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Title: Modern Persia
Author: Daniel, Mooshie G.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Late Professor of Ancient Syriac in Oroomiah College, Persia._


Copyrighted 1897,
by Mooshie G. Daniel



The author, in spending four years in America, has come in contact with
different classes of people who have raised serious questions
concerning modern Persia.

Those who are interested in politics and government, have asked: Is
modern Persia a province of Turkey? Is it as large as the state of
Michigan? Is the king still absolute as in ancient times? Have the laws
of the Medes and Persians undergone no change? Are there any remains of
Persia's ancient beauty and grandeur?

These, and questions like these, have been from time to time presented
to the author. On the other hand it is to be observed that many
journalists traveling through Persia have greatly misrepresented that
country. Their limited stay made it impossible for them to acquire any
accurate knowledge of the country.

It is no easy task to familiarize oneself with the ideas and customs of
that ancient and historic country. To thousands in Persia the
literature and history of their own land is a sealed book.

Questions the most serious and earnest have been raised by godly
ministers and devoted people who have for years been generous givers to
the cause of Foreign Missions. I have been asked questions like these:
Is there a solid foundation established by missions in Persia? What has
the gospel done? What changes have taken place? What are some of the
fruits of our mission work over there? What are some of the temporal
improvements? Very recently Rev. O. N. Hunt of Edwardsburg, Mich.,
wrote the author asking what is the moral condition of Persia to-day in
comparison to what it was when the missionaries began their work?

Questions like these prompted the author to write this small book.

Its object is to encourage the mission spirit; to quicken and kindle
anew the fires of divine love in the hearts of all those to whom it
will come; to promote and advance the blessed gospel of our Lord and
His Christ; to hasten the day when millions that now sit in darkness
and the shadow of death may set their faces toward the light.

    Oh, Jehovah of the East!
    Who was once born in the East,
    Who preached and was crucified in the East,
    When wilt thou again visit the East?

        Remarks: The author wishes to say that in the survey of modern
        Persia free use was made of the International Encyclopedia,
        especially in the matter of dates.

        Dr. Philip Scaff's Church History was also consulted in the
        account given of Mohammed.

        The leaves of the trees, are the gift of the poors.



CHAPTER.                                                         PAGE

   I. General Survey of Persia--Climate and
      Products--Inhabitants--Manufactories and
      Trades--Government and Taxation--The Army                 17-22

  II. The Ancient History of Persia.                            22-30

  III. Architecture of Persia                                   30-35

  IV. The Language and Poetry of Persia                         35-41



   I. Parsee Religion--Bible and Doctrines--Their Rituals       42-49

  II. Mohammedanism--Mohammed--His Birth and Character--The
      Conquest of Islam                                         49-58

 III. The Mohammedan Religion                                   59-60

  IV. The Creed of Islam                                        61-62

   V. The Priesthood--Mujtahids--Arch-Mujtahids, Common
      Mujtahids--Mollah--The Sayyids--Darwishes--Their
      Service                                                   62-75

  VI. The Laymen--Middle Class--Low Class                       75-81

 VII. The Mosques and their Services--Special Service           81-86

VIII. Moslem's Private Prayer and Fasting                       86-90

  IX. The Pilgrimages--Preparation--Alms Giving--Carrying
      the Dead--The Motive in Pilgrimages for the Dead--The
      Female Pilgrims--Their Returning                         91-101

   X. The Shiite Moslem's Mu-har-ram--Singers                  101-11

  XI. Heaven and Hell                                          112-15

 XII. Matrimony                                                115-20


   I. The Royal Family--The King in his Palace--His
      Table--Treasury--Wives                                   120-28

  II. Governor--Prisons--Executions                            128-34

 III. Counts or Lords                                          134-36

  IV. Cities--Holidays--Schools                                136-44


   I. Bobeism--Bobe--His Doctrine--His Personal Appearance     145-52

  II. The Kurds--Occupation--Their Character--Houses--Religion 153-59


   I. The Nestorians--Their Place--Language                    160-62

  II. Their History                                            163-64

 III. Clergy                                                   164-65

  IV. Churches and Ordinances                                  166-70

   V. Assyrian or Nestorian College                            170-71

  VI. Assyrian Missionary Spirit                               172-74

 VII. Their Persecutions                                       174-79

VIII. Their Condition at the time American Missions
      were started                                             179-80


   I. Introduction of Mission Work                             181-83

  II. Method of Work                                           183-86

 III. Development of Mission Work                              187-90

  IV. Religious Education--College--Ladies'
      Seminary---Medical Schools--Country
      Schools--Translation of Books                           190-201

   V. The Gospel and Temporal
      Improvement--Temperance--Conversion to
      Mohammedanism--Morals Elevated                           201-10

  VI. Mission Work among Moslems                               210-11

[Illustration: M. G. DANIEL.]


The ancestors of M. G. Daniel, a true stock of the Nestorian sect and
Syrian nationality came down from Kurdiston mountain in 1740 and
settled in Persia at Oroomiah district. The one family now increased to
fifty, all live in villages near to each other. G. Daniel with his four
brothers settled in a small village four miles east of Oroomiah city.
The inhabitants of this village are composed of fifty Mohammedan
families and twenty-eight Nestorians. His parents had four sons and two
daughters, all died in their childhood. Daniel was their seventh child
born in 1861. His native village was visited by Rev. G. Coan, D.D. and
Dr. Perkins, missionaries from America who preached the gospel message
to the Nestorians of that village, at the same time also started a
school for their children. At this time Daniel was thirteen years old.
The parents were very glad to send their children to this school which
increased to thirty students.

Daniel was very anxious to attend this school. This desire was
encouraged in every possible way by his earnest, self sacrificing
Christian mother, Rachel, who came of high and noble lineage. But his
father vigorously objected for fear his son would change from his old
Nestorian faith. When Daniel saw other boys going to school he would
often cry and pray that God would change his father's heart and lead
him to send his son to school. This earnest desire on the part of the
young and earnest lad led to an earnest discussion and difference
between his parents as to the future policy with their boy. Finally
after two month's earnest prayer on the part of the mother and her son
the Spirit of God reconciled the opposition of the father and made him
willing to send his son to school. Daniel continued his studies in this
school four years and read a chapter of the Bible to his parents every
night. The father thus became interested and in the second year sent
Daniel's two sisters and brother to school. He soon became the first
student in the school. Rev. G. Coan when visiting the school embraced
Daniel and his sisters and kissed them with the holy kiss of joy as the
first fruit of his labors.

After four years this school closed on account of lack of students.
There arose a dark cloud of sorrow and disappointment to poor Daniel.
What shall I do to continue my studies, was the despairing cry of the
consecrated boy. But his strong will soon found a way. He was now
sixteen years old. There was a small village of three hundred families
called Golpashan two miles distant from his home town. Golpashan
contained a high school and a Presbyterian church of three hundred
members. Daniel decides to go to school at this place, but again meets
opposition from his father, who wants him to stay at home and work for
him. But his mother met his father with the strong argument that she
had consecrated her child to God before he was born, because God gave
him to me after the death of my six children. But the mother lived in
continual fear that her son would be devoured by wolves on his way to
school and then she said, "I will go down to my grave in a miserable
condition." But the son, willing to sacrifice even life itself for
study, said, "I will go, mother, trusting in God and your prayers."
Events soon proved that the mother's fears were well founded. Once,
very early in the morning, while on his way to school he was attacked
by a large, ferocious wolf. But he made good his escape up a tree near
by. But he received such a shock from this attack that he was
prostrated three months and his life was despaired of by all his
friends. But God graciously restored him to health for His holy
ministry. Daniel always believed in the out-stretched hand of God that
snatched him from the wolf. Hundreds of times he thanks God in his
prayers for this deliverance.

When Mr. Daniel was seventeen years old he reached the greatest crisis
of his life. His parents decided to marry him to a girl a few steps
only from his residence, because the parents of the couple had decided
when they were children to marry them to each other. This was in
accordance with a foolish custom of the Nestorians. His father had
firmly decided to make the match, but his mother said, "Only if he
himself wishes." But Daniel's aim was very high, he was running to
obtain a higher prize. He said to his mother, "I am married to my
studies." His mother replied, "My son, I have dedicated you to God, I
cannot compel you to marry." His father was full of indignation and
anger against the disobedience of his son, and he said, "I will never
send you to the Presbyterian college. I cannot spend one cent on you."

Daniel was very fond of fishing, hunting, and raising grapes, and was
one of the best husbandmen in Persia. One morning when fishing, a young
man whose name was Abraham, and afterward a classmate for seven years
in college, handed to him an envelope in which was written by Dr.
Oldfather, a missionary, and President of the Presbyterian College at
Oroomiah, Persia, "We have accepted you in our college." Daniel thought
this a calling from Jesus Christ just as He had called four of His
disciples from their fishing. He threw his net on the shore of the
river, and kneeling down, thanked God for this, His holy calling.
Rising up from his prayer he took his net, and started for home. On
arrival he told his parents that he wanted to go to college. Again his
father objected, saying that he could not spend any money for his

But his mother sold all her jewels and sent him to college.


In 1875 Daniel went to Oroomiah college. For first two years Rev. Dr.
Oldfather was President of the college. In the second year he was
converted by hearing a sermon and a song by Dr. Oldfather whose singing
quickens sleeping souls of sinners. His class at the beginning was
thirty persons, but at graduation only twelve. He studied very hard,
sitting up at night with his book until eleven o'clock. One of his
classmates, Rev. Abraham, was his bosom friend. They recited in a small
closet often until midnight and then had prayers before going to bed.
Daniel graduated in 1882 under the Presidency of Dr. J. H. Shedd, one
of the most eminent men ever sent as a missionary to Persia by the
Presbyterian Church. All his classmen are leaders in the Presbyterian
church as well as of the Nestorian nation. For two of them have lately
been offered the title counts by the late Shah. Dr. S. J. Alamsha a
noble consecrated Doctor of Medicine, one of the fellow graduates of
Daniel, shows the tenor of the spirit of Christian fortitude and
devotion in declaring his faith in the Trinity in the very face of the
Governor of State who had just threatened him with persecution by
cutting off his hands if he insisted on repeating the confession. But
Dr. Alamsha replied that he was a Christian, and if ever questioned as
to his faith would confess it not only at the cost of his hands but his
head also. He further stated that he would not impose his faith on any
one unless they requested, and that if the Governor did not want his
confession he had better not ask for it.


Two weeks after Daniel's graduation he was elected instructor in the
high school for three years. Each year he had a week of revival
meetings which was very fruitful in the conversion of many students.
Nearly one hundred students were graduates under him in high school. In
1885 Daniel was married to Miss Sarah George, a young lady graduate of
the Ladies' Seminary, whose mother was instructor in this seminary for
seven years. In 1886 was offered to him the chair of Ancient Syriac in
Oroomiah College which he occupied for seven years. His many friends
rejoiced with him in his call to this higher and wider field of labor.
When he moved to college Mrs. Daniel was very ambitious for his success
in College. She said, "I like to tell you I want you to teach your
studies better than any professor in the college; I want you to devote
all your time to your work; I want you to be a shining example to all
students; I want you to love all students as your brothers; I want you
to respect yourself. Be kind to all students, let our home be as their
homes. I want you to preach the best sermons, then you will be the
crown of my head and I will love you as the pupil of my eyes." This was
a very hard charge and very precious work, but it proved for Daniel
very precious jewels. Mrs. Daniel is one of the most intelligent ladies
of Persia. For the first three years he went to bed always at eleven
o'clock and taught each week twenty-six studies. Three times a week he
conducted gospel meetings and each alternate Sabbath conducted
Sabbath-school. He was a leader of the college church, secretary of
Board of Education, Superintendent and Quester of County schools. The
testimony of Faculty and Board of Education was that he taught ancient
Syriac better than any of his predecessors. Daniel was the youngest
member of the Faculty. He had students ten years older than himself but
they all loved him as their brother. Sometimes he would spend as much
as two hours a night talking and praying with individual students. Four
months of winter for several years he was visitor of the county
schools. Besides this he worked in revival meetings during one week in
his own church. While working with the pastor he preached twice each
day and forty-two persons were converted. When he was leaving town all
elders, deacons and other prominent men escorted him a long distance
with much gratitude. His piety and integrity were taken as an example
by Christian and un-christian.



On the first of October 1895 I entered McCormick Seminary. Immediately
feeling the need of identifying myself with the church I accordingly
became a member of the Church of the Covenant, Dr. W. S. Plummer Bryan,
pastor. It is impossible to set down in words the comfort,
encouragement and assistance that has come to me through this relation.
Dr. Bryan has been to me a steadfast and faithful friend. His sermons
have been to me a continual source of instruction in things spiritual
and divine. Many of them have left a lasting impression upon my mind.
One I remember with great distinctness. It was upon the last seven
words of Christ, so real and vivid did the scene appear that the whole
of that mournful tragedy was enacted before my eyes. Concerning the
Church of the Covenant I can say with David, "If I forget thee, Oh
Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember
thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not
Jerusalem above my chief joy." Even though I were on the other side of
the globe, I will not forget the kindness of the church and its pastor.

Naturally my life at the seminary at first was lonesome; but as soon as
I became acquainted with professors and students the seminary became a
home to me much prized and enjoyed. From my studies I derived much
pleasure. Systematic Theology was to me a continual banquet of
delicacies. In Pastoral Theology and Homiletics I was inspired with the
high and sacred duties of the Christian ministry.

By the study of Greek Exegesis I was taught the invaluable benefit that
comes from close attention to the original texts and manuscripts which
are the source of interpretation in the study of New Testament Greek.
In Old and New Testament literature belief in inspiration was
reinforced and fortified. The whole scheme of the Christian religion
was to me rendered plain and reasonable.


The class of 1897 is unique and original among all the classes
graduated from McCormick Seminary. It was said by one in position to
know, that it was perhaps the strongest class ever sent out from the
Seminary. This was evidenced by the character of the orations delivered
at the Graduating Exercises. Among this class are many who will be
adorned by degrees and honorary titles. All, I hope, will meet with
much success in winning souls to Christ.

In personal appearance there are among them princes and lords; but one
thing made me sorry every time I looked upon their faces, namely that
so many shaved their mustaches. My advice to all of them is to raise
mustaches, and not appear like girls, but as princes. Some of them had
such long and difficult names that I could not pronounce them, but a
few had very easy names, for instance Mr. McGaughey, which means in
Persian Language, "don't say so," a phrase used by young girls. Mr.
Earhart which means in ancient Syriac, "I will run." Mr. Ross in Arabic
means "head." My class was very loving and kind to us two Persians.
Every time we made good recitations in classes, they were gladder than
we were, and when we failed they became even more sorry than we. I
remember once failing in my recitation, and after class Mr. Earhart
came into my room to comfort me. The memories of my class are to me
like sweet spices, and will be cherished by me everywhere I go.


This book is by a native who knows at first-hand of what he writes. He
writes of those features and facts of Persia as a country and a people
in which an intelligent American is most sure to be interested. Very
ancient and renowned among the Asiatics, Persia, persisting in her
nationality and gradually improving her condition excites inquiry
abroad. In this volume we have a view of her geographical divisions,
her form of government, system of taxation, methods of merchandise,
educational conditions and the state of religion.

The author also particularizes and portrays the character, creed and
course of Mohammed: how Moslemism was propagated by violence and
perpetuated by deceit, and of such false doctrines, as hatred toward
enemies, and rewards in heaven and hell. The reader is informed of
Bobeism, a new sect which has arisen in opposition to government and
orthodox Mohammedanism. The book was written for the reading public and
by its style, movement, and contents is calculated not only to enlarge
ones general knowledge of the land of the Shah but to quicken interest
in the enterprise of Christian Missions which are the chief hope of the


_Ex-Moderator of General Assembly,
Chicago, Ill. July 19, '97._




Once, in ages long past, Persia was the home of heroes and was studded
with palaces of splendor. Bards and poets of all nations have vied with
each other in singing of the bravery of her sons and the beauty of her
daughters. The names of Cyrus the Great, Darius, and others are
engraved in ever-living letters on the pages of history.

To-day, though her glory has flown away and her splendor has faded, her
natural beauty remains untarnished. The words of the poet Sahdy are
still true: "It is a paradise making men drunken with the odors of its
roses; it is a garden whose streams wreath the faces of men in smiles."

In 1826, in the war between Persia and Russia, the territory of the
former was greatly reduced. It now contains 628,000 square miles or
three times the number in France or Germany. It is divided into
thirteen states as follows: Ghilon, Mazandaron, Ostorobad, in the
north; Azerbijon, Persian Kurdistan, Luriston and Khuziston on the
west; Fariston, Loriston, Kerman with Mogiston in the south; Irakeston
the capital state where the king resides being in the center. On the
east lies the large state of Khorason, which is mainly desert.

Persia is dotted with many great and small mountains, interspersed with
fertile valleys, flowing fountains and silvery streams. Dense jungles
abound in the states of Mazandaron and Ghilon.


The great extent of the country gives rise to an extremely varied
climate. Cyrus said of it: "The people perish with the cold at one
extremity, while they are suffocated with the heat at the other."
Persia may be considered to possess three climates: that of southern
Dashtiston; of the elevated plateau; and of the Caspian provinces.

In Dashtiston the autumnal heats are excessive, those of summer are
more tolerable, while in winter and spring the climate is delightful.
In the plateau the climate of Fariston is temperate. About Isphahon in
the same plateau the winters and summers are equally mild, and the
regularity of the seasons appears remarkable to a stranger. The Caspian
provinces from their general depression below the level of the sea are
exposed to fierce heat during the summer months, though their winters
are mild. Heavy rains are frequent and many of the low districts are
marshy and unhealthy. Except in the Caspian and northwest provinces the
atmosphere of Persia is remarkable above that of all other countries
for its dryness and purity.

The cultivated portions of Persia, where there is a good rainfall or
the land can be irrigated, produce an immense variety of crops. Here is
grown the best wheat in the world. Other characteristic products are
barley, rice, cotton, sugar and tobacco. Vineyards are plentiful. The
vines of Shiroz are celebrated in eastern poetry. Mulberries and silk
are two other famous Persian products, while the finest perfumes are
made from the countless varieties of roses with which the land is

The forests of the Elburz mountains abound with wild animals, such as
wolves, tigers, jackals, wild boars, foxes and the Caspian cat. Deer of
every variety inhabit some of the mountains. Lions and leopards are
also found in Mazandaron. Among domestic animals the horse, camels and
the buffalo hold the first place. The horses of Persia have always been
celebrated as the finest in the East. They are larger and more
handsome, but not so fleet as the horses of Arabia. Sheep are one of
the main sources of wealth of the country. All the rivers are well
stocked with fish, especially with sturgeon. Silver, lead, iron,
copper, salt, antimony, sulphur, and naptha are mined in large
quantities. The late Shah found a little gold, but not in quantities
sufficient to pay for mining.


In the days of Darius and Cyrus the population numbered not less than
40,000,000, but that number has diminished until now not more than
10,000,000 people dwell in this once-populous land. These are from
different nationalities: the Kurds, numbering 500,000, Arabs, 500,000,
Jews, 20,000, Nestorians, 60,000, Armenians, 60,000, Zoroastrians,
15,000, and the remainder are a Mohammedan sect.


The manufacturies of Persia are by no means extensive, but Persian rugs
and shawls have a reputation the world over. The deft fingers of the
women have contributed for centuries to the glory and wealth of this
country. In the marts and markets of the world these rugs and shawls
sell for fabulous prices. At the World's Fair I saw a single rug valued
at $15,000.

Trade, both domestic and foreign, is carried on by caravans. Tabriz is
the chief commercial city and from this point goods to the value of
$2,500,000 are exported annually. From the province Shiraz about
$900,000 worth of opium is sent out each year.


The government of Persia is a pure despotism. The Shah is absolute
monarch; he appoints governors for each of the thirteen states and
these governors, in turn, appoint minor governors for the cities. Six
cabinet officers assist the executive, but their function is wholly
advisory. Upon the least pretext, any member of the cabinet may, at the
will of the Shah, lose his head.

The country has been impoverished for ages from two principle sources.
Nomadic tribes, wandering bands of Kurds and Arabs swoop down upon some
unprotected villages and carry away everything of any value. Taxation
is the second cause of poverty. The burden of the taxes falls upon Jews
and Christians, the most cruel extortions often being used to obtain
the desired amount. In 1882 the revenue was about £1,880,000, of which
nearly £1,500,000 were from direct taxations. But notwithstanding so
much is collected, not one cent goes for public improvements.


The standing army numbers about 130,000, of which only 30,000 are well
disciplined infantry, 10,000 artillery, 10,000 cavalry, and irregular
infantry and guards constitute the remainder. The officers in the
Persian army are for the most part ignorant and inefficient, while the
soldiers are described as obedient, sober, intelligent and capable to
endure great fatigue. The peculiar power of the Persian army lies in
its irregular cavalry of Kurds and other tribes who are famous for
their courage and daring, and are equal to the Russian Cossacks and
vastly superior to the Turkish Sultan's Boshibozouks.

[Illustration: PERSIAN OFFICER.]



According to the poet, Firdusi, in his Shah Nomeh, the history of
Persia begins some thousands of years before the Christian era.
Professor Yooseph of Oroomiah College one of Persia's most scholarly
men holds that as early as the time of Abraham there was here an
organized government. The first king was the Chedolaomer of the Bible,
King of Elam (Gen. 14:1). This opinion is confirmed by the fact that
the name Elam is in reality the name of Persia. Persians call their
country Ajam. Thus it can be seen that the Hebrew letter j has been
changed to l. However there is stronger proof of this theory in the
accounts of Greek historians. The northwest part of ancient Persia,
called Media, was known to the Greeks as a part of the Assyrian Empire.
 But the Medes under Dejoce in 708 B.C. threw off the yoke of Assyria
and gained the dominance over the other tribes of Persia. In 538 Cyrus
of Persia rebelled against the Medes, led an army to victory over them,
and extended the Persian Empire as far east as the Oxus and Indus and
over Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Mesopotania. He was succeeded by
his son Cambyses (529-522) and the latter by Darius (522-521). This
dynasty ruled till Darius III. (336-329). He was compelled to yield his
throne to Alexander the Great, who conquered all Persia. Under the
leadership of the tribe of Arsocide Persia became independent in 246
B.C. But the dynasty of Arsocide came to an end at the hand of Ardasher
Babajan, who managed to gain possession of more than half of the entire
country, _i.e._, of the provinces of Fars, Kerman and the whole of
Irakiston. Then in 218 this valiant warrior conquered the whole nation
and was crowned "King of Kings" (in Persian, Shah in Shah) with
Ardasher begin the famous dynasty of the Sassanidae who brought Persia
to an unprecedented eminence of power and prosperity. Their last king
succumbed to the Arabs in 636 A.D. and the latter ruled till 750 A.D.
The tribe of the Abbossides went to the throne at this time but were
soon in turn overthrown. Persia was then divided into different
provinces until in 1253 it was conquered by the Mongols under
Genghis-Khan and his grandson Khula-kun-Khan. The former was a
Christian. During his reign Moryaw-Alaha was the Nestorian patriarch
and under him the church was very successful. The Mongol dynasty lasted
until 1335.

A new dynasty arose in western Persia in 1500. The first prince of this
line was Ismael, the descendant of an ancient family of devotees and
saints. He was held in the highest esteem by his followers, who revered
him not only on account of his own valor but for the high standing of
his family. Having become the leader of a number of tribes, he
overthrew the power of the Turkoman and made Azerbijon their Capital.
He then rapidly subdued western Persia and in 1511 took Kurason and
Balkh from the Uzbeks. In the year 1514 he encountered a far more
formidable enemy in the mighty Salim, sultan of Turkey, whose zeal for
conquest was fanned by religious hatred of the Shiites, who were
followers of Ismael, and who in turn were fiercely inflamed against a
sect called Sunites. In the ensuing conflict Ismael was defeated but
Salim did not gain greatly by his victory. The son of Ismael, Shah
Tah-masip who reigned from 1523-1576 subdued all the Uzbeks of Khorason
and frequently defeated the Turks without suffering the loss of a
single battle. He takes rank as a prudent and spirited ruler.

Shah Abbos I, the great, who was one of the most glorious of Persia's
modern kings ascended the throne in 1585 and ruled until 1628. He
restored internal tranquillity and repelled the invasions of the Uzbeks
and Turks. In the year 1605 he gave the Turks such a terrific drubbing
that they made no more trouble during his long reign. He also restored
to his kingdom Kurdiston-Mosul and Diarbekir which had long been
separated from Persia. Abbos' government was strict, but just and
equitable. Roads, bridges, caravansaries, and other conveniences for
trade were constructed at great cost, and the improvement and
ornamentation of the towns were not neglected. Many of his large
caravansaries which bear his name remain to this day. Isphahan, his
capital, in a brief period of his reign, doubled its population. His
tolerance was remarkable, considering the character of his ancestors
and subjects, for he encouraged the Armenian Christians to settle in
the country, well knowing that their peaceable industrious habits would
enhance the prosperity of his kingdom. His successors were Shah Sufi
(1628-41), Shah Abbos II, (1641-66), and Shah Soliman (1666-94). During
the reign of Shah Sultan Hussein (1694-1722), a weak and foolish
prince, priests and slaves were elevated to high offices and the
Sunnites suffered sore persecution. The result was that Afghan besieged
the king in Isphahan. Hussein abdicated the throne in favor of his
conqueror, who ultimately became insane and suffered deposition in 1725
at the hands of his brother, Ashrab. The atrocious tyranny of Ashrab
was suddenly checked by the celebrated Nadir-Shah. Hussein and Ashrab
belonged to the dynasty of Syydes, a holy sect, descendants of their
prophet, Mohammed. Nadir-Shah was one of the greatest warriors of
Persia. He raised Tah-Masip (1729-82) and his son Abbos III (1732-36),
of the Suffivian race, to the throne and then on some frivolous
pretext, deposed Abbos III, and seized the scepter himself (1736-47).
Nadir was assassinated by Imam-Kuli-­Khan, of Oroomiah, whose
descendants now live very near our Mission Station in Oroomiah. Again
after the murder of Nadir, Persia was divided into many independent
states and became a field of blood. Bloogistan and Afghaniston became
independent till 1755 when a Kurd, Karim Khan (1755-79), abolished this
state of affairs, reestablished peace and unity in western Persia, and
by his justice, wisdom, and warlike talents acquired both the esteem of
his subjects and the respect of the neighboring states. He received the
title, "Father of Persia." Karim Khan was succeeded in 1784 by
Al-Murad, then by Jaafor and the latter by Lutf-Ali-Merza.

