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Title: Pan-Islam
Author: Bury, G. Wyman (George Wyman), 1874-
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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_Author of "The Land of Us," "Arabia Infelix."_





I have written this book to present the main factors of a many-sided
problem--political, social and religious--in a form which the general
public can easily grasp.

Modern democratic principles tend to give the public increasing control
of international and inter-racial affairs, and therefore any
contribution to public knowledge on such questions is in the interests
of sound administration.

The book is not intended to advise those who actually handle these
affairs: I give such advice, when required, in more detail and not
through the medium of a published work.

"Pan-Islam" is an elementary handbook, not a text-book--still less an
exhaustive treatise, but the questions it discusses are real enough. My
qualifications for writing it are based on a quarter of a century's
experience of the subject in most parts of the Moslem world, and I have
studied the question in areas which I have not actually visited through
intercourse with pilgrims from those parts.

I have no axe to grind or infallible panacea to advocate; I merely lay
the result of my researches before the public for its information, as
failing health has warned me to "pass the ball when collared," and I
would like to think that the land where most of my life's work has
centred will not be mishandled by cranks and opportunists after I have
left the game.

An arm-chair is a sorry substitute for an Arab pony, and a garden plot
for the highlands of Arabia Felix, but the human mind is not necessarily
confined by such trammels, and if my environment is narrow I hope my
book is not.

                                                      G. WYMAN BURY.

Helouan, 27th July, 1919.



            CHAPTER I

    ITS ORIGIN AND MEANING          11

            CHAPTER II

    ITS BEARING ON THE WAR          24

            CHAPTER III


            CHAPTER IV

    MOSLEM AND MISSIONARY          110

            CHAPTER V

    A PLEA FOR TOLERANCE           187




Much has been written about Christianity and Islam, so I hasten to
inform my readers that this is not a religious treatise, nor do I class
them with the globe-trotter who searched Benares brass-bazar diligently
for "a really nice image of Allah" and pronounced the dread name of
Hindustan's avenging goddess like an effervescing drink.

I presuppose that Christians or Moslems who read this book have got
beyond the stage of calling each other pagans or _kafirs_, and it will
have served its purpose if it brings about a friendlier feeling between
the two great militant creeds whose adherents have confronted together
many a stricken field.

Most people have heard of the pan-Islamic movement, especially during
the War. Some of us have called it a political bogey and some a
world-menace, but these are extremist views--it is really the practical
protest of Moslems against the exploitation of their spiritual and
material resources by outsiders.

Pan-Islam (as its name implies) is a movement to weld together Moslems
throughout the world regardless of nationality. The ethics and ideals of
Islam are more attainable to ordinary human beings than those of
Christianity: whether it is better to aim high and score a partial
success or aim lower and achieve is a matter of personal opinion and
need not be discussed here, but one tangible fact stands out--that
Islam, with its easier moral standard and frequent physical discipline
of attitudes and observances connected with obligatory prayer, enters
far more into the daily life of its adherents than Christianity does
with us. Hence pan-Islam is more than a spiritual movement: it is a
practical, working proposition which has to be reckoned with when
dealing with Moslems even in secular matters.

Pan-Islam is no new thing--it is as old as the Hejira, and then helped
to knit together Moslem Arabs against their pagan compatriots who were
persecuting them. In the palmy days of the Abbaside Caliphate it was
quiescent enough, and men of all creeds were welcomed at Baghdad for
their art, learning, or handicraft when we were massacring Jews in
London as part of a coronation pageant.

Medieval Moslems never fanned the movement into flame as long as they
were let alone, and even now tribes living beyond the scope of
missionaries and traders prefer the Christian traveller whom they know
to the Moslem stranger from the coast whom they usually distrust, and
who, to do him justice, seldom ventures among them, unless compelled by
paramount self-interest, generally in connection with some European
scheme or other.

Hitherto pan-Islam had been an instinctive and entirely natural
_riposte_ to the menace or actual aggression of non-Moslems; it assumed
the character of a definite organisation under the crafty touch of that
wily diplomat Abdul Hamid, once called by harsh critics "the Damned,"
though his efforts in that direction have been quite eclipsed by more
recent exponents.

In extreme evangelical circles it used to be frequently urged that
pan-Islam was a bugbear discovered, if not created, by one of India's
most eminent Viceroys, whose remarks thereon are said to have given
Abdul Hamid the hint. This method of eliminating a danger by denying its
existence has been discredited, since 1914, as completely as the
somewhat similar one (attributed to Mississippi engineers) of sitting on
the safety-valve just too long for safety. Moreover, in view of Abdul's
undoubted ability, he probably discovered for himself its efficacy as a
weapon of reprisal when hard pressed by pertinacious and inquisitive
Ambassadors, for he often found himself much embarrassed in his dealings
with Armenia and other domestic affairs by the intrusions of the more
formidable Christian Powers.

Great Britain naturally felt the point of this weapon most as governing
wide Moslem territories, and one can imagine some such interview as

"Frontier rectifications, my dear Sir Nicholas? By all means--and,
talking about frontiers, I do hope affairs are quite quiet now on your
north-west frontier; I take such an interest in my East Indian

And those Britons who have handled Oriental affairs for the last twenty
years can appreciate the extent of that interest when we remember that
even while Yamen Arabs were fighting the Turks, their neighbours on the
Aden side of the frontier were praying in their mosques that the Sultan
and his troops might be victorious "by land and sea."

All this, however, was merely playing with intrigue as a political
counterpoise; it remained for a Christian nation to put pan-Islam on a
business footing. First we have polite bagmen calling at Stamboul with
German guns and a German military system. Then "our Mr. William" of the
well-known Potsdam firm of Hohenzollern and Sons made his great
advertising campaign in the Near East; many of us remembered his
theatrical visit to Saladin's tomb and the tawdry wreath with its
bombastic inscription, "From the Emperor of the Franks to the Emperor of
the Saracens--Greeting."

That astute "pilgrim" made himself especially affable to the American
Protestant missionaries in the Holy Land, preached to a small but select
congregation at the church of the Holy Sepulchre, and posed alternately
as a pious but militant Moslem (when Hajji Guiyaum rode in military pomp
into Jerusalem) and as a prince of peace. That the hospice of Kaiserin
Augusta Victoria on the top of the Mount of Olives was loop-holed for
musketry and mounted a searchlight in its tower that could signal with
Haifa was possibly due to some wayward caprice of the builder, but it
came in very useful later on. So did the scholarly researches of eminent
Germans in Sinai, assisted as they were by maps which the Anglo-Egyptian
authorities courteously placed at their disposal, and which formed a
basis for a more detailed survey of wells and routes.

But the old firm at Potsdam excelled itself in its representatives on
the Palestine coast. There was, for example, the German Consul at Haifa
famed for his culture and diplomacy (the Teutonic brand), who also spoke
Arabic, Turkish, French and English fluently. This gifted official
frequented native cafés, where he fraternised with the local Arabs and
conducted a vigorous verbal propaganda against the Entente. Then there
was the German engineer who wrecked the British railway scheme to
connect Haifa and Damascus and re-naturalised as a German citizen after
being American Consul. The Belgian Vice-Consul too, that merry Hun, who
was also agent for our Khedivial mail line. When the Turks came in
against us this good and faithful servant danced on the Belgian and
British flags and threw himself heart and soul into pan-Islamic

Nor must we overlook that reverend pastor and Koranic scholar who
distributed anti-Christian and more especially anti-British propaganda
by means of native emissaries. Last but not least, the Herr Direktor of
the Hejaz Railway, who was collecting railway material for Sinai before
war broke out. Some time before the Turks came in he imported, for the
alleged use of the Jewish technical school, so great a quantity of high
explosives that it caused a panic in Haifa. Yet it did not sufficiently
impress our Levantine Vice-Consul there for him to report it, though the
German Consul's remarkable activity to get the stuff landed might have
given him the hint.

At Jeddah our Khedivial Mail Agency, under the good old English name of
Robinson, was a perfect nest of Germans and pro-German Dutchmen when I
called there in 1912. They were very active early in the War, but had
wisely disappeared before my last visit, when Jeddah fell to our
blockade and bombardment.

As for Hodeidah, the chief port of Yamen, it was the happy
hunting-ground of a great German firm, and the American Consul was
himself a German.

Decidedly, for people who believed that they had a monopoly of Divine
assistance, they had taken a lot of pains that their Holy War should be
a success.

To grasp the world-wide conspiracy which hatched out so many formidable
events during the War and to appreciate the causes which contributed to
its final collapse we must take a comprehensive glance at the Ottoman
Caliphate and how it came about.

Remember, the Ottoman Turks are not Semitic, as is the bulk of the
Moslem world. Tradition derives them from Turk, son of Japhet, and they
are a Turco-Mongol blend which most people agree to call Tartar. Their
language is closely allied to Mongolian, though written in Arabic, or
rather Persian, character, and its Arabic words are pronounced
unintelligibly to an Arab. A true Turk learns Arabic with difficulty,
and a far higher percentage of Britons in India speak Hindustani than
Turks do Arabic in Turkish Arabia.

Then, again, look at their early history. Their Mongol-Turkish ancestors
were driven westward because they made Mongolia too hot for them, and we
hear of Turks smelting iron for their Mongol masters in what is now
Eastern Turkestan until they threw off the Mongol yoke in A.D. 552, when
Turkish history begins.

At the dawn of Islam (A.D. 632) Turks and Mongols were harrying each
other all over the Caspian countries like rival wolf-packs, sometimes
combining for a raid on their neighbours and then fighting over the
loot. That is why you find racial Turks in such outlandish places as
Merv, Khiva, Samarcand, Bokhara and Cabul, for the Turkish race is not
confined to Asia Minor and Turkey in Europe, but is scattered over parts
of Russia and China and Afghanistan.

Now to consider the Ottoman Turks, with whom we are chiefly concerned.
They were superior to their Mongol fellow-wolves in that they could
smelt iron and had some idea of constructive enterprise. They had also
adopted Islam, which was a great advance from the Shamanistic wizardry
and totem-worship they used to practise, and their contact with the
Arabs who raided them and afterwards accepted their military service to
the Caliphate had civilised them considerably. Their Seljouk cousins
were already ruling in Asia Minor, whither they had been driven by the
Mongols when a wandering Turkish band sought similar asylum there in the
earlier part of the thirteenth century and intervened most opportunely
to help the Seljouks repulse a Mongol raid; in return, the Seljouk
Emperor gave them a grant of land in Bithynia.

In 1300 the Seljouk Empire was finally smashed by the Mongols, who
withdrew eastward without occupying the country, for they were merely
predatory and destructive and had no gift or desire for permanent
colonisation. So it came about that the Ottoman Empire began in 1326
under Othman I in Bithynia and grew by absorption and lack of effective
opposition until, in 1517, we find it spreading under Selim I (the
Magnificent) to the gates of Vienna and extending from Germany to Persia
and from Arabia to the Atlantic.

The benign sun of the Arabian Caliphate, under which learning and
industry flourished securely, had long since set in blood under
circumstances of treachery and murder which have hardly been surpassed
even in the late war.

Under the later Abbasides, when the glories of the Caliphate were
waning, there were bitter dissensions between Sunnis and Shiahs (the
main orthodox and schismatic sects of Islam) which culminated in fierce
rioting at Baghdad in 1258. The then Caliph was foolish enough to appeal
for assistance against the schismatic seditionists to his Mongol
neighbours. It had been done before under similar conditions, and even
in these days such a manoeuvre seems still to appeal to some types of
religious fanaticism, judging by certain passages between our sister
isle and the modern Hun. On the above occasion, however, it was
practised once too often. Hulaku Khan, the fierce Mongol chief, had long
had his eye on Baghdad as holding princely loot in all too slack a grip,
for the Caliphate had been relying on Tartar mercenaries for years.

He approached that queen of cities, as she then was, with a great host,
lured the Caliph out to meet him by the promise of an alliance, and
murdered the whole party, the Caliph being trampled to death. Then
Baghdad was given over to sack and massacre for more than a month, by
which time 1,800,000 people are said to have perished.

The Caliphate was transplanted to Cairo, where it dragged out an anæmic
existence until Selim I seized it, with the person of the then Caliph,
by right of conquest, and it has been an appanage of the Ottoman
reigning house ever since.

Selim the Magnificent may be called the Turkish top-note. After him the
Ottoman Empire gradually declined. It has generally taken advantage of
disaster or dissension to extend its borders--a precarious method of
empire-building unless consolidated by benevolent and sound
administration, which is not a feature of Turkish rule. Add to this the
facts that Turks are slack Moslems, that the national party which ousted
Abdul Hamid (himself most orthodox) is not religious at all, with all
its barbarian, totemistic nonsense of the "White Wolf," and that they
_would_ pose as conquerors on insufficient grounds, and we begin to see
why they have been kicked out of their Asiatic empire bit by bit.

If Turk and Mongol had been capable of dynastic evolution and
co-ordinate policy they might have shared most of the Eastern Hemisphere
between them. We have seen the high-water mark of the Ottoman Empire;
Marco Polo has told us of Kubla Khan's Chinese Empire, and the Moguls
did much for India in their prime. But the wolf-taint was in their
blood, and just as a pet wolf gets fat and degenerate, so it has been
with these Tartars. Their undoubted soldierly qualities are sapped by
luxury, and they possess no constructive gifts which peace and
prosperity might develop. Hence it is that every empire they have
founded has risen to a culminating point of conquest and then dwindled
away in sloth and corruption.

The Turk is not fit to be put in charge of any race but his own, for he
is at heart a bitter wolf who will turn and rend without ruth or
warning. I have met Turks who have shown tact, humanity, and ability
under trying conditions, and I have met well-mannered wolves in
captivity, but would not trust the pack ranging in its native forest. I
once heard a member of our Ottoman Embassy who has unique experience of
the Turk size him up as follows: "The Turk can be a suave and cultured
gentleman till his time comes, and then he will tear your guts out and
_dance_ on them." It was the Seljouk Turks whose persecutions caused
the Crusades. Before them, Arab rule in Palestine was tolerant enough,
and the Caliph Omar was scrupulously careful when he entered Jerusalem
as a conqueror to respect Christian prejudices and the monuments of our

So it came about that their empire was dropping from them piecemeal even
before the War, for a race that can no longer conquer and has never
learned to conciliate must draw in its borders or cease to exist as a

When war broke out Turkey was just hanging on to the last scrap of her
empire in Europe and had lost all but the shadow of sovereignty in
Egypt, while Arabia was seething with discontent, where not in actual
revolt, and regarded the belated efforts of local officials to govern
tactfully as signs of weakness.

The colossal brigandage of Germany appealed to her freebooting
instincts, although it took a corrupt, self-seeking Government and a
final push from the "Goeben" and the "Breslau" to plunge her into war
against her best friends.

To proclaim a _jihad_ was her obvious course, if only to keep Arabia
moderately quiet, apart from its value as a weapon against her Christian
foes. We will now see how she fared in the "Holy War."



Quite early in the War those of us who had to deal with pan-Islamic
propaganda realised that the widespread organisation which Germany had
grafted on to the original Turkish movement must have existed some time
before the outbreak of actual hostilities.

For example, there was a snug, smooth-running concern at San Francisco
which spread its tentacles all over the Moslem world, but specialised in
a seditious newspaper called _El'-Ghadr_, which means treachery or
mutiny. This was particularly directed at our Indian Army, but Egypt was
not forgotten. A gifted censor sent us an early copy, but had,
unfortunately, lost the wrapper, so our earnest desire to make the
addressee's closer acquaintance was thwarted.

Stamboul was naturally an active centre, and, before the Turks entered
the War, Turkish officers in full uniform, and sometimes even wearing
swords, permeated Cairo cafés with espionage and verbal propaganda,
trying to fan into flame the military ardour of Egyptian students and
men about town. This last activity was wasted effort, as anyone who knew
the type could have told them; the effendis abstained from the crudities
of personal service and confined themselves to stirring up the town
riffraff, who wanted a safer form of villainy than open riot, and the
_fellahin_, who wanted a safe market for their produce and easy
taxation, both of which they stood to lose by violence. Many a _fellah_
still believes that the War was a myth created by the authorities to put
prices up. Even Teuton activity failed to stimulate these placid folk,
and the glad tidings preached by the madder type of German missionary
that the Kaiser was the Messiah left them unmoved.

When the Turks came in against us, and the ex-Khedive, safe among his
new-found friends, threw off the mask, the Cairene effendis became
tremendously active. Forgetting how they had disliked Abbas II and
called him a huckstering profligate, they mourned for his deposal by
wearing black ties, especially the students. Some of these enthusiastic
young heroes even went so far as to scatter chlorate of potash crackers
about when their school was visited by poor old Sultan Husein (who was
worth six of his predecessor), and he got quite a shock, which was
flagrantly and noisomely accentuated by asafoetida bomblets.

The ex-Khedive did not share their patriotic grief. He was quite
comfortable while awaiting the downfall of British rule, for, with
shrewd prescience that almost seems inspired, he had taken prudent
measures for his future comfort and luxury before leaving Egypt on his
usual summer tour to Europe. He had mortgaged real estate up to the
hilt, realised on immobile property as far as possible, and diverted his
fluid assets through various channels beyond the reach of his sorrowing
subjects and the Egyptian Government. When an official inventory was
taken in Abdin Palace at the accession of the late Sultan Husein, it was
ascertained that the famous inlaid and begemmed coffee-service, which,
like our Crown jewels, was not supposed to leave the country, had been
sent after the ex-Khedive to his new address--truly a man of parts. I
have often wondered whether his Hunnish friends got him to disgorge by
means of a forced loan or war-bonds, or something of that sort. If so,
they achieved something notable, for he has left behind him, beside his
liabilities, the name of being a difficult man to get money out of.

When the Turco-Teuton blade was actually drawn in Holy War I was down
with enteric, which I had contracted while working in disguise among
seditious circles in the slums of Old Cairo. I just convalesced in time
to join the Intelligence Staff on the Canal the day before Jemal Pasha's
army attacked. His German staff had everything provided for in advance
with their usual thoroughness. From the documents and prisoners that
came through our hands we learnt that the hotel in Cairo where the
victors were to dine after their triumphant entry had actually been
selected, and some enthusiasts went so far as to insist that the menu
had been prepared. If so, they omitted to get the Canal Army on toast,
and for want of this indispensable item the event fell through. All the
same, it was a soldierly enterprise, and if the Senussis had invaded in
force or the population risen behind us, as they hoped would be the
case, the result might have been different.

As it was they put up a very good fight and their arrangements for
getting across the Sinaitic desert were excellent. For the last ten
miles they man-handled their pontoons to the edge of the Canal. These
craft were marvels of lightness and carrying capacity, but, of course,
no protection whatever against even a rifle-bullet, and they had not
fully reckoned with the Franco-British naval flotilla, which proved a
formidable factor.

The morning after the main fight a little Syrian subaltern passed
through my hands. He had been slightly wounded in the leg and still
showed signs of nervous shock, so I made him sit down with a cigarette
while I questioned him. He had been in charge of a pontoon manned by his
party and said that they had got halfway across the Canal in perfect
silence when "the mouth of hell opened" and the pontoon was sinking in a
swirl of stricken men amid a hail of projectiles. He and two others swam
to our side of the Canal, where they surrendered to an Indian

Our Indian troops on the Canal were naturally a mark for pan-Islamic
propaganda reinforced by Hindu literature of the _Bande Mataram_
type,--a double-barrelled enterprise to bag both the great creeds of
India. The astute propagandists had a pamphlet or two aimed at Sikhism,
which they seemed to consider a nation, as they spoke of their national
aspirations, though an elementary study of the subject might have taught
them that it was a religious and secular movement originally intended to
curb Moslem power in India during the sway of the later Moguls. Anyone
but a Moslem can be a Sikh.

Naturally I was on the _qui vive_ for signs of pan-Islamic activity on
the enemy's side, and I questioned my little Syrian very closely to
ascertain how far the movement was used as a driving force among the
troops engaged against us. He, personally, had rather a grievance on the
subject, for the Indian Moslems who took him had reproached him bitterly
for fighting on the wrong side. "I fought," he said, "because it was my
duty as an officer of the Ottoman Army. I know that men were invited to
join as for a _jihad_, but we officers did not deceive ourselves. _Par
exemple_, I think myself a better Moslem than any Turk, but what would
you?" I consoled the little man while concealing my satisfaction at the
feeling displayed against him. An extraordinarily heterogeneous
collection of prisoners came dribbling through my hands directly after
the Turks were repulsed. Most were practically deserters who had been
forcibly enrolled, given a Mauser and a bandoleer, and told to go and
fight for the Holy Places of Islam. As one of the more intelligent
remarked, "If the Holy Places are really in danger, what are we doing
down this way?"

They came from all over the Moslem world. There were one or two Russian
pilgrims returning from Mecca to be snapped up by the military
authorities at Damascus railway station when they got out of the pilgrim
train from Medina. There were cabdrivers from Jerusalem, a stranded
pilgrim from China, several Tripolitans who had been roped in on the
Palestine seaboard while trying to get a passage home, a Moor who tried
to embrace my feet when I spoke of the snow-crowned Atlas above Morocco
City (Marraksh) and told him that he would be landed at Tangier in due
course--Inshallah. Of course we released, and repatriated as far as we
could, men who were not Ottoman subjects and had obviously been forced
into service against us. A few days later, when Jemal Pasha's army was
getting into commissariat difficulties out in the Sinaitic desert (for
the Staff had relied on entering Egypt), we began to get the real Turks
among our prisoners.

I was very curious to ascertain if they had been worked up with
pan-Islamic propaganda or carried any of it on them, for there was not
even a Red Crescent Koran on any of the Arabic-speaking prisoners. A
search of their effects revealed a remarkable phase of propaganda. There
was hardly any religious literature except a loose page or two of some
pious work like the "Traditions of Muhammad," but there were quantities
of rather crude (and very lewd) picture-cards portraying soldiers in
Turkish uniform outraging and murdering nude or semi-nude women and
children, while corpses in priestly garb, shattered crucifixes, and
burning churches indicated the creed that was being so harried and gave
the scene a stimulating background. From their appearance I should say
these pictures were originally engraved to commemorate Balkan or
Armenian atrocities, but their possessors, on being closely questioned,
admitted that the impression conveyed to them was of the joyous licence
which was to be theirs among the Frankish civilians after forcing the
Canal. One Kurdish gentleman had among his kit fancy socks, knitted
craftily in several vivid colours, also ornate slippers to wear in his
promised palatial billet at Cairo. There were some odd articles among
the kit of these Turkish prisoners, to wit, a brand-new garden
thermometer, which some wag insisted was for testing the temperature of
the Canal before immersion, and a lavatory towel looted from the Hejaz
railway. Still, nothing was quite so remarkable as a white flag with a
jointed staff in a neat, compact case which had been carried by a German
officer. Among his papers was an indecent post-card not connected, I
think, with propaganda of any sort, as it portrayed a bright-coloured
female of ripe figure and Teutonic aspect, wearing a pair of long
stockings and high-heeled shoes, and bore the legend "Gruss von

A certain coyness, or possibly an appreciation of their personal value,
kept most of the German officers from actual contact with our line. Only
one reached the Canal bank, and he is there still. The German touch,
however, was much in evidence. There were detailed written orders about
manning the pontoons, not to talk, cough, sneeze, etc., and for each man
to move along the craft as far as feasible and then sit down. They seem
to have relied entirely on surprise, and ignored the chance of its
occurring on the wrong side of the Canal. The emergency rations too
which we found on the earlier batches of prisoners had a distinctly
Teutonic flavour--they were so scientifically nourishing in theory and
so vilely inedible in practice. They were a species of flat gluten cake
rather like a dog-biscuit, but much harder. An amateur explosive expert
of ours tested one of these things by attempting detonation and ignition
before he would let his batch of prisoners retain them, which, to do
their intelligence justice, they were not keen on doing, but offered any
quantity of the stuff for cigarettes. We ascertained from them that you
were supposed to soak it in water before tackling it in earnest, but as
the only supply (except the runlet they still carried on them) was in
the fresh-water canal behind our unshaken line, such a course was not
practicable; the discovery of a very dead Turk some days later in that
canal led to the ribald suggestion that he had rashly endeavoured to eat
his ration. Our scientist laid great stress on its extraordinary
nutritive properties, but desisted, after breaking a tooth off his
denture, in actual experiment.

German influence, too, was apparent in the relations between officers
and men. A Turkish _yuzbashi_ was asked to get a big batch of prisoners
to form two groups according to the languages they spoke--Arabic or
Turkish. It was not an easy task in the open on a pitch-black night, but
he did it with soldierly promptitude and flung his glowing cigarette end
in the face of a dilatory private. As a natural corollary it may be
mentioned here that one or two of our prisoners had deserted after
shooting officers who had struck them.

For some days after the battles of Serapeum and Toussoum we expected
another attempt, but they had been more heavily mauled than we thought
at first. The dead in the Canal were kept down by the weight of their
ammunition for some time, and the shifting sand on the Sinaitic side
was always revealing hastily-buried corpses on their line of retreat.

Jemal Pasha hurried back to Gaza and published a grandiloquent report
for Moslem consumption, to the effect that the Turks were already in
Cairo (as was indeed the case with many hundreds), and that, of the
_giaour_ fleet, one ship had sunk, one had been set on fire, and the
rest had fled. Two heavy howitzers, as a matter of fact, had managed by
indirect fire from a concealed position to land a couple of projectiles
on the "Hardinge," which was not originally built for such rough
treatment, being an Indian marine vessel taken over by the Navy. She
gave more than she got when her four-point-sevens found the massed
Turkish supports.

