Vandik’s clinic. He worked in the American press with Mr. Samuel Hulk (a freemason). Makarios joined Lebanon Lodge under the Grand Orient of France in 1874. Mr. Hulk introduced Makarios to the U.S. consul in Beirut and later to other American freemasons like Mr. Rambo. Makarios educated himself, & moved to live in Egypt & become a poet, historian, wrote many historic & Masonic books, running many magazines & established a number of lodges in Egypt & Lebanon. He was a member of Solomon Royal Lodge in Jerusalem, Thabat & El Safah lodges in Egypt, Syria lodge in Damascus, King Solomon American Lodge, Idris Lodge & Nile Lodge (Italian), Star of the East Lodge of the United Grand Lodge of England (all in Egypt too), Lebanon & Palestine lodges in Lebanon, lodges in Jaffa and many others. His main lodge (established by him) was Al Lataaef Lodge in Egypt under the National Grand Lodge of Egypt.
Makarios was an honorary member of a Royal Arch chapter in Illinois & honorary member of the Ancient Heroes of Freemasonry Association in Chicago, & Honorary member of the Pearl Lodge, also in America.
Idris Ragheb: joined the Star of East Lodge in Cairo 1887. He was elected in 1891 as the Grand Master of the National Grand Lodge of Egypt & served for 25 years, was appointed in 1897 by the Grand Master [of the UGLE] the Prince of Wales as the Grand Master of North African lodges - master masons degree. In 1895 Idris received a honorary membership the Ancient Heroes of Freemasonry Association in Chicago.
Many American masonic newspapers wrote articles about Shahin Makarios and his service to the Masonic family in the East. A group of grand masters agreed to visit Makarios in Egypt, I mean by that the Grand Master in Pennsylvania Clifford Mekelle, General John Corson Smith, the Grand Master of Illinois, the former mayor of Chicago. They arrived in London on their way to the Middle East, but Gen. Smith become ill of a cold, so Clifford Mekelle went ahead to Egypt and met with Makarios on 17/3/1892 and visited Al Lataaef Lodge and stayed 3 days. Then he traveled to Jaffa, Jerusalem, Beirut, Syria and met with a number of brothers in the East.
Mr. Clifford wrote down every thing he saw & heard to publish in his magazine. When he was returning to the U.S. on a board a French ship, he suffered from a strong fever & inflammation in the lungs, so he got off in Port Said in Egypt and asked the U.S. consul to write to his son in Philadelphia to tell him about his illness. Makarios knew about this and asked a number of brother masons in Port Said to take care of the guest Mekelle when he arrived at Port Said. Makarios wrote to the Grand Master of Pennsylvania about Mekelle’s illness, that he was very ill; also he informed Idris Ragheb; but Mr. Mekelle died, and Makarios informed his son in Philadelphia. Al Lataaef Lodge met with Idris Ragheb present & sent letters of condolence to the grand masters of masons in the United States and the Mekelle family. Mekelle was buried with a majestic Masonic funeral on 25/4/1892; many brethren from the Arabic lodges walked in the funeral with the American Consul in Port Said, Mr. Brodbunt, in full Masonic official clothes. The body was later moved to America at the request of the Mekelles.
Mekelle made contact with the Egyptian lodges months before his coming, and discussed during his visit to Egypt how to deepen the links between the brethren in the East and the United States.
Gen. Smith arrived in Egypt at the beginning of May 1892 and visited Makarios and was told about Mekelle. The General gave Makarios a high-level Masonic medal on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. The General told the Arab brethren about the Masonic efforts in America, and the construction of the Grand Lodge building, 22 storeys and 300 feet high erected at a cost of $3.5 million. General Smith traveled to Alexandria on 04/05/1892 then to Port Said, then to Jaffa and Jerusalem.
During his stay in Egypt, Gen. Smith attended a meeting of Thabat Lodge. He thanked the brethren & expressed his esteem for the lodge’s master for receiving and entertaining him. He expressed his pleasure that the lodge begin its work at the beginning of the night because it’s better for the health and allows the members to return home early, as it is done in the American lodges. He said that he considered the existence of the two greatest ties in the world, the military one which is made up of individuals who are together to defend their nation & homeland in an open association, the second being Freemasonry, which brings together the hearts of the individuals in a mystic association, where you find Muslims, easterners, westerners, Christians, & others from different religions united without compulsion or force, but with the desire to join in the fraternal bond. Gen. Smith also said that he preferred this tie and expressed his happiness at being presence among the brethren in the East. The General requested that a Masonic document be written in Arabic as a souvenir to his visit. He then visited some other lodges and left in farewell on 04/05/1892.