[Illustration: KING KARIM KHAN KURD.]

During Lutf-Ali's reign, Mazandaron became independent under Agha
Mohammed Khan a Turkoman. Lutf-Ali-Merza rushed on Mazandaron and
killed all the relations of Mohammed Khan who were ruling there, and
took captive Agha Mohammed Khan a boy only six years old, making him a
eunuch. This boy was of Kojor race. When he was in the harem of
Lutf-Ali, he kept thinking how his cruel master murdered his father and
all his relations. When he sat on the royal rugs, he would take his
revenge by cutting them. When he was of full age, twenty or twenty-five
years old, he ran away to his own country, Mazandaron, and joined
himself to his relations. He frequently attacked Lutf-Ali and defeated
him in 1795. He was then able to establish his throne in the southern
part of Mazandaron. This great Eunuch king founded the dynasty which
rules to-day, restored the kingdom as it was under Karim-Kurd and
conquered Georgia and Kharason. But he was assassinated May 14, 1797.
His nephew Futten-Ali-Shah (1797-1834) engaged in three wars with
Russia and was defeated each time. As a result he lost his territory in
Armenia, and a great part of Persia, namely from the Caucassian
mountains to the river, Aras, which now fixed the boundary between
Russia and Persia. Futteh-Ali in his last war with Russia in 1826 was
entirely defeated. Beside losing some part of his territory he paid the
sum of 1,800,000,000 rubles ($9,000,000) to Russia. The death of the
Crown Prince, Abbos Mirza, in 1833 seemed to give the final blow to the
declining fortune of Persia, as he was the only man who seriously
attempted to raise his country from the state of abasement into which
it had fallen. Futteh-Ali had seven sons. One of them Johon-Suz-Mirza
lives to-day. Seven years ago he was governor in the author's city; and
came to visit the college of Oroomiah with a hundred princes and counts
with him. He is a very ostentatious man. After the death of the Crown
Prince each of the seven sons claimed to be inheritor of the throne,
while the father was still living. At the same time the Crown Prince
Abbas-Mirza had a son named Mohammed. Futteh-Ali when quite old and
near to death, by the aid of Russia made Mohammed, his grandson, king
(1834-1848). Nayib-Al-Saltana acted as regent during the boyhood of
Mohammed. When he came to power for himself he conceived the idea of
restoring Bloogistan, Afghanistan, and a great part of Turkoman to
Persian dominion. He was especially anxious to take Herat, the key to
India, but was resisted by England. The war was terminated in 1838.


Nasiruddin (defender of his religion), the late Shah who was
assassinated May 1, 1896, a young man eighteen years old and very
energetic succeeded to the throne of his father in 1848. Following his
father's example the new Shah tried to restore Afghaniston and
Bloogiston but was compelled by England to sign an agreement on Jan.
25, 1858 by which he was bound not to interfere further in the internal
affairs of Herat.

In 1856 he violated this treaty and took the city of Herat. After a
severe war with England in 1857 in which his loss was 20,000 soldiers
he relinquished Herat but he added to Persia many provinces in the
western part of Afghaniston and Bloogiston, and also some states in
Turkoman. He was one of the best kings of Persia. He visited Europe
three times, once in 1873. He had European ideas and was a well-educated
man. He started a good system of postal-telegraph and had trained after
the European discipline 30,000 soldiers. Above all he founded a
beautiful college in Teheran which is called in Persian Daralfnoon (or
the place of science). The present Shah, Mozuffur-uddin was born March
25, 1853 and succeeded to the throne of his father May 1, 1896. In 1892
the author saw him at Oroomiah College. He came with a large retinue to
visit being entertained at the home of Dr. Cochran. The work of the
college pleased him and he made it a gift of thirty pounds. He is a
very kind and liberal man, especially toward the poorer of his
subjects. We believe God will make him to be good to the oppressed

The list of kings who have reigned over Persia as regular kings make a
total of 255.



The architecture of Persia is of considerable interest from the fact
that the Persians added to their own the architecture of Assyria and
Egypt, when they conquered those mighty empires. Hence the composite
nature of the designs of some of her most famous buildings. A brief
study of the old city of Persepolis will enable us the better to
understand the nature of the architecture of this land so rich in
magnificent ruins. (The author wishes to give credit to McClintock and
Strong's Encyclopedia, for a large part of the following pages. He has
extracted many quotations from this work.) This city called "The Glory
of the East," the ancient capital of Persia, is situated in the
province of Faris, on the river Araxes. Darius, Hastaspes, Xerxes,
Artaxerxes and others tried to make it one of the grandest cities in
all the world. Unfortunately it was destroyed by Alexander the Great,
and now contains only some ruins of the royal palaces. First is the
Chehly Minor (_forty pillars_,) also called Tokhtie-Jamshid, or
throne of Jamshid. Some suppose that Jamshid was the founder of the
city. Next in order is Nakhshie-Rustum, to the northwest. Near each of
these palaces are the mounds of the tombs. The east building is the
Harem of Jamshid, situated on a vast terrace of Cyclopean masonry, at
the foot of a lofty mountain range. By far the most important is the
first group, situated at the foot of a lofty mountain range. The extent
of this terrace is about 1500 feet from north to south and 800 feet
from east to west, and was once surrounded by triple walls 16, 32 and
60 feet in height respectively. The internal area is further divided
into three terraces, the lowest one to the south; the central being
about 800 feet square and rising 45 feet above the plain; and the
third, the northern, about 550 feet long and 35 feet high. On the
northern is the "Propyleum of Xerxes," but most distinguished here is
the "Great Hall" of Xerxes, called Chehly Minor by way of eminence. The
palace of Xerxes and that of Darius towering one above the other in
successive elevation are also on this terrace. The stones used for this
building are of dark gray marble, cut into gigantic square blocks, and
in many cases exquisitely polished. The ascent from the plain to the
great platform is made by two flights, the steps being nearly 22 feet
wide, 3-1/2 inches high and 15 inches in tread so that travelers have
been able to ascend on horseback. The Propyleum of Xerxes is composed
of two masses of stone work which probably formed an entrance for foot
passengers. The steps are paved with gigantic slabs of polished marble.
The portal is still standing and bears figures of animals 15 feet high.
The building itself is conjectured to have been a hall 82 feet square,
closely resembling the Assyrian halls of Nineveh. It bears the
following inscription: "The great God Ahroomazda, He it is who has
given this world and who has given life to mankind, who has made Xerxes
both king and lawgiver of the people. I am Xerxes the King and Great
King, the King of Kings, the King of the many peopled countries, the
supporter of the great world, the son of King Darius, the Achoemenian."

"Says Xerxes the King, by the grace of Ahroomazda I have made this gate
of entrance. There is many another nobler work besides this,--Persepolis
which I have made and which my father has executed."

An expanse of 162 feet divides this platform from the center one which
bears many of those columns of the Hall of Xerxes, from which the ruins
have taken their names. The stairs leading up to the Chehly Minor are
still magnificent according to the statement of Prof. Jooseph whose
residence was near this historic palace. The walls are superbly
decorated with sculptures, representing colossal warriors with spears,
gigantic bulls, combats with wild beasts, processions, and the like,
while broken capitals, shafts, pillars and countless fragments of
buildings with cuneiform inscriptions cover the whole extent of the
platform, 350 feet from north to south and 380 feet from east to west.
The great Hall of Xerxes, perhaps the largest and most magnificent
structure the world has ever seen, is computed to have been a rectangle
of about 300 to 350 feet and to have consequently covered two and a
half acres. The pillars were arranged in four divisions consisting of a
central group six deep every way and an advanced body of twelve in two
ranks, the number flanking the center. Fifteen columns are all that now
remain of the number. Their form is very beautiful. Their height is 60
feet, the circumference of the shaft 16 feet, the length from the
capital to the turrets 45 feet. Next along the west front stood the
palace of Darius and to the south the palace of Xerxes measuring about
86 feet square, similarly decorated with lions, birds, heroes, kings
and warriors.

Of course the present architecture of Persia is not equal to the old
for the evident reason that the country is not so rich as it was.
However the work in some cities is equivalent to ancient buildings. In
modern times some splendid palaces have been erected of brick, either
of raw or hardened by fire. These tower to a considerable height. The
custom of Persia is to beautify without rather than within, so the
exterior is painted with different colors. Blue, red and green are
favorites. The walls are adorned with the pictures of flowers, birds,
lions and many verses of Al-Kuran. Favorite poems also appear. Inside
it is more plain, whitened by chalks. But the roof is wonderfully
decorated with delicate chalk work. Here are sculptured designs of
ladies holding bouquets of flowers, playing with doves on their
shoulders and surrounded by beautiful objects. Usually in the center is
a large mirror. This is all hand work. A single mason may work a month
in completing the roof decorations of one room. All buildings are
square. Village architecture is very poor. Buildings are one story in
height, especially of Mohammedans. Most all are built of unburnt
bricks. A Mohammedan peasant does not know the joy and pleasure of
living. Though he has plenty of money, he is content to live in a small
cottage, spending little.

Christians, on the other hand, are the direct reverse and are learning
to enjoy having things nice.



The ancient languages of Persia are three (1) The Zend or East Iranian,
or Bactorian language. But this became obsolete during the third
century before Christ. This was called the Zoroastrian languages,
because the name Zend is that of their sacred book. (2) The ancient
Persian language, the chief remnants of which are found in the
cuneiform inscriptions of the time of Archemides, discovered in the
ruins of Persepolis on the rocks of Behiston. The inscriptions contain
the names of gods, men and of Daniel the prophet. (3) The third
language was Pehlawee spoken by the West Iranians, Medians and
Persians, during the period of the Sassanidæ--3rd to 7th century, A.D.

At last a new form of commentaries to the sacred writings came into
existence, in which clearer and more distinct characters were used.
Almost all old words of the Zend were replaced. This new form is called
Pazend. In later times historians and the Arabs have called it Parsee.
It was in use from 700 to 1100 A.D. At 1100 the old Persian language
was revived. This is called Jamie or Nizamie.

A purer dialect came into use as the direct result of the writings of
the poet Hafiz 1100 A.D. and has continued down to the present day.
This is spoken especially in Shiraz, a city of great note in the
history of Persia, and the capital of the state of Faris, which gives
Persia its name.

Unfortunately after the Mohammedan conquest Persia fell under their
reign. Arabs tried to infuse Arabic into the Persian language. The
Koran was the only Holy Bible to them they believed that its teachings
should be accepted by all Parsees. All writers in the country now, as a
matter of course, became Mohammedans. With the fanaticism,
characteristic of a conquering religion, with the ruthlessness which
Islam has always shown, all the representatives of the old Persian
literature and science were grievously persecuted by Omar's general,
Sayid Ibn Abou Wakkas. All priests and writers were compelled to accept
the new order of things: "Allah the only God, and Mohammed His
prophet." So the pure language of the Parsees was infused with Arabic
words to such an extent that one-third of the words of the language are


Under the dynasty of Samanides, a writer comes into view, one Nasr,
living about 952 A.D. under the third ruler of the dynasty. Also Abul
Hasson Rudige, the blind, lived under the same ruler. This man wrote
1,300,000 rhymes. About 1000 A.D. Kabbas wrote, being a contemporary of
Mahmud who surrounded himself with four hundred court poets. Ansarie,
another writer, wrote 300,000 rhymes in honor of the king.

The reign of Atabek dynasty was the brilliant age of Persian poetry.
Anhaduddin Anawaree was one of the greatest writers of that period. The
best mystic poet was Sunayi, author of 30,000 distichs. Nizami about
the twelfth century, was the founder of the Romantic Epoch. The greater
part of his Jami­ or collection of five romantic poems, are about
Khosraw and Shirin, a king and his betrothed; Magenoon and Leila, a
lover and his beloved.

Kizilarsalon, the king offered for each one of his poems not less than
fourteen estates. His tomb now at Gendsheh is visited by hundreds of
pious pilgrims.

In the eastern part of Persia the theosophical mysticism was
preeminently cultivated, especially in Azerbijon state. A great number
of these mystics are in Oroomiah, my city. They speak in allegorical
form in glowing songs of wine and love.

Again in this province we find Sunayee in the thirteenth century and
Fariduddin Attar, born 1216. A still greater man in this peculiar field
was Djalal Eddin Romi born at Balkh and who died 1266. He was the
founder of a still existing and most popular order of darwishes. His
poems on contemplative life have made him the oracle of oriental
mysticism up to this day.

I will give one of his rhymes which will show the spirit of his
mysticism: "Gar Kasi wasf ou Zman Posad, bidil oz binishon chiguyan
baz, ashikon kushtagon mashookand, bar nayayad Z kooshtagon awaz." The
thirteenth century was one of the most brilliant in the annals of
Persian poetry. The greatest seer of the era was Sheikh Musli Eddin
Sahdie of Shiraz who died in the year 1291. He stands unrivaled as
Persia's foremost didactic poet. His Boston and Guliston--"the fruit of
the garden and roses,"--are universally known and loved in Europe.

At the beginning of the fourteenth century we made several meritorious
imitations of Sahdi in didactic poetry. But far above all these as
above all other Persian lyrical and erratic poets shines Hafiz. The
"Sugar Lip" is a book in which he sang of wine and love, nightingale
and flowers, bee and roses. Below is given a quotation from one of his
poems about the nightingale and the miller: "Ai morgh saher ashk
zparwana beyamoz, Kan sukhtara jan shud wawaz nayamab" translation: "O
thou the bird of morning, you must learn love from the miller. It
burned itself in the fire but did not make any noise." Haji Mollah
Kozim translated this rhyme as follows: "The morning bird is the
nightingale--little smaller than the sparrow, but it has a very loud
voice as clear as a golden bell." All poets in Persia agree that it is a
better singer than any other bird in Asia. Besides his singing he is
the bird that has more love for his mate than any other bird in the
world. They generally sing in the morning and the evening time. When
the female is on her nest the male sits in the same tree, or very near,
and sings for his mate. At times the male sits on the nest and his mate
perched near by sings for him in a wonderfully sweet voice. The
nightingale is a general favorite, and many popular songs have been
written about this bird, and are sung by nearly every young man and
young lady, boy and girl in Persia.

This author says of the miller that it loves light more than any other
insect. From its love of light it throws itself into the fire, as
everyone has seen in America of a summer evening about an electric
lamp. Sahdi takes this example for himself to illustrate his love to
God. He says the love of the miller is more than the love of the
nightingale because the nightingale shows its love by singing and
making noise; but the miller, though it has a living body, makes no
noise when it is burning in the fire. "So," says he, "ought to be my
love to God."

The city of Shiraz from the beginning until this day has been the seat
of religion and especially of poetry because these two eminent poets,
Sahdi and Hafiz, were born, lived, wrote and died here. Their tombs are
visited annually by thousands of pilgrims. They are dead but their
influence still lives and it has much effect on Persia and especially
on the inhabitants of the city of Shiraz. Many students are enrolled at
the great cathedral mosque in the city, where some of the ablest
professors of the country are instructors. Professor Yooseph, a
graduate of this institution, told me that the air and the very dust of
that city has in it the spirit of poetry. Even the small boys who sell
grapes, apples, etc. in the streets sing some very charming poems about
their fruits, though they themselves may never have learned to read.


The Persians have one poem about the sweetness of their language for
poetry, as follows:

"The original language was the language of Arabs. The Turkish language
is hard. But the Persian language is honey comb." In comparison with
the other Asiatic languages many scholars think it is indeed honey-comb
and the sweetest of Asiatic languages, if not also of European
languages, for the expression of poetry.




This was the prevailing religion of Persia in ancient times. Zerdush
was either the founder or a reformer of that religion. The general
belief is that he was the founder, since the religion and its followers
are called by his name. Some suppose that this religion, the religion
of Hindoo, were originally the same and that they were divided by some
political affair between the Iranians and the Aryans. The Hindoo branch
took the name Brahminian. The doctrines changed somewhat after the
separation, but the fundamental principles remained the same.

Different dates are given for the beginning of the Zerdush religion.
Some authorities date its beginning at 1200 B.C. while others place it
at 500 B.C. The latter is generally agreed upon. There are two
prevailing ideas about his place of birth, both Babylonia and Oroomiah,
Persia being claimed as his native city. There are many good reasons
for believing that Oroomiah was his birthplace. First, the original
worshipers were Persians, and the religion was started in Persia.
Second, all Oriental scholars and writers supposed that this was his
native city. Third, in the district immediately surrounding Oroomiah
the writer has seen more than thirty immense hills of ashes, the
remaining monuments of the fire-worshippers of this religion. Fire was
their god and a continuous flame was kept burning through the
centuries. Some of these mountains of ashes are so huge in size that it
would take a man an entire day to walk around it, and as high as the
Masonic Temple of Chicago, a twenty story office building. Some of
these hills are named as following: De-ga-la, Sheikh-Ta-pa, Gog-ta-pa,
etc. Among these hills we find the "Tower of Silence", a large
structure built of stone and containing the remains of kings and other
notable men of ancient times.


The bible of the Parsees is called Avesta, which means the revelation.
The language is Zend from which the Persian language is derived. The
founder of this religion taught as pure monotheism as was taught by
Mohammed. Zerdush taught the existence of but one deity, who was called
Maz-daw or as it is pronounced now in Persia, Hurmizd. To this god was
attributed the creation of all good fortune, government, long life,
honor, health, beauty, truth, joy and happiness. But later this
doctrine of monotheism became dualism, _i.e._, the supposition of
two primal causes of the real and intellectual world, the Vahu Mano;
the good mind or reality and Akem Mano or the naught mind or naught
reality. Ah-ra-man, the god of darkness has created devils, he causes
evil thoughts, evil deeds, wars, misfortune, sorrow, death, and hell.
Zerdush taught there are two lives, one mental and the other physical.
He believed in the immortality of the soul; that there are two abodes
for the departed, heaven, the house of angels and hell the
dwelling-place of the devil and his angels. Between the two there is a
bridge of judgment over which only the followers of Zerdush will be
able to cross safely. Before the general resurrection the Sosiosh, the
son of Zerdush, will be spiritually begotten. He will come as a
messenger from Ahuramazdoo and will foretell the time of the
resurrection and judgment. The world at that time will be utterly
steeped in wretchedness and darkness and sin; will then be renewed,
death, the arch fiend of creation, will be slain and life will be
everlastingly holy; and righteousness will dwell in the renewed world.
This Zoroastrian creed flourished until the time of Alexander the Great
throughout ancient Ironiona including Cabuliston, Bakhria, Media and
Persia, and then declined. But again under Ardashir, who has been
called Bobegon, and who claimed to be the descendant of Zerdush, the
religion of his ancestors was renewed, and the lost parts of the holy
book, Avesta, were found and put together. He chose a magician the
ablest of 40,000 magician priests, to translate the book into
vernacular language, thus renewing the religion. Unfortunately the
Avesta was utterly destroyed in A.D. 640 by the followers of Mohammed.

Now we have in Persia only 15,000 Zoroastrians. The Mohammedans called
them gabrees, _i.e._, ungodly. Most of them live in Kerman Yezd on
the soil of their motherland. The men are good citizens, humble,
honest, and generous, especially to their own brethren, and are
industrious, intelligent, handsome, clean in appearance and faithful to
their religion. The women are most beautiful, delicate in frame, small
hands, small nose, clear complexion, with pink cheeks, black eyes and
eyebrows. They do not cover their faces when in public, except to
Mohammedans, whom they consider wicked men. The women are good faithful
housewives and honest to their husbands.


A Parsee child must be born on the ground floor of the house of its
parents as a sign of humility and that the child may begin its life
with good thoughts, words and actions, and as a sign of loyalty to its
parents. The mother cannot go out for forty days. After that she washes
herself with holy water which has been sanctified by the priest.

A Parsee rises early, washes his hands and face, and recites his
prayers toward the sun. He rejects pork, ham and camel flesh and will
not eat anything cooked by one outside of the Parsee religion.
Marriages can be contracted only with persons of their own creed.
Polygamy is forbidden except after nine years of sterility, then a man
is allowed to marry another woman. Divorces are entirely forbidden. The
crimes of fornication and adultery are very severely punished. They
worship the clean creations of the great Hurmizda such as the sun,
moon, fire, etc. Aha-ramazda is the origin of light, the sun and fire
having come from him, he having first been created by Hurmizda. In the
case of a hopelessly sick person the priest will recite some text of
the holy bible Avesta, as a consolation to the dying person. After
death the body is taken to the ground floor, the place of its birth, to
be washed and anointed with perfumes, dressed in white and put upon an
iron grating. A dog is brought in to take a last look, and he drives
away all evil spirits. The friends and relatives go before the door,
bow down and raise their hands to their heads after touching the floor,
as an indication of their last respect to the departed soul. The body
upon the bier is covered. Two men will bring it out and give it to four
pall-bearers dressed in white, who, followed by a great procession take
it to the "Tower of Silence." The last prayer will be recited in the
holy temple, a building in which the holy fire burns continually
through the ages. The body is then taken from the "Tower of Silence"
and, placed on an iron bier, is exposed to the fowls of the air and the
dew of heaven and to the sun until the flesh has disappeared, and the
bleached bones fall through into a pit beneath, and are afterwards
buried in a cave.

They believe the holy fire is brought down from heaven. Only priests
can approach it and they must wear a half-mask over the face lest their
breath should defile it, and never touch it with hands, but by
instruments. Tobacco smoking is prohibited as the smoker would defile
the holy fire. They say there are five kinds of fire and great respect
is shown to them. I remember having had a conversation with a Parsee in
which he said: "Fire purifies all things, is stronger than all things,
is cleaner than all other things, more beautiful than all things;
therefore, fire is _god_. Your own Bible says: 'I am a consuming

The Parsees have five kinds of sacrifices. These are the slaughtering
of animals for the public and poor men; prayer, the Doruns sacrament
with its consecrated bread and wine in honor of the founder of the law,
Heromah (or Sama) and Dahman. This sacrament resembles our Lord's
Supper. It is eaten publicly as a feast of joy. Fourth, the sacrifice
of expiation which is offered by all men and is killed in their
temples. Lastly the sacrifice for the souls of the dead. The removal of
moral and physical impurities is effected by holy water and earth and
by prayer. Prayer and holy words from the Avesta are recited several
times every day. Fasting and celibacy are hateful to the divinity. The
ethical code may be summed up in three words--purity of thought, of
words and of deeds. This, they claim, will become the universal
religion of the world.

A Parsee believes the soul of a dead man is for three days walking near
the tomb where the dead body is laid. The fourth day the gates of
heaven will be opened and he will approach the bridge of Chin-vat. Here
the good and evil deeds of his life will be weighed in the balances of
justice. If the good deeds of his life outweigh the bad, he will pass
over the bridge into heaven. If the bad are heavier than the good the
candidate falls beneath the bridge into hell. In both heaven and hell
there are three states. In heaven, good words, thoughts, deeds and
words. In hell, bad words, thoughts and deeds.



Mohammed means "Praised One." One of the Mohammedan divines once spoke
in the presence of the writer of the similarity in the Arabic language
of "Ahamad" and the "Holy Spirit" and he claimed to believe that Ahamad
or Mohammed was the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised to send into the
world. When told in reply that Jesus promised to send the Comforter
into the world immediately after His departure, and that Mohammed did
not live until 570 years after Christ, the priest had no more to say.

This great prophet of the desert who converted the wild Arabs was born
about A.D. 570 at Mecca. He was the only child of Abdulla and his
mother Halima, both from the noble family of Koreish who claimed that
they were the descendants of Ismael and that their family was
hereditary guardians of the sacred Kaaba mosque in which was kept the
holy black stone worshipped by all Arabs.