A great deal of criticism has been flung at this first series of fights
on the Canal, mostly by Anglo-Egyptian civilians. They asked derisively
whether we were protecting the Canal or the Canal us. The answer is in
the affirmative to both questions. Ordinary steamer traffic was only
suspended for a day during the first onslaught, and the G.O.C. was not
such a fool as to leave the Canal in his rear and forgo the defensive
advantage. There are some who, in their military ardour, would have had
him pursue the enemy into the desert, forgetting that to leave a sound
position and pursue a superior force on an ever-widening front in a
barren country which they know better than you do and have furnished
with their own supply-bases is just asking for trouble. Our few
aeroplanes in those days could only reconnoitre twenty miles out, and
there was no evidence that the enemy had not merely fallen back to his
line of wells preparatory to another attempt. We had not then the men,
material, or resources for a triumphant advance into Sinai; it was
enough to make sure of keeping the enemy that side of the Canal with the
Senussi sitting on the fence and Egypt honeycombed with seditious

Anyone at all in touch with native life in Cairo could gauge the extent
of propagandist activity by gossip at cafés and in the bazars. The
Senussi was marching against us. India was in revolt and the Indian Army
on the Canal had joined the Turks. The crowning stroke of ingenuity was
a tale that received wide credence among quite intelligent Egyptians. It
was to the effect that the Turks had commandeered an enormous number of
camels and empty kerosene tins. This was quite true so far, but the yarn
then rose to the following flight of fancy: These empty tins were to be
filled with dry cement and loaded on camels, which were to be marched
without water for days until they reached the Canal, when the pangs of
thirst would compel them to rush madly into the water. The cement would
solidify and the Faithful would march across on a composite bridge of
camel and concrete. Our flotilla was to be penned in by similar means.

There must be something about a Turk that hypnotises an Egyptian. His
country has suffered appallingly under Ottoman rule, and a pure-blooded
Turk can seldom be decently civil to him and considers him almost
beneath contempt. This is the conquering Tartar pose that has earned the
Turk such detestation and final ruin in Arabia, but it seems to have
fascinated the Egyptian like a rabbit in the presence of a python. Quite
early in the Turkish invasion of Sinai a detachment of Egyptian camelry,
operating in conjunction with the Bikanirs, deserted _en masse_ to the
enemy. It was at first supposed that they had been captured, but we
afterwards heard of their being fêted somewhere in Palestine. On the
other hand, an Egyptian battery did yeoman service on the Canal; I saw a
pontoon that looked like a carelessly opened sardine-tin as a result of
its attentions.

The most tragic aspect of this spurious and mischievous propaganda was
its victims from Indian regiments. The Indian Moslem as a rule has no
illusions about the Turks, and will fight them at sight, but there will
always be a few misguided bigots to whom a specious and dogmatic
argument will appeal. There is no occasion to dwell on these cases,
which were sporadic only and generally soon met with the fate incurred
by attempted desertion to the enemy.

We looked on the movement as an insidious and dangerous disease and did
our best to trace it to its source and stop the distributing channels.
After events on the Canal had simmered down, I was seconded to Cairo to
help tackle the movement there: to show how little hold it had over the
minds of thinking Moslems. I may mention that my colleague was a Pathan
major who was a very strict Moslem and a first-rate fellow to boot.

We both served under an Anglo-Indian major belonging to the C.I.D., one
of the most active little men I have ever met. There were also several
"ferrets," or Intelligence agents, who came into close contact with the
"suspects" and could be trusted up to a certain point if you looked
sharply after them. This is as much as can be said for any of these men,
though some are better, and some worse, than others. On the Canal we
employed numbers of them to keep us informed of the enemy's movements
and used to check them with the aerial reconnaissance--they needed it.
It did not take us long to find out that these sophisticated Sinaites
had established an Intelligence bureau of their own. They used to meet
their "opposite numbers" employed by the enemy at pre-arranged spots
between the lines and swop information, thereby avoiding unnecessary
toil or risk (the Sinaitic Bedouin loathes both) and obtaining news of
interest for both sides. It was a magnificently simple scheme; its sole
flaw was in failing to realise that some of us had played the Great Game
before. We used to time our emissaries to their return and cross-check
them where their wanderings intersected those of others--all were
supposed to be trackers and one or two knew something about it. Of
course they were searched and researched on crossing and returning to
our outpost line, for they could not be trusted to refuse messages to or
from the Turks. It was among this coterie that the brilliant idea
originated of shaving a messenger's head, writing a despatch on his
scalp, and then letting his hair grow before he started to deliver it. I
doubt if any of our folk were thorough enough for this, but we tested
for it occasionally, and an unpleasant job it was. Generally they would
incur suspicion by their too speedy return and the nonchalant way in
which they imparted tidings which would have driven them into ecstasies
of self-appreciation had they obtained such by legitimate methods. Then
a purposely false bit of information calculated to cause certain
definite action on the other side would usually betray them. Some
purists suggested a firing party as a fitting end for these gambits, but
that would have been a waste. Such men have their uses, until they know
they are suspected, as valuable channels of misinformation. No doubt the
enemy knew this too, and that is how an Intelligence Officer earns his
pay, by sifting grain from chaff as it comes in and sending out empty
husks and mouldy news.

But to return to Cairo. We netted a good deal of small fry, but only
landed one big fish during the time I was attached. He was a
Mesopotamian and a very respectable old gentleman, who followed the
calling of astrologer and peripatetic quack--a common combination and
admirably adapted for distributing propaganda. He came from Stamboul
through Athens with exemplary credentials, and might have got through to
India, which was the landfall he proposed to make, if his propagandist
energy had not led him to deviate on a small side-tour in Egypt. Here
we got on his track, and I boarded the Port Said express at short notice
while he and the "ferret" who had picked him up got into a third-class
compartment lower down. As the agent made no signal after the train had
pulled out, I knew our man had not got the bulk of his propaganda with
him, otherwise I had powers to hold up the express, for it was more
important to get his stuff than the man himself. At Port Said he had a
chance of seeing me, thanks to the agent's clumsiness, and I had to
shave my beard off and buy a sun-helmet in consequence, for I was
travelling in the same ship along the Canal to see that he did not
communicate with troops on either side of the bank, and on the slightest
suspicion he would have put his stuff over the side. All went smoothly
and he was arrested in Suez roads by plain-clothes men with a sackful of
seditious literature for printing broadcast in India. Of course they
arrested the "ferret" too, as is usual in these cases. I went ashore
with them in the police-launch as a casual traveller and was amused to
hear the agent rating the old man for not having prophesied this mishap
when telling his fortune the night before.

The propagandist was merely interned in a place of security--it was not
our policy to make martyrs of such men, especially when they were _bona
fide_ Ottoman subjects.

I was rather out of touch with the pan-Islamic movement during the
summer of 1915, as my lungs had become seriously affected on the Canal,
and the trouble became so acute that I had to spend two or three months
in the hills of Cyprus. Before I had been there a week the G.O.C. troops
in Egypt cabled for me to return and proceed to Aden as political
officer with troops.

I was too ill then to move and had to cable to that effect. My chagrin
at missing a "show" was much alleviated when I heard what the show was.
As it had a marked effect on the pan-Islamic campaign by enhancing
Turkish prestige, it is not out of place to give some account of it

While I was still on the Canal in February (1915) a "memo" was sent for
my information from Headquarters at Cairo to say that the Turks had
invaded the Aden protectorate at Dhala, where I once served on a
boundary commission.

I noted the fact and presumed that Aden was quite able to cope with the
situation, as the Turks had a most difficult terrain to traverse before
they could get clear of the hills and reach the littoral, while the
hinterland tribes are noted for their combatant instincts and efficiency
in guerilla warfare, besides being anti-Turk. I had, however, in spite
of many years' experience, failed to reckon with Aden apathy. True to
the policy of _laissez faire_ which was inaugurated when our Boundary
Commission withdrew some twelve years ago, Aden had been depending for
news of her own protectorate on office files and native report,
especially on that much overrated friend and ally the Lahej sultanate.
The Turks knew all about this, for the leakage of Aden affairs which
trickles through Lahej and over the Yamen border is, and has been for
years, a flagrant scandal.

The invasion at Dhala was a feint just to test the soundness of official
slumber at Aden; the obvious route for a large force was down the Tiban
valley, owing to the easier going and the permanent water-supply.

Our border-sultan (the Haushabi) was suborned with leisurely
thoroughness all unknown to his next-door neighbour, that purblind
sultanate at Lahej, unless the latter refrained from breaking Aden's
holy calm with such unpleasant news.

In May Aden stirred in her sleep and sent out the Aden troop to
reconnoitre. This fine body of Indian cavalry and camelry reported that
affairs seemed serious up the Tiban valley; then inertia reasserted
itself and they were recalled. Also the Lahej sultanate, in a spasm of
economy, started disbanding the Arab levies collected for the emergency
from the tribes of the remoter hinterland which have supplied fine
mercenaries to many oriental sultanates for many centuries.

The watchful Turk, with his unmolested spy system, had noted every move
of these pitiful blunders, and, at the psychological moment, came
pouring down the Tiban valley some 3,000 strong with another 5,000 Arab
levies. They picked up the Haushabi on the way, whose main idea was to
get a free kick at Lahej, just as an ordinary human boy will serve some
sneak and prig to whom a slack schoolmaster has relegated his own
obvious duty of supervision. To do that inadequate sultanate justice, it
tried to bar the way with its own trencher-fed troops and such levies as
it had, but was brushed aside contemptuously by the hardier levies
opposed to it and the overwhelming fire of the Turkish field batteries.
Then a distraught and frantic palace emitted mounted messengers to Aden
for assistance like minute-guns from a sinking ship.

Aden behaved exactly like a startled hen. She ran about clucking and
collecting motor-cars, camel transport, anything. The authorities dared
not leave their pet sultan in the lurch--questions might be asked in the
House. On the other hand they had made no adequate arrangements to
protect him. Just as a demented hen will leave her brood at the mercy of
a hovering kite to round up one stray chick instead of sitting tight and
calling it in under her wing, so Aden made a belated and insane attempt
to save Lahej.

The Aden Movable Column, a weak brigade of Indians, young Territorials,
and guns, marched out at 2 p.m. on July 4, _i.e._ at the hottest time of
day, in the hottest season of the year and the hottest part of the
world. Motor-cars were used to convey the infantry of the advanced
guard, but the main body had to march in full equipment with ammunition.
The casualties from sunstroke were appalling. The late G.O.C. troops in
Egypt mentioned them to me in hundreds, and one of the Aden "politicals"
told me that not a dozen of the territorial battalion remained effective
at the end of the day. Many were bowled over by the heat before they had
gone two miles.

Most of the native camel transport, carrying water, ammunition and
supplies,--and yet unescorted and not even attended by a responsible
officer--sauntered off into the desert and vanished from the ken of that
ill-fated column.

Meanwhile the advanced guard of 250 men (mostly Indians) and two
10-pounder mountain-guns pushed on with all speed to Lahej, which was
being attacked by several thousand Turks and Turco-Arabs with 15-pounder
field batteries and machine-guns. They found the palace and part of the
town on fire when they arrived, and fought the Turks hand-to-hand in the
streets. They held on all through that sweltering night, and only
retired when dawn showed them the hopeless nature of their task and the
fact that they were being outflanked. They fell back on the main body,
which had stuck halfway at a wayside well (Bir Nasir) marked so
obviously by ruins that even Aden guides could not miss it. Shortage of
water was the natural result of sitting over a well that does not even
supply a settlement, but merely the ordinary needs of wayfarers.

This well is marked on the Aden protectorate survey map (which is
procurable by the general public) as Bir Muhammad, its full name being
Bir Muhammad Nasir. There are five wells supplying settlements within
half an hour's walk of it on either side of the track, but when we
remember that the column's field-guns got no further owing to heavy
sand, and that the aforesaid track is frequently traversed by ordinary
_tikkagharries_, we realise the local knowledge available.

The column straggled back to the frontier town of Sheikh Othman, which
they prepared to defend, but Simla, by this time thoroughly alarmed,
ordered them back for the defence of Aden, and they returned without
definite achievement other than the accidental shooting of the Lahej
sultan. This was hardly the fault of the heroic little band which
reached Lahej; that ill-starred potentate was escaping with his mounted
retinue before dawn and cantered on top of an Indian outpost without the
formality of answering their challenge. He was brought away in a
motor-car and died at Aden a few days later--another victim to this
deplorable blunder. Any intelligent and timely grasp of the enemy's
strength and intention would have given the poor man ample time to pack
his inlaid hookahs, Persian carpets, and other palace treasures and
withdraw in safety to Aden while our troops made good the Sheikh Othman
line along the British frontier. I am presuming that Aden was too much
taken by surprise to have met the Turks in a position of her own
choosing while they were still entangled in hilly country where levies
of the right sort could have harried them to some purpose, backed by
disciplined, unspent troops and adequate guns. What I wish to impress
is that the Intelligence Department at Aden must have been abominably
served and organised, for I decline to believe that _any_ G.O.C. would
have attempted such an enterprise with such a force and at such a time
had he any information as to the real nature of his task. As it was, the
British town of Sheikh Othman, within easy sight of Aden across the
harbour, was held by the Turks until a reinforcing column came down from
the Canal and drove them out of it, while the protectorate has been
overrun by the Turks and the Turco-Arabs until long after the armistice,
and the state of British prestige there can be imagined.

Official attempts to gloze over the incident would have been amusing if
they were not pathetic. Needless to say they did not deceive Moslems in
Egypt or the rest of Arabia.

Here is the most accurate account they gave the public:



    "The India Office issued the following _communiqué_ last night
    through the Press Bureau:

      "'In consequence of rumours that a Turkish force from the
      Yamen had crossed the frontier of the Aden Hinterland and
      was advancing towards Lahej, the General Officer Commanding
      at Aden recently dispatched the Aden Camel Troop to

      "'They reported the presence of a Turkish force with
      field-guns and a large number of Arabs and fell back on
      Lahej, where they were reinforced by the advance guard of
      the Aden Movable Column consisting of 250 rifles and two
      10-pounder guns.

      "'Our force at Lahej was attacked by the enemy on July 4 by
      a force of several thousand Turks with twenty guns and
      large numbers of Arabs, and maintained its position in face
      of the enemy artillery's fire until night, when part of
      Lahej was in flames. During the night some hand-to-hand
      fighting took place, and the enemy also commenced to
      outflank us.

      "'Meanwhile the remainder of the Aden Movable Column was
      marching towards Lahej, but was delayed by water
      difficulties and heavy going. It was therefore decided that
      the small force at Lahej should fall back.

      "'The retirement was carried out successfully in the early
      morning of July 5, and the detachment joined the rest of
      the column at Bir Nasir. Our troops, however, were
      suffering considerably from the great heat and the shortage
      of water, and their difficulties were increased by the
      desertion of Arab transport followers. It was therefore
      decided to fall back to Aden, and this was done without the
      enemy attempting to follow up.

      "'Our losses included three British officers wounded: names
      will be communicated later. We took one Turkish officer (a
      major) and thirteen men prisoners.'"

Aden seems to have made no attempt to stem the tide of Turkish influence
while she could. The best fighting tribe in the protectorate stretches
along the coast and far inland north-east of Aden, and its capital is
only a few hours' steam from that harbour. The Turks made every effort
to win over this important tribal unit, which might have been a grave
menace on their left flank. Its sultan made frequent representations to
Aden for even a gunboat to show itself off his port, but to no purpose.
After the Turks had succeeded in alienating those of his tribe they
could get at, or who could get at them, a tardy political visit was paid
by sea from Aden. The indignant old sultan came aboard and spoke his
mind. "You throw your friends on the midden," he said bitterly, and
departed to establish a _modus vivendi_ on his own account with the

The situation at Aden has had a marked effect in bolstering up the
Turkish campaign of spurious pan-Islamism, and those of us who have been
dealing with chiefs in other parts of Arabia have met it at every turn.
It is idle to blame individuals--the whole system is at fault. The
policy of non-interference which the Liberal Government introduced,
after the Boundary Commission had finished its task and withdrawn, has
been over-strained by the Aden authorities to such an extent that they
would neither keep in direct personal touch themselves nor let anyone
else do so.

As an explorer and naturalist whose chief work has lain for years in
that country, I have made every effort to continue my researches there
until my persistency has incurred official persecution. The serious
aspect of this attitude is that at a time when accurate and up-to-date
knowledge of the hinterland would have been invaluable it was not
available. The pernicious policy of selecting any one chief (unchecked
by a European) to keep her posted as to affairs in her own protectorate
has been followed blindly by Aden to disaster. The excuse in official
circles there is that the Haushabi sultan had been suborned by the Turks
without their knowledge and he had prevented any information from
getting through Lahej to them. Can there be any more damning indictment
of such a system?

The Aden incident is similar to the Mesopotamian medical muddle, both
being due to sporadic dry-rot in high places which the test of war
revealed. The loyalty of its princes and the devotion of its army prove
that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with British rule in India to
command such sentiments, but some of those mandarins who have had wide
control of human affairs and destinies have ignored a situation until it
was forcibly thrust upon them and have fumbled with it disastrously. It
is difficult to bring such people to book, for they shuffle
responsibility from one to the other or take refuge in the truly
oriental pose of heaven-born officialdom. Such types should be obsolete
even in India by now, but this war has proved that they are not, and
when their inanities fritter away gallant lives and trail British
prestige in the dust they need rebuke. I hope some day, if I live, to
deal faithfully with Aden's hinterland policy.

In the autumn of 1915 I was fit enough to join the Red Sea maritime
patrol as political officer with the naval rank of lieutenant. Our
duties were to harry the Turk without hurting the Arab, to blockade the
Arabian coast against the Turk while allowing dhow-traffic with
foodstuffs consigned to Arab merchants and steamer-cargoes of food for
the alleged use of pilgrims to go through. Incidentally we had to keep
the eastern highway free of mines and transportable submarines, prevent
the passage of spies between Arabia and Egypt, and fetch and carry as
the shore-folk required.

Taking it all round, it was not an easy job, but I think the blockade
presented the most complex features. You knew where you were with
spies--anyone with the necessary experience could spot a doubtful
customer as soon as the dhow that carried him came alongside; and
irregular but frequent visits at the various ports soon put a stop to
the mine-industry and prevented any materialisation of the submarine
menace except in reports from Aden which caused me a good many
additional trips in an armed steam-cutter to "go, look, see."

But the problems presented by the blockade required some solving with
very little time for the operation, and if your solution was not
approved by the authorities on the beach they lost no time in letting
you know it--usually by wireless, which was picked up by most ships in
the patrol by the time it reached you.

The basic idea was that if in doubt it was better to let stuff through
to the Turks than pinch Hejazi bellies and get ourselves disliked. In
theory this was perfectly sound, for we wanted the Hejaz to like us well
enough to fight on our side, and only the Huns think you can get people
to love you by afflicting them. In practice, however, we soon found that
the Hejazi merchants were selling direct to the Turks and letting their
fellow-countrymen have what was left at the highest possible price. On
top of it all India started a howl that her pilgrims in the Hejaz were
starving, and we had to defer to this outcry. I have never had to
legislate for highly-civilised Moslems with a taste for agitation, but I
have always sympathised with those who have, and could quite appreciate
India's position in the matter. Still, after comparing her relief
cargoes with the number of her pilgrims in the country and finding that
each had enough to feed him for the rest of his natural life, I ventured
to ask that this wholesale charity might cease, more especially as these
big steamer-cargoes were dealt with much as the dhow-borne cereals and
chiefly benefited the Turks and local profiteers.

As regards dhows, our rule was to allow coastal traffic from Jeddah and
empties returning there, as it tended to distribute food among the Arabs
and get it away from the Turks. Dhows bringing cargo from the African
coast or from Aden were permitted, provided they did not carry
contraband of war; this permitted native cereals, such as millet, but
barred wheat and particularly barred barley, which the local Arab does
not eat for choice, but which the Turks wanted very badly for their

In this connection a typical incident may be mentioned as illustrating
the sort of thing we were up against.

The ship I was serving in at the time lay off Jeddah and had three boats
down picketing the dhow-channels leading in to that reef-girt harbour,
for which dhows were making like homing bees. In such cases my post was
usually on the bridge, while the ship's interpreter and Arab-speaking
Seedee-boys went away in the boats. The dhows were reached and their
papers examined, then allowed to proceed if all was in order. Otherwise
the officer examining signalled the facts and awaited instructions.
Usually it was some technical point which I could waive, but on this
occasion one of the cutters made a signal to the effect that barley in
bulk had been found in one dhow. I was puzzled, because all the dhows
were from Suakin or further south, quite outside the barley-belt, except
on very high ground which rarely exports cereals. However, the signal
was repeated, and I had to have the dhow alongside. Meanwhile the
"owner" was anxious to get steerage-way, for we were not at anchor and
in very ticklish soundings; so I slid off the bridge and had a sample of
the grain handed up to me: it was a species of millet, looking very like
pearl-barley as "milled" for culinary purposes. I shouted to the _reis_
to go where he liked as long as he kept clear of our propellers, which
thereupon gave a ponderous flap or two as if to emphasise my remarks,
and he bore away from us rejoicing. In the ward-room later on I rallied
that cutter's officer on his error. "Well, it was just like the barley
one sees in soup," was his defence.

In the southern part of the Red Sea, which was handled politically from
Aden, the problems of blockade were even more complex, for there even
arms and ammunition were allowed between certain ports to meet the
convenience of the Idrisi chief, who was theoretically at war with the
Turks, but rather diffident about putting his principles into practice,
especially after the Turkish success outside Aden.

This meant that the sorely-tried officers responsible for the conduct
of the blockade in those waters had frequently to decide on a cargo of
illicit-looking rifles and cartridges, not of Government make, but
purchased from private firms and guaranteed by a filthy scrap of paper
inscribed with crabbed Arabic which carried no conviction. All they had
to help them was the half-educated ship's interpreter, with no knowledge
of the political situation, for Aden had not an officer available for
this work. To enhance the difficulties of the position, some of these
coastal chiefs were importing contraband of war to sell to the Turks for
private gain. Up north there were no difficulties with illicit arms; we
allowed a reasonable number per dhow, provided that they were the
private property of the crew, and when rifles were dished out to our
Arab friends the Navy delivered the goods, which were all of Government
mark and pattern.

The political aspect of the blockade required delicate handling anywhere
along the Arabian littoral of the Red Sea, but especially so on the
Hejazi coast. We were at war with the Turks but not with the Arabs, whom
it was our business to approach as friends if they would let us. The
Turks, however, used Arab levies freely against us whose truculence was
much increased on finding they could make hostile demonstrations with
impunity, as the patrol only fired on the Turkish uniform, since few
people can distinguish between a Turco-Arab gendarme and an armed
tribesman at long range unless they know both breeds intimately.

The general standard of honour and good faith at most places along the
Arabian littoral is not high, even from an Oriental point of view, and
is nowhere lower than on the Hejazi coast. Frequently an unattached
tribesman would take a shot at a reconnoitring cutter on general
principles and then rush off to the nearest Turkish post with the
information and a demand for bakshish, and there were several attempts
(one successful) to lure a landing party on to a well-manned but
carefully hidden position. As for the actual levies, they would solemnly
man prepared positions within easy range of even a 3-pounder when we
visited their tinpot ports, relying on us not to fire, and telling their
compatriots what they would do if we did.

Even when examining dhows one had to be on one's guard, and it was best
not to board them to leeward and so run the risk of having their big,
bellying mainsail let go on top of you and getting scuppered while
entangled in its folds. African dhows could generally be trusted not to
resist search, for when a _reis_ has got his owners or agents at a
civilised port like Suakin he likes to keep respectable even if he _is_
smuggling. Our chief difficulty with such craft, before we tightened the
blockade, was due to the nonchalant manner in which they put to sea and
behaved when at sea. Their skippers had the sketchiest idea of what
constituted proper clearance papers and why such papers must agree with
their present voyage. Their confidence too in our integrity, though
touching, was often embarrassing. One of our rules was that considerable
sums in gold must be given up against a signed voucher realisable at
Port Sudan. I was never very brisk at counting large sums of money, and
one day when hove to off Jeddah there were five dhows rubbing their
noses alongside, with about £800 in gold between them and very little
time to deal with them, as we were in shoal water with no way on the
ship. My operations were not facilitated by the biggest Croesus of the
lot producing some £400 in five different currencies from various parts
of his apparel and stating that he had no idea how much there was but
would abide by my decision. I believe he expected me to give him a
receipt in round hundreds and take the "oddment," as we call it in
Warwickshire, for myself. As it was, I was down half a sovereign or so
over the transaction, having given him the benefit of the doubt over
two measly little gold coins of unascertainable value.

Some of them were just as happy-go-lucky in their seamanship, though
skilful enough in handling their outlandish craft. Early one morning,
about fifty miles out of Jeddah, I boarded a becalmed dhow and found
them with the dregs of one empty water-skin between a dozen men. Not
content with putting to sea with a single _mussick_ of water, they had
hove to and slept all night, and so dropped the night breeze, which
would have carried them to Jeddah before it died down. We gave them
water and their position, but I told the _reis_ that he was putting more
strain on the mercy of Allah than he was, individually, entitled to.

But the craft that plied along the Hejazi coast were sinister customers
and wanted watching. Some time before I joined the patrol one of our
ships was lying a long way out off Um-Lejj, as the water is shallow, and
her duty-boat was working close in-shore examining coastal craft. One of
these had some irregularity about her and was sent out to the ship with
a marine and a bluejacket in charge while the cutter continued her task.
That dhow stood out to sea as if making for the ship and then proceeded
along the coast. The cutter, still busied with other dhows, presumed
that the first craft had reported alongside the ship and been allowed to
proceed; the ship naturally regarded her as a craft that had been
examined and permitted to continue her journey. And that is all we ever
knew for certain of her or the fate of our two men. Their previous
record puts desertion out of the question; besides, no sane men would
desert to a barren, inhospitable coast among semi-hostile fanatics whose
language was unknown to them. On the other hand, the men were, of
course, fully armed, and there were but five of the dhow's crew all
told, of whom two were not able-bodied. There must have been the
blackest treachery--probably the unfortunate men goodnaturedly helped
with the running gear and were knocked on the head while so engaged.
Their bodies would, no doubt, have been put over the side when the dhow
was out of sight, and their rifles sold inland at a fancy price.