In 1893, a group of Phoenicia Lodge brethren in Lebanon traveled with Grand Master Khalil Al Rayes to United States. Phoenicia Lodge was suffering under the Ottoman government; the lodge was gathering in caves in Beirut. General Smith, the Grand Master of Masons in Illinois & the mayor of Chicago welcomed & greeted Phoenicia Lodge brethren, and after some correspondence with Makarios, he invited the Eastern brethren to his home and gave them great assistance.
General Smith’s relationship with the Arab brethren was strong; actually he loved them. He allowed Grand Master Khalil Al Rayes & Phoenicia Lodge brethren to hold a meeting in the Grand Lodge building in Chicago under the auspices of the National Grand Lodge of Egypt. This was the first time in Masonic history that an full Arabic lodge meet in America under Egyptian auspices. The meeting was opening in the name of the Great Architect of the Universe, & attended by 200 American freemasons in brotherhood. Khalil Al Rayes & Phoenicia lodge brethren received Masonic medals & apparel from the American brethren, and the meeting was recorded in the general Masonic history.
In 1895, Gen. Smith visited Egypt again. He was known for helping the Arab brethren whenever they needed it. Again he was hosted by Makarios; 100 senior Freemasons in Egypt were called to meet him, including Grand Master Idris Ragheb. Gen. Smith was awarded the Grand Master’s Medal; those in attendence cheered and clapped by 3 x 3, General Smith made a speech, and gave Makarios & Idris Masonic decorations.
I want to say here that the American Freemasons participated greatly in the lodges & the Masonic activities in the Middle East. For example the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed Abdo, received a Masonic decoration from the American Delegate in Beirut when they met in Lebanon Lodge. Many freemasons who were clergy came from Egypt, such as Muhammad Abdo, and followers of Jamal al-Din Afghani to lodges in Lebanon.
Here I want to tell a story Makarios mentioned about Palestine Lodge No. 415 under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which was a lodge founded by the British Consul in Beirut 1862. When Haji Hussein Behm joined the lodge, the brethren asked him to take his oath on the Quran not to betray or reveal the secrets. He stated that he could not put his hand on the Quran before making the ablution (wudu : a partial washing), so the brethren allowed him to make wudu and then swear the oath. Its an example of the Masonic respect towards the members’ religions .
Makarios talked a lot in his books about General John Corson Smith, his life and Masonic virtues. On his visit of 1892 to Egypt, General Smith gave Makarios a very high Masonic decorations which had been given to only five masons in the west, and Makarios was the first in the East. The National Grand Lodge of Egypt elected General Smith, on his second visit, as an honorary grand master of the Grand Lodge. General Smith used to correspond with the Arabic lodges often, maybe on a weekly basis.
Makarios received from a grand master in the United States a message about the arrival of 450 American tourists & freemasons in Egypt. Makarios’ lodge, Al Lataaef, decided to entertain the guests at a meeting held on 27/2/1895. It was the largest meeting of western & Arab freemasons. 150 were invited to Makarios’ home on 1/3/1895 to meet the Egyptian brethren. It was also attended by 50 senior Egyptian Masons. Mr. Frank Clark came also with 100 brothers. The American masons came with their full Masonic jewels. At the start of the meeting Mr. Allen Bernsmid gave a word praising the Egyptian lodges and thanked those who were present. Makarios made a speech & said that this was the first big meeting held between western & eastern brethren of freemasonry, in brotherly and purely free relations.
as always, Thanks a lot Mr. Bob for your great help every time .
