View Full Version : Occultists, Freemasons, And The Secret History of Radical Islam

R.K. Locke
06-04-2015, 08:34 PM

Occultists, Freemasons, And The Secret History of Radical Islam

By Angel Millar on June 3, 2015 in History, Mystery, Religion

Aleister Crowley in a Turban.

In 1910, the English occultist, Freemason, and poet, Aleister Crowley, published a strange and now little-known work called The Scented Garden of Abdullah: The Satirist of Shiraz under the name Abdullah el Haji. In the work, which imitated Sufi poetry, Crowley claims to have been accepted into “the joyous company of the Sufis,” but that he cannot openly discuss Islamic mysticism, “if only because I am a Freemason.”

In other words, the English occultist was suggesting that Sufism and Freemasonry were in some way connected, whether philosophically or through historical ties. He, however, was not the only one to think this. The explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton – whose translation of Eastern texts influenced Western spirituality – believed that Sufism was “The Eastern parent of Free-Masonry.” And, later, modern Sufi and author Idries Shah would make much the same claim.

It is now well known that Freemasonry – a fraternity founded in London in 1717, but with roots going back to medieval Britain – had a significant influence on occultism and alternative spirituality in the West. To cut a long story short, when the fraternity reached continental Europe during the first half of the 18th century, Freemasons there reinterpreted the initiations and symbols of the fraternity, creating new rituals that drew from alchemy, Rosicrucianism, and various Knightly Orders. This milieu then fed back into Western occultism, transforming it from a largely solo and scholarly pursuit, to one focused on theatrical group rituals, initiations, and degrees.

Besides Crowley, the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – of which Irish poet laureate W. B. Yeats was a member – and the founders of the Ordo Templi Orientis, which taught ceremonial and sexual magic, were all active Freemasons, and drew from its rituals and symbolism for their own societies. (The degree system of the Golden Dawn was in fact adopted from the Societas Rosicruciana – the first research society in the English-speaking world, restricted to Freemasons. This in turn had borrowed the system from the German society of Golden Rosicrucians, which also restricted its membership to Freemasons.)

What is less well-known is the history of connections between Freemasonry and radical Muslim activists over the last century and a half. Connections, it must be added, that have helped shape the modern world today.

Although I had written extensively about Freemasonry before then, I only began to stumble across some of the deeper connections about six years ago, when I began writing The Crescent and The Compass: Islam, Freemasonry, Esotericism and Revolution in the Modern Age, which is the only book to chart this peculiar history.

Some of the connections I already knew about. The Shriners, the Grotto, and Crowley, for example.

In the USA, the comic figure of “the Shriner” is a familiar one. Wearing the red Turkish fez emblazoned with a crescent, Shriners have historically paraded through small US towns, collecting for charity. The organization, whose full name is the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, was founded by a few Freemasons in around 1870 in New York. It is today more about fun and fraternity – in a somewhat depressing “frat boy” sense – than mysticism or spirituality. But some early histories of the “Mystic Shrine” claimed that it was derived from, and was the Western equivalent of, the Bektashi sect of Sufi Islam.

The society proved popular enough to provoke the founding of a rival society, whose members wore black fezes, called the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (AKA the Grotto). The initiation ritual of this society was inspired by Thomas Moore’s poem “Lalla Rookh” and, more specifically, its mention of a veiled prophet in Persia.

There were more serious attempts at drawing Islamic mysticism into the Western spiritual world, however. Crowley’s Scented Garden was one. Another was the Order of Ishmael, founded during the early 1870s in Britain, though allegedly derived from an Arab in Paris.

Only a few years before this, Muslim activists had begun joining the Masonic fraternity. Among them was Abd al-Qadir al-Jazairi (1808-1883), a Sufi leader, Emir of Mascara in northwest Algeria, and resistance leader against the French, who invaded the country in 1830. Abd al-Qadir had originally believed that Freemasonry was a society of troublemakers, but was later convinced that its membership was interested in spiritual growth. He affiliated with a French Masonic Lodge for about a year, but left disappointed, feeling that the members were not interested in Islam, which he believed would benefit them.

Others were more politically radical. In 1858, Mirza Malkam Khan founded a secret society in Tehran, based on Freemasonry (which he had joined the preceding year). Its aim was to promote rationalism and Western thought in the Middle East. The idea, however, was to provide the people of the region with the tools to fight back against colonialism.

Perhaps the most important radical to join, though, was Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani. He became a Freemason in Cairo, and there founded his own national Lodge in the hope of using it to organize against the colonial powers. As the founder of pan-Islamic politics in the modern age, al-Afghani’s thought has influenced both pan-Islamist and more democratic movements in the Middle East.