When I first joined the patrol we were not allowed to bombard or land at
any point between the mouth of the Gulf of Akaba and the Hejaz southern
border. The Turkish fort up at Akaba had been knocked about a good deal
by various ships of the patrol, and the whole place was uninhabited; but
we visited it frequently, as drifting mines were put in up there,
having been taken off the rail at Maan and brought down to the head of
the gulf, in section, by camel. I always suspected the existence of a
Turkish observation-post, but no signs of occupation had been seen for a
long time till H.M.S. "Fox" went up one dark night without a light
showing. All dead-lights were shipped, and dark blue electric bulbs
replaced the usual ones where a light of some sort was essential and
visible from out-board. The padre, who had opened the "vicarage"
dead-light about an inch to get a breath of air, was promptly spotted by
an indignant Number One who said that it made the ship look like a
floating gin palace. This must have been a pardonable hyperbole, for the
signal-fires ashore which used to herald our approach from afar were not

We were off Akaba at peep of day, and two armed cutters raced each other
to the beach. I went with the one that made for the stone jetty in the
middle front of the town; we had to jump out into four feet of water, as
the port has deteriorated a good deal since Solomon used it and called
it Eziongeber. A careful search revealed no one in the town, but water
had been drawn recently from the well inside the fort, and a mud hut out
in the desert behind the town seemed a likely covert to draw.

The cutter's officer accompanied me, leaving the crew ensconced in the
cemetery, which was a wise move, for, when we were close to the hut,
heavy fire was opened on us from a hidden trench some three hundred
yards away. We both dropped and rolled into a shallow depression caused
by rain-wash, where we lay as flat as we could while the flat-nosed soft
lead bullets kicked sand and shingle down the backs of our necks. As we
had only revolvers--expecting resistance, if any, to be made among the
houses--we could not reply, but the ship handed out a few rounds of
percussion shrapnel which shook the Turks up enough for us to withdraw.
Fortunately for us, they were using black powder, and outside four
hundred yards one has time to avoid the bullet by dropping instantly at
the smoke. Otherwise they should have bagged us in spite of the support
of our covering party in the cemetery, for the ground was quite open and
so dusty that they could see the break of their heavy picket-bullets to
a nicety.

We landed in force an hour later and turned them out of it. On
returning, the men who searched the hut (which the ship's guns had
knocked endways) brought me a budget of correspondence. It was chiefly
addressed to the officer in charge and told me that the detachment was
Syrian, which I had already suspected from their using the early pattern
Mauser. It gave other useful information, and the men did well to bring
it along; but I would have given much to have found some channel through
which I could return it. Most of it was private; there were several
congratulatory cards crudely illuminated in colours by hand for the
feast of Muled-en-Nebi (the birthday of the Prophet), which corresponds
with our Christmas. There was also a letter from the officer's wife
enclosing a half-sheet of paper on which a baby hand had imprinted a
smeared outline in ink. It bore the inscription "From your son
Ahmed--his hand and greeting."

Early in the spring of 1916 we managed to persuade the political folk at
Cairo to extend our sphere of action. I had particularly marked down
Um-Lejj as containing a well-manned Turkish fort which could be knocked
about without damaging other buildings in the town if we were careful.
It was also a rallying-point for Turkish influence, and it was not
conducive to our prestige or politically desirable that it should
flourish unmolested.

I was in the "Fox" again for that occasion, she being the senior ship of
the patrol and the only one that could land an adequate force if

The evening before we anchored far out on the fishing-grounds of Hasani
Island, and I managed to pick up a fisherman who knew where the Turkish
hidden position was, outside the town, and, having been held a prisoner
once in their Customs building, could point that out too. Next morning
we stood slowly in for Um-Lejj with the steam-cutter groping ahead for
the channel, which is about as tortuous a piece of navigation as you can
get off this coast, and that is saying a good deal.

When we cleared for action I went to my usual post on the bridge with
the S.N.O. and took my fisherman-friend with me. The civil population
was streaming out of the town across the open plain in all directions
like ants from an over-turned ant-hill, probably realising that we meant
business this time. This was all to the good, as otherwise I should have
had to go close in with the steam-cutter, a white flag and a megaphone
to warn Arab civilians; thus giving the Turks time to clear, besides the
chance of a sitting-shot at us if they thought my address to the
townsfolk a violation of the rules of war, which, technically, it might

However, the fort was a fixture and our business was first of all with
it. Standing close in, the ship turned southwards and moved slowly
abreast of the town. The port battery of four-point-sevens loaded with
H.E. and the two six-inchers fore and aft swung out-board and followed
suit. The occasion called for fine shooting, as a minaret rose just to
the right of the fort, and the houses were so massed about it that there
was only one clear shot--up the street leading from the beach past the
main gate.

"At the southern gate of the fort, each gun to fire as it comes to bear
up the street from the water-side."

As I turned my glasses on the big portico of the southern gate, out
stepped a Turkish officer who regarded us intently; the next instant the
bridge shook to the crashing concussion of our forward six-inch, and
through a drifting haze of gas-fume I saw him blotted out by the orange
flash of lyddite and an up-flung pall of dust and _débris_.

There was a pause, cut short by the clap of the bursting shell
reverberating like thunder against the foot-hills beyond the town.

A little naked boy ran in an attitude of terrified dismay up the
water-street just as the first four-point-seven fired. I saw him through
my glasses duck his head between his arms, then dive panic-stricken
through a doorway as the fort was smitten again in dust and thunder.
"Was the poor little beggar hit?"

"No, sir, only scared."

While the target was still veiled in its dust the second four-point-seven
spoke, and the minaret disappeared from view behind a dun-coloured

"Cease fire" sounded at once. "Who fired that gun? Take him off," came
in tones of stern rebuke from the bridge. Luckily the minaret showed
intact as the dust drifted clear and firing continued.

As the fort crumbled under our guns, Turkish soldiers began to break
cover at various points of the town and fled across the plain. The
cutter, in-shore, opened with Maxim-fire, and so accurately that we
could see the sombre-clad figures lying here and there or seeking
frantically for cover, while an Arab in their vicinity, leading a
leisurely camel, continued his stroll inland unperturbed. We drove the
main body out of their hidden position and into the hills with
well-timed shrapnel, and finished up by demolishing the Customs (where a
lot of ammunition blew up), to the temporary satisfaction of my
fisherman, who was curled up in a corner of the bridge, nearly stunned
by the shock of modern ordnance in spite of the cotton-wool I had made
him put in his ears. Before we picked up our cutter the civil population
was already streaming back.

The incident is worth noting in view of remarks made by a popular
fiction-monger in one of his latest works, that indiscriminate aerial
raids on civil centres in England are on the same level of humanity as
naval bombardments.

I visited the fishing-banks off Hasani Island a week or so after to get
the latest news of Um-Lejj, which came from Turkish sources. There was
one civilian casualty--a woman who was in the Turkish concealed
position. No casualties among Turkish officers, but one of them left in
charge of the fort had disappeared. There were bits of the fort left,
but the Commandant had moved his headquarters to the school-house within
the precincts of the mosque--sagacious soul. The object-lesson which we
gave the Arabs at Um-Lejj put a check to their irresponsible sniping of
boats and landing-parties, though one could always expect a little
trouble with an Arab dhow running contraband for the Turks. In these
cases their guilty consciences usually gave them away. Returning to the
coast toward Jeddah unexpectedly, having played the well-worn ruse of
"the cat's away," we sighted a small dhow close in-shore, and should
have left her alone as she was in shoal-water, but, on standing in to
get a nearer view of her, she headed promptly for the beach and ran
aground, disgorging more men than such a craft should carry.

I went away in the duty cutter to investigate, and we had barely
realised that she was heavily loaded with kerosene in tins (a heinous
contraband) when the fact was emphasised by a sputtering rifle-fire from
the scrub along the beach. The ship very soon put a stop to that
demonstration with a round or two of shrapnel, while we busied ourselves
with the dhow. There was no hope of salving her, as she had almost
ripped the keel off her when she took the ground and sat on the bottom
like a dilapidated basket. We broached enough tins to start a
conflagration, lit a fuse made of a strip of old turban soaked in
kerosene, and backed hard from her vicinity, for the kerosene was
low-flash common stuff as marked on the cases, and to play at snapdragon
in half an acre of blazing oil is an uninviting pastime. However, she
just flared without exploding, and we continued our cruise up the coast
just in time to overhaul at racing speed a perfect regatta of dhows
heeling over to every stitch of canvas in their efforts to make Jeddah
before we could get at them, for they had seen the smoke of that burning
oil-dhow and realised that the cat was about. Good money is paid at
Cowes to see no more spirited sailing--we had to put a shot across the
bows of the leading dhow before they would abandon the race.

There was always trouble off Jeddah--the approaches to that reef-girt
harbour lend themselves to blockade-running dhows with sound local
knowledge on board. At night, especially, they had an advantage and
would play "Puss-in-the-Corner" until the cutter lost patience, and a
flickering pin-point of light stabbed the velvet black of the middle
watch, asking permission to fire; one rifle-shot fired high would stop
the game, and I made them come alongside and take a wigging for annoying
the cutter and turning me out; there was seldom anything wrong about the
dhow--it was sheer cussedness.

All through the early part of 1916 we were keeping in touch with the
Sharif of Mecca by means of envoys, whom we landed where they listed,
away from the Turks, picking them up at times and places indicated by
them. Sharif Husein had long chafed under Turkish suzerainty, in spite
of his subsidy and the deference which policy compelled them to accord
him. He knew that the Hejaz could never realise its legitimate
aspirations under Ottoman rule, which was a blight on all Arab progress
and prosperity, as the Young Turkish party was hardly Moslem at heart,
being more national (that is Tartar)--certainly not pro-Arab.

Husein's difficulty was to get his own people to rise together and throw
off the Turkish yoke, for the Hejazi tribesman, especially between the
coast and Mecca, has long been more of a brigand than a warrior, as any
pilgrim will tell you. Such folk are apt to jib at hammer-and-tongs
fighting, and of course we could not land troops to assist them, as it
would have violated the sacred soil that cradled Islam and merely
stiffened the bogus _jihad_ which the Turks had proclaimed against us,
besides compromising the Sharif with his own tribesmen.

The Hejazis' ingenuous idea was to go on taking money from us, the Turks
and the Sharif, while--thanks to our lenient blockade--a regular
dhow-traffic fed them. We did not approve of this Utopian policy, and
the fall of Kut brought matters to a climax. After certain
communications had passed between the representatives of His Majesty's
Government and the Sharif, it was decided to tighten the blockade and so
induce the gentle Hejazi to declare himself. The day was fixed, May, 15,
on and after which date no traffic whatever was to be permitted with the
Arabian coast other than that specially sanctioned by Government. In
palaver thereon I managed to get local fishing-craft exempted. The
fisher-folk are not combatants either on empty stomachs or full ones,
and could be relied on to consume their own fish in that climate unless
very close to a market, where the pinch would be great enough to make
them exchange it for foodstuffs, thus helping the situation we wished to
bring about. I knew that all _bona fide_ fishing-craft were easily
recognisable by their rig and comparatively small size, and hoped that
good will would combine with freedom of movement to make these folk
useful agents for Intelligence.

I heard with some relief that the movements of the patrol would place
H.M.S. "Hardinge" (a roomy ship of the Indian Marine) on station duty
off Jeddah, which was to be my post while the enhanced blockade was in
force--there are few more trying seasons than early summer in those
waters. I joined her from Suez the day after the blockade was closed,
and found her keeping guard over a perfect fleet of dhows. There were
about three dozen craft with over three hundred people on board, for
many native passengers were trying to make Jeddah before we shut down.
The feckless mariners in charge had made the usual oriental calculation
that a day more or less did not matter, but found to their horror that
the Navy was more precise on these points--and there they were.

The first thing to ensure was that the crew, and especially the
passengers, among whom were a good many women and children, did not
suffer from privation. This had already been ably seen to by the ship's
officers--I merely went round the fleet to sift any genuine complaints
from the discontent natural to the situation in which their own
slackness had placed them. I insisted on hearing only one complaint at a
time, otherwise it would have been pandemonium afloat, for they were
anchored close enough together to converse with each other; vociferous
excuses for their unpunctuality were brushed aside, legitimate requests
for more water or food or condensed milk for the children or more
adequate shelter for the women from the sun were attended to at once,
and our floating village quieted down.

The craft were all much the same type of small dhow or _sanbuk_ which
frequents the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, having little in common with
the big-bellied buggalows which ply with rice and dates between the
Persian Gulf and Indian ports but do not come into the Red Sea. These
were much smaller and saucier-looking craft, some fifty to eighty feet
long, with a turn of speed and raking masts. All were lugger-rigged
with lateen sails, and only the poop and bows were decked, the bulwarks
being heightened with strips of matting to prevent seas from breaking
in-board. Sanitary arrangements were provided for by a box-like
cubby-hole over-hanging the boat's side; inexperienced officers often
take it for a vantage-point to heave the lead from, and only find out
too late after attempting to board there, that things are not always
what they seem.

These little vessels are practically the corsair type of Saracenic
sailing-galley which used to infest the Barbary coast in days gone by.
They do everything different from our occidental methods. For example,
they reef and furl their tall lateens from the peak, and have to send a
man up the long tapering gaff to do it. Their masts rake forward and not
aft, which enables them to swing gaff, sail, and sheet round in front of
the mast when they come about, instead of keeping the sheet aft and
dipping the butt of the gaff with the sail to the other side of the
mast, which would be an impossibility for that rig, as the butt of their
enormous mainyard or gaff is bowsed permanently down in the bows, while
the soaring peak may be nearly a hundred feet above the water. Cooking
was done over charcoal in a kerosene tin half full of sand, and the
"first-class" passengers lived under an improvised awning on the poop,
the women's quarters being under that gim-crack structure. All the same,
they are good sea-boats and remarkably fast, especially _on_ a wind,
quite unlike the big-decked buggalows which are built for cargo capacity
and have real cabins aft but sail like a haystack on a barge.

It was inhuman (as well as an infernal nuisance) to keep all those
people sweltering indefinitely at sea; on the other hand, our orders as
to the strict maintenance of the blockade were explicit. The "owner" and
I conferred and decided that the situation could be met by transferring
their cargo to the ship and letting the dhows beach. This was referred
and approved by wireless. The job took us some days, as the weather was
rather unfavourable and all the cargoes had to be checked by manifest
with a view to restitution later. Each dhow as she was cleared had to
make for the shore and dismast or beach so that she could not steal out
at night and add to the difficulties of the blockade. None attempted to
evade this order, most carried out both alternatives; perhaps a casual
reminder that they would be within observation and gun-fire of the ship
had some influence on their action.

Hitherto the Turco-Teutonic brand of Holy War had been fairly
successful. The Allied thrust at the Dardanelles and Gallipoli had
failed, the Aden Protectorate was in Turkish hands, we had spent a most
unpleasant Easter in Sinai, and Kut had fallen. Still, the Turks were
soon to realise that a wrongly-invoked _jihad_, like a mishandled
musket, can recoil heavily, and, before the end of May, signs were not
wanting that trouble was brewing for them in the Hejaz.

We were in close touch with the shore through fishing-canoes by day and
secret emissaries by night, who brought us news that some German
"officers" had been done to death by Hejazi tribesmen some eight hours'
journey north of Jeddah. They had evidently been first over-powered and
bound, then stabbed in the stomach with the huge two-handed dagger which
the Hejazis use, and finally decapitated, as a Turkish rescue party
which hurried to the spot found their headless and practically
disembowelled corpses with their hands tied behind them. Their effects
came through our hands in due course, and we ascertained that the party
consisted of Lieut.-Commander von Moeller (late of a German gunboat
interned at Tsing-Tao) and five reservists whom he had picked up in
Java. They had landed on the South Arabian coast in March, had visited
Sanaa, the capital of Yamen, and had come up the Arabian coast of the
Red Sea by dhow, keeping well inside the Farsan bank, which is three
hundred miles long and a serious obstacle to patrol work. They had landed
at Konfida, north of the bank, and reached Jeddah by camel on May 5.
Against the advice of the Turks they continued their journey by land,
as they had no chance of eluding our northern patrol at sea. They were
more than a year too late to emulate the gallant (and lucky) "Odyssey"
of the Emden's landing-party from Cocos Islands up the Red Sea coast in
the days when our blockade was more lenient and did not interfere with
coasting craft. They hoped to reach Maan and so get on the rail for
Stamboul and back to Germany, as the Sharif would not sanction their
coming to the sacred city of Medina, which is the rail-head for the
Damascus-Hejaz railway. After so staunch a journey they deserved a
better fate. Among their kit was a tattered and blood-stained copy of my
book on the Aden hinterland.[A]

Meanwhile affairs ashore were simmering to boiling-point, and on the
night of June 9 we commenced a bombardment of carefully located Turkish
positions, firing by "director" to co-operate with an Arab attack which
was due then but did not materialise till early next morning, and was
then but feebly delivered. We found out later that the rifles and
ammunition we had delivered on the beach some distance south of Jeddah
to the Sharif's agents in support of this attack had been partly
diverted to Mecca and partly hung up by a squabble with their own
camel-men for more cash.

We continued the bombardment on the night of the 11th and were in action
most of the day on the 12th, shelling the Turkish positions north of
Jeddah, which we had located by glass and the co-operation of friendly
fishing-craft who gave us the direction by signal. During the morning
the Hejazis made an abortive and aimless attack along the beach north of
Jeddah, and so masked our own supporting fire, while the Turks gave them
more than they wanted.

By this time the senior ship and others had joined us, and the S.N.O.
approved of my landing with a party of Indian signallers to maintain
closer touch with their operations, provided that Arab headquarters
would guarantee our safety as regards their own people. This they were
unable to do.

The bombardment grew more and more strenuous and searching as other
ships joined in and our knowledge of the Turkish positions became more
accurate. On the 15th it culminated with the arrival of a seaplane
carrier and heavy bombing of the Ottoman trenches which our
flat-trajectory naval guns could hardly reach. The white flag went up
before sunset, and next day there were _pourparlers_ which led to an
unconditional surrender on June 17, 1916.

Mecca had fallen just before, and Taif surrendered soon after, leaving
Medina as the only important town still held by the Turks in the Hejaz.

We began pouring food and munitions into Jeddah as soon as it changed
hands; for the rest of this cruise my ship was a sort of
parcels-delivery van, and when the parcel happens to be an Egyptian
mountain battery its delivery is an undertaking.

My personal contact with the Turks and their ill-omened _jihad_ ended
soon after, as I was invalided from service afloat, but I kept in touch
as an Intelligence-wallah on the beach and followed the rest of it with

They got Holy War with a vengeance. The Sharif's sons (more especially
the Emirs Feisal and Abdullah, who had been trained at the Stamboul
Military Academy), ably assisted by zealous and skilled British officers
as mine-planters and aerial bombers, harried outlying posts and the
Hejaz railway line north of Medina incessantly.

The Turkish positions at Wejh fell to the Red Sea flotilla, reinforced
by the flagship. I should like to have been there, if only to have seen
the Admiral sail in to the proceedings with a revolver in his fist and
the _élan_ of a sub-lieutenant. The Hejazis failed to synchronise, as
usual, so the Navy dispensed with their support.

On February 24, 1917, Kut was wrested from the Turks again; on March 11
they lost Baghdad; on November 7 their Beersheba-Gaza front was
shattered, and Jerusalem fell on December 9.

Early next year Jericho was captured (February 21), a British column
from Baghdad reached the Caspian in August, and after a final,
victorious British offensive in Palestine the unholy alliance of Turkish
pan-Islamism and German _Kultur_ got its death-blow when Emir Feisal
galloped into Damascus.

The Turks had drawn the blade of _jihad_ from its pan-Islamic scabbard
in vain; its German trade-mark was plainly stamped on it. There had been
widespread organisation against us, and the serpent's eggs of sedition
and revolt had been hatched in centres scattered all over the eastern
hemisphere, but their venomous progeny had been crushed before they
became formidable.

As a world-force this band of pan-Islamism had failed because it had
been invoked by the wrong people for a wrong purpose. Such a movement
should at least have as its driving power some great spiritual crisis:
this Turco-German manifestation of it had its origin in self-interest,
and if successful would have immolated Arabia on the demoniac altar of
_Weltpolitik_. Seyid Muhammed er-Rashid Ridha, a descendant of the
Prophet and one of the greatest Arab theologians living, has voiced the
verdict of Islam on this unscrupulous and self-seeking adventure in a
trenchant article published in September, 1916. He showed up Enver and
his Unionist party as an atheist among atheists who had deprived the
Sultan of his rightful power and Islam of its religious head, and
contrasted their conduct with that of the British, who exempted the
Hejaz from the blockade enforced against the rest of the Ottoman Empire
until it became quite clear that the Turks were benefiting chiefly by
that exemption, and who, out of respect for the holy places of Islam,
refrained from making that country a theatre of war.

True to the Teutonic tradition, the movement had been laboriously
organised, but lacked psychic insight, for the Turk is too much of a
Tartar and too little of a Moslem to appreciate the Arab mind, and the
German ignored it, rooting with eager, guttural grunts among the
carefully cultivated religious prejudices of Islam like a hog hunting
truffles until whacked out of it by the irate cultivators.

The following incident may serve to illustrate their crude tactics. Soon
after the Turks came into the war the mullah of the principal mosque at
Damascus was told to announce _jihad_ against the British from his
pulpit on the following Friday in accordance with an order from the
Grand Mufti at Stamboul. The poor man appears to have jibbed
considerably and sent his family over the Nejd border to be out of reach
of Turkish persecution. Finally he decided to conform, but when he
climbed the steps of his "minbar" and scanned his congregation he saw a
group of German officers wearing tarboushes with a look of almost
porcine complacency. His fear fell from him in a gust of rage and he
spoke somewhat as follows: "I am ordered to proclaim _jihad_. A _jihad_,
as you know, is a Holy War to protect our Holy Places against infidels.
This being so, what are these infidel _pigs_ doing in our mosque?"

There was a most unseemly scuffle; the Turco-German contingent tried to
seize the mullah; the Arab congregation defended him strenuously from
arrest. In the confusion that worthy man got clear away and joined his
family in Nejd. _Jihad_ is incumbent on all Moslems if against infidel
aggression. We stood on the defensive when the Turks first attacked us
on the Canal, and when we finally overran Palestine and Syria it was in
co-operation with the Arabs, who have more right there than the Turks.

Those who forged the blade of this counterfeit _jihad_ could not temper
it in the flame of religious fervour, and it shattered against the
shield of religious tolerance and good faith: we make mistakes, but can
honestly claim those two virtues.


    [Footnote A: "The Land of Uz," Macmillan.]



To gauge the strength or weakness of pan-Islam as a world-force we may
best compare it with its great militant rival, the Christian Church,
choosing common ground as the only sound basis of comparison, and
remembering that it is pan-Islam we are examining rather than Islam
itself--the tree, not the root; and though we cannot study the one
without considering the other, Islam has already been extensively
discussed by men better qualified than myself to deal with it: the
requirements of this work only call for comparison so far as the
driving-power of pan-Islam is concerned as a material force.

First of all we must discard common factors. I set the great Shiah
schism against the Catholic Church (omitting the word "Roman" as a
contradiction in terms) and cancel both for the purposes of comparison.
Catholicism, is not, of course, schismatic, otherwise there are points
of resemblance, such as observances of saints and shrines, which have
permeated the other sects to a certain extent; also the degree of
antagonism is about the same. Therefore we can ignore the Catholic
Church in this chapter, and when we are talking of pan-Islam we should
consider it a Sunnite (or Orthodox) movement, and count the Shiites out,
as they do not even recognise the same centre of pilgrimage.

Perhaps the strongest factor in pan-Islam as a political movement or a
world-wide fellowship is the Meccan pilgrimage. I have already alluded
to its cosmopolitan nature in the previous chapter, but never realised
it so much till after the surrender of Jeddah, when stately Bokhariots,
jabbering Javanese, Malays, Chinese, Russians, American citizens and
South Africans were among those who beset me as stranded pilgrims. This
implies a very wide sphere of influence, against which we can only set
the well-known immorality and greed which pilgrims complain of at Mecca;
a huge influx of cosmopolitan visitors to _any_ centre will generally
cause such abuses. On the feast of Arafat there are normally 100,000
pilgrims in the Meccan area who represent 100 million orthodox Moslems
throughout the world, while the actual population of the city is only

The Arabic language is another strong bond of brotherhood in Islam. I do
not mean to say that it is generally "understanded of the people," any
more than Latin is throughout the Catholic world; but it is the language
of most Sunnites and is moderately understood in Somaliland, East
Africa, Java and the Malay peninsula as the language of the Koran; in
fact, it is the only written language in Somaliland, and Turkey uses the
script though not the tongue.

The daily observances of prayer, with their simple but obligatory
ceremonial, and the yearly fast for the month of Ramadhan unite Moslems
with the common ties of duty and hardship, as in the comradeship which
sailors and soldiers have for each other throughout the world.

Then, again, there is no colour-line in Islam; a negro may rise to place
and power (he often does), and usually enjoys the intimate confidence of
his master as not readily amenable to local intrigue. Difference of
nationality is not stressed except by the Young Turks, who have slighted
Semitic Moslems to their own undoing. Contrast this attitude with our
Church and estimate the precise amount of Christian brotherhood between
an Orthodox Greek, a Welsh Wesleyan, an Ethiopian priest, a Scotch
Presbyterian, and an Anglican bishop (since the Kikuyu heresy). Even
within the narrow limits of one sect there is nothing like the
fellowship one finds in secular societies. Which is the stronger appeal,
"Anglican communicant" or "Freemason"? Is a cross or the quadrant and
compasses the more potent charm?

