[Square & Compasses]

Freemasonry Where I Live

by A Lebanese Brother

Brief History

The oldest lodge to be consecrated in Lebanon was Beirut No. 415 under the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1826.The WM was the British Consular, and the said Lodge used to work in French. Its warrant was renewed in 1868 and resumed works accordingly. No further information is available about this Lodge, but for sure it does not exist any more.

Lebanon Lodge: consecrated in 1869

One the hand, and from another source, Freemasonry in Lebanon can be traced to the year 1869 with the commencement of Lodges consecration under a prominent French Mason (the name is not mentioned in the reference book I have) and a member of the "Grand Orient de France" under the Jurisdiction of the same. This French Mason was the first WM of Lebanon Lodge. Thereafter, a number of Lebanese assumed the chair in the East. Among them were prominent personalities: political leaders, men of learning, historians, and merchants. The working in the Lodge was in Arabic, while the correspondence was in French. The said Lodge used to meet weekly at night, about half an hour from the American University in Ras Beirut (Beirut city). Although the area where the meetings used to take place was un safe, however, the attendance continued uninterrupted.

As a result of the "Grand Orient de France" abolishment of the condition belief in a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul, a number of Lebanese Lodges, including "Lebanon Lodge" severed the relation with GOF, however, continued a relation with the Lodges under the English Jurisdiction.

(It is to be noted here and according to one source, that the oldest Lodge to be consecrated in the Near East, was "Aleppo Lodge" in Syria. The said Lodge was established by "Alexander Dramond" around the end of 1751, and was under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. All the members were from the British community, some official employees, the others businessmen.)

The above Lodges do not exist any more. In this respect, and as a matter of curiosity, I appreciate if the UGLE can furnish us with some information about that period and the names of the Lodges that once existed under their jurisdiction. I also, appreciate if the GLS have any information about that period too, especially "Aleppo Lodge".

Phoenicia Lodge

At the beginning of 1890s a number of Brothers decided to establish a new Lodge in Beirut and they chose the Lodge to be under the Egyptian National Grand Lodge jurisdiction since it was working in Arabic. They wrote to Brother Chahine Makarios (Author of the book: The Virtues of Masonry" an Egyptian of Lebanese descendency), in order help them in this respect. Brother Makarios obtained the warrant in the beginning of 1891, and it was agreed to name the Lodge: Phoenicia. The Lodge started with fourty members, all prominent men of learning. However, the "wali' (ruler of Beirut) at that time, received information about the said Lodge, ordered its closure and consequently the meetings were interrupted. However, a number of its members revived the activities of the Lodge around the end of the nineteenth century, and started to meet secretly in the caves of the remote peripheral of Beirut west, practicing, consecrating, raising and planning to combat injustice. The ruler, as they say had "eyes" and "informants", the Lodge was discovered, as well as its meeting place, and the time of the meetings. The authority at that time, decided to encircle it. However, information reached the Brothers before the attack, they dispersed and were free from arrest.

Local and National Lodges

At present, there exist quite a number of "local national Lodges and Grand Lodges" adopting Eccossais Ancient and Accepted Rite, Scotish rite, or a modification thereof as mentioned in their publications. Some of them are offshoots from previous Lodges which once existed in the beginning of 1900s.

Lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland (Scottish Rite)

There are five Lodges out of which three are workings. The oldest dates back to the beginning of 1900s

Lodges under the jurisdiction of Grand Lodge of New York (York Rite)

There are eleven Lodges out of which six are working. Most of them were consecrated in the 1920s.

It is said, that there are about 300,000 "Freemasons" in Lebanon. Is it a reality or a fantasy? Mostly, the later is true. Let us put a realistic figure for would be true Masons; 10-15% of the previously mentioned figure.

There are no daily attacks or condemnations of Freemasonry, either from the authority or the clergy. However from time, a TV talk show, or a TV broadcasting appear, exposing and condemning Freemasonry... and life goes on.

The above is a modest attempt to tell you something about Freemasonry in Lebanon. The above information was collected from some books I have. However, should you have specific questions or clarifications, then I will try to investigate further.

Fraternal Greetings,

Your Brother in the Noble Craft,

A Lebanese Brother

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