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Title: Our Moslem Sisters - A Cry of Need from Lands of Darkness Interpreted by Those Who Heard It
Author: Van Sommer, Annie [Editor], Zwemer, Samuel Marinus, 1867-1952 [Editor]
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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  Our Moslem Sisters

  _A Cry of Need from Lands of Darkness
  Interpreted by Those Who Heard It_


  Fleming H. Revell Company

  Copyright, 1907, by

  New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
  Chicago: 80 Wabash Avenue
  Toronto: 25 Richmond St., W.
  London: 21 Paternoster Square
  Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street


This book with its sad, reiterated story of wrong and oppression is an
indictment and an appeal. It is an indictment of the system which
produces results so pitiful. It is an appeal to Christian womanhood to
right these wrongs and enlighten this darkness by sacrifice and service.
At the recent Mohammedan Educational Conference in Bombay the president
of the gathering, the Agha Khan, himself a leading Moslem, spoke very
trenchantly of the chief barriers to progress in the Moslem world. The
first and greatest of these barriers in his opinion was "the seclusion
of women which results in keeping half the community in ignorance and
degradation and this hinders the progress of the whole." Surely the
ignorance and degradation of one-half of a community which has a world
population of 233 millions is a question that concerns all who love

The origin of the veil of Islam was, as is well known, one of the
marriage affairs of Mohammed himself, with its appropriate revelation
from Allah. In the twenty-fourth Surah of the Koran women are forbidden
to appear unveiled before any member of the other sex, with the
exception of near relatives. And so by one verse the bright, refining,
elevating influence of women was forever withdrawn from Moslem society.
The evils of the zenana, the seraglio, the harem, or by whatever name it
is called, are writ large over all the social life of the Moslem world.
Keene says it "lies at the root of all the most important features that
differentiate progress from stagnation."

In Arabia before the advent of Islam it was customary to bury female
infants alive. Mohammed improved on the barbaric method and discovered a
way by which _all_ females could be buried alive and yet live
on--namely, the veil. How they live on, this book tells! Its chapters
are not cunningly devised fables nor stories told for the story's sake.
Men and women who have given of their strength and service, their love
and their life to ameliorate the lives of Moslem women and carry the
torch of Truth into these lands of darkness write simply the truth in a
straightforward way. All the chapters were written by missionaries in
the various lands represented. And with three exceptions the writers
were women. The chapter on Turkestan is by a converted Moslem; and the
two chapters on the Yemen and the Central Soudan are by medical
missionaries. The book has as many authors as there are chapters. For
obvious reasons their names are not published, but their testimony is
unimpeachable and unanimous. We read what their eyes have seen, what
their hands have handled, and what has stirred their hearts. It has
stirred the hearts of educated Moslems too, in Egypt as well as in
India. A new book on this very subject was recently published at Cairo
by Kasim Ameen, a learned Moslem jurist. Although he denies that Islam
is the cause, yet speaking of the present relation of the Mohammedan
woman to man the author says:

"Man is the absolute master and woman the slave. She is the object of
his sensual pleasures, a toy, as it were, with which he plays, whenever
and however he pleases. Knowledge is his, ignorance is hers. The
firmament and the light are his, darkness and the dungeon are hers. His
is to command, hers is to blindly obey. His is everything that is, and
she is an insignificant part of that everything.

"Ask those that are married if they are loved by their wives, and they
will answer in the affirmative. The truth, however, is the reverse. I
have personally investigated the conditions of a number of families that
are supposed to be living in harmony, peace, and love, and I have not
found one husband who truly loved his wife, or one wife who evinced a
sincere affection for her husband. This outward appearance of peace and
harmony--this thin veneering--only means one of three things, namely,
either the husband is made callous and nonchalant by incessant strife,
and has finally determined to let things take their course; or the wife
allows herself to be utilized as an ordinary chattel, without uttering a
protest; or both parties are ignorant and do not appreciate the true
value of life. In this last case, the parties are nearer to a sort of
happiness than in the former two, although their happiness is negative
in quantity and evanescent in nature." ... The writers of the following
chapters believe that the only remedy for these social evils is the
Gospel. That is why they write.

The occasion that led to the preparation and collection of this series
of papers was the Cairo Conference. One of the most interesting sessions
of that first general Conference on behalf of the Mohammedan world, held
at Cairo April 4-9, 1906, was that on Woman's Work for Women. But the
time was far too short nor had there been preparation for a full and
free presentation and discussion of the condition and needs of our
Moslem sisters. Those that loved them felt this and yet the women
present seized the opportunity and unitedly sent forth the following
appeal, endorsed by the whole Conference:

    "_Women's Appeal._

    "We, the women missionaries, assembled at the Cairo Conference,
    would send this appeal on behalf of the women of Moslem lands
    to all the women's missionary boards and committees of Great
    Britain, America, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland,
    Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Australia, and New Zealand.

    "While we have heard with deep thankfulness of many signs of
    God's blessing on the efforts already put forth, yet we have
    been appalled at the reports which have been sent in to the
    Conference from all parts of the Moslem world, showing us only
    too plainly that as yet but a fringe of this great work has
    been touched.

    "The same story has come from India, Persia, Arabia, Africa,
    and other Mohammedan lands, making evident that the condition
    of women under Islam is everywhere the same--and that there is
    no hope of effectually remedying the spiritual, moral, and
    physical ills which they suffer, except to take them the
    message of the Saviour, and that there is no chance of their
    hearing, unless we give ourselves to the work. _No one else
    will do it._ This lays a heavy responsibility on all Christian

    "The number of Moslem _women_ is so vast--not less than one
    hundred million--that any adequate effort to meet the need must
    be on a scale far wider than has ever yet been attempted.

    "We do not suggest new organizations, but that every church and
    board of missions at present working in Moslem lands should
    take up their own women's branch of work with an altogether new
    ideal before them, determining to reach the whole world of
    Moslem women in this generation. Each part of the women's work
    being already carried on needs to be widely extended. Trained
    and consecrated women doctors; trained and consecrated women
    teachers; groups of women workers in the villages; an army of
    those with love in their hearts to seek and save the lost. And,
    with the willingness to take up this burden, so long neglected,
    for the salvation of Mohammedan women, even though it may prove
    a very cross of Calvary to some of us, we shall hear our
    Master's voice afresh ringing words of encouragement: 'Have
    faith in God. For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall
    say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into
    the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe
    that these things which He saith shall come to pass, he shall
    have whatsoever he saith.' 'Nothing shall be impossible unto

That this wonderful appeal might reach a wider circle and that its
skeleton form might be clothed with the flesh and blood of real life
experiences and so be not a resolution but a revelation,--this book was
written. _May God give its message wings through His Spirit_

                                          S. M. ZWEMER.

      February, 1907.


  CHAPTER                                                   PAGE

  I. HAGAR AND HER SISTERS                                    15

  II. EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE                              24

  III. FROM UNDER THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS                    38

  IV. THE WOMEN OF EGYPT ONCE MORE                            60

  V. BEHIND THE OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS                         72

  VI. "NOT DEAD, ONLY DRY"                                    89

  VII. LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO                               99


  IX. A STORY FROM EAST AFRICA                               131

  X. OUR ARABIAN SISTERS                                     135

  XI. WOMEN'S LIFE IN THE YEMEN                              146

  XII. PEN-AND-INK SKETCHES IN PALESTINE                     152

  XIII. ONCE MORE IN PALESTINE                               164

  XIV. MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA                             174

  XV. BEHIND THE LATTICE IN TURKEY                           192

  XVI. A VOICE FROM BULGARIA                                 204

  XVII. DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA                      207



  XX. IN SOUTHERN INDIA                                      253

  XXI. THE MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN OF TURKESTAN                     263

  XXII. IN FAR-OFF CATHAY                                    276

  XXIII. OUR MOSLEM SISTERS IN JAVA                          283

  XXIV. THE MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN OF MALAYSIA                     287

  XXV. "WHAT WILT THOU HAVE ME TO DO?"                       293


                                                    _Facing page_


  DAUGHTERS OF EGYPT                                          24

  BARGAINS IN ORANGES                                         60

  BY THE BANKS OF THE NILE                                    60

  DOROTHY AND FATIMAH                                         78

  ARAB WOMAN ENTERING SAINT'S TOMB                            82

  TYPES IN TUNIS AND ALGIERS                                  90

  A YOUNG GIRL OF THE ABU SAAD TRIBE                          96

  A BEDOUIN GIRL FROM NORTH AFRICA                           102

  GOING TO MARKET--TWO BURDEN BEARERS                        126


  MOSLEM AND CHRISTIAN CEMETERY, ETC.                        160


  A FAMILY GROUP AT JERICHO                                  176

  MAT-MAKERS (Persia): INDOOR DRESS (Northern Persia)        228


  A CRY OF DISTRESS FROM ALGIERS                             294

    "All that took them captives hold them fast, they refuse to let
    them go. Their Redeemer is strong, the Lord of Hosts is His
    name; He shall thoroughly plead their cause."--JEREMIAH l. 33,

    "Deliver them that are carried away unto death, and those that
    are tottering to the slaughter see that thou hold back. If thou
    sayest, Behold we knew not this, doth not He that weigheth the
    hearts consider it and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He
    know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his
    works?"--PROVERBS xxiv. 11, 12. (R. V.)

    "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are
    left desolate. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and minister
    judgment to the poor and needy."--PROVERBS xxxi. 8, 9. (R. V.)




"We must concentrate attention upon the mothers, for what the mothers
are, the children will be." These words, spoken recently by a British
statesman, are but the thoughts of many who have tried to save the
children. And in looking at the millions of Moslems in the world to-day,
and wondering why they are still as they were a thousand years ago,
rather drifting backward than advancing, we turn to their women and find
the cause. Mohammedan law, custom, and the example of their founder
place woman on a level with beasts of burden and no nation rises above
the level of its women.

The Lord Jesus is the only prophet come to this world who has raised
women to what God meant them to be. It is only He who can save our
Moslem sisters. When Hagar returns to Christ Ishmael shall live.

The story of Hagar, the mother of the Arabs, tells us of a young girl
sacrificed for the scheme and then the jealousy of an older woman who
should have loved and pitied her. And it seems to some of us that it
needs the widespread love and pity of the women of our day in Christian
lands to seek and save the suffering sinful needy women of Islam.

You cannot know how great the need unless you are told; you will never
go and find them until you hear their cry. And they will never cry for
themselves, for they are down under the yoke of centuries of oppression,
and their hearts have no hope or knowledge of anything better.

And so to-day, we want to make our voices heard for them. We want to
tell you, our sisters at home, in words so plain that you can never
again say: "Behold, we knew it not."

"In the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established," was the
law of Moses. In this book you have the evidence of more than a score of
witnesses and they all speak the same things. Each one tells only that
which she knows. No incident is given without personal knowledge, and
most of the writers have the experience of ten, fifteen, or twenty years
in the midst of the people of whom they tell.

Although we claim no literary merit, we have a thrilling story and plead
for a hearing.

Read for yourselves what is going on in the lives of a hundred million
women in the world to-day and take this burden on your hearts before

A long tress of dark hair, a white veil, a bit of flower, and a shining
necklace. They are there above the bier of a young bride carried past
our window to her grave. There was another one yesterday, and there will
be more to-morrow. Hundreds of child-wives and sixty-two per cent. they
tell us of all the babies born here, in Egypt, are taken to an early
grave. We cannot know these things and not call upon you, our sisters,
to come and try to save them. They are passing away in an endless
procession, without ever having heard of Jesus, without ever knowing
that He died for them, that an eternity of gladness and love may be

Although the voices in this book sound from many lands: Egypt, Tunis,
Algiers, Morocco, Hausa Land, East Africa, Arabia, Palestine, Syria,
Turkey, Bulgaria, Persia, India, one story is told and one cry heard
everywhere. There has been no communication between the writers, but
there is absolute identity of evidence because all the Moslems of these
lands are under Mohammedan law.

The world-wide suffering of Moslem women makes us read with wonder such
words as were recently spoken by the secretary of the Pan-Islamic
Society: "The Renaissance of Islam means the renaissance of humanity."
Does the speaker think we are all blind, and deaf, and ignorant? These
pages may enlighten him. We read further Mustapha Pasha Kamel's own
words and tell him that in these he speaks the truth. They were spoken
to his own fellow-Moslems.

Mustapha Pasha Kamel said in the course of his speech to his

"Conquer with the force of knowledge and history the strong fortresses
of prejudice and bigotry, and open wide the gates of your heart for the
reception of Truth and Light. For a conquered people there is no cure
better than a passionate devotion to Truth. Be ye, therefore, messengers
of Light and Truth, the missionaries of brilliant and triumphant Truth,
the army of physicians prescribing the bitter pills of Truth. Tell the
effete and feeble rulers and princes, 'Awake from your deep slumber.
Recover soon from your drunkenness caused by the possession of absolute
authority, the boast of heraldry, and the braveries of pomp and
pageantry. Awake ye, before the depth of degradation into which your
subjects have fallen sound the death-knell of your rule and shake the
very foundations of your throne. Awake before the day overtakes you when
repentance and regrets will be of no avail.' Tell the rich who waste so
much of their wealth in the pursuit of ignoble pleasures, and who do not
spare a farthing for a noble cause, 'Awake before it is too late. Do not
forget in the midnight of your intoxication that a bitter day of
reckoning awaits you. Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen. Your fates
are bound up with those of your people and your glory depends upon their
prosperity. If they rise, you rise. If they fall, you fall with them.
Wealth is a poison if it becomes an instrument of evil; a life-giving
antidote when devoted to a noble purpose. Regard it therefore as a
divine gift and a sacred trust.' Tell the people who live the life of
animals and are led like dumb cattle: 'Awake, and realize the true
significance of life. Fill the earth and adorn it with the result of
your labors.' Gentlemen, you alone can make them understand the full
meaning of life. O physicians! the patient is in a critical state, and
delay spells death." ...

If the thinking men of the Mohammedan world really believe what is here
said to them by their own champion, we ask them will they not seek unto
God for a remedy? And it may be He will turn their thoughts to their own
homes, and let them see _what is, why it is, and to think what might

The homes of the sons of Ishmael might be happy and united, the abode of
gladness and family love, but they are the opposite of this. Few
Mohammedans know that such a home is possible. They only know a place
full of jealousy, of quarrelling and evil talk. What wonder that they
have the proverb: "The threshold of the house weeps for forty days when
a girl is born."

Unwelcome at birth, unloved in her life-time, without hope in her death;
and she might be the joy of your heart, the life of your home, and the
hope of your old age. Will you not ask yourselves, our brothers, can
these things be? "Have we wandered in the dark for centuries, misled by
blind leaders of the blind, and missing the good things offered us by
the God of Ishmael?" It was through Hagar his mother that Ishmael lived.

"_She sat over against him, and lift up her voice and wept. And God
heard the voice of the lad, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of
heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not, for God
hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and
hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God
opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled
the bottles with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the
lad, and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness._"

To-day we cry to our Father in Heaven to let us be the messengers of
comfort to Hagar--and we will ask Him to open her eyes that she may see
the Well of the Water of Life, and that she may hold it to the lips of
her sons and daughters in the Moslem world. The following touching
incident and poem by one who has labored long among Moslem women in
Persia may well be our opening prayer ere we hear the cry of need from
distant lands in these chapters:--

"It was the Communion Day in our Church, and the service proceeded as
usual. My thoughts were all of my own unworthiness and Christ's love to
me, until Mr. E. asked the question nobody ever notices, 'Has any one
been omitted in the distribution of the bread?' And it seemed to me I
could see millions on millions of women rising silently in India,
Africa, Siam, Persia, in all the countries where they need the Lord, but
know Him not, to testify that they had been omitted in the distribution
of the bread and cup! And they can take it from no hands but ours, and
we do not pass it on. Can Jesus make heaven so sweet and calm that we
can forgive ourselves this great neglect of the millions living now, for
whom the body was broken and the blood shed, just as much as for us?"

    The feast was spread, the solemn words were spoken;
      Humbly my soul drew near to meet her Lord,
    To plead His sacrificial body broken,
      His blood for me outpoured.

    Confessing all my manifold transgression,
      Weeping, to cast myself before His throne,
    Praying His Spirit to take full possession,
      And seal me all His own.

    On Him I laid each burden I was bearing,
      The anxious mind, of strength so oft bereft,
    The future dim, the children of my caring,
      All on His heart I left.

    "How could I live, my Lord," I cried, "without Thee!
      How for a single day this pathway trace,
    And feel no loving arm thrown round about me,
      No all-sustaining grace?

    "Oh show me how to thank Thee, praise Thee, love Thee,
      For these rich gifts bestowed on sinful me,
    The rainbow hope that spans the sky above me,
      The promised rest with Thee."

    As if indeed He spoke the answer, fitted
      Into my prayer, the pastor's voice came up:
    "Let any rise if they have been omitted
      When passed the bread and cup."

    Sudden, before my inward, open vision,
      Millions of faces crowded up to view,
    Sad eyes that said, "For us is no provision;
      Give us your Saviour, too!"

    Sorrowful women's faces, hungry, yearning,
      Wild with despair, or dark with sin and dread,
    Worn with long weeping for the unreturning,
      Hopeless, uncomforted.

    "Give us," they cry; "your cup of consolation
      Never to our outstretching hands is passed,
    We long for the Desire of every nation,
      And oh, we die so fast!

    "Does He not love us, too, this gracious Master?
      'Tis from your hand alone we can receive
    The bounty of His grace; oh, send it faster,
      That we may take and live!"

    "Master," I said, as from a dream awaking,
      "Is this the service Thou dost show to me?
    Dost Thou to me entrust Thy bread for breaking
      To those who cry for Thee?

    "Dear Heart of Love, canst Thou forgive the blindness
      That let Thy child sit selfish and at ease
    By the full table of Thy loving kindness,
      And take no thought for these?

    "As Thou hast loved me, let me love; returning
      To these dark souls the grace Thou givest me;
    And oh, to me impart Thy deathless yearning
      To draw the lost to Thee!

    "Nor let me cease to spread Thy glad salvation,
      Till Thou shalt call me to partake above,
    Where the redeemed of every tribe and nation
      Sit at Thy feast of love!"

                       --ANNIE VAN SOMMER,
                           Alexandria, Egypt.

[Illustration: DAUGHTERS OF EGYPT]



Egypt was the home of the earliest civilization in the world, which
archæology traces back beyond 3000 years B. C. The home of a race
skilled both in the fine and mechanical arts; loving nature, honoring
women, and deeply impressed with the seriousness of life on both sides
the grave. The valley of the Nile, which is the true Egypt, is unlike
any other part of the world. It has neither Alpine grandeur, nor
pastoral softness, nor variety of plain and upland, meadow and forest.
Its low hills have neither heather nor pine upon them. Egypt is the land
of light, of glowing sunshine, of moonlight and starlight so brilliant
that night is but a softer day. From the time that Israel's ancestors
went down thither it has drawn men of every clime with a peculiar

On the opposite page we have before us a glimpse of the majestic Nile,
stretching through one thousand miles of desert till it flows into the
Mediterranean Sea. "Wherever the river cometh, there is life."
Everywhere along its banks the desert has become fertile, and there are
countless towns and villages.

The productive capacity of the land had always depended upon the annual
overflow of the Nile, but every summer during the season of high Nile
billions and billions of cubic feet of water would roll away a rich and
wanton waste into the sea, simply because there were not enough channels
to carry it out into the thirsty sands of the desert. Energetic men
conceived the idea of bringing these waste waters into control, to carry
them out through the surrounding countries, bringing life and prosperity
where there was dearth and desolation. For this purpose several great
dams were built; one at Cairo, one at Assiut and one at Assouan, making
it possible to store up much of the water which had formerly gone to
waste, and canals were dug to carry the life-giving water out to the
desert where thousands of acres of land have been reclaimed.

The large cities of Egypt are densely populated. A town of twenty-five
thousand people is considered a mere village. It might be wondered what
the people do for a livelihood, but they all seem to do something. There
are all sorts of tradesmen and artificers. It is next to impossible to
enumerate them, there's the:--

    Richman, poorman, beggarman, thief;
    Doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief;
    Butcher, baker,
    Candle-stick maker,
    Soldier, sailor,
    Tinker, tailor, etc., etc.

There are few signs of extreme want, but disease and deformity meet one
everywhere, and blindness is perhaps the most pitiful.

Egypt is largely an agricultural country, and naturally the largest
percentage of her inhabitants are tillers of the soil. A little more
than half belong to the peasant class and are known as "fellaheen." They
are industrious after their own fashion, conservative to the point of
bigotry, yet good-humored and peaceable. The peasant class are the hope
of Egypt. They look back to a past full of crushing tyranny, political
and religious, but under the improved political condition of the country
the Egyptian peasant is beginning to widen his horizon and to aim for
education and civilization. Poor they certainly are, but what of that
when they have enough to eat such as it is and can spend their whole
lives in sunshine and fresh air? Warm enough with the lightest clothing,
well sheltered by the rudest cabin, no hard winters to provide against,
and no coal to buy.

Such is the physical condition of Egypt and the Egyptian. What of the
moral and spiritual?

Nine-tenths of the people are Mohammedans, thus Mohammedan ideas rule
the thought and manner of life.

Because Mohammedans worship one God, many people say, "Let them alone,
their religion is good enough for them, it is even better suited to them
than Christianity." It is true that Mohammedanism was a revolt against
the idolatry and corruption of the early Christian churches, but is that
revolt, even though an honest effort to find a purer form of worship,
any excuse for not holding out to them the true way of salvation? Is not
that revolt rather a trumpet call to Christianity, wakening her up to
her great responsibility toward the unbelief of Islam, whose apostasy
was caused by the unfaithfulness of the old Christian churches of the

No one who has drunk deeply at the fountain of evangelical truth can
defend Islam. It has been commonly supposed that the God of the Koran is
the God of the New Testament. Those who have made the subject a matter
of careful study and investigation find that they are totally different.
The God of Christianity is a God of love, the God of Islam is an
Oriental despot.

The element of love is left out of both the religion and morality of
Islam. Marriage is not founded upon love but upon sensuality. A mother
was rebuked for arranging a marriage for her fourteen-year-old son. Her
excuse was, "I do it to keep him from learning the bad habit of visiting
prostitutes." The sensual nature has been trained in the Egyptian to an
indescribable degree of disgusting perfection. As some one has said,
"Mohammedans have added a refinement of sensuousness to pagan
sensuality." As a result of this training men and women have sunk to
depths of degradation unconsciously manifested in their customs, in
their speech, and in their life.

For twelve centuries the blight of Islam has fallen over the fortunes of
Egypt. Politics, commerce, learning, all have felt its withering blast,
but that which has most keenly felt the blast and blight of Islam is
society. There is no word in the Arabic language for home, the nearest
approach to it being "beit," which means "house" or "a place in which to
spend the night." To quote from an interesting writer on this
thought--"The word is lacking because the idea is lacking." "Home, sweet
Home" with all its wealth of meaning is a conception foreign to the
average Oriental. An educated young Moslem with advanced ideas in many
respects was asked if the members of his family took their meals
together. He said they did not, each one when he became hungry told the
servant to bring food. "Would it not be better to eat together?" "Yes,
it would be much cheaper," he replied, showing that the first ray of the
beauty of the home circle had not penetrated his active mind. How can it
be otherwise when woman, the heart and life of the family circle, was in
his mind because of inherited ideas relegated to the position of
prisoner and slave rather than to that of companion and helpmeet? "It
was Islam that forever withdrew from Oriental society the bright,
refining, elevating influence of woman by burying her alive behind the
veil and lattice of the Harem."

Arabic poetry and literature is generally very uncomplimentary to woman,
characterizing her as a donkey, or even a snake. The majority of the men
hoot at the gallantry and courtesy which Anglo-Saxon etiquette demands
of men towards women. Says an Egyptian, "Our women must be beaten in
order to be made to walk straight." And beaten they are for trifling
offence by father, husband, brother, or son as occasion demands. This
custom is so common that the women themselves expect a whipping

It has been said that the theology of Islam does not give woman a place
in heaven, but that statement is incorrect. However, her place and
station in heaven seem to depend entirely upon the will of her husband.
Many husbands are like the old Moslem sheikh who said, "I don't want my
wives in heaven. I prefer the Harem of beautiful, pure, clean angels
which God has provided for every good Moslem." The privilege of prayer
is practically denied a young woman with children because of the strict
regulations of washing before prayer. Unless these ablutions are done
carefully according to rule, prayer is void. A few old women do pray.

The nominal Christians dwelling in the midst of Islam, though they hate
Islam with all their hearts, have yet imbibed much of their spirit in
regard to the treatment of women. A Coptic priest was heard to say, "It
is better for the women not to go to church, for they can't keep quiet.
They will eat and chatter during the service." Poor things! What else
could they do, shut off from the main audience room as they always are
behind a high lattice screen, where they can neither see nor hear what
is going on!

Much can be said about the down-trodden condition of Egyptian women. "As
a babe she is unwelcome; as a child untaught; as a wife unloved; as a
mother, unhonored; in old age, uncared for; and when her miserable,
dark, and dreary life is ended, she is unmourned by those she has
served." Heaven is a forlorn hope, not because she is denied any of its
privileges, but because of the incapability of providing her with
enjoyments similar to those promised to the other sex.

It has often been asserted that the institutions of Islam elevated and
improved the state of women, but history and true incidents from life go
to show that her position was rendered by Islam more dependent and
degraded than before.

She is degraded and made servilely dependent by seclusion. The veil and
lattice of the Harem are both Islamic institutions established by the
Prophet of Islam and founded upon incidents which occurred in his own
family; and they are certainly a faithful commentary upon the sensuality
and lewdness of the times, with an unconscious recognition of the fact
that the religion of Islam was not of sufficient moral force to improve
the times. History has verified this testimony and we only need to look
around in these countries to see for ourselves that Mohammedanism, as
its founder anticipated, has not improved the morality of those who have
embraced its principles, but has rather excused and given license to all
sorts of lewdness. It is difficult for people reared in Christian lands
to have any conception of the laxity of morals in Mohammedan lands and
it is a thing to be wondered at and excused only on the grounds of
ignorance of existing conditions that English parents will allow their
young daughters to become resident teachers or governesses in rich
Mohammedan houses.

The whole system of Islam, in so far as it concerns family life and the
treatment of women, is vile and revolting. The veil and lattice of the
Harem, even though established to guard her modesty and purity, have
degraded and debased her by making her a prisoner.

As a child, she has before her only a few short years in which she has
an opportunity to go to school and the effort to improve those few years
is very often fruitless, because just as she shows any signs of budding
womanhood (as early as at the age of ten years and not later than
thirteen years) she must lay aside her books and "be hidden," as they
say in Arabic; then it is considered improper and immodest for a girl to
be seen in the streets. Her education stops just at the point when her
mind is beginning to open up, and she is learning to love her books.
Thrown back into the seclusion of the Harem she soon forgets all she
has learned. Should she be energetic enough to try to keep up her
lessons and try to get reading matter, she is met with the taunt, "Are
you a scribe or a lawyer, that you should read and write every day?"

The girls who have an opportunity of going to school at all are in the
minority, but for those who do, as in Christian lands, there is a
peculiar fascination and joy connected with the first day of school
after a month or two of vacation. Girls, new pupils and old, come
trooping into the schoolroom enthusiastic, eager, and bright, rejoicing
with all the ardor of childhood that they are allowed to come back to
their beloved school and that they are not yet old enough to be
"hidden." But there is a strain of sadness in all this joy, for in their
interchange of confidences and family bits of news it comes out that a
certain Fatima and a certain Zeinab, their big sisters, are sitting at
home very sad and even shedding bitter and rebellious tears because,
poor things! they have been "hidden" and their schooldays are over.

A day or two after our school began, the teachers and girls were all
startled by a rustle of long garments sailing in at the door. On closer
observation they soon saw that their visitor was none other than little
Habeeba of last year, who during the summer had blossomed out into a
woman by donning all the trappings of a Harem lady, and she was truly
"hidden," for not a speck of her face showed except one bright eye. She
could not stay away from her beloved school, she said, so had begged
special permission to come and spend an hour with her friends.

The seclusion of the Harem is more or less rigid according to the
caprice of some exacting husband or mother-in-law. As far as the younger
married women's experience goes it is mother-in-law rule literally, for
seldom is a man permitted to take his wife to a home of his own. The
sons and even the grandsons must bring their brides home to the father's
house and all be subject to the mother. A household of fifty is no
uncommon thing. Much of the freedom of the younger women depends upon
what the old mother-in-law or grandmother-in-law thinks proper. Often
she rules with a hand of iron, probably to make up for her own hard life
in her younger days, intermixed with an honest desire to preserve and
promote the honor and dignity of her house. For the honor, dignity, and
aristocracy of a family are often estimated according to the rigor of
the seclusion of its women-folk.

Thousands of Egyptian women never step over their own thresholds and
many of them never make complaint, only saying, "Oh, you know our men
love us very much; that is the reason they imprison us. They do it to
protect us."

Among the strictest people a young woman is not permitted to be seen by
even her father-in-law. Nor is it allowable for her to be seen by any
male servants except eunuchs. Under such conditions it might be
wondered how a woman could keep her domestic machinery in running order,
but as one woman said, who had never seen the face of her cook although
he had been employed in her house for thirteen years, when asked the
question, "How do you tell him what you want for dinner?" "Oh, he knows
my wants, but when I wish to give a particular order, I tell the maid
servant, she tells the little boy servant, and he conveys the message to
the cook!"

It seems like the irony of fate that these women who are kept in such
strict seclusion should be so extravagantly fond of society. They
welcome in the most hospitable manner any visitors of their own sex. It
is pitiful to see how they love to have glimpses of the outside world. A
missionary lady tells of a woman whom she often visited, who had never
been outside of her house since her marriage, forty years before, and
who begged her to tell her something about the flowers, saying, "Ah, you
are happy women, free to go here and there and enjoy life!"

Many people who know only the outside of Egyptian life, when they hear
that the women have jewelry and beautiful dresses and servants to look
after every want, say they are happy and contented in their seclusion,
but those who visit them in their homes and talk with them in their own
language know how they writhe under it, how they weary of the idleness
and monotony forced upon them. One little woman, forced to spend her
life behind closed shutters, would feign illness so as to get an
opportunity to call in her friend, the lady missionary doctor, and, when
rebuked, would laughingly say, "What am I to do! I must see somebody to
pass away the time and I like to have you come to see me, but you won't
come unless I send you word I am ill."

It seems part of the nature of the Egyptian to distrust his womenfolk
and to believe them capable of any misdemeanor. Therefore they must be
carefully watched and kept in check. This distrust reacts upon the
nature and character of the women, often making them truly unworthy of
trust, but many of them are very sensitive on the subject and feel
keenly this unfair position into which they are thrown.

What has been said about the strict seclusion of Egyptian women refers
chiefly to the middle and upper classes, for the poorest women, those of
the peasant class, have the greatest freedom. They go about unveiled and
manifest a character of marked independence and self-reliance, but they
are ignorant beyond description, such a thing as books and schoolroom
being unknown quantities to them, and their lot is a life of drudgery.

Many of the village women labor in the fields from early morning to late
at night, especially during the cotton season, seven or eight months of
the year.

During the cotton-ginning season many women and girls work from 4
o'clock A.M. to 9 o'clock P.M. in the cotton-ginning mills. Those in the
vicinities of larger towns are vendors of fruit, vegetables, milk,
cheese, and butter. On market days great troops of village women can be
seen on the country roads, their wares in big baskets on their heads,
their babies perched astride their shoulders, wending their way to town.
Those who live in the larger towns are often employed as hodcarriers for

Their powers of endurance are marvellous. It is a common occurrence for
a woman to go out to pick cotton as usual in the morning and to come
back in the evening, carrying her basket on her head and in it her
new-born babe, and it has been known for a woman to start to town with
her marketing on her head, be detained an hour or two by the roadside
till she gives birth to her child, then with it continue her journey.

Besides being a drudge the peasant woman is nearly always a slave to her
husband. Of course she does not eat with him; if she goes out with him
she walks behind him while he rides the donkey, which it is her duty to
keep moving at a good pace by prodding with a sharp stick. If there is
anything to carry she does it. He does manage to carry his own cigarette
and walking stick! Often, too, she has to exercise her wits to tell her
lord amusing stories for his entertainment as they journey by the way.
One day some tourists met just such a couple on a country road. The poor
woman was trudging along with a big child sitting astride her shoulder
while its father rode the donkey. The suggestion was made that the child
might ride if its mother couldn't. To the credit of the smiling-faced
peasant the suggestion was followed.



Unhappy marriages are a natural result of the seclusion of women in
Egypt. It would be highly improper for a man to see his bride until
after he had married her. He has not even had the privilege of choosing
her. His mother did that for him, and it goes without saying that the
young man is not always suited. The story is told of a young man who at
his wedding feast was sitting so glum and silent that his young friends
teased him by saying, "Brother! brother! Why so sad on this joyous
occasion?" In answer he said, "I have just seen my bride for the first
time and I am woefully disappointed. She is ugly! tall, thin, and
weak-eyed." The tall "daughter-of-the-gods-girl" is not admired in
Egypt. Her short, fat, dumpy little sister is much more according to
Egyptian ideas of beauty. "Cheer up! cheer up!" said his friends, "you
are not such a handsome fellow yourself that you should have such a
handsome wife!" Shaking his head sadly, he said, "I feel like heaping
ashes on my head. If you don't believe me that she is ugly, go upstairs
and peep in at the Harem window and see for yourselves." Glad of the
chance of such a privilege, they did so and came back saying, "Brother,
heap more ashes on your head!"