Arabs credit us Christians with a much stronger bond of sympathy between
co-religionists than is actually the case. It is true that those who
come into any sort of contact with us realise that there is a distinct
difference in form of worship and sentiment between Catholics (whom they
call _Christyân_) and Protestants (or _Nasâra_), but I shall not readily
forget the extraordinary conduct of a Hejazi who boarded us off Jeddah
with some of the effects belonging to the murdered Germans mentioned in
the previous chapter. He must have had the firm conviction that we
Christians would avenge the killing of other Christians by Moslems, for
he merely told me that he had in his possession certain property of the
_Allemani_, and I told him that he would be suitably rewarded on
producing it; I found out later that he had boasted to our ship's
interpreter (a Mussulman) that he was one of the slayers, and it
occurred to me that if that were the case he might be able to give me
further information, or perhaps produce papers of theirs which might
appear valueless to him but would be of interest to us. I interviewed
him on deck and suggested this, reminding him of what he had told the
interpreter, but laying no stress on the deed he had confessed, for it
was outside our jurisdiction and no concern of mine.

"Papers?" he said. "By all means, I will go and fetch them," and
breaking from my light hold of his sleeve he flickered over the rail and
dropped into the sea some thirty feet below. Two armed marines stepped
to the rail with a clatter of breech-bolts and looked inquiringly at me.
Meanwhile my bold murderer was calling on his God, for he wore a full
bandoleer, which was weighing him down. Out darted a fishing-canoe from
under our quarter and made for him, but its occupants took the hint I
conveyed through a megaphone and confined their efforts to saving him
for the duty-cutter to pick up.

He was brought before me dripping wet, with the fear of death in his
eyes. I thought this was due to the foolish risk he had taken, and spoke
in gentle reproof of his conduct, pointing out that if any boat had been
alongside where he leaped he would have met with a bad accident. To my
surprise he fell at my feet and scrabbled at my clean white shoes,
imploring me to spare his life. I put him down as somewhat mad, and
asked "Number One" to put a sentry over him to see that he did not
repeat his attempt to avoid our acquaintance. He clung to me like a
limpet and had to be removed by force, with despairing entreaties for
mercy, disregarding my still puzzled assurances as to his personal
safety. I learned afterwards his true reason for alarm; he thought that
after leaving my presence he would be quietly made away with in
traditional Eastern style.

Another very strong feature of pan-Islam is the consistency of the creed
from which it grows. I do not necessarily imply that Islam itself is
benefited thereby, for consistency sometimes means narrowness, and we
are not considering creeds; but there is no doubt about the dynamic
force of a movement based on a religion which is sure of itself. A
Moslem has one authorised version of the Koran, and only one; his simple
creed is contained in its first chapter and is as short as the Lord's
Prayer, which it somewhat resembles in style. Praising God as the Lord
of the worlds (not only of this world of ours), it attributes to Him
mercy and clemency with supreme power over the Day of Judgment and is an
avowal of worship and service. Its only petition is to be led in the way
of the righteous, avoiding errors that incur His wrath. Contrast this
with the many confusing aspects of Christianity. Perhaps diverse
opinions tend to purify and invigorate a creed, but they certainly do
not strengthen the cohesion of any secular movement based on it.

Then, again, the Moslem conception of God and the hereafter stiffens the
backbone of pan-Islam in adversity. They are taught to believe that He is
_really_ omnipotent and that His actions are beyond criticism--welfare
and affliction being alike acceptable as His will. We, on the other hand,
seem to be developing the theory of a finite God warring against, and
occasionally overcome by, evil, which includes (in this new thesis) human
suffering and sorrow as well as sin. There is a growing idea, pioneered
partly by Mr. H. G. Wells and apparently supported by many of the clergy,
that the acts of God must square with human ideals of mercy or justice,
and as many occurrences do not, the inference is that evil gets the best
of it sometimes. Now the Moslem slogan is "Allah Akbar" (God is Greatest),
and that seems to me a better battle-cry than, for example, "Gott mit
uns," as God will still be great and invincible to Moslems in their
victory or defeat; but the finite idea presumes, in disaster, that you
and your God have been defeated together. It is not my business to
criticise either conception from a religious point of view, but in
mundane affairs it is the former that will make for fighting force,
especially as we still insist that our God is a jealous God, visiting the
sins of the fathers, etc.: surely this is not a human ideal of justice;
the obvious deduction is that our modern Deity is stronger to punish than
protect--hardly an encouraging attribute.

Whether a religion is the better for an organised priesthood or not is
irrelevant to our subject, but the absence of it in Islam certainly
strengthens the pan-Islamic movement, as each Moslem may consider
himself a standard-bearer of his faith, while we are apt to leave too
much to our priests, thus engendering slackness on our part and
meticulous dogma on theirs; both undermine Christian brotherhood. The
fact that priestly stipends seem to the ordinary layman as in inverse
ratio to the duties performed also widens the breach between clergy and
laity, besides sapping clerical _moral_. This is not the particular
feature of any one sect--the reader can supply cases within his own
experience, but here is one that is probably outside it and showing how
widespread the system is. The rank and file of the Greek Orthodox clergy
are notoriously ill-paid. Yet their monastery at Jerusalem costs
£E.15,000 per annum to maintain and pays £E.40,000 annually in clerical
salaries to archbishops and clergy who control the spiritual affairs of
less than fifteen thousand people. It derives £E.30,000 from its
property in Russia, £E.25,000 from the property of the Holy Sepulchre,
and as much again from visitors and other sources; and this in a region
where the Founder of our faith was content to wander with less certainty
of shelter than the wild creatures of the countryside.

Incidentally, the monastery seems to have been unable to curtail its
expenditure during the War, for it has accumulated debts to the amount
of £E.600,000, most of its sources of income having ceased for the time.
I quote from current newspapers. Blame does not necessarily attach to
the monastery or its administrators, who may have done their best to
fulfill their obligations under adverse circumstances; I would merely
draw attention to the incongruity of the whole system as regards a
universal brotherhood based on Christian teaching. There are no such
exotic growths to impede the march of pan-Islam.

So much for the strength of the pan-Islamic movement. Now let us
consider its weak points.

To begin with, the gross abuse of pan-Islam by interested parties for
non-spiritual ends during the War has done the genuine movement harm.
That lying, political appeal to _jihad_ has made thinking Moslems
mistrust the infallibility of organised pan-Islam, of which the
culminating expression is Holy War, one of the most sacred Mussulman
duties if justly invoked. We Christians do not make such mistakes. When
Italy was fighting the Turks in Tripoli the Pope himself warned
Christian soldiers against regarding the campaign as a Crusade, and when
we took Jerusalem we took it side by side with our Mussulman allies and
forthwith placed an orthodox Moslem guard on Omar's mosque. In this
connection it may be of interest to note that the officer commanding a
mixed Christian guard at the Holy Sepulchre was a Jew.

Another source of weakness, so far as a united Moslem world is
concerned, may be found in the antagonistic points of view between
civilised and uncivilised Moslems (I use the attribute in its modern
sense). Uncivilised Moslems view with suspicion and, in fact, derision
the dress and customs of their civilised co-religionists, insisting that
European coats and trousers display the figure indecently and that their
Frankish luxuries and amusements are snares of Eblis. The enlightened
Moslem, on the other hand, regards the tribesman as a _jungliwala_, or
wild man of the woods, derides his illiteracy, and is revolted by the
harsh severity of the old Islamic penal code as practised still in
semi-barbaric Moslem States. Now we Christians are fairly lenient as
regards each other's customs, and still more so with regard to dress
(judging by the garb we tolerate), while we have quite outgrown our old
playful habits of boiling, burning, or torturing our fellow-men except
on the battle-fields of civilised warfare.

Civilisation (as we understand it) is a two-edged weapon and tool
smiting or serving pan-Islam and Christendom, but on the whole it serves
the latter rather than the former, as the superior resources of
Christendom can take fuller advantage of it as a tool or a weapon,
though both turn to scourges when used against each other in battle.
Also its handmaid, Education, though in itself a foe to no religion,
_does_ tend to tone down dogma and engender tolerance, thus minimising
the dynamic force of bigotry in pan-Islam, though consolidating the real
stability of religion on its own base. Moreover, some gifts of
civilisation can do a lot of harm if wrongly used; I refer more
especially to drink, drugs, and dress. Just as hereditary exposure to
the infection of certain diseases is said to confer, by survival of the
fittest, a certain immunity therefrom--for example, consumption among us
Europeans and typhoid among Asiatics--so moral ills seem to affect
humanity to a greater or less extent in inverse proportion to the
temptation in that particular respect which the individual and his
forebears have successfully resisted. The average European and his
ancestors have been accustomed to drink fermented liquor for many
centuries, and in moderation as judged by the standard of his time, but
he has always been taught to avoid opium and has not known the drug for
long. The oriental Moslem, on the other hand, has used opium as a remedy
and prophylactic against malaria for generations, but is strictly
ordered by his creed to consider the consumption, production, gift or
sale of alcohol a deadly sin. In consequence, the European can usually
take alcohol in moderation, but almost invariably slips into a pit of
his own digging when he tries to do the same with opium, while the
oriental Moslem can use opium in moderation (provided that he confines
himself to swallowing it and does not smoke it), but when he drinks,
usually drinks to excess because he has not learned to do otherwise. It
is a melancholy fact that hitherto in countries opened up by our Western
civilisation drink has got in long before education, unless
extraordinary precautions have been taken to prevent it; that is one
reason why Moslem States are so wary of civilised encroachment. As for
drugs other than opium (and far more dangerous), civilised Moslems,
especially in Egypt, are alarmed at the spread of hashish-smoking among
their co-religionists, while the cultured classes, including women-folk,
are taking to cocaine: the material for both vices is supplied from
European sources, mostly Greek. Dress, compared with the other two
demons, is merely a fantastic though mischievous sprite and can be quite
attractive, but it breaks up many a Moslem home when carried to excess
in the harem, as it frequently is in civilised circles, while the
younger men vie with each other in the more flagrant extravagances of
occidental garb: prayers and ablutions do not harmonise with
well-creased trousers and stylish boots any more than a veil does with a
divided skirt. The native Press is always attacking the above abuses,
but they are firmly rooted. All three undermine the pan-Islamic
structure by causing cleavage in public opinion. European dress has
already been mentioned as widening the gap between civilised and
uncivilised Moslems, but it also tends to disintegrate cultured Moslem
communities, for the older men are apt to regard it with suspicion or
downright condemnation. I once asked an eminent and learned Moslem
whether he thought modern European dress impeded regular observance of
prayers and ablutions. He replied, "Perhaps so, but those Moslems who
wear such clothes indicate by so doing that the observances of Islam
have little hold upon them."

All these defects, however, are mere cracks in the inner walls of the
pan-Islamic structure and can be repaired from within, but the Turkish
Government, which represented the Caliphate, and should have considered
the integrity of Islam as a sacred trust, has managed to split the outer
wall and divide the house against itself, just as the unity of
Christendom (such as it was) has been rent asunder by one of its most
prominent exponents. Pan-Islam has received the more serious damage
because the wreckers still hold the Caliphate and the prestige attached
thereto; it is for Moslems (and Moslems only) to decide what action to
take; but in any case, the breach is a serious one and has been much
widened by the action of Turkish troops at the Holy Places. They
actually shelled the Caaba at Mecca (luckily without doing material
damage), and their action in storing high explosives close to the
Prophet's tomb at Medina may have saved them bombardment, but has
certainly not improved their reputation as Moslems. Even before the War
I often heard Yamen Arabs talking of "Turks and Moslems"--a distinctly
damning discrimination--and the situation has not been improved by
Ottoman slackness in religious observances and their inconsistent
national movement.

At the same time, their rule in Arabia will be awkward to replace at
first. I described the Turks in the final chapter of a book[B] published
early in the War as pre-eminently fitted to govern Moslems by
birthright, creed, and temperament, summing them up as individually
gifted but collectively hopeless as administrators because they lacked a
stable and consistent central Government. They have proved the
indictment up to the hilt, but that does not dower any of us Christians
with their inherent qualifications as rulers in Islam. If any of us are
called upon to face fresh responsibilities in this direction, it would
take us all our time to make up for these qualities by tact, sound
administration, and strict observance of local religious prejudice. Even
then there is a Mussulman proverb to this effect: "A Moslem ruler though
he oppress me and not a _kafir_ though he work me weal"--it explains
much apparent ingratitude for benefits conferred.

The lesson we have to learn from pan-Islamic activities of the last
decade or two is that countries which are mainly Moslem should have
Moslem rulers, and that Christian rule, however enlightened and
benevolent, is only permissible where Islam is outnumbered by other
creeds. At the same time, in countries where Christian methods of
civilisation and European capital have been invited we have a right to
control and advise the Moslem ruler sufficiently to ensure the fair
treatment of our nationals and their interests. But with purely Moslem
countries which have expressed no readiness to assimilate the methods of
modern civilisation or to invite outside capital we have no right to
interfere beyond the following limit: if the local authorities allow
foreign traders to operate at their ports their interests should be
safeguarded, if important enough, by consular representation on the
spot, or, if not, by occasional visits of a man-of-war to keep nationals
in touch with their own Government, presuming that the place is too
small to justify any mail-carrying vessel calling there except at very
long intervals.

There should always be a definite understanding as to foreigners
proceeding or residing up-country for any purpose. If the local ruler
discourages but permits such procedure, all we should expect him to do
in case of untoward incidents is to take reasonable action to
investigate and punish, but if he has guaranteed the security of foreign
nationals concerned, he must redeem his pledge in an adequate manner or
take the consequences. There should seldom be occasion for an inland
punitive expedition; in these days, when many articles of seaborne trade
have become, from mere luxuries, almost indispensable adjuncts of native
life in the remotest regions, a maritime blockade strictly enforced
should soon exact the necessary satisfaction.

Such rulers should bear in mind that if they accept an enterprise of
foreign capital they must protect its legitimate operations, just as a
school which has accepted a Government grant has to conform to
stipulated conditions.

Where no such penetration has occurred, all we should concern ourselves
with is that internal trouble in such regions shall not slop over into
territory protected or occupied by us, and this is where our most
serious difficulties will occur in erstwhile Turkish Arabia.

The Turk, with all his faults, could grapple with a difficult situation
in native affairs by drastic methods which might be indefensible in
themselves, but were calculated to obtain definite results. At any rate,
we had a responsible central Government to deal with and one that we
could get at. Now we shall have to handle such situations ourselves or
rely on the local authorities doing so. The former method is costly and
dangerous, yielding the minimum of result to the maximum of effort and
expense, while involving possibilities of trouble which might compromise
our democratic yearnings considerably: the latter alternative
presupposes that we have succeeded in evolving out of the present
imbroglio responsible rulers who are well-disposed to us and prepared to
take adequate action on our representations.

In Syria and Mesopotamia, where communications are good and European
penetration an established fact, there should not be much difficulty,
but in Arabia proper the problem is a very prickly one.

Beginning with Arabia Felix, which includes Yamen, the Aden
protectorate, and the vague, sprawling province of Hadhramaut, we may be
permitted to hope that nothing worse can happen in the Aden protectorate
than has happened already; the remoter Hadhramaut has always looked
after its own affairs and can continue to do so; but Yamen bristles with
political problems which will have to be solved, and solved correctly,
if she is going to be a safe neighbour or a reliable customer to have
business dealings with. Hitherto none of her local rulers have inspired
any confidence in their capacity for initiative or independent action.
During the War the Idrisi, who had long been in revolt against the Turks
in northern Yamen, kept making half-hearted and abortive dabs at
Loheia--like a nervous child playing snapdragon--but his only success
(and temporary at that) was when he occupied the town after the Red Sea
Patrol had shelled the Turks out of it. As for the Imam, he has been
sitting on a very thorny fence ever since the Turks came into the War.
We have been in touch with him for a long time, but all he has done up
to date is to wobble on a precarious tripod supported by the opposing
strains of Turks, tribesmen, and British. Now one leg of the tripod has
been knocked away he has yet to show if he can maintain stability on his
own base, and, if so, over what area. The undeniable fighting qualities
of the Yamen Arab, which might be a useful factor in a stable
government, will merely prove a nuisance and a menace under a weak
_régime_, and tribal trouble will always be slopping over into our Aden
sphere of influence. Then the question will arise, What are we going to
do about it? We cannot bring the Yamenis to book by blockading their
coast and cutting off caravan traffic with Aden, because, in view of our
trade relations with the country by sea and land, we should only be
cutting our nose off to spite our face. Moreover, the punishment would
fall chiefly on the respectable community, traders, the cultured
classes, etc., to whom seaborne trade is essential, while it would
hardly affect the wild tribesmen, except as regards ammunition, and to
prevent them getting what they wanted through the Hejaz is outside the
sphere of practical politics.

In the Hejaz itself we can at least claim that authority is suitably
represented and accessible to us. Before the War we kept a British
consul at Jeddah with an Indian Moslem vice-consul who went up to Mecca
in the pilgrim season. A responsible consular agent (Moslem of course)
to reside at Medina, also another to understudy the Jeddah vice-consul
when he went to Mecca and to look after the Yenbo pilgrim traffic, would
safeguard the interests of our nationals, who enormously outnumber the
pilgrims of any other nation. Further interference with the Hejaz,
unless invited, would be unjustifiable.

Trouble for us does not lie in the Hejaz itself, but in its possible
expansion beyond its powers of absorption, or, in homely metaphor, if it
bites off more than it can chew. There is a certain tendency just now to
overrate Hejazi prowess in war and policy; in fact, King Husein is often
alluded to vaguely as the "King of Arabia," and there is a sporadic crop
of ill-informed articles on this and other Arabian affairs in the
English Press. One of the features of the War as regards this part of
the world is the extraordinary and fungus-like growth of "Arabian
experts" it has produced, most of whom have never set foot in Arabia
itself, while the few now living who have acquired real first-hand
knowledge of any part of the Arabian peninsula before the War may be
counted on the fingers of one hand. Yet the number of people who rush
into print with their opinions on the most complex Arabian affairs would
astonish even the Arabs if they permitted themselves to show surprise at
anything. These opinions differ widely, but have one attribute in
common--their emphatic "cock-sureness." Each one presents the one and
only solution of the whole Arabian problem according to the facet which
the writer has seen, and there are many facets. They are amusing and
even instructive occasionally, but there is a serious side to
them--their crass empiricism. Each writer presents (quite honestly,
perhaps) his point of view of one or two facets in the rough-cut,
many-sided and clouded crystal of Arabian politics without considering
its possible bearing on other parts of the peninsula or even other
factors in the district he knows or has read about. The net result is an
appallingly crude patchwork, no one piece harmonising with another,
and, in view of the habit Government has formed in these cases of
accepting empirical opinions if they are shouted loud enough or at close
range, there is more than a possibility that our Arabian policy may
resemble such a crazy quilt. If it does, we shall have to harvest a
thistle-crop of tribal and intertribal trouble throughout the Arabian
peninsula, and the seed-down of unrest will blow all over Syria and
Mesopotamia just at the most awkward time when reconstruction and sound
administration are struggling to establish themselves. Weeds grow
quicker and stronger than useful plants in any garden.

Empirical statements sound well and look well in print, but they are no
use whatever as sailing directions in the uncharted waters of Arabian
politics. Putting them aside, the following facts are worth bearing in
mind when the future of Arabia is discussed.

The Hejazi troops were ably led by the Sharifian Emirs and Syrian
officers of note, and had the co-operation of the Red Sea flotilla on
the coast and British officers of various corps inland to cut off
Medina, the last place of importance held by the Turks after the summer
of 1916. Yet the town held out until long after the armistice, and its
surrender had eventually to be brought about by putting pressure on the
Turkish Government at Stamboul. On the other hand, the two great
provinces which impinge upon the Hejaz, namely, Nejd and Yamen, have
given ample proof that they can hammer the Turks without outside
assistance. The Nejdis not only cleared their own country of Ottoman
rule, but drove the Turks out of Hasa a year or two before the War,
while the Yamenis have more than once hurled the Turks back on to the
coast, and the rebels of northern Yamen successfully withstood a Hejazi
and Turkish column from the north and another Turkish column from the
south. The inference is that if the limits of Hejazi rule are to be much
extended there had better be a clear understanding with their neighbours
and also some definite idea of the extent to which we are likely to be
involved in support of our _protégé_.

I know that many otherwise intelligent people have been hypnotised by
the prophecy in "The White Prophet":

    "The time is near when the long drama that has been played
    between Arabs and Turks will end in the establishment of a vast
    Arabic empire, extending from the Tigris and the Euphrates
    valley to the Mediterranean and from the Indian Ocean to
    Jerusalem, with Cairo as its Capital, the Khedive as its
    Caliph, and England as its lord and protector."

While refraining from obvious and belated criticism of a prophecy which
the march of events has trodden out of shape, and which could never have
been intended as a serious contribution to our knowledge of Arabs and
their politics, we must admit that the basic idea of centralising
Arabian authority has taken strong hold of avowed statecraft in England.
It would, of course, simplify our relations with Arabia and the
collateral regions of Mesopotamia and Syria if such authority could
establish itself and be accepted by the other Arabian provinces to the
extent of enforcing its enactments as regards their foreign affairs,
_i.e._, relations with subjects (national or protected) of European

If such authority could be maintained without assistance from us other
than a subsidy and the occasional supply, to responsible parties, of
arms and ammunition, it would satisfy all reasonable requirements, but
if we had to intervene with direct force we should find ourselves
defending an unpopular _protégé_ against the united resentment of

I believe there is no one ruler or ruling clique in Arabia that could
wield such authority, and my reason for saying so is that the experiment
has been tried repeatedly on a small scale during the twenty years or so
that I have been connected with the country and has failed every time.
Toward the close of last century a sultan of Lahej who had always
claimed suzerainty over his turbulent neighbours, the Subaihi, had to
enter that vagabond tribeship to enforce one of his decrees, and got
held up with his "army" until extricated by Aden diplomacy at the price
of his suzerain sway. His successor still claimed a hold over an
adjacent clan of the Subaihi known as the Rigai, but when one of our
most promising political officers was murdered there, and the murderer
sheltered by the clan, he was unable to obtain redress or even assist us
adequately in attempting to do so. Early in this century Aden was
involved in a little expedition against Turks and Arabs because one of
her protected sultans (equipped with explosive and ammunition) could not
deal with a small Arab fort himself. This is the same sultanate which
let the Turks through against us in the summer of 1915 and whose ruler
was prominent in the sacking of Lahej. I have already alluded, in
Chapter II, to the inadequacy of the Lahej sultan on that occasion, yet
Aden had bolstered up his authority in every possible way and had relied
on him and his predecessor for years to act as semi-official suzerain
and go-between for other tribes--a withered stick which snapped the
first time it was leant upon. I could also point to the Imam of Yamen,
strong in opposition to the Turks as a rallying point of tribal revolt,
but weak and vacillating on the side of law and order. I might go on
giving instances _ad nauseam_, but here is one more to clinch the
argument, and it is typical of Arab politics. Aden had just cause of
offence against a certain reigning sultan of the Abd-ul-Wahid in her
eastern sphere of influence. He had intrigued with foreign States,
oppressed his subjects, persecuted native trade and played the dickens
generally. Therefore Aden rebuked him (by letter) and appointed a
relative of his to be sultan and receive his subsidy. The erring but
impenitent potentate reduced his relative to such submission that he
would sign monthly receipts for the subsidy and meekly hand over the
cash: these were his only official acts, as he retired into private life
in favour of Aden's _bête noir_, who flourished exceedingly until he
blackmailed caravans too freely and got the local tribesmen on his

When we also consider how early in Islamic history the Caliphate split
as a temporal power, and the difficulty which even the early Caliphs
(with all their prestige) had to keep order in Arabia, it should
engender caution in experiments toward even partial centralisation of
control: apart from the fact that they might develop along lines
diverging from the recognised principles of self-determination in small
States, they could land us into a humiliating _impasse_ or an armed

We parried the Turco-German efforts to turn pan-Islam against us, thanks
to our circumspect attitude with regard to Moslems, but a genuine
movement based on any apparent aggression of ours in Arabia proper might
be a more serious matter.


    [Footnote B: "_Arabia Infelix_," Macmillan.]



Having weighed the influence which pan-Islam can wield as a popular
movement, we will now consider the human factors which have built it up.

Just as we used Christendom as a test-gauge of pan-Islam, so now we will
compare the activities of Moslems (who do their own proselytising) with
those of Christian missionaries, grouping with them our laity so far as
their example may be placed in the scales for or against the influence
of Christendom.

To do this with the breadth of view which the question demands we will
examine these human factors throughout the world wherever they are
involved in opposition to each other. We shall thus avoid the confined
outlook which teaches Europeans in Asia Minor to look on Turks as
typical Moslems to the exclusion of all others, or makes Anglo-Egyptians
talk of country-folk in Egypt as Arabs and their language as the
standard of Arabic, or engenders the Anglo-Indian tendency of regarding
a scantily-dressed paramount chief from the Aden hinterland as an
obscure _jungliwala_ because, in civilised India, an eminent Moslem
dresses in accordance with our conception of the part.

We can leave the western hemisphere out of this inquiry, for though the
greatest missionary effort against Islam is engendered in the United
States, it manifests itself in the eastern hemisphere, and the Moslem
population in both the Americas is too small and quiescent to be
considered a factor.

We will begin with England and work eastward to the edge of the Moslem

At first glance the idea of England as an arena where two great
religious forces meet seems rather far-fetched, but there is more Moslem
activity in some of our English towns than people imagine. Turning over
some files of the _Kibla_ (a Meccan newspaper), one comes across
passages like the following:--

    "The honourable Cadi Abdulla living in London reports that six
    noted English men and women have embraced the Moslem religion
    in the cities of Oxford, Leicester, etc. The meritorious Abdul
    Hay Arab has established a new centre in London for calling to
    Islam, and the Mufti Muhammad Sadik has delivered a speech in
    English in the mosque on 'the object of human life which can
    only be attained through Moslem guidance.' Many English men and
    women were present and put questions which were answered in a
    conclusive manner. At the close of the meeting a young lady of
    good family embraced Islam and was named Maimuna."

