Can a Muslim become a Freemason? The answer is, of course, yes. He must meet the same the criteria as everyone else for membership, which has been explained in previous papers published by Al-Khabar. This answer could equally apply to any monotheistic religion.
In Freemasons Lodges there is always an open Volume of the Sacred Law (VSL), but this s not a sacred book specific to Freemasonry, it is the sacred text pertaining to the religion of that Lodge’s members, or any visitor. So many VSL’s can be open which can be: Islam – The Qu’ran; Christian – The Bible; Hindu – The Vedas; Sikhism – The Gura Granth Sahib; Zoroastrianism – The Avesta, Judaism – The Torah, and many more monotheistic religious texts of candidates that are welcomed into Freemasonry. On his Initiation, it is the VSL of the candidates’s religion that has the prominent place.
Unfortunately, just as there are many conspiracy theories surrounding Freemasonry, there are some stories written about Freemasonry by Islamic scholars which are misguided. So it is reassuring to know that, in the vows taken in a Masonic degree, “there is nothing in those vows incompatible with your moral, civil or religious duties.” Men, and women (albeit in separate organisations), of all monotheistic religions are welcome into Freemasonry, and many Muslims have chosen to join the fraternity. However, it is interesting that one publication made in 1978 regarding Islam and Freemasonry is strangely similar to a Papal Encyclical published about 100 years earlier. Everyone who joins the Masonic fraternity does so of “his own free will and accord.”
Before relating what actually occurs inside a regular Freemasons Lodge, which Freemasons tend not to share, it is important to reiterate from previous Masonic articles, that there are two main streams in Freemasonry, that of regular Freemasonry and of irregular Freemasonry. In the latter atheists are admitted and a political agenda is permissible, but this is agenda mostly relates to humanity of governing, not any particular political party. Individual Freemasons who belonged to Lodges that evolved from regular Freemasonry into irregular Freemasonry also promoted the separation of Church and State in the French Revolution and the Italian Unification. In England, home of the United Grand Lodge of England, the Queen is Head of State and also the Head of the Anglican Church, under the name of Defender of the Faith. As the United Kingdom is a multi racial and multi faith society, it is expected that this title be amended to “Defender of the Faiths,” implying that the UK government defends the right of all religions to be practised there. Regular Freemasonry follows this example by opening their doors to all faiths, as had been the case since 1717. Freemasons try to keep their ceremonies private simply because the personal experience of an initiation into Freemasonry is surrounded by the excitement of the unknown, and anyone who has experienced an initiation into Freemasonry knows only to well how welcoming an experience it truly is. However, for those who can’t wait, every regular Masonic ritual, and many concordant and irregular degrees, can be found easily on the Internet, with the “so called secrets” there for all to see.
However, here are some activities that Freemasons do not partake in. First and foremost, Freemasonry is neither a religion nor a religious community. Freemasonry is not against religion either and it respects the religious beliefs and opinions of its members. It is expected, however, that members keep these views personal and refrain from religious discussion within its Lodges; you don’t get “converted to Freemasonry,” one simply joins. Secondly, to become a regular Freemason, belief in God is paramount. In Freemasonry there is no worship of any kind, that is left to individual members to practise at their own place of worship. However, Freemasons do include prayers as part of their ceremonies, but in order to not offend any member that, in their religion, have a particular name for God, Freemasons simply refer to God as the Great Architect of the Universe. This is simply due to Freemasonry evolving from the craft of stonemasonry of Medieval England and across the British Isles and Europe, and God being the creator of the universe, in Masonic terms, the Great Architect.