Frequent divorce is a natural result of these unhappy marriages. Divorce
in any land is a social evil but in Egypt it is especially so, because
the divorce laws are such that in a peculiar way woman is degraded by

It is difficult to obtain exact figures regarding the percentage of
divorce, as all cases are not recorded. There are some who say 50 per
cent. of marriages end in divorce, others say 80 per cent., and a
prominent Moslem when asked said 95 per cent. An experienced missionary
when asked her opinion, said, "Divorce is so common that to find a woman
who lives all her life with one husband is the exception."

In fact it is such an exception that it is a subject for remark, and a
visitor in a house where such happy conditions exist never fails to be
told about it.

Many women have been divorced several times, and a woman of twenty years
of age may be living with her third husband.

A native Bible woman who had worked among Mohammedans for fourteen years
when asked, "How many men or women of twenty-five years of age she
thought likely to be living with their original partners?" said, "Do you
mean that they should have kept to each other and that neither has been
divorced or married anybody else?"--"Yes." She laughed and said,
"Perhaps one in two thousand."

This was probably an exaggeration, but it shows that divorce is very
common, and that the percentage is even higher than those who love Egypt
and her people like to admit. It almost seems that the history of one's
Mohammedan acquaintances in Egypt might be given in an endless stream of
incidents about divorce and the intrigue and hate and jealousy attendant
on this, the greatest social evil of Egypt.

Many a young man has no hesitation about marrying and divorcing, keeping
up the process for a year or so till he at last finds a wife to suit
him. If it didn't degrade those he has cast aside, he might be excused
for doing so, as he has had no chance to choose his wife intelligently.

A young man of some spirit was determined to have a wife to please him
and who would be congenial to him. Seeing no other way to accomplish it,
he married and divorced in rapid succession six times. The seventh was a
queenly young woman, gentle and refined in all her ways, in whom the
heart of her husband might well rejoice, yet the terror daily hung over
her that she might be divorced in time like the other six. It was
pathetic to see how she tried to cultivate every little feminine art to
please her husband, how she tried to improve her mind so as to be a
companion to him, but constantly with the fear of divorce lurking in her
tender and loving heart.

Among the lower classes marrying and divorcing in rapid succession is a
form of dissipation. When pay-day comes, instead of going off on a big
drink (which, to the credit of Islam, is forbidden), they use their
money to defray the expenses of a season of debauchery, marrying and
divorcing as many wives as possible while the money lasts. Picture the
degradation of the poor women who are the victims (often unwilling
victims) of such orgies.

It would be interesting to bring in here everything that Mohammedan law
says about divorce, but the rules are many and complicated and almost
too revolting to put into words. It is enough to say that the husband
may divorce his wife without any misbehavior on her part or without
assigning any reason. It is all left to the will and caprice of the man,
and he has only to say, "Woman, thou art divorced," or he can even use
metaphorical language which must be understood by the ever-on-the-alert
wife to mean divorce, as when he says, "Thou art free!" "Thou art cut
off!" "Veil yourself!" "Arise, seek for a mate!" etc., etc. A certain
man had been away for a week or so on a business trip. He came home and
the first words he said to his wife, were, "I thought you had gone home
to your father's house!" She understood him to mean, and rightly too, "I
divorce thee!" so she packed up her things and went off.

If a man pronounce his sentence of divorce only once or twice it is
revocable, but if he pronounces it three times it is irrevocable, and
the divorced wife cannot be taken back by her husband till she has been
married to another man, has lived with him and been divorced; then her
former husband can take her back. This is the most revolting and
degrading of all the divorce laws, and the prophet Mohammed instituted
it thinking that the very repulsiveness of it would act as a restraint,
but strange to say it only seems to give more license.

A man will get into controversy with his friends perhaps. To strengthen
his statements he uses all sorts of oaths, the strongest of which is, "I
divorce my wife by the triple divorce." It takes legal effect. The poor
man is in great distress, for he really loves his wife. What is he to
do? He must go through the process of law to get her back. He hires a
servant or a strange peasant to marry her. The revolting part is that
the poor woman has to live with this hired husband till he is again
hired to divorce her, when she is free to go back to her former husband.
This case actually happened, and many like it with varying circumstances
might be related, although it can gladly be said that the irrevocable
divorce is not of such frequent occurrence as the revocable.

Some incidents will illustrate the various circumstances which cause
divorce or are excuses for it.

Abraham, the carpenter, came to his employer one day asking for an
advance of wages. "Why?" was asked. "I am going to get married," he
said, "and it costs much money." Then he proceeded to relate his
domestic troubles, how he had lived with his one wife sixteen years,
explaining that he deserved much credit for doing so, seeing that his
father during his lifetime had indulged in thirty-nine wives, but that
he had come to the point where he must divorce this wife as she really
did talk too much, so of course he would have to marry another.

A happy young mother had one little son whom she loved dearly. He was
accidentally burned to death. The poor grief-stricken mother mourned and
wept so much and so long that she became nearly blind. Because she had
no more children, her husband divorced her. In time she talked of
marrying again. The missionary who had visited her often and comforted
her in her sorrow, remonstrated on the grounds of her former experience.
She answered by saying, "A divorced woman must either marry again or
else live a life of sin."

A poor little child-wife received such injuries at the birth of her
first child because of the ignorance of those who attended her at the
time that she became an invalid, consequently her husband divorced her.
She heard of the Mission Hospital, where she might receive kindly
treatment. She was admitted and cured by an operation. Her husband then
restored her to his loving heart and home.

In a certain town there was a little family where there seemed to be
plenty of conjugal happiness in spite of so much that is often said
about the impossibility of such a thing in a Moslem family. The little
wife was beautiful, bright, and intelligent, being fairly well
educated; and was able to make her house into something like a real
home. They were blessed with a family of interesting and promising
children. The father was wont to boast that he a Mohammedan could verify
the fact that such a thing as a perfect home could exist under Islamic
conditions. But temptation came his way. He divorced his beautiful
unoffending wife to marry the temptress, who though rich and of a high
family (which was her recommendation and considered sufficient excuse
for his base action), was ignorant and ugly, the only thing which seemed
to give him any pangs of regret.

There was a man who was fairly well-to-do and was considered by his
neighbors as being very respectable. The first wife was a very nice
woman but had no son, so her husband divorced her and married a second.
Still there was no son, so he married a third. It was believed he did
not really divorce the second wife, but pretended to do so to please the
third, who would not consent to being one of two wives. After a while a
son was born to the third, and so his first wife was brought back to the
house as nurse to the child. She was the most ladylike of the three
wives, but she had to carry the baby and walk behind the mother like a
servant. When the baby died the parents quarrelled. Number three left
the house and went into the country. The husband at once brought back
number two, whereupon number three returned in a rage and number two
was turned out of the house. On the next quarrel with number three the
man married a fourth time--a girl younger than his daughter by his first
wife. About this time he met the Bible woman in the street and asked her
why she did not visit his house as usual. She replied, "I do not come
because I never know which lady to ask for."

The house of Ali might be supposed to be rather a religious one, for the
mother of the family has performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and one of
the sons is a howling dervish. Here we were introduced to a young bride,
wife of a brother of the dervish. Calling again a few months later we
found another bride, the one we had seen on our former visit having been
divorced. The third time we went the first wife was there again and the
second had been divorced. The woman had been married to another man and
divorced by him during the short time of separation from the first
husband, and when the latter wished to have her back her parents could
not agree about allowing the marriage and quarrelled so much that they
divorced each other! The time occupied by these proceedings was between
a year and eighteen months. Here were six persons concerned, and four
marriages and four divorces had taken place. A baby had arrived on the
scene, but its parentage was a mystery in the mix-up.

It is quite usual for a woman to be divorced before the birth of her
first child, and we could not but feel sympathy with the poor young
mother who under such circumstances called her baby "Vengeance."

Love, the best and most holy of human joys, has been almost strangled to
death in Egypt by the institution of divorce, and the family can seldom
be considered a community of common interest. As one woman was heard to
say, "We go on the principle of trying to pluck or fleece our husbands
all we can while we have the chance, since we never know how soon we may
be divorced."

It has been said that the character of a nation cannot rise above the
character of its women. What can be expected of a nation when hate and
jealousy are the ruling passions of its women, of its mothers who
nurture and train up its young!

The question has been asked what is the condition of the children of
divorced parents. According to the law the mother is given an allowance
by her former husband on which to bring up their children to a certain
age; then they are his. If they are girls they often are allowed to
become servants to the mother's successor, although there are fathers
who do have enough natural affection to give the daughters of a former
wife the proper place in the house. The allowance given a divorced woman
when she has children is most often a mere pittance and too often she
never gets one at all. She marries again and the children live with
grandparents or other near relations or even alternate between the
houses of the remarried father and mother, thus becoming mere little
street waifs who have no definite abiding place. They certainly do
suffer from neglect, but seldom are they victims of deliberate cruelty,
although such cases are not unheard of.

The distressing screams of a child once attracted the attention of a
family; on investigation it was discovered that the Mohammedan neighbor,
who had just brought home a new wife encumbered with her little
four-year-old daughter, had been cruelly ill-treating the little mite by
shutting her in a dark cellar for hours at a time.

The moral effect of divorce on the children is very bad. They often seem
to have an inborn passion of hatred and jealousy. The head mistress of a
school for girls said she had often noticed how little gentle affection
and love seemed to exist between Mohammedan sisters. These passions are
also trained into them, for they constantly hear their parents spoken
against and see the jealousy that exists between their mothers and the
wives who have supplanted them.

The children of divorced parents, being neglected and not having any
settled home, generally grow up in ignorance, because they do not stay
long enough in one place to go to school regularly. A school was
established in a Mohammedan quarter of a large city with a view to
reaching the people in that district, but they were of a class whose
social system was in such a constant state of upheaval by divorcing and
marrying new wives that it was quite impossible to keep the children in
school long enough at a time to make any impression upon them. When
asked why a certain Zeinab had not put in her appearance, "Oh, she has
gone to see her mother who lives across the canal."--"Where is
Tantaweyah to-day?"--"Gone to stay with her father awhile in another
village."--"What can be the matter with Kaleela?" the teacher asks. She
knew Kaleela loved school and would not stay away without an excuse, and
she knew that her father wanted her to stay in school, but she had a
suspicion that the new wife at home had been the means of putting a stop
to Kaleela's schooldays. Her suspicion was true, for the new wife's new
baby required a nurse.

The institution of polygamy like that of divorce is a natural
consequence of the strict seclusion of woman, for it would be unfair to
a man to be put under the necessity of taking a wife he had never seen
without allowing him some license should he be disappointed in her. In
fact, polygamy was the original institution, a relic of the ancient and
more barbarous times, Jewish as well as Heathen. By making polygamy a
religious institution, the Prophet preserved a relic of barbarism.

Yet even among Mohammedans polygamy is a dying institution. Its
death-blow has been struck because educated Moslems are beginning to be
ashamed of it and doctors of Mohammedan law are beginning to interpret
the law to mean that Mohammed allowed a man to have four wives on the
condition that he could treat all alike; and since human nature makes
that condition next to an impossibility therefore Mohammed meant for a
man to have only one wife! Many educated Mohammedans in Egypt are taking
this position. Among the middle classes the difficulty of supporting
more than one wife at a time is decreasing polygamy. But by no means is
polygamy an unheard-of thing, even if it is going out of fashion.
Fashion is always slow in reaching the country places, and it seems to
be in the country villages that polygamy seems to be more generally
practised. Two brothers, representative country-men, wealthy and
conservative, were known to have very extensive harems, each one having
twenty-four wives and concubines.

Many fruitless attempts have been made to defend polygamy and to defend
the prophet of Islam for preserving it, but, as a careful student of
social and moral ethics has said, "To an ideal love, polygamy is
abhorrent and impossible," and when ideal love is impossible to the
wife's heart she is degraded because the passions of hate and jealousy
will quickly and surely take its place.

The Arabic word which is applied to a rival wife is "durrah," the root
meaning of which is "to injure," "to harm." This appellation certainly
shows that the fellow-wives are not expected to be on terms of amity
with each other.

The most common excuse for taking a second wife "over the head" of the
first wife, as expressed in Arabic, is that she has failed to present
her husband with a son. To die without a son would be a great disgrace,
so he takes his second wife. A well-educated, pleasant-spoken Moslem
sheikh, who was teaching some new missionaries the Arabic language, was
just on the point of marrying. Being much interested in the young man,
one of the missionaries took occasion to impress upon him some of his
moral duties toward his new wife. Among them that he should never take
another during her lifetime. "Yes, honorable lady, I promise to do as
you say if God is willing and she presents me with a son, otherwise
against my will I must take a second."

A missionary lady and a Bible woman were making some house-to-house
visits in a little country village. As they were going through the
street two smiling-faced women standing together in the door of their
hut pressed them to enter and pay them a visit, too. In the course of
the conversation it turned out that they were fellow-wives. "Have you
any children?" was asked of the older. "No, neither has she," was the
quick response indicating her rival with a nod of her head. Their common
disappointment in not having any children seemed to draw them together
and they seemed more like sisters than rival wives, but if one had a
child and the other not there would have been some quarrelling and

As can be quite easily understood it is rarely possible for fellow-wives
to live together in the same house. In one village there were two
houses quite near each other. One was known as the "house of Hassan";
the other as the "little house of Hassan." The former is the family
house, and the other is hired by one of the sons for his second wife,
the first wife being in the larger dwelling. The quarrels are so
incessant that it is difficult for any one to be friendly with both
parties, and the second wife is ruining her health with inordinate
smoking "to kill thought." She seems very lonely and dull, but says the
arrangement is good, for when her husband is vexed with her he goes to
the other house, and when vexed in the other house he comes to her, and
she added, "If we lived together and he were vexed with both at once, he
would have to sleep in a hotel!"

A Bible woman was wont to visit two young women who lived in a large
apartment house, on different floors one just above the other. At first
they were believed to be the wives of brothers, but they were so much at
variance with each other that neither would enter the apartment of the
other, so had to be taught and read to separately, much to the
inconvenience of the teacher, who could not understand why two
sisters-in-law, as she thought, could not meet together to read. She
soon discovered that they were both wives of one man and that jealousy
was the cause of the disagreement.

Child-marriages have always been considered one of the curses of the
East. In Egypt thirteen is about the average age at which the girls are
married, but one is constantly meeting with cases of marriage at a much
earlier age. A woman of twenty-five, prematurely old, seemed to take
great delight in telling of her marriage when she was only seven years
old, about as far back as she could remember. Another often tells the
story how she escaped being married when she was only eight years old.
The guests were all assembled, the elaborate supper had been enjoyed by
all, the dancing women had been more than usually entertaining; the time
for the bridal procession came around, but where was the bride? Her
father searched all through the house for her. At last he found her
lying asleep in the ashes in the kitchen. His father heart was touched
and he said to those who followed him, "See that baby there asleep! Is
it right to marry her?" At the risk of bringing great disgrace upon
himself, he then and there stopped the marriage and the next day started
her off to school. This custom of child-marriage is one of the very
fruitful causes of the ignorance of the women.

Ignorance and superstition always go hand in hand and they jointly are
both a cause and an effect of the degradation of women in Egypt.
Superstition might almost be called the religion of feminine Egypt. The
people have many curious beliefs about the influence of the "evil eye"
and as many curious charms to protect them from this influence. Many
mothers will not wash their children for fear they may be made
attractive and thus fall under the influence of the evil eye. One woman
never compliments another woman's child for the same reason. Two women
were companions in travel on the train; by way of introducing the
conversation, one said to the other, "What is that ugly thing black as
tar in your arms?" The other smiling held out her little baby. "Ugh! how
ugly!" said the first woman. "Is it a boy or a girl?"--"A girl," said
the mother, but it was quite understood that it was a boy. Boys on
account of the very high premium put upon them in Egypt are considered
to be very much subject to the influence of the "evil eye," so often he
is dressed as a girl and called by a girl's name till he reaches the age
when he rebels.

The social evils of Egypt are endless, but there is a hope of better
things for the future. One of the characteristics of the "New Egypt" is
a reaching out after higher ideals. The ideal of the marriage relation
is rising, the educated young Egyptian is beginning to claim his right
to choose his own bride, thus making the marriage relation more stable
because the grounds of compatibility are surer. With this change of
ideas on the marriage question and because an educated man would rather
choose an educated wife, there is a growing demand for female education.

The evangelical community has the reputation of being the best educated
class of people in Egypt. The last census of all Egypt showed that only
forty-eight in one thousand could read. A special census of the native
evangelical community showed that three hundred and sixty-five in one
thousand could read. The census also brought out the fact that in the
evangelical community female education has taken a great step in
advance, showing that while in all Egypt only six women in one thousand
could read, in the evangelical community two hundred in one thousand
could read.

It would be interesting to take a peep into some of the homes of these
representative Christian women and see for ourselves how a Christian
education has developed those wives and mothers into true home-makers.
First let us get acquainted with the dear old grandmother who has just
been on a visit to her son and his family who live in our city. She and
her son have come to make us a farewell visit before she leaves for her
native town. Her feeble voice, her slow step, her dimmed sight, the
appealing marks of old age interest us in her. The goodbye kiss and an
affectionate pat from her withered old hand draw our hearts to her, the
tender filial light in the eyes of her son tells us that this gentle
little old lady has been a power for good. After they leave we learn in
conversation with those who know the story of her life that she is one
of the faithful mothers who has endured much persecution, separation
from friends, leaving a home of wealth and influence for one of poverty
all for the sake of Christ. The best commentary on her life is the
beautiful Christian home of this son, where his sweet ladylike little
wife presides over their family of clean, well-ordered children with all
the gentle dignity of a real queen. We are perfectly at home with them,
for we see nothing but what accords with our ideal of a real home.
Without any previous information it would be easy to know that this home
is a Bethel where Christ delights to dwell.

Let us go to a distant town far up the river and visit an old couple who
have spent many years in God's service. Their lives are a perfect
illustration of what Christ can do for a life. Reared under all the
tenets and principles of Islam and not being converted to Christianity
till they were mature in years, it might be doubted whether a complete
change could be wrought in their lives. It did not come all at once, God
works out some of His greatest changes in lives slowly and quietly, a
"growing up unto Him in all things." The story of the growth of these
two followers of Christ is long and interesting. It is enough to know
that they have attained to that point where they can truly be called a
"holy temple in the Lord." Their home is a model of Christian happiness
where "cleanliness and godliness" dwell together. Their lives are lives
of service for their Master. The daughter of this home, a woman of rare
beauty, carefully brought up and well educated, is one who although yet
young in years has had a marked influence for good in Egypt, first as a
teacher in a large girls' school, then as the honored and much loved
wife of the pastor of a flourishing evangelical church. To visit her in
her home, to see her in the midst of her little sons and daughters, to
join with the family in the evening meal which has been prepared by her
own hands, to hear her talk of her work among the women in her husband's
large congregation makes one reverently breathe a prayer of thanksgiving
to God that He has let us have a glimpse of the possibilities of
Egyptian womanhood.

All up and down the valley of the Nile can be found women from this
representative two hundred in different stations of life; and each one
filling in a womanly way her position. Generally she is a wife and
mother, but a true home-maker whether she be the wife of a noble or a
peasant. Sometimes she is a servant, faithful, honest, and helpful;
often she is a teacher throwing out great circles of influence, which
are widening out till thousands of Egyptian women will be reached.
Sometimes she is a humble soul who gives herself over entirely to the
service of her Master.

Such a one was Safsaf, converted at the clinic. Her husband had cast her
off because she was nearly blind. Her great desire was to learn to read.
She was presented with a primer and New Testament when she returned to
her village after being in the hospital three months. Who would teach
her to read? She begged a lesson at every opportunity from those in her
village who had a little learning. No one imagined that she was such an
earnest Christian till she soon mastered the reading and after going
through the New Testament three times, she began to teach the very ones
who had taught her, rebuking them for their sins. They cursed her,
saying, "Did we teach you so that you would accuse us!" Her old father
learned the truth through her teaching. He then arranged their little
hut so that she might hold meetings for women. Her influence among the
women and children was wonderful and everybody began to recognize it.
Through her efforts a boys' school was started and a capable teacher was
secured. The greatest desire of her heart was to have the ministrations
of an evangelist in her village. She mustered up courage to go to the
meeting of Presbytery and present the request. This was a daring and
unheard-of thing for an Egyptian woman to do. But the members of
Presbytery were much affected by her pleading and granted her request.
The next thing was to get a church; she gave her own little bit of
ground, her all, then begged money to build the church on it. In
addition to these wider interests, she faithfully and lovingly fulfilled
home duties. Her sister, an ignorant, selfish, and very superstitious
woman, was her great trial. This sister became ill, so she took her to
the hospital. The doctors told her there was no hope. She begged them to
allow her to remain. Safsaf spent days and nights praying for her
sister's recovery. She began to mend, and the prayers of her devoted
sister at her bedside that she might be restored so as to have an
opportunity to learn of God and become a converted soul, led her to
accept Christ as her Saviour.

The life of this humble, quiet-spoken, earnest-hearted, patient, loving
woman, who lives close to Christ, is exercising an influence in her
native village which even men wonder at, but only God knows how
far-reaching it is.

The possibilities of the Egyptian women are great either for good or for

It is said that Ismail Pasha, the grandfather of the present Khedive,
who in his day ruled Egypt with a tyrant's hand, was himself ruled by a
woman. His mother, a woman of strong character, was the power behind the
throne. Much has been said about the downtrodden condition of Egyptian
women, and none too much. Islam puts its heel on the neck of woman. It
debases and despises her. But there is another side to the picture.
Woman was born an invincible spirit, which even the yoke of Islam has
not been able to crush. And in Egypt scarcely less than in lands where
she is more honored, she exercises a sway that can neither be denied or
despised. The lords of creation--and that the men of Egypt feel
themselves decidedly to be--yield to their women far more than a casual
observer or even they themselves imagine.

An illustration of this is seen in connection with the mourning customs.
The government, and in the case of the Copts, the Church also, has
interfered to break up the violent mourning of the women at the time of
deaths. Yet very little have they yielded.

This is only one of a thousand instances in which, despite all
restrictions, they do as they please. But their influence reaches to far
deeper things. They cling to superstitions and a false faith with far
more tenacity than do the men. They bring up their children in the same
way. It is they who make the marriages for their sons; and they rule
their daughters-in-law. They keep many a man from acting up to his
religious convictions, and drag many a one back to the denial of his
faith. They submit in many things; they are weaker, but it is true that
work for women lies at the very foundation of mission work. An Egyptian
once said in answer to a statement that the primary object of Mission
schools for girls was to lead them to Christ, "If you get the girls for
Christ, you get Egypt for Christ."



"Hasten the redemption of woman ... by restoring her to her mission of
inspiration, prayer, and pity."


What are the women like? Are they pretty? How do they bring up their
children? How do they keep their homes? Do you like them? Are they

Such are a few of the many questions which are put to the traveller and
resident in Egypt, by those interested, for various reasons, in the land
and its people.

How differently these questions can be answered. The ordinary tourist
sees the black-robed figures (with features invisible except for two
eyes peering over a black crape veil) walking in the streets of the
cities, or driving sitting huddled together on karros,[A] and he remarks
on the discomfort of the costume and the cleverness with which they
succeed in balancing themselves on the jolting springless carts. Or
again he sees ladies of the upper class driving in their carriages and
motor broughams, wearing indeed the inevitable "habarah" and veil,[B]
but the former cut so as to well expose the upper part of the person
which is clothed in rich satins and adorned with sparkling jewels, and
the latter made in such fine white chiffon and hung so loosely over the
lower part of the face only, that the features are distinctly visible;
and he marks with a smile the effort made by woman to emancipate herself
from customs which deny her the prerogative of attracting admiration to

    [A] Long narrow carts, the sides of which are only very slightly

    [B] The former is the black covering worn by all classes. The poorer
    women make it of two lengths of material two metres long, joined
    together on the selvedge. The ends of one breadth are sewn up and
    form the skirt, while the upper breadth is left to pass over the
    head and fold over the upper part of the person like a shawl. The
    richer, from the middle class upwards, sew the lower breadth into a
    band forming a skirt, and the upper breadth is cut smaller to form
    only a cape fastened on to the waist band at the back, coming up
    over the head, falling by rights over the whole upper part of the
    body, but frequently cut so as to scarcely reach the elbow. The
    latter is worn by the poorer classes; and by many of the older women
    of the better class it is made of black crape and is tied over the
    face from just below the eyes and extends to below the waist; by the
    upper classes and more wealthy it was made in fine white muslin but
    sufficient to disguise the features. Now it is frequently made in


[Illustration: BY THE BANKS OF THE NILE]

Again, perchance, he sees the "fellahah" carrying her water jar with
ease and grace along some rough uneven track; or, may be, in company
with others bearing with agility and strength loads of mud and brick to
the builders, measuring her steps and actions to the music of some
native chant; and he is impressed with the idea of her bright existence
and her powers of perfect enjoyment.

Again he sees her, whether in city or village alike, following the bier
which is carrying all that is left of one who may or may not have been
dear to her, and he hears the shrill death wail, and he notes either the
bitterness of hopeless sorrow, or the hollowness of a make-belief grief;
and he is struck with the demonstrativeness of the women and the
peculiarity of the scene, and will try to get a snap-shot of it on his
kodak, and then he passes on to things of other interest. Thus the
tourist gets to know something of the women, it is true, but all that
lies behind these outside scenes is closed to him, and rarely known.

To the British resident the Egyptian woman is usually less interesting
than to the tourist. The novelty of her peculiarities and
picturesqueness has worn off, and between her and her more fortunate
sisters of the West there is a great gulf fixed. Very rarely is an
attempt made to bridge this gulf; language and customs apparently form
an impassable barrier, and though many English ladies live in Egypt for
years, they never enter an Egyptian house, or speak to an Egyptian

It is therefore left to the Christian missionary to know--and to know
with an ever widening knowledge--what are the disabilities and what the
capabilities as well as possibilities of these daughters of Hagar.

A woman's life may truly be said to have its commencement in betrothal.
Before then she is a child, and the days of her childhood are usually
spent without any form of restraint whatever. Most of her time, even if
she be the daughter of quite well-to-do people, is often spent playing
in the streets, where she learns much that is evil and little that is
good. The one great reason which many parents give who wish to put their
children to school is, "to keep her out of the street, where she plays
in the dirt and learns bad language." But whether she goes to school or
not the life of a little girl except in school hours is a perfectly
free, untrained life in which she learns no morality, not even obedience
to her parents. If she does obey them it is from abject fear of
punishment, when disobedience would inevitably mean a severe beating.
Between the ages of ten to fifteen, usually about twelve and often
earlier, the little girl is betrothed and then confinement to the house
begins. In one hour her life is changed, no more playing about in the
street and acting upon the impulse of her own sweet will, no more for
her the child's delight of spending her millième or two at the
costermonger's cart and then sitting in the gutter to eat her purchase
with face and hands begrimed with dirt; no more for her the joy of
paddling in the mud by the street pump, and climbing and clambering
about wherever she can with difficulty get. No, she is betrothed now,
and her childhood and girlhood are over. Instead of freedom and
liberty, come confinement and restraint. She is not now allowed out of
doors except on rare occasions and then in company with older women, and
her movements are hampered by her being enveloped in "habarah" and

Still she has for a time some little comfort in being the important
person of the community. She is the bride-elect and there is some
excitement in seeing the new "galibeeyahs"[C] and articles of furniture
which are to become her own special property. But then, after a few
short months, sometimes weeks, the fatal wedding day arrives, when the
child-bride is taken away from her mother and becomes the absolute
possession of a man she has often never seen, and knows nothing about.
Her woman's life is begun in earnest, and in very stern reality she
learns what it is to be in subjection, she learns by bitter experience
that she has no power now to do what she likes, and that she is
subservient to another.

    [C] The ordinary dress, cut rather like a dressing gown and made in
    cotton or silk. If the latter, it is usually elaborately trimmed
    with flounces and lace.

Her husband may be kind to her, and in many cases is; but in any case
she is his slave and utterly dependent on the caprice of his nature. If
she herself is fortunate enough to have a man who treats her humanely
there are dozens of others living in her quarter who come to see her,
who are objects of cruelty and malevolence; and so her mind is fed with
histories of intrigue and divorce, of injustice and retaliation, and of
unwritten scandal and sin; until she too, alas! becomes contaminated,
and often brings down upon herself the just wrath and harshness of one
who might have been good to her. History repeats itself: in nine cases
out of ten, she can add her tale of woe to the rest.

She bears her children and nurses them, thankful if they chance to be
boys; she has no heart nor ability to teach or train them; or joy in
keeping them clean and pretty;--she loses two, three, or more in
infancy; those who are strong survive and until they are two or three
years old, take her place in the streets, where the open-air life and
exercise become their physical salvation.

When she is over twenty, she in her turn becomes an elder woman and is
to be seen, usually with a young baby in her arms, walking in the
streets as she goes the round of seeing her friends, wailing with the
mourners at the house of death, weekly visiting the graves of her own or
her husband's relatives, and joining in the wedding festivities of those
who are going to follow in her train.

What wonder that the Moslem man often cries despairingly: "Our women are
all brutish," and has not an atom of respect for her in his heart. In
the few cases where a Moslem man speaks well of his wife, and calls her
"a good woman," he almost invariably attributes her being so to his own
foresight, and diligent insistence in keeping her wholly under his
control, limiting those who come to the house, and not letting her go
out of the house even after she has become an elder woman. Between
thirty-five and forty she is an old woman with grandchildren, and her
life quietly goes down to the grave with all the light and joy long
since gone out of it, and with a dark and hopeless future before it. A
few illustrations from the writer's personal knowledge will not perhaps
be out of place here.

Fatimah had been a day pupil in a mission school for four years. She
could read and write well, and sew, and do fancy work. Her father was
dead, her brother, for some business expedient, arranged a marriage for
her, when she was thirteen, with an old man who had already sons and
daughters much older than herself.

He was a head man in his village and lived some distance from Fatimah's
home. "Do you think it will be a good thing for Fatimah?" said I to the
mother. "What are we to do?" was the reply; "they say he is kind; and
far better to marry her to him than to a young man who will only
ill-treat and beat her; we are very poor and cannot afford to get a
really respectable young man."

The marriage took place, within two months Fatimah had returned home but
was induced to go back again, this was repeated twice and on returning
home the third time, she made up her mind to get her husband to
permanently divorce her. Her mother of course abetted her, and a woman
(as payment for a piece of fancy work she had asked Fatimah to do for
her) promised to bring about the divorce by some plan of intrigue which
she would arrange.

Fatimah's life is blighted; the best that one can hope for is
re-marriage to a poor but respectable man, and to go through her life
with him; but the probabilities are she will be married and divorced
time after time, and each time sink lower in the social scale. She is
not yet fifteen years old.

Aneesah was a little girl of nine, frail and delicate-looking, and an
only child and much petted, but often she seemed possessed by the devil
so naughty was her conduct. At such times her mother would take her and
tie her up, then beat her unmercifully, until the neighbors, hearing the
child's screams, would come to the rescue and force the mother to
desist. The mother has herself shown me the marks of her own teeth in
the flesh of her child's arms, where she has bitten her in order to
drive the devil out of her. What is likely to be the future of that
child? One shudders to think of it.

Many a time in visiting among the very poor I have sat with the women in
an open court, which is like a small yard in the middle of several
houses, in which several families own one, two, or three rooms. In the
court there may be a dozen or more women, unwashed, uncombed, untidy to
a degree; some bread-making, some washing, others seated nursing their
babies:--babies who are as sick and unhealthy as they can possibly be,
their bodies ingrained with dirt, their heads encrusted with sores and
filth, their eyes inflamed and uncleansed, their garments smelling, and
one and all looking thoroughly ill and wretched. It is the rarest thing
to see a healthy-looking baby.

As I have sat amongst them and talked with them, I have tried to reason
with them and point out the advantages of cleanliness and industry; all
admit that I am right and that our habits are better than theirs, yet
none have the heart or the energy or the character to break away from
their customs and their innate laziness and to rise up and be women.

Yet one can hardly wonder at their condition, what chances have they
had? Married at ten or eleven, untrained and untaught, many of them not
knowing how to hold a needle, or make the simplest garment; still in
their teens with two or three children to burden them, whom they long to
see big enough to turn out into the streets and play as they did before
them. Their only interest in life, each other's family brawls and
scandals; their health undermined by close confinement and want of
exercise, is it a wonder that they sink into a state of callousness and
indifference about everything?