"Sayyid Dschamāl ad-Dīn al-Afghānī" by unknown photograph, retouched by --Liberal Freemason (talk) 21:19, 11 June 2008 (UTC) - http://www.nmhschool.org/tthornton/images/afghani.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
“Sayyid Dschamāl ad-Dīn al-Afghānī” retouched by — Liberal Freemason. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

These are just a few of the connections between Freemasonry and Islam in the modern era. Contemporary examples emerge fairly regularly. However, during the 1920s Arab Christians introduced Western, anti-Masonic conspiracy theories into the Middle East, influencing both pan-Islamic and secular politics in the region. These mythologies remained important (being taught as part of the Saudi-Arabian curriculum, for instance). Hence, today, Islamists often accuse their enemies of being “Freemasons” – a term that has a very specific meaning, referring to alleged saboteurs subverting Islam by introducing aspects of American or Western culture, such as alcohol and pornography.

Just over a week ago, the office of the Director of National Intelligence in the USA released a list of the books owned by former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Among them was The Secret Teachings of All Ages, a New Age classic covering such subjects as astrology and – you guessed it – Freemasonry, by Western mystic Manly P. Hall. Another of bin Laden’s books was the anti-Masonic Bloodlines of the Illuminati by Fritz Springmeier.

We know that, like many other Salafi, Takfiri Jihadist movements, al-Qaeda is anti-Masonic, since – whether a real event or not – one issue of its online magazine praised the murder of several Freemasons. But the centrality of the anti-Masonic conspiracy theory to such movements is generally overlooked by analysts.

We have a tendency to simplify things. And Freemasonry does not seem an important subject to Western pundits on “Islam” or Islamism, even if it is of importance to al-Qaeda and its ilk.

But the historical connections between Muslims and Freemasonry in the modern era tells us how complicated the picture is. In a sense, it opens up a new world for us.

Islamic politics and spirituality have overlapped with Western politics and spirituality for at least a century and a half. Anti-Freemasonry was introduced into Islamist politics nearly a century ago. Despite the rhetoric on the issue – which tends to be either heated or shallow – the history of these strange connections tells us that East and West may be struggling, in sometimes very, very different ways, with the same thing. That thing, I would argue, is the role of religion and spirituality in the secular world.

Angel Millar is an independent researcher and the author of The Crescent and The Compass: Islam, Freemasonry, Esotericism and Revolution in the Modern Age and Freemasonry: Foundation of the Western Esoteric Tradition. His writing has also been published in the Journal of Indo-European Studies and at Eurasia Review, among others.
- See more at: http://disinfo.com/2015/06/occultists-freemasons-and-the-secret-history-of-radical-islam/#sthash.Cs4tdxHO.dpuf

R.K. Locke
06-16-2015, 07:37 PM

“From the middle of the 19th century, Islam and Freemasonry came to be connected in strange but significant ways that, ultimately, helped shape the world we are living in today. Prominent Muslims that were Freemasons, at least for a period include:
◾Shaykh Quilliam, founder of the first mosque in Britain.
◾Abd al-Qādir ibn Muḥyī al-Dīn, leader of the Algerian resistance against the French.
◾Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, founder of anti-colonial politics in the Middle East.
◾Muhammad Abduh, Grand Mufti and theologian.

Moreover, although Freemasonry is often seen, today, as an “old boys’ club,” that was not how Muslims of the 9th century viewed it, or why they joined.

Although he quickly became disillusioned, ʿAbd al-Qādir viewed Freemasonry as a brotherhood of man that held out the possibility of transcending religious and ethnic divisions, though (unlike communism or socialism) still believing in God, while al-Afghani attempted to use his membership of Freemasonry to promote his radical, political, anti-Western, message in the Middle East.In Britain, Quilliam — a prolific defender of the rights of Muslims — was involved with several of the more secretive spiritual, esoteric, and initiatic forms of Freemasonry (many Freemasons would have been unaware that such societies existed).

Islam and Freemasonry also captured the imagination of some of the most important spiritual adventurers in the West. Freemason and occultist Aleister Crowley, for example, authored the little known Scented Garden of Abdullah. According to Crowley, the book — which is based on Sufi poetry, and contained Arabic script as well as English in the original edition — transcended both the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching. Likewise, having grown up Catholic, before becoming a Freemason, French spiritual thinker René Guénon later adopted Islam, and spent his final years in Cairo. Guénon is best known for founding the Traditionalist school of metaphysics, which — though embracing all of the world’s major religions — produced many notable scholars of Islam.

