Masonic Anti-Intellectualism is 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 and 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
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
Read the follow up to this piece: I Shall Return