The Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AAONMS) has a rich and illustrious history. The first Shrine Temple was organized in 1872 in the New York City Masonic Hall and called Mecca Temple. Initially, it was formed as a fraternal order in which Masons could join together in fellowship and fun. Its North American membership numbers about 350,000. Illinois has five Shrine Temples: Medinah near Chicago, Tebala in Rockford, Ansar in Springfield, Ainad in East St. Louis, and Mohammed in Bartonville (Peoria). The area from which Mohammed Temple draws its membership stretches throughout Central Illinois, from the Iowa to Indiana Border.
Until 2000, one had to complete either the Scottish Rite or York Rite degrees of Masonry to be eligible for Shrine membership, but now any Master Mason can join.
Shriners are best known for having fun. Members of the Shrine are immediately recognizable by the fezzes they wear, and are often seen in parades and as clowns in the Shrine Circus. However, the Shrine is also noted for its charitable works, rather like a service club, most notably the Shriner's Hospitals for Children, which provides medical treatment to children regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.
The Shriners of North America are dedicated to fun and fellowship...but with a serious purpose. Shriners enjoy many opportunities to find personal fulfillment and satisfaction through supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The York Rite in the United States is actually a grouping of separate Rites joined in order, namely the Capitular Rite, or Royal Arch Masons (General Grand Chapter - Royal Arch Masons International), the Cryptic Rite, or Cryptic Masons (General Grand Council - Cryptic Masons International) and the Chivalric Orders, or Knights Templar (Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America).
The Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, and often referred to as the "Blue Lodge" is the foundation of all the orders within the Masonic Family. It represents Freemasonry, itself, from which all other recognized Masonic organizations have arisen. It is the world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization.
Although there is no higher degree than that of a Master Mason, the 29 degrees of the Scottish Rite serve to enrich the philosophy of the Symbolic Lodge. A Mason who chooses to further his Masonic experience by becoming a 32°Scottish Rite Mason will be expanding upon the fundamental principles of Freemasonry.