Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Shriners picture

The great discovery today was this delicious image on my hard drive. I have no idea where it came from, or what the context was. The symbol below the word Islam, however, is clearly the emblem of the so-called Shriners or the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, a para-Masonic organisation established in 1870. The Order is still active and has its headquarters in Tampa. Its charter says that it was specifically created to bring masons some "fun". Presumably, this explains the scantily clad ladies. Usually, though, the Order is at pains to distance themselves from Islam, despite their entirely Islamic symbolism. In this picture the connection is blindingly obvious.

Again, I'm interested in these groups and perceptions of Islam before the watershed era of the mid 1920s. I reject the prevailing post-colonial leftist narratives about these orientalist phenomena. I think there is something much more interesting going on than simply "imperialism". I don't find the theoretical perspectives that dominate academic studies of cross-cultural and inter-religious encounters at all useful.

This picture is a classic. There's much more I want to say about it.

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