By Fahim A. Knight (A Prince Hall Freemason)
It all began in Egypt
The esteemed scholar and researcher Dr. George G.M. James in his monumental book titled, Stolen Legacy that was written in 1954, wrote about the Egyptian Mystery Schools [Hermeticism], which he maintained that a complex system of neophyte initiations were developed and worked in Kemet (Egypt). But more importantly, this sophisticated system of learning was of an African origin and not indigenous to Greece and Rome as traditional Eurocentric scholars have falsely maintained [hence, Dravidia], but Plato, Aristotle and Socrates sat directly or indirectly, at the foot of African Sages who inspired them to enlighten Europe. [Albert Pike claims the same in his book, Morals and Dogma – oz]
This small article is offered as a challenge to Prince Hall Masons from the Blue Lodge, concordant bodies, appendant adoptive bodies and auxiliary bodies to began to research, write, debate, document Masonic philosophy and stop relying on other scholars to interpret this ancient craft for them. Many believe the beauty in Masonry lies in one’s ability to work and recite ritual, but what good has this, if we have very little understanding of truly why the Worshipful Master sits in the East, the Senior Warden in the West and Junior Warden in the South. We then only have symbol without real substance.
Many have never heard of Heru, Isis, Aset and the countless myths of resurrection fables that existed long before Jesus Christ and the Hiram Abiff mythical resurrection advents. They fail to know that the Masonic ritual has a basis of duality (macrocosm and microcosm), which is steeped in nature and cosmological mythology and correlated to human spirituality. How can they know, unless they have a teacher, and how can they have a teacher, unless one be sent.
Freemasonry (Moslem Sons) and Islam: What do they share?
This research evolved simply out of my wanting to know if there was truly an Islamic and Masonic connection and if it was, how were these two entities related? Thus, there is very little written on the subject of Masonry and Islam and I was not going to wait on a Blue lodge, Consistory, Shrine, Royal Arch, Worshipful Grand Lodge, United Supreme Council, Nation of Islam, etc… to sanction me with the permission to do this investigation. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad often stated we must get up and do something for ourselves.
Shia Islam and Shriners Origin
The topic of Islam and Freemasonry is a very sensitive topic for Muslims because Shrine Masonry [only for 33rd degree and above] in particular, employs Islamic symbolism, philosophy and the entire general theme of Shrinedom evolves around so-called aspects of Islamic history and the Islamic religion. The Shriners (Moslem Sons) perhaps will argue that their ritual represents the highest aspect of Speculative Masonry, it is designed to teach moral lessons and further define principles of spirituality, as well as their ever quest to know Deity by all his attributes.
This writer does not believe that Shrine Masonry places Islam on a higher echelon than it does Christianity, Judaism, Kabala, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc., nor is the Shrine Temple propagating Islam per se. But this is not to suggest that Islamic terminology such as: Allah, Mohammed, Holy Qur’an, Kaaba, Mecca, Medina, Moslem, Mosque, Ali, Hajj, Shahadah, Hegira, Islam, etc., aren’t being drawn on by Shrine Masonry to reflect both the sacred and secular, as well as many more Islamic jargons.
The Mystic Shrine legend so-called had its inception in 644 A. D. in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, relative to Shia Islam in particular, and Caliph Ali Ibn Ibi Talib in general, the son-in-law and cousin of the Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (Peace and Blesses of Allah be upon him –570-632), the founder of the Islamic religion. Shia Islam teaches that Ali was the first person to convert to Muhammad’s religion of Islam and that Muhammad handpicked him as his true and only successor; thus, this belief nullifies the legitimacy of the other three Caliphs (Ali in Sunni Islamic doctrine is the fourth and final Caliph), Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman known as the “Rightly Guided Ones”, and the successors to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which is accepted by the dominant and mainstream Sunni Islam.
However, it is perfectly logical to reason that perhaps Shia Islam had to develop on the lines of “secrecy” because its “unorthodox” theology of only recognizing Ali as Muhammad’s true successor, which went contrary to Sunni beliefs. Furthermore, Sunni Islam rejects the claim of the only legitimate bloodline is through Fatima, the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) daughter and the wife of Ali, but according to Shia Islam this represents the so-called true heir apparent to Islam’s right to succession.
