Harris’ Masonic Text-Book; a Concise Historical Sketch of Masonry, and the Organization of Masonic Grand Lodges, and Especially of Masonry Among Colored Men in America

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Harris, Harrisson Llewellyn “Harris’ Masonic Text-Book; a Concise Historical Sketch of Masonry, and the Organization of Masonic Grand Lodges, and Especially of Masonry Among Colored Men in America”, RelRace, item créé par Olivier Maheo, dernier accès le 15 Apr. 2024.
Contributeur Olivier Maheo
Sujet Franc-maçonnerie africaine-américaine
Description Une histoire de la franc-maçonnerie noire américaine
Auteur Harrisson Llewellyn Harris
Date 1902
Éditeur Petersburg, Va., The Masonic visitor company, 1902.
Langue en



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HHE ORDER of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was instituted by the
} Mohammedan Kalif Alee (whose name be praised!), the cousin-german
and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed (God favor and preserve him !),
in the year of the Hegira 25 (a. d. 644), at Mecca, in Arabia, as an
Inquisition, or Vigilance Committee, to dispense justice and execute punish-
ment upon criminals who escaped their just deserts through the tardiness of
the courts, and also to promote religious toleration among cultured men of all
nations. The original intention was to form a band of men of sterling worth,
who would, without fear or favor, upon a valid accusation, try, judge, and
execute, if need be, within the hour, having taken precautions as to secrecy
and security.

The "Nobles " perfected their organization, and did such prompt and
efficient work that they excited alarm and even consternation in the hearts
of the evil doers in all countries under the Star and Crescent.

The Order is yet one of the most highly favored among the many secret
societies which abound in Oriental countries, and gathers around its shrines
a select few of the best educated and cultured classes. Their ostensible
object is to increase the faith and fidelity of all true believers in Allah

(whose name be exalted!). The secret and real purpose can only be made
known to those who have encircled the Mystic Shrine according to the
instructions in "The Book of the Constitution and the Regulations of the
Imperial Council."

Its membership in all countries includes Christians, Israelites, Moslim,
and men in high positions of learning and of power. One of the most noted
patrons of the Order was the late Khedive of Egypt (whose name be
revered!), whose inclination toward Christians is well known.

The Nobles of the Mystic Shrine are sometimes mistaken for certain
orders of the dervishes, such as those known as the Hanafeeyeh, Rufaeeyeh,
Sadireeyeh, and others, either howling, whirling, dancing or barking ; but
this is an error. The only connection the Order ever had with any sect of
dervishes was with that called the Bektash. This warlike sect undertook to
favor and protect the Nobles in a time of great peril, and have ever since
been counted among its most honored patrons.

The famous Arab known as Bektash, from a peculiar high white hat or
cap which he made from a sleeve of his gown, the founder of the sect named
in his honor, was an imam in the army of the Sultan Amurath I., the first
Mohammedan who led an army into Europe, a. d. 1360 (in the year of the
Hegira, 761). This Sultan was the founder of the military order of the
Janizaries (so called because they were freed captives who were adopted
into the faith and the army), although his father, Orkhan, began the work.
Bektash adopted a white robe and cap, and instituted the ceremony of
kissing the sleeve.

The Bektash Dervishes are numbered by many hundred thousands, and
they have several branches or offshoots, which are named after the founder
of each. Among the most noted are those which have their headquarters
in Cairo, in Egypt; Damascus and Jerusalem, in Palestine; Smyrna and
Broosa, in Asia Minor; Constantinople and Adrianople, in Turkey in
Europe; Teheran and Shiraz, in Persia; Benares and many other cities in
India; Tangier, in Morocco; Oran, in Algeria, and at Mecca, in Arabia,
at which latter city all branches and sects of Dervishes are represented at
the annual meeting, which is held during the month of pilgrimage.

The Bektasheeyeh's representative at Mecca is a Noble of the Mystic
Shrine, is the chief officer of the Alee Temple of Nobles, and in 1877 was
the Chief of the Order in Arabia. The Chief must reside either at Mecca
or Medinah, and in either case must be present in person or by deputy at
Mecca during the month of pilgrimage.

