In 1910, the English occultist, Freemason, and poet, Aleister Crowley, published a strange and now little-known work called The Scented Garden of Abdullah: The Satirist of Shiraz under the name Abdullah el Haji. In the work, which imitated Sufi poetry, Crowley claims to have been accepted into “the joyous company of the Sufis,” but that he cannot openly discuss Islamic mysticism, “if only because I am a Freemason.”
In other words, the English occultist was suggesting that Sufism and Freemasonry were in some way connected, whether philosophically or through historical ties. He, however, was not the only one to think this. The explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton – whose translation of Eastern texts influenced Western spirituality – believed that Sufism was “The Eastern parent of Free-Masonry.” And, later, modern Sufi and author Idries Shah would make much the same claim.
It is now well known that Freemasonry – a fraternity founded in London in 1717, but with roots going back to medieval Britain – had a significant influence on occultism and alternative spirituality in the West.… Read the rest