Then we have the scholarly and temperate addresses of Seyid Muhammad
Rauf and others before the Islamic Society in London; they are marked by
considerable shrewdness and breadth of view, and though their debatable
points may present a few fallacies, their effective controversion
requires unusual knowledge of affairs in Moslem countries.

It is not, however, the activities of Moslems in England which damage
the prestige of Christendom; it is the behaviour of English alleged
Christians themselves. Every missionary, political officer, tutor, or
even the importer of a native servant--in short, anyone who has been
responsible for an oriental in England--knows what I mean. I do not say
that London (for example) is any more vicious than Delhi or Cairo or
Cabul or Constantinople or any other large Moslem centre, but vice is
certainly more obvious in London to the casual observer, even allowing
for the fact that many comparatively harmless customs of ours (such as
women wearing low-necked dresses and dancing with men) are apt to shock
Moslems until they learn that occidental habit has created an atmosphere
of innocence in such cases which even bunny-hugging has failed to

The social life of London in all its grades and phases operates more
widely for good or ill on Christian prestige among Moslems than
Londoners can possibly imagine. From the young princeling of some native
State sauntering about Clubland with his bear-leader to the lascar off a
P. and O. boat, among East London drabs, or the middle-class Mohammedan
student who compares the civic achievements that surround him with the
dingy dining-room of a Bloomsbury boarding-house, all are apostles of
life in London as it seems to them. I have had the hospitality of
"family hotels" in the Euston Road portrayed to me in the crude but
vivid imagery of the East when spooring boar in Southern Morocco with a
native tracker who had been one of a troupe of Soosi jugglers earning
good pay at a West-end music-hall, and I once overheard a young
_effendi_ explaining to his _confrères_ in a Cairo café exactly the sort
of company that would board your hansom when leaving "Jimmy's" in days
of yore.

As for the news of London and its ways, as conveyed by its daily Press,
educated Egyptians were better posted therein than most Englishmen in
Cairo during the War, as their clubs and private organisations
subscribed largely to the London dailies, which entered Egypt free of
local censorship, while Anglo-Egyptian newspapers were more strictly
censored than their vernacular or continental contemporaries, as they
presented no linguistic difficulties, but could be dealt with direct and
not through an understrapper.

Missionaries would have us judge Islam by the open improprieties and
abuses which occur at Mecca, Kerbela, and other great Moslem centres.
How should we like Christianity to be judged by the public behaviour of
certain classes in London or other big towns? Remember, it is always the
scum which floats on top and the superficial vice or indecorum that
strike a foreign observer.

It is not my mission to preach--I am merely pointing out a flaw in our
harness which causes a lot of administrative trouble out East. It is
difficult to check the hashish habit in Egypt when the average educated
_effendi_ reads of drug-scandals in London with mischievous avidity, and
the endeavours of a well-meaning Education Department to implant ideals
of sturdy manhood are handicapped when the students batten on the weird
and unsavoury incidents which are dished up _in extenso_ by London
journalism from time to time. Such matters do no harm to a public with
a sense of proportion, but the _effendi_ is in the position of a
schoolboy who has caught his master tripping and means to make the most
of it. He assimilates and disseminates the idea that cocaine is as
easily procurable as a cocktail in London clubs, and that the Black Mass
is at least as common as the _danse de ventre_ in Cairo.

We can leave England for our Eastern tour with the conclusion that Islam
is welcome to any proselytes it makes there, but that the gravest slur
on Christian prestige is cast by our own conduct.

There is only one bone of contention between Moslems and missionaries in
Europe now that Turkey and Russia are knocked out of the ring of current
politics. Is St. Sophia to remain a mosque or revert to its original
purpose as a Christian church? Whatever may be Turkish opinion on the
subject, the tradition of Islam is definite enough. When the Caliph Omar
entered Jerusalem in triumph, after Khaled had defeated the hosts of
Heraclius east of Jordan, he withstood the importunate entreaties of his
followers to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, saying that if he
did so the building would _de facto_ become a mosque, and such a wrong
to Christianity was against the ordinance and procedure of the Prophet.
It is worthy of note that Christians were not molested at Jerusalem
until after the Seljouk Turks wrested the Holy City from the moribund
Arabian Caliphate in 1076: their persecution and the desecration of
sacred places by the Turks brought about the first Crusade in 1096.
Again it was the Ottoman Turks who stormed Constantinople and turned
St. Sophia into a mosque. According to the orthodox tradition of Islam,
once a church always a church. When the ex-Khedive had the chance of
reacquiring the site of All Saints', Cairo, owing to the increasing
noise of traffic in the vicinity, he contemplated building a
cinema-theatre there (for he had a shrewd business mind), but he was
roundly told by Moslem legalists that it was out of the question. Even
if the Turks urge right of conquest, victorious Christendom can claim
that too, and if they allege length of tenure as a mosque in support of
their case they put themselves out of court, as St. Sophia has been a
church for more than nine centuries and a mosque for less than five.

If Turkey is allowed to remain in Europe at all it will be on
sufferance. Even in Asia Minor signs are not wanting that Turkish rule
will be pruned, clipped and trained considerably, as humanity will stand
its rampant luxuriance of blood and barbarity no longer. The Young
Turks were given every chance to consolidate their national aspirations
and have achieved national suicide. One may feel sorry for the patient,
sturdy peasantry and the non-political cultured classes who have been
coerced or cajoled into fighting desperately in a cause that meant
calamity for them whether they won or lost; but a nation gets the rulers
it deserves and must answer for their acts.

Asia Minor will probably be more accessible as a mission-field in due
course. The Moslem Turk is not amenable to conversion; in fact, during a
quarter of a century's wandering in the East I have never met a Turkish
convert. The American Protestant Mission will probably be well to the
fore in this area in view of its excellent work on behalf of the
Armenians and other distressed Christians during the War. Just as it has
concentrated its principal energies on the Copts in Egypt, so it may
with advantage devote itself to the education and "uplift" of the
Armenians, and if its activities are as successful as with the Copts,
even the Armenians cannot but approve, for the more enlightened
individuals of that harassed and harassing little nation admit that the
Armenian character could be considerably improved, and that, though
their hideous persecution is indefensibly damnable, their covetous
instincts and parasitic activities are an incentive to maltreatment.

One of the most difficult minor problems of reconstruction in Eastern
Europe and Asia Minor will be how to safeguard the interests and modify
the provocative activities of such subject-races as the Jews and the
Armenians where established among ill-controlled nations and numerically
inferior, though intellectually superior, to them. With their natural
gift for intrigue and finance, they repay public persecution and
oppression by undermining the administration and battening on the
resources of their unwilling foster-country until active dislike becomes
actual violence and outbursts of brutish rage yield ghastly results.
Deportation is not only tyrannically harsh but impracticable, for unless
they were dumped to die in the waste places of the earth, which is
unthinkable, some other nation must receive them, and even the most
philanthropic Government would hesitate to upset its economic conditions
by admitting unproductive hordes of sweated labour and skilled
exploiters. There are only two logical alternatives to such an
_impasse_. One is to treat such subject-races so well that they may be
trusted not to use their peculiar abilities against the interests of
their adoptive country, which would then be their interests too, and
the other is to exterminate them, which is inhuman. There is no middle

It is a salutary but humiliating fact that we incur the worst human ills
by our lack of human charity. We starved and over-crowded our poor till
they bred consumption, and we enslaved negroes till they degenerated our
Anglo-Saxon sturdiness of character, then plunged a great nation into
civil war, and have finally become one of its most serious social
problems. So the Jews were debarred from liberal pursuits and privileges
until they concentrated on finance and commerce, being also persecuted
until they perfected their defensive organisation. The consequence is
that they are individually formidable in those activities and
collectively invincible. Similarly the Turks harried the Armenians to
their own undoing with even less excuse, for those ill-used people were
certainly not interlopers, and so far from ameliorating their condition
in the course of time, as we have done with the Jews, the Turks went
from bad to worse till they culminated in atrocities which no
provocation can palliate or humanity condone.

But to return to Asia Minor; there the Armenians were first on the
ground, and yet the Moslems of Armenia outnumber them by three to one.
Any sound form of government would have to give equal rights, but it
would have to be strong and farseeing to prevent the greedy exploitation
and savage reprisals which such conditions would otherwise evolve.

On entering Asia we shall find a somewhat similar problem confronting
the administration in Syria and Palestine. Here we have several mixed
races and at least three distinct creeds--Christianity, Islam, and

The Zionist movement looks promising, everyone concerned seems to be in
accord, and a Jew millennium looms large in the offing, but----. In
Palestine there are normally about 700,000 Moslems and Christians (the
latter a very small minority) to 150,000 Jews. The lure of the Promised
Land will presumably increase the Jewish population enormously, but they
will still be very much in the minority unless the country is
over-populated. The Zionist organisation will naturally try to select
for emigration agriculturists, mechanics, and craftsmen generally to
develop the resources of the country, but that is easier said than done.
If Palestine, in addition to the sentimental aspect, is to be a refuge
and asylum for the downtrodden and persecuted Jews of Eastern Europe,
there would be very few farmers among _that_ lot--except tax-farmers.
Even in England, where he labours under no landowning disability, the
Jew thinks that farming for a living is a mug's game and confines his
agricultural activities to week-ends in the autumn with a "hammerless
ejector" and a knickerbocker suit. As for mechanics and skilled labour
generally, such Jews as take to it usually excel in such work and do
very well where they are. The bulk of the immigrant population--unless
Palestine is going to be artificially colonised without regard for the
necessitous claims of the very people who should be drawn off
there--will be indigent artisans, small shopkeepers, shop assistants,
weedy unemployables, and a sprinkling of shrewd operators on the
look-out for prey. If the scheme is going to be run entirely on
philanthropic lines (and there are ample resources and charity at the
back of it to do so) the Zionists will be all right, and will, perhaps,
improve immensely in the next generation under the influence of an
open-air life--if they adopt it; but the resident majority of Moslems
and Christians will not take too kindly to their new compatriots, while
the Palestine Jews are already carping at the idea of so many trade
rivals and accusing them of not being orthodox. None of this ill-feeling
need matter in the long run with a firm but benevolent government, but
the authorities will have to evolve some legislation to check
profiteering and over-exploitation, or there will be trouble. It is not
only the new-comers who will want curbing, but the present population.
During the War the flagrant profiteering of Jew and Christian operators
in Palestine and Syria did much to accentuate the appalling distress and
was the more disgraceful compared with the magnificent efforts of the
American and Anglican Churches to relieve the situation. The Jews nearly
incurred a pogrom by their operations, which were only checked by a
wealthy Syrian in Egypt starting a co-operative venture of low-priced
foodstuffs and necessities with the support of the British authorities.
As for the local Syrians, some of them were even worse. French and
British officers speak of wealthy Syrians (presumably Christian,
certainly not Moslem) giving many and sumptuous balls at Beyrout, at
which they lapped Austrian champagne while their wives, blazing in
diamonds, whirled with Hunnish officers in the high-pressure,
double-action German waltz. And this with thousands of their compatriots
starving in the streets and little naked children banding together to
drive pariah dogs with stones from the street offal they were worrying,
if perchance it might yield a meal. Meanwhile decent Anglo-Saxon
Christendom was battling in that very town under adverse conditions to
succour human destitution which had been largely caused by the callous
operations of these soulless parasites. The Christians of Syria have no
monopoly of such scandals. Yet there are otherwise intelligent people
who speak of modern Christianity as an automatic promoter of ethics, and
have the effrontery to try to thrust it on the East as a moral panacea.
It is human ideals which make or mar a soul when once the seed of any
sound religion has been sown, and they depend upon environment and
climate more than our spiritual pastors admit; otherwise, why this
missionary activity among oriental Christians? If you try to grow garden
flowers in the rich, rank irrigation soil of the Nile valley they
flourish luxuriantly, but soon develop a marked tendency to revert to
their wild type, and it is permissible to suppose that human character
is even more sensitive to its mental and physical surroundings. Any
observant teacher of oriental youth will tell you that the promise of
their precocious ability is seldom fulfilled by their maturity. Even the
"country-born" children of British parents are considered precocious at
their preparatory school in England, and, if not sent home to be
educated, are apt to fall short of their parents' intellectual and
moral standard in later years. The Mamelukes knew what they were about
when they kidnapped hardy Albanian youths to carry on their rule in
Egypt and passed over their own progeny. Kingsley has shown us in
"Hypatia" what the Nile valley did for the Christian Church.

It is not a question of Jew, Christian, or Moslem that the
administrative authorities in Syria and Palestine will have to consider
beyond ensuring that each shall follow his religion unmolested. They
will have to defend the many from the machinations of the few and the
few from the violent reprisals of the many. It is statecraft that is
wanted, not politics or religious dogma.

In Mesopotamia there has not been much missionary effort hitherto, and
there is not a good case for exploiting it as a missionary field beyond
certain limits. The riparian townsfolk are respectable people of some
education and grasp of their own affairs, and the country-folk are a
harum-scarum set of scallywags who used to attack Turks or British
indifferently, whichever happened to be in difficulties for the moment.
They are best left to the secular arm for some time to come. Medical
missions, staffed by both sexes, could do good work at urban centres,
and a few river steamers, or even launches, would extend their efforts

We now come to Arabia itself, "the Peninsula of the Arabs," where
orthodox Islam has its strongholds and missionary enterprise is not

Geographers differ somewhat as to what constitutes Arabia proper, but
for the purposes of modern practical politics it may be considered as
all the peninsula south of a line from the head of the Gulf of Akaba to
the head of the Persian Gulf, and consisting of Nejd, the Hejaz,[C]
Asir, Yamen, Aden protectorate, Hadhramaut and Oman. Each of these
divisions should be dealt with separately in considering Arabian
politics nowadays, and it will be well for the "mandatories" concerned
if further sub-divisions do not complicate matters; I omit the
sub-province of Hasa (once a dependency of the Turkish _pashalik_ at
Bussora) because, since the Nejdi _coup d'état_ in 1912, the Emir ibn
Saoud will probably control its policy _vis-à-vis_ of missionaries and
Europeans generally, though the Sheikh of Koweit may expect to be

Nejd comes first as we move southward: impinging as it does on Syria,
Mesopotamia, and the Hejaz, its politics are involved in theirs to a
certain extent and its affairs require careful handling. It is certainly
no field for unrestrained missionary effort, but there is no reason why
a medical mission should not be posted at Riadh if the Emir is willing.
There are two rival houses in Nejd--the ibn Saoud and ibn Rashid, the
former pro-British and the latter (hitherto) pro-Turk; Emir Saoud held
ascendancy before the War and should be able to maintain it now that
Turco-German influence is a thing of the past. He is an enlightened,
energetic man and was a close friend of our gallant "political," the
late Captain Shakespeare, who was killed there early in the War during
an engagement between the two rival houses. The question of missionary
enterprise in Nejd could well be put before the Emir for consideration
on its merits. Such procedure may seem weak to an out-and-out
missionary, but even he would hesitate to keep poultry in another man's
garden, even for economic purposes, without consulting him. Fowls and
missionaries are useful and even desirable in a suitable environment,
otherwise they can be a nuisance.

Next in order as we travel is the Hejaz, where Islam started on its
mission to harry exotic creeds and nations, until its conquering
progress was checked decisively by reinvigorated Christendom. In
missionary parlance, Arabia generally is referred to as "a Gibraltar of
fanaticism and pride which shuts out the messenger of Christ," and it
must be admitted that the Hejaz has hitherto justified this description
to a certain extent. Even at Jeddah Christians were only just tolerated
before the War, and I found it advisable, when exploring its tortuous
bazars, to wear a tarboosh, which earned me the respectful salutations
then accorded to a Turk. The indigenous townsfolk of Jeddah are the
"meanest" set of Moslems I have ever met--I use the epithet in its
American sense, as indicating a blend of currishness and crabbedness.
They cringed to the Turk when the braver Arabs of the south were
hammering the oppressor in Asir and Yamen, but, like pariahs, were ready
to fall on them and their women and children when they had surrendered
after a gallant struggle, overwhelmed by an intensive bombardment from
the sea. The alien Moslems resident in Jeddah--especially the
Indians--are not a bad lot, but there is an atmosphere of intolerance
brooding over the whole place which even affects Jeddah harbour. I
remember being shipmate in 1913 with some eight hundred pilgrims from
Aden and the southern ports of the Red Sea. As we were discharging them
off Jeddah, a plump and respectable Aden merchant whom I knew by sight,
but who did not know me in the guise I then wore, was gazing in rapt
enthusiasm at sun-scorched Jeddah, which, against the sterile country
beyond, looked like a stale bride-cake on a dust heap. "A sacred land,"
he crooned. "A blessed land where pigs and Christians cannot live."
Incidentally he made a very good living out of Christians and was
actually carrying his gear in a pigskin valise.

At the same time, it is absurd for missionaries to aver of Christians at
Jeddah that "even those who die in the city are buried on an island at
sea." The Christian cemetery lies to the south of the town (we had to
dislodge the Turks from it with shrapnel during the fighting), and the
only island is a small coral reef just big enough to support the ruins
of a nondescript tenement once used for quarantine. No one could be
buried there without the aid of dynamite and a cold chisel. Presumably
missionary report has confused Jeddah with the smaller pilgrim-port of
Yenbo, where there are an island and a sandy spit with a Sheikh's tomb
and a select burial-ground for certain privileged Moslems of the holy
man's family.

The worst indictment of Jeddah (and Mecca too, for that matter) is made
by the pilgrims themselves, though some of it may be exaggerated by men
smarting under the extortions of pilgrim-brokers.

A pious Moslem once averred in my presence that the pilgrim-brokers of
Jeddah were, in themselves, enough to bring a judgment on the place,
and that trenchant opinion is not without foundation. Even to the
unprejudiced eye of a travelled European they present themselves as a
class of blatant bounders battening on the earnest fervour of their
co-religionists and squandering the proceeds on dissipation. I have more
than once been shipmate with a gang of them, and it is at sea that they
cast off such restraint as the critical gaze of other Moslems might
impose. As sumptuous first-class passengers they lounge about the deck
in robes of tussore, rich silks and fancy waistcoats, though out of
deference to their religious prejudice and Christian table-manners they
usually mess by themselves. After dinner they play vociferous poker in
the saloon for cut-throat stakes, evading the captain's veto by using
tastefully designed little fish in translucent colours to represent
heavy cash, and these they invoke from time to time "for luck." As it is
usually sweltering weather, the occidental whiskey-and-soda and the
aromatic _mastic_ of the Levant are much in evidence, and thus three of
Islam's gravest injunctions are set at naught. Their chief fault, to a
broad-minded sportsman, is that they lack self-control, whatever their
luck may be. I have heard an ill-starred gambler bemoaning his losses
with the cries of a stricken animal, and they are still more offensive
as winners.

In Mecca such open breaches of the Islamic code are not tolerated, but
there are other lapses which neither Moslem nor Christian can condone.
It is unfair and out of date to quote Burton's indictment of Meccan
morals, nor have we any right to judge the city by its behaviour soon
after its freedom from the Turkish yoke, when it may have been suffering
from reaction after nervous tension; but, unless the bulk of respectable
Moslem opinion is at fault, there is still much in the administration of
Mecca which cries for reform. Harsh measures may have been necessary at
first, but to maintain a private prison like the _Kabu_ in the state it
is can redound to no ruler's credit, and for prominent officials to
cultivate an "alluring walk" and even practise it in the _tawâf_ or
circumambulation of the holy Caaba is beyond comment.

Also the mental standard of officialdom is low, since Syrians of
education and training do not seem to be attracted by the Hejaz service
for long, and local men of position and ability are said to have been
passed over as likely to be formidable as intriguers.

It may be reasonably urged that it is difficult to improvise a Civil
Service on the spur of the moment, and it is permissible to anticipate a
better state of affairs now that war conditions are being superseded. At
the same time it is no use blinking the fact that reform is indicated at
Mecca if that sacred city is to harmonise with its high mission as the
religious centre of the Islamic world, and this affects our numerous
Moslem fellow-countrymen; otherwise the domestic affairs of the Hejaz
are not our concern.

The Hejaz has been very much to the fore lately, and ill-informed or
biassed opinion has developed a tendency to credit it with a greater
part in Arabian and Syrian affairs than it has played, can play, or
should be encouraged to play. Its intolerant tone has, presumably, been
modified by co-operation with the civilised forces of militant
Christendom, but the new kingdom has got to regenerate itself a good
deal before it can cope with wider responsibilities. Emir Feisal is, no
doubt, an enlightened prince, but one swallow does not make a summer,
and Hejazi troops have not yet evolved enough _moral_ to dominate and
control a more formidable breed or be trusted with the peace and
welfare of a more civilised population, especially where there are large
non-Moslem communities. There has been a great deal of nonsense talked
and written about their invincible fighting prowess. They accompanied
the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in much the same way as the jackal is
said to accompany the lion, with a reversionary interest in his kill,
and their faint-hearted fumbling with the Turkish defences outside
Jeddah was obvious to any observer. They are what they have been since
the fiery self-sacrificing enthusiasm of early Islam died down and left
them with the half-warm embers of their racial greed to become
hereditary spoilers of the weak, instinctively shunning a doubtful
fight. In guerilla warfare, leavened by British officers, they have
shown an aptitude for taking advantage of a situation, but they cannot
stand punishment and will not face the prospect of it if they can help
it. Their own leaders knew that well enough when they refrained from
taking Medina by assault, bombardment being out of the question, as
buildings of the utmost sanctity would have been inevitably damaged or

Prince Feisal has, in a published interview with a representative of the
Press, disclaimed all imperialistic ambitions for the Hejaz, but merely
demanded Arab independence in what was once the Ottoman Empire. That
being assured, the new kingdom will be able to devote its energies to
internal affairs, and the excellent impression made by the Hejazi prince
in Europe should be a favourable augury of the future.

The missionary question should be left to the reigning house for
decision; it is not fair to hamper the Hejaz with unnecessary
complications, and to allow active missionary propaganda at a
pilgrim-port like Jeddah is asking for trouble, apart from the flagrant
violation of religious sentiment. Imagine Catholic feeling if an
enterprising Moslem mission were established at Lourdes. Tact and
expediency are just as necessary in religious as in secular affairs--at
least so St. Paul has taught us; but the modern missionary is too apt to
regard these qualities in Christianity as insincerity and the lack of
them in Islam as fanaticism.

South of the Hejaz lies that rather vague area known as Asir. For
geographical purposes we may consider it as the country between two
parallels of latitude drawn through the coastal towns of Lith and
Loheia, with the Red Sea on the west and an ill-defined inland border
merging eastward into the desert plateau of Southern Nejd. Politically,
it is that territory of Western Arabia between the Hejaz and Yamen in
which the Idrisi has more control than anyone since his successful
revolt against the Turks a year or two before the War. In all
probability its northern districts with Lith will go to the Hejaz, and
the southern ones with Loheia to the Idrisi; but Western diplomacy will
be well advised to leave those two rulers to settle it between
themselves and the local population, especially inland, as tribal
boundaries between semi-nomadic and pastoral people are not for
intelligent amateurs to trifle with. Nor should the missionary be
encouraged; Asir is not a suitable field for his activities, and the
trouble he would probably cause is out of all proportion to the good he
could possibly do. The Asiri is a frizzy-haired fanatic with a short
temper and a serious disposition, addicted to sword-play and the
indiscriminate use of firearms. I doubt if he would see the humour of
missionary logic. As for the Idrisi himself, he is a tall, well set up
man of negroid aspect (being of Moorish and Soudani descent), and has
shown shrewdness as an administrator, though his operations in the War
have lacked "punch." He is very orthodox, and from what I know of him I
should not say that religious tolerance was his strong point. His
capital is at Sabbia, in the maritime foot-hills, with a very trying
climate. Asir might suit the naturalist or explorer who could adapt
himself to his environment and respect local prejudice. No one has yet
entered the country in either capacity, but, from what has been told me
before the War by intelligent Turkish officers who campaigned there, I
think that the birds and smaller mammals would repay research, while the
great Dawasir valley and other geographical problems inland might be
investigated with advantage under the _ægis_ of local chiefs. All that
is required, besides the necessary scientific knowledge and Arabic, is a
certain amount of perseverance and resolution blended with a reasonable
regard for other people's convictions. Most Arabian expeditions fail
through lack of time spent in preliminary steps. I have tripped up in
that way myself, but it was owing to the restrictions of a paternal
Government, and not through lack of patience. Before I started serious
exploration in the Aden hinterland I spent a year on the littoral plain
getting in touch with the people and mastering the dialect. Any success
I may have had up-country was due to the foundation I laid in those
early days, and it was not until the Aden authorities closed their
sphere of influence against exploration in general and myself in
particular that my expeditions began to miss fire, as I had to land at
remote places along the coast and hasten up-country before their
fostering care could set the tribes on me. He who would explore Asir
should take a Khedivial mail steamer from Suez to Jeddah, and there show
his credentials and explain his purpose to his consul and the local
authorities. The Idrisi has an agent there, and it should not be
difficult to pick up an Asiri dhow returning down the coast to Gîzân,
which is the port for Sabbia. He would have to stay there until he got
the Idrisi's permit and an escort, without which he would be held up to
a certainty. In any case, no such enterprise need be contemplated until
Asiri affairs have settled down a good deal.

In Yamen proper it should be feasible to travel again within certain
limits as soon as the Imam can come to an understanding with the tribal
chiefs. There is not much left for the explorer or naturalist to do,
unless he goes very far inland toward the great central desert, which
project is not likely to be encouraged by the local authorities. There
is, however, a possible field for the mineralogist and prospector east
and south-east of Sanaa, which area also contains Sabæan ruins and
inscriptions of interest to the archæologist.

