Past Grand Master of Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan
Grand Chancellor of the Supreme Council of AASR
I would like to introduce our audience to the masonic life in Azerbaijan. When was created the National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan, how many members, how many lodges, international recognitions, Appendant Bodies in Azerbaijan etc
Dear Brother Claudiu,
First, let me thank you and Masonic Forum once again to give me the privilege of sharing with your readers and brethren all over the globe. I am very glad to be here and I hereby bring you the fraternal love and greetings of the my Azeri Brethren in Baku and all over the world.
As you may also remember we had the chance to share the history of NGLAZ before in my previous interviews. However today due to the nature and medium of our chat I would like to give you and our viewers a condensed version of our establishment story with pleasure.
The main idea behind the establishment of NGLAZ can be described definitely with one idea; brotherly love in order to serve the mankind regardless of race, religion and political ideology. There are few regions on the face of earth that represents the universalness of freemasonry with its geopolitical structure, history and an intercultural background like Azerbaijan.
The founding of our Grand Lodge is dating back to the years of 2000 for its main ideation process in United States by handful of dedicated brethren coming from different backgrounds and its initial preparation phase during the following years of 2001 to 2008 with the joint efforts of brethren from Washington DC, Russia, Turkey and other aiding countries. So in other words a group of brethren who has joined their hands and souls in an unbreakable chain of brotherly love and the will to bring the light of masonry in the heart of a nation finally with the support of Grand Lodge of Washington DC, Grand Lodge of Russia and several other Grand Lodges our National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan was convened in Baku on the 9th of December 2008. I was not only privileged to be in the founding process since the ideation of our Grand Lodge’s journey, but I also had the honor of being selected as the Second Grand Master of NGLAZ by our brethren.
Our Grand Lodge currently consists of four active lodges in Azerbaijan working in local languages and as well as English for over 200 Brethren. Our numbers are growing as we have a large number of candidates on the waiting list of our respected lodges despite the period of Pandemics which is a great hope for the future of our Grand Lodge.
Regarding our international relations and recognition, due to the hard working of our members of the Grand Lodge and the uniting power of the freemasonry itself we have reached to a point that NGLAZ is recognized by almost all the European Grand Lodges and as well as American, Canadian and Latin American Grand Lodges too.
Finally, in the year 2017 we have established the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite in Azerbaijan. The consecration was done on 8th of July 2017.
What are the relations of the Grand Lodge with the authority of the state?
Our Grand Lodge is an established entity like no different than its counterparts around the world. Therefore like all the other Masonic structures we are a law abiding society composed of good citizens who would like to better themselves individually to make an impact on the world we live in. In another way we believe that by doing good for the society itself we are making the world a better place that is based on values like morality, truth and brotherly love to cultivate a nobler purpose for any man. Azerbaijan has a very sensitive but at the same time a very inspiring political atmosphere which enables the brethren to personally experience our core values in a country where different people live together in harmony.
What are the relations of the Grand Lodge with the religious leaders?
Imagine a land located in the Caucasus which is actually an Azeri Turkish speaking East European country composed of numerous and uniquely different ethnic groups living in peace unlike to other countries today.
Our NGLAZ is composed of these brethren from different religions just like our country of Azerbaijan. This aspect of the local community makes our fraternity an environment with freedom of thought and faith. From another point of view considering the fact that Freemasonry was formulated on drawing allegories of various religious mythologies, Freemasonry’s very own core is creating the moral lessons of our degrees to teach becoming a decent, honest, trustworthy, hardworking and a better man.
When considered from this angle the brethren and the local community in Azerbaijan with their cultural and ethnic diversity can only be a very strong foundation for our masonry regarding the growth potential. In this respect our Grand Lodge and its affiliated members are in good terms with all the existing religions of our country.
Many masonic leaders stated that Eastern Freemasonry is different compared to the Western Freemasonry. Let us know your opinion, please.
Freemasonry is universal. Boundaries and differences are not separating us but instead making our craft more beautiful in its essence. Everything starts in the heart of the mason. A single step taken through a door change everything for us. This single step and the initiation is the foundation of our esoteric journey. In this context yes the world of Freemasonry may change from culture to culture as we all experience differently in different parts of the world. Not because of the rites or rituals conducted there but the overall dedication and diversity of our brethren that makes up our community.
