Origins of Freemasonry: Ancient Egypt
According to Masonic historians, Freemasonry is based on the principles and values of ancient Egypt.
The most important principle of the Freemasons that is traced to ancient Egypt is the belief in materialist evolution. This theory of evolution is based on the belief that the universe exists by and of itself, evolving only by chance. In this theory of evolution, matter was always extant, and the world originated when order arose from chaos. This state of chaos was referred to as Nun. A latent, creative force exists within this state of disorder which has the potential to rise above the disorder.
Another philosophical connection established between the ancient Egyptians and the Freemasons is believed to be the common rituals associated with death and burial practices. Specifically, the link between ancient Egypt and the Masons can be found in the text known as The Book of the Dead. This textís original title is in fact The Book of Coming Forth by Day. It is an ancient Egyptian funerary text that outlines instructions for the afterlife.
Contrary to popular belief, The Book of Coming Forth by Day does not instruct individuals on how to raise the dead in order to escape death, but rather provides instructions for the afterlife. These instructions, in the form of spells, were used by the Egyptian elite for their burial practices. In addition, spells were offered as gifts to the gods, for healing such ailments as the inability to walk, and to prevent death during the afterlife. The ultimate aim of The Book of Coming Forth by Day was to enable the individual to overcome the hardships and obstacles
Furthermore, members of the Freemasons are believed to consider themselves to be special heirs of the people of ancient Egypt, a belief that experts have attributed to the philosophical commonality between the Freemasons of today and the ancient Egyptians.
According to some experts, these principles and theories were adopted by the Freemasons, and were incorporated into the moral and metaphysical ideals espoused by members of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry in Egypt developed alongside that of the Ottoman Empire. The Scottish Rite of the Freemasons was founded in 1886 by Halim Pasha, the son of the first viceroy of Egypt. Its development flourished until the 1950s when it fell from popularity during the dethronement of King Farouk and was closed after the 1956 Seuz Crisis.