The Moslems have many legends and traditions regarding the birth of
Mohammed. The sun moved from its place and gave a more brilliant light,
with the seven colors of the rainbow; the angels bowed themselves to
him and sung a new song in heaven; all the trees were shaken as by a
strong wind. He was born circumcised and with his navel cut. A seal of
prophecy was written on his back in letters of light. Immediately
prostrating himself on the ground he raised his hands and prayed. Three
persons as brilliant as the sun, one holding a silver goblet, another
an emerald tray and the third a silken towel appeared in company with
the angel Gabriel, the latter holding in his hand a knife. Gabriel cut
open the child's belly, the first angel poured cleansing water over the
child to wash away all sin, the second held the emerald tray beneath
him and the third dried him with the silken towel, and then all saluted
him and called him the "prince and savior of mankind." His father died
at the age of twenty-five years, before his son was born. He left his
widow five camels, a few goats and a slave girl, her name being Amina.
At the age of six years Mohammed had a fit of epilepsy. He frequently
fell down and foamed at the mouth, and snored like a camel. About this
time his mother died and he was reared by his grandfather
Abdul-mota-Kalib and his uncle Abu-ta-lif and nursed by his faithful
slave Amina. For a time he herded goats, a disreputable occupation
among Arabs. But he afterwards glorified in it, pointing to the example
of Moses and David and saying that God never called a prophet who had
not before been a shepherd. In appearance he was of medium size,
slender but broad-shouldered and of strong muscles, black eyes and
hair, white teeth, oval shaped face (which is now much praised among
Mohammedans), a long nose, patriarchal beard and a commanding look. His
step was quick and firm. He wore common garments of white cotton stuff,
and mended his own clothing and did everything possible for himself and
aided his wives in household affairs. He had fourteen wives besides
concubines. He possessed a vivid imagination and a genius for poetry
and religious doctrines, but was not learned and perhaps could not read
nor write.

He became servant for a very wealthy widow named Khadijah, and made
several caravan journeys for her to Syria and Palestine with great
success. Afterwards he won the heart of the widow and married her
against the will of her father. He was twenty-five years of age and the
widow was forty-five years old. Marriage proved happy and was fruitful
with four daughters and two sons, but all died except one little
daughter Fa-ti-ma. Mohammed adopted Ali, his nephew, and married his
daughter Fa-ti-ma to him. She became the mother of all the prophet's
descendants. Mohammed loved his first wife Kha-di-jah, was faithful to
her, and after her death always cherished her memory, as she was the
first person to believe in his doctrines.

On his journeys to Palestine and Syria he became acquainted with Jews
and Christians and got an imperfect knowledge of their religion and
traditions. At that time the Jews and Christians had scattered the
ideas of monotheism among the Arabs. Some of the Arabs were tired of
worshiping false idols and embraced the faith in one God. One of these
men was Mohammed. He became zealous to establish a religion throughout
Arabia, to teach and compel men to worship only one God and to
recognize himself as His only prophet. He spent many days and nights in
the caves of Mount Hira near Mecca in meditation and prayer. His
zealous efforts to establish his faith brought a return of the violent
convulsion and epileptic fits of earlier days, and his enemies said he
was possessed with demons. He started preaching to the ignorant classes
of Arabs teaching them that there was only one living God who created
heaven and earth and all mankind. In A.D. 610, his fortieth year he
claimed to have received a call from the angel Gabriel while in a
trance in Mount Hira, directing him to say: "In the name of God." Many
times after this first meeting he communicated with Gabriel in these
caves and saw many visions. Once when almost discouraged he waited for
further enlightenment in visions to qualify him for the duties of his
office as prophet--if not to commit suicide--when suddenly Gabriel, at
the end of the horizon appeared, saying: "I am Gabriel and thou art
Mohammed the prophet of God, fear not." After this assurance he
commenced his career as a prophet and founder of a new religion. His
doctrines were gathered from three religions, the Jewish, Christian and
Arabic. He taught that there is only one Allah--Almighty God,
ever-present and working will. Henceforth the revelations came from
time to time, sometimes like the sound of a bell conversing with him;
at other times Gabriel came down and spoke to him. For the first three
years he worked among his family. Kadijah was his first believer. His
father-in-law, Abi-Baker, Omar, a young energetic man, his daughter
Fatima, his son-in-law Ali and other faithful followers to the number
of forty, were the first disciples of this new religion, and were very
influential in spreading the same. Then he publicly announced that he
had a command from God, and had been given the divine office as prophet
and lawgiver. As his notoriety spread, pilgrims flocked to Mecca and he
preached to them attacking the idolatry of Mecca. When his enemies
demanded a miracle from him, he responded by producing the Koran leaf
by leaf as occasion demanded. He provoked persecution; and civil war
followed. In A.D. 622 he was forced to flee for his life from Mecca to
Medina, a distance of 250 miles. This flight is called Higira, meaning
the flight, (July 15, 622) from which the era of Islam begins.

In Medina he was generally accepted as a prophet of God. His method was
at first toleration. He said: "Let there be no compulsion in religion,"
but afterwards said: "All infidels must accept one God and Mohammed his
prophet. If men refuse, kill them, plunder their property and their
wives and daughters are for you." The wild Arabs were kindled by this
command. His followers were all robbers except some of the leaders. In
624 with an army of 305, all citizens of Medina, he gained a victory
over his strong enemy, Koreish, whose army was double the size of
Mohammed's. By other engagements he rapidly conquered Jews and
Christians. After one battle 600 Jews were massacred at his order and
their wives and daughters were made slaves. In 627 he triumphantly
entered Mecca and in 630 he demolished 360 idols; then Koreish, a
leading tribe, shouted "There is but one God and Mohammed is His
prophet." Ten years after Higira, with 40,000 Moslems he made his last
journey to Mecca, and subdued all Arabia. Upon returning to Medina, he
died in his home and in the arms of Ayesha his favorite wife, June 8th,
632, at the age of sixty-three years.

When on his death-bed and suffering extreme pain and anguish his
friends expressed surprise that a great prophet should suffer so. He
called their attention to the fact that one prophet of olden times was
eaten by worms, while another was so poor as to have only a rag to
cover his shame, and stated that a prophet is not rewarded here but
hereafter. His last words were a prayer for the destruction of all Jews
and Christians because they were so hard to convert. He prayed, "O Lord
let not my tomb be an object of worship. Let there remain only one
faith, that of Islam, in all Arabia. Gabriel come near me, Lord pardon
me, grant me joy, accept me into thy companionship on high, etc."

Mohammed did not claim the power of performing miracles but since his
death some of his followers have attributed miracles to him such as,
when walking the streets, trees and stones would salute him; he caused
a flood of water to spring up from dry ground; he rode on his horse
Borak through air from Medina to Mecca, Jerusalem to paradise and to
the heavenly mansions and again came back to Mecca. The only miracle
Mohammed himself claimed was the revelation of Koran.


Some people have the impression that Mohammed was a man of good
character and great simplicity. Possibly this was true of him in the
earlier part of his life, but he degenerated as Solomon, but unlike the
wise preacher of "vanity" he never repented. Mohammed was a slave of
sensual passion. The doctrine of polygamy which he taught was the
result of his own sensuality. Ayesha his favorite wife said: "The
prophet loves three things, women, perfumes and food." He, at the age
of fifty-three years, married this woman when she was at the age of
nine years. Again he claimed to have a special revelation from heaven
to marry Zey-nab the wife of his adopted son. To gratify this wish, it
was necessary for Zeyd, his faithful son, to get a divorce from


"The secret of success for Islam is in the sword," said Mohammed. His
faith teaches that one drop of blood shed for Allah, or God, avails
more than all prayer, fastings and sacrifices. One night spent in the
holy armies of Islam will be rewarded by Allah more than human reason
can think. Everyone that falls in battle is received in heaven as a
martyr and rewarded for his devotion to the faith. After Mohammed's
death, his successor became aggressive as his forces grew stronger. His
command to his armies was: "Before you is paradise, behind you is
hell." Inspired by this belief, the wild and superstitious Arabs rushed
forward and subdued Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The churches in the
large cities of these lands were converted into mosques for the worship
of Mohammed. In 668 and 717 they besieged Constantinople and in 707
subdued the northern provinces of Africa. In 711 they established a
Califat in Spain at Cordova. The Arabs crossed the Pyrenees and made
the threat that they would soon stable their horses in St. Paul's
cathedral at Rome. But they were defeated by Charles Martel in 732.
Ferdinand drove them out of Spain into Africa. In the East the Moslems
had, in the ninth century subdued Persia, Afghan, Bloogiston, a large
part of India, also a large part of Brahmanism and Buddhism. The Turks
were conquered in the eleventh century; the Mongols in the thirteenth
century. Constantinople fell into the hands of the unspeakable Turks in
1453. The magnificent church of St. Sophia in which Chrysostom preached
the gospel with a fiery tongue and many church fathers chanted in it
the true Word of God was converted into a mosque. To-day the Koran is
read there in instead of the gospel. The Sultan occupies the throne of
Constantine and calls himself the "shadow of Almighty," boasts in his
fanatical religion, and scorns Christian powers. On the other hand the
Christian powers look at him with the cold spirit of Christianity but I
believe the time will come and is near when the Gospel will be preached
again in the church of St. Sophia instead of the Koran.



The Koran is the Mohammedan's holy bible, creed, and code of laws. The
holy Koran was delivered to Mohammed neither in graven tablets of
stone, nor by cloven tongues of fire, but it was engraven on Mohammed's
heart and was communicated by his tongue to the Arabs. His heart was
the Sinai where he received his revelation and his tablets of stone
were the hearts of believers. The Koran contains 114 chapters and 6225
verses. Each chapter begins with formula, "In the name of God the
merciful and the compassionate." The chapter is named from the chief
subject treated therein; as "praise," "the light," "the spider," "the
woman," etc. Mohammed received all of his revelation at once but when
occasion required he dictated new chapters to Zeid. Another notion is
that the Koran was delivered orally and was scattered until after the
prophet's death when it was collected by Ayesha, his youngest wife, and
Zeid. All of it was written in the best classical poetry. It is sweet
in the Arabic language but it looses its beauty when translated into
other languages.

Mohammed did not invent a new religion but collected most of his
doctrines from the Jewish, heathen and Christian religions and
Christian tradition. Mohammed was greatly indebted to a Nestorian monk
named Sargius Be-hi-ra, a man of rare ability, whom the prophet kept in
his home for several years and learned all he knew about Christian
doctrines and traditions. Many of the wise counsels, stories, teachings
of our duties to God and brethren in the faith, that are related in the
Old and New Testament are reproduced in the Koran, but the language is
changed and the order of their occurrences is reversed. The Koran
contains mistakes such as making the Virgin Mary the mother of our Lord
the same person as Mary the sister of Moses and Aaron. But without
question the Koran is one of the greatest books of the world in the
number of adherents it has. It is a code of civil and religious law;
200,000,000 Mohammedans scattered all over the world to-day are
following the teaching of the Koran. The book contains much that is
good and wise but one of its most dangerous defects is the prominence
and approval given to polygamy and sensualism.



Monotheism is the corner-stone of Islam. Their creed consists of six
articles. God, predestination, the angels good and bad, the books and
the traditions of the 124,000 prophets, the resurrection and judgment,
eternal reward and punishment. The formula continually repeated by the
Mohammedans is this: "There is no god but God and Mohammed is His
prophet." Allah or God has infinite power and wisdom and is holy,
omnipotent, omnipresent, creator of the universe, upholder of all. He
is an arbitrary ruler but deals justly with men. He is an object of
fear and reverence, rather than of love and gratitude. The Mohammedan
does not look upon God as the Father. He says God is the almighty
creator and men ought to fear and tremble before Him as slaves. The
writer was reasoning with a Mohammedan one day and spoke of God as "our
heavenly Father." He said "you blaspheme. Don't call God a father." This
could not be as he never had a wife. Allah has foreordained all things,
good and evil. An unconditional resignation to Him is true wisdom. He
is known because He has revealed Himself through chosen messengers,
angelic and human, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, our
great and chief prophets, but Mohammed is the last and the greatest
above all.



The Muj-ta-hid is the highest order of the priesthood but this order is
divided into four degrees. The members of the highest degree reside at
Karbala, the sacred city. The chief of this degree is called
Naib-el-emam and in the belief of Shiite Moslems he is the
representative of Mohammed. His position is the same as that of the
pope in the Roman Catholic Church; and he is believed to be infallible.
His authority extends over the entire clergy and in some respects over
government. He resides in the most holy mosque which was built on the
tombs of Hassan and Hussein, children of Ali, who were Martyrs in the
war between the Shi-ites and Sun-neh Moslems. He has power to declare
holy war. Vast sums of money are contributed into his keeping every
year which he spends in defraying the expenses of thousands of pilgrims
who flock to this shrine, and also for students who study in that
mosque. He leads a simple life but it was stated by one of the pilgrims
that he makes considerable money for his children. When this great
chief dies there is a day of lamentation throughout Persia and lords
and counts feed thousands of poor men and divide money among them. All
business is suspended for the day.

The late Shah, it is said, sent three different messengers to this high
Church official before he could get an interview, the churchman
pleading humility and unworthiness to receive the king but before the
latter departed after the interview he was charged to be a good and
faithful ruler.

The second degree in the Muj-ta-hid is called Arch-Muj-ta­hid. It is
composed of four priests who reside in the four places known as
Era-wa-nee Shirazee, Khorasonee and Isphahonee, and one of these
officials succeeds Na-ib-el emam at the death of the latter.

The third degree is the common Muj-ta-hid who are numerous. In my city
Oroomiah of 30,000 inhabitants there are ten or more priests of this
degree. Sometimes they are called Eulama meaning divines.


They are executors of civil and religious law; no man can be a judge or
lawyer unless he is a Muj-ta-hid. These priests judge such cases as the
division of property for which he charges a fee. Where the interested
parties are rich they are frequently required to appear before the
priest several times before a decision is given that he may charge them
a larger fee. As a general rule the man who pays these priest-­magistrates
the most money will win the case, even if it is necessary to pervert
the law. Many a well-to-do man has been brought to poverty by the
extortions of these Muj-ta-hid. Government cannot resist them. When
lords or counts or rich people marry they charge large sums of money
for performing the ceremony. Large fees are also made for writing legal
documents in the transference of land or other valuable property. The
common people consider it a privilege to make presents to the
Muj-ta-hid. These men are usually very rich, and own one or more
beautiful palaces and have from two to four wives. Every young widow
who has beauty and riches is sought in marriage by some of the priests.

The fourth degree is called Mollah, and their office is the same as the
Protestant elder. The Mohammedans have no preaching services such as we
have except on holidays, when certain ceremonies are carried out. The
Mol-lah visit the sick, call on families, teach them prayers and
traditions and conduct funerals. Some of them teach children who come
to them each day for instruction. Their meals are provided by the
students who bring them some food, usually very choice each morning.
One dime a month is generally the tuition fee. In the fall his
parishioners who are able give him a collection of provisions for the
winter such as grapes, apples, wheat, fuel, etc. He is highly respected
in the community and is always invited out to a feast in some private
home on holidays. He writes documents for the people for which he gets
from two to ten cents, but the fee is often two or three eggs or a
basket of fruit. This is the poor Mollah's only income. Some of them
have no parish and do secular work for a living, others recite Koran on
the tomb of a lord for which they are paid by the relatives of the
deceased. I have seen one Mollah reciting Koran for fifteen years at
the tomb of a noted army officer.

There are a class of priests, more learned and devout, who work as the
revivalists of their religion. On holidays, which are quite frequent,
the mosques are crowded with worshipers, when one of these priests
mounts an elevated pulpit with great ostentation and in an impressive
voice begins to read or repeat Koran. He will chant traditions of the
prophets and martyrs and relate pathetic stories of the noble
sacrifices of departed heroes of the faith. His charming tones and
utterances have much effect on his audience and men and women weep and
beat their breasts.


The Muj-ta-hid wears underclothes of white linen, his long coat is made
of woolen cloth. His outer cloak is a robe that hangs to the feet. This
robe is quite expensive, being made of the fur of animals, and is dyed
yellow. They believe it a duty to wear a robe of skin as a sign of
meekness. The robes cost from $50 to $500. He wears a girdle of white
linen in many folds. His turban is large and white. The light, heelless
shoes cover only half of his feet. When he goes out he has a fine staff
in his hand, the handle being of gold or silver. From ten to twenty
servants accompany him, some stepping before, others after him. Men of
all class rise and salute him by bowing with their hands across their
breast. Many men kiss the shoes of the high Muj-ta-hids.


Mohammedanism is divided into two great sects:--viz. Shiites and
Sunnites. Both hold Mohammed to be the Prophet and Savior of mankind
and Koran to be the holy bible, written by the finger of God and given
to Mohammed through the mediation of Gabriel. But they differ in their
belief as to who are the true successors of Mohammed. Shiites claim
that Ali the son-in-law and nephew of Mohammed was Caliph, while
Sunnites contend that four disciples of Mohammed were his true
successors. This difference led to war and bloodshed and gave rise to a
permanent division in Mohammedanism.

Persia generally belongs to the Shiites tribe. They receive Ali as the
Caliph after Mohammed. The descendants of Ali are therefore held in
high esteem and rank in Persia. They are called Say-yids, which means
prophets and masters and they have privileges that do not belong to
common men. They are very zealous to perpetuate their own sect. From
the time of Ali they have kept a careful record of their genealogy.
This book of testimony called Sajjara, is given from father to son and
serves as a credential to the Say-yidical tribe. Each family must have
in its possession a credential at least two hundred years old. When
these are worn by age and use their leaders may draft copies and duly
certify them.

The Say-yid's dress distinguishes him from other men. He wears a green
turban and girdle, so that he is really known whether alone or in a
throng. If a common man should presume to wear these articles of dress
he would be severely punished. The Say-yid's turban is to them more
precious than a kingly crown. It is the sign of their glory. The girdle
is a symbol of strength. Their rank is higher than all other degrees
among men and their high priest is more honored than a prince. So
Say-yid ruleth over other men. He demands and receives their honors. In
the assemblies of lords and influential men, the Say-yid occupies the
chief seats, and are always served first. Oaths of gravity are sworn by
their heads. All men fear them, believing that their curse will surely
be brought to pass. They are never smitten or reviled. If a Christian
should lift his hand against them that hand must be severed from his
body. They are exempt from legal punishment. Governors cannot impose on
them fines or imprisonments. If a Say-yid should kill a common man it
would be impossible to punish him with death for his murder. The
governor cannot punish him for it would be a sin against God; it is
believed that God created all men for the sake of Mohammed and his
descendants. A Say-yid's punishment must come through the leader of
that order.

Many vows are made to them. Parents when their daughters are sick, vow
to marry them to a Say-yid, believing that God will cure her for the
sake of the Say-yid. They generally ride on gray horses, claiming that
those of that color belong to them. They lead the large pilgrim
caravans, which go every year to worship at the tomb of Ali. Their
presence is believed to protect the caravans from thieves and robbers.
Their law gives them authority over the property of other men. They are
masters while others are peasants. Sometimes they smite and punish
other men without mercy. By their law one-tenth of all property belongs
to them. Generally they do not work, but live well, because of their
position as Say-yids or holy men. The more noble of them will sit in
their houses and receive tithes of the fruits, coffee, tea and money of
the surrounding people. If these tithes are not freely given a servant
will be sent with authority to demand and take same. The less noble of
the Say-yids go personally to the homes vineyards and gardens and
gather their portion. Sometimes there might be seen no less than ten
Say-yids going to vineyards for this purpose. Generally they ask
nothing from Christians, as their law restrains them and they are
ashamed to ask of other religions.

I once met a Say-yid in my father's vineyard and he asked a portion. I
refused, telling him that I myself was also a Say-yid _i.e._, a
Christian Say-yid, and asked if one Say-yid should receive something
from another. He laughed, and said: "yes sir, sometimes." I gave him
three pounds of raisins. These Say-yids are in only the Shiites branch
of Islam. In later years their honor is decreased; the government is
against them. Some of them are very religious. Two of them in the city
of Ispha-han were converted to Christianity and suffered martyrdom. One
has been converted to Christianity in my city, Oroomiah. He is one of
the most spiritual men among Christians.


Shiites Mohammedanism rests upon two pillars one of which is Darwishes.
This is one of the most holy orders of the Musalmans. It corresponds to
the monasticism of Christianity. It contains several degrees, such as
asceticism, mandicanism, etc. It is a volunteer consecration to Allah
and his prophet, except in cases in which parents had dedicated their
sons to the order. There are numerous instances in which women without
children made a vow to Allah that if given a son they would consecrate
him to God to be a Darwish. This order contains members from all
classes, high and low, rich and poor, and even from the royal family.
Celibacy is not required but they are taught that it is far better for
them not to marry.

[Illustration: HIGH-CLASS DERVISH.]


A Darwish is expected to be and usually is humble, kind and liberal,
ready to serve any man. He must suffer all the trouble of life and live
in an humble condition because this is holiness. He is required to be
well informed in all religious stories, tradition, and Koran, and
particularly in the poetical writings of Maw-le-wee order, which is
their own order, founded by An-wa-ree the father of the Darwishes. Some
of the members know from one to five thousand of these sacred poems.
Most of them are sufficiently educated to read. The Darwishes are the
most faithful, honest and pure of all the followers of Mohammed. In all
my life I have never heard of a single immoral Darwish. Some of them
are very intelligent and well educated and familiar with all their
religious rites. On the other hand they are very superstitious,
fanatical and ambitious to propagate their religion, believing it to be
a true religion. They are free to discuss their faith with all men in a
kind spirit. In a discussion with one of them he could not answer me
but proposed that we prove the truth of our religion by both entering a
burning fire, and the one who came out unharmed would have the true
religion. I told him to enter the fire and if he was not burned I would
believe in his religion and become a Mohammedan. He did not dare do it
and was ashamed.


The darwishes' work is to tell stories, tales and traditions during
week days in the streets. Friday is holy day among Mohammedans and is
to be observed in worshiping God. The darwishes begin at one o'clock
P.M. on that day singing poems on the streets and continue until
evening. Their poems are for the glory and honor of Mohammed and Ali,
for they believe these two men were the supreme creation of God. One of
their poems reads as follows:

"The first of creatures is Ali; the supreme of beings is Ali; the true
calif of the prophet all is Ali; the lord of all the world is Ali; the
lord of my soul is Ali."

The darwishes wear long hair, and a pointed orange shape cap, a cloak
of patch work and a long white robe and in his right hand a tomahawk
with a fancy handle with some poems written on the blade. In the other
hand is held a kashkul for the collection of money. These are the
rituals of his office. A dozen or more of them may be seen on every
street, not far from each other, standing in front of the stores
singing some poems for the praise of Ali in a loud voice, and with an
earnest and enthusiastic spirit. Then he will pass his kashkul and the
shopman will drop in it from one to three pennies and sometimes only a
bit of sugar or ginger. Any gift is acceptable. One passing in the
streets hears voices of base, tenor, etc, some rough, some clear as the
sound of a bell of gold making an attractive melody. Sometimes they
sing two by two, one for the praise of Mohammed, the other for the
praise of Ali. Once I heard a darwish singing a poem to the praise of
Ali, and when he had finished another responded near by singing to the
praise of Mohammed in the following words: "He (Mohammed) has attained
to the supremacy of his personal holiness; he has enlightened the
darkness by personal beauty; beautiful are all his deeds. The blessings
of God be upon him and upon all his children." Some darwishes travel
over all Persia, spending a short time in each city they visit doing
their work.

The cap which the darwish wears has embroidered upon it a verse from
Koran and signifies his consecration to the service of Allah. The
kashkul is a box in which to collect money for the poor and sick. The
white robe is a sign of purity. The sheepskin on his shoulder is a sign
of meekness. The beads on his neck are to remind him of the duty of
prayer. The tomahawk is a sign of war and victory for his prophet and
Allah. Those who have excelled in their holy service go to their leader
and he places on the skin of the right shoulder of the darwish an
inscription which remains as a sign of consecration and honor.

There is a low class of darwishes who are very ignorant, superstitious
and fanatical and are like beggars. They pitch their tents at the gates
of rich people and will not go away until they have been satisfied with
money. Sometimes a large crowd of this class will gather in a mosque
and spend several hours in howling unto Allah and the prophets until
made weary by the exertion.

When the good darwish goes home Friday evening he will have gathered
some money and also provisions, such as tea, coffee, sugar etc. He will
keep for himself and family enough to last one week; the remainder is
given to the poor.


The darwish is highly respected by all classes from the royal family to
the most humble. No man dares to beat or lay hands on one of them, as
it would be considered a great crime. In case a darwish does wrong or
commits crime the government does not punish him but refers the matter
to the leader of the order. Sometimes they are called Kallander, which
means humble and holy men of Allah. They are exempted from paying tax
and from military service. Many presents are given to them by the
people. The salutation is different from the common people. The first
says, "Ya-ho" which means: "O living God"; the response is "Ya-mal-ho,"
which means: "O God the Giver of life."

So it is plain that the darwishes are one of the two pillars that
support Islamism. Thank God we have some darwishes converted to



The laymen are divided into three classes, viz., the counts, lords,
middle class and low class.

The middle class live mostly in towns and cities. Their occupation is
merchandise; to carry goods to Europe and import goods into Persia.
Others are manufacturing carpets, rugs, etc. Others are iron-smiths,
silver-smiths, carpenters, druggists, butchers, and masons. A great
number are secretaries for lords, counts, and in military service. The
life of this class is very happy indeed. Their homes are quite
comfortable, and kept in good order. Their tables are spread with
enough of the good things to satisfy. This class do none of the work
that custom has assigned to the lower classes. Pride would not allow
it. Custom requires them to have smooth hands--not always white, for
some prefer to dye them red.

The women of the middle class take life easy. They are not often
allowed to go outside without permission of their husbands or
mothers-in-law. In some instances the older ladies spend their time
making rugs, shawls, and carpets--some of which are very beautiful and
costly. The young ladies and brides spend their time in making caps,
purses, head-covering, dresses, etc. Unmarried girls are positively
required and it is the duty of her mother to teach her how to make
rugs, carpets and embroidery work, etc. for her marriage. One of her
first duties is to learn to dress herself handsomely. The face and brow
will be colored with red and white paints. The eyes and eyebrows with
black paint. The hands and feet are dyed with hana a kind of paint
that colors them red.

