Despite the title of this thread, let me once again assure everyone that there is ZERO connection between the Templars and any of the various obediences of Masonic organizations.
As regards the obediences I am sure you are right. As near zero as makes no odds.
There would appear to be little connection, observational or otherwise, between the founding of Grand Lodge first mentioned in Anderson's constitutions of 1723 (mentioning a founding of 1716 but now taken to mean 1717) and a defunct military order disbanded in 1314. 400 years is a long time.
Many Templars spoke and read Arabic, allowing them to access the vast knowledge and learning of those people, specifically where they came into contact with the custodians of it, the sufi schools in Spain, Southern France, Turkey and the Holy Land. Sufis in particular have always tried to stress the common points between Islam and Christianity. See the original eight inscriptions on the inner walls of the Dome of the Rock, the first sufi building which refer to Christ, addressed to a Christian audience, in a spirit of brotherhood. http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/DoTR.html
There are several ways of interpreting this building as the 'Temple of Solomon' as I have explained elsewhere in this forum. One of course is that it is reputably built on the site of the original Temple (actually its unlikely to be the case - see the Bordeaux Pilgrim's account of the site and other problems with a water supply for the sacrifices).
Is the temple that is shown on Templar seals really the Church of the Holy Sepulchre?
Early seals appear to show the sufi Dome of the Rock shrine as a much better likeness. The seals clearly have the onion bulge that is patently missing on the Holy Sepulchre, whose dumpy main dome is altogether flatter and squat. Of course the Dome of the Rock would have had the cross rather than the crescent on top during the Christian conquest.
What do others think?
Evrard de Barres:
Regnaud de Vichier:
The brazen Baphomet head of the Templars and the brazen or gold (spelled the same in Arabic) Abufihamat (father of understanding) head of the sufis is one and the same. A philosophical system of 'polishing one's own head'. A man whose inner consciousness is transformed by study and activity in sufi exercises. Hmmn, Are the Templars really intolerant of these guys? What is going on here?
Gerbert, who studied in sufi schools had a later miraculous oracular head that he'd made. Albertus Magnus (b 1193) spent 30 years making his marvellous brass head. Thomas Aquinas, who was a pupil of Magnus smashed his own head 'That talked too much'. Magnus dressed as an Arab, taught in Paris from the the works of the sufis al-Farabi (Alfarabius) Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and al-Ghazzali (Algazael).
'The Crusades Through Arab Eyes' by Amin Maalouf gives us some insight to the benevolent and tolerant attitude toward Moslems in Jerusalem who wished to worship at the Al Aqsa Mosque during their guardianship of it, as recounted by an Arab himself.
Winding forward through the centuries...
I believe the earliest identifiable Masonic artifacts are the two "Master's" chairs of 1595 and 1597 belonging originally to the Minshull family, now possessed by Lord Northampton. These both clearly show the black and white checkerboard floor and Masonic arch motif carved in the wood.
The symbolism is so similar to the darkness and light motifs used in some sufi schools, especially the Illuminist school of Ibn Massarah of Cordoba, that any random coincidence would seem extraordinary. To a sufi the light squares stand for truth, illumination and understanding. Black is a homonym in Arabic for the same word as wise (fehm) and here it also stands for the darkness of the ignorant. The imagery stems originally from the famous (to a Moslem) light verse in the Koran, Sura 24, 35.
It's all sounding rather Masonic.
There too was another sufi organisation, founded by Dhu'l nun al-Misri, also called The builders or Masons. So there was a precursor to the Masons called the Masons. Incidentally, Dhul Nun's partial translation of Egyptian Heiroglyphs into Coptic, still actively spoken in Dhu'l Nun's day, was of enormous help to Champollion in his later work with the Rosetta and other stones, as Champollion acknowledged.
Here are a couple of pages from Dhu'l Nun's book translating Coptic into Arabic. Unhappily none of his philosophical books survive.
Many of the alchemical and mystical traditions studied by early Freemasons such as Ashmole, Aubrey et. al. stemmed from sufi schools. Alchemy stemming from al-Ghazzali, 1058-1111, Rosicrucianism from Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, the 'Rose of Baghdad', 1077–1166 (yes Andreae's secret society did have a forerunner), The Cabala from the Faithful Brothers of Basra, by way of Ibn Gabirol (Avicebron).
Engraving from Ashmole's alchemical Theatrum Chemicum