Bi ismillahir rahmanir raheem
the following was hosted on a masonic website, i dont know if the author himself is a mason.
FREEMASONRY IN EGYPT
Is it still around?
Insight Magazine, March 1, 1999
A Cairo loge meets in the 1940s under portrait of King Farouk
Last month in Jordan a prestigious lineup of
Western leaders led by President Clinton and three former US presidents
paid their last respects to King Hussein. While all kinds of deductions
as to why they had all turned up were disputed live on national TV from
Bangkok to Cape Town, one inference was passed by. The wily king may
have also been a Prince of Jerusalem, one of the highest titles
conferred by Freemasons.
Whether or not Hussein visited Masonic lodges and
took part in their rituals is unknown, yet there are persistent claims
in certain circles that he was an honorary Grand Master. Not peculiar
for a monarch who spent most of his reign juggling alliances, some of
them treacherous. As a Freemason he would have kept excellent company
for, besides the Mozarts, Goethes and Garibaldis, most of Europe's
royals and several former American presidents including its incumbent
vice-president, are professedly on the Masonic roster.
But wait a minute. Hussein Ibn Talal far from
being a Westerner was a descendant of the Prophet. How then could a
Moslem notable of his standing become an alleged member of a secret
society with origins in the heartland of a 17th century Judeo-Christian
Adapting the Big Bang theory to Freemasonry, we
discover how the French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic Wars
accounted for the dissemination of the 'Society' outside its known
borders. Which is why by the late 19th century, Masonic lodges were
scattered across the Ottoman Empire, from Constantinople where Young
Turks were beguiled by the secretive brotherhood, to Greater Syria and
Egypt where emerging nationalists aped their European assailant in
their inherent opposition to autocratic authority.
In Egypt, Freemasonry imploded into feuding camps:
Anglo-Saxon and French, ostensibly reflecting the dual imperialistic
control --military and cultural-- which had entrenched itself along the
A favorite Masonic hall south of the Levant was Kawkab al-Shark--Star
of the East. Somehow, its propinquity to after-life symbolism conjured
up echoes of the cult of Isis and Osiris giving it a distinct character
and flavor. Lodges evidencing Ancient Egyptian names included Sphinx,
New-Memphis, Pyramids, Cheops and Le Nil (the latter was founded by
Jules Cesar Zivy and dependent on the Grand Orient of France).
The distinction of first modern Freemason in Egypt
goes to General Kleber, the luckless man left behind by Napoleon to
govern the "Oriental Empire. Since that time and up until April 1964,
Freemasonry continued uninterruptedly in Egypt. What had started as a
secret movement, eventually came out in the open as evidenced by
notices in newspapers, the social pages and other forms of printed
Historians may assent however Freemasonry in Egypt
came out of the closet during the Orabi Revolt of 1882. That Ahmed
Orabi Pasha was himself a member of the Order was never proven, we know
however that several of his supporters were. In his book How We Defended Orabi
A.M. Broadley declares that Egypt's most liberal cleric, Sheik Mohammed
Abdou, was himself an avowed Mason. "Sheikh Abdu was no dangerous
fanatic or religious enthusiast, for he belonged to the broadest school
of Moslem thought, held a political creed akin to pure republicanism,
and was a zealous Master of a Masonic Lodge." Later in the same
paragraph Broadbent states how many of the Deputies in the Egyptian
Chamber had hastened to join the craft.
Broadbent gives us an insight on Freemasonry in
Egypt during the 1880s when he differentiates between the principles
and practice of Freemasonry in England and on the continent in Europe.
While the British system embraced nothing more exciting than charity
and good-fellow-ship, "foreign Masonry is almost avowedly an
appropriate and convenient arena for political discussion, and both
political and religious agitation." Thus, according to Broadbent, "in
Egypt the tenets of continental Masonry, with its Republican watchwords
of Fraternité, Liberté, Egalité had evidently overshadowed the strong
British elements which once prevailed in our numerous lodges."
Although none of the leaders of Egypt's National
party belonged to the brotherhood, a large number of their subordinates
were among its most active and zealous members, according to Broadent.
Part of a budding middle-class, Egyptian nationalists had joined the
Society in an attempt to penetrate an impregnable ruling class guarded
jealously by Mohammed Ali's descendants and their Circassian entourage.
Consequently, when the Khedive's men arrested the sartujar
(head of traders guild) of Sharkia charging him with conspiring against
the state and supporting Ahmed Orabi Pasha's "insurgency" with money
and the like, it was a Freemason barrister from London who took up his
Nevertheless, the British-led kangaroo court in
Cairo declared Orabi and his Freemason supporters guilty as
charged--they had dared ask for the substitution of khedivial
absolutism with a more representative government.