The northern boundary of Yamen may be said nowadays to trend north-east
from Loheia inland through highland country to the desert borders of
Nejran (once a Christian diocese). Its eastern border is very vague,
but may be said to coincide approximately with the 45th parallel of
longitude. Southward the limit has been clearly defined by the
Anglo-Turkish Boundary Commission of 1902-5 inland from the Bana valley,
about a hundred map-miles north of Aden, to the straits of

Within these limits the two great divisions of Islam are represented in
force--the orthodox _Sunnis_ on the littoral plain and far inland along
the upland deserts, while the highlanders among the lofty fertile ranges
separating these two areas and forming the backbone of the country
follow the _Shiah_ schism, being Zeidis, which of all the schismatic
sects approaches most nearly to orthodox Islam and regards Mecca as its
pilgrim-centre. The feeling between these two religious divisions may be
compared with that existing between Anglicans and Catholics. They will
occasionally use each other's places of worship--more especially the
upper or governing classes--and seldom come to open loggerheads; when
they do, it is usually about politics, and not religion. At the same
time, if you, as a Christian traveller among both parties, want a
scathing opinion of a Zeidi, you will get it from an orthodox lowlander,
and the men of the mountains reciprocate with point and weight, for the
balance of religious culture and position is with them among the big
hill-centres; including Sanaa, the political capital where the Imam
holds, or should hold, his court as hereditary ruler spiritual and
temporal. This ecclesiastical potentate has backed the Turk in a
non-committal but flamboyant manner during the War up to the turning of
the tide against them, when he sat on the fence until his Turkish
subsidy ceased. He now looks to Western diplomacy in general and the
British Government in particular not only to continue but to enhance
this subsidy, in order that he may really govern in Yamen. His attitude
throughout is natural and, indeed, justifiable in the interests of
himself and his dynasty; at least occidental politicians cannot cavil at
his motives; but what they ought to ascertain is how far he can fill the
bill as a ruler in Yamen and the extent to which he should be backed.
Without a considerable subsidy his administrative powers (not hitherto
very marked) will not carry far even in the highlands.

Missionaries were allowed to enter Yamen before the War, but did not
establish themselves, even on the coast. Some of them went up-country
and stayed there some time without being molested. The average Yameni is
not fanatical by temperament; there is more bigotry among the urban Jew
colonies than in the whole Moslem countryside.

In the Aden protectorate there has been long established the Falconer
Medical Mission, which, though actually at Sheikh Othman, just inside
the British border, has done splendid work among natives of the
hinterland, who visit it from all parts. Its relations with the Arabs
have always been excellent, though the local ruffians looted the Mission
when the Turks held Sheikh Othman temporarily.

The province of Hadhramaut, politically, includes not only the vast
valley of that name with its tributaries, but the whole of the western
part of Southern Arabia outside the Aden protectorate from the Yamen
border to the confines of Oman near longitude 55. Mokalla is the capital
and principal port. Missionaries have been well received there by the
enlightened ruler--a member of the Kaaiti house with the local title of
Jemadar, inherited from an ancestor who soldiered in the Arab bodyguard
of a former Nizam at Haiderabad. The interior is not suited to
missionary enterprise.

Muscat, the capital of Oman, has already been occupied by missionaries.
The Sultan (at whose court there is a British Resident) is well-disposed,
but has lost most of his influence inland.

Further up the Persian Gulf missionaries have long been established on
the islands of Bahrein, which are under British protection.

Continuing our journey eastward, we can dismiss the Shiahs of Persia as
outside our pan-Islamic calculations, for their pilgrim-centre is at
Kerbela, some twenty odd miles west of the Euphrates and the site of
ancient Babylon. This centre has been visited by missionaries.

Afghanistan and Beluchistan both bar missionaries, but there are C.M.S.
frontier posts from Quetta, in British Beluchistan, to Peshawar, near
the Afghan border. They do good hospital work, otherwise their
evangelising activities over the border are confined to native
colporteurs and the circulation of vernacular Scriptures. There is a
fierce and barbarous Turcoman spirit in both countries which their
respective rulers (the Khan of Kelat and the Emir at Cabul) do their
best to keep within bounds, aided by British Residents. Missionaries
seem to think this spirit can be exorcised by their entrance into the
arena. You might as well throw squibs into a cage full of tigers.

On entering India (that vast hunting-ground of many sects and creeds),
Moslem and missionary are almost swamped in the flood of Hinduism. There
is no restriction on the activities of either within the four corners
of the King-Emperor's peace, and there is very little antagonism between
the two in so big a field, where both are doing good work. Although the
Moslems outnumber the Christians by seven to one, the honours of war go
to the missionaries. Their highly-organised medical and educational
missions do excellent work--the Zenana Mission is, in itself, a
justification of Christian mission work in India to any humanitarian
with some knowledge of _zenana_ conditions. The Moslems, on the other
hand, in spite of their high standard of education, in India show a
tendency among their less educated classes toward the caste prejudices
of Hinduism, which are dead against the teaching of Islam and a handicap
to any social organisation.

Few people realise what a huge proposition the Indian Empire is to solve
in its entirety, with its population of 315 millions, of whom over 90
per cent. are illiterate. Of the more or less educated residuum, not
quite 90 per cent. are Brahmins having little in common with the huge
uneducated bulk of the population, which is chiefly agricultural and, by
its patient toil, supplies most of the wealth of India. Yet it is the
cultured but unproductive Brahmin (organised by a brainy old lady) who
wants to control the native affairs of India--and probably will.

In Farther India the Brahmin is at a discount and the Buddhist is to the
fore, while Moslem and missionary are far too busy among the heathen to
bother about each other; as also in Malay, where there is field enough
and to spare for both of them.

The only other debatable field in Asia is that vast area which we call
China, comprising China proper, Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet and Eastern
Turkestan. Moslem and missionary can hardly be said to meet face to
face, as missionary enterprise is chiefly in China itself, where the
great waterways have been of much assistance to Christian activities,
while Moslem efforts are concentrated on Chinese Turkestan. Here there
are two Christian missions, at Yarkand and Kashgar, under the protection
(as elsewhere in China) of the Chinese Government. Moslem propaganda is
spread by traders and others working from centres of Islamic learning
outside Chinese territory, such as Bokhara and Samarkand in Russian
Turkestan, and Cabul, the Afghan capital. In addition, there is a wave
of Chinese secular culture lapping in from the East, and missionaries
ask that existing missions be reinforced with funds to take a more
effective part in this battle for souls (as they express it). They
complain bitterly that the upper classes _will_ send their sons away to
places like Bokhara to be educated, and that they come back Moslems.
They also call for ample funds to attack Islam on its own ground in
Russian Turkestan, as it is permeating Christian Russia. This missionary
point of view is natural enough; how far it is justifiable is for the
contributing public to decide. To the ordinary mind Christian villages
which can become Moslem by the leavening influence of a few inhabitants
who have been to work in Moslem centres convey one of two impressions,
or both: either Christianity is not adapted to their requirements so
much as Islam, or they are too weak-kneed to be a credit to any faith,
and the one with the most virile methods may take them and make men of
them if it can. Moslem and missionary activities in Chinese Asia remind
one of cheese-mites gnawing away on opposite sides of a Double
Gloucester. They are very active, and if they keep at it may get through
some day; but meanwhile the cheese seems much the same as ever, apart
from its own internal changes which the mites cannot control or affect.

We will now turn to Africa, the main theatre of war between Moslem and
missionary, who battle with each other for pagan souls and each other's

We will first visit Morocco, the most westerly of Moslem countries.
Here there is not much missionary activity, either Protestant or
Catholic, but the French have been doing some excellent secular work
there, and under their tutelage the country is developing on lines of
moderate progress.

There is little antipathy shown to missionaries here, at any rate on the
coast, and medical missionaries have been welcomed inland. Education
does not flourish, but the country might be described by an unbiassed
observer as enlightened at least as far south as a line joining Mogador
and Morocco City (Marrakesh). In this northern area you will find an
industrious agricultural population of small farmers scattered about the
countryside, which consists of wide, open tracts of arable land under
millet, maize, and other cereals, dotted here and there with groves of
olive and orange and interspersed with large forests of _argan_ and
other small trees. Desert country encroaches more and more toward the
south, and in spite of several large streams draining into the Atlantic
from the snowcapped Atlas range, the country becomes very wild and
sterile the farther south you go from Mogador until it merges in the
Sahara, across which lies the great, bone-whitened highway that leads to

Whatever the indigenous Berber of the Atlas may be, the northern Moor
has never been a mere barbarian, and Spain owes much to his culture and
industry. He certainly used to have a bizarre conception of
international amenities, and got himself very much disliked in the
Mediterranean and even northern waters in consequence. That phase,
however, has long since passed; the last corsair has rotted at its
moorings in Sallee harbour, and I am told that to put a wealthy Jew in a
thing like a giant trouser-press and extort money under pressure is
considered now an anachronism.

When I first knew the country, a quarter of a century ago, it was just
emerging from a revolutionary war, and local relations with foreigners
or even neighbours were capricious. They murdered a German bagman up the
coast in an _argan_ forest, and the "Gefion" landed a flag-flaunting
armed party to impress Mogador, which dropped water-pitchers on them
from upper windows and wondered what on earth the fuss was about.

On the other hand, I was well received by one of the revolted tribes,
which had chased its lawful Kaid into Mogador until checked by old
scrap-iron and bits of bottle-glass from the ancient cannon mounted over
the northern gate of the town.

I was treated with far more hospitality than my absurd and rather rash
enterprise deserved. Imagine a callow youth just out of his teens
dropping in haphazard on a rebel tribe accompanied by a mission-taught
Moor and a large liver-coloured pointer who had far more sense than his
master. My tame Moor was an excellent fellow, who, beside keeping my
tent tidy and cooking, helped me to grapple with the derived forms of
the Arabic verb and the subtleties of Moorish etiquette. I learnt to
drink green tea, syrup-sweet and flavoured with mint, out of ornate
little tumblers of a size and shape usually associated with champagne,
and, after assiduous practice, I could tackle a dish of boiled millet,
meat, and olives with the fingers of my right hand without mishap.

Beyond occasional brushes with adjacent sections of the neighbouring
tribe which had declared for the Fez central Government, I had very
little trouble, except that a peaceful boar-hunt would occasionally
degenerate into an intertribal skirmish if I and my party got too near
the loyalist border. As all concerned had, thanks to Western enterprise,
discarded their picturesque flint-locks in favour of Winchester or
Marlin repeaters, the proceedings required wary handling if we were to
extricate ourselves successfully, but my long-range sporting Martini
usually gave me the weather-gauge.

I dressed as a Moor, and looked the part, but made no attempt to pass
for anything but a Christian, nor did any unpopularity attach thereto; I
was merely expected--as a natural corollary--to have a little medical
knowledge (and it _was_ a little).

I found the attitude of Moors generally towards Christians curiously
inconsistent. In the towns there was a certain amount of formal
fanaticism which found vent in donkey-drivers addressing their beasts as
"_Nasara_" to the accompaniment of whacks and yells, but public
behaviour was tolerant enough, and the attitude of Moorish officialdom
was almost courtly.

Jews had rather a bad time, if local subjects, as their black slippers
and furtive bearing outside their own quarter made them a mark for
naughty little boys, who flung their canary-coloured slippers at them
with curses and imprecations deserving a more direct and personal
application of their footgear. Most of the wealthier Jews had acquired
European or American protection, and were safe enough. They lived in the
Frankish quarter and dressed in ultra-European style. They made rather a
depressing spectacle on Saturdays, when, garbed in black broadcloth,
with bowler hats, they drifted through the sunlit streets on their
Sabbath constitutional from one town gate to the next and back. They
were keen trade competitors, and gained or lost fortunes by gambling in
the almond export-market or catching a grain-famine at the psychological
moment. One of them had retired to a leisured affluence on the proceeds
that a big cargo of almonds had yielded him at a startling turn in the
market. He was a hospitable soul who met me once entering the landward
gate in a travel-stained burnoose and insisted on dragging me into his
gorgeously-carpeted house to drink _aquardiente_ and look at his
"curios." These consisted chiefly of modern firearms, some of
first-class London make, which hung on his walls as ornaments, having
been bought haphazard without ammunition or sporting intent. I nearly
had a fit when he showed me a double .577 Express hopelessly rusted by
the damp sea-air and offered to lend it me if I could find "shots" for
it. The reverse of the shield was illustrated by another acquaintance of
mine who had made a large fortune by importing Russian wheat to Morocco
in famine time and had lost it in a short but striking career in
England, during which he was said to have entertained Royalty,
astonished the racing world and married a well-known actress in light
comedy. He, too, was of hospitable intent, but had generally left his
purse at home when the reckoning came. On the other hand, he always
carried the "stub" of the cheque-book which had seen him to the apogee
of his meteoric career, and a glance at its counterfoils (by his express
invitation) was well worth the price of a drink or two.

The local Islamic attitude toward Moorish Jews was one of contemptuous
tolerance. They could certainly travel, in native dress, where no
Christian could. Once, in the _patio_ or go-down of a European merchant,
I met a greasy, unkempt Jew in a tattered gaberdine watching my
commercial friend as he weighed what I took to be a double handful of
crude brass curtain rings such as traders used to sell by the gross
along the West African coast. They were solid gold and represented the
venture of a Jewish syndicate which had collected it in pinches of
gold-dust from the river beds of southern Soos and hit on this form of
transport. A troop of horse could never have brought it, as gold, a
day's journey through the lawless tribes of the south, but that
tatterdemalion Jew had done it at the price of a few contemptuous
buffets. He had, indeed, offered one truculent gang of highwaymen a few
of the tawdry-looking rings to let him pass, but they had waved such
obvious trash aside in their eager search for actual cash, which they
had taken to the last _rial_.

The only other occasion on which I have known a Moor to be hoisted with
the petard of his own contemptuous fanaticism was an experience of my

I was moving quietly through a belt of timber just before dawn in the
hopes of getting a shot at a boar who was in the habit of feeding till
daybreak among some barley that grew near a caravan route. Before the
light was quite strong enough to shoot by I was more than a little
annoyed and astonished to hear cocks crowing all over the place;
presuming an early caravan with poultry for market, I pushed on to the
track, meaning to pass the time of day and ask if they had glimpsed my
quarry or heard him. I almost ran into a town-bred Moor who was trying
to round up some scattered poultry in the gloom and cursing volubly. He
explained that he was riding his donkey along the track perched between
two light reed cages containing fowls when the donkey baulked as a boar
snorted in the thickets just off the road. He whacked the donkey and
cursed the boar as a pig and a Christian. Thereupon came a rush like
cavalry, the donkey was knocked from under him and he was lying amid
the wreckage of his flimsy crates with his poultry scattered abroad. The
boar, already angry and suspicious, as anyone but a townsman would have
known by the noise he made, had charged like a thunderbolt at the sound
of a human voice so close to him and galloped off with all the honours
of war.

The donkey was badly hurt and the man only escaped because he was
sitting high and just above the point of impact. I helped him secure his
poultry and started back to my village to send him another donkey. He
thanked me in brotherly style as one Moor to another. "I'm a Christian
myself," I remarked at parting, and added in my best beginner's Arabic
as I turned to go, "It is incumbent on me to assist you after the
aggression of my co-religionist."

This conventional attitude of arrogance toward Christendom is perhaps
traceable to Moorish predominance in the Middle Ages and the importation
of Christian slaves by the pirates of the Barbary coast. In any case, it
has been much toned down of late years owing to contact with capable and
well-intentioned Franks as administrators and technical experts.

Morocco should never become a forcing-bed of religious or racial
antipathy, and will not so long as France continues to develop the
country by methods which the natives can assimilate, and is not lured
into over-exploitation of her mineral resources or unwarrantable
interference with her spiritual affairs.

A perfectly justifiable missionary policy would be the inauguration of
industrial schools on the coast and at one or two big inland centres,
also medical missions (with consent of the local authorities) wherever
feasible. Moorish craftsmanship is worth stimulating, and doctors are
welcomed for their science. Both schemes would redound to the credit of
Christendom and be in accordance with the best traditions of the Early

In the other Barbary states (Algeria, Tunis and Tripoli) a few Catholic
missions have been established, and the North African Protestant Mission
has an advanced post at Kairwan in Tunis. Here many routes converge, for
Kairwan is a great centre of pilgrimage and taps the religious thought
of all the Saharan tribes. Under such conditions, Islam gets ahead every
time, as every caravan traveller is a potential missionary, while
Christian missions are anchored to the spot or have to rely on native
colporteurs, who labour under the initial disadvantage of being
proselytes and seldom have the combination of tact and staunchness which
evangelists require.

It is in Egypt that we first find Moslem and missionary at close grips
arrayed against each other. Cairo is a perfect cockpit of creeds.
Christianity is represented by Catholics, Copts, Orthodox Greeks and
Protestants, these last being subdivided into Anglicans, Presbyterians,
Wesleyans and American Presbyterians and Congregationalists. The main
body of Islam--some of my more fervent missionary friends allude to it
as "the hosts of Midian"--presents a fairly solid front of orthodoxy,
the bulk being Hanifis, Shafeis, Maliki or Hanbalis (chiefly the two
former); but the irregular forces of Shiah are well represented among
non-indigenous Moslems from Yamen, Persia and India, while scattered
groups of Wahabi ascetics, Sufi mystics and esoterics of Bahaism
skirmish on debatable ground between the opposing lines, where range
such free-lance companies as Theosophists, Christian Scientists,
Salvationists, etc., all with local headquarters in Cairo and propaganda
of their own.

It must not be supposed that all this warlike metaphor indicates actual
strife or even severe friction, any more than "the hosts of Midian"
represents the attitude of missionaries to Moslems here. On the
contrary, relations are for the most part excellent, and the prevailing
animosity is political, not religious, being directed against us
British much as normal schoolboys dislike their form-master until they
get a harsher one.

The Catholic Church confines most of her energies to teaching her own
people, who are very numerous and well looked after; she does not do
much alien mission work in this part of the world. The most formidable
band of gladiators in the Christian ranks is the American Protestant
Mission, and next to them the Anglican C.M.S. (chiefly distinguished in
Egypt for its medical work, which is excellent and has an
extraordinarily wide range). The Americans are great on education and
have done more for the English language in Cairo than any Government
institution. I use the term "gladiators" advisedly, for their most
trenchant work is done on their own side--they concentrate their chief
efforts on the Copts, and make a fairly good bag of proselytes from
them, apart from the great number to whom they teach sound ideals of
duty as well as English and the three "R's." One of their leading
missionaries has left it on record that no one stands more in need of
salvation than the Copts, and as there is a Coptic Reform Society the
Copts must think there is room for improvement too.

It has been found in practice that to convert a _bonâ-fide_ Moslem
involves segregating him, and that means finding him a living in a new
environment, otherwise he is almost bound to "revert" under local
pressure. Apart from the strain on mission resources which such
procedure would cause if extensively followed, most missionaries rightly
condemn such a system as encouraging conversion for material motives.
Therefore they adopt a policy of "peaceful penetration" against Islam,
encouraging young men to come to them unostentatiously (I call them the
Nicodemus-squad) in order to discuss religious questions, which is
usually done in a temperate and intelligent manner on both sides. Even
if they get no "forrader," it tends to toleration and a better knowledge
of each other's language and ideals. A good deal of teaching is done too
with no expectation of making proselytes, and solid friendships are
formed. I have myself known a convalescing lady missionary of the C.M.S.
to receive repeated calls of friendly inquiry from former pupils; when I
first saw two veiled young girls swing past with a palpably British
terrier and the crisp, vigorous step of occidental emancipation, it
puzzled my ethnological faculties until I was told the object of their

All this is to the good, and it would be very good indeed if they let
well alone. Unfortunately, there is another cogent factor in the mission
field, and that is the sinews of war in hard cash. Most people, even
those who support missions to Moslem countries, are human enough to like
a fight put up for their money. It is not enough for them that a great
deal of quiet, patient work is being done by missionaries among Moslems
in the name of Christianity and the service of mankind. They want to
hear about storming citadels of sin and campaigning against the devil in
the dark places of the earth; especially is this so in America, where
Moslem prejudice does not have to be considered and religious
organisation, like most other concerns, is on a big scale.

As a natural consequence, missionaries have to play up to this combatant
instinct, and so we read in their books and reports remarks calculated
to engender religious intolerance on both sides, and which do not
conform with the shrewd and kindly work in the field of those devoted
and often scholarly men. I shall have occasion to allude to some of
these statements as we proceed, so think it only fair to mention their
justification here.

Cairo is described as a "strategic centre" in mission parlance, and so
it is, being situated on a great waterway with rail connection far
south into the heart of Africa and converging caravan routes from every
quarter. Along these arteries of traffic many tons of tracts and
propaganda are hurled annually by train, felucca and colporteur. Those
who cannot read accept such matter gladly to wrap things up in and to
show to their literate friends, who read what resembles a bit of the
Koran and find it carries a sting in its tail, like a scorpion, aimed at
Islam. A great deal of this literature consists of the Psalms of David,
the Talmud or the Gospel, all reverenced by Moslems if dished up without
trimmings. Not wishing to impose on that hard-worked word "camouflage,"
I would merely ask, as a naturalist, if such protective mimicry is worth
the irritation it causes. In any case, the system reminds me of an old
Highlander's opening comment on a sword dance by a rock scorpion in a
Tangier saloon. "There is a sairtain elegance aboot yourr grace-steps,
but _get in between the swords_."

No vicarious efforts by propaganda will ever take the place of personal
precept and example. In hunting proselytes among the followers of Islam
it is not advisable to rely too much on the Scriptures, as Moslems doubt
the authenticity of our version and point to our own divergent copies in
proof thereof. Nor is it any use asking them to believe as an act of
faith; if they did they would need no proselytising: an appeal must be
made to their reason, and there is no better appeal than the life,
works, and conduct of one who professes and practises Christianity. Even
if he makes no single convert he has leavened the population around him
with the dignity and prestige of his creed which has produced such a
type. Unfortunately such results cannot be scheduled in mission reports,
though they are real enough and well worth living for, whether a man be
a missionary or not; only they cannot be produced by brilliant
wide-sweeping feats of organisation and enterprise, but by persevering,
consistent lives, which are not easy or spectacular.

Egypt should be a great field of religious warfare by personal
influence, as Christians and Moslems live side by side in daily contact
and reasonable accord, yet few of us take advantage of the fact to
uphold the prestige of our creed or even of our race. We Europeans are
busy with our multifarious interests and duties, while Egyptian Moslems
are either entangled in the web of their environment, as are the
_fellahin_, or eager snatchers at the gifts of civilisation, as are the
more or less cultured effendis, or mere hair-splitters in futile
religious controversy, as are too many of the _ulema_ or sages at the
great collegiate mosque of al-Azhar. In each case, spiritual matters
are apt to get crowded out. The fault lies chiefly with our cosmopolitan
ingredients, which engender feverish living, if not actual vice, and the
over-strained effort on the one side to impart and on the other side to
assimilate a Western system of education which has induced intellectual
dyspepsia. So we hear of students mugging parrot-like to pass
half-yearly examinations, in the hopes of getting Government
appointments for which there are far too many applicants; these young
men besiege the Press with complaints of unfair treatment if they fail,
or even go to the length of attempting suicide with carbolic acid
(fortunately with sufficient caution to ensure it usually being but an
attempt); this latter petulant protest at the temporary thwarting of
their material hopes is dead against all the teaching and tradition of
Islam, but it has become so frequent that a leading educational
authority suggests that no student who attempts suicide shall be allowed
to sit again for a Government examination. Among their seniors up at
al-Azhar are men of real learning and remarkably persevering scholarship
(their theological course makes the average brain reel to contemplate),
but some sheikh started a controversy as to whether Adam was a prophet
or not, which fell among those sages with the disrupting force of a
grenade, causing much litigation in the Islamic courts and culminating
in the divorce of the originator by his wife for _kufr_, or heresy as
ordained by Moslem law. Beneath these troubled waters the _fellah's_
life flows placidly, bounded on the one hand by his crops and on the
other by the market; his spiritual stimulus being supplied by an
occasional religious fair or a visit to the shrine of some local saint.
He toils as patiently as his water-wheel buffalo, and on that toil
depends the wealth of Egypt which supports saints and sinners, schools
and shops, with all our European schemes and enterprises thrown in.

As for us British, if our object is to enhance the prestige of our race
or creed, we fall very short of achievement. We have not even that
reputation for integrity which usually attaches to us in other parts of
the Moslem world. This may be partly due to our anomalous position in
the country, which was thrust upon us, but the pleasure-seeking tourist
of pre-War days has a lot to answer for. Some of them seemed to think
that so far from home their conduct was of no account (at least, that is
the only charitable explanation), and British personal prestige suffered
in consequence. Anglo-Egyptian officials, especially the subordinate
grades, which come into more direct contact with the people, tried to
counteract this by increased dignity of demeanour, but the natives now
knew them _en déshabillé_, or thought they did, and declined to keep
them on their pedestals. The result is, familiarity without intimacy and
detachment without dignity, while the pre-War official habit of going
Home every year for some months has prevented even subordinates from
studying their district or department consecutively.

Hence it is that a widespread Nationalist movement gathered force and
perfected its plans for a detailed campaign which blended peaceful
demonstration with sabotage, murder and violence, and took the
Anglo-Egyptian Government completely by surprise, paralysing
communications and intimidating the general public until the weight of
Imperial troops, luckily still quartered in the country, was allowed to
make itself felt and restored order.

This is not the time or the place to discuss these affairs, which are
still _sub judice_, but one salient feature of the movement is pertinent
to our subject, and that is the marked _rapprochement_ between Moslems
and Copts, who fraternised in each other's mosques and churches, carried
flags bearing the device of Cross and Crescent and used American mission
buildings to further their new-found brotherhood. These relations were
somewhat marred by the wholesale devastation of Coptic property
up-country, but the Copts took it very well and paraded the streets with
their Moslem friends, if they could not hide away from them. The local
Jew came in too, and the climax of this religious _entente_ was reached
when an Egyptian Jewess preached in the mosque of al-Azhar on the
ancient relations between Jews and Arabs.

