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Article # 285
Islam and Freemasonry

Author: W.Bro.A.M.Rafiq P.Pres G.Std., P.R.G.D of C.     Posted on: Sunday, December 21, 2014
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Islam and Freemasonry

                                                                         W.Bro.A.M.Rafiq P.Pres G.Std., P.R.G.D of C                                                                                                                                

Let me at the outset thank the organizers for affording an opportunity to me to share some of my thoughts on the subject of Islam and Freemasonry. I am thankful to the senior brethren for guiding me in the preparation of this paper.

1.  Islam has been much misunderstood in recent days. As a pious Muslim and a devoted Freemason, I have been discharging my religious duties as well as duties to the Fraternity , rather diligently and I realize, that Islam and Freemasonry are not only compatible, but are complementary to each other in their teachings. Many teachings in the Holy Quran have been incorporated as the tenets in Freemasonry. Unfortunately several misconceptions had been widely circulated among the Muslims of various sects due to non understanding of our basic concepts and Masonic thoughts. The misconceptions probably arose from the fact that masonic symbolism was derived from portions of the Old Testament such as the Temple of King Solomon, from which the uninstructed seemed to have developed the erroneous impression that masons are Zionists even though, the Old Testament is not excluded from the beliefs of Islam.

 Every word in the Holy Quran is the word of Allah. The Quran is divided into 114 Chapters called Surah. Each Surah, except for one, begins with“Bismillah Hir Rah Ma Nir Rahim” in praise of Allah, meaning: “In The Name of Allah The Most Gracious The Most Merciful.” But  Surah No.9, Al Tawbah or Repentance, does not begin with that expression. In the letter which Nabi Suleiman (King Solomon) wrote to Queen Bilqis, the queen of Sheba, who reigned over a powerful empire in Yemen with her residence in Hadhramaut, 20 miles North of Sana (Capital of Yemen) he invited  her to accept Islam, that is to follow Divine Laws. He had started his letter with the expression “In The Name of Allah The Most Gracious The Most Merciful.”, as it was always being done by a Muslim. It lends weight to the belief that the Grand Master of masons was also an ancient Muslim! This Surah No.27 is called, Al Naml, or “The Ant”. Hence, it is clear that King Solomon was considered to have been a follower of Islam. Abraham, Moses, Jesus and many others are recognized by Islam as Prophets.

 

2.   Please permit me to digress on a little bit of history. Long ago there was Freemasonry in  most of the countries  professing Islam. The problem commenced  after the condemnation of Freemasonry by Pope Clement XII in 1738. Sultan Mahmut I  followed suit, outlawing the organization and since that time Freemasonry was equated with atheism in the Ottoman Empire and the broader Islamic world and  the  Islamic theologians thought  that if Pope had held that Freemasonry was atheist, it must really be so. The opposition in the Islamic world was  reinforced to certain extent by the anticlerical and atheistic slant of the Grand Orient of FranceFreemasonry was banned in all Arab countries except Lebanon and Morocco. Iraq had Masonic Lodges after the I World War.  Revolution in 1958, abolished the Hashemite Monarchy and Iraq was declared as a republic. The licences permitting lodges to meet were rescinded, and later, laws were introduced banning any further meetings. This position was later reinforced under Saddam Hussein who prescribed the death penalty for those who "promote or acclaim Zionist principles, including freemasonry, or who associate themselves with Zionist organizations". Sultan of Turkey banned Freemasonry in 1876 and it was  reestablished after the declaration of Republic. Later it was closed. Finally Grand Lodge of Turkey was established in 1948 and it is now going strong. Pakistan had the Lodges established during British Regime. The Poet Rudyard Kipling was initiated in Lodge Hope and Perseverance  in Lahore. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, placed a ban on Freemasonry in 1972. Now there are no Masonic Lodges in Pakistan. There are no valid or rational reasons for the banning of Freemasonry, since none of its tenets are anti Islam.

3.   Let us notice at this stage the progress of the growth of Freemasonry in India. The very first Indian initiated in our soil was Omdat-ul-Omrah, the Nawab of Carnatic. The second Indian Mason was M. Bandeh Ali Khan, initiated in Marine Lodge, Calcutta in 1812. Numerous Muslims were thereafter initiated in various Lodges in India. The following are the famous, highly educated, very respectable Muslims held in great esteem by the Society, who adorned the Masonic firmament.

