By a leading historian of Freemasonry in the world of Islam, this very short notice casts light on the influence of Sufism upon the translation of European Masonic literature into Turkish, Persian or Arabic language, on the impact of Freemasonry on reformist and revolutionary movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mainly in the Ottoman Empire and in Iran, and on the role of specific lodges in London, Paris (the Clémente Amitié, in particular) and Geneva in the initiation of Muslim-background exiles, mainly of Iranian origin. The author also stresses the weight on religious conservative and nationalist critics on the disappearance of Freemasonry from most countries of Islam in the decades following wwii.
Whilst several distinct notices, mostly retrospective, some more developed than others, are devoted to varied countries of the world of Islam (Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, etc.), elementary data on Central Eurasian countries are to be found in: André Combes, “Europe de l’Est [Eastern Europe],” ibid.: 430-1. The author, an erudite specialising in the history of Freemasonry outside of the Western world, elliptically evokes the contribution by the Grand Orient de France to the rebirth of Masonic thought, sociability and practice in the former Soviet domain since 1989. More generally speaking, in a rather conservative mood the dictionary (first edited in 1987) continues to foster on biographies of members of the GODF, giving relatively few room to symbols and notions, and showing a lasting lack of interest in the destinies—and reinterpretations—of Freemasonry outside of the Western world. In short, despite the endeavours of a limited number of scholars nothing should be found less Universalist than such an undertaking, still very much nourished by the missionary spirit of the Founding Fathers, and very much Euro-centred.