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Masonic Anti-Intellectualism A Crying Shame

That such a young, bright, knowledgeable Freemason as Brother Salman S. Sheika resigned from Freemasonry at the young age of 26 is a crying shame. It is doubly reprehensible because of the discrimination he met inside of Freemasonry. When we think of discrimination we normally think of Black – White prejudice. But discrimination takes many forms and just as ugly as racial discrimination is religious discrimination. To find that in the holier than thou Grand Lodges of the North who constantly look down their pious noses at Southern Grand Lodges as havens of Redneck values makes some Masons at the best, hypocritical. Have we not progressed from the hypocrisy and discrimination of the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ time?

Sheika was one of those seekers who thirsted for “the Truth.” Isn’t that one of the tenets of our professions as Masons, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth? He was told Freemasonry had some answers or at least some tools to work with. But alas, as we hear repeatedly, Freemasonry doesn’t practice what it preaches. Esoteric Masonry is frowned upon in many quarters. As soon as you mention the words “Masonic Education” in the Lodge Building many Masons will find that they have some other pressing problem to attend to. So many Grand Lodges and Lodges have become havens of fellowship and charitable works but not ones of study and learning.

But the latter is precisely why Sheika joined Freemasonry and they promised him that it was there for him. Broken promises are unmasonic conduct. But it is worse than that. What we have here is anti-intellectualism within Freemasonry. And that will be the undoing of the Craft. For many others are better at charity, better at fellowship. But none have the potential of really and truly making good men better. That’s hard to do, however, when you are anti-intellectual. – Brother Frederic L. Milliken

 

L-R: Bro. Salman S. Sheikh, GM S. Eugene Herritt and Bro. Mohammed AlJumaili

Why I Left Freemasonry: The First And Last In My Family To Do So

By Salman S. Sheikh

I experienced bigotry, ignorance, and the total opposite of what a Mason really is.

The beauty of life as we go through it is the sequence of beautiful experiences that shape us from the moment we lay in the loving arms of our parents as babies to facing a complex world as adults trying to find a path forward. As a Muslim-American, my keen interests in the US was always trying to learn more, make people smile, and leave a good impression on the people of this country on how we can all strive to be in union as human beings to bring peace and prosperity. I always say the world in a unique and analytical way growing up which led me into heavy research as I approached my high school days. On my weekends off from school, I would spend countless hours researching Freemasonry, different secret societies, listening to occult researchers like Jordan Maxwell, etc. I was always the black sheep of my family and was always the one who was a part in terms of my knowledge, experiences, and interests and that led me to the doors of Freemasonry at age 23 as the first in my family to do so.

In the summer of 2015, I had met a Jamaican immigrant named Marlon Francis who became good friends with me. He showed up at my summer job in Upper Darby and I saw the square and compass symbol and asked him I wanted to join through my previous keen research on the matter. Marlon had an old school mentality and had waited 5-6 months of us meeting, hanging out, becoming friends before he eventually trusted my character and made a consideration to get me a petition from the lodge. So from start to finish I went through an old school process of asking the Mason and having the Mason evaluate me for a period of time before he proceeded. As I was getting closer to my initiation after the investigation committee of William Roosevelt PM approved me, I begin to have ideas of the wonderful knowledge that I would learn because I was already heavy into Masonic, Occult, Astral Projection research, etc.

At the age of 23 and in January of 2016, I was initiated into Freemasonry as an Entered Apprentice by a Jewish Past Master, Alan Ozer with whom over time I formed a close bond and which attests what true Masonry is with a Muslim and Jew embracing each other for the sake of God and brotherhood. On the same night I am thankful to another Past Master, Greg Klauder who told me ‘People will still be people.” in reference to me as a Muslim who appreciated the unity. Over time I begin to understand what PM Klauder had meant.

As time went on and I became a Master Mason, 32nd degree Scottish Rite, Shriner, Royal Arch Mason, and Royal/Select Council Master Mason. I realized that Freemasonry was just a social club with a few ritual traditions. I was also discouraged as I saw the brethren who would smile in my faces but would later post Anti-Islamic and Anti-Immigrant posts on their social medias. I stayed patient and realized the imperfection of all things as we are taught as Masons and made an effort to try to win everybody’s heart through my honest spirit and character of seeing true human unity but even that was not enough. In the summer of 2018, after 2.5 years of a solid active effort, I decided to resign from Freemasonry and its bodies with my good standing intact. I shed tears when I wrote my resignation letter but God had told me in my heart that they did not deserve me and I had the right to move on. I reflected on the story of Prophet Musa (Moses) from the Holy Bible and Holy Quran where he was in line for the Egyptian throne but decided to throw that all away when his heart did not accept the Israelites being mercilessly abused. I left for the same reasons where I experienced bigotry, ignorance, and the total opposite of what a Mason really is.