I learned a lot from the above stories, its also explain that the American Freemasons were not ever like a (strange) from the Middle East, the strange is how things become upside down here & we become now under this Anti - Masonic situation in the middle east, there was a strong freemasonry in the middle east with a good normal relations with the international Masonic family, when we measures things now here in the middle east, we cant imagine that masonry had that great status here, for example, Makarios wrote and published in 1895 and in the middle east news & stories about the brethren & activities of The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts in that time ! the grand lodge which running this forum now !!.
politics and religion Had previously stood against many things in the middle east, but not like what it did towards freemasonry, It had a huge effects, Blown an entire humanitarian historic period of time, wiped out a great Masonic achievements in the middle east, It’s really a great loss. LOJ.
There is lack of information about freemasonry in Iraq, mainly, its been said that the first lodge established was Mesopotamia # 3820 EC in 1917, and the second was Baghdad Lodge #4022 EC in Baghdad 1919 under the English grand lodges, some said that this Lodge was they first one, how ever, its also been said that By the 1950s, Iraq possessed nine Lodges under an English District Grand Lodge. A Scottish Lodge, Faiha #1311, was erected at Basrah in 1923.
I want to make some clarification on this subject, Especially since there are some developments right now about Freemasonry in Iraq, which is really a country full of religious, sectarian, ethnic divisions.
Some Arabic records said that the first Masonic lodge was founded by the British Consul (Mr. Moore) in Basrah 1839, and that Freemasonry had spread through the westerns in the Eastern India Company, also the known freemason (Sheikh Khaz /Prince of Muhammarah in iran, His property was destroyed recently by the government) played a rule by his close links with the English lodges, the grand lodge of Scotland established Mesopotamia lodge in (1917 0r 1918), and Kirkuk lodge # 7079 with a lot of members of the senior officials in the Iraqi Petroleum Company.
Basrah represented more than one-third of the Masonic lodges of iraq in that time, there was Babylon lodge # 1326 established in 1922 & held its meetings at the headquarters of a western company and Abadan, the national grand lodge of Egypt established (sedq al Wafa) lodge, there was Basra lodge # 5105 and Faiha lodge # 1311 under Scotland (open specially for those who do not speak English), and also England lodge.
I should point out that there was a very important Lebanese freemason helped a lot in introducing Freemasonry to Iraq, it was the journalist (Joseph al Haj), I really don’t know what the exact lodges he helped to establish in iraq, but this guy who was a very known freemason, Resigned from freemasonry and wrote many anti – freemasonry book !!!
Freemasonry has expanded in iraq in the British era & during the hashemite monarchy time, The District Superintendent, the Grand Master in iraq under UGLE was Prince Abdul Ilahh, the Acting King since King Faisal was still a minor (Killed with the king & the royal family including kids in a horrible way in 1958), it seems that the Iraqi freemasons used to work in more secrecy than the brothers in Egypt or the Levant, there is a very little info about the Masonic activities in iraq that days where it seems that many of Iraqi doctors were freemasons, there was known freemasons names like the prime mister (Nuri al-Said) and the Minister of Foreign (Mohammad Fadhel Jamali).
in general , the city of Basrah as an economic open port to foreigners from all races, was the center of freemasonry in iraq, with a close ties of course to the lodges in iran , Basrah kept that until The closure of the Masonic Lodges in Iraq 1958.
Freemasonry has been panned by the military officers who staged the coup against King Faisal II (known by the 1958 revolution), the lodges had been broken & all its contents was seized and some lists of lodges members was published like the lodge of the WM Dr. Abdul Amir Allawi & others, Also a list containing the names of Iraqi Freemasons was received from Lebanon. one of the revolution leaders, Colonel (Abdel Salam Aref) who was the deputy of coup leader Abdel-Karim Kassem, suggested as the Interior Minister to arrest all the freemasons & he requested permission to line them up against the wall and shoot them all. or bring them down to the revolutionary courts and accusing them in charges of collaboration & spying for the enemy !!! , the Prime Minister (Abdel-Karim Kassem) refused that because there was no law under the Royal era banning Freemasonry. Kassim said to his deputy, “You say they are spies. Let us monitor their activities. Besides, all of them are Medical Doctors, Engineers, and Professors, whom the country needs. If you imprison them or kill them, I shall have to bring foreign experts. Who will assure me that they will not spy on the country, the Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate suggested to form a legal committee to give a legal opinion about freemasonry & to issue a new low with sanctions prohibiting the Masonic activities in Iraq , But Abdel Karim Kassim refused & resisted pressures from many sides to publicize the masons names or to put them under pressure, saying, “How could I know that the Lebanese sources have sent a correct list of names? May be the list is correct. But even if I find out that one hundred of these names are really Freemasons and one name only was included in the list by mistake, I shall be ready to forgive all of them in order not to harm the bearer of this name.