I have seen a bright-spirited, energetic, laughing, romping girl of
eleven, turned in one year into a miserable, lazy, dull, inert woman
with her beauty and health gone, and looking nearer thirty than
thirteen. One often does not wonder at such a condition of things,
rather does one wonder when the reverse prevails, and one is able to
realize their possibilities in spite of all their drawbacks. I know of
women, though they are but very few, equally poor and unfavored as those
I have described, who can be found sitting in their own little rooms,
their younger children with them, holding themselves aloof from the
usual gossip, their rooms swept, themselves clean and tidy, their
babies, though not ideal, comparing favorably with the others; their one
apparent trouble, the elder children whom they do not know how to train
and whom they cannot keep out of the streets; unless indeed there chance
to be a mission school in the near neighborhood.

The same state of things pervades all classes of society, though in the
middle and upper classes the Moslems are usually very cleanly both in
their persons and in their homes, but the majority of the women are in
the same low degraded moral state. Life in the harems is spent in
smoking and idle gossip, and things far worse; the wife and mother
there, no less than among the poorer classes, has no idea of
responsibility. She is frequently unable either to sew, read, or write,
and leaves her children to the care of dependents. Her life is merely an
animal life; she is but a necessary article for use in her husband's

A wealthy merchant who has had several wives keeps one in a beautiful
house with every comfort, another wife of the same man is left to live
where she can with the pittance of something like three pence per day.
This is what the Moslem faith allows.

It has been well said "a nation cannot rise above the level of its
women," and this is painfully illustrated in Egypt and in all other
lands where the faith of Islam holds sway. Much is being done to improve
the social conditions of the people of Egypt, but the real sore remains
untouched so long as the teaching of the Koran with regard to the
position of women remains in vogue.

There are many Mohammedan gentlemen who would fain see a better state of
things, and who, like the late Mr. Justice Budrudin Tyabji, of Madras,
devote their efforts to the amelioration of the backward position of
their brethren in the faith, and desire especially the "mitigation and
ultimate removal of paralyzing social customs, such as the seclusion of
women." But their efforts are unavailing so long as they remain
adherents of the Moslem faith, for in obedience to the Koran they can
adopt no other course than the present one.

Let them substitute for the Koran the teaching of the Christian faith,
the faith which alone gives woman her rightful position, and they will
find that she can be a mighty influence for good in the social life of
the nation. Let her take the place ordained for her by the Great Creator
as the "helpmeet" to man, let her fulfil her mission in the world, laid
down in the teaching of the New Testament, to love and influence, to
cheer and strengthen, to pour out her life in the devotion of love and
self-sacrifice, whether as daughter and sister, or wife and mother; then
will the women of Egypt be clothed with "strength and honor" and then
will the daughters of Hagar put on the robe of chastity and the
"adornment of a meek and quiet spirit."

    "She that hath that is clothed in complete steel."

Her price will be "far above rubies," the heart of her husband will
"safely trust in her," her children shall "arise up, and call her



The lot of a Tunisian woman is probably a brighter one than that of many
of her Moslem sisters who have not the privilege of living under the
enlightened rule of a European government.

It is not possible for her, under existing circumstances, to have the
perfect liberty of European women, but should justice not be granted by
an Arab tribunal, she has always the right of appeal to the French
authorities, who take care to see that the laws are rightly

The English-speaking race, accustomed to greater freedom for its women
than any other on the face of the earth perhaps, would find it hard to
be shut up in an Arab house, taking no long country walks, joining in no
outdoor games, knowing nothing of the pleasures of shopping expeditions,
having no literary pursuits, and meeting no men outside the circle of
their relatives; and indeed it is a sadly narrow life. But we must
remember that our Moslem sisters have never known anything better, and
the majority are perfectly contented with things as they are. To
thoroughly appreciate and make a right use of liberty, one must be
trained, there must be education to meet its responsibilities, and
without this its effects would be disastrous. To an Arab lady who never
goes out otherwise than closely veiled, it would be a far greater trial
to walk through the streets with face exposed, than to the European to
cover herself.

Much has been said about the hardships of the woman's being locked in
during her husband's absence from the house. This is not infrequent and
does appear somewhat prison-like; but it is often done solely as a
protection. I knew one woman who preferred to be thus locked in, but
arranged with her husband that on the days of my visits the key should
not be turned on her. And the doors of Arab houses are always so
constructed that, even when locked, they can be opened from inside on an
emergency though they cannot be reclosed without the key.

When I came to this country some twelve years ago, the thing that most
struck me in visiting Arab houses was the cheerfulness and even gaiety
of the women. I had a preconceived picture in my mind of poor creatures
sitting within prison walls, pining to get out, and in utter misery.

Nothing of the kind! What did I find? Laughter, chatter, the distraction
of periodic visits to saints' tombs, or that centre of social
intercourse--the bath. Old women, the scandal-mongers of the
neighborhood, go round to retail their news. (And it will be allowed
that even in England there are many who take a deeper interest in the
doings of their neighbors than in more elevated topics of

Here Jewesses, spreading out their pretty, silken goods to tempt
purchasers, or neighbors who had "dropped in" by way of the roof for a
gossip, not over a dish of tea, but a cup of black coffee. There Arab
women, much like children, quickly shaking off little troubles and
meeting greater trials with the resignation of fatalism, which finds
comfort in the magic word, "Maktoob" (It is decreed), in a manner
incomprehensible to the Western mind.

Is it surprising that I almost accused my fellow-missionaries of
misrepresenting the home life of the people? But I only saw the surface
and had not yet probed the deep sore of Mohammedanism nor realized the
heavy burdens which its system entails.

Let me tell you of three of the heaviest of these burdens: _Polygamy_,
_Divorce_, and the _Ignorance_ which results from complete lack of
education and walks hand-in-hand with its twin-sister, _Superstition_.

_Polygamy_ shall be placed first, although it is not the greatest bane
of Tunisian home life. By Mohammedan law a man is allowed four wives,
but in Tunisia, though it is by no means rare for a man to have two, he
seldom takes more than that number at one time. Occasionally they live
in separate houses, sometimes in different towns, and may be quite
unknown to each other. A Moslem will frequently take a second wife in
the hope of having children, or it may be a son, the first wife being

In other houses one finds under the same roof two wives of one husband,
each having a large number of children. Each wife will have two or three
maid-servants who sit with their mistresses and mingle freely in the
conversation, and, if the family be wealthy, the elder daughters have
their own special attendants. Thus a household may contain a large
number of women who live together more or less harmoniously, and whose
numerous quarrels do not conduce to the tranquillity of the master of
the house. But what does he care as long as he _is_ master and reigns
supreme? There is probably not much affection between him and the wife
whom he never saw before the wedding-day, but he loves his children,
being specially fond of the little ones and showing all a father's pride
in his sons. His hours of recreation are spent at the café or the more
aristocratic rendezvous--the barber's shop--and the charms of sweet home
life he has never imagined.

Year by year, however, Western education is slowly but surely telling on
the Oriental mind. The young men, trained in French schools and imbibing
modern ideas, show a strong tendency to follow the manners and customs
of their teachers, and it is at least considered more "comme-il-faut" to
take only one wife and in some measure copy the European "ménage."

_Divorce_ is, however, the great _curse_ which blights domestic
happiness, and words fail me to describe the misery it brings.

The Moslem population of the city of Tunis is sixty thousand. Setting
aside men and children there remain, roughly speaking, about twenty-five
thousand women, and comparing my own experience with that of other lady
missionaries we are agreed in affirming that the majority of these women
in the middle and lower classes have been divorced at least once in
their lives, many of them two or three times, while some few have had a
number of husbands. In the upper class and wealthy families divorce is
not nearly so common, and for obvious reasons.

I have never known a man to have thirty or forty wives in succession as
one hears of in some Mohammedan lands. A man once told my brother-in-law
that he had been married eighteen times, and I heard of another who had
taken (the Arab expression) twelve wives, one after another; but this
last was related with bated breath as being an unusual and opprobrious

When a woman is divorced she returns to her father's house and remains
dependent on him until he finds her another husband, her monetary value
being now greatly reduced. The quarrel which led to the separation is
sometimes adjusted and she returns to her husband, but _never_ if he has
pronounced the words, "Tulka be thaléthe" (Divorce by three, or
threefold). This, even though uttered in a moment of anger, may never
be recalled, and if he really care for his wife and wish to take her
back again, she must be married to another man and divorced by him
before she can return to her first husband. But the laws relating to
marriage, divorce, and the guardianship of the children, would require a
volume to themselves and cannot be entered upon here.

One is led to ask, what is the cause of this dark cloud of evil which
casts its terrible shadow over so many homes?

No doubt it chiefly arises from the low standard of Moslem morality and
is intensified by the whole basis of the marriage relationship.

Among the upper classes a girl does not often marry till about seventeen
years old, but a poorer man is glad to get his daughters off his hands
at a much earlier age, especially if he can obtain a good dowry in
payment. The girl goes through a form of acceptance, relying on the
representations of her relatives, which are often far from truthful. She
never sees her husband until the wedding day and then, no matter how
old, ugly, or repulsive the man may be, it is too late to refuse; no
wonder that mutual disappointment often ensues, deepening into strong
dislike, which produces constant friction, culminating in a violent
quarrel; as in the case of a young girl whom I knew, married to an old
man, and divorced a few years later through a quarrel over a pound of


The history of the two little girls in the accompanying photograph,
shows clearly the contrast between the life of an English and that of an
Arab child. It was taken about eight years ago at the birthday party of
my little niece, who had been allowed, as a treat, to invite a number of
Arab girls to tea, and was photographed with one who was about the same
age as herself. The one, Dorothy, is now thirteen years old and still a
happy, light-hearted schoolgirl, carefully sheltered from all knowledge
of evil. The other, Fatima, to-day, sits in her father's house,
divorced, desolate, and soured in temper by her hard fate. And, indeed,
her story makes one's heart ache.

Some few months ago she was married to a young man, who, though not yet
twenty, had already divorced his first wife. Still, Fatima's parents
considered that no drawback, since he was in prosperous circumstances
and willing to pay six hundred francs for the charming little bride. The
marriage festivities lasted a week, friends showered blessings upon the
bride and the bridegroom, who were mutually pleased with each other, and
all seemed to augur well for the future.

But, as in the old fairy story, no one had reckoned on the machinations
of the bad fairy who soon presented herself in the form of the girl's
grandmother. The old lady strongly objected to the match on the ground
that a slur was cast on the family by Fatima's being married before her
elder sister, Hanani, who was not so good-looking and had
consequently been passed over by the professional matchmakers. She vowed
to separate the young couple by "working the works of Satan" over them,
which in plain English means, exercising sorcery. But I will tell the
story as I heard it from the mother.

Five weeks after the wedding the old woman contrived to steal secretly
into the bride's room and sprinkle over it a powder possessing the power
of casting an evil spell over those she wished to injure, and, to make
her work more efficacious, she further wrapped a knife with evil charms
and hid it amongst the bridegroom's clothes. Shortly after she met the
young man, and clutching him by the arm, her sharp eyes gleaming from
between the folds of her veil, she hissed: "Know, O man, that I have
bewitched thee and ere long thou shalt be separated from thy bride!" On
entering the house that evening, he complained that he felt as though in
a furnace. It was a cold night and the family were shivering, but he
kept casting off one garment after another, exclaiming that the awful
heat was unendurable and that he was surely bewitched.

This went on evening after evening for a whole week until he declared
that he could stand it no longer, and could only rid himself of his
sufferings by a divorce. Before the kadi he explained that he had
nothing against the girl nor their family, who had always treated him
with great kindness, but he was under the influence of sorcery and must
be divorced. And this statement was accepted as perfectly reasonable.
What astonished me the most was, that the bride's parents exonerated him
from all blame. As the mother said, "I loved him as my own son, but he
could not help it." The old woman had worked the works of Satan over
him, and how could he escape?

This incident shows not only the slender nature of the marriage ties but
also the immense power which _superstition_ exercises over the mind. It
seems to be part of a Moslem woman's very nature, and largely influences
all her life from the cradle to the grave.

Beware, when visiting an Arab woman, of too greatly admiring her tiny
baby, however engaging it may be! Such admiration would surely attract
"the evil eye," and then woe to the little one! The safest course of an
ignorant Roumi (Christian) is merely to glance at her little child and
say, "Mabrouk" (May it be blest).

Is there illness in the house, a message is first sent to the "degaz"
(soothsayer), who writes a magic paper, encloses it in a leather case,
and sends it to the sick one with directions to fasten it on the head,
arm, etc., according to the part affected.

Another favorite remedy is to pour a little water into a basin on which
passages from the Koran are written, and then either drink or bathe with
it as the disease may appear to require.

These powerful remedies failing to restore health, the invalid is next
taken to the tomb of some celebrated "saint." There, offerings are made
and prayers recited. A favorite resort in Tunis is the Zawia of Sidi
Abdallah, situated just outside the city wall. Here a black cock is
sacrificed and a little of its blood sprinkled on the neck, elbow, and
knee of the sufferer on whose behalf it is offered.


Before our house stands a Zawia (saint's tomb), built in honor of a
female saint, and at this tomb one day stood an Arab woman, knocking
gently at the door and crying in piteous tones, "O lady! Heal me, for I
am very ill! I have giddiness in my head! I am very weak! Do heal me!"
The poor creature calling in her ignorance on a dead saint not only
moves the heart to pity but also creates in the mind a wonder as to who
these saints may be, and what has led to their being thus honored.

Let me give you a sketch of a noted dervish, or saint, who has just
passed away. I first saw Sidi Ali Ben Jaber some years ago seated in
front of a café in the Halfouine--the quarter where the late Bey had
built him a house. By his side were native musicians making a discordant
noise while at intervals the holy man was bellowing like a mad bull.
Securing a corner of a doorstep, I managed to peep over the surrounding
crowd and my curiosity was rewarded by the sight of a decrepit, filthy
old man, his bald pate encircled by scant grizzled hair and unadorned by
the usual fez cap. His sole covering was a dirty cotton shirt, open at
the neck and descending no lower than the knees. But what a shirt! As a
mark of saintliness, it had not left his body for years, but had
gradually increased in thickness, for when sufficiently caked with
accumulations of filth and snuff, a clean piece of calico had been sewn
over it. This had been covered by successive layers as required, until
it is just possible that the initiated might have been able to determine
the age of the wearer by the concentric rings of his garment!

Sidi Ali was not always, however, thus seated in state. He would, from
time to time, parade the Halfouine, stopping occasionally to demand a
gift, which was seldom refused. Stories are told of swift judgments
overtaking bold Moslems who slighted the wish of the holy man, and
equally thrilling accounts of deliverance from peril to the Faithful who
granted his desire.

Sidi Ali Ben Jaber once met another Arab, Sidi Ben Faraji, dragged him
into a neighboring shop and insisted on his buying a large and expensive
block of marble with which to embellish the "saint's" house, for that
happened to be the holy man's craze for the time. On his way home Sidi
Ben Faraji had to pass under a bridge, which fell, severely crushing his
left arm, and now was apparent the virtue of his gift to the holy man;
for had he refused to buy the marble as requested, the bridge would
assuredly have fallen, not on his arm only, but on his whole body, and
he would have become a shapeless mass. Our "Halfouine saint" was
sometimes in a violent state of mind. Then, as he approached, the
butchers would quickly hide their meat, the confectioners' display of
cakes became suddenly scanty, while other shops appeared equally bare.

The "saint" might enter a shop, turn the contents into the street, and
work general havoc; the owner not daring to say him nay, but cherishing
the hope of recompense in Heaven to atone for present loss. In cases of
illness, Sidi Ali would be taken to the house of the sick one, and his
presence was said invariably to bring blessing and relief.

He is also said to have foretold the introduction of electric trams, but
this appears to have been only thought of when they had already made
their appearance in the city.

For months the poor old man had been growing feebler, and in the month
of January last he passed away. His death caused general mourning and
lamentation, many women weeping bitterly. The corpse was escorted to the
mosque and thence to the cemetery by various sects displaying colored
silk banners, emblazoned with Koran verses. Crowds pressed round the
bier fighting for a chance of seizing it for a moment and thus securing
"merit" in heaven, and it was only a strong force of police which
prevented the whole being upset. Fumes of incense filled the air,
dervishes swayed in their wild chants till one and the other fell
exhausted, and when the tomb was finally reached the bier was broken
into fragments and distributed amongst eager claimants from amongst the
thirty thousand Moslems assembled.

Such, dear readers, is a Moslem saint, and their name is legion. It is
by the intercession of such as these that the superstitious hope to
obtain earthly and heavenly benefits, and it is at the shrines of such
as these that the poor Moslem women come, in the dark days of trouble,
to pour out their hearts and seek for help and blessing.

Some time ago one of my schoolgirls asked me to go and see her sister,
who had been brought from a neighboring village seriously ill. On
reaching the house I found a young woman of about eighteen stretched on
a mattress on the floor, and sitting by her side, her husband, who was
at least fifty years of age. The poor creature was in great suffering
and evidently too ill for any simple remedy, so I called in the help of
a French lady doctor, who kindly came and prescribed for her.

On going to the house next day, great was my surprise to find that the
medicine ordered had not been given, and the surprise gave place to
indignation when I discovered that the family firmly believed that the
whole trouble was caused by an evil spirit which had taken possession of
the young wife, and that the black sheep, tied up in the courtyard, had
been placed there in the hope that the demon would prefer to inhabit the
body of the animal and might thus be induced to leave its present
abode. Poor young thing! She died not long after, but her friends to
this day believe that they did all in their power to help her, and her
death could not have been averted since it was surely _decreed_.

The veil that shrouds the Moslem home life in Tunis has been raised and
my readers have had a peep at its sadder side, but it is only a peep!
The farther one penetrates the more intolerable its noisome atmosphere
becomes. Deceit and lying are so prevalent that a mother questions the
simplest statements of her own son, and I have seen a mistress insist on
a servant swearing on the Koran before she would accept his word.
Demoralizing conversation is freely indulged in before the children,
till their minds become depraved to such an extent that in our school we
could not allow the girls to tell each other stories or even ask riddles
because of their indecent character; and bad language, even from the
little ones, was a thing with which we constantly had to contend.

And now we, to whom God has given so much light and so many privileges,
are brought face to face with the problem, What can be done to help our
Mohammedan sisters to lift the burdens which mar the happiness of so
many lives?

In the first place it seems to me a necessity that the _man's_ eyes
should be opened to see the true condition of affairs from a Western, or
better still a _Christian_, standpoint, and should realize the larger
amount of domestic happiness he, himself, is losing. And this may be
done by education and the free intercourse with Christian families,
which will give him an insight into the joys of their home circles.

As was before hinted, European education is already cultivating the
intelligence of the upper classes and slowly extending its leavening
influence among the masses. There is an increasing desire, not only that
the boys should receive a good French education, but that the girls
should share its benefits too. Tennyson's words in the mouth of King
Arthur have a new significance:--

    "The old order changeth, giving place to new,
    And God fulfils Himself in many ways."

But this change cannot be accomplished in a day, nor without a struggle
between the old and new systems. This may be illustrated by an amusing
scene I once witnessed.

I was one day sitting in the house of a wealthy Arab whose mind had been
enlarged by travelling in many lands. His eldest daughter was one of the
very few Arab girls I have met who could read and write Arabic
beautifully. I was accustomed to give her French lessons, and she was at
that moment in the opposite room across the courtyard, taking a lesson
from a Jewish music master on a new piano lately sent by her fiancé.

Suddenly two servant girls rushed into the room exclaiming: "Sidi
Mohammed is coming! Here is Sidi Mohammed!" The grandfather, the head
of the family, was at the door, and great would be his wrath should he
see his granddaughter learning music, and above all from a _man_.
Fortunately the old gentleman, being somewhat infirm, could not quickly
descend from his carriage although assisted by his two men-servants, so
that by the time he made his appearance the music master was simply
hidden away in a tiny inner room and the whole family assembled in the
courtyard; ready with profuse salutations, welcomes, and kissing of
hands, to conduct him to one of the principal apartments, _not_ that in
which the Jew was imprisoned. I have often wondered how long the visit
lasted, and whether the musician was as fortunate as myself in being
soon able to beat a retreat.

Yes! the people are ripe for education--but is there not a serious
danger in giving them education and education _only_? Is it not to be
feared that with minds enlightened to see the errors of Mohammedanism,
they will cast off its bonds only to become entangled in the meshes of
atheism and become a nation of "libre-penseurs," so that having escaped
the rocks of Scylla they find themselves engulfed in the whirlpool of

My second illustration represents a poor Arab woman entering a saint's
tomb, over the portal of which is written: "He (God) opens the doors.
Open to us (O Lord) the best door!" And with my Christian readers I
would plead that they would do all in their power both by prayer and by
effort, that while the doors of education and progress are being thrown
wide to these Moslems, the best door--the door of the Gospel--may be
opened also, so that they too may know the glorious liberty wherewith
Christ hath made _us_ free.



"It is useless to plant anything: the earth is dead."

"No, it is not dead, it is only dry."

"But I tell you, it is dead. In summer the earth is always dead: see
here." And the Arab who spoke stooped and picked up a rock-like clod,
that he had hewn with his pickaxe from the trench at his feet. It looked
dead enough certainly; the Algerian soil in August is much the same in
texture as a well-trodden highway. But it is only waiting.

"It is the very same earth that it is in winter," I replied; "all it
wants is water, and water you must give it."

With an Oriental's laconic patience, though all unconvinced, the man
went on with the digging of his trench, and the planting therein of
acacia clippings to make a new thorn hedge where it had been broken

And with a new hope in God my own words came back to me as I turned
away. "It is not dead: it is only dry."

For of all the soils in the world our Moslem soil in Algiers seems the
most barren, while friend and foe repeat the same words: "It is useless
to plant anything: the earth is dead."

But in the face of both--in the face of the hosts of darkness who take
up the words and fling them at us with a stinging taunt--we affirm in

"No, it is not dead. It is only dry."

       *       *       *       *       *

Dry: that we know sorrowfully well; it cannot be otherwise. It is dry
soil because Islam has come nearer doing "despite to the Spirit of
grace" than any other religion; it is, as has been truly said, the one
anti-Christian faith, the one of openly avowed enmity to the Cross of
Christ, the one that deliberately tramples under foot the Son of God.

It is dry also because in the religion itself there is something
searing, blighting, as with a subtle breath of hell. This is true of the
lands where it has laid hold, and true of the hearts,--it is dry.

Dry soil, NOT dead soil. If you were out here in Algiers and could see
and know the people, you would say so too. The next best thing is to
bring you some of their faces to look at that you may judge whether the
possibilities have gone out of them yet or not: women faces and girl
faces, for it is of these that I write. Will you spend five minutes of
your hours to-day in looking--just looking--at them, till they have sunk
down into your heart? ARE they the faces of a dead people? Do you see no
material for Christ if they had a chance of the Water of Life? These are
real living women, living to-day, unmet by Him.


To begin with, the first glance will show their intelligence. Get an
average ignorant Englishwoman of the peasant class to repeat a Bible
story that she has never heard before. She will dully remember one or
two salient facts. Go up to a mountain village here and get a group of
women and talk to them, and choose one of them to repeat to the others
what you have said. You will feel after a sentence or two that your
Arabic was only English put into Arabic words; hers is sparkling with
racy idiom. More than that, she is making the story _live_ before her
hearers: a touch of local color here--a quaint addition there. It is all
aglow. And this a woman who has sat year after year in her one garment
of red woollen drapery, cooking meals and nursing children, with nothing
to stimulate any thoughts beyond the day's need.

And their powers of feeling: do their faces look as if these have been
crushed out by a life of servitude? Not a bit of it. No European who has
not lived among them can have any idea of their intensity: love, hate,
grief, reign by turns. Anger and grief can take such possession of them
as to bring real illness of a strange and undiagnosable kind. We have
known such cases to last for months; not unfrequently they end fatally;
and more than one whom we have met has gone stone-blind with crying for
a dead husband who probably made things none too easy while he lived.

And then their will power: the faces tell of that too. The women have
far more backbone than their menkind, who have been indulged from
babyhood; their school of suffering has not been in vain. In the
beautiful balance of God's justice, all that man has taken from them in
outward rights has been more than made up in the qualities of endurance
and sacrifice that stand, fire-tried, in their character.

And down beyond these outward capacities, how about their spirit-nature?
It may be hard to believe at home, but it is a fact that just as the
parched ground of August is the very same as the fertile earth of
spring, so these souls are the very same as other souls. God is "the God
of the spirits of all flesh." "He hath made of one blood all the
inhabitants of the earth." For IMPRESSIONABLENESS on the Divine side,
they are as quick as in enlightened lands: I think, quicker. It is only
that as soon as the impression is made "then cometh the devil" with an
awful force that is only now beginning to be known in Christian
countries, and there is not enough of the Holy Spirit's power to put him
to flight. There will be when the showers come!

As yet the soil is dry: the womenkind are a host of locked-up
possibilities for good and sadly free possibilities for evil.

The dark side lies in untrueness born of constant fear of the
consequence of every trifling act, moral impurity that steeps even the
children--wild jealousy that will make them pine away and die if a rival
baby comes. Their minds are rife with superstition and fertile in

And while all this has full play, unchecked and unheeded, the latent
capacities for serving God and man are wasting themselves in
uselessness, pressed down by the weight of things. There is something
very pathetic in watching the failing brain-power of the girls. Until
fourteen or fifteen years they are bright, quick at learning; but then
it is like a flower closing, so far as mental effort goes, and soon
there is the complaint: "I cannot get hold of it, it goes from me." Once
grown up, it is painful to see the labor with which they learn even the
alphabet. Imagination, perception, poetry remain, and resourcefulness
for good and evil, but apart from God's grace, solid brain power dies.
Probably in the unexplored question of heredity lies the clue; for at
that age for generations the sorrows and cares of married life have come
and stopped mind development till the brain has lost its power of
expansion as womanhood comes on. Life is often over, in more senses than
one, before they are twenty.

The story comes before me of three warm-hearted maidens who a few years
ago belonged to our girls' class: the eldest came but seldom, for she
was toiling over shirtmaking for the support of her mother and sister.
This sister and a friend made up the trio.

Their mothers were "adherents"--we had hoped at one time MORE than
adherents, but compromise was already winning the day: the daughters had
open hearts towards the Lord, all of them in a child-like way.

Where are they now?

They came to marriageable age, and Moslem etiquette required that they
should marry. We begged the mothers to wait a while and see if some
Christian lads were not forthcoming: but no, fashion binds as much in a
Moslem town as in the West End of London.

The eldest girl was carried out fainting from her home to be the wife of
a countryman. He was good to her: his mother became madly jealous.
Within two years the bride fell into a strange kind of decline; when
death came there were symptoms showing that it was from slow poison.

The second to marry was the little friend. At her wedding feast those
who had forced the marriage on, drugged her with one of their terrible
brain-poisons. The spell worked till she could not bear the sight of us,
and hated and denounced Christ.

It wore itself out after a few months and light and love crept back. We
went away for the summer. Before we returned she had been put to death
by her husband. Through the delirium of the last day and night her one
intelligible cry was "Jesus"; so the broken-hearted mother told us. She
was an only child.

The third is still alive, a mere girl. She has been divorced twice
already from drunken, dissolute husbands. Long intervals of silent
melancholy come upon her, intense and dumb, like threatening
brain-trouble. She was playful as a kitten five years ago.

Poor little souls--crushed every one of them at sixteen or seventeen
under the heel of Islam. Do you wonder that we do not consider it an
elevating creed?

And yet they have gone under without tasting the bitterest dregs of a
native woman's cup; for (save a baby of the eldest girl's who lived only
a few weeks) there were no children in the question. And the woman's
deepest anguish begins where they are concerned. For divorce is always
hanging over her head. The birth of a daughter when a son had been hoped
for, an illness that has become a bit tedious, a bit of caprice or
counter-attraction on the husband's part--any of these things may mean
that he will "tear the paper" that binds them together, and for eight
francs the kadi will set him free. This means that the children will be
forced from the mother and knocked about by the next wife that comes on
the scene; and the mother-heart will suffer a constant martyrdom from
her husband if only divorce can be averted. The Algerian women may claim
the boys till seven and the girls till ten or twelve; the countrywomen
have no claim after the little life becomes independent of them for

Look at the awful and fierce sadness of this face: more like a wild
creature than a woman.[D] She has probably been tossed from home to
home until she is left stranded, or wrecked on rocks of unspeakable sin
and shame: for that is how it ends, again and again.

    [D] See illustration opposite page 294.

Turn from her: we cannot have her to be the last. Look once more at a
girl, untroubled as yet. If you want to see what the women could be if
but the social yoke of Islam were loosed from their shoulders, study the
little maidens upon whom it has not yet come. Take one of them if you
can get hold of her--even a stupid one, as this one may be with all her
soft grace--let her expand for a few weeks in an atmosphere of love and
purity. Watch the awakening: it is as lovely a thing as you could wish
to see, outside the kingdom of God.


And if this budding and blossoming can come with the poor watering of
human love, what could it be with the heavenly showers, in their
miracle-power of drawing out all that there is in the earth that they
visit. Oh the capacities that are there! The soil is "only dry."

And in the very fact of its utter dryness lies our claim upon God. "I
will make the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers
of blessing," is His promise. The "season" for the showers in these
southern lands, is the time of utmost drought. It is not in July when
the gold lingers in the grass, but in September when the tangle of the
spring has sunk to ashen gray, ready to crumble at a touch--it is then
that we know the rains are nearing. God's "season" comes when all has
gone down to despair.

So we look round on our Moslem field, and triumph in the dryness that is
so like death, for it shows that we need not have long to wait.

       *       *       *       *       *

But a great fight is fought overhead in the natural world out here
before the rains are set free: the poor dry lands seem to wrestle
against the one thing that they need. Before the clouds burst there will
come days--weeks, perhaps, off and on--of fierce sirocco, hurling them
back as they try to gather. Sometimes they seem on the point of
breaking, and a few drops may get through the heavy air, then back go
the clouds, leaving the brassy glare undimmed. On the fight goes, and
gets only harder and harder, till suddenly the victory is won. The south
wind drops, or shifts to the west, and the clouds, laden now with their
treasure, mass themselves in the east; then the wind wheels to the east
and gets behind them, and in an hour or less, unresisted, they are
overhead; unresisted, the windows of heaven are opened, and the rain
comes down in floods with a joyful splash, drenching the earth to its
depths, and calling to life every hidden potentiality.

A fight like that lies before us in the lands of Islam. It has begun
even now; for we have seen again and again the clouds gather and swept
back, leaving a few drops at best, and these often quickly dried. They
are not yet full of rain, so they do not empty themselves upon the

And it is not from this side that they can be stored: it is not the
thirsty earth that can fill them. They travel from afar, where ocean,
river, and lake can breathe their vapors upward, swept unseen by the
wind that bloweth where it listeth, to the parched places. We need you,
in the far-off, Spirit-watered lands to store the showers. You may be
but a roadside pool, but your prayer-breath may go up to be gathered in
God's clouds and break in His "plentiful rain." When the clouds are full
He will still the sirocco blast of evil that fights it back, and it will
come down with the sudden swift ease that marks the setting in of the
rains here, year by year.

Do we believe that each heaven-sent prayer brings the cloud-burst
nearer? That one last cry of faith, somewhere, will set it free? Do we
act as if we believed it? Shall we give ourselves to hasten it?

And when it comes, we shall see the latent possibilities awake, and the
latent powers assert themselves, and the people of Moslem countries, men
and women, show what they can be and do for Him and in His kingdom. For,
thank God, they are not dead lands, they are "only dry."



The factors in a Moorish woman's life are largely those of her Moslem
sisters everywhere; excepting as exaggerated by the absence of all
English or French influence. In Morocco we have the rugged path Mohammed
allotted their sex painfully adhered to, and any European influence of
other lands conspicuous by its absence. The lack of education, inability
to read, undeveloped powers of thought handed through the generations of
thirteen centuries, are at least not lessened by time or weakened by

The families in which daughters are allowed to read are few and far
between: just an occasional one among high-class government officials,
or a favorite daughter here and there who is destined to support herself
and relatives by teaching the few privileged to learn among the rising
generation. The little girl is seldom welcomed at birth. It is a
calamity she was not a boy. A few years of half-freedom for the
town-child and hasty neglect for the village maiden. Many a better-class
woman enters her home as a bride, in the carriage which so carefully
conceals her, and sees but four whitewashed walls for the remainder of
her days, nor leaves their monotony until carried out in her coffin.
What uplifting or educating influences does the bare windowless abode
(opening only to the central court of the home) exercise? We hear
betimes of the wish to remove the veil and allow more liberty to woman.
In Morocco she is hardly ready for the change, but needs educating and
preparing, ere, with propriety and true modesty, she can take her
rightful place.

Divorce is fearfully common and easy. Plurality of wives is an awful
curse. The chief features of home-life are quarrels, intrigues,
attempted poisonings, and rankling bitternesses.

Slavery is more common than in other countries so near the borders of
civilization, and the possession of these human chattels denotes the
measure of worldly prosperity. Occasionally they find a kindly master,
but, more often, are inhumanly treated and regarded as so much property.
We are frequently urged to treat the slave for illness and so increase
her market value, while the wife, or wives, may suffer unnoticed and

The Moorish woman has little part in religious life. She has no merits
or opportunity of attaining such, unless she be a well-known lineal
descendant of their prophet. Very few learn the prescribed form of
Moslem prayers and fewer still use them. Once and again we find one
going through the positions of prayer and accompanying set phrases.
These women are usually the most difficult to deal with and least ready
for the hearing of the Gospel. One of them, during a medical visit, drew
her prayer mat to a distance lest I defile it and closed her ears with
her fingers to shut out my words. Undoubtedly the _very best_, and often
_only_, way of reaching them is through the dispensary.