While Orabi was exiled to the crown colony of
Ceylon, the sartujar and other Orabi sympathizers were sentenced to
imprisonment and fines ranging from LE 1,000 to LE 5,000. The situation
turned on the British several decades later with the arrival of
Mohammed Farid and Saad Zagloul. Self-declared Freemasons they
respectively headed the National and Wafd parties which called for
popular uprisings against Egypt's Anglo-Saxon occupiers.
With time, inter and intra-Freemasonry rivalries
increased in proportion to the numbers of halls and lodges that
surfaced all over Egypt. Scottish, French, Italian and English halls
operated side by side with the National Grand Lodge of Egypt. There was
even talk of a Masonic cemetery in Old Cairo to be shared with
freethinkers and intellectuals.
Besides the British Craft and Marks Masons, the
most important Halls within Masonic circles in Cairo were the Grecia
and Bulwer lodges overlooking Midan Ismail (today, Midan Tahrir). The Egyptian Gazette
dated 9 January 1903, states that "the new Masonic Hall [used by both
lodges] comprises a commodious and handsome lodge-room capable of
seating 100 brethren; a large assembly room; committee secretaries' and
robbing rooms; as well as a refreshment room opening on to a spacious
terrace whence a magnificent view is obtained on the new building of
the Museum of Antiquities, Kasr-al-Nil barracks, the Nile and the open
country beyond with the pyramids in the far distance." Both these
lodges reported to the Grand Lodge of England
At the time there were about Egyptian 54 lodges operating in Um al-Dunya.
Later, between 1940 and 1957 we find 18 Masonic halls listed in Cairo,
33 in Alexandria, 10 in Port Said, 2 in Mansourah, 2 in Ismailia and
one each in Fayoum, Mehala al-Kobra and Minieh (numbers fluctuated
slightly during the interim yeas). Throughout that period, the largest
and most important Masonic Hall was located at No. 1 Toussoun Street in
Ignoring its working class origins, modern
Freemasonry sought to attract the privileged elite. And since faith did
not really matter, Anglicans, Catholics, Jews and Moslems from the
power elite rubbed shoulders in Lodges and Halls across the Middle
East. After all, one of the Society's basic ideas was the rejection of
But the society's secretive character rendered it
an easy target for defamation and accusation. History abounds with
situations where Church and State took turns at vilifying the elitist
brotherhood often rendering it more surreptitious than it already was.
If Freemasonry burst its banks during the French Revolution, when an
entire nation revolted against church and state, it met with a
devastating crisis during WW2 when Europe's traditional societies all
but crumbled and when thousands of Freemasons ended their lives in
German concentration camps. Other wars and revolutions, from Italy to
Latin America, alternately pushed Freemasonry into the forefront of
national and international events.
As attacks against Freemasonry multiplied in 19th
century Europe, one race was repeatedly singled for a favorite target.
Living as a minority almost everywhere, Jews perceived the Society as a
way to achieve equality--with time they became the torchbearers of
Freemasonry. And since much of the Masonic symbols, rituals and
erudition were linked to Jewish mystic, the accusations cropped up
whenever an economic crisis loomed or when the purported
Judeo-Christian alliance fell out of favor
The Vatican, which saw any
brotherhood other than its own (eg. the Knights of Columbus) as a major
threat, was at the vanguard of anti-Freemason movements fanning the
flames of the 'conspiracy' controversy whenever possible. But since
Christendom had little influence in a predominantly Moslem Ottoman
Empire, the expansion of Freemasonry among its cosmopolitan elite went
"In a characteristically tolerant Egypt,
Freemasonry grew more out of fashion than conviction. It was more
public than secret" comments Karim Wissa, an Egyptian diplomat who
submitted a paper on local Freemasonry at Oxford. Like many of his
brood and generation, Wissa can attest to at least one
great-grandfather having been a District Grand Master.
"There were two kinds of
Freemasons in Egypt in those days" says Wissa, "those like my
landowning ancestors who adhered to the traditionalist English
Freemasonry, and others who because of their fervent nationalism,
joined the liberal French lodges headed in Egypt by Azhar luminaries
Gamal al-Din al-Afghani and his disciple Mohammed Abdou. Interestingly,
both men tended to address their companions as 'ikhawan al saffa wa khullan al wafa'(sincere
brethren and faithful companions)." [Note: this form of greeting
emanated from a distinct school of thought linked to Islamic
enlightenment going back to the Abbassid dynasty].