For instance, Anglo Saxon Freemasonry has placed itself more with charity and other beneficial aspects of the craft. We see it in physical contributions that helps society evolve in terms of infrastructure, welfare, and an idea of giving back to world to make it better. On the other hand, European Freemasonry is more delved into philosophical aspects of royal craft. We can say that to make the world a better place we thrive in first in our soul to journey into the depths of our own mazes to reach the light. Philosophical questioning is the key to expand into other dimensions. It is the roadmap of any good man to be better as a brother. A quest to make the world an ideal place according to our beliefs. If I answer your question from this perspective, I have to point out that Azerbaijan is country with a very deep philosophical history.
Especially our younger brethren are introduced to philosophy and rational thinking at a very early age in their education system and this makes us pretty agile and well versed in the art of philosophy compared to other Grand Lodges even if we can be seen as a very young Grand Lodge.
Do you think that nowadays world needs Freemasonry like in the past?
Yes. Freemasons are not only opinion leaders but also activists that have been influential with the progress of the world throughout the history. To keep the balance and harmony by protecting the rights of human beings and fighting against all the obstacles for humanity’s advancement. Today’s world needs us more than ever. Today’s world requires us to be more active than we have ever been before. Freemasonry may be a personal pathway in some ways but the impact we make is nothing but catalyst for the society that we are a part of. Every mason is a law abiding citizen of his country but at the same time a respectful member of his society therefore each of us has a responsibility to fight for the values against injustice, indiscrimination and dogmatic blind faith.
What is the most difficult problem facing Freemasonry today?
I really believe that our biggest challenge today is to adapt and evolve for the needs of generations. Because they are the future of our core regarding our growth. Freemasonry may be not so open to changes in its roots. However, this generation coming from a more aware and open minded background who were forged in the heart of technology is also becoming a part of our community. They are fast learners with access to knowledge and information way beyond us when compared to 50 years ago. In this respect we have to be patient with this generation and try to guide them correctly to learn the ways of the craft and put those skills to good use for the world. It is a challenge but a good one. Our fraternity has managed to last for generations and I am sure we will prevail this age’s new challenges as well.
Is your Grand Lodge, in particular, faced with a major problem?
I think one of the major problems nowadays every Grand Lodge is facing is that we are unable to gather for ceremonies like initiation, passing and raising. In other words, we can not enjoy esoteric rituals that our fraternity based its teachings on with our brethren. Especially lodges can’t have new members and grow without official gatherings. At this point it is also becoming a more vital point to keep the interests and ambitions of our younger brethren. For this reason we are organizing recurring online meetings for philosophical discussions to keep our younger brethren keen on learning the essences of craft.
How surpasses pandemia the freemasonry in Azerbaijan? What lessons should be learned from the pandemic period?
For Azerbaijan this period has made bonds within our brethren stronger and more intimate. Our Grand Lodge with the full support of its office bearers as well as all our lodge’s Worshipful Brothers and their respected lodge office bearers we have organized online gatherings every week with masonic and philosophical meetings. Our meetings have not only raised interest amongst local brethren but also from other members of Grand Lodges around the world as well. Period of Pandemics has been a time of self reflection and semi meditation for us in Azerbaijan. Our brethren also organized charity activities for the families in need during this time and acted worthy of Freemasonry. Honestly I am proud to say that we have been spending this period of uncertainty in world as best as we could according to our masonic values.
How do you see the future of freemasonry?
The future of Freemasonry is directly related with its interaction with the society of its very own. We should take it into account that our fraternity is getting younger every year. Our membership base is growing with a new breed of brethren who are younger, more open to questioning, faster when it comes to reaching knowledge. For this reason, our approach to teach our values should also evolve for reaching the full potential of this younger generation. Freemasonry today has a very important position in the world. We are not only thinkers but we are also opinion leaders who inspire the world we live in by our own acts. We are responsible for today and as well as the future. Our Grand Lodge today is working harmoniously with a very young generation of brethren who are not only perfecting themselves with the symbols and teachings of freemasonry itself but also showing other Grand Lodges that diversity is creating more positive influence on our gallant efforts to create a better world not only for us the masons but for the whole humanity and mankind.
Let us know you CV – both masonic and profane.
I was Initiated and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in Bilgi Lodge, No. 15, Ankara Turkey. Continuing the Masonic tradition in my family, as third generation in 1989. I am one of the founders of Nur Lodge 2000 and Azerbaijan Lodge 2001, member of couple of lodges in Washington D.C. and Romania, Turkey and Azerbaijan. I served my lodges in every position throughout the years.
Since we established our Grand Lodge, I was Assistant Grand Master for Foreign Relations. I represented National Grand Lodge of Azerbaijan in many grand communications and world conferences
In my personal life i have been working as the president and board member of numerous holding companies in various industries like energy, automotive, construction, real estate investment trusts internationally since 1984. But i am proud to say that our craft has always been in the center of my life.