The Egyptian Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine has been inde-
pendent of the Arabian, excepting the yearly presence of the Deputy in
Mecca, since the expedition of Ibraheem Pasha, the son of Mohammed Alee,
the great Pasha of Egypt in 1818, when the Wahabees were conquered.

The "Wahabees were a fanatical sect who threatened to override all
other power in Arabia. Since Ibraheem's conquest they have continued
only as a religious sect, without direct interference with the government.
They are haters and persecutors of all other sects, and are especially bitter
against all dervishes, whom they denounce as heretics and the very essence
ot heresy and abomination. In this conduct they violate a strict and oft-
repeated saying of the Prophet Mohammed (God favor and protect him!),
which is, " He who casts on a believer the slur of infidelity is himself an

In 1882, when the author of this work was a much
younger man than he is to-day, and when he was a
member of the Grand Lodge of Virginia for the first
time, a resolution was offered, which set out the ex-
istence of the need of a Text-Book of Masonry, which
should be prepared for the use of the Masons who were
under the jurisdiction of the (colored) Grand Lodge
of A. F. Masons.

Again in 1895, a resolution embodying the same
thought was adopted. But this time, it went further,
and designated the Grand Secretary of the Grand
Lodge, Dr. H. L. Harris, as the compiler of the work.

At the session of the Grand Lodge in 1896 a synop-
sis of the compilation was presented and read to the
body, which sat as a committee of the whole. It was
heartily approved; and arrangements were entered
into looking to its publication by the Grand Lodge.
In 1901 the Grand Lodge made an appropriation for
the publication; and having previously appointed a
committee to supervise the work, the author set about
the arrangement of his manuscript for publication.
And now after several months of earnest labor — dur-
ing all of which time he has been compelled to attend


to an exacting medical practice, and to look after
other business matters which could not be neglected,
he is pleased to be able to present this work to his
brethren who have honored him with their confidence.

In making this presentation it is his earnest wish
that the brethren may find some small benefit in their
search for information on the subjects usually treated
of in a Text-Book on Masonry. The craft is especially
recommended to accept the Illustrations as presented:
as they have been most carefully compared with the
works of such standard authorities as Preston, Webb,
Cross, and other equally celebrated masonic lights.

In the hope that they appreciate the work which
has been done for their benefit the author respectfully
presents the fruits of his labor, to the members of the
Ancient and honorable society of Free Masons of the
United States of America.

P. G. M. James H. Hayes,

P. G. M. Benj. A. Graves,

P. G. M. James Hugo Johnston,

Committee of Publication of the
Attest: M. W. Grand Lodge of Virginia.

H. L. Harris, M. D., Grand Secretary.




As preliminary to the question of its origin, which
is the subject with which most authors begin their
Text-Books, we will first consider what is Masonry!
A very distinguished Masonic author, Dr. John Dove,
writing on this subject, says:

At the present day, among all enlightened members
of the fraternity, it has two meanings, under the style
of operative and speculative Masonry. By the former it
is, under its synonyme, Geometry, made to conduce
to man's temporal wants by furnishing shelters from
the weather, and by the appliances of architectural
symmetry, varied by the tastes and talents of succeed-
ing generations, has imprinted its existence into every
country and clime where civilization prevails, by those
magnificent structures which are the pride and admi-
ration of every nation.

By Speculative Masonry, we mean Virtue in its most
tender sense, as taught by the daily exercise of Bro-
therly love, Relief and Truth, and which compels or
requires the initiated to subdue the passions, act upon
the square, keep a tongue of good report, maintain


secrecy and practice charity. It is so intimately in-
terwoven with religion as to lay its professors under
the strongest obligation to pay to the Deity that ra-
tional and heart emanating homage which at once con-
stitutes their duty and happiness. Eeasoning, then,
on these acknowledged data, it will not be necessary
to detain the reader with a long account of the Origin
of Masonry. Certain it is, and must be, that when
the first man was formed in the image of God, the
principles of Masonry, as a Divine gift from Heaven
were stamped upon his heart by the Great Architect
of the Universe. This then is the explanation of what
Masonry is.