Their lives centre largely round the three annual feasts, in preparation
for and enjoyment of them. Every birth, circumcision, wedding, death,
and even serious illness, is an opportunity, for those allowed
sufficient freedom, to receive and pay visits, feast, enjoy the
accompanying minstrels, appear in their most gorgeous dress and
criticise that of others. Meanwhile they engage in empty and profitless
conversation, which too often passes into the injurious both for body
and soul, of young and old, hostess and guests. Much attention is paid
to fashion, and Moorish etiquette is not to be lightly treated or easily

Some of the women figure in the weird orgies of religious sects of a
private and public character. Their wild, dishevelled, and torn hair is
prominent in the Satanic dance of the Aisowia Derwishes, and they vie
with the men in its frenzied freaks, falling finally exhausted to the
ground, unable to rise. But this class fortunately is not numerous. I
was visiting in one of these houses last year in Fez. The occupants were
strangers and had come pleading me to relieve one in very acute pain.
The atmosphere of the room hung heavily over me, I knew not why. Taking
my colloquial Gospel, I spoke of Christ and asked to read. A blank
refusal was the answer. Then the storm broke and during my second visit
I had to rise and leave, asserting my union with Christ and the
impossibility of having me or my drugs without the message of my Master
and Saviour. They have since been, when the violent pain returned,
pleading for relief, but not again inviting to their house. Such uncanny
sense of the immediate presence of the evil one, I have never
experienced, as when under their roof, nor would wish to again. It was
an intense relief to breathe freely in the open air afterwards. Yet two
of our recent converts, and one of them among the most promising, have
belonged to these followers of Satan! Their wild hair is now neatly
braided and they are clothed and in their right minds, sitting with
their converted sisters to learn more of Jesus and lifting up voices in
prayer to Him.

Female slaves, from the far Soudan, are betimes among our bitterest and
loudest opponents during Gospel teaching. They have more courage than
their mistresses and are more outspoken. Yet, even among them, we have
seen notable changes. One, exceptionally well-taught and able to quote
the Koran, met me first with loud contradiction in her Fez home.
Frequent attendance at our medical mission wrought a marvellous change.
Open opposition first ceased. Then an awakening, and at least
intellectual, acceptance of the vital truths of Christianity and
readiness to explain them to newcomers. When she had to follow her
master to the south, we were conscious of losing a friend and helper.
She took with her a Gospel and was followed by our prayers.


Classes for sewing, reading, and singing are important factors as means
of reaching the women and girls. The first of my four years at the
Tulloch Memorial Hospital, Tangier, brought me in contact with a most
interesting woman. Many years she had been under Mrs. Mensink's teaching
and otherwise had known the missionaries. A gradual awakening was
manifest, until, during that year, when ill with pneumonia, I found her
apparently trusting Jesus. One difficulty haunted her, she was ignorant,
could not even read, and her teachers told her Jesus was not the Son of
God;--must they not know best? A few days before her death she joyously
told me of a dream she had had and assured me her last doubt had gone.
In it Jesus appeared to her and proclaimed Himself the Son of God. No
after-cloud damped her joy. The death-bed was that of a consistent
Christian. Her relatives would not own it and buried her as a Moslem in
their own cemetery, with her face towards Mecca.

This year, in one of our inland cities, not a few members of sewing
classes have simply trusted Christ for salvation and now meet for prayer
and instruction with their leaders. A native women's prayer meeting has
been formed, where each of these new converts takes part and learns to
pray. Several also have been led to Jesus through the medical mission
and the visitation of their homes.

An instance of earnest simplicity in prayer occurred in our own home. We
had spoken to a convert about prayer. She said, "I am too old to learn
and too ignorant!" The following day when asked, she replied: "Oh, yes,
I prayed this morning." "And what did you say?" "Well, I did not know at
first, but then repeated the only prayer I knew, the first chapter of
the Koran, and at the end added, 'in the name and for the sake of the
Lord Jesus,' and I thought _He_ would understand it and fill in for me
all I had been mistaken in or unable to tell Him." He truly did so, for
since that time the dear old woman has learned to pray. Grasping my hand
after one native prayer meeting, she said, "Oh, to think of it! three of
us praying together in the name of Jesus; three of us believing in Him."
These were, her married daughter, an only son, and herself. One of these
converts of last spring had typhus fever a few months later and passed
into the Presence of Him whom she had learned to love. Another is
nearing her end and wonders why He tarries so long in coming to take her
to be with Himself.

One day's journey from Tangier on mule-back, lives the first woman I
ever heard pray; consistently she seeks to tell others the little she
knows. A lady missionary, since departed, lived with her a fortnight in
the early days of the North African Mission. She dates her conversion
from that time and, without any resident missionary since, dependent
only upon the teaching of a few days or weeks during an itinerating
visit, she still knows and can explain to others that "the blood of
Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." Nearly all of this year's numerous
converts are the result of much seed-sowing and the patient labors of
long years past, now gathered by prayer into the fold. Not a few of the
sowers have passed to their reward without seeing the harvest which
should be.

We have found medical work a powerful handmaid to awaken interest in the
Gospel story. To our great grief, however, the continued political
unrest, due largely to the presence of the Pretender and rising of the
tribes from time to time, during the past four years, has almost closed
up this highly useful evangelistic and Christ-like work.

The Northern rebellion would have ceased long ago had the present Sultan
honest and energetic soldiers and leaders. Few, however, are impervious
to foreign gold; and no one trusts another, unless he pay well for the
interest in his affairs. The Sultan is a pleasant and enlightened
person, but unable to cope with the surrounding lawlessness
single-handed. Many a tale of bribery and wrong reaches us. The wild
tribes know no other fear than that of seeing turbulent skulls and
rebellious heads hanging upon the city gates. We went down to Fez four
years ago, a few weeks after the violent and sad death of our dear
friend and brother, Mr. Cooper. His only crime in the eyes of the
violent tribesman, his murderer, was that of being a foreigner. Two
weeks after our arrival in the city, Consuls ordered foreigners to the
coast. We had to obey. Six weeks were spent in Tangier and then again we
returned to our scene of labor, the large out-patient dispensary which
treated over eleven thousand cases last year and so reached between two
hundred and one hundred and fifty with the Gospel on Women's mornings,
every day.

Two years ago orders again came to pack up and prepare for emergencies.
The storm blew over and since then the main roads have been practically
safe for ordinary traffic and merchandise. Even the foreigner can
securely take his place in any caravan without fear of ill.

Raisuli's capture of European and American citizens for hostages alarmed
many, but he had sought the Government's recognition of his lawful
Kaidship, and when refused, wrongly determined to claim the same by
force. The strong hand with which he now controls those wild tribes
under his jurisdiction, proves his ability to govern. His justice, if
semi-barbarous, is certainly ahead of that of most of his fellow Kaids.
He reversed the decision of a Moorish tribunal which had wrung from a
poor widow her lawful property, restoring that which had been
unlawfully taken. A few such men in the highest circles would soon bring
order out of chaos and strength to the throne. The English missionary
has had the great advantage of being favorably received by the people on
account of his or her nationality. It stood, to them, for integrity,
strength, and honor. Whatever changes may have taken place during the
last four years to lessen this trust in her, England has still much
favor with the majority. Hers were the pioneer-missionaries, for where
no man would have been trusted or allowed to reside, her lady workers
penetrated. Before any resident Consul, Miss Herdman and her companions
went to Fez and commenced medical work. She won her way into the hearts
of the people and is still lovingly remembered. It was her work which
Mr. Cooper had taken up for a few short years, when so suddenly snatched
from it by a lawless fanatic's hand. The seed sown thus long and
faithfully has lain dormant. Just a few, one here and there, gathered
into the fold; native converts prepared for colportage work; the
building of a foundation on the Rock Christ Jesus. But to those who
followed her has been granted to see the increase, and begin to reckon,
even, on the "hundredfold."

The coast towns have ever been more accessible to the foreigners; yet
alas, where the foreigner is LEAST known the native is most receptive,
courteous, and hospitable. The average colonist, or even tourist, seldom
recommends the Kingdom of God, and the native points to the drink
traffic, so opposed to his religious views, and asks how that is
included in the Christian country's commerce and consumption!

Thus, the farther removed from _such_ Christian influence the greater
the freedom for Gospel work. Tangier was first opened; Hope House being
a partial gift to the North African Mission.

At first both men and women were treated here, but the great
desirability of conforming to Moorish rules of life led to the opening
of a Women's Hospital in the town. Here I did one year's out-patient
work during the absence of the efficient and indefatigable lady
doctor--Miss Breeze--in England. These were largely the ploughing,
seed-sowing days. Since then several have professed conversion. One, on
returning to her village home, was bitterly persecuted and finally, to
escape death, had to flee by night to her former teachers and with them
find refuge. Some four or five of the elder girls in the Moorish
orphanage came out boldly on the Lord's side. The teaching of girls has
been a prominent feature of the work in that city.

Larache, two days down the coast by mule, was permanently opened many
years later, some medical and class work being done, with house to house
visitation. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, our Scotch friends, are independent
workers here.

El Kaar, six hours inland from Larache and two days from Tangier by
mule, is worked from the former by the North Africa Mission, and five
American lady workers of the Gospel Union Mission do good house to house
service in that little town. Its inhabitants are unusually genial and
receptive; these are days of seed-sowing, for the harvest is not yet.
Women's and girls' classes are also held, and prayers are asked for a
few already deeply interested. Some very happy days have I spent working
among Moorish friends there.

House to house visitation is essentially for the women. They are always
"at home," and to them we definitely go since they can so seldom come to
us. Classes have already been a prominent feature of the work in Fez,
and gather larger numbers than is usual in the other towns. This city of
some one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants has been the residence
of the Sultan and his court for the past four years. It is consequently
very full and affords splendid opportunities, having been so freely
opened up by the large medical mission established there.

Early in the year, a mother and her daughter said to me, "We have been
loved into HEAVEN, we have seen the love of Jesus in care and healing
during our sickness, we take Him now as Savior for our souls." These are
living consistently for Him now. Two years ago a prominent theological
professor asked me in the street for medicine. I directed him to the
medical mission. To the surprise of all he came often, listened quietly
from the first, and, ere long, became a decided Christian. His wife, a
noble woman (_sherifa_), is now reading the Gospel with him, saying,
"Yes, I believe that which is written, but, oh! I do want to remain a
_sherifa_!" Not yet can she count all things but loss for the excellency
of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, her Lord.

In an inland town in Morocco, where a number of women had professed
faith in Christ, the question of baptism arose; two were wishing for it.
How could they brave its publicity? One woman had been baptized
privately in Tangier, few, even of the missionaries, knew beforehand it
was to take place--so bitterly were her relatives opposed to the Gospel.
The rite had not been publicly received by any Moorish woman heretofore.
After some eighteen months of constant teaching in preparation, these
two sisters were ready to brave all danger and opposition, and despite
all efforts to foil their purpose, passed through the waters of baptism
unveiled before the assembled native church and foreign missionaries,
and that as bravely and modestly as any Englishwoman would have done.
This was a terrible blow to the devil. He had fought courageously to
avert the calamity to his kingdom, but God heard continued and earnest
prayer that a first public stand be thus taken for Him. The blow has
fallen upon the powers of darkness and this great triumph in women's
work been gained for Him. They now "break the bread and drink the wine"
with their converted husbands and friends "until He come." One of them
received such a spiritual impetus after the step as to make us fearful
lest her boldness endanger life. She brought a formerly bigoted relative
and said, "Teach her, pray with her, she is near the Kingdom!" And so it
proved, for that day she "entered in." When reading the colloquial
Gospel of Luke in one of the highest Government houses, the remark was
made to me, "Why, this is the book and this the story we heard from Miss
McArthur in Morocco city!"

Some of our native colporteurs work with our Scotch brethren and thus is
Christian unity cemented. Dr. Kerr and his fellow-workers have a strong
medical mission in Rakat and a similar one was carried on by the North
African Mission in Casablanca, until the recent death of Dr. Grieve.

Tetuan has long maintained its vigorous out-patient dispensary,
successful visiting in the homes, and numerous classes. Mention should
certainly be made of the great impetus given to labors among Moorish
women by the publication of a Moroccan colloquial version of Luke. With
so few female readers, and the majority of men even, insufficiently
educated to understand the magnificent classical translation into
Arabic, one within the grasp of every man, woman, and child was urgently

Our American brethren have hitherto published only the Gospel of Luke,
which has been so well received, but they hope soon to have in print
other portions, which are eagerly looked for.

You say, "We have heard only of encouraging cases, bright prospects,
and ingathering; we thought it was not so in Moslem lands and especially
among their women." Perhaps it has not been, and even now, only the
beginning of early harvest is in the reaping. Thank God, a grand
wheat-garnering has yet to follow, and those who have labored longest
and seen least fruit will yet divide the spoil. Undoubtedly there are
rejecters of the Cross of Christ, and His bitterest enemies are surely
under the Crescent's sway. At the same time there is tremendous
encouragement for hearts and laborers who can "afford to wait" and have
learned to pray.

Only twice in our vast crowded city (though making from six to eight
hundred visits in the homes yearly) have I been refused liberty to speak
for Jesus and NEVER been denied admittance. There are six sisters in Fez
doing this work from house to house, but HUNDREDS of homes await us
which we are utterly unable to enter. ONE life is so short where the
need is so great, and open doors are on every hand. Most of our fellow
missionaries in other stations would plead in the same words. Doors,
doors, but how can we enter them? At present the people inland are
hardly prepared for the qualified lady doctor. In the bulk of instances
where her skill is most urgently needed, she would be refused. Miss
Breeze, in Tangier, has patiently labored and trained the women to trust
her and submit to the necessary operations.

Away from the coast a similar patience and training are necessary to
prepare the female sex for her valuable assistance. At present the
trained nurse has the fullest scope, and the limits of her powers
represent the willingness of the people for medical work. Sad, indeed,
are those instances wherein a little assistance would undoubtedly save
life, but is refused point-blank on the plea "if the patient
subsequently died the missionary would be accused of murder." At
present, no explanation, no persuasion, can change the fiat. Moorish
law, like that of the Medes and Persians, "altereth not." They are,
however, very susceptible to the influence of drugs, and the simplest
remedies often work cures which by them are regarded as miracles, and
faith in the "Tabeeba" is proportionately increased.

Colloquial hymns are much valued and a standard hymn-book would be a
great boon. I have taken a small American organ with me and sung and
explained the Gospel in bigoted and wealthy homes, where reading it
would not have been possible. In two instances, I took a magic-lantern
with me, from the slides of which plain teaching was an easy task. Once
it was a wedding festival and friends had gathered to the feast. Our
hostess had lived some years in England with her merchant husband, but a
knowledge of English life, or even ability to speak its language, by no
means predisposes to the reception of the Truth. It certainly was not so
in the present instance. A few months ago she said to a fellow
missionary, "I know the right is with you. I well know what I ought to
do---leave Mohammed and accept Jesus--but this would mean leaving my
husband and children--turned out of home and robbed of all! I cannot do
it." One sad instance stands for many: a rejected Gospel!

I once attended a wealthy and influential _sherifa_ dying of
tuberculosis. No English consumptive clings to life more tenaciously
than she did. Everything was at my disposal and courtesy lavished until
she found there was no hope for her life. Then she bitterly turned from
any word of a Life to come and flung herself hopelessly upon her
charm-writers and native crudities until past speaking. Her husband took
a Gospel, and I heard, sat up into the night and studied its contents.
We followed the volume with prayer. To-day news reaches me from the
field that he has died of typhoid fever. Oh! to know he accepted its

Sometimes those cases where I have given longest and most frequent
medical attention, have finally been least responsive to the story of
the Cross. In other instances a single visit awakens interest and the
soul goes on into full light and liberty. Several homes I have closely
visited and watched, hoping to find an entrance for Christ; but not
until some serious illness or other calamity comes are its occupants
sufficiently friendly to hear of God's love in Christ. The lady worker
and constant visitor in her long white native garment (silham), with
veiled face is much safer, humanly speaking, and usually more
acceptable than the foreign worker in European dress. I have even been
asked to climb over the roofs into a house within some sacred precincts,
where infidel foot may not be known to tread, and one patient was always
reached through the stable door, as the main entrance was too near a
so-called saint's place. Again I was asked to see and treat a poor
sufferer, very ill, in the open street, to avoid standing on their holy
ground and defiling the spot.

Probably all I have written is equally true of any Moslem land. The
religion of Islam knows no progress and has within itself only the
elements of decay. Means for the propagation of the Gospel will scarcely
vary. The harem always depends upon the consecrated and tactful sister
to reach its inmates from without. These thousands of homes can only be
entered by the multiplication of the individual worker a hundredfold.

Now is Morocco's day. A few days later and her opportunity will have
passed by forever. Once broken up, or Europeanized in any way, and
civilized nations will, perhaps, "fear the propaganda of the Cross and
the distribution of the Bible lest fanatics be aroused, holy war
proclaimed and bloodshed ensue." At least thus they said when Khartoum
was opened to the merchant, and similarly have thought other nations in
their respective colonies. They have not yet learned that the converted
Moslem is the only one who can be trusted, and the men will largely be
influenced by what their mothers and wives are in the home. They know
not as we do, that, in time of war, unrest, and danger, valuables and
money are brought to the missionary for keeping, and the place of safety
to the native mind is the mission house. To meet, in any degree,
existing needs, or use present opportunities for freely distributing and
reading the Gospel, teaching its precepts and hastening Christ's Kingdom
in "Sun-set land," we must strongly re-enforce every station. Increase
the number of missionaries working under each mission. Send forth women
who have learned how to pray in the home lands to seek these poor sheep
and gather them into the one fold and unto the one Shepherd. The
commencement of this year's unprecedented blessing among women dates
back primarily and supremely to the increased spirit of prayer. At first
even all the foreign workers were hardly alive to this, but persistent
prayer won them one by one. Then followed the united requests for
individual souls, and these too were granted. The Holy Spirit brought us
in contact with those hearts within which He was already working, or
preparing to work, and as a result the Father was glorified in the
Son--souls were saved, and not alone among the angels, but even upon
earth and amid the Church militant.

These babes in Christ need daily tending and teaching as little
children. The work in the hands of those workers already in the field
can scarcely allow any addition, and yet we PRAYED for these; and now
who shall feed them? Not only so, some are still halting between two
opinions, reading the Word and needing the loving hand to lead them
gently over the line; but this individual care is a big task where
women's medical mornings each already bring one hundred and twenty to
one hundred and fifty patients. Surely we shall unite in the prayer to
the Lord of the Harvest, that He send forth laborers into His harvest
and to some--as we pray--He will answer, "Go ye!"



The form of Islam seen in the large centres of population in the Hausa
States is that of a virile, aggressive force, in no sense effete or
corrupted by the surrounding paganism. It has had no rival systems such
as Hinduism or Buddhism to compete with, and until now has not come into
conflict with Christianity. The distinctive characteristics of the
African have, however, tended to increase in it sensualism and a laxity
of morals, and this has stamped, to a large extent, the attitude
_toward_ women and the character _of_ women as developed under its

Social and moral evils, which may have a thin cloak thrown over them in
the East as well as in those lands of Islam in the North of Africa, are
open, and boldly uncovered, in the Hausa States.

Most of what is written in this chapter refers to the Hausa women, who
form by far the greatest number in this country; but it is necessary to
write a few lines first about the Fulani women, who are aliens and of a
different social, political, and racial type.

It is now generally acknowledged that these people--Fulanis--originally
came from Asia, or at least are Semitic.

They are the rulers of all this great empire, and have for a hundred
years exercised a tyrannical rule over the Hausas and the pagan peoples
whom they had succeeded in enslaving before British rule in turn
overcame them. The Fulani women are many of them olive-colored; some are
beautiful and all have the small features, thin lips, straight nose, and
long straight hair associated with the Asiatic. The Fulani rulers,
following the Eastern fashion, have large harems and keep their women
very secluded.

The late Emir of Zaria was terribly severe to all his people, and cruel
to a degree with any of his wives who transgressed in any way or were
suspected of unfaithfulness. In one instance in which a female slave had
assisted one of his wives to escape, both being detected, the wife was
immediately decapitated and the slave given the head in an open calabash
and ordered by the Emir to fan the flies off it until next night!

I have been admitted into the home of one such family, the home of one
of the highest born of all the Fulani chiefs, saw two of the wives and
bowed to them, but the two little girls of seven and eight years came to
call on me. On the whole I was struck with the cheerful appearance of
the wife and the sweetness of the two little girls, but the husband was
a particularly nice man, I should _think_ a kind husband, and I _know_ a
kind father.

I knew one other Fulani lady long after the death of her husband, she
being about sixty-five years of age, and a very nice woman in many ways.
She told me that her husband, although of good family, had married only
her and that they had been happily married for over thirty years when he
died, and she had remained a widow. I fear, however, these are
exceptional cases and that the ordinary life of the women of the ruling
Fulani class is a hard one.

I was once sitting in my compound when a well-covered and veiled woman
came to see me, with the excuse that she wanted medicine. After some
conversation I found it was trouble that had brought her. She had been
for some years loved by her husband but had had no children; so her
husband had married another wife and disliked her now, and she wanted
medicine from me to make him love her again! She begged me never to
mention that she had come to me, saying that her husband would certainly
beat her nearly to death if he knew that she had come out, and much more
so if he knew she had come to me.

The ease with which all Hausa women, but specially those of the middle
and lower classes, can obtain divorce for almost any reason; also the
frequency with which they can obtain redress for cruelty from their
husbands in the native courts, gives them power and a position in the
community not to be despised. A man, for instance, in order to get a
girl of sixteen years in marriage will pay her parents a sum of perhaps
ten or twelve pounds. If at any future time she desires to leave him and
marry another man, she can do so by swearing before the native courts
that they have quarrelled and that she no longer wishes to live with
him. But if that is all she merely gets a paper of divorce and either
herself or her next husband has to refund to the aggrieved former
husband the sum originally paid for her. If, however, she can prove
violence or injury from her husband she has not to pay him anything, but
may even in some cases get damages.

A girl is usually given the option of refusing the man whom her parents
have arranged for her to marry. This is not often done, but I have known
of some cases in which the girl has availed herself of the privilege,
and stated that she prefers some one else, in which case the engagement
is broken and the new marriage arranged at once with the man of her

In the villages, and among the lower classes in the cities, girls are
not usually married until they are about sixteen. Frequently, however,
among the higher and wealthier classes the engagement is made by the
parents when she is much younger, perhaps eleven or twelve, and she is
after that confined with some strictness to the house or else carefully

There is a very vicious and terribly degrading habit amongst the Hausas,
which is known as "Tsaranchi." One cannot give in a word an English
equivalent and one does not desire to describe its meaning. It has the
effect of demoralizing most of the young girls and making it almost
certain that very few girls of even eleven or twelve have retained any
feelings of decency and virtue.

In this the girls are deliberately the tempters, and many boys and young
men are led into sin who would not have sought it. Here one must not
blame the women or the girls, for the original sin is with the men, who,
through the terribly degrading system of polygamy and slave concubinage,
have introduced since centuries that which destroys the purity of the
home, and makes it impossible for the children to grow up clean-minded.
It is a sad fact that the evil effect of this seems to have acted more
on the women and children than on the men.

One feels sorely for the boys brought up in this land without a glimpse
of purity in true home life; with never a notion of a woman being the
most holy and chaste and beautiful of all God's creation, and never
seeing even the beauty of girlhood purity.

One is glad to see that among many of the men there is a growing feeling
that they have lost much in this way; and often in talking to men on the
subject of women and their naturally depraved condition, I have shown
them how, where women are given the place God meant them to have in the
home and in the social and religious life of a people, their character
is always the most regenerating thing in the life of a nation, and that
it is useless for them to wish their women to be different when they do
everything to prevent the possibility. With the boys in my own compound
and under my own care I am bound to forbid all intercourse with girls
because of their evil minds and influence. Of course such a thing is
fearfully unnatural and cuts off from a boy's life all those influences
which we in Christian lands consider so much tend to strengthen and
deepen and soften his character.

It is easy to see from the above the reason why amongst those who are
careful to preserve a semblance of chastity, the girls are carefully
secluded from a tender age and not allowed outside their compounds
except under exceptional circumstances, until the time that they are
about to be taken to the house of the man to whom they have been

This preservation of virtue by force, points to the fact that there is
no public opinion; no love of purity for its own sake; no real and vital
principle in Islam which tends to preserve and build up purity.

A mere lad, the viciousness of whose first wife had led him quickly to
take a second, said to me when protested with for doing it, "Our women
are not like yours, and you can never tell what it all means to us. Even
if we wanted to be good they would hinder us."

The existence of a large class of pagan slave girls, who have been
caught and brought from their own homes and carried into the Hausa
country to become members of the harem of some of the Hausas, also
complicates and intensifies the evil; for this mixture only tends to
lower the standards and make the facilities for sin tenfold easier.

It is not true in the Central Soudan, as is so often stated, that
polygamy tends to diminish the greater evils of common adultery and
prostitution. These are very frequent, and it is perfectly true what man
after man has sadly told me, that no one trusts even his own brother in
the case of married relationships. I am bound to acknowledge, however,
in honesty, that these evils are intensified in the cantonments with
their large number of native soldiers of loose character, and some even
of one's own immoral countrymen.

I have seen very little systematic cruelty towards women or children,
except of course in the slave-raiding and slave markets which are now
happily abolished. Women are able to take care of themselves and
certainly do, so far as I have seen.

The knowledge that a wife may leave at will, that less labor can be got
out of a cruelly-treated slave wife, and that little girls can leave
home and find a place elsewhere, all have tended to make women's lives
freer, and to some extent less hard in the Central Soudan than in North

On the other hand, one is struck with the apparent lack of love, and
forced to the conclusion that a woman is not in any sense, to a man of
the Hausa race, more than a necessary convenience; a woman to look
after his house, have children, and prepare his meals. In old age she is
often abandoned or driven away, or becomes a mere drudge. This is often
the case also with a man, if not wealthy; when old his wives will leave
him, and many a case I have seen of such desolation. Of real love which
triumphs over circumstances of poverty and sickness there is but little;
women will leave their husbands when through misfortune they have lost
their wealth, and go and marry another, returning later when fortune has
again favored the original husband and frowned on the later one.

I met one beautiful exception to this. One of the most beautiful girls I
have seen in the Hausa states, with a really good face and one which
anywhere would have been pronounced pretty, brought her blind husband to
me. When married he had been really good to her, and after one year had
lost his sight. For four years she had stuck to him and tended him and
really loved him, taking him from one native doctor to another, and at
last to me. It was touching to see her gentleness to him and the evident
trust of each in the other. I have never seen such another in the Hausa
country. Yet what possibilities of the future!

Very few girls attain the most elementary standard of education. But
some few _do_ and every facility is provided for those who can and will
go farther, and I have known girls, mostly those whose fathers were
_mallams_, who learned to read and write the Koran well, and who were
considered quite proficient; and at least one case I know of a woman
who, because of her wisdom and education, was entrusted with the rule of
two or three cities in her father's Emirate.

The chief occupations of women are the grinding of corn and the
preparation of food for the family, the care of their babies, who are
slung on their backs, the carrying of water from the well or brook, and,
to some extent in the villages, agriculture, though with the exception
of the poor slaves it is rare to see women overworked in the fields.

They are great traders also, and if not young or too attractive looking,
they are allowed to take their flour, their sweetmeats, etc., to the
markets and trade. Then again when the season for all agricultural work
is at an end, and their husbands and brothers start for the west and the
coast places, for the long wearisome journey which takes them to the
places where they sell their rubber, nitre, and other goods, and bring
back salt, woollen and cotton goods, the women go with them, and it is a
most pretty and interesting sight to see the long row of these young
women, in single file, neatly and modestly dressed, with white overalls
and a load of calabashes and cooking utensils neatly packed and carried
on their heads. They often sing as they march, and coming in at the end
of the day's journey, light the fires and prepare the meal for
themselves and their male relatives, while the latter go and gather the
sticks and grass to make a temporary shelter for the night.


They are tidy, industrious, and lively, and, to any one who did not
understand their language, these women would give the impression of a
charming picture and of many things good and true. But to one who could
hear the conversation, as I often have, the secret of the utter
depravity of all the people is soon learned, and one sees how it is that
none grow up with any idea of purity. The minds of even young children
are vitiated from the earliest age.

I have found many very "religious" women. It must, however, not be
forgotten that the religion of Islam is totally divorced from the
practice of all morals. Women in some numbers attend the weekly midday
service in the mosques, sitting apart and worshipping.

One very handsome woman whom I knew had as a little child been enslaved,
and later married to the Emir of Zaria, and had been the mother or
stepmother of many of the Zaria princes. She was a very religious woman,
was allowed a fair amount of liberty, and was much respected. She not
infrequently attended the services and was much interested. But it is
certain that, with the exception of the use of a certain number of pious
expressions, religion has little hold over the Hausa women, and they can
in no sense be considered to share in the devotions of the men, or to be
companions with the men in those things which are the deepest part of
human nature. Hence with Christians there is the learning of a new
relationship altogether, when the man begins to feel that his wife must
be his companion and helpmeet in things pertaining to all his life and
soul and spirit.

Amongst the very lowest classes, with whom there are less objections to
coming into contact with men, and especially white men, and who in their
suffering have allowed us to minister to them, I have been able to get a
glimpse into the terrible sufferings of the poor women of all the other
classes. In their hours of agony and suffering they can get no
alleviation, no nursing or skill to shorten the hours of weary pain, and
in large numbers they die terrible deaths for the lack of that surgical
help we could so easily render them. I was able once to visit a woman
who seemed to be dying. She was in a terrible condition; the complete
delivery of her child could not be effected, and for two days she had
been in a shocking state. In their despair her people asked me to come,
and within three hours, by surgical knowledge, we were able to put her
right, and finally get her to sleep and complete her cure. But we were
told that many, many died in the condition in which we found her, and
that there was never any thought of calling for help. Many a man who
seemed fairly intelligent, and to whom I have talked almost with
indignation of such things, has answered me: "We do not know what to do;
our women cannot help these cases, for they have no skill, and we would
any of us rather let them die than call a man in to help." And so they
do die. They will not yet trust us, although they fully realize that we
are different from their own religious leaders. Whole realms of thought
have yet to be broken through, whole tracts of life principles and
perverted ideas have to be destroyed, before it will be possible for the
many poor sufferers in this land to get what the love of Christ has
brought within their grasp, but which they are afraid as yet to take.

I have tried to show that there is a bright as well as a sombre side to
this picture; that where there is restraint there is often some
kindness; that with ignorance there is often a desire and a yearning
after better things, and a dull feeling that what _is_, is _not_ best.

Nothing but a radical change in the very fundamental ideas of woman,
even by woman herself, can bring about the regeneration of this land.
Only the restoration of woman to the place gained for her by Christ, and
snatched from her again by the prophet of Islam, can bring true holiness
and life into the homes of Hausa, and bring a new hope and reality into
the lives of the men.

The knowledge and worship of Christ are beginning to do this, and in one
or two homes in North Nigeria already men, who previously thought woman
inferior human beings or superior cattle, and who would have looked upon
it as madness to suggest that a woman should be considered the helpmeet
of the man in all that pertains to this life Godward and manward, are
restoring to their wives and mothers and sisters that dignity. How happy
will be the result when this spirit has spread and all the land has
begun to feel the influence of good and holy women in the home, the
market, the school, and the church.



Mombasa, though a Mohammedan town, is perhaps scarcely a typical one, as
of late years it has become decidedly cosmopolitan, still in what is
called the "Old Town" Mohammedanism with all its attendant ignorance and
bigotry prevails.

There are women in this part of the mission-field with whom we have
talked and prayed in past years, who seem further off from the Truth and
Light than they were even in those early years of work amongst them.

These are the words of a young girl who, we know, was convinced of the
truth of the Gospel: "Oh, Bibi, if I confess Christ openly I shall be
turned out of my home, I shall have neither food nor clothing, and [with
a shudder] perhaps they will kill me." We knew this was only too true.

She was a beautiful girl with sweet, gentle manners, living in those
days with her sister in a dark, ill-ventilated room which opened on to a
small courtyard where all the rubbish of the house seemed to be thrown,
and where goats, hens, and miserable-looking cats seemed thoroughly at
home amongst the refuse.

Yet, in spite of these surroundings and in spite of her knowledge of all
manner of evil (alas! how early these children learn things which we
would think impossible to teach a little child), in spite of all this
she was pure and good. Now she seems to have no desire at all to hear or
read the Gospel. When we do see her, her manner is always flippant and
worldly. We don't want to give her up, we keep on praying for her, but
there have been so many hardening influences since those early days, and
she never took the definite step of openly confessing Christ. She was
soon married to a man much older than herself who already had a wife;
probably more than one. We suppose he was a higher bidder!

She had one little baby that soon pined away and died. How can women,
brought up as she was, have healthy children? Amongst all the Mohammedan
women I have visited here I have never known one to have more than two
children. The majority have no living child.

