The Crescent and The Compass: Islam, Freemasonry, Esotericism, and Revolution in The Modern Age

NEW revised and expanded edition of The Crescent and The Compass now available!

“… a brilliant exposition on a neglected topic. The history and connections Millar elucidates [in The Crescent and The Compass] are not only crucial for an accurate understanding of Islam and Freemasonry today but … [also] the darker side of the story: anti-Masonry, conspiracies, and violent reactionaries. …extremely interesting, and filled with new insights. We should all take notice” — Greg Kaminsky, Occult of Personality podcast.

From the middle of the 19th century, Islam and Freemasonry came to be connected in strange but significant ways that, ultimately, helped shape the world we are living in today. Prominent Muslims that were Freemasons, at least for a period include:

  • Shaykh Quilliam, founder of the first mosque in Britain.
  • Abd al-Qadir ibn Muḥyi al-Din, leader of the Algerian resistance against the French.
  • Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, founder of anti-colonial politics in the Middle East.
  • Muhammad Abduh, Grand Mufti and theologian.

Moreover, although Freemasonry is often seen, today, as an “old boys’ club,” that was not how Muslims of the 19th century viewed it, or why they joined.

Although he quickly became disillusioned, ʿAbd al-Qadir viewed Freemasonry as a brotherhood of man that held out the possibility of transcending religious and ethnic divisions, though (unlike communism or socialism) still believing in God, while al-Afghani attempted to use his membership of Freemasonry to promote his radical, political, anti-Western, message in the Middle East.In Britain, Quilliam — a prolific defender of the rights of Muslims — was involved with several of the more secretive spiritual, esoteric, and initiatic forms of Freemasonry (many Freemasons would have been unaware that such societies existed).

Islam and Freemasonry also captured the imagination of some of the most important spiritual adventurers in the West. Freemason and occultist Aleister Crowley, for example, authored the little known Scented Garden of Abdullah. According to Crowley, the book — which is based on Sufi poetry, and contained Arabic script as well as English in the original edition — transcended both the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching. Likewise, having grown up Catholic, before becoming a Freemason, French spiritual thinker René Guénon later adopted Islam, and spent his final years in Cairo. Guénon is best known for founding the Traditionalist school of metaphysics, which — though embracing all of the world’s major religions — produced many notable scholars of Islam.

Some Masonic and “fringe Masonic” organizations were also founded, drawing on Islamic tradition. Most notably, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (the “Shriners”) claimed, originally, to have descended from Sufism, and to be a Western equivalent of the Islamic mystical school.

The Crescent and The Compass is the first book to explore the many connections between Muslim activists, Islamic spirituality, Freemasonry, and the Western spiritual underground, of the modern era.

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