It also needs to be made very clear, Medieval stonemasons were mostly Catholic Christians, such that their meetings and rules were based upon Christianity as written in the Bible, which is now just one of the Volumes of Sacred Law (VSL). As Protestantism formed, many stone masons left the Church of Rome and joined Protestant Churches, none more so than in Britain after Henry VIII rejected the Roman sacraments and formed the Church of England (Anglican today) and became its head. This caused some issues between Scotland’s Catholic Jacobites and English Protestants, both religious and political, hence as Freemasonry evolved and, already having many remaining Catholic members (with opposing political views) meeting side by side with Protestants, the constitution of 1723 was written in a manner that a belief in God of any religion was the criteria for membership. Therefore in regular Freemasonry religious and political discussion is strictly forbidden.
So what happens in a meeting? Basically there is alway open during our ceremonies a sacred book (VSL). As stated above, this represents the religion of the membership. As a reminder, this article refers only to regular, pure Freemasonry, not irregular and most definitely never to clandestine of pseudo Freemasonry.
For the Initiation, a candidate clothing “of wealth and station” or “the lack thereof” is replaced, all metallic objects are removed as is any cash, such that the candidate wears or carries nothing that will distinguish his station in life, as all Freemasons are deemed equal. The clothing he now wears is made of sacking or white cotton, his right shoulder is also made bare, and a cord is also deployed on his person. To a Muslim on the Hajj, or Umrah, this type of clothing may be familiar, but I can assure the reader that there is no intended connection, in Freemasonry this is done purely to symbolise equality. Every candidate for Freemasonry must go through this process, although today sometimes it is acceptable simply to remove jackets and ties, the rest being the same.
Another part of our ritual is based upon the building of King Solomon’s Temple, but this has nothing at all to do with Judaism, and Solomon is a Profit within Islam. The Temple build is used because to Freemasons (stonemasons) this magnificent building represents the first of the Temples, Cathedrals, etc. recorded as being built by masons. The Biblical story is used as skills are needed from non Israeli tribes (as such skills had yet to be learned), so the Phoenician/Canaanite King, Hiram, King of Tyre, as a friend of Kind David, Solomon’s father, was called upon to assist. Included in this ritualistic story is “our Master,” a Masonic legendary figure whose story is used as a way to remind Freemasons that integrity forms a major part of Masonry. Readers can also be assured that is has no connection with any resurrection as some have interpreted. The ceremony is designed to remind us of the importance of keeping our word and promises as honest citizens, in other words, the secrets of stonemasonry and not just the signs, token and word many believe was all the secrets that were originally kept by stonemasons.
Today another magnificent building stands on the site of King Solomon’s Temple, the Mosque of Omar.
Many Muslims are Freemasons, as regular Grand Lodges are situated in Muslim Countries, such as Turkey, Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and UGLE District Grand Lodges are established, for example, in Pakistan, an Islamic country, and Kuala Lumpur, and where Islam is the city’s main religion. The Grand Lodge of Scotland has a District Grand Lodge of the Middle East, which includes Malaysia (a mainly Muslim Country), Thailand and Singapore, and also the District Grand Lodge of Lebanon, where two other regular US Grand Lodges also have District Grand Lodges.
An article from a Muslim Freemason, Brother Shaikh Hatim Fidahussein Nakhoda from UGLE’s District Grand Lodge of Eastern Archipelago (in Kuala Lumpur founded in the 18th century), can be found here: http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/islam_freemasonry.html
Freemasonry, therefore, is not in any way, shape or form a religion. Freemasonry evolved during the age of enlightenment in Europe, mainly in Britain, where the religion of the time was Christianity, and as “there is nothing in [those] vows incompatible with your moral, civil or religious duties” Freemasonry is open to all whose belief is in a single God, howsoever He is named, and there is no conflict at all with the religious duties owed to your particular religion. Freemasonry is not a religion, and expects its members to practise their worship in their own religious surroundings, and never inside a Masonic Lodge.
These articles are written by W Bro Steve Froggatt PPJGD, former Chaplain of Neptune Lodge No 5150 EC. Steve was initiated into Freemasonry in 1986.They do not represent the view of any Grand/Provincial Grand Lodge.
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