Nevertheless, from this perspective came the belief in the Twelve Imams (blood descendants from Muhammad Ibn Abdullah through the linage of Ali and Fatima) leadership would only be recognized and accepted by Shia Islam. Historically Shia Muslims were persecuted by Sunni Muslims for deviating from “mainstream” Islamic theology and had to evolve clandestinely due to Sunni Islamic opposition. Some historians maintain that “passwords”, “tokens” and “signs” were developed by Shia Clerics in order to properly identify a Shia believer, from a non-Shia and this allowed the Shia Muslims Sect to quietly coexist alongside Sunni Islam and go undetected.
This controversial “Sect” survived from being extinguished by Sunni Muslims due to the concealment of its theology. Perhaps Shrine Masonry affixes itself to this tradition of Islam because of the mystique and the aura, associated with Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. And with the majesty and valor of Ancient Egypt (Kemit), but Freemasonry will argue that these societies became illuminated because of their direct involvement with Masonic “Free Thinkers” who advocated a doctrine of liberal arts, e.g., Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy. These sciences evolved out of humanity’s ability to activate and exalt our dormant natural senses of hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting, which led to certain societies progressing politically, socially, economically, culturally, spiritually, etc.
Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
There is a contemporary belief in Shrinedom teachings that acknowledge that the ritual (the Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine) was compiled, arranged and issued at Aleppo, Saudi Arabia, by Louis Maracci, the great Latin Translator of Muhammad’s AI-Koran. In 1871 the ritual was brought to America by transient foreign members and representatives and placed in the hands of Dr. Walter M. Flemings 33rd degree, Sovereign Inspector General A and A. Rite, and Eminent Commander of Columbia Commandry No.1. Knights Templar of New York.
Dr. Fleming and eleven other members had complete sovereignty, Mecca Temple No. 1, remained inactive until December, 1875, when W. J. Florence came from Europe bringing with him the Oriental Ritual of the order, as it was worked in foreign countries. In 1876, W. J. Florence called together such of the original members of the organization of 1871 as were living and re-constituted in December 1876, Mecca Temple No.1 as head of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Caucasian Shrine Order) III America.
There is some belief that Caucasian Shriners do practice Islam in secrecy, but African American Shriners who belong to the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine founded in 1893, have a romanticized ritual and view of Islam, that lacks the seriousness in which Caucasian Shriners truly observe Islam as the final Masonic step in their traveling from west to east in search of more light in Masonry.
Islam is one of the world’s three great religions, it translates to mean surrender, obedience and peace. Those who adhere to the religion are called Muslims, thus, this Arabic term is defined as one who submits his/her will in order to do the will of Allah (God).
Muslims in general, view Shrine Masonry as profane, heretical and blasphemous. However, the majority of African-American Islam had its roots in the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; moreover, Noble Abdul Sharrief Ali (Noble Drew Ali) the founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America in 1913, formalized the first Islamic organization in America in Newark, New Jersey, he himself was 33rd degree Mason. —END
Prince Hall Templars Gethsemane Commandery No.1.
Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1920.
Prince Hall, one of Boston’s most prominent citizens during the revolutionary period, was the founder of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons of Boston, the world’s first lodge of black Freemasonry and the first society in American history devoted to social, political, and economic improvement. It is believed that he was one of the six black men of Massachusetts named Prince Hall listed in military records of the Revolution, and he may well have fought at Bunker Hill. A bill he sent to a Colonel Crafts indicates that he crafted five leather drumheads for the Boston Regiment of Artillery in April, 1777… In 1775, Hall and fourteen other free blacks joined a British army lodge of Masons who were stationed in Boston. After the British departed, they formed their own lodge, African Lodge No. 1, though it would be twelve years before they received a permanent charter. Hall became the lodge’s first Grand Master.
Africans in America: PBS Online