nothing happened about this law & never been issued until 1975 , after the exclusion of Colonel (Abdel Salam Aref) from his official posts by (Abdel Karim Kassem) who took the full power, it been said that (Abdel Karim Kassem) appointed a Freemason as a minister, and appointed another as a Iraqi Consul abroad, also it been said that he re- appointed two military officers who’s their names published in the Masonic lists of lodges, in important positions , So As a result , Kassim did closed the Masonic lodges in Iraq , but he didn’t made actions against freemasons.
Then there was the other military coup in iraq in 1968 by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and Saddam Hussein guys, another lists of freemasons names was founded Hidden by some lodges in a vault in the arab bank in Basrah because of the 1958 coup, the lists contained some freemasons name & officials from the royal era like the foreign minister fadel jamali & khalil kenah, some freemasons were brought down to the trial in front of the Revolutionary Court in Baghdad & were sentenced to prison, Since that time, the Iraqi opposition abroad accused of being freemasons, in 13/08/1975, the Revolutionary Command Council headed by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, decided To amend the Penal Code, and replaced the Article no 201 to became: punishable by death sanction all recruited or promoted Zionist principles including Freemasonry, or belonged to any of the institutions or helped it financially or morally or in any manner …, the Iraqi National Council voted In 1975 on a law considering freemasonry a crime like Zionism.
After the year 1975 , a general amnesty was issued regard the freemasons in prison, a lot of them left Iraq , may be they law against freemasonry is still valid in iraq now a days, I really don’t know about this, so as a result, Egypt was the first Arabic country panning freemasonry in 1964, but Iraq was the first to do that - on the ground - 1958.
Now a days, there is a little known about freemasonry in iraq, and I mean here the Arabic lodges, I heard about a small book titled (freemasonry in iraq) issued by a an religious Shiite Iraqi writer who I will not mention his name, the book (a chapter) contain a very little documents & pics of lodges in iraq, it was given to this writer by another Iraqi writer who said that some freemasons in the pics are now an Iraqi officials, and that he will Sues the one who publish it.
Unfortunately, Freemasonry now a days become in iraq like a (charge) where every part accuse the other by in a very strange way, you may find this widely on the inter net, the Sunnis accuse the Shiite & Sufi that they are mystic & esoteric related to freemasonry !!, In other hand, the Shiites accuse Sunnis especially the Muslim Brotherhood that their historic leaders was freemasons !!, some are based on an article by a western journalist who said that he saw a very known sunni Iraqi leader Leaving a Masonic lodge in turkey .
There are many anti – freemasonry articles written in the Iraqi media & talks a lot now a days about a the Bla Bla thing about a Masonic conspiracy on iraq !!!, some articles by Iraqi writers contains names of American lodges in iraq like some prince hall lodges, the earth, air & sea lodge # 1 under the grand lodge of NY, they even spoke about a Masonic Troops program in iraq by a lodge in Massachusetts .. extra .. like this stuff.
I hope that some day, freemasonry will find its way again to the middle east. LOJ
I have spent over three years in Iraq. I have never attended a tyled lodge meeting in the Republic. The Land, Sea, and Air Lodge #1 (UD), chartered by the Grand Lodge of New York (USA), Free and Accepted Masons, met for a short while, on Forward Operating Base, Speicher in 2005. (I will send you the link). The lodge shut down in December 2005, and the charter hangs in a masonic museum in New York City. There have been no meetings by any USA lodges (other than Prince Hall) since November 2005.
There are a number of “Square and Compasses Clubs”, and informal masonic groups, meeting on some of the military camps. There is a “cigar club in Baghdad, where some USA masons meet, and grill some steaks, and smoke a stogie. But there are no working, degree granting lodges, anywhere in the Republic, except for Prince Hall lodges.
I have read some material, about a group of brave Iraqi men, who were setting up a lodge in Baghdad. This was some years ago.