But we must not merely consider Egypt as a sort of religious and racial
clearing house; it is also the main gate of Africa.

Southward, up the Nile valley and across grim deserts, lies Khartoum,
the capital of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, only four days from Cairo by
rail. This is a very tempting theatre for missionary enterprise, which
is, however, held in check by the authorities, who decline to have their
Sudan spiritually exploited and materially disturbed by futile efforts
to evangelise the country. Missionaries say that this part of the Sudan,
as well as Egypt, was once Christian; that discrimination is being shown
in favour of Islam even to the extent of making pagans become Moslem on
joining the Egyptian Army; that Gordon College is being run on
non-Christian lines and that Islam is getting ahead of them in the race
to convert pagans in this part of the world.

The case against them is that the fact of these regions being once
Christian and now Moslem shows, if anything, that the latter religion is
more suited to local requirements and conditions; Islam is naturally
favoured in a Moslem country, though many Christian missions have been
given facilities too, and have mostly failed owing to climatic
conditions: the Egyptian Army is Moslem and under a Moslem Government;
the conversion of pagan recruits to Islam is encouraged for the sake of
discipline and soldierly conduct; missionaries themselves admit that
even in civil life a Christian convert from Islam must be segregated or
he will lapse under surrounding pressure--perhaps they will explain how
that is to be done in a barrack-room or native infantry lines, or would
they prefer such recruits to remain pagan? Presumably they would, as one
of their complaints is that "it is a thousand times harder to convert a
Moslem to Christianity than a pagan." Comment is superfluous; nothing
could portray their attitude more clearly. As for Islam getting ahead of
them in the race for pagan souls, it is so and will be so always among
the black races unless Christian missions are bolstered up by all the
resources of local authority; the reason is that Islam offers equal
privileges and no colour-line, imposes easy spiritual obligations and is
propagated fervently by its followers without the encumbrance of an
organised priesthood. Just as commercial travellers consider a district
neglected where a rival firm has got ahead of them, so missionaries are
piqued at conditions in the Sudan; but even that does not excuse such
statements as that women in the Sudan are free and not badly treated as
pagans, but slaves and oppressed under Islam. Every student of the
Islamic code knows that the status of women has been enormously improved
thereby as compared with any pagan system. Missionaries must know this,
for they are much better educated about Islam than they were a quarter
of a century ago, yet they do not scruple to raise the partisan cry of a
debased womanhood under Islam wherever local conditions involve domestic
hardship. Such tactics are unworthy of them; an intellectual Moslem does
not reproach Christianity because he has visited districts in the poorer
quarters of our big towns and seen women lead lives of drudgery or being
sometimes knocked about by their husbands.

Outside the Sudan and Nigeria we must keep to the eastern side of Africa
in order to maintain touch with Islam. The negroid people of Italian
Erythrea are Moslems, as are also the Somalis; but their racial cousins,
the Abyssinians, are Christians of the Ethiopian Church, with the Negus
as their temporal and spiritual ruler, who claims descent from King
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

Abyssinia has been Christian ever since the fourth century, but the
missionaries are not happy about the country at all. Here nothing
impedes the entrance of the missionary as an individual, but the people
will not have him as an evangelist at any price. The "fanatical and
debased" priests of the Abyssinian Church and the drastic punishments
inflicted by the local authorities on those suspected of favouring other
forms of Christianity are described as grave hindrances. There is a
large population of "black Jews," who will have no dealings with
Christianity in any form. Meanwhile Islam gains ground steadily,
especially in the south along the trade routes. A German missionary,
writing from Strasburg in 1910, describes the situation as alarming,
because "whole tribes of Abyssinians who still bear Christian names have
become Muhammedans in the last twenty years." There is one Protestant
mission up at Addis Abeba, but it confines its attentions to the
semi-pagan Gallas, having given up Christian Abyssinia as a bad job.

Somaliland is a poor field for missionary enterprise, owing to the
sparse, semi-nomadic population and the difficulties of getting about.
In the French sphere there is connection by rail between Jibuti on the
coast and Dera Dowa near the Abyssinian border; travelling musicians of
the _café chantant_ type used to use it a good deal before the War, but
there was not much doing in the missionary line. Italian Somaliland,
east of the British sphere to Cape Guardafui, is left to look after
itself, except for the occasional visit of an Italian man-of-war; but
south of that great headland there are Italian settlements.

In British Somaliland missionary enterprise has hitherto been Catholic,
and even that ceased some years before the War when the authorities had
to tell the mission that it must leave, as they could no longer protect
it from the Mullah's people. It was a pity, as the mission was doing
good work and was much respected in the country. There was a Brotherhood
which taught and doctored, and a teaching Sisterhood. They were
Franciscans and had their local headquarters and a tastefully designed
little chapel in the native town of Berbera, but the Brothers had also
an agricultural settlement up-country, where they tilled the soil and
did their best to teach the natives to do so too. The Somali is much
easier to convert than the Arab, as his versatile and superficial
temperament induces him to imitate, if not to assimilate, alien forms
and ceremonies from the correct procedure at the "Angelus" to the
singing, with appropriate gestures, of "a bicycle made for two."
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to teach him to think, or to do a
day's honest work; he will pull a punkah while you are awake to keep him
at it, or row a boat if allowed to sing, and sometimes he will fish if
hungry and quite near the sea; but agriculture involves the hard work of
digging, and that is too much for him. The object of the mission was to
give Somali boys and girls the rudiments of Catholic Christianity and
habits of industry. The boys were well grounded in English and the three
"R's" in their simplest form, while the girls were taught chiefly sewing
and cooking. The idea was for boys and girls to marry each other in the
fulness of time and beget Christian children, but, as one of the good
Fathers used regretfully to say, it did not work out in practice. The
boys learnt enough to become interpreters or obtain small clerkships in
the post and telegraph offices of Aden and adjacent ports, whereupon
they felt marriage with a "black woman" to be derogatory, and looked
higher, to the less swarthy charms of some half-caste maiden met at Mass
(for they usually remained Catholic, at least in outward form). The
girls, on the other hand, with all their domestic training, were much
sought after by local chiefs, who were prepared to give them a good
allowance in beads, bangles and cloth, plenty of food and a fairly easy
life. In such surroundings they naturally readopted Islam.

Somaliland is not as barren as most people suppose. Of course the
littoral plain is comparatively sterile, as is the case on the Arabian
side, owing to the scanty rainfall, and the maritime scarp of the hills
that back it is not much better, but the country improves as you go
inland; there is good grazing on the intra-montane plateau, and the
watersheds of such massifs as Wagr, Sheikh and Golis (7,000 ft. or so)
are thickly wooded, chiefly with the gigantic cactus tree, which
averages forty feet; timber trees are scarce, being mostly tall
_Coniferæ_ in sheltered glens at the higher altitudes. Inland of these
ranges the ground slopes gradually toward the almost waterless Haud--a
vast plateau sparsely covered with tall mimosa bush or actual trees
attaining some thirty feet in height and striking deep to subterranean
moisture, which keeps them remarkably fresh and green. Giraffe feed
eagerly on the tender upper foliage and herds of camel graze there too,
going six months without water, for there is no known supply locally
except in the occasional mud-pans or _ballis_ after a rainburst, which
may happen once a year. These camels are kept for meat and milk only,
and are no use for transport, as they are too "soft" to carry a sack of
flour. They are rounded up and brought in to wells twice a year, where
they water for a week or so. Herdsmen moving with them live on their
milk, which is most sustaining. They must be watered after a maximum
interval of half a year, or they get "poor" and will not put on flesh.
Needless to say, no transport camel could be treated like that. A
caravan camel can go five days without water, but that is about his
limit while working, and he should be allowed to rest and graze for some
days afterwards if he is to regain working condition. The giraffe, as
also antelope of various kinds, can support life without water at all,
though they trek greedily to the _ballis_ after rain. Here lion lie in
wait for them occasionally, and it is a frequent subject of discussion
among naturalists and sportsmen how such heavy, thirsty animals can
subsist in the Haud. The most probable supposition is that they only
enter this region with the rains and trek from one _balli_ to another. I
have met a lioness a long way out of lion country presumably trekking
from one water-hole to the next. What is still more remarkable is that
heavy game sometimes will do so too. Heavy firing was once heard far
south of Burao, and a mounted force pushed out thinking it was the
Mullah's people going for our "friendlies" out grazing. A rhinoceros on
trek for water and nearly mad with thirst had winded the waterskins in a
Somali grazing camp and charged through the zareba to get at them. He
was mobbed to death by the herdsmen with the rifles which a benevolent
Government had given them for protection against the dervishes.

To do them justice, the Somalis fear their fauna very little and have
more than once, when in attendance on a European sportsman, driven off a
lion with spears and a resolute front after the white man had failed to
stop the beast with both barrels.

Even a woman will face a leopard with a torch of dry grass to contest
the ownership of a fat-tailed sheep which he has tried to filch from the
zareba by night, fearing his snarling menace far less than the wrath of
her lord and master if the marauder secures his prey.

As for the Midgan, that born hunter and nomadic outcast whom other
Somalis look down upon, but who has more woodcraft in his touzled head
than any of them, he will deliberately hunt the king of beasts, using
some decrepit and almost valueless camel as a stalking-horse. He is
armed with a bow having about as much apparent "give" in it as the
bottom joint of a fishing rod, yet able to propel with surprising force
a stumpy arrow cunningly poisoned with a wizard brew of viper venom and
the root of the tall box tree. His procedure is to drive his camel
slowly grazing toward some island of bush in which he has marked down a
lion, he himself being perched a-straddle behind the hump and directing
the animal's movements with kicks from one or other of his bare heels.
From his lofty observation point he at once spots the crouching approach
of the lion and slips off over the camel's rump to cover, whence he
speeds one of his venomous little shafts at close range. The outraged
monarch attacks the camel and the hunter keeps well aloof from the
subsequent confusion until the poison works and the lion is seized with
muscular convulsions, like those of tetanus, when he may safely approach
to gloat over his quarry. What is really remarkable is that the camel is
not invariably killed. I once met a Midgan on trek who showed me the
unmistakable claw-marks of a lion on his camel's neck and shoulders and
said he had used the animal on three such occasions; compared with
these desperate encounters the exploits of our white shikaris armed with
powerful modern rifles are insignificant.

One beast of prey, however, is feared and hated by every Somali man,
woman or child--hunter, shepherd or townsman--and that is the great,
spotted hyæna which slinks up by night to snap at face or breast of
sleeping folk and bolts into the gloom at the agonised shriek of his
mangled victim. The brute is cowardly enough to refuse encounter with an
able-bodied man awake and on the alert unless rendered desperate by
hunger, but his jaws are as strong as a lion's, and one snapping bite
does the mischief. I once helped the P.M.O. at Berbera to tend some
half-dozen poor wretches who had been frightfully mauled during the
night on the outskirts of the town itself and probably by the same
hyæna. The hot weather had induced many folk to sleep outside their
stifling huts and they _will_ not take the trouble to collect and build
up a few thorny bushes to keep the brutes off.

The Somali is about as incapable of hard work as his "fat" camel, and
the only time he may be seen digging is among the convict gangs who
till, or used to till, the Government garden out at Dubar on the inland
edge of the littoral plain, where the Berbera water supply bubbles out
hot from under the low maritime hills and trickles through ten miles of
surface pipe-line to supply the "Fort," which is supposed to protect the
British cantonment straggling some distance outside Berbera town. He
feels such work dreadfully, not only as an injury to his self-respect
(and he has all the puerile pride of the negroid races), but as an
irksome tax on his physical powers, which are quite unaccustomed to
sustained and strenuous exertion. On the other hand, he will make long
journeys on short commons and keep well and happy if allowed to
punctuate his hardships at long intervals with debauches on meat and
milk and fat. He excuses himself from tilling the ground on the plea
that others might harvest the fruit of his labours, as there is no
individual land-tenure or any definite divisions of land indicating
ownership, but only tribal grazing rights over ill-defined areas and the
parcel of land enclosed by his zareba fence, of which he is but the
tenant, as it is free to anybody as soon as he leaves it to trek to
other pastures. Therefore, vegetables are unattainable by him, and his
cereals (rice, millet and coarse flour) reach him by sea and caravan or
he does without. He appears immune from scurvy and is seldom sick or
sorry unless he over-eats himself. He loves _ghi_ (or clarified butter)
and animal fat, which he swallows in large gulps when he can get it,
also rubbing it in his frizzy hair and using it to sleek his black,
spindly shanks and smear his spear-blades--on shikar he will "gorm" it
all over your spare gun if you do not watch him. His favourite beverage
is strong tea with lots of sugar in it (when procurable) otherwise he
will not touch it, and he will drink water which a thirsty camel would
sniff at suspiciously before imbibing. He dresses in a white sheet worn
toga-wise and not without a certain dignity, and his head is usually
bare except in towns or the partially civilised _entourage_ of a white
man, where he will wear anything on his head from a tarboosh to a topi
as a mark of distinction, but seems to avoid a turban, which he has not
the knack of tying properly.

To meet him and his family on trek is to glimpse an epitome of his life.
First comes the able-bodied though elderly sire carrying a few light
throwing-spears and a knobkerry or a gim-crack stabbing-spear, and close
behind him are the adult males of his house similarly armed or with a
rifle or two supplied by a benevolent Government for protection against
the Mullah, to whom these children of nature frequently offer them for
sale at very reasonable prices. After these come the women-folk in
order of precedence, carrying loads in inverse ratio thereto. The young,
favourite wife walks first, carrying her latest addition to the family
in a cotton shawl at her hip; she is followed by other wives of less
social standing, carrying household utensils, with the smaller children
at foot, and at the tail of the procession stagger the old crones under
heavy burdens of pots, pans, pitchers and unsavoury goat-hair rugs. A
camel or two bring up the rear with the conglomeration of sticks and
hides and matting which makes the home and looks like an untidy bird's
nest. On the flanks and in the rear skirmish the elder children, girls
and boys, with flocks and herds which graze as they go. The big piebald
sheep with their black heads and indecently fat tails are not allowed to
range far afield, where lynx or leopard might stalk them under covert,
as they are valuable, succulent and very foolish. They carry no
wool--their coat feels just like a fox-terrier's--but they have more
meat on them than three average goats, and the huge pendulous flap of
fat which does duty as a tail is a delicacy to make a Somali mouth water
or a European gorge rise.

The only serious occupation a buck Somali will permit himself is to sit
under a tree and watch his grazing flocks. He is fond of conversation,
chiefly of a recriminative character, and gives vent to his _joie de
vivre_ by prancing and singing on two or three simple notes to the
accompaniment of his clapping hands and the thud of his horny heels. His
chief woe is drought and lack of grazing, because he then has to get up
off his butt-end and take long treks to pastures new. His ideas of
earthly Paradise centre round the _cafés_ of Aden, where his countrymen
are numerous and where wages are so high that six grown Somalis can
batten in well-fed ease on the earnings of a seventh, who keeps on till
he wants a holiday and then "goes sick" and sends another of the
syndicate to replace him. Qualifications do not matter, as they all have
sufficient to fumble through their jobs and no more. If he lacks the
capital to start cab-driving and finds boat-rowing or punkah-pulling too
strenuous for him, he sets himself to learn a little English and gets a
job as servant with some new-fledged British subaltern at a minimum rate
of £2 a month, which is fixed by his union, for that is one civilised
device he really _can_ handle. He is the slackest oarsman, the laziest
punkawala and the worst whip east of Suez. His idea of driving is to sit
with knees drawn up toward his chin while he lugs at the reins as if
they were a punkah-cord, urging his staunch little screw along with
ineffectual flaps of his whip and noises like the paroxysms of sea

He will ruin any saddle-camel for fast work if allowed to ride one
regularly, such animals not being raised in his country, but he breeds a
small, hardy type of pony which he loves to gallop in wild dashes, with
flapping legs and sawing hands, reining the poor little beast up short
on a bit like a rat-trap to witch beholders with his horsemanship.

As a combatant you never know how to take him. He may put up a hefty
fight or he may outrun the antelope in his precipitate retreat. I was
much impressed by the defences in barbed wire and thorn trees considered
necessary to ward off the onslaught of dervishes by men who knew them
better than I did.

He is a cheery, irresponsible soul and has been called the Irishman of
the East. Missionaries rather like him, because he is very teachable up
to a certain point, fond of learning new tricks if not too difficult,
and without that habit of logical and consecutive thought which makes
the real Arab so difficult to tackle in argument.

No remarks on Somaliland would be complete without some mention of the
Mullah. That astute personage has often been alluded to as "Mad," but
has proved himself far saner than the Government he was up against. In
the early 'nineties he kept the Arabi Pasha coffee-house opposite the
cab-stand in the native town at Aden, where he dispensed tea and
husk-coffee in little bowls of green-glazed earthenware, also
raspberryade and other bright-coloured "minerals" in bottles, with a
small lump of ice thrown in. His establishment was patronised almost
entirely by Somalis and largely by the _ghari-walas_ themselves. At the
same time, he was obliging enough to spare the servant of a neighbouring
sahib like myself a pound or two of ice from his "cold box" on
occasional application to meet an emergency.

He had a good deal of property in flocks and herds over in British
Somaliland, which he visited from time to time. In the late 'nineties he
got involved in some suit or other and the local authorities mulcted him
of many camels. He very much resented this decision and raised some
friends and sympathisers to resist its execution by the police. An
inadequate force was sent and sustained a reverse, after which his
following grew enormously. Early in this century, when I again had news
of him, he had craftily cut in between the Italian, Abyssinian and
British converging columns and annihilated Colonel Plunkett's gallant
little band at Gumburu, but sustained a severe defeat at Jidballi,
where his red flannel dressing-gown was sighted in early and headlong
retirement as his dervishes recoiled from the embattled square.

All the same, he was still going strong long after the South African War
was over, and we had more leisure to attend to him. When the British
frontier was drawn in to enable the statement to be made in Parliament
that "the Mullah's troops were no longer within protectorate limits," he
took advantage of it to deal ruthlessly with those tribes which had
refused to join him on the solemn and definite promise that Government
would protect them from his vengeance. The unhappy Dolbahuntas were
almost wiped out as a tribal unit; their zarebas and flimsy villages
were surrounded by the Mullah's men and fired, leaving the
occupants--men, women and children--the choice of a dreadful end among
blazing thorns or red death on the spears of their fellow-countrymen and
co-religionists. A prominent Nationalist has alluded to the Mullah and
his dervishes as "brave men striving to be free."

In 1910 British prestige had shed its last rag in Somaliland: we had
withdrawn to the coast and the Mullah's horsemen actually rode through
Berbera bazar on one of their raids and withdrew unscathed. In 1912 it
was found necessary to form a company of Somali police on camels to keep
the peace between "friendlies" who, to allay a certain amount of
indignation at home, had been armed with rifles to protect themselves
against the Mullah's people, but were using these weapons, in their
light-hearted way, to argue questions of grazing as they arose. Early in
1913 "a small dervish outpost" was reported to be preventing our
friendlies from grazing in the Ain valley south of Burao at a time when
no other pasturage was locally available, and the Somali camel-corps,
about a hundred strong with three white officers, was sent to occupy
Burao as its base and from there to afford moral and material support
enabling the friendlies to graze unmolested in the threatened area. This
cheery opportunism was the Government's wobbling attempt at equilibrium
between the barefaced desertion of our protected tribes and its avowed
policy of non-intervention unless on the cheap. It was done too much on
the cheap; that little force was attacked by an overwhelming force of
dervishes while out on the grazing grounds affording moral and material
support. The Maxim was put out of action by an unlucky bullet, and the
friendlies skedaddled with their Government rifles at the first shot,
but returned later to loot the dead. The half-trained Somali camelry
suffered severely and were most unsteady, but the two white officers
surviving managed to extricate the remnant with difficulty, the gallant
commandant having died for his trust early in the fight. He was blamed
posthumously for having exceeded his orders; whether he ought to have
exercised his moral and material support at a safe distance from the
place where it was needed or have led his command in headlong flight was
not made clear, and they were the only two military alternatives to the
action he _did_ take. At all events the incident shamed the Government
into taking more adequate measures to protect its friendlies in spite of
bitter Nationalist opposition.

Missionaries point to our long and fruitless struggle in Somaliland as
an illustration of the force of fanaticism. It is nothing of the sort;
the Mullah was a man with a grievance who was driven into outlawry by
the sequence of events, and the movement was entirely political. Having
once tasted the sweets of temporal power, he wanted to expand it, and
used his spiritual and material influence to that end, not hesitating to
order the wholesale massacre of other equally orthodox Moslems when it
seemed to him politically expedient. He owed his success to his ruthless
treatment of his compatriots, the difficult and scantily watered
terrain, our lack of co-ordination with the Italians and Abyssinians,
but above all to our parsimonious method of cadging and scraping a
little money together for an expedition and stopping when the funds gave
out, like a small boy with fireworks. Somaliland, with its insignificant
caravan trade, its wide, waterless tracts and its sparse population of
shiftless, unproductive semi-nomads, is a bad business proposition, and
no Government can be blamed for hesitating to spend money on it; but if
half the expenditure had been concentrated on one scheme at one time
instead of being frittered away on several divergent schemes over a
lengthy period the Mullah would have been brought to book and the
resources of the country developed considerably.

South of Somaliland in British, and what was once German, East Africa
the missionary has comparative freedom of movement, whereas in
Somaliland no white man has ever been allowed to travel without the
sanction of the local authorities. He, however, complains that he is not
encouraged by the Administration in either colony, and certainly makes
no headway against Islam, which has a very strong hold, especially in
British East Africa, with the Swahilis. Still, he can point to the
inland kingdom of Uganda as one of his successes, and it would be more
so if the various Christian sects would refrain from wrangling among

We have now reached the southern limit of Moslem activity in Africa, for
we are getting among native races who do not take kindly to asceticism
in any form, and beyond them are the sturdy white Christians of South
Africa. Curiously enough, there is a flourishing little colony of
Moslems at Salt River, the railway suburb of Cape Town, where imported
East Indian and Arab mechanics have settled. They muster about 7,000
souls and have founded a school to educate their children. An unbiassed
English resident states that they are far better citizens than native
Christians of the same class, owing to their temperate habits. Drink is
the undoubted curse of the non-Moslem African. In South Africa no native
in white employ can get alcoholic drink without the written authority of
his employer, but there are many illicit sources of supply. South
African colonists insist that the native Christians are the worst--this
should not be set down to Christianity, but to the civilisation which
goes with it, and, in place of Kaffir beer and such like home-fermented
brews of comparatively mild exhilarant character, introduces the
undisciplined native mind to the furious joys of trade fire-water.

Africa is the main battle-ground between Moslem and missionary, for it
is in that continent that the forces of Islam and Christianity are most
nearly balanced. The American Protestant Mission, which is, as we have
seen, one of the principal belligerents, complains loudly on behalf of
Christendom that in Africa especially our colonial administrations do
not give the support to Christian missions that Christian Governments

Apart from the fact that we administer these countries in trust for
their indigenous population and have no right to thrust our own creed
upon them to the exclusion of any other with a sound system of ethics,
it can most cogently be urged that Islam is the only religion which
insists on total abstinence, and that seems to be the only way in which
the native African can avoid alcoholic excess.

I have in front of me a letter written by an American of Boston, Mass.,
to the _Spectator_ of February 15th, 1919. In it he alludes to a report
of the Committee for preventing the demoralisation of native races by
the liquor traffic which is said to be "making Africa a cesspool of
alcohol, and statistics show that in this devil's work Holland with her
gin and, I regret to say, the United States with its trade rum have been
the conspicuously worst offenders." The writer goes on to say that the
native races are morally and intellectually children, and that has been
recognised in the States where it is a penal offence to introduce
alcoholic drink within the Indian reservations.

This being so, the attitude of American Protestants in attacking the
only teetotal creed which is working among natives in a continent where
total abstinence is unanimously declared to be essential to native
welfare indicates loose thinking. It is still more extraordinary when we
remember that the teetotal party in the United States have moved heaven
and earth and every device, legitimate or otherwise, to secure national
prohibition, about which, to put it mildly, there appear to be two
opinions among American citizens. We are told that the South adopted
prohibition as a measure of protection against the negro. Apart from the
safety of white colonists in Africa, is the welfare of African negroes
beneath the consideration of a free-born American? If so, why does he
(or she) subscribe so liberally to support missions in Africa? Such an
attitude is incongruous, even if we adopt the preposterous view that
Christianity alone can make a sober man of a negro. Imagine a
municipality which allowed a gang of hooligans to scatter incendiary
bombs broadcast and encouraged its inadequate fire brigade to fight a
rival organisation tooth and nail. Its avowed intention of prohibiting
the use of matches on its own premises would not be considered a
satisfactory _amende_.

I lay no more stress on American Protestant activities against Islam
than is their due. There may be some opinions among Europeans that their
evangelising fervour might find a mission field nearer home in South
America or even in Mexico. Such a criticism is not only ungrateful but
unreasonable. American missions have done much for humanity in the East,
while as regards their own sub-continent the Catholic Church has held
that field for centuries, and no reasonable being wants to see the two
great divisions of Christianity sparring with each other about the
spiritual education of greasers.

The Monroe Doctrine does not apply to missionaries, but I would point
out to them that in wrestling against Islam they are fanning the fires
of fanaticism and causing much material trouble, and the net spiritual
result is to lessen their own power for good and embitter Islam for ill
while widening the breach between Christian and Moslem.

This chapter is an attempt to give an impartial glimpse at the relations
between Moslem and missionary throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. With
regard to their activities, it is neither a detailed account nor an
apology. No sincere religious effort requires an apology, and if it is
not sincere no apology suffices.