As my tenure as a Mason I made sure I gave hugs, smiles, and real knowledge to all those who came my way in which I had members from India, UK, Africa, etc. all reach out to me to express their interest in my works and printed my essays in their lodges which at the end only made my lodge, Grand Lodge, and country stand out in a positive way in the current environment of confusion, division, and chaos. I feel pride that in my short time I did more to benefit the global Masonic community than those who were here before me for years but didn’t make a positive difference in the aspects of bringing humanity and Masons of different backgrounds together as we just saw in 2018 Florida and Texas recognizing their Prince Hall counterparts. We are still behind in many ways and one of the reasons I left because the organization lets anybody in and we don’t practice what we preach when the going gets tough or when it comes down to the nitty gritty. I am thankful to Mike from Grand Lodge who called me and we agreed we would rather be only just 20 people instead of 100,000 but all 20 of them being top notch quality who were there for the right reasons. I am also thankful to RWGM S Eugene Herritt who promised to keep my memory and vision alive in terms of bringing change to the Grand Lodge. Masonry in the US I believe and its members are currently a reflection of the society they inhibit, by that I mean that we spend majority of our times on social media, at jobs, home, and in the community and that’s where your true character is revealed the most in comparison to just 2 night a month at lodge and pretending to call someone a brother just for the sake of it but when times of trial and tribulation come those same people are nowhere to be found and can turn against you if they see the benefit of doing so. That is not Masonry and I chose to walk away from it to contribute to my own community and people who deserved it more. I still have WM’s from India asking for my demit certificate to make me a member there but declined all of their requests. My next goal in life is to be initiated into Sufism (Mystic Islam) and follow the true path of God with people who are on the same spiritual frequency as me. I did not resonate anymore with the members or the fraternity on a spiritual basis which caused my departure so at the end it was not my loss at all.

My last advice to the Freemasons is that if you want this to continue to survive in a future where the young ones are keen with artificial intelligence and info at the palm of their hands, then you need to offer them something new that hasn’t been shown to them before. The practice of memorizing sacred texts, being on a chair/committee, contributing to charity is something that can be found in every church, synagogue and mosque throughout America. The real question is, what are you willing to help them realize in an environment where relationships, family, jobs, spirituality is on a totally different playing field then our previous generations? Once this question is addressed along with letting in clean hearted quality people, then we won’t hear the same tune every month of why the same 6-7 guys are showing in a lodge with 4-500 members. It’s a simple solution which if followed can be beneficial to the organization along with not showing them the same stuff every meeting and not letting Past Masters run their lodges. Give the new guys a chance otherwise they will just see it as another boy’s club and move on with other adventures in life that could benefit them more. It’s a shame for me to say this but I learned more on my own and with likeminded spiritual people I had met before I even became a Mason than I have ever learned in a lodge or appendant body. That should not be the case.

In conclusion, I am thankful for these last 2 years for what they were worth to make a difference in the organization of Freemasons in my state, country, and other nations to teach them the forgotten values of a true Mason and the true nature of one who listens to his heart and walks the path of God. I departed at age 26 in good standing and still have a lifetime ahead of me to do great things for other groups that are meant to cross my path. I am thankful to be the first in GL of PA’s history to do a program on Sufism and make the effort to bring Masonic understanding and unity while others are just worried about their legacies. My greatest legacy will be that I will remain in the hearts and minds of the Freemasons forever and that means I also live forever which is more important than statues or my name appearing in Grand Lodge digest decisions. Please continue to love each other in and out of lodge and practice what you preach because God’s all-seeing eye will hold us all accountable one day for all our seen and unseen actions. Before your meetings start, do a hand in hand meditation so even the brother who feels left out can feel a part of his brotherhood instead of looking bored or playing on his phone. I want you all to think about all these things I have addressed in my final message and I leave that burden on your shoulders from this point on with the mission of how you will carry this fraternity forward for future generations and not be in a desperate situation to keep numbers up. When your heart, mission, members, teachings, online image, etc. is all pure and designed to empower somebody then worrying about numbers should be the least of your worries because at the end “My Faith is in God and God is my right.”