I believe the husband was kind to her, but he did not live long, and
very soon she was married again. If she bears no children he will
probably tire of her and leave her. I have been told by one of the women
that if a wife does not cook his food properly he may get a divorce. One
old woman I saw to-day told me that her daughter is now married to her
third husband; the other two left her for some trivial reason. When I
asked, "What will become of her when she is old and perhaps cast off

"Ah, Bibi!" she said, "what _has_ become of me? I am weak and ill and
old, and yet I have to cook and work for others." This is just what does
happen unless they have a house and property of their own. They become
household drudges to those relations who take them in, and there is
rejoicing at their death.

The rule here is for each man to have four wives, if he can afford it.
The number of concubines is, I believe, unlimited. Here the wives live
each in a separate house. The reason given is: "If we lived together we
should be jealous and quarrel and make our husband miserable."

I have known cases where the husband has only the one wife and there
seems to be a certain amount of affection. One little wife said to me
the other day, "I love my husband now, but if he ever takes another wife
I shall hate him and leave him."

Could one blame her?

In most cases just as a girl has learned to read she has been forbidden
by her husband, and I have been told, "My husband says there is no
profit in women learning to read and he has forbidden it."

How one has felt for and grieved with some of these women! One day in
going as usual to give a reading lesson to a mother and daughter (these
two really loved each other), I found them both very sad and miserable.
It seemed that the father of the girl determined to marry her to an
elderly man whom, of course, she had never seen. The mother said her
daughter was too young to be married, and she knew something of the
character of the man. She begged me to try and do something, but we were
quite helpless in the matter; a large sum of money was paid for the
daughter. Some time afterwards when I visited the house the mother said
to me, "Yes, Bibi, she is married to him and I have had to sit in the
room listening to the cries of my child as he ill-treated her in the
next room, but I could do nothing."

How one longs for the skill to bring home to our favored English girls
and wives and mothers, the awful wrongs and the needs of these their
Moslem sisters! But what human weakness cannot do, God by His Holy
Spirit can. May He lead some of you to give yourselves to the glorious
work of bringing light and life to these your sisters who are "Sitting
in darkness and the shadow of death." Love is what they want. Our love
that will bring knowledge of Christ's great love to them. Will you not
pray for them?



    "Women are worthless creatures and soil men's reputations."
    "The heart of a woman is given to folly."
                                            --ARABIC PROVERBS.

This is an outline sketch of the pitiful intellectual, social, and moral
condition of the nearly four million women and girls in Mohammedan
Arabia. To begin with, the percentage of illiteracy, although not so
great as in some other Moslem lands, is at least eighty per cent, of the
whole number. In Eastern Arabia a number of girls attend schools, but
the instruction and discipline are very indifferent; attention to the
lesson is not demanded, so that a Moslem school is a paradise for a lazy
girl! A girl is removed from school very early to prepare for her
life-work and that is marriage. In a majority of cases she soon forgets
what little knowledge she may have attained. A few women are good
readers, but these are the most bigoted and fanatical of all women, and
it is difficult to make any impression upon them as they are firmly
convinced that the Koran contains all they need for salvation now and

General ignorance is the cause of general unhappiness and such dense
ignorance often makes them suspicious and unreasonable. Nothing is done
by the men to educate their women. On the contrary, their object seems
to be to keep them from thinking for themselves. They "treat them like
brutes and they behave as such." The men keep their feet on the necks of
their women and then expect them to rise! The same men who themselves
indulge in the grossest form of immorality become very angry and cruel
if there is a breath of scandal against their women. In Bahrein, a young
pearl-diver heard a rumor that his sister was not a pure woman; he
returned immediately from the divings and stabbed her in a most
diabolical way without even inquiring as to the truth of the matter. She
died in great agony from her injuries, and the brother was acquitted by
a Moslem judge, who is himself capable of breaking all the commandments.

Polygamy is practised by all who can afford this so-called luxury,
particularly by those in high positions. The wives of these men are not
happy, but submit since they believe it is the will of God and of His
prophet. The women are not at all content with their condition, and each
one wishes herself to be the favored one and will take steps to insure
this if possible. Those who have learned a little of the social
condition of women in Christian lands very readily appreciate the


It is a common thing for us to be asked to prescribe poison for a rival
wife who has been added to the household and for the time being is
the favorite. Through jealousy some of these supplanted wives plunge
into a life of sin. I do not know anything more pathetic than to have to
listen to a poor soul pleading for a love-philter or potion to bring
back the so-called love of a perfidious husband. Women, whether rich or
poor, naturally prefer to be the only wife. Divorce is fearfully common;
I think perhaps it is the case in nine out of every ten marriages. Many
women have been divorced several times. They marry again, but this early
and frequent divorce causes much immorality. Some divorced women return
to the house of their parents, while the homeless ones are most
miserable and find escape from misery only in death.

All these horrible social conditions complicate matters and it is
difficult to find out who is who in these mixed houses. It is far more
pathetic to go through some Moslem homes than to visit a home for
foundlings. When a woman is divorced, the father may keep the children
if he wishes, and no matter how much a heart-broken mother may plead for
them, she is not allowed to have them. If the man does not wish to keep
them he sends the children with the mother, and if she marries again the
new husband does not expect to contribute to the support of the children
of the former marriage.

There can be no pure home-life, as the children are wise above their
years in the knowledge of sin. Nothing is kept from them and they are
perfectly conversant with the personal history of their parents, past
and present.

A man may have a new wife every few months if he so desires, and in some
parts of Arabia this is a common state of affairs among the rich chiefs.
The result of all this looseness of morals is indescribable. Unnatural
vice abounds, and so do contagious diseases which are the inheritance of
poor little children.

There is a very large per cent. of infant mortality partly on this
account, and partly on account of gross ignorance in the treatment of
the diseases of childhood.

Instead of a home full of love and peace, there is dissension and
distrust. The heart of the husband does not trust his wife and she seeks
to do him evil, not good. For example, a woman is thought very clever if
she can cheat her husband out of his money or capital, and lay it up for
herself in case she is divorced. There is nothing to bind them in sweet
communion and interchange of confidences. As a rule, when a man and a
woman marry they do not look for mutual consideration and respect and
courtesy; marriage is rather looked upon as a good or a bad bargain.
That marriage has anything to do with the affections does not often
occur to them. If only a man's passions can be satisfied and his
material needs provided, that is all he expects from marriage.

But I do not deny that there are grand though not frequent exceptions to
this evil system. I have seen a man cling to his wife and love her and
grieve sadly when she died. And some Arab fathers dearly love their
daughters and mourn at the loss of one, and the little girls show
sincere affection for their fathers. And yet all these bright spots only
make the general blackness of home-life seem more dense and dismal.

Missionary schools and education in general have done much in breaking
up this system. Many Moslems of the higher class are trying to justify
the grosser side of their book-religion by spiritualizing the Koran
teaching. But secular education will never make a firm foundation for
the elevation of a nation or an individual. Those who have been led to
see the weakness of a religion that degrades women, have gained their
knowledge through the Gospel.

The fact that attention is paid to suffering women by medical missions
is already changing the prevalent idea that woman is inferior and
worthless. And although it may seem sometimes an impossible task to ever
raise these women to think higher thoughts and to rise from the
degradation of centuries, yet we know from experience that those who
come in contact with Christian women soon learn to avoid all unclean
conversation in their presence. Visiting them in their huts and homes is
also a means of breaking down prejudice. The daily clinic in the three
mission hospitals of East Arabia, where thousands of sick women receive
as much attention as do the men, is winning the hearts and opening the
eyes of many to see what disinterested love is. They can scarcely
understand what constrains Christian women to go into such unlovely
surroundings and touch bodies loathsome from disease in the

When the men have wisdom to perceive that the education of their women
and girls means the elevation of their nation, and when they give the
women an opportunity to become more than mere animals, then will the
nation become progressive and alive to its great possibilities.
Reformation cannot come from within but must come from without, from the
living power of the Christ. Are you not responsible to God for a part in
the evangelization of Arabia in this generation?

    "Let none whom He hath ransomed fail to greet Him,
    Through thy neglect unfit to see His face."

The following earnest words, from one who being dead yet speaketh, are a
plea for more workers to come out to Arabia. Marion Wells Thoms, M. D.,
labored for five years in Arabia and wrote in one of her last letters as

"The Mohammedan religion has done much to degrade womanhood. To be sure,
female infanticide formerly practised by the heathen Arabs was
abolished by Islam, but that death was not so terrible as the living
death of thousands of the Arab women who have lived since the reign of
the 'merciful' prophet, nor was its effect upon society in general so
demoralizing. In the 'time of ignorance,' that is time before Mohammed,
women often occupied positions of honor. There were celebrated poetesses
and we read of Arab queens ruling their tribes.

"Such a state of things does not exist to-day, but the woman's
influence, though never recognized by the men, is nevertheless
indirectly a potent factor, but never of a broadening or uplifting
character. To have been long regarded as naturally evil has had a
degrading influence. Mohammedan classical writers have done their best
to revile womanhood. 'May Allah never bless womankind' is a quotation
from one of them.

"Moslem literature, it is true, exhibits isolated glimpses of a worthier
estimation of womanhood, but the later view, which comes more and more
into prevalence, is the only one which finds its expression in the
sacred tradition, which represents hell as full of women, and refuses to
acknowledge in its women, apart from rare exceptions, either reason or
religion, in poems which refer all the evil in the world to the woman as
its root, in proverbs which represent a careful education of girls as
mere waste.

"When the learned ones ascribe such characteristics to women, is it any
wonder that they have come to regard themselves as mere beasts of
burden? The Arab boy spends ten or twelve years of his life largely in
the women's quarters, listening to their idle conversation about
household affairs and their worse than idle talk about their jealousies
and intrigues.

"When the boy becomes a man, although he has absolute dominion over his
wife as far as the right to punish or divorce her is concerned, he often
yields to her decision in regard to some line of action. In treating a
woman I have sometimes appealed to the husband to prevail upon his wife
to consent to more severe treatment than she was willing to receive.
After conversing with his wife his answer has been, 'She will not
consent,' and that has been final. Lady Ann Blunt, who has travelled
among the Bedouins, says, 'In more than one sheikh's tent it is the
women's half of it in which the politics of the tribe are settled.'

"In regard to their religion they believe what they have been told or
have heard read from the Koran and other religious books. They do not
travel as much as the men, and do not have the opportunity of listening
to those who do, hence their ideas are not changed by what they see and
hear. All the traditions of Mohammed and other heroes are frequently
rehearsed and implicitly believed.

"Although the Arab race is considered a strong one, we find among the
women every ill to which their flesh is heir, unrelieved and oftentimes
even aggravated by their foolish native treatment. A mother's heart
cannot help but ache as she hears the Arab mother tell of the loss of
two, three, four, or more of her children, the sacrifice perhaps to her
own ignorance. The physical need of the Arab women is great and we pray
that it may soon appeal to some whose medical training fits them to
administer to this need in all parts of Arabia.

"In the towns in which there are missionaries there are comparatively
few houses in which they are not welcomed. In our own station there are
more open houses than we have ever had time to visit. Wherever women
travellers, of whom there have been two of some note, have gone, they
have been met with kindness; hence it will be seen that the open door is
not lacking."

Ignorance, superstition, and sensuality are the characteristics which
impress themselves most strongly at first upon one who visits the Arab
harem, but there are those, too, among the women who are really
attractive. It is a dark picture, and we do not urge the need of more
workers because the fields are white to harvest. We ask that more offer
themselves and be sent soon, rather, that, after they have learned the
difficult language, they may be able to begin _to prepare the ground for
seed-sowing_. It is a work that can only be done by women, for while the
Bedouin women have greater freedom to go about and converse with the men
than the town women have, and while some of the poorer classes in the
towns will allow themselves to be treated by a man doctor, and sit and
listen to an address made in the dispensary, the better class are only
accessible in their houses. Their whole range of ideas is so limited and
so far below ours that it will require "line upon line and precept upon
precept" to teach these women that there is a higher and better life for
them. In fact there must be the creation of the desire for better things
as far as most of them are concerned, but love and tact accompanied by
the power of the Holy Spirit can win their way to these hearts and
accomplish the same results that have been accomplished among other
Oriental women.

I have been striving to show that there is a crying need for work among
the Arab women and that there are ample opportunities for service. I
appeal to the women of the church whose sympathies have so long gone out
to heathen women everywhere, not to have less sympathy for them, but to
include Mohammedan Arabia and her womanhood more and more in their love,
their gifts, and their prayers. In the days of Mohammed, after the
battle of Khaibar, in which so many of her people had been mercilessly
slaughtered, Zeinab, the Jewess, who prepared a meal for Mohammed and
his men, put poison in the mutton and all but caused the prophet's
death. It is said by some that he never fully recovered from the effects
of the poison, and that it was an indirect cause of his death. It seems
to us who have lived and labored in the land of the false prophet that
his religion will only receive its death-blow when Christian women rise
to their duty and privilege, and by love and sacrifice, not in vengeance
but in mercy, send the true religion to these our neglected, degraded
sisters,--sisters in Him who "hath made of one blood all nations."



The term "Yemen," meaning the land on the right hand, is the name
applied to that whole tract of land in Arabia south of Mecca and west of
the Hadramaut, which has always been looked upon as a dependency or

In early historical times the Yemen was occupied by Homerites and other
aborigines, but later on by the Himyarites, who drove many of the
original inhabitants to seek a new home in Africa, where, having
intermarried with the Gallas, Kaffirs, and Dankalis, they formed a new
race which is generally known nowadays as the Somali.

The physical conformation of the Yemen is not unlike that of the portion
of Africa immediately opposite, where there is as great diversity in
climate and soil as there is in the manners and customs of the peoples.

From Aden, the Eastern Gibraltar, right northward there stretches a
range of mountains chiefly formed of igneous rocks that have been bent,
torn, and twisted like the iron girders of a huge building that has been
destroyed by fire and almost covered by the ruin. Bare peak after peak
rises from the mass of débris yet everywhere pierced, scarred, and
seamed by the monsoon floods seeking their way to the ocean bed; they
seldom reach it, however, as a stream and never as a river, because of
the barren, scorched, sandy zone which belts the Red Sea and sucks into
its huge maw everything that the hills send down.

Like his country the Yemen Arab is girded about with an arid zone of
reserve which few Europeans have ever crossed, but when they have
managed to do so, according to the individual they have met, they have
found it may be a man with a heart as hard as a nether millstone.
Marrying one day and divorcing almost the next, only to marry another as
soon as he can scrape together sufficient funds to purchase a wife, this
type of man looks upon woman as an inferior animal formed for man's
gratification, and to be flung aside like a sucked orange when the juice
is gone.

Or on the other hand, they may find men whom real love has saved and
made to give forth warm affection and true domestic joy, just as the
terraced ridges on their mountain slopes retain the God-given moisture
and send forth a luxuriant crop of strengthening cereals, delicious
coffee, and luscious grapes.

I have known young men of twenty-four who have been married and divorced
half a dozen times, and also Arabs whose days are in the sere and yellow
leaf who never had but one wife.

There was a native chief who used to come occasionally to our dispensary
whose children were numbered by three figures, and Khan Bahadur
Numcherjee Rustomjee, C. I. E., who was for many years a magistrate in
Aden, told me he knew a woman who had been legally married more than
fifty times and had actually forgotten the names of the fathers of two
of her children!

One day an Arab brought a fine-looking woman to our dispensary, and as
he was very kind to her and seemed to love her very much I ventured to
tell him that she was suffering from diabetes mellitus, and that in
order to preserve her life he would require to be careful with her diet.
He thanked me most profoundly, promised to do all that he could for her,
took her home and divorced her the same day, casting her off in the
village and leaving her without a copper.

Next morning she came weeping to the dispensary and I tried to get
compensation, but the man pleaded poverty, and because I was the cause
of her plight I felt in duty bound to support her until she died some
months later.

Another man of more than fifty years carried the wife of his youth to
our dispensary on his back. She was suffering from Bright's disease and
ascites, yet he toiled on and till now has shown no sign of wavering in
his allegiance. Warm-hearted, courteous, and kind, I look upon him as
one of nature's noblemen whom even Mohammedanism cannot spoil.

Another man whose wife had an ovarian tumor brought her down from
Hodeidah for me to operate on, and faithfully attended to all her wants
while she was ill, and at last when the wound caused by operation was
healed, took her home joyfully as a bridegroom takes home the bride of
his choice.

A third man, who had either two or three wives at the time, called me to
see one who had been in labor for six days. When the Arab midwives
confessed that they could do nothing more for her and when he saw her
sinking, love triumphed over prejudice, and he came hurriedly for me. I
performed a Cæsarean section, and so earned the gratitude of both
husband and wife, who, though years have gone, still take a warm
interest in all that concerns the mission.

I wish, however, that I could say that cases like these were common
experiences with me, but unfortunately the reverse is the case. Men seem
always ashamed to speak of their wives and when wanting medicine for
them or me to visit them always speak of them as, "my family"--"the
mother of my children"--"my uncle's daughters," or like circumlocution.
Once I boxed a boy's ears for speaking of his own mother as his
"father's cow!"

Brought up in ignorance, unable to read, write, sew, or do fancy
work--in all my experience out here I have never known of a real Arab
girl being sent to school nor a real Arab woman who knew the alphabet.
Sold at a marriageable age, in many cases to the highest bidder, then
kept closely secluded in the house, is it any wonder that her health is
undermined and when brought to child-bed there is no strength left?

Called one day to see a Somali woman I missed the whip usually seen in a
Somali's house, and jokingly asked how her husband managed to keep her
in order without a whip. She, taking her husband and me by the hand,
said, "You are my father and this is my husband. Love unites us, and
where love is there is no need for whips."

I was so pleased with her speech that I offered her husband, who was out
of work, a subordinate place in our dispensary. Yet less than a month
later I heard that he had divorced his wife and turned her out of doors.

The following case will, I think, illustrate the usual attitude of the
Arabs in the Yemen towards womankind:

A man whose wife had been in labor two days came asking for medicine to
make her well. My reply was that it was necessary to see the woman
before I could give such a drug as he wished. "Well," said he, "she will
die before I allow you or any other man to see her," and two days after
I heard of her death.

I have often remonstrated with the men for keeping their wives so
closely confined and for not delighting in their company, and making
them companions and friends. But almost invariably I have been answered
thus, "The Prophet (upon whom be blessing and peace) said, 'Do not
trouble them with what they cannot bear, for they are prisoners in your
hands whom you took in trust from God.'" And therefore as prisoners they
are to be kept and treated as being of inferior intellect.

I have known cases where a man gave his daughter in marriage on
condition that the bridegroom would never marry another wife; but the
man broke his word and married a second wife, whereupon he was summoned
before the kadi, who ruled that, "When a man marries a woman on
condition that he would not marry another at the same time with her, the
contract is valid and the condition void because it makes unlawful what
is lawful, and God knoweth all."

The consequence of such laws is that the women become prone to criminal
intrigues, and I have known dozens of cases where mothers have helped
their daughters and even acted as procuresses for them to avenge some
slight upon them or injury done to them. There is no fear of God before
their eyes. Heaven to them is little better than a place of
prostitution. Why, then, should they desire it? Here they know the
bitterness of being one of two or three wives, why then should they wish
to be "one of seventy"?



Sir William Muir, who lived for forty years in India, says: "The sword
of Islam and the Koran are the most obstinate foes to civilization,
liberty, and truth the world has yet known." After a residence of nearly
twenty years in Palestine and much intercourse among all classes, both
in city and village life, the writer of this chapter can confirm the

Islam is the same everywhere and changes not.

The chief cause of its blighting influence is its degradation and
contempt of women, which is the result of ignorance of the Word of God.
_Therefore, the wide-spread preaching of the Gospel to-day is the need
of Islam_, and the responsibility for it rests chiefly upon the
Christians of England and America.

One looks in vain among Moslems for peaceful homes, honored wives,
affectionate husbands, happy sons and daughters, loving and trusting one

A Moslem home is built upon the foundation of the man's right
(_religious right_) to have at least four wives at a time; to divorce
them at pleasure and to bring others as frequently as he has the
inclination or the money to buy.

A son is always welcomed at birth with shrill shouts and boisterous
clapping of hands or beating of drums; but a baby girl is received in
silence and disappointment.

The boy is indulged in every way from the day of his arrival. He is
under no restraint or control, and usually at two years of age is a
little tyrant, freely cursing his mother and sisters. The mother smiles
at his cleverness, she herself having taught him, and her own teaching
leads afterwards to much misery in the lives of other women.

Great numbers of boys die in infancy, or under three years of age,
because of the ignorance of their mothers in caring for them. They are
either overfed or neglected. In some families, where there have been a
number of both boys and girls, all the boys have died. The women have
been blamed for this and sometimes divorced, or else retained to serve
the new wives who have been brought instead.

How often I think of the dear little Moslem girls! The most teachable
and responsive to loving kindness of all. Oh, that they might have happy
homes, happy mothers, wise and loving fathers! One dear Moslem child,
only four years old, after having been in a Christian mission school for
a year, was taken ill and died. All the members of a large family were
present as she lay dying (crowding into the room of the sick is an
Oriental custom) and heard her exclaim: "My mother! Jesus loves little
girls just like me!"

A Moslem can divorce his wife at his pleasure or send her away from his
house without a divorce. If he does only the latter, she cannot marry
any one else. This is often done purposely to torment her. But the women
are not the only sufferers through these wretched domestic arrangements.
Many of them are utterly heartless and show no pity for their own
children. They will leave them to marry again, the new husband refusing
to take the children, and numbers die in consequence. Many a troublesome
old man is also put out of the way by poison administered by the wives
of his sons. Not long ago a prison, in an Oriental city, was visited by
some Christian missionaries who had obtained permission to see the women
who had been sentenced for life. They are found to be there for having
murdered their "da-râ-ir," that is, their husbands' other wives, or the
children of their hated rivals; and, having no money, they had not been
able to buy their way out of prison, as can be done and is customary in
Moslem countries.

As the camera would not do full justice to Moslem "interiors," either in
house-life or in the administration of public affairs, both also being
difficult to obtain, a few "pen and ink" sketches are sent by the writer
of this article, taken in person on the spot.

Here is a picture of Abu Ali's household. Abu Ali has two wives, Aisha
and Amina. Confusion and every evil thing are found in his family life.
Each wife has five children, large and small, and the ten of the two
families all hate each other. They fight and bite, scratch out each
other's eyes, and pull out each other's hair. The husband has good
houses and gardens but the women and children all live in dark, damp
rooms on the ground floor. The writer knows them and often goes to see
them, especially to comfort the older wife, whose life is very wretched.
She is almost starved at times. She weeps many bitter tears and curses
the religion into which she was born. The Prophet Mohammed's religion
makes many a man a heartless tyrant. He is greatly to be pitied because
a victim by inheritance to this vast system of evil. Wild animals show
more affection for their offspring and certainly take (for a while at
least) more responsibility for their young than many Moslems do in

Werdie is another case. This name in Arabic means "a rose." There are
many sweet young roses in the East but, hidden away among thorns and
brambles, their fragrance is often lost. This Werdie, a fair young
blue-eyed girl whose six own brothers had all died, lived with her
mother and father and his other wives in a very large Oriental house
(not a _home_). She lived in the midst of continual strife, cursings,
"evil eyes," and fights. This household is a distinguished family in
their town!

Sometimes the quarrels lasted for many days without cessation and Werdie
always took part in them as her mother's champion. The quarrels were
between her father's wives,--her mother's rivals,--and she often boasted
that she could hold out longer than all the others combined against her.
On one occasion her awful language and loud railings continued for three
days, and then she lost her voice--utterly--and could not speak for
weeks! She had an ungoverned temper, and when goaded by the cruel
injustice done her mother she delighted to give vent to it; but she also
had a conscience and a good mind and was led into the Light. On being
told of the power in Jesus Christ to overcome, she said one day, "I will
try Him. I want peace in my heart, I will do anything to get it; I
believe in Him and I will trust Him," and she did. She was afterwards
given in marriage by her father, against her wish, to a man she did not
know. He treats her cruelly as does also her mother-in-law. But now she
has another spirit, a meek and lowly one, and is truly a follower of the
Lord Jesus Christ. In the midst of strife she is a silent sufferer and a
marvel to all the members of her family. She prays much and has
literally a broken and a contrite spirit. She is the Lord's. There are
other roses among the Moslems whom Jesus Christ came to redeem. Let us
pray for them and go and find them! _He will point the way._

Saleh Al Wahhâb is a Moslem in good position with ample means. He first
married a sweet-looking young girl, Belise by name, but she had no
children, so he divorced her and married three other women. Not having
his desire for children granted, he divorced all three of these women
and took back his first wife, who was quite willing to go to him!

Haji Hamid, who made the pilgrimage to Mecca, was the chief of a
Matâwaly village and highly honored, belonging to the Shiah sect of
Moslems. He has had many wives, some of whom he had divorced because
they displeased him, and others had died. When he became an old man, he
brought a young and, as he was assured by others, a very beautiful and
virtuous bride. He had never seen her. He paid a large sum of money for
her, most of which she wore afterwards as ornaments--gold coins--on her
head and neck.

Soon after her arrival in the sheikh's house he became seriously ill.
She found this unpleasant, as she was a bride and wanted to enjoy
herself. So she ran away, taking all the gold with her, and left him to

There is no honor or truth among Moslems. The Prophet's religion does
not and cannot implant pity or compassion in the human heart. Haji Hamid
had inherited from his birth false teaching, the evil influences and
results of lying, corruption in Government affairs, tyranny, bribery,
bigotry, and contempt for women. He only reaped as he had sown. However,
he heard the Gospel on his dying bed and seemed grateful for kindnesses
shown to him by Christian strangers.

Abd Er Rahim, "Slave of the Merciful," was a rich Moslem who once had
several wives. Some he had divorced, some he had sent back to their
fathers' homes, and some had died, and he was tired of the one who
remained because she was getting old.

By chance he had seen a very handsome young peasant girl, and he wanted
her, but he was afraid of his wife, for he felt sure that she would be
troublesome if he brought this young girl to his house. So he planned a
"shimel-howa" for his wife (a pleasant time, literally, a "smelling of
the air," a promenade), to which she readily agreed. She put on her
jewelry and silk outer garments, and started. Her husband was to follow
her, but, according to Moslem custom, at a distance, as a man is not
seen in public with his wife. She never returned, but was found dead two
days afterwards, drowned in a well, wearing all her jewelry. Her husband
found her. The facts were never investigated. A few days afterwards the
new wife was brought into the house and lived there until the death of
Abd Er Rahim. He has now gone to his reward! He never knew anything
about the Lord Jesus Christ. No one ever told him. His last wife,
however, did have the opportunity of knowing, but she laughed and made
fun of His name. When she died, about three years ago, twenty large jars
of water were poured over her to wash away her sins. She was arrayed in
several silk gowns and buried, with verses from the Koran written on
paper placed in her dead hands, to keep evil spirits away from her soul.
Such is their ignorant superstition.

Benda was a poor Moslem woman who lived in a goat's-hair tent on one of
the plains mentioned in the Bible, a Bedouin Arab's cast-off wife. She
had lost her only child, her son, a young man. When first found, she
herself was a mere skeleton. Very deaf and clothed in rags, she sat on
the ground, weeping bitterly over the two long black braids of hair of
her dead son, a pitiful object. It was very difficult to make her hear,
but she was taught, often amidst the roars of laughter of some nominal
Christians who said to her teacher: "Why do you cast pearls before

However, Benda was one of His jewels. She had a hungry heart, she
understood the truth, believed, and was saved and comforted. Before she
"went up higher" she became a "witness" to some of her own people.

There are other Moslem Bendas yet to be found, others to be brought into
the fold. Who will come to help to find them and to bring them in? The
lost sheep of the house of Ishmael.

Some one has asked: "What happens to the cast-off wives and divorced
women among the Moslems?" Sometimes they are married several times and
divorced by several men. If they have no children, after their strength
fails them so that they cannot work, they beg and lead a miserable
existence, and die. A woman who has lived at ease and in high position,
after being divorced, will sometimes reach the very lowest degrees of
poverty, hunger, and misery, and then die. For such, there are no
funeral expenses; nothing is required but a shallow grave. Moslem men
are usually willing to dig that in their own burying ground, and the
body is carried to its last resting place on the public "ma'ash," or
bier. Benda was buried in this way, but "she had an inheritance
incorruptible and that fadeth not away."

[Illustration: A MOSLEM CEMETERY]


Sheikh Haj Hamid's story is that of a rescued Moslem. Let me tell it to

There is to-day in the far East a town built out of the ruins of a city
of great antiquity, in the land where giants once lived, and King Og
reigned (Genesis xiv. 5; Deuteronomy iii. 11, 13).

Some of the Lord's messengers went out there, recently, to gather into
the fold any of His scattered and wandering sheep they might find.
Probably the Gospel had not been preached there for one thousand five
hundred years. The Lord had promised to go before His messengers, and
had assured them that there were sheep in that place who would hear His
voice and follow Him, and, trusting this sure guidance, they started.
"In journeyings, often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in
perils in the wilderness, in perils among false brethren," they
searched for the sheep and lambs--and found them. One of the number was
a dignified, gray-haired Moslem sheikh who, on hearing "the call," with
groans and tears asked, "What must I do to be saved, for my sins reach
up to Heaven? What am I to do with them? For forty long years I have
gone daily to the mosque, but never before, until this day, have I heard
of salvation in Jesus Christ." And he wept aloud and cried out: "Won't
you pray for me?" He eagerly received instruction and believed. His last
and oft repeated words to his new-found Christian friends, as they rode
away, were: "Won't you continue to pray for me?"

The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking to His own among Moslems to-day, but
many have never heard of Him. There are more than two hundred million
Moslems in the world. "How can they hear without a preacher?"

Hindîyea's story will also interest you. A Moslem woman lay dying in a
coast town of old Syro-Ph[oe]nicia. She was the wife of an aged
Kâtib--the scribe of the town and the teacher of the Koran. The woman
knew that her end was near, but how could she die? Where was she going?
Her husband had no word of comfort for her, he did not know. She was
greatly troubled and deep waters rolled over her soul. Who could tell
her? Was there no one to stretch out a helping hand?

Suddenly she thought of a foreign lady, a missionary, who was at the
time in her own town, and whose words had once strangely stirred her
heart. Perhaps she would come to her? She did come and on her entering
the room, Hindîyea, endued with new strength and wonderful energy, sat
up in her bed and called out in a loud voice, her great eyes shining
like stars: "Welcome! Welcome! a thousand times welcome! I need you now,
can you teach me how to die? Will you come and put your hands on my head
and bring down God's blessing upon me? Surely you can help me."

Hindîyea was told just in time the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and
went home to God. Christ came for others just like her in the great
Moslem world. Who will go to teach them how to die and how to live?

There is a general belief among Christians that Moslems worship the One
True God--the Almighty God; but this is a mistake, they do not worship
Him at all! They worship the God who has Mohammed for his prophet and
_who is he_? Certainly not the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The call that goes up from thousands of minarets all over the Moslem
world six times a day--"There is no God but God, and Mohammed is his
prophet,"--is in direct conflict with the Word of Truth, that we have
access to our God through His Son, Jesus Christ, for they deny the
Son,--"and this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life,
and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he
that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 John v. 11, 12).

"Who is the liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ. This is
the Anti-Christ, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth
the Son the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath
the Father also" (1 John ii. 22, 23).

In direct contradiction to this teaching of the New Testament is Chapter
CXII of the Koran, which, in Sale's translation, is as follows: "My God
is one God, the eternal God, He begetteth not, neither is He begotten,
and there is not any one like unto Him." Also in Chapter XIX: "It is not
meet for God that he should have any Son, God forbid!" Chapter CXII is
held in particular veneration by the Mohammedan world and declared by
the tradition of their prophet to be equal in value to a third part of
the whole Koran. Wherever Islam prevails, or exists, Christ is denied to
be the Son of God. All Moslems deny also the death on the Cross and the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a clarion call to-day for prayer, prayer for the Moslem World.
When the Christians of evangelical lands begin to pray, the walls of the
strongholds of the enemy will fall, and the chains that have bound
millions of souls for one thousand three hundred years will be broken.

Islam's only hope is to know God, "the Only True God, and Jesus Christ
whom He has sent."



The condition of all Moslem women must necessarily be more or less sad
(for under the very best conditions it can never be secure), yet I think
that the lot of Moslem women in Palestine compares favorably with that
of their sisters in India. There is less absolute cruelty. There are
fewer atrocious customs. The lot of widows is easier, and girls are not
altogether despised.

Polygamy is lawful, yet this custom is certainly decreasing with
education and civilization. The Turks have very seldom more than one
wife. My experience of the officials who come from Turkey to hold office
in Palestine, both civil and military, tells me that it is now the
fashion among enlightened Moslems to follow European ways in the matter
of marriage, and I observe that, when men are educated and have
travelled, they seldom care for a plurality of wives.

However, among the Arabic-speaking inhabitants of Palestine men with
more than one wife, both rich and poor, may still be found.