[Illustration: HAREM COSTUME.]


The shirt worn at home by woman is an article made of silk or cotton.
It is short, open breast, well embroidered, and is red or white and
reaches to the middle of the thigh. Over the shirt is the cula-ja,
rather loose, with long sleeves fastened with buttons of silver.

The Shalwar is similar to the ordinary skirt only it is very short.
Some wear from three to ten of these skirts. The outer one is very rich
and trimmed with gold lace. The head covering is called Char-Kat and is
made square of a long embroidered article of fine silk or thin cotton
and is fastened under her chin. Sometimes at home they are bareheaded.
Hose are white and long. The hair is generally black, heavy, braided
and spread on her back. In front it is parted in the middle when bangs
are not worn. The hair is usually painted to appear black and smooth.


The middle class of women are fond of jewelry, but do not burden
themselves with heavy ornaments as do some of the lower class. They
usually wear two or three finger rings, small earrings of gold,
bracelets and necklace. There is frequently a large emerald, incased in
gold, hanging from the necklace, bearing this inscription: "There is no
god but Allah." Beautiful ornaments of gold and silver are attached to
the ends of their braided hair.

When a wife has perfumed and adorned herself she will await the coming
of her husband from his shop. She knows at what time he will return
home. An hour before his coming she will go before the mirror to see if
she is dressed beautifully enough to please her husband. Ten minutes
before his arrival she will prepare a delicious Kalyon, (which is a
smoke and water pipe.) Holding it in her hand she will rise and offer
him the Kalyon, saying, "My lord, command your pleasure." He will take
the pipe and smoke. While he is sitting she will sprinkle perfume on
his head and clothes. For several minutes they exchange the pipe and
smoke alternately. This is the first thing which a husband of the
middle class expects of his wife--not to work for him but to adorn
herself and please him. It cannot be said that the Mohammedan does not
love his wife. He buys her whatever she asks for; not because he
considers her his equal, but for the sake of his own pleasure.


Most men of the middle class, at some time in life go on a pilgrimage
to Mecca and Medina. After a pilgrim returns he is given the title of
Ha-jeh and thereafter wears a turban on his head instead of the
ordinary cap. The cap commonly worn by the Persian is about eight
inches high, has no brim and is black in color. The shirt is of white
cotton, open in front and fastened with a button on the right shoulder.
The trousers are very much like the bloomers worn by some bicyclists of
modern times, and old people wear garments even wider than bloomers.
They are made of wool or cotton and are usually black. The coat is
called ar-ka-look. Some are long enough to reach the ankle, while
others reach about the middle of the thigh. The sleeves fasten at the
wrist by a button of silk cord. There is a pocket on either side near
the belt. Various colors are worn. The gima or overcoat is a heavy wool
garment reaching to the knee, the lower part of which is pleated. It is
open in front and fastened with a number of buttons. The belt is a
large piece of linen folded many times around the waist. Some wear
heavy and costly shawls.

It is a general custom to shave the head except a small place on each
side of the head just over the ear and a spot on the crown of the head.
The hair-covered spots are called Zoolf and are dyed with Hana. The
most religious men and the aged shave the entire surface of the head.
The young men shave the beard, except the mustache, till the age of
thirty years after which time the beard is clipped at the length of
about one inch till the age of forty. After the age of forty the beard
is never cut. The mustache is never shaved, by young or old. It is a
mean thing to do, and is against their religion. No man has been seen
in Persia with a smooth upper lip except Europeans. A man who will
shave his mustache is not a Mohammedan but an infidel; not a man, but a
girl. The long mustache is regarded as the glory of man.


The lower class of people are farmers and day labors and among them is
much misery. They work long hours and get from fifteen to twenty-five
cents a day. Their clothing is of cheap material, poorly made, and
shorter than the garments of the higher classes. In order to save time
and soap their clothes are sometimes not washed for a month. Some
farmer's wives use the sickle all day long in the field during
harvest-time. Many women do the lighter work of killing weeds.
Sometimes a woman will take her babe to the field with her and leave it
in the care of an older child while she labors. In the fall of the year
the laborers are busy in the vineyards, a great abundance of grapes
being produced in this country. A familiar scene of an evening is to
see men and women trudging homeward bearing heavy burdens of fruit,
raisins, etc. stored in baskets. Some of the children are employed
through the day looking after and feeding the cattle, buffaloes and
sheep, while it is the duty of others to carry food and drink to the
workers in the fields. In the winter the men are employed feeding
cattle or in weaving coarse cloths for the clothing of the lower class.
Others who are not thus engaged spend the winter in carrying dried
fruits, wheat, fuel and various kinds of goods to the cities on donkey

The women of this class spend the winter in spinning cotton and wool,
making carpets, sacks, etc. and in sewing garments for their children
and husbands. Young girls are busy in preparing useful articles for
their wedding. The dozen or more holidays that come during the year are
celebrated by this class in having big dinners, and the women cease
from the heavy burdens of their labor for the day and attempt to
beautify themselves after the fashion of women of the higher classes
with paint and finery. Their taste not being cultivated in that art
they often make themselves more hideous than beautiful.



The mosque is the Mohammedan holy temple or church. There is one in
most every community which has been erected by lords or rich people. In
the cities they have some magnificent mosques built of stone and brick.
A mosque is divided into several small rooms and two large halls. One
hall is for winter service, the other for summer. The summer hall is in
the front end of the building, is enclosed with three walls, the front
being open. The pillars that guard the entrance to this hall are
adorned with artistic designs. The interior walls of the mosque are
painted white and on them are inscribed in large letters numerous
verses from the Koran. The floors of the halls are not covered with
carpets or rugs, as they would be stolen; but there are cheap mats made
of reeds on the floor. There are no chairs but the worshipers sit on
the floor.

It is believed that any man who builds a mosque has remission of his
sins. It gives him great reputation and he is known as a holy and
religious man. There are some very old mosques, a few having stood as
long as 900 years. In some instances Christian churches have been
converted into mosques in times of persecution. In the city of Oroomiah
one very fine church was converted into a mosque about 600 years ago.
It is a very large building with a high steeple and stands in the heart
of the city, surrounded by fine grounds of about three acres. The
grounds are surrounded by high wall, inside of which are rows of small
buildings divided into rooms and used by students. These were
originally used by the Christians as a kind of a university. Even
to-day the door facing the east which Christians entered to worship
Jesus remains. When the Mohammedans took possession of the building a
new door was made on the south side facing the holy city of Mecca.
Mosques are regarded as holy and no animal is allowed to step in,
especially dogs. If a Mohammedan knew that dogs sometimes enter
Christian churches they would despise Christians the more. Jews and
Christians are not allowed to enter a mosque. They can only stand
before the door and listen solemnly.

The Mohammedans have no bells on their mosques. They say Satan is in
the bell, and that its sound is the sound of Satan. Sometimes they stop
our bells, saying that Allah will not accept their prayers on account
of our bells.

They have no bell, but a man, sometimes a Mool-lah, who ascends to the
roof of the mosque three times daily, morning, noon and night and in a
loud voice calls men to prayer. The call is made in the following
words: "Al-lah Ak-par." This means Almighty God and is repeated three
times. Then he continues: "Ashuddu-in-nah la il-la-ha ella Allah,"
meaning, "I testify that there is no god but God." "Ashud-du in-nah
Mohammed rus-sool Al-lah," meaning, "I testify that Mohammed is the
only apostle of God." "Hay-ya alal sa-lah," meaning, "Hasten to prayer."
"Hay-ya alal falah," meaning, "Hasten to the place of refuge and hope."
"Hay-ya allal Kher-ul amal," meaning, "Hasten to do good works." The
call is concluded by again repeating three times the words, "Allah

The mosque is open day and night, and men may come into prayer at any
hour. Friday is holy day and corresponds somewhat to the Christian
Sunday. No man is chastised if he works on Friday but all faithful
Mohammedans attend public services on that day. The services in the
mosques of the cities are conducted by Muj-ta-hids or high priests. The
priest starts to the house of worship when he hears the voice of the
Mah-zin calling to prayer from the top of the mosque. He is accompanied
by eight or ten servants beside numbers of worshipers who may fall in
line with the holy man. When he enters the assembled worshipers rise to
their feet and remain standing until the priest has seated himself in
the pulpit. He will recite from the Koran and tell traditions in a
chanting voice. Women are allowed to attend these services but they are
required to sit in one corner of the mosque apart from men.


Among Muj-ta-hids two titles are given to those who excel in holiness,
viz., Pish-Namaz and Imam-Ju-ma. The former means mediator in prayer;
the latter, the prophet of holy Friday. They are indeed more devoted to
their faith and at the same time more fanatical in their hatred for
Christianity. When one of these priests goes to the mosque he wears a
large turban on his head, some of them costing $50, a cloak of fur, a
staff with gold or silver handle. He wears a long beard which is
painted black. Following him is a procession of from fifty to one
hundred men, mostly mollah, or lower class, who are faithful Moslems.
Proceeding toward the mosque with slow and solemn tread, he is saluted
by the people of all classes along the street by their rising to their
feet, crossing the breast with the arms and reverently bowing before
him, uttering the words "Sallam ali-Kun Agha," which means "peace be
unto you, sir." This service occurs on holy Friday Sometimes 2,000 or
3,000 men will be gathered in the mosque. Women are not admitted in
these most holy and solemn services. The Muj-ta-hid stands in the front
part of the mosque, facing Mecca, and all the audience is back of him.
As he advances in the prayer all the people repeat what he prays. They
imitate every motion he makes. When he kneels, they kneel. When he puts
the end of his front fingers in his ears, the entire audience does the
same. They believe all prayers which are prayed in that way are
accepted through his mediatorial prayer.

[Illustration: PRIESTS AT WORSHIP.]




Prayer carries the Musselman half way to heaven. There is no salvation
by grace or by atonement. Allah forgives his sins only on the condition
of good works. Hence it is an obligation with every one to pray. Prayer
is not a duty issuing from his love to Allah, but a yoke which binds
him against his will. It is reduced to a mechanical act without spirit.
The Moslem always washes with cold water before prayer. He will take a
jar of water and say, "Bism Allah" meaning, "in the name of God I do
this holy service." Then dipping his right hand in the water he rubs
his arms from the wrist to the elbow; with the tips of his fingers he
will wet his forehead and the inside of his ears, and the surface of
his feet. Travelers in the desert, use sand as a substitute for water.
The worshiper must have a seal of Mecca which is made of clay and is
about the size of a half-dollar. On it are the words, "There is no God
but God." Facing Mecca, he puts the seal on the ground and standing
erect he raises both hands to his head, kneels to the ground, puts his
brow on the seal, then kisses it. Rising to his feet he puts both index
fingers in his ears; and also makes numerous other gestures. They have
one prayer which is always repeated. They have five stated seasons
daily for prayer; daybreak, noon, soon after noon, after sunset (to
avoid the idea of sun worship) and just before retiring. The general
place of prayer is the mosque, but few of the Moslems pray there, as
they prefer praying in the streets, open squares and in meadows before
mosques where they will be seen by more men and can better show their
piety and integrity. In the midst of his prayer he will stop and speak
a few words to the surrounding people as a religious custom, or to
revile children whose noise while at play may have interrupted him. A
prayer often prayed by faithful Moslems, quoted from the Koran, is a
foolish and selfish prayer and is entirely against the spirit and
teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. It reads: "O Allah, I seek refuge
to thee from Satan and all evil spirits. O Lord of all creatures
destroy all heathen and infidels, even those who believe in the
Trinity, the enemy of our religion. O Allah, make their children
orphans, their wives widows, and defile their abodes. Give their
families, their households, their women, their children, their
relatives, their possessions, their race, their wealth, their lands,
and their daughters as a booty to the Moslems, Thy only people, O Lord
of all creatures." Every word is against the blessed teachings of our
Lord who said: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good
to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and
persecute you."

The Mohammedan religion does not require women to pray. It is a
question if she has the same soul that man has. However some women
among the higher classes and some old widows do pray. But they cannot
pray in the most holy mosques on account of their uncleanness, nor in
the streets for they ought not to be seen of men. If they wish to they
may pray in their private houses.

While prayer carries a Musselman half way to heaven, fasting carries
him to the gate and alms admit him. So fasting and alms are the keys to
paradise and every man must practice them. The Moslems have only one
month of fasting called the ramadhan. Their month begins with the new
moon; but sometimes in some parts of the land it is cloudy and they
cannot see the moon. So men will be appointed by the government
throughout all the empire to watch carefully for the new moon,
sometimes from the peaks of mountains. When she is discovered telegrams
are sent announcing the beginning of the fast on the morrow. They will
fast from one hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset, or
till it becomes too dark for a man to discriminate between red and
black thread. During this time they abstain from eating, drinking, and
smoking. The poor class work till noon. The rich do not work at all.
The most of the day is spent in reciting the Koran, praying and
sleeping. Christians cannot eat in the street, for the Moslems might
long to eat too, or even take a taste, and thus break their fast. Boys
and girls above eight years must fast, while sick men are not compelled
to during this month. However when they recover they are required to
fast thirty days as soon as they are able. They do not converse much in
the day but wear a sad countenance. They do not allow a Christian to
speak to them. At morning and evening in the cities a cannon is fired
for the beginning and ending of the fast. During this month much alms
is given. The lords and princes especially send meals from their table.
They believe fasting and giving secure absolute forgiveness of sins and
admittance to heaven. The night is changed to a feast. They eat and
drink and converse till twelve o'clock. Then they retire but are up
again at three and eat and drink till one hour before sun is down.
Death among them occurs most often in that month because many eat too
much. So many different meals hurt their stomach and they fall sick and
die. The Mohammedans say they go to heaven for its gates are open
during this month for Musselmen. Hundreds of them eat everything they
want and at any time of the day. They do not believe in fasting: But
they must be careful that the high priest does not catch them breaking
the fast, for he would punish such offence severely. The writer has
seen many Mohammedans eating in this month. They would eat and smoke in
their houses and then wash out their mouths and tell everyone they were
fasting. Thousands fast either for their own glory or from the fear of



Islam's religion has many holy places and it is the duty of every
Mohammedan to visit these shrines unless circumstances hinder him.
Pilgrimages secure not only forgiveness of sins, but a great reputation
as well. Of all Mohammedan shrines there are four most remarkable.
Medina is the first. It was the birthplace of Mohammed. Here he lived
till he was six years old when his mother, Amina, died. A slave girl
faithfully nourished him and took him to Mecca. But his last days were
spent in Medina. When he was dying in the arms of Ayesha, Omar asked
him: "Prophet where do you wish us to bury you?" He answered: "Throw
the rein of the bridle on my camel's neck and I believe the angel
Gabriel will come and direct her where to go. There bury me." They did
so. His camel started off, but soon stopped and would not proceed
further. So they buried Mohammed there and a magnificent mosque stands
above his grave. This building is adorned with silver and gold and
Mohammedans worship it.

The second place is Mecca. This city is the most holy for all the
Mohammedan world. Here is the old temple of the Arabs the Kaaba which
was converted by Mohammed into a mosque. It has been rebuilt many times
by the rich kings of Islam. This mosque is among the seven wonders of
the world and is not inferior in beauty and cost' to Solomon's temple.
Outside at the gate is a black stone which the ancient Arabs worshiped
before Mohammed. Some said the stone was cast out of paradise with
Adam; others that it was cast down from heaven. Upon it Abraham offered
Isaac. The worshipers held a tradition that if anyone should place a
smooth stone on this holy stone and it should stick fast he should have
the wish of his heart. Many childless women use this means to find if
God will give them a child. Near the mosque is the well of Ab Zimzim,
_i.e._, living water. Mohammedans claim Abraham, Hagar and Jacob
quenched their thirst at this well. Jacob and other patriarchs, they
say, watered their sheep here. Many pilgrims have assured the writer
that the mosque of the Kaaba was originally built by the angel Gabriel.
There are two hundred million Moslems scattered throughout the world
and each of them turns his face toward this mosque and prays five times

The third place is Karballa. This city holds the second place in
sacredness in the estimation of the Mohammedans. It is situated in
Asiatic Turkey, near the famous city of Bagdad, where Saleek and
Katispon once flourished, ancient towns of the Christian Nestorians.
Here their patriarch dwells who ruled over all the Nestorian church.
After the death of Mohammed his four caliph successors overthrew these
places and took them from the Nestorians. Later a battle took place
here between these caliphs and the grandchildren of Mohammed to decide
which should be at the head of the new religion. The caliphs were
successful; the grandchildren being slain. They were buried here and
upon their graves was reared a magnificent mosque. Like that of Mecca
this, too, is adorned with gold and silver. Hundreds of rich men from
all parts of Persia give large offerings for this temple. Karballa has
different meanings. Some translate it the place of danger, some the
place of mourning, some the place of the killing of martyrs, others the
place of those holy men. Here in this city is the pope of all
Persia,--they call him prophet. In his hands is all the power of his
religion, and he has more power than the king. Everything he commands
they must do, even to the killing or massacring of all the Christians.
The king must do him formal reverence.

The fourth place is Mashhad. This city is situated in the northeast
part of Persia, in the state of Khorason, near the Caspian sea. This is
the most holy city in Persia. Here are buried many famous persons as
the grandchildren of Mohammed. This mosque is more rich than Mecca and
Karballa. The dome is gilded with gold outside and inside. Generally
each king of Persia makes expensive presents, but the most remarkable
event in this connection was two hundred years ago. Nadirshah, a
powerful king of Persia, he that conquered India and despoiled Calcutta
of its treasures,--made a present to this temple of a crown of gold,
adorned with precious stones. They say at night it is like the
Electricity building at the Columbian Exposition. They call it
Mashhad-Mokaddas, meaning holy. It is a place of martyrs. No Christians
or Jews are permitted to reside in this city. In the thirteenth century
this was the cathedral of the archbishop of the Nestorians.


Mohammedan law commands all to go to these holy places. The books of
ceremony emphasize the importance of such pilgrimages. The hope of
remission of sins is given to all visitors, and they are thereafter
called by a different name from ordinary men. Everyone has confidence
in them; and sometimes for a witness they call from this class of men.
Their law is, every man able must go and God will be merciful to his
family, and afterward he will be rich. Everyone who refuses to go is
not a true Moslem and does not love his religion.


Before going on this journey many fast and pray. They must repent of
every sin and sometimes one sees men praying in various ways, and it is
easy to see that they are preparing for a pilgrimage. They put on a
sorrowful countenance and walk about sadly,--all of which is merely for
vain glory. Every day they must wash and cleanse themselves and go to
the mosque. If they are at enmity with any man, they must first be
reconciled before their journey will be recognized. Some days before
starting some Say-yids, descendants of Mohammed who wear a blue turban
and are considered most honorable and holy men, who do not work, who
are not punished for any violation of law, will ride on blue horses
with long spears in their hands. They will walk in the streets crying
in a loud voice to all those who are to make a pilgrimage to prepare
themselves and be ready on a certain day. Together with this command is
uttered words of comfort and encouragement. They tell the people not to
fear. God will send for the sake of Mohammed His angels and prophets,
riding on blue horses, to deliver them from all robbers and thieves.
Yet many do die on this pilgrimage at the hands of desperate characters
of the desert or mountains.


One month before starting each man must give according to his ability
for alms. They are besieged by the others to prepare food and drink for
feasts. If a man is rich the demand is repeated. Before starting the
pilgrim goes to the leader to inquire what is necessary for him to do
and how to do it that his pilgrimage be accepted. The priest will say
if the man is rich, "You found a mosque." If a man is poor a smaller
amount of money is required. The very poor are commanded to fast from
ten to forty days. Those who make their pilgrimage on horseback scatter
money on the way for the benefit of the beggars and the poor. As the
pilgrim sets out he is accompanied by friends for some distance as a
mark of honor to the faithful Islam. Before the band of pilgrims the
leader rides calling out in a loud voice, "Säläwät."


Their law requires that not only the living but also the dead shall go
to these places. The dead are sometimes carried to the sacred cities
forty years after burial. Sometimes when a stingy man dies who has not
gone on a pilgrimage in his lifetime, he exacts a promise from his
relatives that a certain amount of his money will be used to carry his
body to a holy city. If this promise is not kept, the priest will
compel his relatives and heirs not only to restore the specified sum
for sacred purposes but more. When the poor man is about to die he
administers an oath to his relatives that after his death his body
shall at some future time be taken to Karballa. As a reward for this
service, the relatives will be blessed of God and made rich. The dead
are buried in a box so that at some appointed time the remains may be
exhumed and transferred to a new box and strapped to the back of a
horse and carried to the holy city. It matters not if the body has
decayed. If the bones remain it is not too late for the pilgrimage. If
the deceased has been very poor and his friends cannot take him in
person, they hire strangers to do it. Thus one may see the caravans
with hundreds of horses--sometimes thousands--with the boxes of dead
strapped to their backs on their way to the holy places.


The object of these trips is to secure heaven for the dead. Their
religion teaches that all who die in a holy city or who are buried
there find a home in heaven. Some say God has a multitude of spiritual
camels with riders who will come and carry the dead bodies to heaven.
If you say to them, "Flesh and bones cannot inherit the holy place of
God," they will answer, "Their spirit is taken to heaven, not their
body." Others will say, "The bones are not the original ones but
likenesses of them." Others say, "it is an honor to the prophets who
are buried in the holy city for other dead men to be buried there." At
an appointed time after burial it is believed that the dead will rise
and bow to the tombs of the prophets. This is the manner of their
worship: Those who go to Medina must arrive before a certain day
because on that particular day their worship is commenced. For two or
three days various ceremonies are performed such as fasting, prayer,
purification and washing of their bodies. When these are concluded, on
the fourth day they array themselves in a special robe for worship.
Without any covering on their feet they walk around the mosque seven
times. When they enter the mosque they bow themselves before the tomb
of Mohammed. After this bowing they walk seven times around the tomb of
the prophet. They then kneel down and kiss the tomb at the same time
placing such money upon it as they can spare. Upon leaving the mosque a
ram is killed as a sacrificial offering. On that day more than one
hundred thousand sheep are killed in that small city. This together
with the warm sun beating on the blood of the victims gives rise to the
most fearful of all scourges, cholera. In Karballa, Medina and Mashhad
worship is conducted in this manner.


The law requires that females also go to these holy places. Girls at
every age are allowed to go, also children. Widows under fifty years
are not accepted as pilgrims, first, because of their probable desire
for marriage, and second because the law says no women must undertake a
pilgrimage alone for thus they would expose themselves to men. So in
order to go some marry for the occasion. The husband accompanies them
hither and upon returning either divorces them or keeps them as wives
or concubines.


Those who went to Mecca from certain parts before trains began to run
in the east consumed a year or more in their journey, but now it takes
only six or eight months. Those going to Karballa take from three to
five months, likewise those going to Mashhad. Every band of pilgrims
when returning to their own city will send a messenger about ten days
ahead to announce that in so many days a band of pilgrims will appear
in the city. On the day of their arrival many hundred men will meet
them several miles from the city. The Say-yids ride before them crying
säläwäts. Friends and relatives kill lambs as a sacrifice before them.
This sacrifice is a holy thing and no man can touch it till its blood
is shed, but when it is beheaded, it belongs to God and the strongest
man takes it for his own. This being a sacred thing all are very
anxious to partake of it. The weak will do all they can to keep the
strong from carrying the sacrifice away. So there is always quarreling
when the pilgrims return. The acquaintances of the pilgrims will come
and say, "My portion be as thy portion. Blessed art thou. May your
pilgrimage be accepted," and the pilgrim will answer, "God grant that
you may also go to this Holy Place and receive remission of sin." Women
will sometimes cut pieces from the pilgrim's garments which are
supposed to be holy. At the pilgrims home many sheep are killed and a
variety of fine meats are cooked. People gather there to eat and drink
and they say to the host, "God bless your pilgrimage." He will answer,
"May the prophet give you success and grant that you, too, may visit
the Holy Place."

It is evident from the above descriptions that there is no place in
Islam for peace of conscience or absolute assurance of heaven. The
writer has often asked of Mohammedans: "Have you any hope of heaven?"
They say, "We don't know God knows." "Yes God knows everything but what
do you say of your hope?" He will reply, "I have no hope--but God is

Many of them would receive Christ if there was freedom of worship.
There are even now some true Christians among the Moslems who secretly
like Nicodemus. Let us pray that God will open the way of freedom for



When Mohammed was dying he announced, against his will, that Abbubaker
his father-in-law was his rightful successor. It was his real desire to
be succeeded by Ali his son-in-law, but he saw that Abbubaker had a
much wider influence than Ali. In the next generation after the four
caliphs, or chief disciples of the head of the faith, and Ali had died
there arose divisions in the church. Hassan and Hussein, sons of Ali,
claimed to be the rightful caliphs after the death of Abbubaker. They
contended that their grandfather had made Abbubaker caliph because he
was old and faithful, and therefore that that office should not descend
to his children. A great body of Moslems followed them. One of them,
Hassan, was too timid to push his claims. His death came soon from a
dose of poison administered to him by some of his enemies. The
energetic young Hussein continued to assert his claims, but he had no
army. With seventy men, mostly relatives, he started for a fortified
city, but was surrounded by the army of Yazid. Taking shelter in a cave
beneath a huge rock, Hussein and his followers defended themselves for
three days and three nights. At last they were driven to desperation by
hunger and thirst. Drawing their swords they came out and met an army
of several thousand men. After a brief contest Hussein and his men were
overcome. Hussein was captured alive. The Shiite Moslems of Persia say
that when Hussein was taken before the chief captain for execution, he
was very thirsty and asked for a drink of water before being beheaded.
But this request was not granted and he was executed with his thirst
unquenched. In memory of this tragedy there may now be seen walking the
streets of Persian cities every warm summer day men carrying a bottle
or jar of water and crying aloud: "Sakkaw, sakkaw" (their name) and
giving water to any who may be thirsty, in the name of Hussein. Moslems
take this drink in a cup carried by the sakkaw, but a Christian must
furnish his own cup or drink from the palms of his hands. If offered
one or two cents the sakkaw will take it, but he never asks for money.

