Every now and then it’s a good idea to learn a little bit about the organizations you belong to. The ritual of the Grotto makes no qualms that represents the story of the Veiled Prophet – “Mokanna.” His likeness is the official emblem of Order and even our ladies branch is named for him. But, just who was Mokanna, and where did this story come from?
Let’s start at the beginning; way back in time, around 779 AD. It was in that era that there lived a Persian man named Al-Muqanna, which roughly translates from Arabic as “the Veiled One.” Starting life as a clothes pleater, he became a follower of the radical Abu Muslim of Khorasan. After Abu was murdered, Al-Muqanna founded a religious sect based upon the idea the Abu was a reincarnation of God and that when he passed, that mantle then came to Muqanna. This was as pretty much as radical as you can get, and Al-Muqanna was much reviled among the more mainstream members of the religious community.
It is said that Muqanna wore a veil to hide the splendor and magnificence of his features from his followers. However, locals (who didn’t find his radical version of Islam all that enticing) believed he wore the veil to hide the fact that he was bald and missing an eye. He and his followers would eventually rebel, but it was short lived, as the authorities had him burned to death in his house. Doesn’t sound like much fun, huh?
So, where does the story go from here? Flash forward about a thousand years (literally) when Sir Thomas Moore writes a romance called Lalla Rookh. In his novella, Moore describes a beautiful Princess, the aforementioned Lalla Rookh. She is set to marry a prince in a far off city and has just set out on her journey to meet him for the first time. She is understandably nervous, but finds distraction in a musician and story teller that is travelling with her. She listens to his wonderful tales, one of which is called the Veiled Prophet of Khorasan, which was about a man named Mokanna, who was likely derived from the historical figure. She later learns that the story teller was her Prince all along. They live happily ever after… yadda, yadda, yadda…
The ritual of the modern day Grotto is loosely based upon the story as presented by Moore, with plenty of Masonic embellishments along the way. Every Grotto has a slightly different interpretation of the work, including Ubar. So, if you ever get the chance to visit a Grotto doing an initiation, take them up on it! It’s a great story that you will surely not want to miss!
Information for this article was mainly based upon internet resources and Wikipedia . We have to give credit where credit is due.