Among the uneducated rich men (and by the term uneducated, I mean those
who have not completed their studies in Egypt or Europe) you will often
find one having two wives. Also among the landowners, or sheikhs of
villages, who travel from place to place to overlook their property, you
will be told that they have a wife in each village living with a
suitable retinue of servants. The Arabic word for the second wife means
"the one that troubles me." This word is used in 1 Samuel i. in the
story of Hannah, and is translated "adversary." I know of an educated
gentleman, living in a large city, who added a young bride to his
family, but his first wife was treated with every consideration. The
rich can afford to put their wives in different suites of apartments
with different servants, and by this means quarrelling is prevented; but
the case is very different among the poor.

Not long ago a sad case came under my own notice. A prosperous
pharmacist was married to a very nice woman, and they were a happy
couple with sons and daughters growing up around them. By degrees, the
wife perceived a change in her husband's temper. If anything went wrong,
he immediately threatened her, not with divorce, but to introduce a
second wife into their happy home. This threat he finally carried out,
and the wife had the chagrin of welcoming the bride, and she was obliged
to behave pleasantly over the business. These two women appear to live
in harmony, there is no alternative, for over the first wife Damocles'
sword hangs but by a hair. But you can imagine the bitterness in her
heart, her anger against the husband, and her hatred of the bride. You
can imagine also the loss of respect for their father which the sons
will feel.

Among the poorer classes it is the usual thing to find a man with two
wives. One of these is old. She acts as housekeeper, and is consulted
and considered by the husband. The other is usually quite a young woman,
who must obey the older wife and treat her as a mother-in-law. These two
are generally fairly happy, and, as a rule, live in peace. I have seen a
man with three wives, all under the same roof. He acts impartially to
all--but the quarrelling among themselves and among their children in
his absence is very sad. The effect of polygamy upon the home is most
disastrous. What effect it may have on the domestic happiness of the man
I cannot say, but one can make a guess and that not a very favorable

Divorce is easy, inexpensive, and very prevalent; and it is no uncommon
thing to hear that a man has had ten or eleven wives and that a woman
has had eight or nine husbands. For an angry man to say the words, "I
divorce you," and to repeat them three times, swearing an oath by the
Prophet, is enough to oblige the object of his wrath to leave his house;
carrying with her a bed, a pillow, a coverlet, and a saucepan, together
with the clothes which she had from her own family at her marriage. She
returns to her father's house, or to the nearest relation she has,
should he be dead, until another marriage is arranged for her.

Among the richer classes divorce seldom occurs; and, if the wife has
children and devotes herself to the comfort of her husband, she may feel
her position tolerably secure. Should she fall ill, however, it is rare
that a husband permits her to remain in his house, for he has not
promised to cherish her in sickness and in health. He will send her to
her own family till he sees how the illness will turn; and, more than
probably, she will be told in less than a month that she is divorced,
and that her husband has married another. How often in our Palestine
hospitals do we try to comfort and soothe the poor sick women in their
feverish anxiety to get well, for fear of this dreaded Damocles' sword
falling on their unhappy heads!

Among the poorer classes divorce is extremely prevalent. If a woman has
no child, she is immediately divorced, and is returned to her own
family, who arrange for a second marriage, generally in about ten days
from the time she is divorced. Should she again have no child, her lot
will indeed be a sad one. She must then be content to be the wife of
some blind or crippled man, who, perhaps, will also exact a sum of money
from her relations for his charity in marrying her. If a woman be
divorced after she has had children, she must leave them with the
husband, to be probably harshly treated by her successor or successors.
If the father dies, the children are supported by his brothers or
relations, while the widow marries again. It is seldom that a widow is
permitted to take a child, or children, to her new home. There is no
difficulty in providing for orphan girls; they are much sought after in
marriage, for the law excuses a young man from foreign military service
if he can prove that his wife is an orphan. This means that he would not
be able to leave her alone during his absence. Such orphans are
generally taken into the houses of their future husbands as little tiny
girls of four or five years old, where they are trained by the
mother-in-law, and grow up as daughters. By this means the husband is
exempt from paying any sum of money for his bride.

We must not forget that the marriages of Moslems are wholly without
affection, and that the only way in which the husband can enforce
obedience from his ignorant and listless wife is by the law of divorce.
She will obey him and work for him simply from the fear of being turned
away. When a woman has been divorced four or five times, she finds a
difficulty in getting a husband; for the report spreads that it "takes
two to make a quarrel," that her tongue is too sharp and her temper too
short. I have been asked what becomes eventually of the woman who has
been frequently divorced. Finally she remains with the old or very poor
man who has married her in her old age. Or, possibly, if she is a widow
with a grown-up son, he will support her until death relieves him of
what he feels to be only a burden. The insecurity of a Moslem wife's
position quite precludes any improvement in herself, her household
arrangements, or in her children's training. She does not care to sew,
or to take an interest in her husband's work. She does not economize, or
try to improve his position, for fear that, if he should find himself
with a little spare money, he would immediately enlarge his borders by
taking another wife! Therefore, a Moslem woman's house is always
poor-looking and untidy. She keeps her husband's clothes the same, that
he may not be able to associate with wealthy men and envy their
pleasures. Here we see the wide gulf between Christianity and Islam. The
wife, whom God gave to be the "help," and whose price is far above
rubies, has been debased by the prophet Mohammed, into the "chattel" to
be used, and when worn out, thrown away!

The Christian woman's home in Palestine is generally clean and tidy. Her
interests are identical with those of her husband. She is glad to work
to help the man, that the position of both may be improved.

I do not think the rich man ill-treats his wife. I have found him
invariably kind and indulgent. In Palestine the women have plenty of
liberty. It is a mistake to say that they are shut up. To begin with,
they live in large houses with gardens and courtyards enclosed. They go
out visiting one another, to the public baths, and to the cemetery
regularly once a week, where they meet and commune with the spirits of
departed friends.

The girls go to school regularly. The richer Moslems have resident
governesses for their daughters, and they are eager for education. There
is no doubt that the customs are changing. Education is raising the
woman, and the man will naturally appreciate the change and will welcome
companionship and culture. To educate both men and women is the best way
of checking the evil system of polygamy, and its daughter, divorce.
Polygamy was promulgated by the Prophet as a bribe to the carnal man.
Without that carnal weapon I doubt if Islam had numbered a thousand
followers! It ministers to self-gratification in this world, and
promises manifold more of the same license in the world to come. It is
small wonder that when we speak of a clean heart and a right spirit
without which we cannot enter the spiritual kingdom, our words are
unintelligible. But that is our theme. Holiness, without which no man
can see the Lord! These poor women are so ignorant. They know that sin
has entered into the world, but they know not Him who has destroyed the
power of sin. They have never heard the words, "Fear not, I have
redeemed thee." ...



The following are the words of another writer:

Never believe people who tell you Moslem women are happy and well-off. I
have lived among them for nearly eighteen years and know something of
their sad lives.

A Moslem girl is unwelcome at her birth and oppressed throughout her
life. When a child is born in a family the first question asked is, "Is
it a boy or girl?" If the answer is, "A boy," congratulations follow
from friends and neighbors. But if the answer is, "A girl," all
commiserate the mother in words such as, "God have mercy on thee."

As the little one grows up she has to learn her place as inferior to her
brothers, and that she must always give in to them and see the best of
everything given to them.

I am glad to say that Christian missions have made it possible for her
to go to school if she lives in a town. But at the age of ten she is
probably taken away from her mother, the only real friend she is likely
to have in the world, and sold by her male relations into another family
where she becomes what is virtually a servant to her mother-in-law. We
know that mothers-in-law even in England have not always a good name,
but what may they be to a young girl completely under their power? Many
are the sad stories I have heard of constant quarrelling, followed on
the part of the little bride by attempts to run away to her old home,
and the advent of her relations on the scene of strife, to patch up a
reconciliation and induce the girl to submit to her fate.

Perhaps you say, "Why does her husband not protect his wife from
unkindness, does he not care for her?" There you strike upon the root of
a Moslem woman's unhappiness. The boy husband has no choice in his
bride, has probably never set eyes on her until the marriage day. He
seems to care little about her beyond making use of her. She is to be
his attendant to serve him and provide him with sons. As to the first, I
have watched one of these girls in a merchant's house in Jerusalem
standing in attendance on her young husband's toilet, handing him
whatever he wanted, and folding up his thrown-off clothes. But I looked
in vain for the least sign of kindly recognition of her attentions from
him in look or word or deed. The Moslem thinks it beneath his dignity to
speak to his wife except to give orders, and does not answer her
questions. It is not customary for them to sit down to meals together,
and as for going for a walk together it would be scandalous! One must
not even ask a man after his wife in public and she may not go out to
visit friends without his permission, and then veiled so thickly as to
be unrecognizable. The higher her social rank the greater the seclusion
for a Moslem woman.

Then, as to her motherhood. The young wife's thoughts are continually
directed to the importance of pleasing her husband and avoiding the
corporal punishment which accompanies his anger. If she does not bear
him a son she is in danger of divorce or of the arrival of a co-wife
brought to the house. It is strange that the latter trial seems to be
faced preferably to the former, which is a great disgrace.

A Moslem wife has no title until she has a son, and then she is called
the "mother of so-and-so," instead of being called by the name of her
husband. But she soon regrets the day he was born, for he defies her
authority and repulses her embraces. I have seen a boy of four years old
go into the street to bring a big stone to throw at his mother with
curses! The mothers soon age. Their chief pleasures are smoking and

Their religion is very scanty. Some know the Moslem form of worship with
its prostrations and genuflexions. Most of them know the names of the
chief prophets, including that of Jesus Christ, and believe that
Mohammed's intercession will rescue them from hell. I once asked a rich
Moslem lady what was woman's portion in paradise, but she did not know.

Does this little description stir your pity? Are we to leave these, our
sisters, alone to their fate? To suffer not only in this life but also
in the life to come? If you saw their daily life, and knew the peace of
God yourself, I think you would want to do something to cheer them, by
telling them Christ loves them too, and that there is a great future
before them in Him and His Gospel.



Syria is one of the countries bound down by the heavy chain which
Mohammedanism binds on the East. The weight of this chain presses most
heavily on that which is weakest and least capable of resistance, and
that means the hearts of the women who are born into this bondage.

There are probably from 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 Mohammedans in Syria, and
this estimate also includes the sects of the Nusairiyeh (the mountain
people in North Syria), the Metawileh, and the Druzes, who, though
differing in many ways from the true Mohammedans, are yet classed with
them politically. When the word "Christian" is used in this chapter it
should be understood as distinguishing a person or a sect which is
neither Jew, Druse, or Mohammedan, and does not necessarily imply, as
with us, a true spiritual disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our purpose is to show the condition of the Mohammedan and Druze women
in Syria to-day as far as it has been possible to ascertain the facts
which have been gleaned from those most qualified to give them. From a
casual survey one may very likely come to the conclusion that
conditions in Syria are better and the lives of the women brighter than
their co-religionists in other Mohammedan lands. There are happy homes
(or so they seem at first sight) where there is immaculate cleanliness,
where the mother looks well after the ways of her household and her
children, is ready to receive her husband and kiss his hand when he
returns from his work, where there is but one wife, and a contented and
indulgent husband and father. When you come to look more closely you
will find in almost every case that more or less light has come into
these homes from Christian teaching or example. There are many instances
on record of Mohammedan men testifying that the girls trained in
Christian schools make the best wives. More than once have they come to
thank and bless the Protestant teachers who have taught to their pupils
such lessons of neatness, gentleness, obedience, and self-control. There
are many Mohammedan men who are worthy to have refined, educated wives,
and can appreciate the blessing of the homes such are capable of making.
On the other hand, however, there is a very large proportion who need to
be educated themselves in order to know how to treat such women and who
have the deserved reputation of being brutal, sensual, unspeakably vile
in language and behavior. Many of these belong to the better class in
the large inland cities. The women who are at the mercy of the caprices
and passions of such men are very greatly to be pitied.

In the towns along the coast, where there is more enlightenment; the
women have more freedom and seem outwardly happier than those who are
more strictly secluded in the towns where Mohammedanism is the
predominant influence. Freedom, however, is used as a comparative term,
for the following was told to me to show what privileges are accorded
under that name to the upper-class women in one of the smaller coast
cities. They are allowed to go often, every day if they like, and sit by
the graves in the Mohammedan cemetery. When you consider the fact that
they are shrouded in their long "covers" or cloaks, with faces veiled,
and that the cemetery is not a cheerful place, to say the least, and
that it is the only place where they are allowed to go, this so-called
"freedom" does not seem to be so very wonderful, after all. However, it
is far better than being shut indoors all the time.


Any one living among these people becomes gradually accustomed to the
accepted state of things, especially when one has learned that outside
interference only makes matters worse, and it is only now and then when
some especially sad or heart-rending thing comes to your knowledge that
you realize how truly dreadful the whole system is. The other day I was
talking about this with a friend whose knowledge of Mohammedan women had
been confined to a few families who on the outside would compare very
favorably with Christian families she knew, as regards comfort,
cleanliness, and contentment. I agreed with her that there were many of
the nominal Christian families where there certainly was great
unhappiness. But one must not, in comparing the two, lose sight of the
bitterest, darkest side. No Christian woman has to contend with the fact
that if her husband wearies of her, or some carelessness displeases him,
he is perfectly at liberty to cast her off as he would toss aside an old
shoe. In fact he would use the same expression in speaking of his shoe,
of a dog, some loathsome object, the birth of a daughter or of his
wife,--an expression of apology for referring to such contaminating
subjects. Nor does a Christian woman fear that as the years pass and her
beauty fades, or her husband prospers, that one day he will cause
preparations to be made and bring a new wife home. The Mohammedans have
a proverb that a man's heart is as hard as a blow from the elbow, and
that his love lasts not more than two months.

A Mohammedan friend was telling me of a woman she knew and was fond of.
"She was a good wife and mother," she said, "and she was very happy with
her two children, a boy and a girl; her husband seemed to love her, for
she is not old, and it was a great surprise to her when he told her one
day that he was going to marry another wife, for she had forgotten that
it might be. He said he would take a separate room for the new wife. She
said nothing--what could she say? But he deceived her, for he only took
the room for the new wife for one week, and then he brought her to live
with the first wife. And now she weeps all the time, and oh! how unhappy
they all are! I tell her not to weep, for her husband will weary of her
and divorce her." A shadow crossed the face of my friend as she spoke,
and I could see she was thinking of her own case, and fearing the fear
of all Mohammedan women. "Why did that man take another wife when he was
happy and had children?" I asked, for I knew that where there are no
children a man feels justified in divorcing his wife, or taking a
second, third, or fourth. "He wanted more children. Two were not

Can there be any real happiness for a Mohammedan woman? She gets little
comfort from her religion, although if she is a perfectly obedient wife,
attends faithfully to her religious duties, and does not weep if her
child dies, she has a hope that she may be one of seventy houris who
will have the privilege of attending upon her lord and master in his
sensual paradise. The idea of these two horrors, divorce and other wives
to share her home, is constantly before her.

A Protestant woman recently told me that she had let some of her rooms
to a Mohammedan family from Hums. The man was intelligent and the wife
was an attractive young woman with a little girl. The man told her in
the presence of his wife that when he went back to Hums he thought he
should take another wife. "Why do you do that when you are so happy as
you are? Think of your wife--how unhappy it would make her to have you
bring in another!" The man laughed and told her that she made a great
mistake in thinking that Mohammedan women were like Christian women,
that they did not mind having another woman in the house, they were
accustomed to it and brought up to expect it. "But I hope that what I
said will make him think and perhaps he will decide not to take another
wife, for I showed him plainly the evil of it."

The women may be brought up to expect it,--they may have been the
members of a polygamous family themselves,--but the human heart is the
same the world over, and the sanctity of the home with one wife is never
invaded without poignant suffering. A wealthy Mohammedan will establish
each of his wives in a separate house, those not able to afford this
luxury have their harem in one house. It does not require a very vivid
imagination to be able to picture the inevitable result: jealousies,
heartburnings, contentions, wranglings, and worse.

A Bible woman told me of dreadful scenes where the women fight like cats
and dogs, and the husband takes the part of the wife he loves the best
and beats the others. One feels that the man often bears his own
punishment for this state of things by being obliged to live amid such

In a city of Northern Syria where the Mohammedans are the most powerful
class and their haughtiness and contempt of women so great that they
will elbow a foreign woman into the gutter, not necessarily because she
is a Christian, but because she is a woman, a Syrian woman whispered
during a walk: "Look at that man over there, I'll tell you about him
later." And afterwards she explained that the man was a neighbor and he
had just taken his fourth wife, and she was only ten years old. He was
an elderly man with gray hair.

One well-known and wealthy Mohammedan had splendid establishments in
four different places and he is said to have had thirty sons. Another
brought home an English wife, with whom he had lived ten years in
England, and established her in an apartment just above the one in which
one of several wives was living. Could English girls realize the misery
in store for them in marrying Mohammedan husbands, they would be
thankful for any warning. Even if the husband himself is kind, there are
many painful things to undergo from his women relatives. And worse than
all is the denying of Christ before men in the acceptance of Islam. One
of these English women living in Syria as the wife of a Mohammedan, had
her daughter married to an own cousin at the age of thirteen, another
was obliged to give her ten-year-old daughter in marriage. I asked this
last woman how she could do such a thing. "It is her father's will and I
could do nothing." But she ran away the next day, so the man divorced
her. This same daughter has been married and divorced twice since then,
and is now living at home, and is at the head of a Mohammedan school for
girls. Two other sisters have been divorced, and are at home, one with
her child.

In Beirut, among the better classes girls are not married as young as
they used to be, though occasionally you hear of instances, as in the
case of a woman who had eight daughters and married two of them, twins,
at the age of eight. She gained nothing by this cruel act as they were
soon divorced and sent home. One reason for child-marriages among
Mohammedans in Syria is the conscription which demands for the army
every young man of eighteen. The one who cannot afford to escape
conscription by paid substitutes or money may be exempt if he has a wife
dependent upon him. When he is sixteen or seventeen his family send off
to some distant town for a young girl who is a destitute orphan, and
this child is married to the youth,--she may be ten years old, or nine,
or even eight, and cases are known where a girl of seven has been
married to a boy of sixteen.

One can hardly wonder that many of these girls are divorced, for they
are simply untrained, naughty children, unable to grasp what the duties
of a wife are, or that it is necessary to please their husbands or
conciliate their mothers-in-law. Mohammedan women say that the happiness
of a child-wife and her status in the family depend almost entirely upon
her mother-in-law. It is a sad fact that these little brides--children
in years--are very often old in knowledge of evil. Most Mohammedan
children are brought up in an atmosphere of such talk that their natures
seem steeped in vulgarity from their cradles and no mystery of life or
death is hidden from them.

It makes one's heart sick to think of these children, so sinned against
and so cruelly treated for being the products of this system. Sad
stories are told of those who are put out to service, especially when
they go to Turkish families. It is not very common, fortunately, for
there is always the fear that the men in the family, regarding them as
lawful prey, will ill-treat them. Girls disgraced in this way have a
terrible fate.

A friend came to us one day, weeping because of a dreadful thing which
had just come to her knowledge, too late, alas! for any help to be
given. The daughter of a neighbor, a poor man, had been sent out to
service, and the worst befell her. She was sent home in disgrace,--her
father was obliged to receive her, but he would not recognize her or
have anything to do with her till one day he ordered her to go out into
the garden and dig in a spot he indicated. Each day he came to see what
she had accomplished, till at last there was a hole deep enough for her
to stand in, her full height. Her father then called his brothers, they
brought lime, poured it over her, and then buried the child alive in the
hole she herself had dug. She was only twelve years old! The neighbors
found it out and informed the government. The parents and all concerned
were imprisoned, and the father is still in prison, though the mother
has been released.

The feeling is strong that such a disgrace can only be wiped out by
death, and this is especially the case when there has been misconduct
between a Mohammedan man and a Christian woman. In a Syrian city a
Christian girl of aristocratic family was betrothed and was soon to be
married when suddenly the engagement was broken. It could no longer be
hidden that she had been guilty of wrong relations with some man, and
the man proved to have been a Mohammedan. This disgrace was intolerable
to the families involved, and before long a man connected with the
family came to the girl with a glass of liquid, and said: "Here, drink
this!" She took it, drank, and died. Comments on it showed that the
sentiment of the community is in sympathy with such a course. "What else
could be done?" they say.

Probably a Mohammedan would not see the inconsistency of condemning to
death the child-victim of a man's lust, as in the first instance given,
while practically the same thing is legalized in allowing the marriage
of children with the probability of a divorce in the near future. How
can they hope for the growth of purity among their women, or wonder when
immorality and unchastity are discovered!

Frequent reference has been made to divorce. It is the weapon always at
hand when a man is dissatisfied. His law allows him to divorce his wife
twice and take her back, but if he divorce her the third time, he may
not take her back until she has been married to another man and divorced
by him. The ceremony is a simple one; repeating a formula three times in
the presence of a witness not a member of the household, and telling the
wife to go to her father.

A divorced wife must go back to her father's house, or to her brother if
her father is not living, or to her nearest relative. If she is
friendless then she has the right to go before the Mejlis or Court, and
state her case. She is asked if she wishes to marry again, and if so,
the Court must find a husband for her. If not, then the husband is made
to support her. If she returns to live with her friends, the husband has
to give her one penny halfpenny a day. If there are children under seven
they go with the mother. If they are older, they are allowed to choose
between mother and father. They are supported by the father.

The Mohammedans have a saying that when a woman marries she is never
sure that she will not be returned, scorned and insulted, to her
father's house the next day; nor, when she prepares a meal for her
husband, is she sure that she will be his wife long enough to eat of it

In conversation with a Mohammedan woman one day we were commenting on
the fact that a certain wealthy bridegroom had given directions to the
professional who was to adorn his bride for her marriage, not to
disfigure her face with the thick shining paste which is usually
considered (though very mistakenly) to enhance her charms. He was
reported to have said that he wished to see her face as God had made it.
I remarked that I thought it was very sensible and that I did not see
what was ever gained by disfiguring a face by plastering it with paint
and powders. The woman said: "But you do not understand! We do it so
that we may be beautiful in our husband's eyes, for if we are pale or
wrinkled they cease to love us and go to other women or else they
divorce us." It is very far from being "for better, for worse,--in
sickness, in health."

It is impossible to gather statistics as to the proportionate number of
divorces. All the women say, "It is very common." The condition of a
divorced woman returned to her father's house is not an enviable one. In
some cases they are kept on like servants, living in some out-house or
stable, or in some inferior room if the house is a grand one. It has
been suggested by a writer, that the sight of the misery of these
positionless women has a strong influence upon the young men of the
family, making them determine that they will never have more than one
wife. Let us hope that this is true. From what is told me I have learned
that it is not usually the young men who have more than one wife, but
the older ones. I must not omit to say that in the smaller Mohammedan
settlements where there is much intermarrying in families, there is
almost no divorce, for even if a man wishes it, he must be very
courageous to brave the united wrath of the whole circle of female
relatives or of his enraged uncle or cousin, who resents bitterly having
his daughter sent back to her home.

Among the poorer people, too, those who have come most closely under my
observation, divorce is rare and no man has more than one wife. But they
are steeped in superstition and many are so bigoted they will not
receive the visits of the Bible woman nor allow their children to attend
schools. Frequently, in paying visits, we will find a blind Mohammedan
sheikh instructing the women in the Koran, and some of them have very
glib objections to offer to the New Testament stories and truths we read
to them. They will often ask to be read to, but the Old Testament is the
favorite book.

Among the Druzes, divorce is even more common than it is among the true
Mohammedans, and the state of morals is very low. The Druzes are an
interesting, even fascinating people. They live on the Lebanons and
inland on the Druze mountains of the Hauran, and are a warlike
independent race, of fine physique, and most polished, courteous
manners. Some of their women are very beautiful and their peculiar
costumes are most becoming and picturesque. They are always veiled, but
one eye is uncovered, and it is second nature with them to draw their
veils hastily across their faces if a man appears in sight. As was said
before, they are classed with the Mohammedans although they have their
own prophet, Hakim, and they take pride in having their own secret
religion, which is little more than a brotherhood for political
purposes. It is extremely difficult to make any real impression on them.

At a recent wedding in Druze high life in a Lebanon village almost every
woman present had been divorced, and one woman was exactly like the
Samaritan woman who came to the well to draw water: she had had five
husbands, and the one she had now was not her husband. The hostess
herself, the bridegroom's mother, a woman of fine presence, had been
divorced, but was brought back to preside over this important function,
as there was no one else to do it, but her former husband was not
present, as Druze law forbids a man ever looking again on the face of
his divorced wife. Their women are cast off in a most heartless way, but
they cannot be taken back again. The ceremony of marriage consists in
fastening up over a door a sword wreathed with flowers and with candles
tied on it, and then passing under it.

The form of divorce is very simple. It is illustrated in the life of a
Druze prince who married a girl of high family, beautiful and of a
strong character and fine mind. They were devoted to each other, but she
had no children. She had suspicions of what was in store for her, which
were realized one day when she had been on a visit to her native
village with her husband. They were riding together towards home, when
they came to a fork in the road.

The prince turned and said: "Here is the parting of the way." She
understood, and turned, weeping, back to her father's house. The prince
afterwards sent and bought a beautiful Circassian slave, and married
her, but she had no children, and so she in turn was divorced. The
prince had, contrary to custom, been in the habit of paying visits to
the house of his first wife who had been married to another man, and now
he obliged her second husband to divorce her. He turned Mohammedan in
order to be able to take his wife back again.

Among the Druzes, the ladies of good family are secluded even more
rigorously than in Mohammedan families. Even in the villages they rarely
leave their homes, going out only at night to pay visits to women of
equal station. Some of them have never been outside of their own doors
since they were little girls. One girl, the daughter of an Emir, was
sent away to spend a year in a Protestant boarding-school. There she was
allowed to go for walks with the girls, attended the church services,
and had a glimpse into a life very different from the dull seclusion
which would naturally be her lot among her own people. But she failed to
take home the lessons taught her that Christ was her Saviour and Friend,
and would be her help and comfort in whatever was hard to bear. She
returned to her home and soon learned that, although she had been
allowed these unusual privileges, she need expect no more liberty than
her mother had been allowed before her. She found the shut-in life so
intolerable that she secretly ate the heads of matches and poisoned
herself so that she sickened and died, having confessed her act and
telling the reason.

There are others among these girls who have been taught in evangelical
schools, who have learned to love Christ, whose faith is strong and
whose trust sustains them and keeps them patient and cheerful amid very
great trials and even cruel treatment from their husbands, "Strengthened
in their endurance by the vision of the Invisible God."

To go back to Mohammedan women. It is surprising how exceedingly
ignorant many of them are, even the women of the higher classes from
whom you might expect better things. A visitor inquired of her
Mohammedan hostess if she would tell her the name of the current
Mohammedan month. "I do not concern myself with such things, you must
ask the Effendi." Their minds seem to be blank except in regard to their
relations to their families, to sleeping, eating, and diseases, to their
clothes, and their servants, and the current gossip of the neighborhood.
Formerly it was not believed that girls were capable of learning
anything, and years ago an Effendi in Tripoli, when urged to have his
daughter taught to read, exclaimed, "Teach a girl to read! I should as
soon try to teach a cat!" But those days are passing and the
Mohammedans are beginning to bestir themselves in the matter of
educating their girls. They are opening schools for girls in all the
cities, though judging from the attainments of some of the teachers, the
girls are not taught very much. When these schools were first opened in
Beirut, the only available teachers were girls who had been in
attendance on the Protestant schools, and some of them had only been
there a few months.

In Sidon there is a large Mohammedan school for girls, where are
gathered from five to six hundred girls. The Koran is the text-book,
reading and writing are taught and needle-work has a large place in the

Years ago an old Effendi was attending the examination in Miss Taylor's
school for Mohammedan and Druze girls. "My two granddaughters are here,"
he said to a missionary sitting beside him. "I was instrumental in
starting a school of our own for girls, and I took my granddaughters
away from here and put them in the new school. One day I went to visit
the school. When I was still at a distance I heard the teacher screaming
at the girls and cursing them, saying, 'May God curse the beard of your
grandfathers, you dogs!' Now, I was the grandfather of two of those
children and I knew they heard enough of such language at home without
being taught it at school, so I brought them back to this good place."

The aim of the Mohammedans in their schools is twofold: being both to
benefit and train the girls, making them more companionable, and also to
fortify them against Christian teaching. The aim of our work and our
teaching is more than that, for we desire, not only to enlarge the
mental horizon but to cultivate the heart, to open up for them the
wellspring of true joy and store their memories with hymns of praise and
the inspiring and comforting words of Christ. But more than all to lead
them to accept for themselves their only Saviour, the Son of God, who
died for them, who only is the true "Prophet of the Highest," whose
mission is "to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow
of death." We claim for these dear women and girls the liberty which
their own sacred Koran inculcates: "Let there be no compulsion in
religion." (From the Sura called "The Cow," v. 257.)

And will the favored Christian women of England, America, and Germany,
and all free Christian lands not join those already on the field either
in prayer or personal service, that they may have a part in bringing
many of these Mohammedan women, sweet and lovable, and capable of rising
to high levels as many of them are, out of their "darkness into His
Marvellous Light"?



If the condition of women under Islam is degraded and wellnigh hopeless
in other parts of the world, what must be the condition of such women in
Turkey, the seat of Moslem power, the centre of the Caliphate, with the
green flag of the Prophet kept at Seraglio Point, in Constantinople?

The picture of woman's degradation throughout the Empire is black
enough, yet gleams of light play over the blackness, and these gleams
grow steadily stronger and more frequent. Turkey not only borders upon
Europe, and thus is nearer to Western civilization and its progress, but
its extended coast-line affords many ports of entry, to which comes no
inconsiderable part of the travel and trade of the world. Kaiser
William's railroads are opening up the western portion of the empire,
and cause a curious jumble of modern advance with so-called fixed
Oriental ways.

With their parasols held low over their heads, even though the day be
cloudy, or the sun be set, the veiled and costumed Turkish women may be
seen in crowds on Friday, their Sabbath, and holidays, sitting upon
grassy slopes, with their children playing about them. They go in
groups or followed by a servant, if from richer families, as they are
not trusted to go alone. In the interior, even, non-Moslem women are
veiled almost as closely as the Mohammedans, when upon the street. Such
is the power of prejudice that it is not thought proper for any woman to
be seen in public.

They live behind their lattices, and woe to any Christian house whose
windows command a view into a Moslem neighbor's premises, no matter how
distant. Such juxtaposition is the reason for the unsightly walls and
lofty screens which disfigure many an otherwise beautiful view, in any
part of Turkey. No strange man may look upon any Moslem woman.

The slow but sure disintegration of these customs, prejudices, and
superstitions, is going on, thank God! Darkness is fleeing before the
light. If the churches of Christ will but take the watchword, "The
Moslem world for Christ, in this century!" and put all needed resources
of men and means, consecrated energy and prayer, into the campaign, even
the False Prophet shall be vanquished before Him who is King of kings
and Lord of lords!

I have travelled on the railroad in Turkey with Moslem women, in the
special compartment, where in the freedom of the day's travel, they have
thrown back their veils and silken wraps, showing their pretty French
costumes and the diamonds upon their fingers, as they offered their
Frank fellow-traveller cake, or possibly chocolates, and have more than
once felt the embarrassment of a missionary purse too slender to allow
of such luxuries, with which to return the compliment. Once a Moslem
woman took from her travelling hand-basket paper and pencil, and
proceeded to write, as I was doing! Page after page she wrote, though in
just the reverse manner from our writing, and we soon established a
feeling of comradeship.

I have been also a deeply sympathetic witness of moving scenes in which
the proverbial love of the Turkish father for his children could not be
concealed. As the train awaited the signal for departure from a station,
one day, the evident distress of a pretty girl opposite me, broke into
crying. She had climbed into the corner by the window, and the guard had
not yet closed the door. Involuntarily my eyes followed the child's
grieved gaze, until they rested upon a tall, gray-bearded Turkish
officer standing by the station, who was evidently striving to control
his emotion answering to the grief of the child. Finally he yielded to
the heart-broken crying of the little one, and came to the car door to
speak soothingly to her. The young mother sat stoically through it all,
seemingly content with her rich dress and jewels, and her comfortable
appointments for travelling. Not so with the father and his child, who
were so grieved over their coming separation. When finally the door had
been slammed by the guard, and locked, and our journey begun, some time
elapsed before the still grieving child could be won to take any
interest in the good things with which her mother then sought to beguile
her. Surely such a human father, so tender toward his little child,
could be taught the love of our Heavenly Father for each child of His,
which has provided a Saviour for every repenting soul returning to Him!
Thus the lion would be changed into the lamb, and the Turkish officer,
often unspeakably cruel to his enemies, would become a man and a brother
even to his foes.

Moslem women, although by the rules of their religion almost entirely
secluded from the outer world, and from all men save those of their own
families, are, nevertheless, being powerfully affected by the growing
light of civilization, which has not only revealed their darkness, but
has penetrated it to some degree, while the burning glow and love of
Christianity, through zenana workers and schools, has far more than
begun the work of transformation.