As Salam Aleikum (Peace be upon you and your families today and every day.)

Yours in brotherhood,

Salman S. Sheikh
Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

Fred Milliken: Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.

View Comments (21)

  • Brother, thank you so much for sharing Salman's story, in my heart of hearts I wish I could say I don't understand his reasonings - in reality I get it. I guess I have arriived at almost the same place and decided to give it one more year. it is a painful place to be. A the end of the year I think I will become what a heard a brother describe as a free agent pay your dues so you have a current dues card which will grant you access continue to work on your own travel much and find an occasional nesting place and hope for change - rewards can be found brother to brother.

  • If I had the opportunity to meet on the square with Bro. Sheikh, I would listen to his concerns. He and I might well agree on at least the point that we, as Masons, fail to provide a course in moral and philosophical enlightenment, because reading the minutes and paying the bills has nothing to do with enlightenment.

    Our solution here in our little, but growing Lodge, is to suspend our labors and meet between the east and the alter where we discuss things relating to Masonry.

    I've often brought up such writers as Kipling's "The Mother Lodge" and "Gunga Din" as examples of exemplary Masonic thought. These topics have often lead to thoughtful discussions lasting a full hour. More often than not those discussions have carried on to midnight while standing under the moon in a parking lot.

    True, there are those who are content with meeting once a month and content too with the simplest of explanations of our craft. I don't consider such men, who in their lives are good examples of decency and honor, to be any less a Mason than any other. And they are no less the welcome in my Lodge.

    Bro. Sheikh speaks about "anti Muslim" and "anti Immigrant" comments, but it's not clear to me what in his mind constitutes "anti". Some, particularly in the modern media, think it bigotry to insist on legal immigration as opposed to "Open borders'.

    Thousands marching towards our borders with the intent of forcing their way into our nation are not "immigrants". That is not "immigration". That is an attempt at Invasion.

    One of the men labeled as one of the leasing forces of "Islamophobia " in America, is Phd mathematician who has studied Islam in depth. His precise study of Islamic history, and his sourced quotations of Islamic doctrine and thought are proof positive of Taqiyya, which is to practice deception for the purpose of Jihad. This is just one aspect of the deadly danger of a brilliant system of conquest, subjugation, as well as mass murder that has been the scourge of humanity for 1,400 years.

    There is a difference between Islam, a system of thought, and Muslims who are people who in some way and in some degree, follow that system of thought. It would be wrong to call all Muslims psychopathic murdering pedophiles. But it would be absolutely correct, and an historic fact, in naming Mohammed a psychopathic murdering pedophile. It may not be politically correct to tell the truth on this topic, but it most certainly is not bigotry.

    Being a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason myself, I study the degrees and look for deeper meaning. Those of us interested have formed a study group, which is open to all 32nd degree Scottish Rite Masons.

    I remember when I was 26. That was many, many, many decades ago. I remember many of the mistakes of youth, and errors of judgement. Such is youth. And that too is one of the good reasons for young Masons to seek the council of old men. It is also a good reason for old men to make themselves available to young men.

    In regular Lodge meetings, particularly when there are new masons present, or when we have visitors, we often ask: Are any Entered Apprentice Masons present? Regular members know the question and allow our gusts the opportunity to respond first, and then we ALL raise our hands. We are ALL Entered Apprentice Masons still working on our ashlers.

  • Bro. Laurence - your words demonstrate the ignorance and bigotry discussed here. You are guilty of falling into the trap of "someone with a PhD in Maths must be an expert on Islam" (do you have any idea just how stupid that sounds?) and make sweeping statements on a religion you haven't studied yourself. Have you not heard of the academic papers scandal? You also justify bigoted views on immigration through "oh we aren't against immigration we're against illegal immigration" and it'll eventually whittle down to how refugees are ruining the country. You think you are intellectual and not a bigot but you most certainly are not an intellectual - you are a sheep who has fallen victim to populist dialogue. You are what is wrong with Freemasonry and instead of seeing other peoples points of view you have entered into political dialogue (which is not meant to be allowed) on a Masonic website. Step into place, "brother".