I have more update about Freemasonry in Iraq that I am pleased to share with the Forum :
As we said before in the above posts , Sheikh Khaz’al / the prince of Muhammarah was an active Mason and contributed a lot in introducing Freemasonry to Iraq, a lot of Iraqi writers & Notables men joined freemasonry because of Sheikh Khaz’al, he Received a lot of Masonic Medals & decorations .
Freemasonry flourished in Iraq after the end of World War I & During the Hashemite monarchy, hanin Kotaini (a very well known Lebanese freemason who initiated many Arab kings & presidents to freemasonry) made The Masonic rituals & ceremony to King Faisal I of Iraq when he joined freemasonry, an English Masonic document said quoting from a brother called Coles ,that freemasonry flourished in Iraq after the WW1 until 1948 when the Masonic works disrupted in Iraq, then revived again until the establishment of the Iraqi Republic 1958.
Of course, Basrah was the center of freemasonry in Iraq, the lodges in Basrah 1925 Celebrated the laid of the corner stone at the construction works of a Grand Lodge, it was near the road to the river, a freemason (Mr. Moore) opened the lodge and said that the Masonic lodges in Basrah was founded in 1839.
Its seems that there was many reasons made Freemasonry like characterized by Deep secrecy in Iraq especially in the 1930’s, comparing with near Arabic countries like Egypt, Syria & Lebanon, one of that reasons was the spread Ideas of the communism propaganda and (some Nazi) which considered Freemasonry as an enemy, its very difficult to get a good documented information about Freemasonry in Iraq, there was the published lists of freemasons names among the Iraqi people as we said before by the 1958 revolution & by other enemies of Freemasonry.
the Headquarters of the grand lodge in Baghdad or The Masonic hall building specifically, Were in Baghdad / the eastern Karrada, the same hall indicates that at least 3 lodges & 1 royal arch chapter were meeting in it OR working under its authorities : Baghdad lodge # 4022 . Iraq lodge # 4471 & Dar es Salaam (Pease home) lodge # 5277 and Baghdad chapter, On the walls of the hall, The Names of the grand masters between (1919 – 1957) were written, most were British, Few were Iraqis, Inside the hall, there were two pillars at the entrance, There was a piece of marble at the bottom of one of the pillars, written on in English: this is the corner stone of Baghdad Masonic hall, laid by his Excellency the High Commissioner Sir Henry Dobbs, assisted by worshipful brother, Colonel John Jabllward in July 25, 1925 (Hope I translate correct), and there was another piece of marble written on : this stone was re-laid by the Most worshipful brother, Colonel John Jabllward , the Grand inspector of Iraq in July 30, 1940.
I Read some part of the trial documents of the Iraqi Foreign Minister Bro. Mohammed Fadhel Jamali by the Iraqi Revolutionary courts, the judge Requested Jamali to explain to the Court what is Freemasonry as a humanitarian association, first & of course the judge did not gave him chance to talk, He said you are a Jewish – Zionism - colonial Society under the British crown, Jamali said NO, We are a Society with secret symbols aiming to improve the human relations & the social service, without influencing the religion of any man or his political views, every country these days has a Grand lodge like Egypt , The judge asked : What about the overlapping triangles? Is not Zionism , Jewish or colonialism symbol ? Jamali said we have symbols from all religions, it used in turkey where no Colonialism there , we are a society grouping men as brothers, Freemasonry in each country works in national way, Arabs can made their lodge membership national, only for them . The General Attorney said to Jamali: You are serving the British Crown, freemasonry requires from the man to be set free from his religion, honor & nationality And sacrifice that, the British Gov Gives the Masonic lodges in the world money & power so that freemasons become high rank in their governments & to do what England want, Jamali said NO, this is not true, any one who said that DO NOT know any thing about freemasonry, its have nothing to do with what you said, Freemasonry only accepts who believe in honor & Good customs, every country has its freemasonry and it has nothing to do with the British. the judge said: do you think that freemasonry will save you now. then he Sentenced Jamali to prison !!!
I have wrote Jamali’s story because that what happened to the freemasons ,and as an example to explain how the strange thinking used to worked against freemasonry in the Middle East until recent time, in Iraq things were more difficult & harder on the Freemasons, the Iraqi security used in the era of the revolution & Saddam Hussein time to accuse their enemies by what its appears to be a very easy simple charge(Freemasonry) and chased many of people under this charge, unfortunately now a days, There is a great ignorance about Freemasonry in most of the Mideast countries & I’m afraid (hope to be wrong) that Anti Freemasonry is become like a rooted thoughts despites of the ongoing openness & development on many different levels in the middle east.