Some Masonic and “fringe Masonic” organizations were also founded, drawing on Islamic tradition. Most notably, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (the “Shriners”) claimed, originally, to have descended from Sufism, and to be a Western equivalent of the Islamic mystical school.”

The Crescent and the Compass by Angel Millar

The Crescent and The Compass is the first book to explore the many connections between Muslim activists, Islamic spirituality, Freemasonry, and the Western spiritual underground, of the modern era.

“Shedding new light on the ideas of Islamic mysticism, ‘Traditionalism’ and the seeds of eastern gnosis hidden deep within western history, The Crescent And The Compass will hopefully spark a resurgence of exploration and dialogue between eastern and western fields of esoteric scholarship, allowing new ideas to emerge that can hopefully provide much-needed guidance out of the dark haze of fundamentalist thought… This is a vital work on the influence of Islamic gnosis on western streams of esoteric spirituality… It should be closely examined by all individuals interested in Islam and the West.” — Craig Williams, author of Cave of the Numinous: Tantric Physics, vol. I.

1912 ed. of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

“… a brilliant exposition on a neglected topic. The history and connections Millar elucidates [in The Crescent and The Compass] are not only crucial for an accurate understanding of Islam and Freemasonry today but … [also] the darker side of the story: anti-Masonry, conspiracies, and violent reactionaries. …extremely interesting, and filled with new insights. We should all take notice” — Greg Kaminsky, Occult of Personality podcast.

“The Crescent and the Compass is a highly significant work… of extra ordinary importance in this time of cultural and even spiritual conflict [between Islam and the West]” — Living Traditions Magazine

René Guénon

“Subjects covered include Ayatollah Khomeini and Islamic gnosticism (‘irfan); Sufism and Shi’ism; the influence of the ideas of Rene Guenon, a former Catholic and Freemason, and convert to Sufism; and Charles, the Prince of Wales, Traditionalism and Islamic spirituality. At the heart of the book, however, are the many connections, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, between various Muslim revolutionaries and Freemasonry, a fraternal movement that was highly influential in the spiritual and occult avant-garde of Western Europe and America, The Crescent and the Compass not only explores how revolutionaries and anti-colonialists, such as Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, attempted to mold Masonic Lodges for political aims, but how interpretations of Islam and Freemasonry converged in the writings and practices of such figures as poet and occultist Aleister Crowley; Noble Drew Ali, founder of the faith of Moorish Science in the USA; Abdullah Quilliam, Shaykh-ul-Islam of the British Isles; and, as anti-Freemasonry, in the contemporary Islamist movement. Exploring one of the least documented yet one of the most important historical chapters of the modern era, the picture that emerges will challenge the way readers looks at the Middle East and Islam, and their relationship to the West.”

Angel Millar
Angel Millar’s first book, Freemasonry: A History explored the history of the fraternity in Europe and America, especially in relation to the development of its initiation rituals, symbolism, and material culture. His second book, Freemasonry: Foundation of the Western Esoteric Tradition, is an exploration of the influence of Freemasonry on modern Western occultism. He is also the editor and main writer for People of Shambhala, a webzine dedicated to understanding the body and spirit in modernity. Angel was our guest previously in Podcast 50 – Freemasonry and the Western Esoteric Tradition and more recently in podcast episode 151.

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of The Crescent and the Compass. I don’t know that I’ve ever found a book on esotericism and history that was as informative and timely as this. It provides an entirely new depth of understanding and analysis. I strongly recommend The Crescent and the Compass to anyone interested in Freemasonry, history, international affairs, and current events.

Noble Drew Ali

In the Occult of Personality Membership Section, Angel Millar delves more deeply into the connections between Freemasonry and Islam. Topics include Shaykh Quilliam, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Zionism and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. We also talk about Anders Breivik and the Norway massacre. Finally, we discuss Charles, Prince of Wales and his Traditionalist sympathies. Don’t miss that fascinating conversation! Just go to occultofpersonality.net/membership and sign up if you haven’t already. It’s the best way to support the podcast while receiving access to a tremendous amount of additional exclusive content.

The Crescent and the Compass: Islam, Freemasonry, Esotericism, and Revolution in the Modern Age by Angel Millar



Podcast 50 – Freemasonry and the Western Esoteric Tradition

Podcast 151 – Angel Millar

Freemasonry: Foundation of the Western Esoteric Tradition by Angel Millar

Freemasonry: A History by Angel Millar

intro music by Paul Avgerinos

outro music – “Al-Qamar – qanun (Egyptian)” by Tim Rayborn