His Holiness Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah, Aga Khan

Former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed

Dr. Badruddin Tyabji

Sir Sayyad Ahmad Khan Dahlavi

Mohammadbhoy Currimbhoy Ebrahim,

Ebrahim Rahimtulla Currimbhoy

Sir Syed Reza Ali Khan

Sir Syed Ahmed Ali Khan

Sahebzada Abu Samad Khan

Ibrahim Khan

Mirza Husain Yawar Khan

Maharajkumar Mohammad Amir Hyder Kha

Nawabzada Khan Mohammed Tolay

Nawabzada Syed Hussam Bilgrami

Nawab Jung Nawab Hyder

Nawab Sir Amin Jung Jung Bahadur

Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy

Dr. Badruddin Tyabji

The Nawab Of Pataudi Mansur Ali Khan

Nawab Salar Jung

It is necessary to mention here that the first Grand Master of our Grand Lodge was Nawab of Rampur Sir Syed Reza Ali Khan. My mother Lodge had two Hajis initiated in the early 1970s. The position therefore is that Muslims in India are satisfied that Freemasonry is not repugnant to or that it in any way offends Islam.

4.  The first essential qualification for a Freemason is his unshakeable  belief in the Supreme Being, God, Lord, Allah or Almighty. No atheist can be a Freemason. The expression Islam, means submission to the Divine Will and the Guidance of God described as Allah and to follow the Divine Laws. The one who follows the divine Laws is called a Muslim. Hence, it is clear that both Islam and masonry require the same basic requirement of belief in and submission to God.

5. We are taught to consider  the V.S.L as the unerring standard of truth and virtue and to regulate our actions by the divine precepts contained therein. In the case of the Muslim brethren in the Craft, it is the Holy Quran, on which they are obligated.  The Antient Charges  direct the masons “to obey the moral law… and practice the sacred duties of morality”. They exhort him to “never be a stupid atheist nor an irreligious libertine”. Masons are to “let a man’s religion or mode of worship be what it may… provided he believes in the glorious architect of heaven and earth,” They are advised “by the purity of their own conduct, to demonstrate the superior excellence of the faith they may profess". Thus masonry is the centre of union between good men and true.” At home and in his neighbourhood a mason is urged by the Antient Charges “to act as becomes a moral and wise man… avoiding of gluttony or drunkenness… to give honour to whom it is due, and avoid ill manners.” and the three grand principles: “Brotherly love, Relief and Truth” summarize, what the fraternity teaches and expects of every mason to adhere, practice and obey them. In this context, we should  remember that the Charge after initiation delivered to the initiate, stresses, “As a Freemason, let me recommend to your most serious contemplation the VSL , charging you to consider it as the unerring standard of truth and justice and to regulate your actions by the divine precepts it contains. Therein you will be taught the important duties you owe to God, to your neighbour and yourself. To God, by never mentioning His name but with that awe and reverence which are due from the creature to his Creator, by imploring His aid in all your lawful undertakings, and by looking up to Him in every emergency for comfort and support. To your neighbour, by rendering him every kind office which justice or mercy may require, by relieving his necessities and soothing his afflictions, and by doing to him as in similar cases you would wish he should do to you”. Evidently, masonry seeks only to reaffirm whatever faith a Brother professes, be it Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism etc and to practice the brotherhood enunciated in the religious texts.

6.  Allah in Islam has 100 beautiful names, and this cluster of names is called Asmaul  Husna. They are His Divine attributes like All knowing, All Powerful, The Creator, The Cherisher, The Just, The Kind & Forgiving, All Seeing etc. Similarly, the masons refer to God by His various attributes too such as: TGAOTU, TGGOTU, TMH, TTALGMH, TGOOTU, TSCOTU and so on. Also, Allah can be beseeched by: “Ya HoVa”, the One and Only or “La Ilaha Il Lal Lah”, None but Allah, or as in the Chapter: The Tetragammaton or TTALGMH or El Elohe (Lord God).

