Sufi Guilds vs. Freemasonry

I found this interesting piece of information on the comparison between much heard West's "Freemasonry" and least known Eastern "Sufi Guilds". Here it goes:

"In traditional Islamic society a major institution associated with the bazaar and the production of goods was the guilds (asnaf). Considered to have been founded by 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, the guilds combine apprenticeship in various arts and crafts with moral and spiritual teachers, and apprentices receive initiation into a guild once they meet the moral and practical qualifications for acceptance. The Islamic guilds are like the medieval European guild of masons, which was a secret organization with knowledge of both theory and practical techniques that was transmitted orally. In fact, Freemasonry began when the guild of masons became "speculative" and cut off from the practice of masonry and turned into secret organization with particular political and social goals. Although European Freemasonry came into the Islamic world through colonizing powers in the nineteenth century, the Islamic guilds themselves never underwent such a transformation. They remained closely wed to Sufism and the spiritual practices of the Islamic religion. With the advent of modern technology and the introduction of industrialism into many parts of the Islamic world, many of the guilds disappeared, but some survive to this day from Fez to Benares. It is interesting to note that the famous Benares silk has been made and is still made to a large extent by Muslim guilds of weavers and cloth printers. A few decades ago when I visited this holiest of Hindu cities, I was astonished to see the traditional Islamic guild still very much alive; the master of the guild that made the beautiful saris was one of the dignitaries of local branch of the Qadiriyyah order, which is one of the oldest Sufi orders."

"The Vision of Community & Society," Pg # 180-1
-The Hearts of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr,

I am on the hunt to find one, at the least, in Pakistan.

4 did criticisms:

Awais said...

Interesting comparison.

Salman Latif said...

True. These guilds have lived with their claim of having some certain knowledge/spirituality passed to them whole the way from Ali ibn Talib.
I've met Saifis and some other factions that, claimedly, are part of this guild. Saifis had these further intriguing beliefs like that humans have seven 'internal' senses, ones they related to spiritual exaltation.

M. Umer Toor said...

@ Salman,

This is most interesting. Where did you spot such guilds?

Salman Latif said...

I had a teacher at high school who belonged to the Saifi faction and he had me invited to a couple of spiritual congregations of his guild.

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