The critical session on "The Beginning of Freemasonry in Iran" was held on Sunday evening (1st January 2011) at the House of Literati with the presence of history expert Jafar Golshan, author Yahya Arya-Bakhshayesh and Khadijeh Masoumi.
At the outset, Jafar Golshan – historian with over 15 years of research on contemporary history of Iran, said The Beginning History of Freemasonry in Iran is a five-volume series compiled under the supervision of Hozeh Honari's Bureau for Islamic Revolution Literature. The first two volumes are compiled by Hamidreza Shah Abadi and the rest are authored by Yahya Arya-Bakhshayesh.
According to him, this is the first detailed volume ever written on the beginning of freemasonry in Iran after a century of the conception of Iranian Awakening Loge revealing new aspects of truth about the activities of these groups in Iran.
While searching the houses of Pahlavi regime's big shots like Zaka-ol-Molk Foroughi after the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, new historical documents were discovered concerning freemasonry in Iran that are included in the present series.
Emphasizing on the significance of these volumes, he added that by reading them one can learn more about two active parties of the 2nd and 3rd parliaments of Iran. Moreover, information about offstage lobbies show that from the Constitutional period onward, parliament speeches reveal collusions made with-out the parliaments.
Golshan continued: "The fifth volume also contains precious tables of information about sociopolitical and cultural relations in the history of Iran during the Constitutional Period and second World War.
The next speaker was Yahya Arya-Bakhshayesh, author of "The Beginning History of Freemasonry" in Iran who began his speech by elaborating on the compilation of these volumes. The first volume offers the historical background of freemasonry in Iran, while the second volume focuses on the main members of the Loge.
According to him, there were two main conditions for anyone entering the Loge: first, political and religious ideologies of individuals and secondly, their purpose of joining the Loge. Most members had introduced themselves as constitutionalists or liberals and had insisted on their feeling free of religious practice.
"There were Shia Muslims among these members while very few Sunnis had joined the Loge. Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and even important clergymen like Ayatollah Tabatabaei, Sheikh Zanjan Rouhani, and Seyyed Hassan Taghizadeh were also members of the Iranian Awakening Loge," he added.
"The main goals of the members have been to serve the country and humanity, and development and elevation of society. Historical evidences show that many of these members like Kamal al-Molk or Dehkhoda intended to serve the Iranian society and we should not term all freemasonry members as traitors."
Arya-Bakhshayesh also mentioned that the fifth (and the last) volume will deal with the life of nine other member of Iranian Awakening Loge. Then comparing the French and the English Loges, he said: "They had essential differences with each other, as the English are veteran conservative freemasoners who do not interfere with politics or religion, whereas French freemasonry is avant-garde and revolutionary believing that neither politics not religion should rule over them."
He continued: "The first French loge in Iran attempts to promote French culture through establishing French schools and has proved successful. They made the best use of the Constitutional period and founded the Iranian Awakening Loge where even the women could take part. The English Loge, on the other hand, did not let women enter. The French act of letting in the women was in fact against the statute of freemasonry."
He finally added that the relationship between the schools of political sciences and Iranian Awakening Loge is still missing in these volumes and requires further research.