7. For the Muslim brethren, the Holy Quran is one of the three Emblematical Lights in masonry. It is referred to as the VSL. The former mentions all the Prophets, whom Allah sent, 124,000 in all, to different countries and peoples of the world from time to time, beginning with Adam and ending with Mohamed. The Main Prophets identified are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohamed. Holy Quran contains the Words of Allah, which were carried by Angel Gibrael (Gabriel) for promulgation to the world by Prophet Mohamed. Again, just as the masons are encouraged to memorize the rituals for the better understanding of the messages enshrined in them, the Muslims consider it their duty to memorize parts of the Quran that are extensively used in the rituals of prayers, which for most, like the old English in the masonic rituals, is in an unfamiliar language. A person who memorizes the entire Quran is highly respected and is called a Hafiz.  Our masonic ritualists, are held in high regard in the fraternity.

8.  Prophet Abraham, or Ibrahim, was the Patriarch and he was the first to build the Kaba in Mecca. Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), Prophet Moses (Musa) and Prophet Jesus (Esa) had performed miracles. Nabi Esa, or Prophet Jesus, had performed the most number of miracles. Nabi Esa’s first miracle, as mentioned in the Holy Quran, was when Miriam (Mary) entered the chamber with her child in her arms. The Elders chided her, saying: “Hey Miriam, what have you brought?” In response, Mariam pointed at the Baby – indicating that the question be put to the Baby instead – when He (Esa) answered: “Do not scold my Mother, she has done no wrong. I am the Nabi Esa.

9.  The first Chapter in the Holy Quran is called Surah Fatihah, also known as Hamd, meaning praise of Allah. Like every book, this first Surah acts as an introduction to the Quran. This Chapter has seven verses and is used extensively at every Majlis or Meeting or in functions like, Wedding, Divorce, Death Anniversary and Burial Ceremony. It is recited in the “Five Times Prayers” and “Supplications” as well. This Surah is:

  1. In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
  2. Praise be to Allah The Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds;
  3. Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
  4. Master of the Day of Judgement.
  5. Thee do we worship, And Thine aid we seek.
  6. Show us the straight way,
  7. The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, Those whose (portion) Is not wrath, And who go not astray.

The practice merits comparison with the masonic rituals of saying a prayer to The Most High before and after every significant masonic event.

10.  Islam has five pillars. Some of the Shia sects, instead of the usual five pillars of Islam, have Seven Pillars, the two additional ones being:

  1. The Oath of Allegiance to Succession and
  2. The Taharat — meaning cleanliness – Outward and Inner leading to Hereafter .

Here, let me digress to refer to, “seven or more make a perfect Lodge”  Our rituals mention that the number alludes “to seven liberal Arts and Sciences” that a mason is required to research to progress in life, namely: “Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy”. Esoterically, the numbers, 3, 5 and 7 may be said to allude to the harmony of body, soul and spirit of a Lodge represented by the JW, SW and the Master respectively; the five representing the five senses namely, sight, hearing, smell, feel and taste, which together with instinct and faith of man in the Supreme Being make seven. The masonic “five points of fellowship” is another example of the five duties pledged to assist a brother. These are not similar but certainly complementary. In Islam too, the embracing of a Muslim brother, breast to breast, has a similar meaning, both in happiness & in sorrow.

11. Prayers in Islam have two parts. The first part is always the same, with a ritual to stand, kneel, prostrate and sit. This ritual is called Selaat, and must be said in Arabic and must be from memory, as in the Craft, and facing the Kaba; the East in the Craft. The 2nd part of the prayers is called the Dua or supplications, which can be said in ones mother tongue. After Every Dua all the people say, Amin, so mote it be! After every prayer and Dua, there follows a handshake and the hand must be pulled asunder, as in some masonic rituals, in a pledge to remain a brother “until death do us part, to meet in the Hereafter”.

Majlis are meetings, generally held in the Mosque like our temple or in an adjoining hall or room. Every meeting or any function begins with a Dua seeking Gods Grace, which is called Hamd. And every meeting ends with a Dua for favours received from the Almighty for having marked well. That practice must sound familiar to every mason. Doors to a Majlis are never closed, but latecomers make a Tasleem or bow at the entrance, as a mason does on entry into an open Chapter, and on receiving a nod from the presiding Aamil takes his appointed place. Brotherhood is observed during the Five Prayers, when all fall in line behind the Imam who leads the Selaat; The Ritual.