The killing of Hussein and his followers occurred in the month called
Mooharram. This entire month and ten days of the following month are
observed as a time of lamentation for Hassan, Hussein and their
followers who were slain. During this period every man, woman and child
of the Shiite Moslems are under obligations to wear black garments. The
last ten days of Mooharram are observed in a fanatical spirit as a
revival of religion. This period is called Ashara, meaning ten days.
The first seven days are for preparation. The mosques will be crowded
with men and women. The Mas-ya-Khans, or revivalist priests, are in
charge of these services. Followed by a large procession this priest
goes to the mosque and mounting a high pulpit preaches to large crowds.
His general theme is tragic tales, stories of martyrs, the manner of
their death, their last utterances and the wailing and moaning of their
friends and relatives. Often in the concluding words of a pathetic
story, the entire audience, sometimes numbering thousands, will be
deeply moved and slapping their foreheads with the palms of their hands
will cry aloud to give vent to their emotions. The mosques cannot
accommodate all the worshipers during this period, so some parts of a
street are laid with carpets and rugs where the people sit while
listening to preaching.

The last three days are the most solemn. All the stores of the city are
closed and no business of any kind is transacted. At an early hour on
these days the whole population, except the old men and women who stay
at home to take care of young children, gather around the mosques. In
and near the mosque a national and a religious emblem are carried on a
pole by strong men. These are quite heavy and the standard bearers
change every few minutes. Headed by these emblems the large crowd,
often numbering 3,000 to 6,000 people will march through the streets.
Each company visits from one mosque to another. Passing through the
streets the men bearing the national and religious emblems are followed
by musicians playing mournful dirges with such instruments as drum,
flute, and cymbals. Surrounding the musicians are hundreds of men
marching with bare breasts, shouting "Hassan, Hussein Hassan, Hussein"
and pounding upon their breasts with bare hands. Following them is
another band surrounding a Say-yid a descendant of Ali, and all of them
are shouting "Hassan, Hussein" and beating their breasts. Next in the
procession comes a band of ascetic darwishes, wearing neither hat nor
shoes nor other garments than a pair of pants, when the weather is
mild. Holding in their bands a whip about two feet long and one or two
inches in diameter, made of small iron strands, they beat their bare
shoulders and back with the same as they march shouting, "Yahu,
Yamalhu" which are names of their god. Following comes another band of
darwishes bearing in one hand a knotty club to which is fastened nails,
bits of brass, etc. With the other hand they beat their breasts as they
repeat the cry of the preceding band. These worshipers torture the
flesh by beating it thus and bruise it black. The procession is
completed by a crowd of boys and girls and women following. The
marching commences early in the morning and continues till eleven; is
taken up again at two in the afternoon and continues till six o'clock.

The greatest demonstration of all occurs on the last of the ten days.
At sunrise the crowds of former days gather around the mosques to start
again on the marches. On this day there are also fresh recruits. In
front of the mosque is a band of 50 to 100 men and boys of 13 to 40
years of age. They are bareheaded, and uniformed with a white shirt
over the other clothing that reaches to the feet. Held in the right
hand before each one is a two edged sword. The left hand rests on the
belt of the soldier next in front. The leader standing at the head of
the band recites their creed: "Allah is God and the only God. Mohammed
is the prophet of God and Ali is his vicar." All the band repeats this
creed. Immediately the leader smites his own brow with his sword, and
this act is imitated by all his followers. Soon the faces and white
clothing of the men are red with blood. Bleeding they go marching
through the streets shouting: "Hassan Hussein," and waving their swords
in harmony with step and voice. Their rout can often be traced by drops
of blood in the streets. When zeal reaches a high pitch, the blows are
repeated on their brows. Fearing that these zealous young men may lose
all regard for life, and inflict upon themselves mortal blows,
relatives or friends frequently walk near with long sticks in hand to
hinder them from such deeds.

This band first marches to the courthouse to be seen by the governor.
Every band has a right to ask the governor for the freedom of some one
prisoner, and these requests are always granted, no matter what the
crime of the imprisoned. These bleeding men are as martyrs, and would
go direct to heaven if death resulted from these self-inflicted wounds.
After the parade ends, the bloody shirts of these men are divided among
their friends and kept as holy relics. The men who compose these bands
are usually the most wicked in the community. They go through these
ceremonies for the remission of sins, and to redeem themselves in the
eyes of others; but they usually continue in their wickedness as time
goes on.

Another important feature of the last day in the procession, is a
richly decorated hearse containing a coffin, in which lies a man
representing the corpse of Hassan. Beside the coffin sits a woman, the
widow of Hassan, dressed in sackcloth, and her head covered with mud.
Following the hearse are three beautiful Arabian horses, finely saddled
and harnessed, with a flake of gold embedded with pearls on their
foreheads. On two of them are seated two girls representing the
daughters of martyrs. The top of the girls' heads are covered with mud
and straw. The third horse is riderless to remind one of the missing
martyr. Following next is a large number of women, boys and girls and
some men, all with yokes about their necks, their hands chained behind
them, seated on horses and mules. These are to represent the captives
taken by Yazid, the captain who killed Hussein. Near them are men in
helmets to represent the soldiers of Yazid. They are armed with whips
and are driving these women and children of Moslems into captivity.
Next in line may be seen false heads, raised aloft on poles,
representing Yazid, Mawya, and other ancient enemies of Hussein. Boys
and men gather around them spitting at and reviling them. Gathered, all
the sword bearers, chain strikers, and the many men beating their
breasts, they make a great crowd and tremendous noise. The bystander is
struck with horror when two fanatical bands meet, each trying to excel
the other in self mutilation. Then are frightful gushes cut; the
thumping of chains on bruised bodies, and the pounding of breasts is
heard louder than before. With an upward sweep of the right arm every
man cries in a loud voice: "Ya Ali, Ya Ali!" as the companies pass each

At 4 P.M. on the last day the marching ceases, and the throng halts by
some tents pitched in the middle of a public square. The population of
the city is gathered round about. There is not even standing room for
all, and hundreds or thousands of people are gathered at windows or on
housetops near by. Perhaps 20,000 people are present. The sword and
chain strikers approach the tents and with a shout of victory, utter
the names of Ali, Hassan and Hussein, then set fire to the tents and
burn them and their contents to the ground. They imagine that their
enemies were in those tents, and now that they have been destroyed it
is a time of great rejoicing. The marching clubs disband and the active
ones are soon found at the mosques drinking sharbat, a sweet drink, as
a sort of a reward for performing their religious duties.


The closing hours of the last day are given to the singing of poems by
the best musicians, gathered at the mosques. The singing band usually
numbers from twenty to thirty men. They sing poems about the last
utterances of Hussein and other martyrs, or about the sayings and
weeping of the relatives of these martyrs.

It is not very safe for Christians to mix with the crowds on these last
days, unless in company with some honest Mohammedan. If one is seen
laughing at the ceremonies he is apt to be beaten by some one whose
fanatical spirit is thoroughly aroused. Our missionaries sometimes ask
the privilege of using a roof by which the procession passes. This is
always granted. The three nights are considered holy and the most
religious Moslems do not retire until midnight. Services are held in
the mosques, reciting traditions. The audience is composed of men only.
It would not be safe for the women to attend, owing to the wickedness
of the men. The audience is frequently deeply moved by the tragic
tales, and weep angry tears. They curse and revile their enemies and
their enemies' wives and daughters. The last night is called watch
night, and many Moslems do not even slumber during the night. It is
holy night in which Hussein and other martyrs were buried in their
tombs. It is a dishonor, and even a sin, for them to go to bed without
meditation on their prophets. In the mosque services the people shout:
"O Hassan and Hussein, let my soul be a sacrifice for thee." They
believe the observance of that night is absolute remission of sins;
that the gates of heaven are open to all believers for the sake of
martyrs. Some pious Moslems preserve the tears of that night in small
bottles, as it is believed they will cure disease when applied to the
brows of sick men. These tears are prized as a most holy relic. The
Musselman says: "Even David the prophet believed in the efficacy of
tears when he wrote in the Psalms, 'Put thou my tears in thy bottle, O

On the last night many Shiite Moslems walk to the mosque in bare feet,
wearing sackcloth. Often a governor or lord accompanied by 40 to 100
servants, all barefooted, will be seen slowly treading their way toward
a mosque. Wearied by the great exertions of the past ten days it is
difficult to keep awake during the last night; so many men will be seen
coming out of the mosques during the night to walk around and keep
awake. At daybreak these solemn ceremonies end. In all these ten days
of special religious services not one word is said in condemnation of
sin. There is no moral teaching. Nothing is taught about man's duty to
God, or his duty to fellow-men. Nothing is said to strengthen his
character, to make him a purer and nobler man. The only teaching is in
tragic tales of martyrs; the only inspiration is hatred to enemies.

Compare this religion with that of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ,
God-man. He gave His life for all nations, even His enemies. He calls
mankind to sacrifice, but it has a practical object: that they may be
purer and live a higher and nobler life. Christianity is as the sun
shining in its fulness, while Mohammedanism, in its ignorance and
superstition, is as the darkness of midnight.




Mohammed declared in the Koran that there are seven heavens. Above all
is the heaven for prophets, martyrs, those who die in battle for
religion's sake, and for angels. Chief among all in this heaven is
Mohammed, mediator between God and believers. The other heavens will be
inhabited by believers, the degree of piety and integrity determining
to which heaven they shall go.

Heaven was pictured as an earthly paradise. There are beautiful
gardens, vineyards, green pastures, fresh fountains, the river of
living water, many bathing pools of glass, a palace of marble and
glass, ornamented with pearls and diamonds. The trees bear fruit
continuously, some in blossom, others ripe with fruit. Prominent are
the palm, and grape, fruits which were favorites of Mohammed while on
earth. Choice fruits grow in abundance and on low trees so that a man
can stand on the ground and eat of the fruit. Each vine bears 7,000
clusters of grapes, and every grape contains 7,000 gallons of juice.
The pastures are eternally green, and in them grow many thousand
varieties of flowers of exquisite odors. There are no animals in heaven
as they are not needed. There will be no dogs, cats, swine, nor unclean
birds, as eagles, hawks, and buzzards. But there are millions of
brilliantly plumaged birds whose melodies continually ring through
heaven. The walls and gates of heaven are as described in the 22nd
chapter of Revelation.

Believers will spend eternity in the joys of luxurious life in
paradise, amidst blooming gardens and beautiful virgins. To an ordinary
believer will be given 72 houries or female angels. These creatures are
described in the Koran as being fair, with rosy cheeks, black eyes, and
in blooming youth. Such beauty the eyes of men have not seen on earth.
Martyrs and more pious men have more than 72 houries, the number
increasing in proportion to the believer's prominence. The believer
will sit under a fragrant tree in a golden chair, or lie on a golden
cot, while birds overhead sing wonderfully sweet. His fairies will be
about him and offer him choice unfermented wine in a golden cup on an
emerald tray. Such is the Moslem's heaven.

These were the promises with which Mohammed aroused the enthusiasm of
his followers. Fanatical zeal has been so enkindled in men that many
thousands have perished in an effort to spread these doctrines
throughout the world.

Saints will live nearer to Allah than ordinary believers and will have
conversation with him. No people can enter heaven unless they be
Moslems. The gate to heaven is reached by a bridge. This bridge is as
narrow as a hair, and only believers can walk it. When a soul
approaches the gate it finds Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed, standing
there. She asks him to recite the creed: "Allah is the only God, and
Mohammed is his prophet." If repeated, the soul enters heaven; if not,
with a breath Fatima blows him off the bridge and he falls into hell,
the regions below.


As there are seven heavens according to degree of integrity of
believers even so there are seven hells. Gehenna is beneath the lowest
part of the earth and the seas of darkness. It is a place of fire, as a
great ocean without limits. It burns with brimstone and like materials.
There are thousands of terrible flames and bad smells. Satan is there
with all infidels, Christians, Jews, fire-worshipers and apostate
Mohammedans. The torture of the latter will be worse than the torture
of others. There are in hell thousands of wild animals, as lions,
tigers, vipers and serpents. Every lion has in his mouth 7,000 teeth,
and every tooth has 7,000 different stings or poisons. So with the
tiger and serpents. Every viper has 7,000 tails and on every tail 7,000
stingers, and every stinger contains 7,000 kinds of poison. The common
drink of the inmates of hell is poison drunk from iron cups. Their
meals will be the flesh of animals and even their own flesh. Satan and
his servants will torture them with spears and swords of iron. There
will be no rest for them day or night. Men and women will gnash their
teeth against their own children. All will be weeping, cursing and
blaspheming. Hell is surrounded by walls of iron over which none can



Marriage among Assyrians is considered as sacred as the ordination of
priests, but is subordinate to or less sacred than the sacrament of the
Lord's supper or baptism. Therefore marriage is a solemn service and
the rules relating to it are very strict. Engagements for marriage are
made by the parents of the contracting parties rather than by the young
people themselves. Girls are strictly forbidden speaking of or
referring to marriage in the presence of their parents or brothers. If
a young man loves a young lady, he does not ask his parents' consent to
marriage, but tells his aunt or married sister about what cupid has
done for him. This news is soon conveyed to his mother and then it is
proper for her to call on the mother of the young lady. If not already
acquainted with the young woman, this visit will give her an
opportunity to form an opinion of her. If that opinion is favorable,
all is well and the matter will be further considered. But if the
opinion is unfavorable she returns home and tells her son that she is
not pleased and does not want him to marry this girl. This method must
be resorted to as the girls and boys in Assyria do not have an
opportunity to associate as they do in America. Mothers always advise
their girls not to walk with boys and young men, and custom does not
permit it. Therefore, if she meets a young man in the street, she bows,
and perhaps blushes a little, as she passes. If lovers are passing each
other, custom does not allow them to stop and converse, but it does
allow the young man to telegraph his message of love with a wink.
Several months usually elapse between the engagement and marriage.

[Illustration: NESTORIAN WEDDING.]

The method of making an engagement is quite different from that of
Americans. After a mother has assured herself that a certain girl whom
her son fancies would make him a good wife, she, with two or three
relatives, will send word to the girl's parents that they will call at
a certain time, and stay over night. While there the object of their
visit will be made known and the matter discussed. If the girl's
parents are ever so willing, they will not give their consent at the
first visit, but will take the matter into consideration. The friends
are invited to call again in two or three weeks for an answer. A third
or fourth visit may be made before a final answer is obtained. At the
last visit the father of the girl says, in reply to a request for an
answer, that the girl does not belong to him. He says he gave her to
his brother. The brother then says he gave her to his sister, etc.,
until the person is reached who can give her away. This man rises and
says, "I give our daughter to Mr. and Mrs. ---- as a handmaiden." The
question now being settled, refreshments are served and the company
rejoices until a late hour. Sometimes the foregoing proceedings are
witnessed from an opening in the roof by the young man who is most
interested and who is anxiously awaiting the result. During the period
of the betrothal, the young man is allowed to make but one visit. He is
not allowed to kiss his betrothed until after marriage. The Assyrian
idea of a virgin is a pure maiden who is not married nor has ever been
kissed by any man.

Two weeks before the wedding the young man's parents make another call
to settle the amount of dowry with which to purchase wedding garments
for the bride. The wedding feast lasts two or three days. On the last
day a company of the groom's friends go to bring the bride. Dressed in
her wedding garments, and seated on a fine horse she is taken to the
groom's home. The company make merry on the way with music of drum and
flute, and dancing. The horse is stopped about fifty yards from the
house, and the groom appears on the roof of his father's house with
three red apples in his hands. Kissing each one he tries to throw it
over the bride. When the apples strike the ground there is a crowd of
boys ready to scramble for them as there is a superstition that the
lucky boy will be the next to marry. The bride now goes to her new

The wedding ceremony, which is performed by a minister and a deacon, is
taken largely from the Bible. It lasts about two hours, during which
time the bride and groom remain standing. The bride's dress covers her
body and face from view except her forehead. She wears a crown and is
called a queen. The groom wears a high feather on his crown, a sash
around his chest and is called a king. For two months after the wedding
they are called king and queen. They do no work during this time but
visit and take life easy.


The marriage ceremony of the Mohammedans takes place about a week
before the formal wedding. It is very simple. Representatives of the
contracting parties go to a priest and get two ceremonial letters, one
for the bride, the other for the groom. In them is stated the sum
necessary for the groom to pay, if he ever divorces the woman. It
further states that it is the groom's duty to love this woman and all
other women that he may marry thereafter. That it is the bride's duty
to love the groom and no one else.

The prevailing low regard for woman grows out of the teaching of
Mohammed. Among his last words he charged husbands not to place any
confidence in their wives. He stated that they had been the cause of
much of the crime and misery in the world.

When a Moslem goes out with his wife he is disgraced if she goes before
or even beside him; she should follow. A man can marry four wives, but
can divorce any one of them at any time. But a woman cannot get a
divorce from her husband. A man is angry when his wife gives birth to a
girl babe, and his friends fear to break the news to him. One man was
known to be so angry when his fourth daughter was born, that he did not
speak to his wife for three months. The mother of a son is loved the
more, and the first person who breaks the news to the father is given a

If a man murders his wife he may be fined a sum of money, but can't be
executed because woman is not equal to man. The question as to whether
a woman has a soul is sometimes discussed. Men do not salute women in
meeting them, but women are expected to bow their heads to men.




The present dynasty is called the Kajar dynasty. It began with Agha
Mohammed Khan who was taken captive by the enemy when he was a child
and all of the prominent members of the family excepting children were
slain. Agha Mohammed Khan, then a boy six years of age was made a
eunuch by the new king to serve in his harem. But at the age of twenty
or twenty five he escaped from his master and returned to his relatives
and former friends. Collecting a force he attacked the king's army and
after several engagements overthrew the king and took possession of the
throne. As a ruler he was very cruel to his enemies but very kind to
his officers and subjects. One night while resting in his tent two
servants or subordinate officials in an adjoining tent quarreled and
awakened the king with their noise. This angered him and the next day
he ordered that both of them be beheaded. The following night, before
the time for execution had come, the two condemned men formed a plot
with some other officials who hated their ruler's cruelty, to kill the
king. This plot was successfully carried out. The king's nephew, Futteh
Ali, became his successor. He became one of the most noted kings of
Persia, and was called the king of kings. Futteh Ali had several sons,
one of whom, Abbas Mirza, was chosen as crown prince This prince died
in early manhood. He left a son, Mohammed by name, who afterwards
became king. After Mohammed, the late Nasiraldinshah became king and
was assassinated May 1st, 1896. Nasiraldin was a good king and did more
for Persia than any ruler during the past 700 years. He made three
visits to Europe and gathered many modern ideas which he wished to
introduce in his kingdom. He organized a postal system connecting all
the prominent towns and cities of Persia. Telegraphic communication was
also established. He built roads between important towns and cities and
detailed soldiers as guards where the roads passed through sections
infested with robbers. This king reigned forty-eight years. A year ago
he became a victim of a fanatical Babei, a new religious sect. The
assassin took the king's life while the latter was worshiping in the
most holy place of a mosque. Nasiraldin left four sons. The eldest is
named Zelli Sultan. He is a highly educated and powerful man. The
second son, Mozafferedden succeeded his father and is now king of
Persia. The third son is governor of the capital. The fourth son is a
youth of twelve years.

Before the death of the late king, Zelli Sultan, his first, son, began
making secret preparations to usurp the throne. When the plot was
learned, the son was stolen from his home one night and taken before
the king. All implements of war prepared by him were confiscated, and
he was sentenced to death. But high officials interceded for the son,
and the sentence was changed to that of blinding him. When the hour
came for putting out the prince's eyes, the king was moved by the young
man's beauty, and said there was not a handsomer pair of eyes in all
his empire, and that he would not destroy them. Therefore Zelli
Sultan's punishment was changed to three years' imprisonment. At the
expiration of the term, the king gave him solemn warning that any
further attempt at usurpation would be punished by death.

I have often been asked why the first son did not take the throne
instead of the second. The reason is this. The king had several wives,
but the first one was a princess from his own tribe, and is called the
queen. Her first son must be successor to the throne. Therefore Zelli
Sultan was not eligible to the throne, as his mother was not a

[Illustration: PRESENT SHAH.]

The present Shah is a man who has a strong desire to rule in peace. He
tolerates all religious beliefs, even though they differ from his own.
He is loved by all classes of people, and all religious sects because
he is kind and considerate toward them.

The Shah is very friendly toward the Christian missionaries. A few
years ago he visited the Presbyterian college, the Ladies' Seminary,
and listened to some of the recitations. As an evidence of his
friendliness he was a guest at the home of Dr. Cochran, and dined with
him. Not every one is so honored, for I have heard that an army officer
in that part of Persia offered the Shah £3,000 to take dinner with him,
but the invitation was not accepted. The Shah has also visited a
Nestorian bishop, who resides in a cottage so humble that some lords
would be ashamed to enter it. On the other hand when he was in our city
of Oroomiah he did not visit the homes of any of the Mujtahids, but met
these high priests in a mosque by appointment.

Of late years the royal family has been kind to Christians. Nine out of
ten cases of cruelty to Christians come from the Mujtahids and the
lords. The priesthood is stronger than the government in Persia.
Sometimes the king has to give up his ideas to please the priests. For
example: The late Shah desired to introduce the modern railroad into
Persia, but the priests were bitterly opposed to it, and the king had
to give up his plans. When asked why they opposed railroads, one priest
gave two reasons: "First, our country is weak. If we built railroads,
Europeans could run in on us and take our country. Second, it would
destroy our religion. And we could not control our wives. If we beat
them they could take the train and be in Europe in one day, while now
it takes twenty days. Again, some of our women might marry Christians
and escape to Europe."


The royal palace is surrounded by high stone walls. The grounds are
entered by four beautiful gates. The walls at the sides and above the
gates are adorned with the pictures of former kings and brave generals;
also decorative carvings of lions, the standards of Persia, and of
birds. The grounds are beautifully arranged, all the roads leading to
the king's palace in the center, and beautified with ornamental trees
and hedges of roses of varied hues. Guarding the entrances to the gates
and the roadways that lead to the palace doors are numerous officers of
superior rank, those nearest the palace ever standing with drawn
swords. When the king sits in judgment he uses the peacock throne, and
is surrounded by his six cabinet officers, who are advisers. He is
absolute, and may overrule the advice of the cabinet. This body makes
the laws of the land. The king appoints the members of his cabinet, the
people having no voice whatever in government. When the Shah tires of
the routine of governmental duties, his secretary reads to him from
Shahnameh, a poetical history of Persian kings. It is one of the king's
duties to become very familiar with the history of Persia and her
former rulers. When the king retires to his private room at night, the
entrance to the room is guarded by two most trusted officials with
drawn swords. One of the four gates in the walls around the palace is
called the king's gate, as he always enters through it. No other
person, be he lord, count, or high official is permitted to pass
through this gate on horseback or in carriage. He must dismount and
walk through.

When the king goes from the palace for a hunt or vacation, he is
escorted out of the city by a large guard. First, coming down the
street will be seen about thirty infantry bearing each a golden club,
and shouting: "Get out; get out!" Whereupon the street is cleared of
all traffic that the royal procession may pass. The infantry is
followed by about fifty cavalrymen with drawn swords. Next comes ten or
a dozen riderless Arabian horses. These horses are beauties, and are
adorned with bridles of gold and many precious stones.


The king's table is set with the luxuries of the land. From the time of
the purchase until it appears on the table, the food is inspected by
two trusted officials whose duty it is to see that the king is not
poisoned. Before the king eats of the food it is further examined by
his physician.


The late Shah left $200,000,000 to his son, nearly half of which was in
the form of precious stones and jewelry. Perhaps he has a larger amount
invested in precious stones than any other king in the world. His
peacock throne which was brought from Delhi, India, by king Nadirshah,
who captured that city about 200 years ago, was prized at $12,500,000
some years ago, and is worth more than that now. It is made of solid
gold, and is embedded with diamonds, pearls, and other precious stones.
The rug upon which he prays is worth $2,500,000. At the beginning of
each new year, seated on the peacock throne, he wears his crown, and
all of his officers bow before him and wish him a prosperous reign
during the new year. On such occasions his person is covered with many
dazzling jewels.


The late Shah had forty regular wives and about sixty concubines. The
present Shah has seven wives. The palace in which the king's wives
reside is almost as beautiful as the king's palace, near which it is
located. A number of soldiers guard the entrance to this palace. There
are no men inside the palace except a few eunuch servants. There is
also a large number of maid servants therein. When the king has many
wives he marries some of them against their will. If he fancies a
beautiful daughter of a lord, her parents will frequently marry her to
the king in order to get an office or a title. The eunuchs have
authority to rebuke the wives of the king. Sometimes a number of the
women will playfully resent the eunuch's authority and push him against
a wall or knock his high hat down over his eyes. Once they picked an
old fellow up and threw him into a pool of water greatly damaging his
fine suit of clothes. At times they give a valuable present to a eunuch
such as a nice robe.