    [Footnote C: The definite article precedes most Arabic place-names,
    but is only retained in ordinary local speech as above, presumably
    to denote respect. I hold to native pronunciation, except in cases
    of long-established custom, and consider "the Yamen" as clumsy as
    "the Egypt"--both take the definite article in Arabian script.]



The world just now appears to be awaiting a millennium resulting from a
concourse of more or less brilliant and assertive folk with divergent
views. Presuming that the necessary change in human nature will be
wrought by enactment, we have still to acquire more religious tolerance
if we are to live together in unity with our Moslem fellow-subjects and

What is the use of talking about a League of Nations and the
self-decision of small States if we still seek to impose our religious
views on people who do not want them and encroach on the borders of
other creeds? Are other people's spiritual affairs of no account, or do
we arrogate to ourselves a monopoly of such matters? Both positions are

The justification of missionary enterprise is based on Christ's last
charge to His disciples: "Go ye into all the world and preach the
gospel to every creature." He clearly defined that gospel as "the
tidings of the kingdom," and what that kingdom was He has repeatedly
told us in the Sermon on the Mount, frequent conversations with His
disciples and others and the example of His daily life. He never sought
to change a man's religious belief (such as it was) or his method of
livelihood (however questionable it might be), but to reform him within
the limits of his convictions and his duties. He has also left on record
an indictment of proselytisers that will endure for all time. Of course,
if the Gospel narrative is unreliable throughout (as the reverend and
scholarly compiler of the "Encyclopedia Biblica" would appear to imply)
then these arguments fall to the ground, but so does any possible
justification of missionary enterprise. On the other hand, Moslems _do_
believe and reverence the _Engîl_ or Gospel, though they follow the
doctrine and dogma of a later revelation.

The logical deduction from these facts is that moral training, education
and charitable works among Moslems are permissible and justifiable
features of missionary endeavour, if not forced upon an unwilling
population, but attacks on Islam itself are not only unmerited but
unauthorised and impertinent.

Many missionaries of undoubted scholarship and breadth of view see this
and model their field work accordingly, with good results; in fact, most
real success in the mission field has been achieved by practical,
Christian work on the above lines, and not by religious propaganda; but
the flag which missionary societies flaunt before a subscribing
Christian public is quite a different banner, as can be easily
ascertained from their own published literature, which is very prolific
and accessible to all.

In writing about Islam the authors or compilers of these works too
frequently allow their zeal to involve them in a web of inconsistency
and misstatement, or else they let their religious terminology take
liberties with their intellect and that of the public.

We will glance briefly at their indictment of Islam as presented in
their quasi-geographical works, disregarding their public utterances and
tracts as privileged, like the platform-speeches and vote-catching
pamphlets of a General Election; also we will keep to their own
terminology and expressions as far as possible.

First and foremost, especially in the United States, where knowledge of
non-Christian creeds is not so general as with us, the literature of
foreign missions insists on grouping together all regions as yet
unexploited by them (whether populated by heathen, Moslems, Buddhists
or any other non-Christian race) and describing them indiscriminately as
Gibraltars of Satan's power, a challenge to Christendom and a reproach
to Zion (whatever that may mean). Yet the four great Christian
Churches--Greek, Russian, Catholic and Protestant--seem powerless to
check the reign of hell in Bolshevist Europe, where the liberty of man
is demonstrated by murder, rapine, torture and every fiendish orgy or
bestial lust which mortal mind can conceive. The people among whom these
devilries are being enacted are Christians ruled by Christians, and have
been Christian for centuries. They are still Christian so far as a
blood-besotted clique will let them be anything. And in the face of such
facts there are missionaries who enunciate in cold print that without
Christianity there could be no charitable or humane organisation of any
sort, or good government, or security of property, and--clinching
argument--trade would suffer. Could there be any more glaring example of
the cart before the horse? Does a dog wag his tail or the tail wag the
dog? Is Japan hopelessly benighted and devoid of the activities
described as the monopoly of Christianity? Moreover: Can Christian
teaching or preaching pacify the embittered struggle between labour and
capital which threatens yet to wreck civilisation? Does it even try?

There is no more ridiculous or extravagant boast among a certain class
of self-appointed evangelists than the oft-repeated statement that all
the modern blessings of Western civilisation are the fruit of
Christianity and that the backward state of oriental Moslems is due to
the absence of Christianity.

Any thoughtful schoolboy knows that it was the exploitation of coal and
iron which lifted us Western nations out of the ruck, backed by the
natural hardihood due to a bracing climate, otherwise the Mediterranean
might still be harried by corsairs. Steam transport by land and sea was
the direct offspring of these two minerals. Even then Western supremacy
was gradual and only recently completed by the exploitation of
petroleum, rubber and high explosives. Brown Bess, as a shooting weapon,
was far inferior to the long-barrelled flint-lock of Morocco, and the
Arabian match-lock could out-range any firearm in existence till sharp
cutting tools made the rifle possible. What does modern surgery, or any
other science of accurate manipulation, not owe to modern steel? When we
turn from metallurgy to medicine, let us not forget that Avicenna was
writing his pharmacopoeia when Christian apothecaries were selling
potions and philtres under the sign of a stuffed crocodile.

Some exponents of Christianity would go further and arrogate to her the
inception of all arts and handicrafts. Damascus blades, Cordovan
leather, Moorish architecture, Persian carpets, Indian filagree, Chinese
carvings and Japanese paintings all give the lie to such claims.

If we are to measure Christianity by the material progress of her
adherents, what conclusions are we to draw from the history of the Roman
Empire, the Byzantine Empire and the Copts? Fourteen hundred years after
the birth of Christianity in Palestine the fall of Constantinople
shattered her last vestige of sovereignty in the East after she had gone
through centuries of decadence, debauch and intrigue such as anyone can
find recorded by Gibbon or even in historical novels like "Hypatia."

Islam, to-day, is about the same age as Christianity was then, and has
gone through similar stages, except that it has been spared the
intrigues of an organised priesthood and its comparative frugality has
protected it from oriental enervation to a certain extent.

Compared with Western Christianity its present epoch coincides with the
era preceding the Reformation, when religious teaching had become
stereotyped and lacked vitality, as is now the case with Moslem teaching
as a rule. There is no reason why Islam should not recover as
Christianity did, and if it does not it will not be due to any intrinsic
defect, but to its oriental environment, which has already debased and
wrecked Eastern Christendom.

The respective ages of the two religions induces another comparison. We
are now in the fourteenth century of the Hejira; glance at European
Christendom of that period in the Christian era, or even much later, and
reflect on the Sicilian Vespers, the Inquisition, the massacre of the
Huguenots, the atrocious witchfinders who served that pedantic
Protestant prig, James I, and all the burnings, hackings and slayings
perpetrated in the name of Christendom. We must admit that no Moslems
anywhere, even in the most barbarous regions, are any worse than the
Christians of those days, while the vast majority are infinitely better,
viewed by any general standard of humanity. Christendom's only possible
defence is that civilisation has influenced Christianity for good, and
not the other way about. There is one other loophole which I, for one,
refuse to crawl through--that Christianity is a greater moral force than
Islam or more rapid in its action. Missionaries say that Islam is
incapable of high ideals owing to its impersonal and inhuman conception
of the Deity, whom it does not limit by any human standards of justice.
They complain that there is no fatherhood in the Moslem God;
but--pursuing their own metaphor--what would an earthly father think if
his acts of correction were criticised by his children from their own
point of view? He might be angry, but would probably just smile, and I
hope the Almighty does the same. A child thinks it most unjust to be
rebuked or perhaps chastised for playing at trains with suitable noises
at unsuitable seasons but it is that, and similar parental correction,
which makes him become a decent member of society and not a self-centred

Moslems shrink from applying _any_ human standards to the Deity,
regarding Him as the Lord of the Universe and not a popularly-elected
premier. "Whatever good is from God, whatever ill from thyself," is a
Koranic aphorism. Nor do they seek to drive bargains with Him, as do
many pious Christians, and their supplications are limited (as in our
Lord's Prayer) to the bare necessities of life--food and water to
support existence, and clothing to cover their nakedness.

The application of human ideals to the Almighty places Him on a level
with Kipling's "wise wood-pavement gods" or the Teutonic conception of
a deity who sent the Entente bad harvests to help German submarine
activities. Such absurdities incur the rebuke of the staunch old
patriarch, "Though he slay me yet will I trust in him"; there is no
excuse for seeking to inflict them on the austerities of Islam.

Climate and terrain have a marked influence on the form religion takes
in its human manifestation. Missionary literature asserts this clearly
with regard to Islam, describing it, aptly enough, as a religion of
desert and oasis thence deriving its austere and sensual features, but
the thesis applies with equal force to Christianity. The marked cleavage
of hermit-like asceticism and gross sensuality which rock-bound deserts
and the lush Nile valley wrought in Egyptian Christendom has been
described by every writer dealing with that subject, and Arabian
Christianity drooped, and finally died, in the arid pastoral uplands of
Jauf and Nejran long before it succumbed in fertile, hard-working Yamen.

If the East became Christian next week there would be the same rank
growth and final atrophy or disintegrating schism for lack of outside
opposition. Missionaries are quick enough to remark on this process in
Arabia where Islam is practically unopposed, but will not apply it to
Christianity. They do not seem to realise that healthy competition
maintains the vitality of religion no less than trade or any other form
of human effort requiring continuous energy and application. Islam
revivified a decadent Christianity, and the attacks of modern
missionaries are strengthening Islam. They justify these attacks and
urge further support for them on the grounds that Islam is moribund and
now is the time to give it the _coup de grâce_, or that Islam is the
most dangerous foe to Christendom in the world and must be fought to a
finish lest it unite three hundred million Moslems against us. I have
seen both reasons given in the same missionary book; both are absurd.
The latter is a mere red herring drawn across the trail of existing
facts, more so, indeed, than the ex-Kaiser's Yellow Peril, for that at
least was trailed from a vast country enclosing within a ring fence a
huge population of homogeneous race and creed. As for crushing Islam by
missionary enterprise, you cannot kill a great religion with pin-pricks,
however numerous and frequent; you can only cause superficial hurts and
irritation, as in a German student's duel. Every religion contains the
germs of its own destruction within itself (which it can resist
indefinitely so long as it is healthy and vigorous), but no outside
efforts, however overwhelming, can do aught but stiffen its adherents.
The early Christian Church was driven off the face of the earth into
catacombs, but emerged to rule supreme in the very city which had driven
her underground; Muhammad barely escaped from Mecca with his life, but
returned to make it the centre of his creed, and Crusaders died in
hopeless defeat at Hattin cursing "Mahound" with their last breath as
the enemy of their faith, yet their very presence there showed how Islam
had revived Christianity.

_Per aspera ad astra:_ there is no easy road or short cut to collective,
spiritual progress. I am not arguing against possible "acts of grace"
working on individuals, but the uplift of a race, a class or even a
congregation cannot be done by a sort of spiritual legerdemain based on
hypnotic suggestion. Individuals may be so swayed for the time being,
and, in a few favourable cases, the initial impetus will be carried on,
but most human souls are like locusts and flutter earthward when the
wind drops. They may have advanced more or less, but are just as likely
to be deflected or even swept back again by a change in the wind.
Revivalist campaigns and salvation by a _coup de théâtre_ do not
encourage consecutive religious thought, which is the only stable
foundation of religious belief; second-hand convictions do not wear well
in the storm and sunshine of unsheltered lives, and a creed that has to
be treated like an orchid is no use to anybody.

If the same amount of earnest, consecutive effort and clear thinking had
been applied to religion as has gone to build up civilisation we should
all be leading harmonious spiritual lives to-day and sin and sorrow
would probably have been banished from the earth, but few people think
of applying their mental faculties to religion, and its exploitation by
modern mercantile methods is not the same thing at all. Civilisation is
an accretion of countless efforts and ceaseless striving to ameliorate
existing conditions, whereas religion started as a perfect thesis and
has since got overgrown with human bigotry and fantasies while absorbing
very little of the vast, increasing store of human knowledge. That is
why civilisation has got so much in advance of religion that the latter
cannot lead or guide the former, but only lags behind, like a horse
hitched to a cart-tail. Missionary writers are rather apt to confuse the
gifts of civilisation with the thing itself. A savage can be taught to
use a rifle or an electric switch or even a flame-projecter, but this is
no proof that he is really civilised. On the other hand, the scholarly
recluse and philosopher whose works uplift and refine humanity may
bungle even with the "fool-proof" lift which takes him up to his own
eyrie in Flat-land, but he is none the less civilised.

They would have us believe that petticoats and pantaloons are the
hall-mark of Christian civilisation, and one of their favourite sneers
at Arabia (as a proof of its benighted condition and need of their
ministrations) is "a land without manufacture where machinery is looked
on as a sort of marvel." As a matter of fact, Arabia can manufacture all
she really wants, and did so when we blockaded her coasts; nor is
machinery any more of a marvel to the average Arabian Arab than it is to
the average Occidental. Both use intelligently such machinery as they
find necessary in their pursuits and occupations, though neither can
make it or repair it except superficially, and both fumble more or less
with unfamiliar mechanical appliances. The young man from the country
blows the gas out or tries to light his cheroot at an incandescent bulb,
and may be considered lucky if he does not get some swift, silent form
of vehicular traffic in the small of his back when he is gaping at an
electric advertisement in changing-coloured lights. It has been my
object, and to a certain extent my duty, on several occasions to try to
impress a party of chiefs and their retinue when visiting Aden from the
wildest parts of Arabia Felix (which can be very wild indeed). On the
same morning I have taken them over a man-of-war, on the musketry-range
to see a Maxim at practice and down into a twelve-inch casemate when the
monster was about to fire. They never turned a hair, but asked many
intelligent questions and a few amusing ones, tried to cadge a rifle or
two from the officer showing them the racks for small arms, condemned
the Maxim for "eating cartridges too fast" and were much tickled by the
gunner-officer's joke that they could have the big cannon if they would
take it away with them.

These wild Arabians, when trained, make the most reliable machine-tenders
in the East, as they have a _penchant_ for mechanism of all sorts and
will not neglect their charge when unsupervised.

We are all inclined to boast too personally of our enlightened
civilisation with its marvellous mechanical appliances, but what is it
after all but the specialist training of the few serving the wants of
the many? If the average missionary swam ashore with an Arab fireman
from a shipwreck and landed on an uninhabited island of ordinary
tropical aspect, the Arab would know the knack of scaling coco-nut palms
(no easy task), the vegetation which would supply him with fibre for
fishing-lines and what thorns could be used to make an effective hook,
while the missionary would probably be unable to get fire by friction
with the aid of a bow-string and spindle.

Missionary literature is very severe on Arabia as a stiff-necked country
which has hitherto discouraged evangelical activities. "Hence the low
plane of Arabia morally. Slavery and concubinage and, nearly everywhere,
polygamy and divorce are fearfully common and fatalism has paralysed

This indictment is not only unjust, but it recoils on Western
civilisation. Arabia is on a high enough moral plane to refuse drink,
drugs and debauchery generally, while prostitution is unknown outside
large centres overrun by foreigners, which are more cosmopolitan than
Arab. Sanaa, which is a pure Arab city with little or no foreign
element, is much more moral than London or New York. To adduce slavery
and concubinage coupled with polygamy and divorce as further evidence
against Arabia is crass absurdity; slaves are far better treated
anywhere in Arabia than they were in the States or the West Indies;
concubinage and polygamy, as practised by the patriarchs of Holy Writ,
are still legal in that part of the world; there is nothing sinful
about them in themselves--a Moslem might as well rebuke Western society
for being addicted to whisky and bridge. He might even remind us that
divorce is easier in the States than in Arabia and quote the Prophet's
words on the subject: "Of all lawful acts divorce is the most hateful in
the sight of God." With us a woman can be convicted of adultery in the
eyes of the world on evidence that would not hang a cat for stealing
cream, but in Islam the act must be proved beyond doubt by two
witnesses, who are soundly flogged if their evidence breaks down, and
their testimony is declared invalid for the future. This places the
accusation under a heavy disability, but it is better than putting a
woman's most cherished attribute at the mercy of a suborned servant or
two--a far greater injustice to womanhood than bearing a fair share of a
naturally hard and toilsome life, which is also a missionary complaint
against Arabia. As for fatalism paralysing enterprise there, perhaps it
does to a certain extent, but it cannot compare with our own organised
strikes in that direction.

Another charge is that Arabia has no stable government and people go
armed against each other. Tribal Arabia has the only true form of
democratic government, and the Arab tribesman goes armed to make sure
that it continues democratic--as many a would-be despot knows to his
cost. They use these weapons to settle other disputes occasionally, but
Christian cowboys still do so at times unless they have acquired grace
and the barley-water habit.

These deliberate misstatements and the distortion of known facts are
unworthy of the many earnest workers in recognised mission fields, and
they become really mischievous when they culminate in an appeal to the
general public calling for resources and _personnel_ to "win Mecca for
Christ," and use it and the Arabic language to disseminate Christianity
and so win Arabia and, eventually, the Moslem world.

Christianity had a very good start in Arabia long before Muhammad's day,
and (contrary to missionary assertion) was in existence there for
centuries after his death. Not long before the dawn of Islam, Christian
and pagan Arabs fought side by side to overthrow a despotic Jew king in
Yamen who was trying to proselytise them with the crude but convincing
contrivance of an artificial hell which cost only the firewood and
labour involved and beat modern revivalist descriptions of the place to
a frazzle as a means of speedy conversion--to a Jew or a cinder.

Christianity lasted in Yamen up to the tenth century A.D. It paid
tribute as a subordinate creed, like Judaism, but had far more equable
charters and greater respect among Moslems. In fact, it was never driven
out, but gradually merged into Islam, as is indicated by the
inscriptions found on the lintel of ruined churches here and there,
"There is but one God."

The published statement of a travelled missionary that the Turks stabled
their cavalry horses in the ruins of Abraha's "cathedral" at Sanaa is
misleading. The church which that Abyssinian general built when he came
over to help the Arabs against the Jew king of proselytising tendencies
has nothing left of it above ground except a bare site surrounded by a
low circular wall which would perhaps accommodate the horses of a
mounted patrol in bivouac. The Turks probably used it for that purpose
without inquiry.

What is the use of bolstering up a presumably sincere religious movement
with these puerile and mischievous statements? Apart from the rancour
they excite among educated Moslems (who are more familiar with this
class of literature than the writers perhaps imagine) they deceive the
Christian public and place conscientious missionaries afield in a false
position, for most practical mission workers know and admit that the
wholesale conversion of Moslems is not a feasible proposition and that
sporadic proselytes are very doubtful trophies. Knowing this, they
concentrate their principal efforts on schools, hospitals and charitable
relief, all based on friendly relations with the natives which have been
patiently built up. These relations are jeopardised by the wild-cat
utterances which are published for home consumption. If a Christian
public cannot support legitimate missionary enterprise without having it
camouflaged by all this spiritual swashbuckling, then it is in urgent
need of evangelical ministrations itself.

Missionaries in the field have, of course, a personal view which we must
not overlook, as it is entirely creditable to all parties concerned. The
more strenuous forms of mission work in barbarous countries demand, and
get, the highest type of human devotion and courage. It is a healthy
sign that the public should support such enterprise and that men and
women should be readily found to undertake it gladly. There is a great
gulf between such gallantry and the calculating spirit which works from
a "strategic centre," to bring about a serious political situation which
others have to face.

Let us now examine the Islamic attitude toward Christianity.

The thoughtful Moslem generally admits the excellence of occidental
principles and methods in the practical affairs of life, but insists
that even earthly existence is made up of more than civilised amenities,
economics and appliances for luxury, comfort and locomotion. It is when
he comes to examine our social life that he finds us falling very short
of our Christian ideals, and he argues to himself that if that is all
Christianity can do for us it is not likely to do more for him, but
rather less. He admits that his less civilised co-religionists in
Arabia, Afghanistan, etc., lack half-tones in their personalities, which
are black and white in streaks instead of blending in various shades of
grey. He considers that Islam with its simple austerities is better
suited to such characters than Christianity with its unattainable
ideals. He himself has visited Western cities and observed their
conditions shrewdly. He regards missionaries as zealous bagmen
travelling with excellent samples for a chaotic firm which does not
stock the goods they are trying to push. The missionary may say that he
has no "call" to reform existing conditions in his own country, just as
the bagman may disclaim responsibility for his firm's slackness; but
such excuses book no orders. The travelled Moslem will shake his head
and say that he has seen the firm's showrooms, and their principal
lines appeared to be Labour trouble, profiteering and diluted
Bolshevism, with a particularly tawdry fabric of party politics. He
respects the spiritual commercial traveller and his opinions, if sincere
(he is a judge of sincerity, being rather a casuist himself), but
wherever he has observed the workings of Christianity in bulk it has not
had the elevating and transcendental effect which it is said to have;
that is, he has not found the goods up to sample and will have none of

He seldom realises (to conclude our commercial metaphor) that most
Christian folk in countries which export missionaries are born with
life-members' tickets entitling them to sound, durable goods which are
not displayed in our spiritual shop-windows or in the missionary
hand-bag:--the prayers of childhood and the mother's hymn, the distant
bells of a Sabbath countryside, the bird-chorus of Spring emphasising
the magic hush of Communion on Easter morning, the holly-decked church
ringing with the glad carols of Christmastide and the tremendous promise
which bids us hope at the graveside of our earthly love. It is such
memories as these, and not the stentorian eloquence of some popular
salvation-monger in an atmosphere of over-crowded humanity, which go to
make staunch Christian souls.

The possible proselyte from Islam has to rely on what the missionary has
in his bag. Large quantities of faith are pressed upon him which do not
quite meet his requirements, as it is his reason which should be
satisfied first; no one can believe without a basis of belief.

There is also a great deal of slaughter-house metaphor which does not
appeal to him at all, as he looks on blood as a defilement and a sheep
as the silliest animal in existence--except a lamb. These metaphors were
used by our Lord in speaking to a people who readily understood them,
but for some obscure reason they have not only been retained but
amplified extensively to the exclusion of much beautiful imagery which
is still apposite. We Christians reverence such similes for their
associations, but a Moslem misses the point of them, just as we miss the
stately metre of the Koran in translation.

The would-be convert from Islam must, of course, learn to stifle any
fond memories of the virile, vivid creed he is invited to renounce. No
longer must he give ear to the far-flung call proclaiming from lofty
minarets the unity of God and the Prophet's mission or its cheery,
swinging reiteration as the dead are carried to the _magenna_ or "gate
of Heaven." Certainly not; the less he contemplates their fate the
better for his peace of mind, since (if the effort to convert him is
anything more than an outrageous piece of impudence) their lot in the
hereafter must be appalling and his own depends on the thoroughness with
which he steels his heart against all he ever knew and loved before he
met that pious man and his little picture pamphlets.

Do proselytising missionaries in the Islamic field ever sit down and
think what they are really trying to do? Does the social ostracism of a
human being, the damnation of his folk and the salvation of none but a
remnant of mankind mean anything to them? If so they ought to be
overcome with horror--unless it is their idea of humour, which I cannot

To pester a man into abandoning a perfectly sound and satisfying
religion for one which may not suit him so well is more reprehensible
than badgering a man to go to your doctor when his own physician
understands his case and has studied it for a long time. At least his
discarded medical adviser will not make his life a burden to him--a
burden which the proselytiser does not have to share.

On the other hand, Moslems are often glad enough to avail themselves of
such Christian works as mission education, medical treatment and
organised charity, so they should tolerate the proselytising propaganda
which seems inseparable from these enterprises.

Missionaries afield are usually justified by their works; it is the
aggressive policy blazoned abroad from mission headquarters which does
so much mischief. Islam was never intended to overthrow Christianity,
but to bring back pagan Arabs to the true worship of God. Mission policy
clamours for attack on it as if it were an invention of the devil and
then complains of Moslem fanaticism, forgetting that if it were an
artifice of Satan they cast doubts on the omnipotence, omniscience or
beneficence of God for permitting it to exist and flourish. Otherwise,
they infer that they are in a position to correct the Almighty in this
matter. It is their complacent pedagogy which exasperates Moslems so. It
is not the way to treat people who believe in the Immaculate Conception,
who call Christmas Day "_the_ Birthday" and respect us as "People of the

It is time some protest was lodged against this policy if only on behalf
of Christian administrations in Moslem countries, which are always being
attacked by it and urged to give more facilities of spiritual
aggression, especially just at present when Turkey's power has been
shattered and mission strategy thinks it sees an opening.

There was never a less desirable moment for unchecked religious
exploitation than now, when the war-worn nations of Christendom are
trying to reconstruct themselves, and the world is seething with unrest
and overstocked with discarded weapons of precision.

There is no compromise in religion, nor should there be; you cannot go
halfway in any faith, and no one wants a mongrel strain begotten of the
two great militant creeds such as our leading exponent of paradox
wittily describes as "Chrislam." Yet surely there is a reasonable basis
for a religious _entente_ between Islam and Christianity.

Think what Islam has done to advance the knowledge of humanity long
before the dawn of modern science. Moslems, too, would do well to
remember what Christian civilisation has done for them in trade,
agriculture and industries. If you accept gifts from others you should
tolerate their ways; it is but an ill-conditioned cur that bolts the
food proffered and then snarls.

A Moslem or a Christian worthy of the name will remain so. He may expand
or (more rarely) contract his views, but will still be a Moslem or a
Christian, as the case may be.

No human being has the right to say that his conception of the Deity is
correct and all others wrong, nor is such a conclusion supported by the
Gospel or the Koran.

It is the alchemy of the human soul which can transmute the dross of a
sordid environment to the gold of self-sacrifice, and the gold of
inspired religion to the dross of bigotry.

Whether we believe, as Christians, that Christ died on the Cross and
rose the third day, or, as Moslems, that He escaped that fate by an
equally stupendous miracle, we know that He faced persecution and death
for mankind and His ideals, and that both creeds are based on the same
great doctrine--"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship
him in spirit and in truth."



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