From Khedive Ismail to King Fouad, Egypt's
monarchs accepted an honorary Grand Mastership. Yet none of Egypt's
monarchs were physically initiated into the National Grand Orient of
Egypt and their attendance was restricted to official portraits hanging
on the walls of Masonic lodges and halls. Other District Grand Masters
included British High Commissioners (ambassadors) as well as several
Sirdars--British commanders of the Egyptian army.
When Farouk ascended the throne, Freemasonry in
Egypt was fast becoming "guilty by association," accused of
entertaining strong Zionist affiliations (this accusation was
subsequently refuted in a study conducted by a team of diplomats
attached to the office of Foreign Affairs minister Dr. Mahmoud Fawzi).
In the minds of traditionalists, the physical similarities between
Masonic halls and B'nai B'rith lodges --a Judeo-Zionist organization
fashioned upon the Masonic model- were far too obvious for anyone not
to confound the two. And because they were seen as hand in glove it is
doubtful the young king ever supported the Society as such.
Once WW2 came to an end, B'nai B'rith lodges in Cairo and Alexandria were summarily closed down
"Hadn't the analogous B'nai B'rith done everything in its power to turn
Palestine into an exclusive homeland for the Jewish Diaspora?"
exclaimed the growing number of Masonic detractors. Which is why
following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, it was open
season for opponents of Freemasonry to pursue their claims that Masonic
halls were subversive and dangerous, bent on undermining Arab
nationalism and patriotism. This was almost a replay of the Vatican's
anti-Freemasonry whisper campaigns propagated by in the middle of the
last century and early this one
Anti-Freemason articles cropped up in the
post-1948 Arab World "proving" the connection between Zionism and
Freemasonry. In Egypt, arguments leveled against Freemasonry were
selectively derived from fin de siècle freemasons George Zaidan and
Shaheen Makarius. Both writers had commended contemporary businessmen
and entrepreneurs, many of them Jewish, for their active role in
reviving Egypt's capitalistic economy. Six decades later their
statements were salaciously re-interpreted so that the businessmen and
entrepreneurs of the past were portrayed as eager tools of a
Judeo-Zionist collusion bent on dominating the regional economy
As the predominant conspiracy hypothesis takes
credence in the Near East, the legality of Freemasonry is questioned
and subsequently tabled on the Arab League's agenda. Jumping on the
bandwagon books and articles on the subject began to surface. In a
660-page volume entitled "Freemasonry In The Arab World" Hussein Omar
Hamada dedicates much of his book juggling Masonic conspiracy theories
With the post-1952 exodus of Egypt's haute khawagerie,
lodges and Masonic temples had already lost many of their more affluent
members. Some freemasons, whether out of fear or self-interest simply
stopped turning up at the meetings so that even the all-Egyptian Star
of the East had a hard time supporting itself.
On 4 April 1964, the Masonic Temple on
Alexandria's Toussoun Street was shut down by order of the Ministry of
Social Affairs. The reason: "Associations with undeclared agendas were
incompatible with rules covering non profit organizations."
Sufficiently disturbing evidence for the State to
be concerned about Freemasonry's political goals would turn up the
following year in Damascus when master spy Eli Cohen was apprehended.
Having eluded Syrian intelligence for many years posing as an Arab, it
was discovered that Eli had been a freemason in Egypt where he was
Yet despite the 1964 decree declaring the demise
of Freemasonry in Egypt, loud cries of "not so" can still be heard. And
if one were to concede to Abou Islam Ahmed Abdallah book "Freemasonry
In Our Region" 1985), Freemasonry is alive and well in the guise of
Rotary Clubs and other like-minded associations. "Having accomplished
their earlier mission to establish a Jewish state, Masonic conspirators
now intend to undermine Islam using charity work and community outreach
as their tools" says Abdallah in his opening chapter. He then
consecrates a substantial portion of his elusive writing equating the
"new Masonic cancer" with Rotary and Lions organizations and with
Jehovah's Witness, Freedom Now, Solar Tradition, New Age and several
other "fringe" organizations.
Like it always has in the past, theories of
sinister plots by ambiguous secret societies and associations still
make headlines. So much so that books linking the British Royal family
to Masonic Grand Masters and 'breaking news' detailing President
Francois Miterrand's secret relations with the Brotherhood have become
For sure, as we enter a new
millennium, Masonic handshakes and cranky rituals continue to excite
certain elements within our society.
Former Masonic Halls in Cairo: Where were they located?
- Tiring Building on Attaba Square.
- Acher Building off Champolion Street (where Townhouse Gallery is located today).
- Freemasons Hall, Madrassa al-Fransawi Street, Mounira.
- Building at corner of Antekhana and Mahmoud Bassiouni Streets.
Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.