Persia is divided into thirteen states. The King appoints a governor
over each state; this governor appoints a mayor over each city within
his territory. This office is not awarded on the basis of education,
ability or worthiness, but is given to the man who will pay the most
money, provided his ancestry is fairly good. Many mayors of cities are
related to the royal family. These offices are limited to terms of one
year, but many times a mayor is removed before his time is out; the
subjects may complain, or some person may bid more money for the
office. When a man is appointed mayor of a city, the lords and counts
of that city, accompanied by soldiers, will go three miles out of the
city to meet the new official. He is greeted with discharges of
artillery. These lords ride on very fine Arabian horses, with
goldbitted bridles, and escort the mayor into the city. The new
governor of the city admires the fine horses of his lords, and
sometimes covets some fine steed, and before his term expires finds a
way to get possession of it by helping the lord out of some trouble.

If the new mayor is a prince all prisoners confined in the city jails
are taken before him as he enters the city. This is to signify that, as
a member of the royal family, he has authority to behead them. The
third day after a new mayor has arrived in a city it is customary for
lords and counts to visit him with presents of money, golden articles,
Arabian horses etc. as presents. A mayor has from one hundred to three
hundred servants. He pays them no salary. Some became his servants for
the name, some from fear, and others from choice. Most of these
servants get their living from fines and bribes. Some of them are
detailed to settle quarrels between men in some village that belongs to
the city. This is their opportunity and they early learn to make the
most of it. The mayor has great power. He is judge, sheriff,
tax-collector, etc. He has things his own way. When there is an
injustice done there is no other local officer to appeal to.


The prisons are frequently cellars, underground, without windows, damp
and infested with flies. They are seldom ventilated, and there is no
bed nor furniture in them. The government does not feed the inmates.
Friends of the imprisoned ones bring bread and throw to them, and some
of this even, is sometimes picked up by the jailer and kept for his own
nourishment. No men are allowed to visit the prisons, but wives or
daughters are allowed to visit their friends if they pay a fee to the
jailer. The torture of prisoners is regulated according to the nature
of their crimes. The common method of torture for thieves, robbers and
murderers is to put the bare foot of the criminal in a vice and squeeze
it until he cries in agony. If he gives the jailer some money or
promises to give some the next time his friends visit him, the pressure
on the foot is lessened. If a man goes to jail wearing good clothes,
the jailer often exchanges his own poorer suit for the good clothes.


This is done in different ways. A prince from the royal family has
authority to behead men. Sometimes when a good friend of the king is
appointed governor, the king presents him with a knife. This is a sign
and carries with it authority to behead men. Every prince-mayor or
other governor who has been given this authority keeps two
executioners. The uniform of their office is a suit of red clothes.
These two men walk before the mayor when he goes through the streets.
When a condemned man is to be executed he is brought from the cell,
hands chained behind, and with a chain about his neck. He is surrounded
by a group of soldiers with fixed bayonets. The guilty man has been in
a dungeon for several months perhaps. His clothes are in rags, and,
having had no bath since first imprisoned, he is very dirty, his hair
and beard are long and shaggy. A few steps before him walks the
executioner, with blood-red garments and a knife in his hand. Thus they
proceed to the public square, and before the assembled crowd the
executioner steps behind the kneeling victim and with a single stroke
of the keen knife cuts his throat, and another soul takes its flight,
having completed its part in the drama of life.

A common mayor who has not the authority to behead, may kill criminals
by fastening them to the mouth of a cannon and sending a ball through
the body. Another method is to bury the condemned alive in a cask
filled with cement, leaving only the head exposed. The cement soon
hardens and the victim dies. Sometimes when their crime is not very bad
the punishment is the severing of one hand from the body. If the man
thus punished should commit a second crime the remaining hand would be
severed. If a Mohammedan becomes drunk with wine and gets loud and
abusive, he is arrested, and the executioner punctures the partition
skin between the nostrils of the drunken man, and a cord of twine,
several feet long, is passed through the opening. Then the executioner
starts down the street leading his victim. The man soon gets sober and
is very much ashamed. Shopkeepers give the executioner pennies as he
passes along the street. Men who quarrel and fight are punished by
tying their feet to a post, with the bare soles upward, and then
whipping the feet until the flesh is bruised and bleeding and,
frequently, the nails torn from the toes. The victims frequently become
insensible under this punishment. One good thing in the laws of
punishment is that no Christians or Jews are ever beheaded. The
Mohammedans consider the Christian and Jew as being unclean, and think
it would be a mean thing to behead them.

Princes, lords and counts are never beheaded. The most severe
punishment for a prince is to pluck out his eyes. The method of
execution for counts and lords is of two kinds. The king will send a
bottle of Sharbat to the condemned man which is given him in the form
of a sweet drink but it contains a deadly poison. He is compelled to
drink this and soon dies. Another form is for the condemned man to be
met by a servant from the governor after having taken a bath and the
servant cuts blood-vessels in the arm of the condemned until death
results from loss of blood.

Thus it will be seen that the contrast in modes of punishment in a
Christian nation and a Mohammedan nation is very great. The kind of
punishment inflicted on criminals in any country grows out of the
prevailing religious belief of that country. A religion that has much
cruelty in it will lead a people to torture its criminals. But a nation
whose religion is based upon love will deal with its criminals
effectively, but as kindly as possible. The writer has visited prisons
in both Persia and America and finds that the contrast between the
prisons of the two countries is like the contrast of a palace and a
cellar. Prisoners in America ought to be very thankful for the humane
treatment they receive under this Christian government.



The counts and lords live in luxury. Their title was not obtained by
great service to the nation or by high education. It descends from
ancestors, and many ignorant and unworthy men bear this title. Wealthy
merchants sometimes purchase a title for their sons. The titled class
in Persia is very numerous. In one city of 30,000 inhabitants there are
more than 500 counts. They own almost all of the land in Persia. In
some instances one count owns as much as one hundred villages. All
inhabitants of a village are subjects of the count and they pay taxes
to him and also to the king. The men pay a poll tax of one dollar a
year; a tax is levied on all horses, cows, sheep, and chickens.

The count gets two thirds of all grain raised by the farmers, and he
expects a portion of all fruits raised, which portion is called a
present. If this 'present' is not large enough to please the count, he
has an unfavorable opinion of the subject and soon finds faults in him
and withholds favors. All of the count's work is done by his subjects
without pay. When he builds a palace or cultivates a vineyard, he calls
upon his subjects to do the work. He punishes his subjects if they
rebel or are discourteous to him. Sometimes the punishment is so severe
that death is the result. The count collects a large sum of money
annually from his subjects in the way of fines--some of them for most
trivial offences or discourtesies, and these numerous fines keep the
subjects very poor.

The counts are the most immoral class of people in Persia. They are
without education, knowing nothing of the sciences, geography,
mathematics or political economy, but most of them can read and write
the Persian language and know something of Persian history. It is not
much wonder that this leisure class becomes immoral, for it is a
disgrace for them to do any kind of work, and "Satan finds work for
idle hands to do." A count can't keep his own accounts or sell goods in
a store. There are no newspapers and magazines circulated throughout
Persia to occupy and lead out the thought of the people of leisure
hours. No public libraries, and no private libraries except those of a
few Persian volumes. The only newspaper published in Persia is an eight
page paper published every three weeks. It does not circulate much
outside of the capital city. The Presbyterian Mission publishes a
monthly paper about Christian work.

When a subject goes before his lord, he finds the lord seated in his
private room before a window. The subject bows before approaching near
to the window. When the lord is ready to listen, the subject comes to
the window. He usually meets with a frown and gets replies to his
questions in a gruff voice. As a class the counts are not strong
physically; they eat and drink too much for their own good.



The Persian cities generally are very old and most of them are
surrounded by walls about six feet through and twenty feet high. The
walls are made of clay, tramped solid by buffaloes or by men. The gates
giving entrance to the city are opened during the day from eight
o'clock in the morning until night. These walls would not withstand a
charge from modern cannon, but they were very useful fourteen years ago
when parts of the empire were overrun by about 60,000 Kurds, a tribe of
wild nomads. They spoiled the villages wherever they went but could not
take the walled cities. The streets of cities are generally narrow and
crooked, and are not paved. The best houses are brick with stone
foundation. Some poor men build homes with sun dried brick and still
others make the walls of mud. The roof is flat and made of mud
supported by timber. The houses are built adjoining one another, so
that men can walk all over the city on the housetops. This is the
common way of travel in winter when the streets are muddy. In some of
the large cities like the capital, Tehran, and Isphahan and Shiraz
modern paving of streets with stone is being introduced.

On each business street a single line of goods is sold. One will be
devoted to drygoods, another to groceries, another to carpenter shops,
another to iron and silver smiths, etc. The streets are from ten to
thirty feet in width, and many of them are arched over with brick, so
that rain and snow are shut out. Light is let into these enclosed
streets by openings in the top of the arch. Camels, horses and donkeys
bearing burdens of various kinds of goods may be seen passing through
the streets. And in open squares of the city there stand many of these
animals belonging to men who have come to the city to buy or sell
goods. Before some of the mosques may be seen secretaries or mollahs
whose business it is to write documents in business transactions for
which they get from two to fifteen cents.

In buying goods in Persia a stranger is liable to be cheated. It is a
custom among dealers to ask two or three times what an article is
worth, expecting to come down with the price before making a sale. The
silver smiths do some highly skillful work in making rings for the ears
and fingers, and belts for the ladies. In all Persia you cannot find a
lady selling goods in a store, except in one street where poor old
women and widows are allowed to come for a few hours each day to sell
such articles as caps, purses, sacks and soaps. Their faces must be
covered except the eyes. Only a few women of the lower class are seen
in the stores buying goods, and they must not have their faces exposed
to view. No Christian can sell fluids such as milk, oil, syrups or
juicy fruits like grapes. It is against the Mohammedan law to buy such
things from a Christian. If a Christian wishes to buy any such goods
from a Mohammedan he must not touch the same, as the merchant could not
thereafter sell it to a Mohammedan.

There are many pick-pockets, both male and female in the crowded
streets. A stranger must beware.


The standard measure is the miscal, 100 of which equals a pound. Four
Persian pounds equal one hapta while it takes five American pounds to
equal one hapta. Eight hapta equal one batma. Four batma equal one
khancaree. In this measure they weigh raisins, molasses, and tobacco.
Ten batma equal one load. In this they weigh green wheat, corn, etc.
Twenty-five batma equal kharwar. In this they weigh fuel.

The money is of copper and silver and a very little gold. The following
table shows the values of Persian coins:

        25 denars = 1/2 cent
        50 denars =   1 cent
       100 denars =   2 cent
       500 denars =  10 cent
     1,000 denars =  20 cent
    10,000 denars = 100 dollar

The bankers sit on small rugs before the shops with boxes of money in
their laps. Their chief business through the day is to change money.
For changing 20 cents into copper, they charge one cent, and the fee
increases in proportion to the amount of the bill changed. Interest in
Persia, especially among Mohammedans, is very high, being from 12 to 15
per cent. per annum. But the synod of the Presbyterian Evangelical
Church has a law which forbids any of their members charging more than
10 or 11 per cent.

There are no gas or electric lights in the streets of a Persian city.
The mayor appoints an officer, who has a number of assistants, to watch
over the city day and night. Every day of the year is given a name by
the mayor; as, lion, eagle, Cyrus, fortune, etc. This word is known
only to the officials and such persons as may have been given
permission to be out at a late hour. If an officer finds a man on the
street after 9 o'clock he calls to him to give the name of the night.
If he can't do this he is arrested. One of the worst things in a
Persian city is the large graveyards, which contain two to five acres
of ground. Mohammedans dig up the remains of a dead relative to carry
it to a shrine place, and these removals often fill the city with bad
odors. These graveyards make excellent hiding places for robbers and
thieves. There are many robbers outside of the city walls, and it is
very dangerous to go out after night, even a distance of one mile.
Victims are usually shot while at a distance, or stabbed and then

The hammams or bath-places are quite numerous in the cities. They are
usually well-built, brick buildings and have within two or three pools
of water, some hot, others cold. Men can bathe any day in the week
except Friday, which day is reserved for women. The charge is three or
four cents. Christians cannot enter a Mohammedan hammam, as they are
considered unclean.


The Mohammedans have several holidays. Neither the government nor the
priesthood compel observance of these days, but they are usually
observed either for the sake of rest, religious profit or amusement.
There is, however, one set of holidays, ten days known as Moharram,
that is strictly observed by all faithful Mohammedans. There is also
one national holiday generally observed in memory of the beginning of
the Persian nation. It is called Newrooz, meaning new day. This name
was given by a Persian king in ancient times. Two weeks before this day
all stores will be decorated with different kinds of fruits, such as
palms, figs, pomegranates, apples, almonds, and raisins. Also some fine
shawls and rugs are hung before the stores. During these two weeks most
people buy of these fruits and prepare for the national feast. On that
day nearly every man, woman and child puts on some new garments of
clothing and new clothes throughout if possible. People also clean
their houses for this occasion. On the evening of Newrooz a table is
spread with the finest fruits and the family will gather around and
feast until a late hour in the night. The poor are remembered on these
occasions and presents of fruit are sent to them. Christians are also
frequently remembered in this way.


There is no system of public or state schools in Persia. There are
schools in all large towns and cities which are taught by the priest in
a room of the mosque. These schools are voluntary, no person being
obliged to send his children. The students pay the priest each from 5
to 25 cents per month. Those who can't pay anything are admitted free.
The priest's food is brought to him by the students. The ages of the
pupils range from ten to twenty years. These schools are for boys only.
There are no schools for girls. If a girl gets any education at all, it
must be from a private tutor. In the schools the textbooks in history
and poetry are in the Persian language and Koran and grammar are taught
in the Arabic language. Mathematics, geography, the sciences and the
history of other nations are never taught. When the pupils are at study
they reel back and forth and repeat words loud enough to be heard a
block away. They imagine this is an aid to memory. The teacher has
authority to punish the students very severely. Sometimes a parent will
take his child to a teacher and will deliver him into the gentle
keeping of the professor with the remark: "His bones are mine, but his
flesh is yours. Teach him, but punish him as you see fit." A post is
planted in the schoolroom to which a wild boy's feet are fastened,
soles upward, and the bottoms are whipped with heavy switches. This
punishment is only for the worst boys. For mild offences, the teacher
raps the student over the head with a long switch which is always kept
in a convenient place or carried in the teacher's hand. The religious
teaching consists of quotations from Koran and traditions about their
prophets. The boys are usually very bad about reviling each other and
about fighting. The teacher does not protect the weaker, but urges him
to return the revilings or the blows he has received. The students of
one mosque often attack the students of a neighboring mosque as they
regard them as enemies. The most prominent university of the Shiite
Mohammedans is in the shrine place of Karballa. All those who are to
become Mujtahids study at this place. In several of the large cities
they have schools of higher rank than the ordinary mosque school in
which a course of Persian literature is given. It is a pleasure to
state that the late Shah, after his visit to some of the universities
of Europe, founded a college in the capital city which is called the
Place of Science. The French, English and Russian languages are taught,
and the study of some modern sciences are being introduced. The college
is only for princes and the children of rich people. It is only one
flower in a vast wilderness. The problem of Mohammedanism is to keep
the common people ignorant, so the priest can continue to rule them.
Therefore the priesthood does not favor higher education. Some counts
or lords send their sons to Paris to be educated, but the ordinary
young men have no opportunities for education.




The Mohammedan religion is to-day divided in about fifty different
sects. This division greatly weakens it. The Bobe sect was started by
Mirza Mohammed Ali of Shiraz, a city in which reside the most
intellectual and poetical scholars of Persia. He began to plan the new
religion at the age of eighteen, but did not reveal it until he was
twenty-five years old. The foundation of his faith was this: Mohammed,
like Christ, taught that the latter days will be a millennium. They
have a tradition that when all the prophets had died, or had been
killed by their enemies, a son six years of age was, by the direction
of Allah, hid in an unknown well. He was to remain there until the time
for the millennium. It was believed that he would be the ruler of the
Mohammedans in these last days.

He was to lead both his victorious armies and conquer all the world,
and Islam would become the universal religion. Mirza Mohammed Ali based
his doctrine on this theory but changed it somewhat. At the age of
twenty-five he made several pilgrimages to shrines, such as Karballa,
Mecca, and Medina, and then returned to his native town of Shiraz. At
first he began to teach his doctrine to his confidential friends and
relatives until it was deepened in their hearts. And then he began to
preach to the public that he was Mehdeialzaman.


He taught that every age must have its own prophet, inspired from God.
He claimed that he was inspired and that he had frequent communications
from God telling him how to direct the people. He openly claimed to be
Mehdeialzaman. And he taught that the priesthood and the religion were
corrupt and that he was appointed to renew them. He did not oppose the
Koran, but at the same time said that every age needs a new bible. He
claimed to have received a bible from God. This book is called Bayon,
meaning exposition. He taught the equality of both sexes and paid
homage to woman. He showed that it was against the law of God to marry
more than one woman or to keep concubines. Further, it is against the
law of society and the happiness of women to marry more than one wife.
The law of divorce, which is common among Mohammedans, was not
practised by the new sect. The place of woman among them is the same as
among Christians. The prophet taught that the spirit of charity ought
to be as a flame of fire in the hearts of his followers. He said we
cannot please God if we see our brother in need and do not help him, if
we pray He will not hear us, if we worship Him He will turn His face
away from us. Believing this, the spirit of charity is very strong
among them, and they support the needy. The use of wine and all
intoxicants is strictly forbidden. They are very kind to people of
other faiths who are not Mohammedans; them they hate. Mehdeialzaman
preached these doctrines and won many hearts. The converts were
generally intelligent and well educated. His doctrine spread through
the southern and northeastern parts of Persia. Among his followers were
two prominent and attractive persons, Mollah Hussein and Hajee Mohammed
Ali. He called them his right and left hand supporters. Another convert
of importance was a lady of rare attainments. In poetry she was
accomplished, in beauty wonderfully rare, and she was highly educated.
She traveled with two assistants from state to state and from city to
city preaching the new doctrine. She never met Bobe, the founder and
knew of him only through letters. She said that God had endowed him
with unusual gifts for this holy cause. By the power of her eloquence
she made many converts, and was called by her followers, Kurratool
Alaein, which is a very high title.


In stature he was tall and slender, eyes black; eyebrows, heavy and
long; beard, patriarchal. His countenance was very pleasant and
attractive. In conversation with high and low classes of people alike
he showed himself a servant of all. He was poetical, a great orator and
a deep thinker. He wrote many beautiful poems. His epistles to his
disciples were philosophical. His words in sermons touched the hearts
of men. When orthodox Mohammedans saw that Bobeism was spreading among
the people, the priesthood and the government joined in severely
persecuting the disciples of the new faith. The disciples were
scattered by this persecution to different cities which resulted in a
still greater spread of the new doctrine. At that time the prophet
appointed eighteen of his apostles as guards of the faith. Two of them
were women, and he requested that this rule be followed in future ages.
About this time Bobe and his twelve disciples were arrested in Shiraz
and taken to Isphahan. While imprisoned there his doctrines were being
rapidly carried on by his followers. He was finally banished to Makoo,
an obscure town between Persia and Russia, as it was thought his
religion could not spread from such an obscure place. But his doctrine
soon prevailed there. At last the priesthood and government decided to
bring him to Tabreez to be shot. After his arrival in Tabreez many
learned priests came to discuss doctrines with him, but none were able
to answer his questions, but his enemies were determined to kill him.
Bobe and his twelve disciples were hanged to a wall before the
soldiers. Before the order to fire, the disciples were given a chance
to save their lives by denying Bobe's faith. Only one denied the faith
and was saved. The others asserted that they were willing to die for
the truth. When the soldiers obeyed command to shoot, all the disciples
on the wall were killed. But Bobe was not struck by the ball; it struck
above his body cutting in two the rope by which he was suspended. Bobe
fell to the ground unharmed and tried to escape through the crowd. He
ran into a house which proved to be the home of an officer, who
promptly arrested the fleeing prophet and returned him to the
executioner. Before the second shot was fired Bobe was again promised
freedom if he would deny his own teachings. He replied that many of the
holy prophets of the past died for the truth and that he, too, was
willing to die in this holy testimony.

After the killing of Bobe and his disciples, the government issued an
edict that the surviving followers who would not deny Bobe should be
killed. This happened at the beginning of the reign of the late Shah.
Many fanatical Bobes tried to kill the Shah. Soon after the edict one
of them shot at the chief ruler of the land, but was killed by a
soldier. After this incident, fiery persecutions arose against them and
about eighteen thousand of their number were killed. The torture
inflicted in many instances was very cruel. The more prominent victims
were taken to the capital city, stripped of clothing except trousers,
and led about the streets while flaming candles were burning away their
flesh. Many of them cried allegiance to Bobe to the last. The heroic
death of the fanatical Bobes had the effect on many prominent men in
the capital of making them believers in Bobe. After the great massacre,
which occurred in 1850, the believers in Bobe held their faith in
secret. Eighteen men, whose names were not generally known, were
appointed guardians of the faith, and one very learned young man was
appointed to take Bobe's place. His title is Baha and he resides in
Akra, a small city in Turkish territory. Even to-day they are very
earnest in spreading their religion, but their work is done in secret.
Their apostles go from place to place and are known by a secret sign.

The enmity between them and the orthodox Mohammedans has been very
severe. From the killing of Bobe until the present time they have been
trying to kill the Shah. In their first attempt they failed, but a year
ago while the Shah was worshiping in the most holy place of the mosque,
he became the victim of a fanatic Bobe who had disguised himself as a
woman. This Bobe, while under disguise, shot the king, who died two
minutes afterward. Some thought that the government would again
persecute them, but there were some hindrances which would not permit
this. In the first place their religion is kept secret; it is
impossible to know who belongs to this new sect. Secondly, many of the
high classes and royal officers belong to this sect, and for this
reason it would be impossible to persecute them. Thirdly, their number
to-day would reach two hundred thousand, and to kill this immense
company would certainly damage the government. Their antagonism against
the government and against orthodox Mohammedanism is caused entirely by
the lack of freedom of religious worship.

They are very warm friends of the Christians, placing in them the
greatest confidence, sometimes they will even lodge in the houses of
Christians and eat with them without questioning. This a strict
Mohammedan would never do. They readily allow the Christians to preach
to them and to discuss religion with them. Yet it is not an easy matter
to convert them, for one must know their manner of life and religious
doctrines to successfully meet their arguments. A few however have been
truly converted. This filled the Mohammedans with hatred both against
the Christians and the converts. When the Christian shows the
superiority of Christ and of His doctrine over that of their prophet
Bobe, they are forced into silence. They are now securing many converts
from Mohammedanism, and it is believed that the time will come when
religious toleration will be obtained by them. This will also give the
Christians a good opportunity of preaching the gospel.



The Kurds are the wildest tribe of nomads in all Asia. They have been
known in Europe as raiders for a long time, and during the past two
years they have attracted the attention of the civilized world by their
horrible massacre of the Armenians. It may be of interest to the reader
to know something more of the life of this tribe. A former student of
the writer who spent several years among the Kurds as a physician, and
who mastered their language and is intimately acquainted with their
lives, manners, and customs, has kindly given some of the information
that follows.

In regard to their ancestry it is very difficult to trace back to the
original stock from which they came. They have lived under the
authority of several governments, and it is believed that in their
blood is a mixture of old Assyrian, Chaldean, Babylonian, and Arabian.
It is supposed that some of the wildest characters in all of these old
nations formed the tribe of Kurds, of whom there are to-day, about
4,000,000. Their dwelling-place is in the Kurdiston mountains, a large
territory through which runs the boundary line between Turkey and
Persia. Most of it lies in Turkey. The Kurds are nominally subjects of
these two countries, but practically they are a band of outlaws beyond
the control of any government. Those who live in the mountain districts
pay no taxes to Turkey or Persia, but those residing in the villages of
the plains are required to pay taxes the same as other citizens. Great
numbers of them residing in the mountains and deserts are nomads,
traveling where they will with their herds and flocks. A Kurd is very
wild and independent in spirit. He would rather live in a cave under a
projecting rock and be unmolested, than to dwell in a palace and be
subject to higher authority. Some of the tribes have a small village in
the mountains, to which they return in winter.

Recognizing the wild and daring spirit of these men, the Sultan of
Turkey has trained some of the dwellers in villages of the plains for
cavalrymen, and called them the imperial cavalry. Mounted on splendid
Arabian horses and provided with modern firearms, they are well-nigh
invincible. The Persian government has no confidence in the Kurds, and
so employs none of them in the army.



The Kurds seldom cultivate the soil, but keep herds of cattle and
horses and flocks of sheep, moving from place to place in search of
good pasture. They can make very good carpets and other articles of
wool, which they sell to Persian and Turkish merchants. Some of them
become very rich from their herds and flocks and from the sale of
carpets. One of their principal occupations is robbery. Parents teach
their children how to become successful thieves. A father will give his
son, of six or seven years of age, a pistol, dagger and shield and then
play robber with the child, showing him how to use these deadly
instruments. A Kurd once told the writer of his timid son. The child
was afraid to steal. The father wanted to make him a successful thief
and so tried the following plan. The first night he sent the child to
steal grapes from his own vineyard; the second night, corn from his own
crib; the third night, grapes from a stranger, next a chicken, then a
sheep, then to enter a house, and so on until the youth became one of
the most daring of highway robbers. Then the father was proud of his
son and told him that he had become a man and could marry. The girls of
these tribes will not marry a man until his reputation as a successful
robber is established. They want to be assured that they will not be
allowed to starve after marriage.

