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Disclaimer*: The articles shared under ‘Your Voice’ section are sent to us by contributors and we neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of any facts stated below. Parhlo will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented on the website. Read our disclaimer.
From designing pyramids to plotting French Revolution, a plethora of strange conspiracy theories had been pinned on to Masons since its inception. However, it’s important to discern fact from fiction. The origins of the Freemasons are obscure and subject to intense speculation. Not to mention their bizarre secret rituals. The available documents and scholarships traced back the group roots to the 14th century.
The stonemasons are believed to original founders of the movement. They built the great cathedrals and castles of the middle ages. It’s said they used secret signs to identify fellow craftsmen, like the builder’s square and compass. They are now the totem of Masons.
Freemasons – the beginning
Moreover, the modern Freemasonry came into existence when four London Lodges (organizational unit of Masonry) merged to form Grand Lodge – the first in the world in 1717. The group then spread swiftly to Europe and the American colonies.
The Masonry boasted 6 million members worldwide, including figures like Napoleon Bonaparte, Issac Newton, George Washington, and Mozart, Mark Twain. Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, Oscar Wilde, and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk are a few others.
Despite the group’s secretive outlook and activities, Piers Vaughan, a Lodge Master, insisted the “religion and politics” are discouraged to mooted in the meetings. “There are certain subjects which are prevented from discussing within the Lodge. And religion is one. Politics is another,” he said.
Although, recently the Masons lamented being “undeservedly stigmatized” and decried discrimination.
Presence in Pakistan
Pakistanis have a penchant for secret societies, particularly Freemasonry. However, many of them unaware the country once housed quite a few Masonic lodges.
The British brought the Freemasonry in India in the 18th century. In 1859, the first Masonic lodge was set up in Lahore called “Lodge of Hope and Perseverance.” The locals called it a “jaado ghar.” Moreover, the celebrated author of “Jungle Book” Rudyard Kipling was made a mason in this Lodge.
While in 1842, Dr. James Burnes, the provincial grandmaster of the Scottish Freemasons, ordered to build a Freemason Hall in Karachi. It was named “Hope Lodge,” and inaugurated in 1914.
However, in 1972, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto put a blanket ban on the Freemasonry and their activities. The death blow was delivered by none other than Ziaul Haq himself in 1983. The General under the Martial Law Regulation 56 interdicted the Masonic illegal activities. However, the activities were still continuing in secrecy. Vexed by it, the ban was extended to any and all activities of Masons in 1985.
Karachi’s Freemason Hall
Currently, the Karachi’s Freemason Hall is in the possession of the Sind Wildlife department. Moreover, the former caretaker of the building Jeewan Sunoira, accused the current occupiers of ruining the building. “I don’t have anything to do with the place now, but we remember what it used to be like. It is sad,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Lahore’s Lodge 90 is presently serving as the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, the Masons claimed it was sequestrated by the Punjab government in 1974. The legal battle on the ownership of the property is going on for 44 years, which has seen four out of six mason masters to the grave. Yet the matter is in limbo, with no signs of the property being vacated.
Commentators in Muslim countries, especially in Pakistan, believed Freemasonry to engage in anti-Islamic maneuvers, their links to Zionism, even to ‘Masih-e-Dajjal.’ But, they failed to explain why is before and after partition, the Freemasons always had more than one Muslim member. And how come Urdu’s greatest poet Asadullah Khan Ghalib became the prominent member of the fraternity?
The story has been written by Hassan Sohail.