Freemasonry, an ancient and secretive fraternal organisation, has captivated the imaginations of many around the world for centuries. While its origins are often traced back to Europe, Freemasonry has a presence in unexpected corners of the globe, including Iran. In this blog post, we will delve into the history, presence, and the enigmatic world of Freemason lodges in Iran.
A Brief History of Freemasonry in Iran
The history of Freemasonry in Iran can be traced back to the 19th century, when it began to take root during the Qajar dynasty. Although Freemasonry was initially met with suspicion and skepticism by the ruling elite, it eventually found a niche among the Iranian intellectual and elite classes. The appeal of Freemasonry to Iranians lay in its commitment to enlightenment values, including liberty, fraternity, and equality.
Prominent Iranians, including scholars, writers, and politicians, became members of Masonic lodges. Notable figures such as Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, a renowned linguist, and Abbas Mirza Farmanfarmaian, an influential statesman, were known Freemasons. These intellectuals saw Freemasonry as a platform for discussing ideas, fostering brotherhood, and advocating for social and political change.
Masonic Symbols in Iranian Culture
One of the intriguing aspects of Freemasonry is its use of symbols and rituals. They often keep these symbols secret, fuelling speculation and mystique around the organisation. In Iran, some of these symbols have found their way into various aspects of the culture, albeit discreetly.
For example, the All-Seeing Eye, a prominent Masonic symbol representing divine watchfulness, has appeared in Iranian art and architecture. Additionally, the square and compass, two essential Masonic tools, have been incorporated into Iranian jewellery and decorative designs. However, these symbols are rarely overt and are typically understood only by those with knowledge of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry and the Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 brought about a significant shift in the country’s political landscape. The revolution led to the establishment of an Islamic Republic, which viewed Freemasonry with suspicion becasue of its historical associations with Western powers. As a result, many Masonic lodges in Iran were closed, and Freemasonry was effectively banned.
The ban on Freemasonry remains in place in Iran to this day, with the government considering it a subversive and anti-Islamic organisation. Consequently, Masonic activities in Iran are carried out underground, with members meeting in secret to avoid persecution.
Freemasonry in Iran is a fascinating chapter in the country’s history, with roots that extend back to the 19th century. It has left a lasting but subtle mark on Iranian culture and society through its symbols and the influence of prominent Freemasons. However, Freemasonry’s existence in Iran is shrouded in secrecy due to government bans, forcing its members to operate clandestinely.
The enigmatic world of Freemasonry continues to captivate the imagination of those intrigued by its rituals, symbols, and history, and the Iranian lodges are no exception. While their presence remains largely hidden from the public eye, they serve as a reminder of the enduring allure of this ancient and secretive fraternity.