  • I guess I’m confused on how this person was discriminated against. If the brothers of a particular lodge let him in. What happened? Was he not allowed in a lodge meeting because of his religion? Was he not allowed to pursue an office in the lodge because of his religion? Did someone call him a Islamic terrorist? I for one would not even understand why an Islamist would even want into a Christian bible based organization. Did he take his obligation on the same bible I did? But, someone and some lodge thought it would be OK. So I guess it didn’t pan out. But sometimes we learn lessons the hard way in trying to be politically progressively correct.

    • I think Brother Salman was rather clear about his discrimination. Masons said one thing to his face and another behind his back and on Social Media. They were two faced hypocrites and not accepting of him at all.

      Salman is not an Islamist he is a Muslim. And if you don't appreciate the difference then shame on you.

      Freemasonry is not a Christian organization. You have spent too much time in the Confederacy, my Brother.

      Israeli lodges work in eight different languages, including the two official national languages: Hebrew and Arabic. Five lodges work in Arabic and have membership of mostly Arab men, and two lodges are about evenly divided between Arabs and Jews, and they work in Hebrew. Some Arabs prefer to join a Hebrew speaking lodge, and some Arabic-speaking Jews belong to the Arab speaking lodges. There is a great deal of joint meetings (especially between the Spanish-speaking La Fraternidad Lodge of Tel Aviv and the Nazareth lodges). The official seal of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel shows the cross, the crescent and Solomon’s Seal intertwined, representing the fundamental unity of the three great monotheistic religions. On the altar of the Grand Lodge, and most private lodges, three Volumes of the Sacred Law are open. Three Grand VSL Bearers serve as Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge, and there are also three Grand Chaplains with equal rank. The fraternal binding of Arabs and Jews was a characteristic of Freemasonry in the Holy Land since the foundation of the first lodges, at the end of the 19th century, a tradition maintained until today, notwithstanding wars and terrorism. In Lodges in India you can find at the same time Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, Jains, and Buddhists all sitting side by side. There are five Volumes of the Sacred Law on the altar., The Bhagvad Gita for the Hindus, The Qur’an for the Muslims, The Avesta for the Parsis or Zoroaastrians, The Bible for the Christians and Jews and The Granth Sahib for the Sikhs. Lodge Singapore has seven VOSL on the altar adding to the five of India the Tanach for Hebrews and The Dhammapadra for the Mahay-ana sect of Buddists. Some of the other VOSLs around the world include The Book of Certitude for the Bahai Faith, The Shang Ti or “Heavenly Ruler” for Confucianism, and Providence for Deism. The Grand Lodge of Turkey flourishes in a predominately Muslim country with 193 Lodges and 13,178 Brethren.

  • Are you a Mason, Cowen? Do you understand that calling someone, with whom you disagree, names not only does not advance your argument, but is also decidedly un Masonly?

    Let's examine your statements. I am "guilty of falling into a trap" because I cite someone with a Phd in math as an expert on Islam?

    A tad grandiose of you to elevate yourself to the position of deciding innocence and guilt, don't you think?

    Now the particular person I cited, who happens to be a professor, which does require a Phd, has written multiple books on Islam, and does happen to be an expert in Islam This being relevant because the individual can look, as a scientist, at data. Data, in this instance, is important because it allows us to separate feelings from fact. You may consider that "stupid', but that's how science works.

    You and I have never met, and yet you claim to know that I have have not studied Islam. More than one curious assumption on your part there.

    Have I heard of "the academic papers scandal"? In specific which scandal would that be? How would that particular "scandal" be relevant to this topic?

    Your next statement claims proof of bigotry in the fact that we are a nation of laws, and those who enter must do so within the boundaries those laws. As an aside it was this week that I happened to be at the INS to witness the swearing in of a fellow Brother as an American citizen.

    You then go on to call me more names, make more wild assumptions about topics I never wrote of, and round it all out with telling me I'm what is wrong with Masonry.

    You accuse me of not being willing to listen to other points of view. Sadly, your comment here is nothing more than one personal attack after another.

    Lastly you tell me to "Step into place", a comment that at one time could be read as blatantly racist. Or was I just to "uppity" for you?