I hope & wish that Freemasonry comes Back soon to the middle east. LOJ.
My Friend, I tried in previous posts to explain what I know about the relationship between Islam & Freemasonry, and to share with the forum some info about this important & maybe forgotten historical stage in the middle east, it is appears to me that’s its slightly a different Masonic era comparing with other regions in the world, also it’s a difficult issue & requires a lot of efforts and thinking.
Others & I by your help ,did shed some light in the forum on the history of the operative & speculative masonry in the Middle East and /or the land of Islam, I kept thinking to present further clarifications about the points where Islam touches the Masonic fraternity, I have tried first to measure that on myself, I am a young Muslim man & received my upbringing and primary education in a school at a old monastery in my home town, I grew up like any other ordinary Muslims and I do my religious obligations, Now I have many friends. Arabs & foreigners, Muslims, Christians & Jews, as a Muslim I did not feel any strange feelings prevents me from this, my Islamic faith never become like an obstacle to be who I’m right now .
Not long ago I was reading in the site of the Masonic service association of north America (MSA), Specifically in a Focus newsletter by the Masonic Information Center, its said & I quote: “ The Supreme Being. Masons believe that there is one God and that people employ many different ways to seek, and to express what they know of God..”, This made me think deeply, trying to link things together, the core of Islam is to belief in one GOD – ALLAH , before Islam, Arabs and some others in the Middle East used to be pagans, worshiping many idols, The old Masonic history in the Middle East said that the idea of (believing in GOD the one), was a main reasons to attracted Muslims to the Masonic fraternity.
Quran & the Islamic faith tell us to believe in God & in his all prophets, & in the revealed sacred books like Torah & the Bible, to believe that all holy religions (Judaism, Christianity & Islam) calls for one message, coming from GOD and leads to one result which is to believe in GOD, The Arabic grand lodges said that Muslims had much harmony with the Masonic fraternity because it made the believe in GOD as a principle to accept people & in its works, when old muslim masons been asked who is the first builder, they answered: La Ilaha IllA Allah (there is no god but god), Also the Muslims masons understood (the Great Architect of the Universe) as GOD who there is no GOD but he, beside that, the Islamic Faith encourages people to use their minds & the reason to know God through his creation of the universe, to learn from.
The Islamic civilization accepted through history all sciences, knowledge & cultures, believers from all different religions lived with Muslims in their countries, contributed in the Islamic civilization, the old Masonic Book issued by some Arab freemasons like Georgy Zeidan & Shahin Makarios in 1895 and so, in the middle east, shows that the Islamic cities were full of Masons guilds (operative masonry), they contributed in the development of the Islamic civilization which based on science & knowledge, constructions & fine arts, the brotherhood & cooperation between humans beings, on equal rights & duties.
Therefore, and as a personal opinion, I believe that the narrow views of some clerics in the middle east now a days, which do not accept or stand the idea of the unity between Muslims & others in a lodge, are blowing a very important principles Adopted by the Islamic civilization.
GOD said (O mankind ! We created you from a single pair, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-knowing , All-Aware) Quran, 49:13 .
We tried in previous posts To clarify when the Muslims starts joining the speculative masonry , I think it was not far from 1717, I heard (not read) about a Masonic book issued in 1726 and talked about sure Muslims freemasons.
I looked at The historical atlas of Islam, its said that freemasonry first appeared in the ottoman empire where many lodges were established but with out the authorities of the organized freemasonry, a frequently short – lived lodges reported in Aleppo, izmir & corfu in 1738, in Alexandria early 1740s, also in the Armenian parts of eastern turkey in 1762 & in Istanbul in 1768 – 69, individuals freemasons (Jewish) reported in Tunisia in 1784, and local Muslims freemasons in Algeria 1785, then in Egypt by the French army as we explain in previous posts, in 1820 the Masonic activities was available especially among the foreigners & local Christians , Jewish in Istanbul, izmir, Syria, thrace, Macedonia, Epirus & other parts of the ottoman empire, many Masonic organizations founded mostly by the Europeans in the main population centers in the empire, but in some areas were the Europeans political influence, the organized freemasonry founded lodges in Algeria in 1851 (14 lodges), Tunisia after 1881, by the 19 centaury, a French engineer established the first lodge in jaffa in 1892, the American freemason Robert Morris established the first lodge in Jerusalem during his tour in the middle east, at least there was one lodge in every main city or town in the middle east, Christians, Muslims & Jewish mingled freely in these lodges.