12. Traditional Muslim Dinners are held in circular form with each unit having eight participants. One of the eight in each circle presents a small dish of salt and each one takes a pinch. The same is repeated after the group has finished the meal. The meal is concluded with a thanks-giving prayer to Allah. The significance of the salt is similar to that in Consecration and some other masonic ceremonies. The prayer, before and after a meal, is also practiced in masonry.

13.  Islam has stressed on the importance of brotherhood and brotherly love.

 (Verse 10 )

إِنَّمٌا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللٌّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُون

“ Without doubt the believers are brothers of one another so then make peace and harmony between your brothers and have consciousness of Allah so that may be  He will show you mercy

The closest relationship and bond that can take place between two people during the course of their lifetime is that of brotherhood. Although the relationship between a father and his children is much stronger and powerful than the ties of brotherhood, however this relationship (between a father and his child) is one in which the two people are not on an equal level – from the point of view of time, situation, character and the level of respect (that they must show one another), they are different. The only relationship that is a complete manifestation of strong unity, love and affection is the one that exists between two people who are living on an equal plane in life and this is the relationship of brotherhood and sisterhood. This unbreakable relationship that has been brought about by creation is constantly found in all environments and societies and is the secret behind love, affection and closeness that exists between individuals. It is because of this fact that the Quran invites humanity to unite and come together under the principles of love and affection and thus, has referred to the faithful believers of a society as being brothers (and sisters) of one another.

14.  Prophet Mohammad has said: "You will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another." (Sahih Muslim). He also said: "You will not be a believer until you love for your brother what you love for yourself" (Sahih Al-Bukhari). It has been further ordained that,  "The most beloved people to Allah  are those who help and benefit others the most, and the most beloved actions to Allah , is pleasure and happiness that you cause to enter the heart of a brother, or to solve one of his problems, or to pay off his debt, or to prevent him from being hungry, and working to help the brother is more beloved to me than making I’tikaf in this masjid for a month, and whoever controls his anger, Allah will conceal his faults, and whoever controls his ill feelings, Allah  will fill his heart with contentment on the day of Judgment, and whoever strives to help fulfill a need for his brother, Allah will make his feet steadfast on the day of Judgment, and bad manners ruin good deeds just like vinegar ruins honey." (Sheikh Al-Albani said it is a sound hadith)

15.  Quran has  emphasized humility so much, that one who knows of it does not doubt that servant hood consists of humility. The Quranic  verse, “ The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk on the earth in modesty, and if the impudent offend them, they continue their way saying: "Peace"(Al-Furqan 25: 63) praises humility, and the Divine statements extremely humble toward believers (Al-Ma’idah 5: 54) and merciful among themselves; you find them bowing down and falling prostrate (Al-Fath 48: 29) are expressions of praise for the ingrained humility reflected in their conduct.  Concerning humility, the Prophet Muhammad has declared,  “God has told me that you must be humble, and that no one must boast to another; Shall I inform you of one whom Hellfire will not touch? Hellfire will not touch one who is near to God and amiable with people, and mild and easy to get along with; God exalts one who is humble. That one sees himself as small while he is truly great in the sight of people; and O God, make me see myself as small.”

Humbleness can be divided into two basic categories: one is humbleness before God and two, is humbleness with the creatures  of God.  Humbleness with God implies faith in God and submission to His will this allows for one to follow what He ordained.  Humbleness with society includes the qualities that make one unassuming, modest, lack of pride, lack of boastfulness or excessive self assertiveness.

16.  Brethren, I have tried to place before you a few of the important aspects of Islam. In my pursuit to strictly conform to the Islamic principles and practices, I have never found my masonic duties to be in conflict or a hindrance. On the contrary, I have found my masonic duties to be complementary and in harmony with those of Islam. I close with a fervent and humble hope that this paper may in a small way help to remove whatever prevailing distrust that may be exist among my fellow Muslim brethren towards our Craft and that may exist between others about Islam. Let me close this paper with my humble prayer to the Most powerful and beneficent to bless the humanity with prosperity and Peace.       --                         Thank you.

 

 

The Author is a good ritualist and an up coming Masonic Scholar.He has presented papers in Masonic Seminars and the Masonic Retreat in Mahabaleshwar.


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