  • Resignations of Bro. Salman refers:
    In almost 30 years as a Freemason I have noticed that in the Anglo Saxon English speaking world, the Esoteric, Philosophical teachings from our Initiatic past are not very popular indeed! I fully agree with Bro. Laurence Lance for suspending Labours temporarily and embark on healthy Masonic and non Masonic topics. We have been doing it for sometime in my Mother Lodge, in Gonubie, East London, South Africa.I am a naturalized citizen of Italian descent. I therefore understand what being an immigrant entails. That primarily there is ONLY one kind of Immigration: THE LEGAL ONE!!! Otherwise it become AN ILLEGAL INVASION.Did at any time during his membership to the Lodge, Bro Salman tried to introduce, not force, the teaching of Esoteric, etc?? Did he tried to join a more enlightened Lodge? I have visited Lodges in the USA and I am appalled at the speed at which one obtains promotions. It has taken me 25 years to be conferred the 33rd Degree of AASR. Southern Jurisdiction.I have also visited Lodges in Israel and never saw any kind of animosity between Arab and Jewish members.Perhaps Bro Salman should emigrate to Italy or France, where the Esoteric & Philosophical are the topics of every meetings and good luck to him if he can understand 1/10 of what he hears, let alone being able to reply!!
    Fraternal Greetings
    Bro Vittorio

  • Brother Milliken, first thank you so much bringing some light to this conversation and a couple of notes, you got me to thinking wouldn't it be grand to garner appropriate passages from each of the 5 great books of Sacred Law and list them along with those that are taken from the bible and used in our trestle board and ritual work here in the States and have them readily available so they become not only an option but to show the clearly the vision is the same yet from a different window of our own house.
    And yes it is important for those who believe in seperation of church and state to understand the difference between Islamic thought and Muslim thought -
    Us versus them is always a deal breaker - as a brother hood of men we need to be just that.

  • Bro. Vittorio, Well said!

    I became a Mason, following 4 generations of tradition, in 1970. I became a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason only this year. I was a father at 47, so I'm kind of a late bloomer. As has been observed "Man proposes, God disposes."

    Lodges are very much like a family. Some families you like, others..not so much. Some members I find delightful, highly intelligent, well traveled, as I very much suspect to be the case with Bro. Vittorio. Others not so well traveled, nor so highly educated but equally delightfully men whom I meet on the level.

    There will always be those few, very few, who have sought and gained entrance by stealth. They became Masons not for what they could share, or give but for what they perceived they could gain in status, or material wealth or both.

    Kipling, being one of my favorite Masons, is an excellent teacher as found in his "The Mother Lodge" or his "Gunga Din", especially when set to music by Jim Croce. The latter especially has brought Brothers who were in combat, to tears in our lodge.

    Each of us is working on our ashlers until the final degree is conferred by brothers holding acacia.

  • Masonry is NOT based on the Christian Bible. In most Western countries, the Christian Bible is on the Altar, but there are also recognized GL's in Muslim countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and Iran [active only in exile now, alas]) and in multi-faith nations (Israel, India). The Volume of the Sacred Law, I was taught, is the Holy Book of the dominant religion of the country. As was pointed out by another commentator above, many Grand Lodges permit or even require other Books in addition to or even in place of the Bible. Some US GL's permit such; I myself have seen in the US a Muslim taking his Obligation on a Koran.

    Oh, and the person referred to who has written so many books attacking Islam has his Ph.D. in Math. Not in history, anthroplogy, comparative religions, or any other relevant subject. My late father had a Ph.D. in the Humanities, but he'd never call himself an expert on math for that reason---it goes the other way, too.

  • I believe that we need to learn how to love others unconditionally and present our opinions with disclaimers that they are opinions. Religion and politics need to be shared with caution as it is hard for many people to avoid makeing judgemental or factual sounding statements that amount to yellow journalism and straw man arguments about related current events. Prejudice is hard to overcome as old meets new. It is natural to have social stigmas due to race, creed, orientation and political affiliation. Wars abound the world over from such differences. The cool thing about the craft is that all of those things could be left outside the lodge and honest connections could be made. The seniors need the juniors energy. The juniors need the seniors wisdom and knowledge. The environment needs to be condusive to the overall experience. If Freemasons don't embrace brotherly love, helping men be better and provide a truley unique experience clearly different from Rotary and Church then it is Game Over. The origional purpose of the speculative craft is clearly what is needed and wanted by the energised few.

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