How can mothers consent that their daughters shall be sold, while yet
children, to any man, no matter how old, who will pay the price her
father demands for her, when she has learned even a little of the loving
honor given to his wife and daughter by the Christian husband and
father? How can she consent to see her given in a marriage to which her
approval has not even been asked, or possibly where it has been refused?
Yet, pity it is that without the consent of mother or girl, she may be
conveyed, a bride, to the house of her lord, who has perhaps not deigned
to be present,--and she of course not,--at the arrangement by their
legal representatives, for signing the contract, and fixing the amount
of dowry which she brings, or the sum which he shall give her in case he
at any time shall decree her divorce. This is all that constitutes the
marriage ceremony in Turkey. I once saw the arrival of a Turkish bride
at her bridegroom's house. There was no welcome. She alighted with a
woman friend from the closed carriage. Some one must have waited within
the garden, for the heavy street-gate opened at their approach, received
the women, closed upon them, and the bride was shut into her husband's
house, from all the world. If she displeases him in any way, even if her
cooking does not suit him, a word from her husband suffices to divorce a
wife, according to Moslem law. He may have as many wives as he wishes,
and another is easily found.

Mohammedan husbands are allowed to punish their wives with blows, to
enforce obedience. A whole town pervaded by these Turkish ideas was
filled with amazement at a burly non-Moslem friend of mine, whose wife
had become a Christian. Although jeered at and ridiculed by his
companions as one who could not make his wife obey him, he never lifted
his hand against her, for he loved her too well. He did, however, cause
her great unhappiness for years, until the Spirit of God broke his hard
heart, and made him also a Christian.

No Turk expects a woman to speak to him in a public place, or if she
does he will not raise his eyes from the ground. A friend of mine was in
deepest distress in a lonely place in Turkey, wringing her hands and
crying "Alas! Alas!" as she saw a man approaching her; but Agha Effendim
gave her no heed until she walked straight up to him, so sore was her
need, and told him her trouble. Then his heart was touched, and
Mohammedan Albanian as he was, he rendered her the aid which she asked.

Forty Mohammedan women, living too distant from Mecca to allow a
pilgrimage thither, made the ascent, one summer, of one of the loftiest
mountain peaks in European Turkey. They did this as a religious duty. It
was a feat which required all the vigor and strength of an American
mountain-climber, who ascended the same peak some days later. She could
not abandon the task, however, which they had accomplished, whose feet
knew only the heelless slipper or the wooden clog, when about their
household duties, or stepped noiselessly in their gaily embroidered
homemade stockings, when indoors. _The Turkish woman can climb._ She can
reach lofty heights. Slowly and painfully she will leave her dense
ignorance, her habits of superstition, her jealousies, and her intrigues
behind her and will emerge, led by the loving hand of her Christian
sister, sometimes of her husband or child, into the glorious liberty of
the children of God.

We admit that ofttimes the obstacles seem insuperable, when we meet the
barrier of the unawakened life. What opportunity is there before the
little mother but fourteen years old herself? How shall she escape the
name which her own family perhaps give her--"a cow"? "Cattle" is a
common term for women. Her men-folks will very likely hinder her
education, in many instances, but she must be led out of her old life,
along this way. The mothers of coming generations, with unlimited
influence over their husband's inclination and conduct even when set
toward progress--the Turkish woman _must_ be reached! Christianity is
the one means to allay her superstitions, her jealousies, her fears, and
to give her a true outlook upon life and its meaning. The women of
Christendom must help her who cannot help herself. The pitifulness of
the condition of Turkish women, and the difficulty of reaching them,
form the challenge of Islam to the Christian world. Shall we take up the
gauntlet thrown down by the Crescent and the Star, and lifting high the
banner of the Cross, go forward in Christ's name, because God wills
their salvation as truly as ours, and sends us to them in His name?

The influence of civilization is necessarily felt far less in the
interior of Turkey than in the maritime sections; yet here also, thanks
to the multiplication of schools and teachers and loving Christian
women trained in those schools, conditions are beginning to be changed.
"In one city of western Turkey," we are told, "the Turks themselves
asked for a kindergarten teacher from our American mission school, to
open a kindergarten for them, and it was done. Girls' schools have
sprung up among the Moslems in various parts of the country, from the
same influences which affected Greeks and Armenians, though more slowly.
Quite recently there has been an awakening among the Turks to the fact
that if they would keep pace with the march of civilization they must
provide for the education of their girls. So now, in some of the large
cities, schools for Turkish girls have been established, and, although
the attendance is still small and the work elementary, yet it shows the
trend of opinion, and gives great hope of soon bettering the condition
of women in the empire."

Another observer writes concerning more progressive portions of Turkey:
"The power of education is proving a sure disintegrator to the seclusion
of Moslem social life. Turkish women have already taken enviable places
among the writers of their nation. Others are musicians, physicians,
nurses, and a constantly increasing number are availing themselves of
the educational facilities afforded by the German, French, and other
foreign institutions which have been established at Constantinople,
Smyrna, and elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire. In the beautiful American
College for Girls, on the heights of Scutari, Constantinople, Turkish
girls, as well as those of all nationalities of the Orient and Franks,
eagerly take advantage of the course, and a few have graduated with
honor. A far larger number, however, are removed to the seclusion of
their homes as they approach maidenhood. On the day when the first six
girls from Moslem families were received, more than one of them learned
the entire English alphabet. What a need for prayer that the Spirit of
God shall reach those receptive young hearts from the very first day, in
this and every other Christian educational institution to which Moslem
girls turn their steps!" The most tactful and consecrated work of their
missionary or native teachers must be done every day, for such Turkish
girls, whether in more elementary schools or in colleges, inasmuch as
the proverb of the country: "Either marry your daughter at sixteen or
bury her!" is still very much in force beyond those limited districts
where the influence of Western ideas has availed to modify somewhat the
old thought. What they gain during the short time when they may remain
in school, must be the food of their lives, in multitudes of instances.

We know the paucity of literature of all kinds in Turkey, where
government press regulations prohibit any general output of
publications; this, combined with the very general poverty of the
people, makes many a home bookless, and the great majority of lives
barren. Sometimes in missionary tours we have seen far up on the
hillside a group of poor peasants descending. The sudden turning of the
women of that party, drawing their filthy veils closer across their
faces on hot July or August days, reveals to the passers-by that these
are Moslems. They have discovered that there are men in the approaching
party of travellers. They may have mistaken the ladies wearing hats as
gentlemen also. A command has evidently been given by their lord and
master, at which the women have sunk to the ground, with their backs to
the road, while still far from it, lest one of those infidel eyes should
peer through their veils, and look upon their faces. Yet women's
curiosity compels those hidden eyes to seek at least a surreptitious
peep at the foreign travellers, and they watch us furtively. Under such
circumstances there can be no hope of any personal touch, save if
occasion might arise which would allow a call at the hovel which
constitutes their home. On one of my last journeys in Turkey I chanced
to meet a Turkish soldier on a lonely mountain road. As I passed him,
walking in advance of my horse and driver, filled with no small
trepidation at such proximity in that lonely place, he gave me no
salutation, and I confess to a feeling of relief when I had passed him
unchallenged. But how that feeling changed to remorse when my driver
overtook me, and said that the soldier had stopped him to inquire if the
teacher who had just gone by were a doctor, for a little child of his
lay at home grievously ill. What an opportunity had been missed! If he
only had spoken, the pitiful need in that home would have been opened up
to the missionary teacher, who, although not a doctor, would have done
what she could to relieve the little sufferer, and to comfort the
sorrowing parents. There would have been a chance to bring to that poor,
ignorant mother in her miserable home, a token of love and tenderness
out of the great world of which she knew nothing.

One of the most discouraging aspects of life in Turkey at the present
time, is found in the fact that as men travel about in their business or
professional life; come into contact in various ways with those of
different views and more advanced thought than themselves; become
influenced by them; and mildly enthusiastic to put the new ideas into
practice; they are met on the very threshold of their homes by their
uncomprehending and immovable wives, who with horror refuse to allow the
souls of their families to be imperilled by tolerating any such
heresies. This difficulty, instead of being cause for discouragement,
constitutes a powerful challenge to the heart of Christianity, to help
such an awakening man, and to find the dormant soul of this woman. No
opposition can long stand before the appeal of the Gospel, when
tactfully, lovingly, prayerfully brought to bear upon such souls.

Fatima Khanum ("my Sovereign Fatima"), a Bible woman, seventy years old,
finds the joy of the Lord to be still her strength, as she goes from
house to house, telling in her musical Turkish tongue the story of God's
love for every man, and urges all to receive it. Very closely they get
together on a wintry day, as visitor and visited gather about the
brazier of coals, and talk over the wonderful words of life. May God
greatly multiply the number of such faithful witnesses for Him,
throughout the Turkish Empire!

"Evet, Effendim!" ("yes, my lord!") frequently says a missionary friend
who, having learned the Turkish as her missionary language when a young
teacher, still cherishes her love for it, and sometimes uses it to her
best-beloved. Shall we not say, Yes, Lord! to Him who died on Calvary
for all, and who is "not willing that any should perish," and with Him
seek those "other sheep," and bring them to the fold of the Good
Shepherd? There can be no failure here, although the church of Christ
has but slowly and late come to the realization that the Mohammedan
world too, with its millions of women and children, must be His. Hath
not God said: "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:
for I am God, and there is none else.... Unto Me every knee shall bow"?



I received some days ago your letter asking for something upon the
condition of Mohammedan women in Bulgaria. My observation has been
limited, and I have not had opportunity to learn from others what they
had seen, except from our dear old Fatima Hanum, for so many years a
Bible woman among Mohammedan women.

Bulgaria cannot be called Turkey. Indeed it is much freer from Turkish
influence than Egypt is. There is a free intercourse also between
Turkish, Bulgarian, and Armenian women, which must influence the home
life and the views of the Mohammedan families. Most of them would be
ashamed to take more than one woman, and the Turkish women are
continually comparing their situation and life with that of their
Christian neighbors. They are sad not to be able to read and write, and
they try to give their daughters a better education. But as they see
that their (orthodox) Bulgarian neighbors care more for instruction than
for religion and real education, they, of course, cannot understand till
now, that religion is the root of culture.

Polygamy is by no means prevalent among the Mohammedans of Bulgaria,
indeed it is very rare that a man has more than one wife, but these few
exceptions are productive of great misery. Divorce for very trivial
reasons is not uncommon, but there has recently occurred under my eye a
case of happy reconciliation and restoration through the influence of
Christian friends.

The Mohammedan woman of Bulgaria shares to a degree the freedom of her
Bulgarian sisters, is a power in the home, and, especially if the mother
of grown sons, is much respected and considered. But ignorance is her
curse. Here and there one finds a grown woman able to read, but the mass
are content to let their girls go to school for a few years and then
gradually forget all they have learned. But still I have known some
keenly interested in the reading of Scripture. I recall one visit in a
roomful of women at the festival of Bairam, when a young girl attracted
by the Injil Sherif--the New Testament--in the hands of the Bible woman,
opened it and read aloud the whole of the eighteenth chapter of Luke to
that roomful of deeply interested listeners. As she finished, clasping
the book to her heart, she exclaimed: "Oh, give me this wonderful book,
I must read it all." When we left she followed me to the door, reminding
us earnestly of our promise to send her a book soon. We know that the
book was much read.

Another girl of seventeen, whom Fatima Hanum had taught not only to read
but to love the Book, found great comfort in the prayers and Christian
sympathy of this same dear friend during a long illness. On her
death-bed she said to her mother: "We have lived in darkness, but there
is light and I have seen it!"

We believe the light is beginning to glimmer in more than one Mohammedan
home in Bulgaria. In this city, as in many others, Mohammedan women are
accustomed to spend Friday, whenever the weather will permit, under the
trees in some pleasant spot, and Fatima Hanum with her Bible is a
familiar figure among them--indeed they often send word to her: "We are
going out for the day. Come with us and bring the Book."

In a recent tour I was a welcome guest in several Turkish homes, and
warm approval was expressed by the women of their Protestant
neighbors--only one failing was regretted--"they eat pork," but even
they acknowledged that it wasn't so bad as telling lies, and saying
unkind things about each other; and they begged me to come again and
read to them from our Great Teacher's Book.



One can never forget the first sight of a Moslem woman--that veiled
figure, moving silently through the streets, so enshrouded that face and
form are completely concealed. Men and women pass each other with no
greeting or token of recognition, and if a wife accompanies her husband,
she never walks beside him, but at a respectful distance behind, and
neither gives a sign that they belong together.

A woman's first instinct is to efface herself. Even the poor, washing
clothes in the street at the water-course, pull their tattered rags over
their faces. The Persian expression for women, "those who sit behind the
curtain," shows that their place is silence and seclusion. When the
closed carriage of a princess passes, her servants, galloping before,
order all men to turn their faces to the wall, though all they could
possibly see would be carefully veiled figures. The beggar sitting on
the ground at the street corner is equally invisible under her cotton
_chader_, as with lamentable voice she calls for mercy on the baby in
her arms.

During the month of mourning, we often pass a brilliantly lighted
mosque, where men sit sipping tea or smoking, listening to the tale of
the death of their martyrs, but crouching on the stony street outside in
the darkness, a crowd of women are straining their ears to catch what
they can. Such are the passing glimpses one gets of the Persian woman in

Her real life is lived in the "harem." We realize its meaning, "the
forbidden," when after passing through the imposing street gate, and the
outer court where are the men's apartments, we are conducted to a
curtained door, guarded by a sentinel, who summons an old eunuch to lead
us through a dark, narrow passage into the inner court, or _andaroon_.
Here no man may enter but the very nearest relatives of the inmates, and
they under severe restrictions. As women, we have free access, and this
privilege is shared by the Christian physician, who is welcomed and
trusted. One such gives us this picture.

The _andaroon_ is usually very far from being an abode of luxury, even
in wealthy families, unless the number of wives is limited to one or
two. The favorite wife has many advantages over her rivals, but she is
usually encouraged to set an example of severe simplicity, in respect to
her house and its furnishings, to the other wives; each of whom would
make life a burden to her lord, were marked discrimination shown in such
things. He, therefore, contents himself with reserving the best of
everything for the _beroon_, or outer apartments, where he receives his
own guests. Here are fountains, spacious courts, shady walks, and
profusion of flowers without, while within are large, high-ceiled and
stuccoed rooms, elaborate windows, delicately wrought frescoes, the
finest rugs and divans, showy chandeliers and candelabra, stately pier
glasses brought on camels' backs from distant Trebizond or Bushire,
inlaid tables from Shiraz, and portières from Reshd.

The _andaroon_ presents a marked contrast. The rooms are usually small
and low without ventilation, the courts confined, sunless, and bare; the
garden ill-kept, and the general air of a backyard pervading the entire
establishment. This order is reversed by many ecclesiastics, who in
deference to the popular idea, that to be very holy, one must be very
dirty, reserve all their luxuries for the _andaroon_, and make a show of
beggarly plainness in the part of the house to which their pupils and
the public have access.

The Persian wife seldom ventures into the _beroon_, and when she does,
it is as an outsider only, who is tolerated as long as no other visitor
is present. All its belongings are in charge of men-servants, and the
dainty touches of the feminine hand are nowhere seen in their
arrangement, and her presence is lacking there, to greet its guests, or
grace its entertainments.

When the Khanum suffers from any of the ailments, for which in America
or Europe outdoor exercise, travel, a visit to the seaside, to the
mountains, or to the baths is required, the physician feels his
helplessness. He sees that the patient cannot recover her nervous tone
in her present environment. But there is no seaside except at impossible
distances and in impossible climates. A visit to the mountains would
mean being shut up in a little dirty village, whose houses are mud
hovels, the chief industry of whose women is the milking of goats and
sheep, and working up beds of manure with bare feet, and moulding it by
hand into cakes for fuel. Or, if the husband have both the means and the
inclination, for her sake to make an encampment upon the mountains large
enough to afford security from robbers and wandering tribes, she would
be confined largely to the precincts inclosed by the canvas wall
surrounding the harem. She rides only in a _kajava_, or basket, or in a
closed _takhterawan_, or horse litter, or, as she sits perched high up,
astride a man's saddle, looking in her balloon garments, and doubtless
feeling, more insecure than Humpty Dumpty on the wall. In her outdoor
costume, the Khanum never walks. At best she can only waddle, therefore
she is almost as effectually shut out from this important form of
exercise as the women of China. In both countries the peasant class are
blessed with more freedom than those of higher rank, and the village
women, dispensing with the baggy trousers and in some districts also
with the _chader_, or mantle, swing by on the road with an elastic
stride that would do credit to a veteran of many campaigns.

Travelling in Persia is, for women particularly, a matter of so great
discomfort, that even the shortest journey could seldom be recommended
as a health measure. There are some famous mineral springs in Northern
Persia, but they are usually in regions difficult of access, and often
dangerous on account of nomads and robbers, and they generally have only
such facilities for bathing as nature has afforded. If they really do
heal diseases their virtues must be marvellous, for the sick who visit
them usually stay but a day or two, though they make a business of
bathing while they have the opportunity. To prescribe travel, therefore,
would be about the equivalent of prescribing a journey to the moon, and
to recommend outdoor exercise for an inmate of the _andaroon_ would be
like prescribing a daily exercise in flying, the one being about as
practicable as the other. Should the physician find it necessary on the
other hand to isolate his patient for the treatment of hysteria, which
is exceedingly common, or for mental troubles, which are also very
common, he is equally at sea. No nurse, not even a "Sairey Gamp" could
be found. When it is known that one has a severe illness or visitation
from God, they come, as in the days of Job, "every one from his own
place--to mourn with him."

In cases where absolute isolation has been ordered, as an essential
condition of the patient's recovery, the physician may expect on his
next visit to find the room filled with chattering women, who have
gathered to speculate on the possibilities of a recovery or each to
recommend the decoction which cured some one else, whose case was "just
like this." There is but little watching done at night in the most
severe cases, and a physician is seldom called up at night to see a

On my first introduction to the _andaroon_, I had little acquaintance
with either Persian customs or costumes. I had been asked to see the
wife of a high dignitary, and on my arrival was at once ushered into her
presence. I found my fair patient awaiting me, standing beside a
fountain, in the midst of a garden quite Oriental in its features. She
was closely veiled, but her feet and legs were bare, and her skirts were
so economically abbreviated as at first to raise the question in my
mind, whether I had not by mistake of the servant been announced before
the lady had completed her toilet. She, however, held out her hand,
which apparently she did not intend me to shake, and I presently made
out that I was expected to feel her pulse as the preliminary to my
inquiries concerning her symptoms; or rather in lieu of them, the
competent Persian physician needing no other clue to the diagnosis. Then
the pulse of the other wrist had to be examined, and I inspected the
tongue, of which I obtained a glimpse between the skilfully disposed
folds of the veil. This woman had been suffering from a malarial
disease, which had manifested some grave symptoms, and I tried to
impress upon the family the importance of her taking prompt measures to
avert another paroxysm. Feeling somewhat anxious as to the result, I
sent the next morning to inquire about her condition and the effect of
the remedy prescribed, but learned to my disgust that the medicine had
not yet been given, the Mullah who must make "istekhara" (cast the lot)
to ascertain whether the remedy was a suitable one for the case, not
having yet arrived.

Seclusion, lack of exercise, the monotony that leaves the mind to prey
upon itself, ignorance, early marriage, unhappiness, abuse, and
contagious diseases bring upon the Persian woman a great amount of
physical suffering directly traceable to the system of Mohammedanism.
One special demand of her religion, the month of fasting, is a case in
point. At the age of seven, the girls must assume this burden, not taken
up by boys till they are thirteen. For a mere child to be deprived of
food and drink, sometimes for seventeen hours at a stretch, day after
day, and then allowed to gorge herself at night, cannot but be a
physical injury.

In illness, no pen can depict the contrast between a refined Christian
sickroom and the crowded noisy apartment, poisoned with tobacco smoke,
where lies the poor Persian woman in the dirty garments of every-day
wear, covered by bedding in worse condition.

Mentally, the Persian women are as bright as those of any race. The same
physician says, "The Persian woman is often neither a doll nor a drudge.
I have known some who were recipients of apparently true love, respect,
and solicitude on the part of their husbands, as their sisters in
Christian lands; some who were very entertaining in conversation, even
in their husbands' presence; some who were their husbands' trusted
counsellors; some who were noted for learning; some who were
successfully managing large estates; some who have stood by me in my
professional work, in emergencies demanding great strength of character
and freedom from race and sectarian prejudice."

But these are the exceptions; scarcely one in a thousand has any
education, even in its most restricted sense of being able to read and
write her own language intelligently. It is marvellous to see how all
the advantages are lavished on the boy, who will have Arabic, Persian,
and French tutors, while his sister is taught nothing. In consequence,
the ignorance and stupidity of woman have become proverbial. It is a
common saying, "Her hair is long, but her wit is short."

In a Persian newspaper, there lately appeared some articles in which,
after apologizing for mentioning the subject of women, the writer spoke
strongly of their present illiterate state. He taxed the mothers with
the great mortality among children, and made the amazing statement, that
in Australia every woman who loses a child is punished by law with the
loss of a finger! He did not venture to prescribe this drastic remedy
for Persia, but says the husbands and fathers who allow their women to
remain in ignorance should be held up to public scorn and contempt, and
that nothing but education and religion will make a change.

Wonderful to relate, this article elicited the following reply from a
lady, which we print as it was written:


    _To the honored and exalted editor of the "Guide":_--

    "I myself have no education, but my two children, a boy and a
    girl, have a little. Every day they use your paper for their
    reading lesson, and I listen with the greatest attention.
    Truly, as far as a patriot's duty goes, you are discharging it.
    Your paper is having a remarkable effect on the minds of both
    men and women. I rejoice, and am delighted with your love for
    race and country, and praise especially the articles
    recommending the education of women.

    "Some days ago, the children were reading, and I was listening
    because I take such an interest in the writings in the _Guide_
    that I am constrained to defer the most necessary labors, till
    the reading is finished. You have spoken well about the poor
    unfortunate women; but first the men must be educated; because
    the girl receives instruction from her father and the wife
    from her husband. You reproach these ill-starred women, because
    they are addicted to superstitious practices. Your humble
    servant makes a petition that they are not so much to blame.

    "In this very city I know men of the first rank, who have even
    travelled in Europe (I will not mention their names) who are
    superstitious to an incredible degree. Before putting on a new
    suit of clothes, they consult the astrologer and look in the
    calendar for an auspicious hour, and if shoes or other articles
    come from the bazaar at an unlucky moment, they return them
    till the stars shall be more propitious; when they contemplate
    a visit to royalty, or to Government officials, they take the
    chaplet of beads and cast lots to ascertain a fortunate time.
    Is it then strange that women believe in written prayers,
    fortune telling, and the _istekhara_? You write that in a
    foreign country you have seen men who had fled there to escape
    their wives. You are telling the truth, because, indeed, the
    women are a thousand times more incapable than the men. And why
    should they not be, who always sit behind a curtain wrapped in
    a veil? The husband can flee from his wife to a foreign land,
    but what of her who is left behind: her arms are, as it were,
    broken, her condition remediless, hopeless? For her, there is
    but one place whither she may flee--the grave! Look, and you
    will see in every cemetery one-fourth of all are men's graves;
    the rest are of women who have escaped their husbands by death.

    "Again you speak of their ignorance of domestic economy, the
    rearing of children, the avoidance of contagious diseases, etc.
    When a poor woman is taken to her husband's home, it is true
    she knows nothing of these things, and does not make home
    comfortable, but by the time she is the mother of two or three
    children, she begins to learn; she economizes in food and
    clothing; she looks after her children; she adds to her
    husband's prosperity. She takes a pride in the home, in which
    she hopes to enjoy many happy days; but poor creature! she sees
    one day a woman entering her door, who says, 'Your husband has
    married me,' She recalls all her struggles for family and home,
    and her heart is filled with bitterness. Quarrels ensue, and
    her husband, taking a stick, beats her till she is like
    well-kneaded dough. Afterwards they both go before the judge,
    who without making any investigation of the case, gives
    sentence in favor of the man. 'You have not in any wise
    transgressed the law; the female tribe are all radically bad;
    if this one says anything more, punish her.' Unfortunate
    creature! If she is modest and self-respecting, this trouble
    falling upon her occasions various illnesses, and she knows not
    what becomes of house and children. The neighbor women, seeing
    all this, are completely discouraged from improving their
    homes, or rearing their children properly, as they say, 'The
    more our husbands' circumstances improve, the less they will
    care for us.' Why then reproach the women? It is proper to
    advise the men, who have learned two things thoroughly from the
    law of the Prophet: one I have mentioned, and the other is
    this. In the evening when the Aga comes, he first washes
    himself to be ceremonially clean and says his prayers to
    fulfill the law of the prophet. Then he goes to his private
    room, or to the men's apartments. Half an hour does not pass,
    till he sends to demand the _ajil_ (food used with intoxicating
    drinks, meat, fruits, etc.). The wife makes all ready, and
    sends to him. Then the unhappy soul hears from that quarter the
    sound of piano, organ, or tambourine, and some women just from
    their feelings at such times, become a prey to divers maladies
    and untold misery. At one or two o'clock in the morning, the
    Aga brings his honorable presence into the _andaroon_. The wife
    asks, 'What is this business in which you have been engaged?
    How long must I put up with these evil doings?' Immediately a
    quarrel ensues; the husband, partially or quite intoxicated,
    and not in his right mind, answers, 'What business of yours is
    it what I do? If I wish to bring the musicians and dancing
    women, I shall do as I like.' Many women, on account of these
    evil practices of their husbands, give themselves up also to
    wicked ways, and others take to their beds with grief. Should
    such a one take her case to a judge, he is worse than her
    husband, and should she complain to the religious heads, many
    of them in secret indulge in the same vices.

    "Why then judge so severely those who are all suffering under
    these troubles? Again you say that women should be educated,
    but fail to indicate in which quarter of our city is situated
    the school which they are to attend. We, in our ignorance of
    its location, beg you to point out where we may find it. In my
    own neighborhood there are twenty capable girls who are ready;
    some wishing to study dressmaking, some sick-nursing,
    midwifery, etc. Unfortunately, our nobles and ecclesiastics are
    so busy, advancing the price of wheat, speculating on the next
    harvest, snatching their neighbors' caps from their heads, that
    they have not yet found time to establish a school or
    university. I hope, through a blessing on the labors of your
    pen, this will all be remedied, and this stupid people awaken
    from its sleep. This brief petition I have made, and my
    daughter has written it out. As I have no learning, I beg you
    to excuse its mistakes and defects." ...

This letter is remarkable as showing that an awakening is beginning in
this country and that some women are feeling its influence; that among
them there are stirrings of a new ambition, and a great dissatisfaction
with their present condition. Moslem ladies, invited to witness the
closing exhibition of a school for missionary children, exclaimed, "When
will our daughters have such opportunities?" A young girl was filled
with the extraordinary ambition to become a doctor, like the lady
physician whom she admired; she came for lessons in English, physiology,
chemistry, and materia medica, showing talent and remarkable
studiousness; but during a disturbance against foreign schools, her
father forbade her coming, so the cloud again shrouded this particular
bright star.

What is the legal and social position of woman? A girl comes into the
world unwelcome; while the birth of a boy is announced and celebrated
with great rejoicings, that of his sister is regarded as a misfortune.
Said a mother, "Why should I not weep over my baby girl, who must endure
the same sorrows I have known? She is of little value; a father of
passionate temper, annoyed by the crying of the sickly infant daughter,
flung her out of the window, effectually and forever stilling the
pitiful wail. He was no more punished than if it had been the kitten who
had suffered from his rage." If she grows up, the grace, beauty, and
sweet audacity of childhood often gain for a little girl a place in her
father's affections; but not to be long enjoyed; an early betrothal and
marriage are the universal custom.

Engagements take place as early as three years old, and the bride is
sometimes then taken to grow up with her future husband. Should one
inquire as to the condition of unmarried women in this country, we are
reminded of the famous chapter on "Snakes in Ireland." There are no
snakes in Ireland. I am credibly informed, that in many places it is
impossible to find an unmarried girl of thirteen, and in the course of
extensive travels, covering a period of more than twenty years, I have
myself met but four spinsters or confirmed old maids. It is needless to
add that these were persons who possessed great native strength of
character and firmness of purpose, and all seemed highly respected in
their own family and social circle. One, the daughter of a Mujtahid, or
highest religious teacher, was thoroughly versed in all the special
studies of her father, who had educated her. She understood Persian,
Arabic, and Turkish, being able to read and write them well, and was
often consulted on difficult points in the Koran, by the Mullahs, who
admitted that she understood it better than they. Another, living in a
large family of several brothers, enjoyed the esteem and affection of
all, and was most sincerely mourned when she died.

These are, however, great exceptions, and considered as directly opposed
to the command of the Prophet. It is regarded as a cardinal sin not to
marry, and our single ladies are often assured the only prospect before
them is of the eternal pains of hellfire, as the penalty for the
obstinate disobedience in this particular. Even the lepers, segregated
in their wretched villages, feel the pressure of opinion and are obliged
to marry in accordance with religion.

Theoretically, no girl is married against her will; but practically, the
pressure from her family and society is too strong for her to resist,
and the same is much the case with the young men. The choice of a
partner for life being one in which often the boy has no voice, it
follows that the girl has none whatever. A father engaging his daughter
was asked, "What does the girl think of it herself?" "She? It is none of
her affair; it is my business whom she marries." Like Browning's

    "Who, all the while, bore from first to last
    As brisk a part in the bargain, as yon lamb
    Brought forth from basket, and set out for sale
    Bears, while they chaffer o'er it; each in turn
    Patting the curly, calm, unconscious head,
    With the shambles ready round the corner there."

Thus the girl enters a new home, often to be the slave of her
mother-in-law. As a rule, the married couple have had no previous
acquaintance with each other.

Such a state of society is hard on both sexes. A man is bound to a wife
who will in all probability deceive and disobey him, who compasses by
fraud what she cannot obtain by fair means, and who has no affection for
him. She is ignorant; she is no companion for him mentally; it is not
strange that he dreads to place in her keeping his honor, his property,
and the welfare of his house. I have heard a young man say, "We are like
putting out a hand into the dark, to receive we know not what. Of one
thing only we are sure; it will be bad." It is impossible that much
unhappiness should not result, as shown by the number of divorces,
reckoned by one of themselves as at least forty per cent. of the
marriages. The wonder is that happy marriages do occur. Some there
undoubtedly are, but in defiance of the system, and not in consequence
of it. When one such comes to our notice, it appears like a green and
refreshing oasis in a monotonous desert. One lady told us, "I have been
married fifteen years, and my husband and I have never had a
difference." Another said, "He is so kind to me; he has never yet
scolded me for anything I did." She added, "But I am extremely careful
to avoid what I know he does not like and in all matters I try my best
to please him." It must be said, however, that one of these men is
secretly a believer in Christ, and the other a follower of the Bab, in
whose system the equality and rights of woman play a prominent part.

Did space permit we should gladly tell the romantic history of
Qurrat-el-Ayn, the Joan of Arc of the Babi movement; but in this
connection, we may be pardoned for giving the following sonnet, evoked
by her remarkable life and tragic death:

    "Quarrat-el-Ayn! not famous far beyond
    Her native shore. Not many bards have sung
    Her praises, who, her enemies among,
    Wielding her beauty as a magic wand,
    Strove for the cause of him who had proclaimed
    For poor down-trodden womanhood the right
    Of freedom. Lifting high her beacon light
    Of truth, she went unveiled and unashamed,
    A woman, in the land where women live
    And weep and die secluded and unknown,
    She broke the bonds of custom, and to give
    The Bab her aid, she dared the world alone,
    Only to fail: death closed the unequal strife,
    And Persia blindly wrecked a noble life." ...

The popular estimate of woman is that she is naturally inferior, not to
be trusted, to be kept continually under surveillance as a necessary
evil, with something disgraceful in the fact of her existence, a person
to be controlled and kept down from birth to death. "Why do you take
your wife out to walk with you?" said one brother to another more
enlightened. "I see you promenading outside of the village with her; she
will get out of her proper place, and neither obey or respect you, if
you pamper her in that way." The younger man replied with indignation,
"Is she not a human being, and shall I not treat her as such?" The elder
answered, "She must know that her proper position is under your foot."

A poet says, "A thousand houses are destroyed by women." Another Moslem
authority writes, "Jealousy and acrimony, as well as weakness of
character and judgment, are implanted in the nature of women, and incite
them to misconduct and vice." Mohammed says, "Chide those whose
refractoriness you have cause to fear, and beat them." The limit
suggested is, "Not one of you must whip his wife like whipping a slave."