As before stated, the Kurds are divided into tribes, each tribe having
a chief. These tribes are generally enemies with one another. The chief
of a tribe will lead his men against another tribe and kill all the men
and take the flocks, herd and all other property as booty. But they do
not harm the women and children. An old man is not honored by a tribe.
They say he can't fight nor rob and is good for nothing but to feed
sheep. The man most highly honored is the one who has killed many men.
When a man is killed in battle or while robbing he is honored at the
funeral by the singing of many songs, in weeping and in lamentation;
but not many tears are shed when one dies a natural death.

They are very skillful horsemen, and have fine horses which become very
intelligent under training. Their horses bring a high price in Turkey
and Persia.


The Kurds are very quick-tempered. A slight offense will make them an
enemy and they will at once seek revenge. They are very fond of
fighting and war. Very active and nimble in climbing mountains and in
running and fighting. They love to revile an enemy and are continually
trying to invent new and more severe expressions of hatred. It is their
nature to quarrel and fight. Brothers often become angered over a small
matter and fight to death. They think no more of killing a man than we
do of killing a chicken. They are very licentious, especially those
living in towns and cities. Husband and wife are not loyal to each
other and this is frequently the cause of murder.

As a people they have no foresight, having no thought for the morrow.
They have a saying among them, "God will be merciful for to-morrow."
They are very rash, acting on the impulse of the moment and having no
consideration for consequences. They never forget a kindness shown
them. If a Kurd eat bread given him, he will never try to rob the
giver. This is against their law. They treat travelers very kindly who
may come to their tents or caves, and will offer him food. But it would
not be well for him to show any gold while there as they would follow
and rob him. The most prominent characteristic of the race is thieving.
Most all of the thieves in Persia and Turkey are Kurds. A Kurd was once
arrested in Persia for stealing and a hand was cut off as punishment.
Soon after he was again arrested for the same offence, and the other
hand was cut off. The third time he was found stealing and arrested.
There being no other member of the body left which is used in the art
of stealing except the head, that was cut off. Thus the poor Kurd's
career ended.


Their houses are made of stone and mud and are usually under projecting
rocks or in the side of a hill. The roof is so low that a man cannot
stand erect. The writer once visited a Kurd's home. The wife brought a
carpet and spread it in the center of the large room on which to be
seated, and then fixed some bread and milk for a luncheon. In one
corner of the house were tied a pair of fine horses; in another stood
several cows quietly chewing their cuds, while a few sheep were lying
on the opposite side of the room. It is needless to say that this
house, like all other Kurdish houses, was a dirty, filthy place. The
men are tall and slender with very black hair and eyes. Living a wild
out-door life they are very healthy and strong. The women are very
beautiful. Sometimes Persian lords marry them. The food of the Kurds
consists of milk, butter, bread, honey, vegetables and but little meat.


In religion the Kurds are Mohammedans of the Turkish faith. Their chief
priests are called Sheikh and are honored as a god. They kneel before a
chief priest and kiss his hands, clothes and shoes, and ask for his
blessing. To penitent ones he promises that he will ask God to forgive
their sins. He has absolute power over laymen. They believe his words
as inspired truth and obey implicitly. One leader of this type assisted
Turkey in a war against Russia some years ago. He commanded about
100,000 Kurds. He told them not to be afraid of the big cannon that
would be seen when they met the Russians, for, he says, "I have by the
help of Allah bound the mouths of these cannon and they can't hurt
you." Believing this statement, the Kurds wildly flew into the face of
the big guns and many thousand were slain.

There are priests of different rank but all are subordinate to the
Sheikh. They are more superstitious and fanatical than the Mohammedans
of Turkey or Persia. They have no written languages. They speak a mixed
language collected from Persian Arabic, Syrian, and other tongues. The
Kurds have been called wild asses of the desert, thirsty to shed blood
and eager to plunder.




Nestorius was a Greek, born in the latter part of the fourth century
near Germanicia. He became a monk in the Roman Catholic church and was
ordained an elder by the patriarch of Antioch. Being learned in
literature and an orator of power, he became patriarch of
Constantinople in 428. Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, was jealous of
Nestorius as he desired to become patriarch of Constantinople himself.
He attacked the teachings of Nestorius, claiming that he taught that
there are in Christ two distinct persons and two natures; and that he
denied the divinity of Christ in refusing to call the virgin Mary the
mother of God. This criticism of Nestorius's teachings is without
foundation, as he did not teach anything of the kind. Many writers of
church history have made this mistaken criticism. There are now in the
possession of prominent Nestorians manuscripts of Nestorius from 600 to
900 years old and in none of them is that doctrine held. Nestorians of
to-day resent this doctrine as being no part of their belief.

Nestorius believed that Mary was the mother of Christ and that Christ
had two natures, perfect God and perfect man, united with each other
but not mingled. He rejected pictures and statues representing Christ,
Mary or the saints. Upon this basis he was anathematized in the council
of Ephesus in 431 A.D. In the council his friends were absent and
Nestorius refused to attend as his enemy Cyril presided at the council
and had power to rule it. Nestorius then united himself with the Syrian
church whose doctrines agreed with his own. He soon became a prominent
leader among this sect and the name Nestorians was given to the sect by
enemies. Many learned men in the Syrian church of to-day are not
willing to be called by this name. Not because they reject any of
Nestorius's doctrine but because they say it is not right for a nation
to be called after the name of a stranger. But most uneducated people
glory in being called Nestorians. The true origin of the Nestorians was
in the old Assyrian nation. The Assyrians were descendants of Arphaxad
the son of Shem.


They originally dwelt in or near the cradle of mankind, in eastern
Mesopotamia, Assyria and Syria. At times their empire extended nearly
to Babylon and Nineveh and the great empire of Assyria was established.


All Assyrian scholars believe or suppose that the original language
spoken before the confusion of tongues was Assyrian, while some other
scholars believe it was the Hebrew language. It is believed that in
time it will be generally agreed that Assyrian was the original
language. It is evident that Abraham was a descendant of Aber, grandson
of Arphaxad, third son of Shem. The Assyrian language was spoken in
purity until the time of Abraham. When he left his parents by command
of God to dwell in Canaan and Egypt it is an inevitable truth that
Abraham spoke the language of his Assyrian parents. But when he dwelt
in Canaan and Egypt his speech became mixed with words of those
languages. The Old Testament was written by this confused language of
Assyria and Egypt which was called holy language. Therefore we see
names in the Old Testament both of Assyrian and the mixed language of



St. Thomas and St. Bartholomew from the twelve apostles, and the St.
Eddi and St. Maree from the seventy apostles have been called the
apostles of Assyria. Their first patriarch was St. Maree whose
residence was in Ktispon on the river Tigris which was for a long time
capital of the Sassanites dynasty. St. Maree expired in A.D. 82. After
his death his disciples went to Jerusalem and chose Abriz as their
patriarch. He served from A.D. 90 to 107. After Abriz from A.D. 130 to
132, Abraham, a relative of the apostle James, became their patriarch.
His successor was James, a just man, and a relative of the Virgin Mary,
mother of our Lord. Akhad Abowoy became their patriarch from 205 to
220. During this period there was a severe war between the Romans and
Persians. The latter then ruled over Persia, Assyria and Babylonia. The
patriarch of Jerusalem, a subject of Rome, advised the Assyrians who
were under the Parthians to elect a patriarch who was a subject of the
Parthians. The Parthians ruled over Persia from 220 B.C. until 226 A.D.
In all the changes of government the Assyrians have kept in office a
succession of patriarchs even to the present time. The residence of
their first Patriarch was in Ktispon and since that time at various
places as Baghdad, Babel, Nineveh, Mosoel and for a long time at
Elkosh, the town of the prophet Nahum. He now resides in Kurdiston
mountain in the village of Kudshanoos. His home is located on a hill
surrounded by much beautiful scenery. The church in which Marshimon
administers is called St. Ruben, a building made of granite.




The Assyrian church believe they have an apostolic succession from St.
Thomas and St. Bartholomew. There are seven orders in the clergy. The
patriarch, metropolitan, episcopas, archdeacon, elder, deacon and

The first three are forbidden marriage. The eating of meat is
prohibited but fish, butter and eggs can be used. In olden times the
presence of twelve metropolitans was required at the ordination of a
patriarch, but to-day they require only four metropolitans and a few
episcopas. The patriarch ordains the metropolitans and episcopas and
these in turn ordain the lower clergy. It is the duty of the patriarch
to overlook the entire church. Much of his time is also taken up in
sending messages to Kurdish priests and to Turkish officials about
wrongs that have been committed against his people. The patriarch is
highly respected and his messages receive prompt attention. His income
consists of a small annual fee of five to twenty cents from all the men
who belong to his sect. Fifty years ago it was a custom for elders to
marry a virgin and not a widow. This custom is not observed now. They
have seven orders of monks. In ancient times these were the strength of
the church. The monks are pure men and learned. There are a few nuns,
one of the most faithful of whom is a sister of the present patriarch.




Their faith as it is described in some ancient MSS about 500 years old
was entirely evangelical. They believed in the trinity, God the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, three persons, equal in power and nature, working
together for the salvation of mankind. Some western historians have
made the error of stating that the Assyrians deny the divinity of
Christ or believe that He has two personalities.

From the beginning until the present time they have believed in the
merit of saints. Their clergy does not claim the power to forgive sins.
They accept the creed of the apostles and it is recited by the clergy
and by religious men. Many days of fasting are observed, as fifty days
before Easter, twenty-five days before Christmas, and others. On these
days old people take no food until noon. In times of persecution their
schools and books were destroyed and the people became ignorant.
Catholics introduced among them their literature which changed
prevailing doctrines.


Many of their churches are built of stone while others are made of
brick and clay. Some of the buildings are 1300 years old and will stand
many years to come. The walls are about eight feet thick at the base
gradually tapering toward the top. In the older churches the doors are
quite low and it is necessary for a man to stoop in entering. It is
believed by some that the doors were built in this way that the church
might be used as a place of refuge, rolling stones in the doorway after
entering. Others say the object was to prevent horses, cattle and other
animals from entering. These churches are regarded as most sacred
places and are called houses of God. There is an interior stairway
leading to the roof, which is necessary for repairing the roof or
shoveling off snow. The yard in front of a church is shaded with
elm-trees; the yard is used as a graveyard. Extending from each corner
of the roof is a pair of horns from a wild goat, which is a sign of
sacrifice. There is a small room in the rear of the building which is
called the most holy place. In this room the priests carry on certain
ceremonies and no other people are allowed to enter it at any time.
Before this room is a small pulpit on which are placed a cross, Bible,
and other ceremonial books. The only windows are a few small openings
just below the room. Candles are burned during hours of service to
light the room, and incense is burned as a ceremonial and to produce a
pleasing odor. There are no pictures on the walls but there are some
decorations in the way of finely embroidered silk towels brought by
some of the worshipers. Reading Scripture and prayer-book, and chanting
Psalms are the main features of worship. There is no music except a
number of small bells on the walls which the worshipers ring as they
enter the building. The audience sits on the floor or stands through
the service.

Assyrians believe the two chief ordinances are the Lord's supper and
baptism. The ordaining of priests and marriage are ordinances that rank
next in importance.

Baptism is administered by bishops and elders. All the children of a
member are baptized by immersing three times. Some believe that baptism
regenerates a child, while others say it will have a good effect
provided the parents give the child proper training thereafter.

The Lord's supper is administered with much ritual on festival days
such as Easter, Christmas and Ascension day. This ceremony is more
highly honored than any other ordinance as it commemorates the death
and victory of Christ. Both wine and bread are used. A few years ago
(and even now in some places) it was a custom to make the bread and
wine from gleanings brought in from the fields and vineyards by
virgins. This was considered pure and more acceptable as it had
belonged to no man. They do not believe with the Catholics that the
bread and wine become the flesh and blood of Christ, but they put much
emphasis on these ingredients after the same have been consecrated.
They are then holy.

On the night previous to communion day, the priest and deacons go to
the church shortly after midnight and entering into the most holy
place, make the bread for use on the next day. The priest himself
kneads the dough. This bread is considered more sacred than that made
in the ordinary way. After the bread has been made, the remainder of
the night is spent in chanting psalms, Scripture and prayer-book. An
hour before sunrise the people flock to the church. When the church is
full of worshipers the priest mounts the pulpit, chants the sacred
words for an hour or more. The audience remains in perfect silence
until he reaches the end of a psalm or the end of the service, when all
the people say "Amen." The priest and a deacon stand in the pulpit to
administer the sacrament. Communicants come forward one by one and the
priest puts a small piece of bread in their mouths, and the deacon
gives the wine. Children under seven years of age do not partake of the
sacrament. On these occasions the priest and deacon wear long white
robes of silk or cotton, tied about with a long silk girdle. A turban
is worn on the head.



The golden age of this church was the period from the fourth to the
thirteenth century. They had twenty-five flourishing colleges. The most
important schools were located at Oddessa, Nesibis, and Urhai. The
latter was called the queen of schools. These schools, while they
flourished, were the secret of the churches' strength. The instructors
were the most learned men of their age. Aiwaz and St. Basil of Nesibis
and Urhai were among the most learned teachers. The Assyrian, Arabic
and Greek languages were taught classically. Medicine, astronomy, and
mathematics including geometry were taught. Especial attention was
given to the study of theology. There were as many as 2,000 monks and
students in some of these institutions. Their doctors of medicine were
given high positions under the Arabian and Persian governments.
Literature in the eastern languages was rich. From these schools came
great church fathers who defended the church from the heretics of the
age. There is one MSS 900 years old in the library of the Presbyterian
Mission which is called "Persecuted Simon." It was written by Simon, a
student in one of these colleges. It contains twelve lectures all
against the heretics of his age. During that period about 700 such MSS
were written. There are to-day in Europe many MSS written by these
scholars that are from 300 to 1500 years old. The New Testament was
translated into the Assyrian language in the middle of the second
century. These MSS are skillfully executed and show the beauty and
antiquity of this church. Only three of these ancient MSS are now to be
found in Persia, but there are many of them scattered in the libraries
of Europe.



The aim of the schools mentioned in the preceding chapter was to
educate monks to become missionaries and spread the gospel. These
schools were fountains from which flowed living waters for a thirsty
land. There was no other nation in their age that possessed such a
spirit of Christian vitality. Zeal for the spread of the gospel was
burning in their hearts as a divine flame. There was a class of bishops
appointed by their leaders to awaken and keep alive this missionary
spirit. "The dying love of Christ for sinners" was the text from which
they preached. Also His last commission to His disciples, Matt. 28:19,
20. These bishops preached with an inspiration from God, and enflamed
many hearts until they were ready to sacrifice their lives for Christ.
These missionaries wore sandals on the feet, carried a staff of peace
in the hand, and a knapsack on the shoulder containing bread and
manuscripts of sacred writing. Thus equipped, they journeyed into
heathen lands, following the command of their Nazarene teacher. The
church was very poor and had no board of foreign missions to guarantee
even a small income. The missionaries went forth trusting in their
heavenly Father. If He took care of the birds of the air, how much more
would He care for the heralds of His gospel. The week before departure
was spent in fasting and prayer and consecration. On the last day they
partook of communion from the hand of their leader, and solemn advice
was given by the bishop. In parting the bishop kissed the missionary's
brow, and the latter kissed the bishop's hand; and the bishop would
say: "The Lord God of the prophets and apostles be with you; the love
of Christ defend you; the Holy Spirit sanctify and continually comfort
you." Some of the missionaries went to distant lands, requiring eight
to twelve months to make the journey on foot. They worked in China,
India, Tatariston, Persia, Bloogistan, Afghanistan, and northern
Africa. Success followed their work. In the territory between China and
Tatariston, they converted 200,000 heathen. Not long ago a monument was
unearthed in China which had been set about 600 years ago by one of
these pioneers of the cross. On it were engraved the names of many of
their leaders, and also the creed, doctrine of the Trinity, and
incarnation of Christ. They established twenty-five churches in
northern Persia. In southern India is a small church planted at that
time. These followers are now called the disciples of St. Thomas, and
sometimes their young priests come to Persia to be ordained by the
patriarch, who resides in the Kurdiston mountains. This spirit which
was shining as the sun in heaven began to languish in the tenth
century, and by the fourteenth century had entirely died. At that time
some of the church's true sons in lamentation said: "How are the mighty
fallen, and the weapons of war perished!" Hundreds of their
missionaries had become martyrs of Christ in a heroic spirit. They
would enter fire singing praises to God, believing their shed blood
would be the seed of the church.



This ancient church of the Assyrians which began with the apostles, has
been praised in all the eastern and western churches for its zeal in
spreading the gospel, but at no time in its history has it been free
from persecution. Like the burning bush of old, this church has been
burning with persecution, but has not been consumed. The ten plagues of
Egypt have been here repeated several times. It has passed through the
agony of blood, but with a spirit of submission to the will of God who
rules over all the changes of a nation for the good of His own kingdom.
Severe persecutions began in A.D. 325. When Constantine convened the
Nicean council of the 100 delegates from the eastern church, mostly
from Assyria, only eleven of them were free from mutilation in some
form. At the time the Sassanites dynasty ruled over Assyria. Their
patriarch was St. Shumon, son of a painter. No other Assyrian patriarch
was equal to him in piety, integrity, and his heroic spirit of
martyrdom. He was patriarch from 330 to 362 A.D. In that period the
king of Persia was second shafoor of the fire-worshipers. The
fire-worshipers believed in two creative powers, Hurmizd and Ahramon.
Every good thing as virtue, success, long years, praise, truth, purity,
were created by Hurmizd; while wickedness, hate, war, disaster, etc.,
issued from Ahramon, their creator. Shafoor worshiped clean creatures
of Hurmizd, such as sun, moon, and fire. Christianity was strong then,
some of the royal family being Christians. The Christians were
antagonized by the fire-worshipers because they rejected the sun and
moon and de-defiled fire. Other objections were that the Christians
taught that God had become incarnate and come to earth; and also that
they preferred poverty to wealth and did not marry, thus diminishing
the strength of the nation. The emperor issued an edict that those who
would not worship the sun and the moon should pay a large sum of money.
The patriarch answered that "while God is the creator of the sun we can
not substitute the created for the creator. Concerning a fine we have
no money to pay your lord the sum required, as our Lord commanded us
not to lay up our treasures on earth." Then the king commanded that all
Christians be put to death by terrible torture, except the patriarch.
Him he would spare to the last, that he might be moved by the torture
of others and worship the sun. But St. Shumon meantime was urging the
Christians to stand firm in the faith. The king requested that the
patriarch and two chief bishops be brought before him. It had been a
custom to prostrate himself before the king as a token of honor, but on
this occasion he wished to avoid any show of worshiping a creature and
did not prostrate himself before the ruler. The king asked him to
worship the sun. St. Shumon replied: "If I refuse to worship the king
how can you expect me to worship the sun, a creature without life."
Being unable to make him worship the sun the king put him in jail for
the night. Next morning the patriarch was taken before the king again.
On his way he met a steward of the king who was a Christian but had
been worshiping the sun to please the king. St. Shumon rebuked the
steward for being faithless. The steward was touched by this rebuke
and, going before the king, confessed that he was a Christian and must
therefore be beheaded. But he requested that a herald be sent through
the streets to proclaim that he had been a faithful subject to his
ruler, and that he must die because he was a Christian. This was

In company with one hundred bishops and priests St. Shumon was brought
before the king. Again he was told that he could save the life of
himself and his people by worshiping the sun. St. Shumon replied, "We
have one God and Jesus Christ our Savior as the object of our worship.
Our Lord teaches us to be faithful to kings and to pray for them, but
we are forbidden to worship any creature." Then the king commanded that
all of them be beheaded next day. The night in a dungeon was spent in
prayer and song and words of advice from St. Shumon in love and tears
of sorrow. The patriarch consoled his followers by referring to the
fact that St. Paul and apostles spent many nights in prison. He said,
"The prison is heaven because the presence of our Lord is with us. This
is our last night on earth; to-morrow we will be crowned." Taking the
New Testament in his hand he preached to his condemned disciples of the
suffering and death of Christ and then administered the Lord's supper.
At the close of his prayer he thanked Christ that they were worthy to
be His martyrs, and further prayed, "Watch with me, O Lord, help our
infirmity, The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Thanks be to
God that we are to become martyrs on the same day of the week as did
Christ." In the morning he, with his 100 followers stood before the
king. The bishops were first beheaded, and St. Shumon spoke to each one
as follows: "My son, close your eyes, and after one minute you will be
with Christ." St. Shumon had asked to be beheaded first that he might
not see the death of his beloved followers, but he was not heard. At
last came his turn with two chief bishops. When he alone was left he
sang a song of thanks to God that out of 100 martyrs, not one had
denied the faith. His song was as follows: "Praised be Thy power our
God; let the kingdom of our Savior be victorious. Thou quickener of
life, thou hast prepared a crown for Thy martyrs." Then he was beheaded
with an axe.

Another severe persecution was in the 14th century by Tamerlane. In
1848 two Kurdish dukes Baddirkhunback and Nurullaback and their armies
came whirling down from the Kurdish mountains and in one month
massacred 25,000 Assyrians. The spirit of martyrdom still lives in this
people, as was shown in 1893, when two men and a girl were killed as
martyrs. No doubt there are to-day singing praises before the throne of
God, hundreds of martyrs from this nation.



The colleges of the Assyrians were destroyed four hundred years before
the American missionaries came. Not a single school was left, and the
only effort at education was by monks teaching dead languages to
aspirants for the priesthood. Learned bishops and monks who were full
of the spirit of Christ in spreading the gospel at home and abroad had
all vanished. Some of the clergy could not understand what they read.
Priests and their parish became blind to the Word of God, as their
books had been burned in times of persecution by the Mohammedans in
order to keep them ignorant. Sometimes there was only one priest in a
dozen villages. The clouds of ignorance spread over all the nation.
Their sun went down. Regeneration and conversion were unknown to them.
Traditions prevailed among priests and laymen. They trusted in saints
and in ancient and holy church buildings. In their ignorance they
offered sacrifice to martyrs and built tombs to prophets; put more hope
in the merit of fasting than in Christ. A small number of New Testament
manuscripts, which were written in dead languages were used only in
taking oaths. Sometimes laymen kneeled before them and kissed them
instead of obeying the truth that was written in them. The candlestick
of the church was turned down and the light quenched. Moreover the
Mohammedans had threatened to massacre them if they did not accept that
faith. The Assyrians had lost about all of their Christianity except
the name. Among 100,000 Christians in Kurdiston and 60,000 in Persia
there was only one lady who could read, and she was a nun, sister of
the patriarch. The words of the daughter-in-law of Eli when she said,
"The glory is departed from Israel." could have been applied to this




While the sky of Persia was covered with heavy clouds of ignorance and
even the dim ray of light in Assyria was almost quenched, suddenly God,
in His great wisdom and wise providence, awakened the consciences of
godly men in America to think about mission work in Persia. In the year
of 1832 Messrs. Smith and Dwight were sent by the A.B.C.F.M. to examine
the degenerate and antique churches of the East. They traveled through
Syria, Asia Minor, Armenia and Persia. In the latter country they
remained in the city of Oroomiah for several weeks, and met the bishops
and leaders of the Assyrian church with whom they visited the villages
of Assyria. Men, women and children everywhere greeted them with great
joy. In this way they became acquainted with the needs of the nations.
Mr. Smith said at that time: "I see that this field is white and ready
for the harvest. In all my journey I have seen no people as willing to
accept the gospel as are the Assyrians of Persia. It is a good field
for the work."

On their return to America Messrs. Smith and Dwight reported the needs
of the Assyrians and their readiness to accept the gospel. But the
question arose, Where is the man qualified for the work, who can
overcome the difficulties? In the beginning of every great work there
must always be a unique man to lead it. God found only Moses among all
the Israelites as being competent to bring His people out of Egypt. He
elected George Washington to make free America. Even so, in His
providence, he found the Rev. Justin Perkins to be the man equipped for
this great mission work. In 1835, Justin Perkins and Dr. Grant as his
medical assistant were appointed to the work in Persia. These two
blessed messengers of Emanuel shone in the dark skies of Persia, and I
believe will everlastingly shine in the sky of heaven.

They were received by the natives as if God had sent them from heaven.
Many Assyrians went out to meet them with tears of joy in their eyes.
Perhaps some one will ask why the Assyrians were so eager to receive
the missionaries. Were they awakened to their spiritual condition? The
answer is, they were not fully awakened to their great need of
spirituality, but they were eager to be saved from the wicked plan of
the Mohammedans to convert them to that faith by force, if need be.



Mr. Perkins gained the confidence and won the love of the people by
making himself one of their number, by adopting their customs and
speaking of Assyria as "our nation." In this way he got very close to
the people, they believed him their friend, and were not afraid to come
near to him. In adopting the native dress it must be remembered of him
that he wore the hat commonly worn by aged religious men. It was made
of sheep-skin and was not less than two feet high.

The Assyrians churches were open to the new missionaries and they
preached two or three times every Sunday. There was marked interest in
the new teachers from the beginning, and every service was attended by
200 or 300 natives. In addition to the observance of Sunday the
Assyrians have numerous sacred or saint's days; at such times the
churches are better attended than on Sundays. Services were also lead
by the missionaries on these days. Through every day of the week the
missionaries were busy scattering the blessed seed. When there were no
services held in the churches they would meet in some private home.
Several neighboring families would come in, and all would listen to the
gospel. The writer remembers when he was a boy of Dr. Coan lodging at
his father's home several nights and holding meetings. Our homes were
very humble among the Assyrians. The houses were low and dark,
blackened with smoke from the ovens. The floor was covered with cheap
mats, but some people had a carpet which was spread when guests came.