The important of freemasonry in Islam enhanced to the Muslims by the joining of some very important Muslims clergy & individuals, I mean by that the Algerian prince Abdulkadir, Jamal al din al afghani & the grand mufti of Egypt Mohammad abduh & some of the khedival family starting 1860, we spoke before in the thread about, but this post will be The entrance to more posts about this subject, in the next posts in future , I will talk first about the (Sunnis Muslims) freemasons, and in other posts, about the (Shiite Muslims) freemasons.
LOJ. [END OF PM]
Lion of Jordan is doing us all a wonderful service in giving us information about Masonry in an area where it once flourished but can no longer be practiced. His views on Islam and religion in general show him to be a man of truly Masonic outlook, very different from what we, in the West, usually suppose Muslims to be. And this from a man who is not yet a Mason, but wants to be very badly but is prevented by the laws of his country. I consider him to be a brother in spirit, if not (yet) in fact, and hope for the time when he will be able to be initiated into our fraternity.
The upcoming posts will be To explain some more about Freemasonry in the Islamic world & the Middle East, upon the Muslims and among the Arabs in general, One of the noticed things in the old Arabic Masonic books that the (Muslims & Arabs) Freemasons in the middle east were proud about their masonry as any other freemasons in the world, and it seems that all here in the east are proud that Freemasonry originated in the East.
There are several researches & books carried out by Western & eastern Freemason researchers, Sponsored By western & eastern Arabian Grand Lodges during the nineteenth & early twentieth century about the Masonic traditions in the Middle East, also the experiences of some Western Freemasons through there journeys to the Middle East provided a rich information.
the Mystic side if Islam (the Sufi & Shiite trends) made orders, and it seems that had old affiliation with the Masonic traditions in the middle east, also, Atlas of Islam said that the first Muslims joined the modern freemasonry “blue lodges” were the Persian and Indian Muslims in lodges founded in India by the British masons in 1730, most of them where Shiite muslims, so we will start with the Shiite & Sufi Muslims to shed some lights on there practices of mystic, also it will be a chance to know more details about Freemasonry in Iran after we explained in previous posts about Freemasonry in the Arab countries.
Freemasonry, any Arab from any religion, spiel it: Firmasuniyya OR “al masuniyya” ALSO “al Binaya al hurra – the free building”, the most popular now a days is al masuniyya, Freemasonry to the persian Muslims, named Faramush khana: faramush “forgotten” – khana “house”, the forgotten house, that because what ever questions were put to a Muslim freemason about the fraternity, he answered : it is not in my memory , OR , I forgot it, one of the teachings which took place for a long time in the Middle East between the “Muslims” masons brothers at their meetings in lodges is to say: I swear in Allah then the square to keep the secrets of our good & generous works.
The founders of the earliest Sufi Orders like the Dervishes, Kadiri, the Bektashi, Rufa’i and the Sa’di orders, laid down certain rules to be observed in the initiation of the new members into the Brotherhood, and these rules differing only in some details.
In general, a person wishing to join the Sufi Order, he shows his desire to one of its embers so he become a petitioner, a candidate become to what called a (murid), the evening appointed for the ceremony of initiation in the Tekkah hall , and only in night to some Order like the ektashi, the candidate takes with him a small sum of money, the candidate take the vow with his breast bared, With a rope round his neck, he is led around the hall of the Tekkah, then he stands towards the Sheikh then Kneeling to swear on quran, then the Sheikh whispers to his ear secret words, signs and vows, in the Rufa’i order, the candidate receives from the Sheikh a small cup of water from (Zemzem - the Sacred Well of Mekkah), The period of probation in ome orders like the Dervishes lasts for many months, also there is degrees of the mystic life, to get the Spiritual Knowledge, I read some Masonic researches talking about this Islamic orders from this matter.