Most of the families are very large, numbering from ten to thirty-five.
In many instances, five or six sons having married are found raising
their families under their father's roof. The food for all is cooked in
the one oven, but more than one table is used when the family is very
large. The meals set before the missionaries were very different from
what they had been accustomed to. There were no knives and forks, no
tables and chairs. But the missionaries humbled themselves, sat on the
floor, and ate of the poorly cooked food with their fingers.

In summer most of the people were working in the field and vineyards.
The missionaries would visit them at their work and ask permission to
talk for an hour. The workers would gather in the shade of a tree and
for an hour listen to the message. Many times these meetings proved
very beneficial. In 1843 the well known Fidelia Fisk and several other
noble women came to work for women. They would visit them in their
homes or where they were at work in the field or vineyard, and while
helping them in their work would strive to ennoble their lives by
talking of Christian principles.

A story is told of a missionary who one day passed a shepherd among his
flocks. He asked the shepherd if he ever prayed. The reply was that he
did not know how. When the good man offered to teach him the shepherd
said it was useless to try as he could not learn. But the faithful
missionary was eager to teach truth, even to the dullest minds, and so
began teaching him the Lord's prayer. But the shepherd could not
memorize it. Remembering how this shepherd knew every sheep in his
flock by name a happy thought struck the missionary. He would name a
small number of the sheep with words or phrases of the Lord's prayer.
Calling the sheep and giving them these new names the shepherd soon
learned the prayer, and could repeat it readily.

When passing that way a few weeks later the missionary asked the
shepherd if he still remembered the prayer. Calling his sheep the
herdsman went through the prayer with but one mistake. The missionary
complimented him but told him that he had omitted "forgive our sins."
"Did I?" replied the shepherd. "Oh, I know how it happened. "Forgive our
sins" took sick and died a few days ago." This made it necessary to
point out another sheep and name it "Forgive our sins." Missionaries
have to resort to various methods to teach truth. Many times the hearts
of parents are won by the missionaries kissing one of their beloved
children. They proved to the people that they were not ashamed to be as
brothers to them. This kind of treatment will touch the human heart in
any clime.



After several years work by Justin Perkins and Dr. Grant, his medical
assistant, the mission had grown until more workers were needed. From
time to time other workers came, such as Messrs. Stoddard, Stakings,
Dr. Coan and Mr. Ray. The latter was known among the natives as the
prince of preachers. He died in that country and his widow, Mrs. Ray,
now resides in Lake Forest, Ill. Other workers who should be mentioned
are Dr. Larabee and Mr. Cochran.

During these years of preaching, seed was sown for more thorough work.
Revival meetings were begun in the churches, and, in answer to prayer,
the Lord poured out His spirit upon both preachers and listeners. At
some of these meetings there would be from thirty to 100 men and women
crying aloud and trying to learn what they must do to be saved. In
those times some of the penitents in their ignorance prayed prayers
that they would to-day be ashamed of. One old man, who is now an elder,
became terribly in earnest when he was under conviction and was seeking
conversion. In his anguish he prayed thus: "O Lord God, Father of
Christ, send Thy Spirit and regenerate all of this church. If you won't
do this, then destroy this church over our heads and kill us." This
prayer, and others like it, was prayed with such intense earnestness,
that another seeker near by thought the Lord would answer it at once;
and so, reaching for his hat, he prayed: "O Lord don't do this until I
get out; then destroy all of them if you want to." Hastily uttering
this prayer he sought safety outside the walls of the building. When
the old elder was recently reminded of the prayer he made years ago, he
was not ashamed, for he said that was all they knew in those days as
they had not yet learned how to pray.

Until the time of these revivals there had been no separation of the
missionaries from the old Assyrian church. It had been their custom to
take of the Lord's Supper from the hands of Assyrian priests. Mr.
Cochran, president of the Oroomiah college thought it was now time to
form a separate organization. Accordingly the new converts were
organized into a separate church on evangelical principles.

This separation aroused the bitter opposition of the bishops and
priests of the old church for a time, but it finally resulted
beneficially to both sects. The ancient church tried to attract and
hold the people by adopting the same kind of preaching and
Sunday-schools as were being carried on by the evangelical branch.
Preaching sermons was a new work for priests of the old church, and
many amusing mistakes were made at first. One priest in an enthusiastic
discourse when intending to call the Mohammedans, dogs, made the sad
mistake of addressing his audience as, "Ye dogs and sons of dogs." At
another time a bishop having announced that he would preach a sermon,
carefully wrote his discourse. A large and expectant audience greeted
him. When it was time to deliver the address the bishop felt in every
pocket for his written sermon but failed to find it. Turning to the
audience he said: "Satan, the accursed, has stolen my sermon out of my
pocket and disappeared with it." Being unable to make the address from
memory he dismissed the audience.

The church has developed along this line, however, and to-day in
Oroomiah their services differ very little from that of the evangelical
churches. Once a tiny rivulet the evangelical church has become a brook
which flows in beauty and waters much of a thirsty land. It is the hope
of Persia.

The statistics of mission work in Persia in 1895 were as follows: Five
presbyteries, fifty-five churches, 2,600 members, 4,000 Sunday-school
scholars, 4,500 attendants at preaching services. These five
presbyteries make one synod. Besides this there are two other
presbyteries with about 500 church members. There are seven missionary
stations, viz., Oroomiah, Tabriz, Tehron, Salmas, Hamadon, Myandab and
Moesul. These are in charge of American missionaries; besides them
there are many native preachers in the different towns and cities.
Oroomiah is the mother station. Most of these missions are dependent on
missionaries, but some of them are self-supporting. The total number of
Protestants in Persia will number fully 15,000.




The first need of the nation was a college. In 1836 Justin Perkins
gathered a small number of deacons and priests to teach them for the
work of spreading the gospel. The native priests were very ignorant,
but Mr. Perkins believed it would take fewer years to prepare them for
the work than children, so he opened a rude school in a cellar. At that
time the priests in common with all other people drank wine and were
frequently drunk. When Dr. Perkins opened his school for the native
priests and deacons many of them brought a bottle of wine for use
during school hours. Dr. Perkins dealt patiently with them but stated
that it was against the rules of the school to bring wine. They replied
that they would not come to study if they were not allowed to bring
wine. So wine they brought. One native preacher who is now an old man
and a fine singer, told at a recent synod of this early school, of
which he was a member: One day they got too much wine and went upstairs
and began to dance. Dr. Perkins called to them and asked them to dance
a little slower. They replied to the teacher that they would dance
slower, but kept on dancing. In time the habit of drinking was left off
and total abstinence was firmly established.

The school in the cellar has grown until now we have in Oroomiah a fine
brick building in which the college classes meet. In it are six
branches: high-school, preparatory, college, medicine, industrial, and
theological. Its superintendents from the start have been able men. Dr.
Perkins founded it, Mr. Cochran further developed it, and the late Dr.
Shedd, a profound theologian, contributed his fine ability to the
institution. Several eastern languages are taught. Mathematics,
including algebra and geometry, geography and history are taught, but
of course not as completely as in America.


When the missionaries came to Persia there was only one woman among the
200,000 Assyrians who could read. Girls were not encouraged to study as
it was against law and believed to be useless. This belief originated
in Mohammed's teachings. Fidelia Fisk, soon after her arrival, saw the
condition of women and determined to open a seminary. At first it was
difficult to get girls to attend. If mothers were asked to send their
girls, they asked, "What is the use? They can never become bishops or
priests." If a girl was asked to attend she would reply that she did
not have time as she must be preparing a dowry for her wedding, an
event that would certainly occur before her eighteenth year. However, a
small free school was opened for girls, where the branches taught were
similar to those of the college. Fidelia Fisk labored faithfully in her
duties as teacher and made for herself a lasting reputation in that

Her patience was often severely taxed. It is told of her that once
after she had become old she was trying to explain an example in
multiplication, when a loose tooth dropped out of her mouth. She sank
wearily into a chair, exclaiming, "It's no use; there is no god of
mathematics in this nation."

There stands to-day on the same site where this faithful soul started
the little school, a beautiful brick building known as the Fidelia Fisk
Seminary. It is also self-supporting, and is attended by 75 or 100
students. Now the girls and mothers laugh at their old superstition
about education, as they have learned that it prepares one for
something besides bishop or priest. Fathers want their daughters to
attend the seminary, and young men who are looking for a wife
appreciate the importance of the training which seminary girls have
received. They know that she can raise their children better, keep the
home cleaner, and better understand her relation to her husband.

While the seminary was founded by Fidelia Fisk it was developed largely
by Jenny Deane, who was superintendent of the institution for thirty
years. It was under her direction that the building was erected. Miss
Deane was a very wise lady, and has few, if any, superiors in America
in the management of an institution. As a retired missionary she now
resides in Detroit, Michigan. She will never be forgotten by the many
women in Persia whom she has so greatly helped. There are also four
other seminaries in Persia for ladies.


The beauty and blessing of medical mission work will be better
understood if we contrast it with prevailing ideas about medicine.
Until about fifteen years ago there were no Persian doctors who had
become such from the study of books on medical science. There, were,
however, many quack doctors who had a system of superstition which had
been taught them orally by older men. Blades of some kinds of grasses
which are known to medical science as having no medicinal properties
were the chief remedies prescribed for disease. Internal diseases were
called supernatural, and it was believed they were inflicted by evil
spirits. None of the doctors could do anything for this form of
disease, as they considered it out of their realm. A patient with an
internal disease was sent to the priest who would diagnose the case by
looking into the Koran or some other book in which he locates the
particular demon that is afflicting the patient. Writing something
mystical on two slips of paper, the priest gives direction for their
use: "This one soak in a cup of water and have the patient drink the
water. The other, bind on the patient's arm. I find that it is demon so
and so afflicting the sick man, and I have bound the mouth of that evil
spirit so that he cannot do further harm."

There are several remedies for fever. One is to tie seven knots in a
white thread and fasten it around the wrist. Wearing this fifteen or
twenty days cures the fever, they say. Another remedy is to remove the
clothing and jump into cold water before breakfast. If a man has a
severe attack of colic and cries, "I die, I die," his friends run for
the nearest baldheaded man, as he is known to have power to remove the
pains by firmly pressing the smooth surface of his cranium against the
surface of the patient's body nearest the seat of pain. Many baldheaded
men in other countries laugh at this remedy, but Persian doctors affirm
that it will cure, and that skeptics should try it. Pork is never used
as food, but it is believed to remove rheumatism when bound on the
parts afflicted.

There are now some medical men in Persia who have graduated in an
American or European medical college. Patients for whom they have
prescribed often consult the Mujtahid before taking the medicine. Once
a man with a diseased foot came to Dr. Cochran for treatment. The
doctor told him that his life could be saved by amputating the foot.
The patient consulted a Mujtahid who told him that it was against
religion to part with any member of the body. Therefore the patient
retained his foot and died. The modern midwife is greatly needed in
Persia as many women die for want of attention, and it is against the
law for male doctors to give them treatment. The name hospital was
unknown in Persia before the missionaries came. But, thanks to God, we
have to-day three missionary hospitals. The good they do cannot be
expressed in words. They are open for all no matter what their beliefs.
The largest one is in Oroomiah. It is under the charge of Dr. Cochran,
a godly man, who is known in all Persia. The late Shah appreciated his
work so much that he gave him the highest degree that is possible to
give to a foreigner. When patients enter these hospitals, lie down on
clean beds, are given good food and kind treatment, they are surprised,
and sometimes have said that heaven cannot be a nicer place. Some wild
Kurds have been brought to the hospitals. They came in like roaring
lions but went out meek as lambs. Hundreds of people have been snatched
from the mouth of the grave by treatment received here. They cure not
only the body but the soul also. Two wild Kurds who were healed here
became Christians and are now active church-members. Dr. Cochran has
from six to ten native students of medicine. They take a three years'
course, and some of them have become such useful physicians that the
Shah gave them the title of count. The Mohammedans have confidence in
the Christian doctors, and send for them to treat their children and
wives in all cases except childbirth.


There were no schools for common education among the people before the
missionaries came. They met with some opposition in starting country
schools from superstitious old men. They said the Europeans and
Americans are a cunning people. They will fill our children's heads
with notions that will take them away from us to foreign countries. On
the other hand there were many parents eager to have their children get
learning. So schools began. Books and writing material were so
expensive and scarce for a time, that a canvas with the alphabet
printed on it was stretched on the wall. Thirty or more children could
stand before this canvas and study. For those who were learning to
write boxes of sand were provided. Herein written language was traced.
There are to-day seventy schools for children in the district of
Oroomiah. The population of this district is nearly half a million.
Some of the schools are self-supporting, while in others the teacher's
salaries are paid by the missionaries. These schools are like a garden
of flowers in a desert. They have a very strong moral and elevating
influence in a community. It is generally believed by Christian workers
there that there is no better foundation for the future of the church
than these schools. In them are taught three languages, a little
geography, mathematics and the Bible. Nearly all the students can
repeat from memory the ten commandments, the Lord's prayer, and creed
of the apostles. The chief aim is to teach the fear of God. A good many
students are converted in school. After school some of the students go
among their neighbors in the evening to read the Bible to them. The
teachers are chosen by the board of education. One important rule
governing the choice is that the applicant must be a regular member of
the church. The teachers are very devoted and faithful to their work.
They consider that their work among the children is similar to a
pastor's work among his people. They watch after their pupils in school
and out as a shepherd cares for his flock. A monthly meeting is held
for teachers at which best methods of teaching are discussed. One of
the principal subjects considered is, how to develop spirituality among
the pupils. These meetings are refreshing to the teachers, and they
return to their work full of the love of Christ, zealous to spread His
truth. Sometimes a religious mid-week meeting is held in the
schoolhouse for students only. These meetings often bear blessed fruit.
In one such meeting in a preparatory school over which the writer held
supervision, thirteen boys of ages from thirteen to sixteen years, were
converted. These boys remained after the meeting closed and, touched
with the Spirit of God, they prayed with tears in their eyes. Some of
them have since become preachers of the gospel. In the country schools
some of the teachers work more faithfully for the salvation of their
pupils than pastors work for their flock. In one school two boys were
attacked with a fatal disease. The teacher, accompanied with several
pupils, visited the first sick boy and asked him if he was afraid to
die. He replied that he did not want to give up his studies. The
teacher asked if he did not know that Christ was a teacher. The dying
boy was gladdened by this thought, and, with a smile on his boyish
face, he said: "I'm going away to Christ and He will teach me." With
these words his soul took its flight above. The other sick boy was then
visited and comforted in the same way. He, too, soon died of the fatal
disease. The missionaries are carrying on 113 schools in Persia and the
Kurdiston mountains. The number of teachers employed is 116 and there
are 1821 boys and 720 girls; total 2541.


When the missionaries first came to Persia, ancient Syriac was the
language of literature; therefore the common people could not
understand anything in the ceremonial words of the priests. Dr.
Perkins, with the aid of native scholars, translated the Bible into the
common language, or modern Syriac. After the new translation was
printed the common people were surprised and rejoiced greatly at having
the sacred Word in a form that they could understand. From time to time
other books were translated, such as parts of commentaries on the
Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, Rest of Saints, Morning to Morning, etc.
These books are read in connection with the Bible in the daily worship
of the native Christians. Rev. Benjamin Larabee D.D., with some native
scholars, greatly improved the translation of the Bible into modern
Syriac, about two years ago, by a careful revision of the first
translation. Mrs. J. H. Shedd who was known as the "Mother in Israel"
did a great work for our people in translating books, and tracts and
preparing the Sunday lessons.



The Assyrian houses were one story, low flat roof, and built of mud.
Mohammedan law was opposed to Christians building houses of more than
one story. The houses were poorly kept, dark and unfurnished. This was
the case even when a man was well-to-do and could have afforded
something better. Families were large, numbering from ten to forty. It
was the custom when sons married to raise their families, for a time at
least, under the parental roof. The mother or father was supreme
authority in the home, but they could not always control the sons,
daughters and grandchildren, and there is much quarreling and
frequently fighting. However, custom demands that a son bring his bride
to the father's house. If he does not he is called mean. When the
writer married his wedding ceremony was performed at the preparatory
school where he was then teaching, and he did not take his bride to his
father's home. He remembers that his good mother was grieved and shed
tears at this breaking away from custom. Men in the street were
inclined to look upon him with scorn.

The house that accommodates a large family is usually divided into
several rooms. There are often four beds in one large room. The reader
must understand that these large families do not give rise to
immorality. Men may be wicked in other ways, but this vice is very

Christians were compelled by Mohammedan law to wear poor grade
clothing. They could not wear any garments commonly worn by lords. Men
wore coarse home-made clothing something like American blue jeans of
earlier days. Women dressed in plain cloth, usually colored red. Lords
objected to their subjects wearing nice clothing. They suspected the
spirit of pride was growing underneath, and might some day resent their
authority. Christians were compelled to wear red braid on their
clothing to distinguish them from Mohammedans. It was a sin for a
Mohammedan to give the same salutation to a Christian that was given to
his own sect, so it was necessary to mark the Christian's clothing.
Only bishops and some few prominent men were allowed to ride a horse,
while other Christians must walk or ride a donkey, for the Moslems
said: "God created horses for us and donkeys for you." If a Christian,
who was riding a horse, met a Moslem, he should dismount, bow to him,
and remain off the horse until the Moslem had passed.

The per cent. of death in infancy was very large. Mothers did not
understand how to nourish the delicate life during the most trying
period. The infants were not dressed warm enough in many instances. In
other instances the clothes about the child bound it helpless and
injured it, sometimes causing death. Ignorantly, they exposed them to
contagious disease. Before the missionaries introduced vaccination,
hundreds died with smallpox. The women of the mission have taught the
natives a great deal about caring for young children, and now many a
mother dresses and cares for her babe after American custom.


The Assyrians were a great nation for drinking wine. Many men owned
vineyards and made from the fruit some of the best wine. One man was
known who made 100 barrels of wine one year for his own use. Wine and
not water was the drink. Grapes were very cheap and the poor man could
be supplied with wine.

Nearly all forms of industry and business were suspended in winter, and
the time was spent in trying to get joy from the cup. They said wine
was love and good fellowship, which is a common notion in many nations
of the earth to-day. When a man had a guest from a distance, he would
invite forty or fifty neighbors to his home where the entire day would
be spent in eating and drinking. Next day one of the neighbors would
entertain the company, and so the feast would continue for a week or
more. By the end of the debauch perhaps one or more of the number would
have met death. Falling by the wayside at a late hour, or tumbling from
a housetop as he was journeying homeward, he would die from cold or
from the shock. In those degenerate days idleness, extravagance and
drunkenness were praised in a man. When such a one died, an engraving
on his tombstone would show that his table was always spread and
provided with wine for his friends. Many a man was brought to poverty
by these habits of extravagance and drunkenness. The women were
required to let wine alone that they might cook much food for these
degenerate Christians. On such occasions the master of the house
demanded that the very best food be put before his guest.

The missionaries have completely broken up these customs. The
evangelical church forbids its members to make or taste wine or to sit
among drinkers. Any who disobey this rule are dismissed from
membership. Rev. E. W. Pierce, one of the most beloved of all
missionaries, spent one winter in preaching temperance. Many were
converted to his views on the subject and brought their wines, many
barrels, and poured it into the streets. They believed it would be a
sin to even sell it. The old Assyrian church-members have given up
their former ways and are now temperate. Formerly it was the glory of a
man to be idle and drunken, but now public opinion has been entirely
reversed. The drunkard is looked upon as an object of shame.

The Assyrians used to observe many saint's days. At times as many as
four thousand men and women would gather in the yard of some building
built in honor of an ancient saint and would there spend several days
in eating, drinking and dancing. Sometimes quarreling, fighting and
even murder would result from these gatherings. Moslems often mingled
with the crowd and sometimes kidnaped some of their fairest daughters.
Instead of places of worship these gatherings became places of sin. All
of these vicious customs have now vanished before the influence the
true gospel.

More than half the days of the year were days of fasting with the old
Assyrians. On these days they ate no meat, milk, butter, cheese, eggs
or fish; some very religious old people would eat nothing before noon.
All has now been changed.

Members of the evangelical church do not fast and but few of the old
Assyrians do. There is no longer faith in the virtue of fasting.


Before the missionaries came many beautiful girls and ladies were
converted by force to the faith of Moslems. Girls were often stolen
when alone in the fields and vineyards. Mothers feared for their
daughters, and advised them not to wash their faces, nor put on nice
clothes lest a Mohammedan would be attracted by their beauty. When a
Mohammedan saw a beautiful girl he would say, "God created her for us
and not for these infidels." When girls were converted by force, it was
not much use to complain to the government, as the government is
Mohammedan and it is in the Mohammedan doctrine that when a man
converts a Christian he has done a good thing and all his sins will be
forgiven. The method of making the convert is not questioned. The
conversions now as compared with the number when the missionaries came
are very few. Kidnaping is not easy now as parents can telegraph to the
king, or the prime minister, or even to Europe and cause much trouble.

A few years ago a prince had a beautiful Armenian stolen from her home,
and tried to get her to consent to be a Mohammedan and become his wife.
But the woman stood firm, and denounced him and his faith. Her friends,
and the missionaries of all denominations, were making an angry search
for the missing woman, and the prince ordered his servants to return
her to her native village. When a girl has been stolen and complaint is
made to the government, officers bring the girl into court, if she can
be found, and ask her if she had been taken by force, or whether she
was willing to become a Moslem. If she says she was taken by force, she
is returned to her parents. There are a few cases where women willingly
go to the Moslem but this is from their wickedness or their poverty.


Not many years ago a Moslem would enter the private homes of the
Assyrians without an invitation. The husband and father did not want
him there, but so long had his rights as a man been ignored that he did
not have the manhood to drive him away. Then, too, he feared if he
offended the Moslem, that the latter would secretly destroy some of his
property. These uninvited visits gave the stranger an opportunity to
become acquainted with the family, and perhaps an attempt to kidnap a
daughter would follow. But this has changed. If a stranger enters an
Assyrian home to-day he behaves like a gentleman or he is ordered to
leave. The manhood and independence of the old Assyrian has been

In a national conference of the Protestants, Catholics and Old Assyrian
churches held a few months ago, rules and plans for the development of
the nation and the uplifting of morality were adopted. Among other
things, Christian girls and women are prohibited by these rules from
working for Mohammedans; second, no girl nor woman can go to a city of
Mohammedan merchants to do trading. This is the first conference of
this kind that has been held by Assyrians for 400 years.

Many of the native young men who have been educated by the missionaries
have become able men and influential citizens. There are some of them
who can stand before the king and speak with greater power than any of
the government officers. This is in great contrast with the condition
of Assyrians before the missionaries came. In those days leading
Assyrians could not stand before even a low court to plead their cause.

In 1893 a general, third in the government, visited Oroomiah college.
When he saw the training of the young men he was impressed and
afterwards, in a conference of lords, said: "The young men who are
being educated in the mission schools would become leaders in the
political affairs of our nation if they had a chance. I believe a time
will come when they will hold high offices, and the sons of lords will
be ruled by them, unless you do something for the future of your

The Shah has given the title of count to some of the graduates in
medicine. He sees their useful work and says they are helping his
people. The royal family and some officers favor indirectly if not
directly, modern education; and they have confidence in Christians. The
occupation of selling merchandise is being entered by Christians; they
have much prejudice to overcome but will likely succeed gradually.

Thanks to God, many of the old oppressions have passed away. Assyrians
can now build any kind of house they want; Moslems can no longer say
that they must walk or ride a donkey; they can wear clothes of any
style or quality they choose. No longer are Christians required to trim
their clothes in red to mark their inferiority. All these are the
fruits of the blessed gospel.



Mission work indirectly and slowly spreads among Moslem. The Koran
forbids Christians to preach to Moslems, and no Christian dared discuss
questions of religion with Moslems before the time of missionaries. To
attempt to show Christ's superiority of Mohammed was forbidden. If a
Moslem should say, "Mohammed was a greater prophet than Christ. Ours is
the true religion. You are infidels." The Christian with a timid,
downward look would reply "Yes sir, you are right." But the answer to
this assertion to-day is a firm "No sir." The Christian now sees truth
clearly and feels it his duty to uphold it. There is now free
discussion of religious questions. A Christian discusses with Moslem
priest if he chooses. And sometimes they call at the homes of Moslems
and read the Bible to them. The Christian feels it his duty to discuss
with any one who approaches him, as he possesses light which that one
needs. There is in one city an evangelical church in which all of its
members are Mohammedan converts, while many other churches have a few.
The spirit of these converts is that of martyrs. The Koran teaches that
any Mohammedan who denounces the faith deserves death, and that one who
kills the deserter has done a noble deed. Some of these converts have
suffered martyrdom and one who was killed after great torture, prayed
as his last words: "O Jesus we thank Thee that Thou hast made us worthy
to be Thy martyrs. Our supplication is that our blood may become as
seed to Thy church." No doubt God will answer this prayer in due time.
The seed is sown; the leaven is mingled and will in time, no doubt,
leaven the 9,000,000 Mohammedans.

The writer, a representative of the evangelical missions, wishes to
express his deep gratitude to the American Board who started mission
work in Persia, and to the Presbyterian Church, which, in 1871, assumed
the responsibility of the work and has since so nobly carried it on.

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