A book containing sage advice warns man against three things: "First,
excess of affection for a wife, for this gives her prominence and leads
to a state of perversion, when the power is overpowered and the
commander commanded. Second, consulting or acquainting a wife with
secrets or amount of property." Mohammed also warns, "Not to entrust to
the incapable the substance which God hath placed with you," and,
"Beware, make not large settlements on women." "Third, Let him allow her
no musical instruments, no visiting out of doors, or listening to

As to a woman's duty, Mohammed declared that if the worship of one
created being could be permitted to another, he would have enjoined the
worship of husbands. It seems strange to calculate a woman's value
arithmetically, but in Moslem law the testimony of two women is equal to
that of one man, a daughter gets half a son's inheritance, and a wife
only an eighth of her husband's property, if there are children;
otherwise a fourth. A husband does not speak of his wife as such, but
uses some circumlocution as "My house, my child, or the mother of such a
boy." A villager asked the doctor to come and treat his mother. "How old
is she?" "Thirty." "And how old are you?" "Forty." "How can she be your
mother?" A bystander, filled with contempt for such obtuseness,
whispered, "It is his wife, but he doesn't like to say so." In like
manner, the children are not taught to say father and mother, but the
master, the older brother, the mistress, the lady sister, the older

A comic paper published by Mohammedans in Russia, and in their own
language, has recently had some amusing pictures bearing on the position
of women. In the first, two women and several men are coming before the
Mullahs for marriage or divorce; large heads of sugar carried into the
presence hint at bribery as a factor in the case. The women, who stand
mute and submissive, with their mouths tied up, as is literally the case
with many of them, have evidently nothing to say in the matter. The
second scene shows a man and three boys sitting around a large bowl of
rice, which is rapidly disappearing before their vigorous onset. The cat
is crunching a bone, but the wife and mother sits at one side while even
the baby in her arms is given a portion; but she waits till all are
satisfied, and she may come in for the leavings. Again, the lord and
master of the house, stretched upon a divan, smokes his pipe, a crying
child beside him on the floor. His wife enters, staggering under a heavy
stone water jar on her shoulder, another in her hand, and a child tied
on her back. He exclaims, "Oh, woman, may God curse you! this child
gives me the headache! come, take it also on your back."

A full two-page colored cartoon depicts the carriage of a most exalted
personage, with the veiled wife in it rolling through the street, while
all men and boys are turning their backs, and some even shutting their
eyes in obedience to officers armed with long whips. A dog also has
duteously and humbly turned his back to the forbidden sight, and is
crouched down with the most virtuous air you could imagine. When such
satires as this can appear, and the edition of the paper runs up into
the thousands, people are beginning to think.




There is indeed another side to the question, and all honor to the
Moslem men whose eyes are open to see the wrongs of women, whose hearts
pity, and who venture into the thorny and dangerous path of reform! Many
more, no doubt, feel all these things, but what can they do? They are so
bound in the net of custom and prejudice, that it is next to impossible
to remedy, in any degree, the existing evils; while by attempting it,
they run the risk of making things worse, and so shrug their shoulders,
and feel there is nothing to do but to submit.

One husband, sincerely attached to his wife, said to me, "How glad I
should be to see her free as you are! It is no pleasure to me to have
her shrouded in a black wrap, and shut up behind a curtain; it is the
dream of my life to take her to Europe, and have her travel with me, as
a companion and a friend. But in this country I dare not deviate in the
least from our customs; she is so pretty, if other men saw her I should
be killed for her sake." This man was studying English, and the teacher
being a man, the lady sat behind a screen, listening to the lessons,
and learning faster than the gentleman. Though he had three other wives,
this one (though being childless) had complete possession of his heart.
They gave a supper to our lady physician and myself, he doing us the
honor to wait on the table, a thing which, had not my own eyes seen it,
I could not have believed possible in Persia. It was sufficiently
surprising to have him sit at the same table and eat with us, but how
much more so, that with each course he should rise, change our plate,
and serve the food which the cook brought to the door of the room. He
had never appeared so honorable in our eyes, as when, thus laying aside
the pride of rank and station, he was "among us as one that served."

[Illustration: MAT-MAKERS (PERSIA)]


When one first comes to a Moslem country, a sentiment of profound pity
for the women predominates; but as it is evident that half the
population cannot be kept in an unnatural and degraded condition,
without entailing disastrous consequences on the other half, one begins
to feel equal sympathy for the men, who suffer under the disadvantage of
having no true family life, and indeed of being unable to form a
conception of what it is.

The great trouble is the lack of confidence in married life; as it is a
very rare thing to find a wife who can trust her husband not to divorce
her, if it appear convenient and desirable, or not to add to his wives
if he be able.

Divorce, which a woman may obtain under certain rare conditions, is a
man's right without restriction. A woman's only protection is, her dowry
must be paid her, and her husband must pronounce the sentence of divorce
three times. Thus a little check is put on an angry impulse. Age, poor
health, loss of beauty or eyesight, lack of children, especially of
sons, or the merest whim, may be the excuse for it. The most pathetic
appeals are made to the lady doctor, by women in dread of divorce.

A wealthy nobleman, married to a young and beautiful lady of equal rank,
the mother of both sons and daughters, and as reported, with a fair
amount of wedded happiness, was dazzled by a proposed alliance with a
princess of such rank as to brook no rival. The indispensable condition
was a divorce, and absolute separation from the wife he had. She knew
nothing of her fate till one day, when visiting at her brother's, word
was brought her she need not return home. That night the wedding was
celebrated with firing of cannon and great festivities, but the children
were crying for their mother, and for her and them there was no redress.
She immediately went on pilgrimage to a holy shrine, to pray that her
husband and his new wife might be cursed of God. The man met with some
very signal and public reverses, and transported with joy, she flew to
another sacred place, to call down more misfortunes on his head.

Many of the divorced women remarry; others become beggars or
maid-servants. As for the children, if the family be wealthy, they
remain with the father; if poor, in case both parents find other
partners, they are often cast adrift to shift for themselves.

On a journey, the wife of the muleteer was seen to be laying aside part
of the tea, sugar, etc., purchased by the man for their joint use, and
was asked the cause. She replied, "It is necessary to make some
provision for myself against the day when he shall divorce me; I have
had six husbands and he has had seven wives; what can I expect?" The
couple had been newly married, and this was their wedding trip.

A sad-faced drudge in our lodging place told us, "I am the twenty-fifth
wife, some are divorced, some dead; to-morrow it may be my turn to go."

Polygamy is prevalent among the rich who can afford it, and is regarded
by many as highly meritorious. Some of the poor also practise it, but
most of them have but one wife at a time, and are comparatively faithful
to her. The percentage of men who live in polygamy is difficult to
arrive at, but a good judge has estimated it at thirty per cent. The
best men seem to be ashamed and to deprecate it. Some say it is
forbidden in the Koran, by the verse which allows only as many wives as
a man can treat with equity; as they say this is an impossibility, if a
man has more than one consort, to treat them alike. When asked about the
example of the Prophet, and the holy men, especially the Imams, they
say, as for Mohammed, he was allowed peculiar privileges, not granted to
other men. Some who consider the Imams sinless, explain their conduct in
the same way. Those who do not accept this solution say the Imams did
wrong in having a plurality of wives. When asked about the Shah, they
reply he does wrong in practising polygamy, but it is permitted to him
because he has the power in his hands.

No Moslem woman is supposed to have any right to require or expect that
her husband will be true to her in the marriage relation, though
fidelity to him is rigorously exacted of her, and her breach of it is
punishable with death.

There may be instances where the women of a polygamous household agree;
the casual stranger, who visits a harem without any knowledge of the
language, or personal acquaintance with the inmates, will often be
assured that they love each other fondly, and are more than sisters in
friendship; but the trusted family friend, or the lady doctor, can tell
a very different tale.

Our doctor told me once, she thought the two women of a certain house,
were an exception to the general rule, and that they really were
friends; but soon after, the older one being sick, she saw a good deal
of her in private, and was obliged sadly to confess she had been

I have myself known of one case, in which the rival wives were of the
same mind. One of our neighbors had two partners of his joys and
sorrows, who sometimes joined forces, and gave him a good beating, so
he would be seen flying in hot haste from his "happy" home. One man said
to one of us, "I don't need to die in order to go to hell; I have it in
my own house; I live there." Another, when told by the indignant doctor,
"Your mode of life is beastly," replied, "I know it; compared with me
the beasts are decent."

If the wives are in the same house, it is filled with bitterness and
jealousy; if they are in separate houses or even in different towns, the
case is not much better. If the women were not taught by their religious
leaders that their sufferings are the will of God, and that it is very
meritorious to accept them, and if they believed any other fate
possible, I do not think they would endure it. They say "Christian women
have their heaven now, but afterwards they will inherit endless
suffering; we have hell in this life, but hereafter shall come eternal

"Do we love our husbands?" said one in answer to a question, "Yes, as
much as a sieve holds water." One of our friends, the third of three
wives in one house, was found by us at her mother's. "Oh, yes," she
said, "I have come home to stay; I simply could not bear it any longer;
so I hired a woman to take my place with my husband and came here."

These are regularly married wives, with dowry rights and the protection
of law. What of the poor temporary hired ones, who come for a longer or
shorter period, and a specified wage? This is the peculiar shame and
blot of the Shiah sect of Islam, which not only tolerates the vile
institution of _muti_, but takes it under the sanction of law and
custom, and even permits the ministers of religion to be the chief
promoters of it, many of them accumulating wealth by this base means.

You will sometimes hear it stated that there are no houses of
prostitution in Moslem lands. In Persia, at least, the institution may
not exist in precisely the same form as in other countries, where it is
under the ban of the law, and in defiance of public opinion, but it is
here, in a form which utterly depraves the mind of the people, and
obliterates for them all moral distinctions, poisoning family life at
the very fountain. It is impossible to go fully into this subject: the
details are too revolting, but one or two instances may suffice.

We know of a girl who was sold for five dollars by her family, and taken
by her brother to a city where a Khan wished for her during his
temporary sojourn; on his return he discarded her, and she came back to
her family, her social standing in no wise affected by the transaction,
which was merely a matter of business. An old roué, who had already had
over thirty wives, sitting like a spider in his web, from his upper
window spied a pretty young girl in the street. Her family was poor, and
he tempted them with money and large promises, and sent silks and satins
for the trousseau. It was all but done, when some missionary ladies
remonstrated on her behalf, and showed how she would soon come back to
them ruined and diseased. So she escaped for that time.

In the house of my Turkish teacher, I was introduced to "my brother's
wife." Inquiring about her some months after I was told, "My brother has
no wife; he has never been married." "But who, then, was that woman who
was presented to me as his wife?" "That was a _muti_ woman; he treated
her so badly she could not stay her time out, but asked to be excused
and went away without her money."

The effect of polygamy and divorce on children is very bad. A son,
particularly, seeing his mother treated with disrespect, feels contempt
for her, and will in many cases tyrannize over and beat her. Another
effect is that curiosity is stimulated, and a premature and unhallowed
knowledge is gained of the most sacred relations of life, which is
contaminating, and destroys for ever the innocence of childhood. As a
matter of course, there is jealousy between the children of different
wives, and estrangement and hatred destroy family affection. One who has
seen the children of Sarah in the place of honor, presented proudly to
the visitor and indulged in every wish, and at the same time the
children of Hagar standing humbly in the presence as servants, or
hanging about the door outside, will not soon forget the contrast.

In such a house there is nothing whatever to teach a boy the possibility
of leading a clean life; purity is not expected of him, and often the
most elaborate provision is made to satisfy the lusts of the flesh. The
mother of a young boy will hire a female servant for him as part of the
regular family. The effect of such an element on the whole household may
be imagined. Bitter also is the retribution often suffered for such
breaches of the law of God. Barrenness is a most common thing, and the
Moslem population does not increase but barely replaces itself, while
the Jews and Christians, whose family life is comparatively pure,
survive and win in the race of life.

If a Moslem woman were sure of her place in her husband's affection and
her position in the home, I am certain she would prove herself as worthy
as any; for I have observed some families among them where the tradition
or custom of the clan is against polygamy and divorce, and the women in
those homes are loyal to their husbands' interests, ready to work hard
and deny themselves for the home which they know is guaranteed to them
and their children. We are very apt to think that having known nothing
better and having nothing else to hope for, they must be contented and
reconciled to their lot. This reminds one of the answer of the old
fishwife, when one remonstrated with her on the habit of skinning eels
alive, "Oh, they don't mind it; they are used to it." This is far from
being the case, and it is especially true of those who, by travel or
contact with Christians, have had their eyes opened to the fact, that
in other countries their sisters enjoy advantages of education, and are
objects of respect denied to themselves; that Christian women are
trusted with freedom, and as a rule prove worthy of it.

Yet the fact remains: these women and girls cannot be educated and
emancipated, without bringing to bear on the social fabric influences
which would result in its disintegration and destruction, with nothing
better to replace it. Galling as are the curtain and the veil, they
cannot be dispensed with, for fear of worse evils. Ignorance and
seclusion are better than education and liberty without moral restraint.

While polygamy and divorce exist, and there is no standard of purity
equally applicable to both sexes, more freedom than woman now possesses
cannot with safety be granted her. I fail to see any remedy, but in the
doctrine and practice of Christianity. The fact known to be true of a
school in Syria, points out the solution of the problem. Of the pupils
of a Protestant school, conducted there, for many years, and largely
attended by Moslem girls, it is stated a case has never been known where
a pupil who had passed through their hands had been divorced or obliged
to accept a second wife in her home.

These women have learned lessons of duty, of personal responsibility to
God, of self-respect, self-control, kindness, and love, that cause the
hearts of their husbands safely to trust in them. Can we say as much
for any other system of education or religion?

Certainly Mohammedanism, with its twin evils of polygamy and divorce,
has not only failed to elevate woman, but has everywhere resulted in her
degradation. More pitiful than the more obvious wrongs inflicted by this
system, is the effect produced upon character. Being distrusted, she has
become untrustworthy; being abused, she has become abusive; and every
evil passion is given free rein.

The bad wife is described by a Moslem writer as "a rebel for contumacy
and unruliness; as a foe for contemptuousness and reproach; and as a
thief for treacherous designs upon her husband's purse." She becomes an
adept in the use of woman's weapon, the tongue; "an unruly evil full of
deadly poison." "An angry woman in a passion of rage, pouring forth
torrents of curses and invectives, is a fury incarnate." The jealousy of
rival wives often leads to dreadful crimes. One woman became blind from
vitriol thrown in her face by another wife; an only son, most precious
and of high rank, was poisoned in his innocent babyhood by his mother's
rival; a young bride attempted suicide in her despair.

These are but instances; every harem has its unwritten tragedies.

Not the least feature of the moral ruin into which they have fallen, is
the impurity which seems to permeate every thought; so that they delight
in obscene songs, vile allusions, and impure narratives. A missionary
lady visiting at the home of a highborn Moslem woman, very religious and
devout according to their standards, was so shocked by the character of
the conversation with which her hostess was trying to entertain her, as
to be forced to say, "If you talk to me like this, I shall be obliged to
excuse myself and leave your house."

Saddest of all, they often become so depraved that they not only connive
at the evils of the system, but actively promote them. A lady going on a
long pilgrimage herself chose and brought two young girls, to be her
husband's concubines in her absence. A mother cultivates in her son the
passions she should teach him to subdue. The present mode of life is
supposed to be perpetuated in Paradise, where every true believer is to
have "seventy-two wives, and eighty thousand slaves," all Houris
specially created for him. The place for Moslem woman is not definitely

The religion that robs them of happiness in this life, and gives no hope
of it in the next, lays the same obligations upon them as on men, viz.,
the five foundations of practice: the witnessing to the Unity of God and
the apostleship of the Prophet; observing the five daily seasons of
prayer; alms-giving; the fast of Ramazan; and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

In Persia is added the mourning for a month, for Hassan and Hossein, the
martyred grandsons of Mohammed. As in all religions, women are most
zealous and devoted in the performance of these duties, but the
practice of Islam has nothing to satisfy their soul hunger. Their belief
in God is cruel fatalism, and all their rites work no change of heart,
and give no peace of conscience.

The Gospel comes to them with a special appeal, and bringing its own
message. That they should have any message, or be considered at all, is
news to them; they are so used to neglect and disrespect. When two of
us, at the invitation of a lady of rank, attended their Passion Play, we
sat with her on the ground, among a crowd of women, who were pushed
about by ushers with long poles, while the "lords of creation" sat
comfortably above on chairs, and in booths.

So accustomed are Moslem women to being hustled about that they wonder
at Christ's "Forbid them not," which we are apt to apply only to the
children, forgetting that it was spoken for the mothers. It is sometimes
most amusing to see a pompous dignitary crowd his way into the
dispensary of the lady physician, and when made with difficulty to
understand that only women are treated there, retire crestfallen. There
at least women have not only the first, but the only entrance. They are
not surprised at the Syrophenician woman being called "a dog." They are
used to the epithet and employ it themselves. One often hears one
berating her own offspring, as "child of a dog." When driven to
desperation by want, the Persian woman can be as defiant, shameless,
and persistent, as she of old before the unjust judge. Not unfrequently
mobs of women led by a woman, attack the gates of the governors,
demanding bread.

Their often miserable and diseased condition of health makes them feel
how tender is Christ's compassion in His miracles of healing. They also
have often suffered much from quack nostrums, "only to grow worse." In
any crowd of village women, one may see an old hag, bent and "bowed
together--not able to lift herself up," and there is no more pitiful
sight than the old women of Persia. A neighbor, a hundred years old,
always appeals to our charity on the ground of being "an orphan."

Their life and occupations are so identical with those of Bible times,
that they feel at once familiar with the scenes described in the New
Testament. Every morning, a village woman must mix the leaven in her
meal for the daily baking, must sweep her mud floor, and often two of
them sit at the hand mill grinding wheat or salt. Every one who can,
wears a necklace of silver coins, and counts each one precious. The
custom of covering the face "lest a man look upon a woman" is so
inwrought into their earliest training that they are able to draw their
veils _instantly_, whatever they are doing, if a man approaches.

They marvel, as did Christ's disciples, that He talked with a woman,
especially of a foreign race, and that He asked for a drink of water,
for to-day the Persians think a cup defiled if a Christian drink from
it. In a wedding procession in a village, the musicians lead with fife
and drum, and "the virgins" follow in all the finery they can muster. At
times of mourning also, they act just as the Gospels describe. Friends
gather to "weep and bewail." I have seen a roomful of women swaying and
sobbing, while a mother chanted a plaintive refrain: "Alas! alas!"
repeating the beloved name of the dead; often tearing her hair, and
beating her breast. I have often seen blear-eyed women, who said they
had become so by excessive weeping over the death of a child. To such
comes Jesus' message, "Weep not."

Religious observances in Persia are such as give special significance to
Gospel teaching. I had a visitor whose lips were continually mumbling
while she fingered her beads. She told me she was making merit, by
repeating the hundred names of Allah. Often when in their homes, our
hostess will excuse herself, because "it is the hour of prayer," and
going to a corner of the same room, will go through the forms and
gestures of Mohammedan worship. "Vain repetitions" they seem, when we
know the words are Arabic, a language she does not understand; and as in
the midst of her prayers she calls out directions to her servants, one
can see there is no devotion in them.

Fasting is a terrible burden, when, for a month, from dawn to dark, not
a morsel of food, or drop of water, or a whiff of the loved cigarette or
pipe can pass their lips. The people acknowledge that it is the cause
of quarrelling and reviling, so irritable do they become under the
strain, yet they dare not "break their fast" for fear of others.

All who can afford it make the long pilgrimage to Mecca, or in lieu of
that to Kerbela or Meshed; and bear thereafter the holy name of Haji,
Kerbelai, or Meshedi. To them it is a new thought, given by Christ to
the woman of Sychar, that no special location is "the place where men
ought to worship." Of all His words none receive more approval from the
Persian woman than His teachings on marriage and divorce. They often say
to us, "How happy you Christian women are with no fear of divorce!"

Not only Christ's teachings but His character makes an impression, and
His gentleness and purity especially attract them. We are shocked at the
coarse questions: "Can God have a Son? Was Jesus married?" but as they
hear the story of His marvellous life a look of awe sometimes comes into
their faces, as the vision of "the White Christ" dawns upon them.

A Moslem lady said to me, "I cannot read, but one woman in our harem
can, and she reads the Injil (New Testament) to us; we can never get
enough of it." Another, making a call of condolence upon me, said,
"There is only one book that can comfort you; you have told me about it;
now I tell you."

Those who have grown up in the midst of free institutions, under the
protection of law, and in the light of publicity, can really have no
idea of the difficulties to be encountered by the Moslem woman who
becomes a Christian. A man can escape by flight, but this refuge is
denied her. Even if she wish to keep her change of faith secret, it is
impossible to do so, and be true to her new-found Saviour. The whole
warp and woof of her daily life are so bound up with religious
observances, and the least failure to perform them is so jealously
noted, the least endeavor to fulfil the commands of the Gospel with
regard to Sabbath rest, reading the Word, or secret prayer is at once
the object of remark and criticism; often of active opposition. Were it
not so her changed life and character mark her out as walking in a
different path and measuring her conduct by another standard from those
who surround her. She is most happy if, as sometimes happens, her
husband, brother, father, or son is in sympathy with her, and has
perhaps been the means of her enlightenment; or if a sister or friend is
of like faith, and they can strengthen each other. But often she stands
entirely alone in her family and social circle, and must bear much petty
persecution, even if she is not turned out of her home, does not lose
her children, or her life. In such circumstances, if a convert stand
firm, and even win her enemies to accept Jesus, it is a genuine miracle.
Yet it is seen to occur.

Words cannot tell the beauty of some of these transformed faces: the
sweetness plucked from bitterness, the "lily among thorns." The present
help of a living Saviour and the wonderful hopes for the future have
made life an entirely different thing. One such who had borne a heavy
yoke in her youth, had suffered deeply, and with rancor and rebellion in
her heart against him who had blighted her life, has learned to forgive
and pray for the one who so deeply injured her; and her daily household
life is a triumph of grace. During a cholera epidemic, when all around
were panic-stricken, she and her sisters, who have found the like
precious refuge, were perfectly calm, saying, "Why should we fear death?
It can only take us to Jesus, which is far better; as living or dying we
are His."

One old woman walked three miles and back once a week in order to be
instructed in the Gospel, and is never satisfied, always wants to learn
more, and takes great pains to remember texts and prayers. Once after
the others had gone she caught hold of me, saying, "Do you think I walk
all these miles, with my blind eyes, to learn nothing? Come and teach me
some more." Showing some hard barley bread, she said, "No one shall say
I come for food; I have brought my own bread."

Another woman, whose paralytic son had learned to read the Bible, said,
"At first I did not care for it, but little by little I got to love it."
It worked a transformation in that humble home; the son in his first
despair had attempted to poison himself; but he learned to praise God
for the affliction which was the means of acquainting him with his
Saviour. The mother instead of considering the helpless young man a
burden, and complaining of the misfortune, nursed him for years with
such rare patience and tenderness, that we marvelled to see it. The
contrast between her and her neighbors is marked; her face is gentle and
kind, her voice sweet. She is faithful, industrious, and honest; for a
whole summer when a family was absent, she went alone every week to
sweep the house, and not a thing was ever missed, though, in general, we
expect nothing better than pilfering and theft from the women of the

In one city is gathered a little band of believing women, who hold a
weekly prayer meeting, and "it is most touching to hear their simple
requests and pleading for this and that one still outside the fold. When
I was going to B---- they gave me a message for the sisters there. They
had long taken a special interest in the work in that place, and never
failed to remember it at the throne of grace. They had heard several
women there were secret believers, but afraid to confess their faith
openly, so they sent word to them that they themselves were once in the
same state. They feared to confess Christ before men, but He had
promised to be with them, and He had given them grace to come out
boldly, and He had kept His promise to give peace and joy in all times
of trial and difficulty. They then begged their sisters to do as they
had done, to take the plunge, trusting in His power to help them, and
they would find all their fears taken away and courage given instead."

Such, living and dying, was the experience of Almass of Urumia. She had
become a Christian, and her husband also had suffered great persecution
from her own family on this account. Her husband being away, she was
living in her father's house, and her stepmother would not even give her
enough to eat, constantly reviled her, made her life bitter, and did her
best to prevent her praying. Being stricken with consumption, she went
to the hospital, where she rejoiced in Christian companionship and
instruction, but at the last, she was taken to her own home to die. A
young Nestorian doctor, called in to attend her, witnessed her
triumphant death; himself but a nominal Christian, he exclaimed, "Would
that I could die so happy!" Her whole trust was in Jesus, and her only
anxiety that her little daughter should be trained in the same faith.

Almass means diamond, and in the day when the Lord "makes up His jewels"
she will surely be among them.

    Far away in the isles of Bahrein,
      Down under the depths of the sea,
    The Persian diver gathers his shells
      For the goodly pearls that shall be.

    And what is the price of a goodly pearl?
      A merchant man once for one,
    'Tis said, sold all he ever possessed,
      And counted the deed well done.

    And what is the price of a human soul?
      The price it is set so high
    The Son of God gave all that He had
      When He came on earth to buy.

    Submerged in the sea of sin are the souls,
      Are the souls of Persian girls;
    Ah! who will dive to the lowest depths,
      To gather these hidden pearls?

    They are gems for the crown of the King of kings,
      More precious far in His sight
    Than the jewels rare of the Shah-în-Shah,--
      All His glory and delight.



In the degraded position of its women is to be seen the worst fruit of
the religion of Islam. I will quote from the Government Report of
British Baluchistan: "Throughout the Province, but especially among the
Afghans and Brahuis, the position of woman is one of extreme
degradation; she is not only a mere household drudge, but she is the
slave of man in all his needs, and her life is one of continual and
abject toil. No sooner is a girl fit for work than her parents send her
to tend cattle and she is compelled to take her part in all the ordinary
household duties. Owing to the system of _walwar_ in vogue among the
Afghans, a girl, as soon as she reaches nubile age, is, for all
practical purposes, put up for auction sale to the highest bidder. The
father discourses on her merits, as a beauty or as a housekeeper, in the
public meeting places, and invites offers from those who are in want of
a wife. Even the more wealthy and more respectable Afghans are not above
this system of thus lauding the human wares which they have for sale.
The betrothal of girls who are not yet born is frequent, and a promise
of a girl thus made is considered particularly binding.

"It is also usual for an award of compensation for blood to be ordered
to be paid in this shape of girls, some of whom are living, while others
are not yet born.

"Similar customs prevail among the Jhalawan Brahuis, but they have not
yet extended to all the Balneh tribes, though there are signs that the
poorer classes are inclined to adopt them. The exchange of girls,
however, among the Baluchis and the framing of conditions, regarding any
offspring which may result from the marriage, indicate that among this
race also, women are regarded in much the same light.

"These details may appear to be beside the mark in discussing the
classification of women as dependents or actual workers, but I relate
them with the object of showing that woman in Baluchistan is regarded as
little more than a chattel. For where such a state of parental feeling
or rather want of feeling is to be found, is it surprising to find that
woman is considered either as a means for increasing man's comforts, in
the greater ease with which they are procured by her toil, or an object
for the gratification of his animal passions?

"A wife in Baluchistan must not only carry water, prepare food, and
attend to all ordinary household duties, but she must take the flocks
out to graze, groom her husband's horse, and assist in the cultivation.
So far is this principle carried out among the Jajars of Zhob, that it
is considered incumbent on a married woman of this tribe to provide
means by her own labor for clothing herself, her husband, and her
children, and she receives no assistance, monetary or otherwise, for
this purpose from her husband, but in addition to all this, the husband
hopes that she may become the mother of girls who will fetch as high a
price as their mother did before them. Hence it happens that among
Afghans, polygamy is only limited by the purchasing power of a man; and
a wife is looked on as a better investment than cattle, for in a country
where drought and scarcity are continually present, the risk of loss of
animals is great, whilst the offspring of a woman, if a girl, will
assuredly fetch a high price." So far the census report.

Slavery, polygamy, and concubinage exist throughout the Kelat state and
Baluchi area. Slavery is of a domestic character, but the slave is often
in a degraded and ignorant condition, and in times of scarcity almost
starved by his owner.

The female slaves often lead the lives of common prostitutes, especially
among the Baluch tribes, where the state of the women generally seems
very degraded.

Regarding polygamy, the average man is unable to afford more than one
wife, but the higher classes often possess from thirty to sixty women,
many of them from the Hazare tribes of Afghanistan, whose women and
children, during the rebellion in the late Amir's reign, were sold over
into Baluchistan and Afghanistan. In nearly every village of any size
one sees the Hazare women, and the chief will talk of buying them as a
farmer at home will speak of purchasing cattle.

Worse than all, one has daily illustrations of the truth that the sins
of the fathers are visited on their families, in the degraded victims of
inherited and acquired disease who come to the missionary doctor for
relief, healing being impossible in many of the cases of these poor
women. Pure selfishness characterizes the men in their relationship with
their wives. All must not and cannot be told in illustration of this,
but what happened a short time ago in our out-patient department of the
Zenana Mission Hospital is an instance.

A young Brahui mother was brought in order to be relieved from suffering
by an operation which would require her to remain in the hospital a
fortnight. When this was proposed, the woman who brought her said at
once, "If she does that her husband will send her away." The poor girl
had to depart untreated, because the husband feared his bodily comforts
might be less if she were not there to minister to them.

May those who see this dark picture of the effect of Islam on womanhood
in the East, do all that is in them to bring the glorious light of the
Gospel of Christ to their suffering sisters.



In South India the Mohammedans have been more or less influenced by the
Christian and heathen communities by which they are surrounded. Many of
them, especially those belonging to the trading communities, have
married women of Hindoo birth who have become nominal Mohammedans.

Amongst the higher classes, especially amongst the rich and well-to-do,
polygamy is still common, though there are many men who have only one
wife and few who have more than two. As a rule, in the city of Madras,
each wife will have a small place of her own. It is a rare thing for
several wives to live in the same house. It is, however, extremely
difficult to find out, without undue questioning, who the various
inmates are. Often a house will be quite full of women and children of
all ages, but as a rule the true explanation will be that the head of
the house has many sons, each of whom has brought his wife to live in
his old home, and all live in strict outward obedience to the
mother-in-law. How much depends upon this mother-in-law! When she is a
kindly, peaceable woman, things go fairly smoothly, but terrible things
happen in homes where the mother-in-law is harsh and severe.

In all the homes the purdah is strictly kept, and alas! who can tell
what dark deeds are _occasionally_ done in these secluded homes. Still
education is spreading rapidly, and with it changes must and do come.
Young educated Mohammedans are now wanting educated wives. The principal
Mohammedans in Madras come very much in contact with Europeans and are
considerably influenced by them, and we do not see the Moslem as he
appears in Moslem countries under Moslem rule, but as he appears after
living for generations under the British flag. If he disagrees with
public opinion (which no doubt he often does) he keeps his opinion very
much to himself, and with graceful courtesy agrees to differ.

The purdah system is one that brings with it terrible evils, and yet it
is a system to which those who apparently suffer from it most, cling the
most closely. The secluded women themselves look upon it as an honor,
and a proof of the value set upon them. Even the very poorest people
seclude their wives; while soldiers on the march hang up blankets,
sheets, and even rags to form a little enclosure for their wives at each
halting place. Though individual women will often speak of their many
troubles they rarely mention their isolation, and truly pity those of
other nations who are not taken equal care of. With education this
aspect of affairs will change, and girls who have been educated in
mission schools view things in a very different light and no doubt long
for greater freedom.

The best and only method of helping these poor secluded women is to
spread amongst them the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else
can really help them, and the great means of doing so is by education.
Educating them to read so that they can read of Him in their seclusion,
and educating them as thoroughly as possible in schools and
house-to-house visitation so that they can understand what they read.

Let me give one illustration of what can be done in this way. Some years
ago I was called in to a small zenana, where the family were of noble
birth but extremely poor; so proud that they would all rather starve
than take money or tell of their troubles. Three little girls read with
me, and very bright and intelligent I found them. The mother was in bad
health and seemed sad, though her husband was always very kind to her.
The girls read regularly and got very fond of their lessons and wished
they could live like English girls. One day I was told that the elder
girl was to be married the next week. She was in great distress, for she
knew nothing of the man who had been chosen for her and feared naturally
that he might be uneducated and ignorant. I was unable to go to the
wedding, and to my great distress the young bride was taken away to a
distant town without my seeing her again. Some months passed and then I
got a letter from a stranger. It was well written and well expressed in
English and I found to my great delight that it was from the husband of
my old pupil. He said he felt he must write to thank me for having
educated his wife to be a friend and companion for him. He had heard
from a friend that some girls of his own class were being educated in
Madras and he had asked for one in marriage. His dread for years had
been to be bound to an ignorant woman and now his fears were dispersed;
his wife was a great pleasure to him and her judgment of great use. He
added, "I can only think that her progress has been due to her study of
the Bible, and I want you to send me a copy that we may study together."
He is dead now and the girl widow is in great distress. She says: "I
have been in the light and am now back in the dark." This shows what can
be done by education to raise a people so degraded as many Mohammedans

The part of South India where the Mohammedans are most independent is
the "Nizam's Dominion," which is under the control of the Nizam of
Hyderabad (subject, of course, to England). Hyderabad is a large walled
city, crowded with rather fierce-looking Mohammedans, and it is only of
late years that English people have been allowed within the walls
without an escort. Even at the present day no English live inside the
walls. Everything inside is purely Mohammedan, and the English live at
Secunderabad, where the English troops are stationed, just a few miles

In Hyderabad, were it not for H. H. the Nizam, many of the Nawabs would
be glad to bring their wives out. Quite a number of the leading nobles
have but one wife and glory in the fact. The Crown Prince (Sahibzada)
has been married lately to a lady of noble family. This was probably the
first Nizam to get married. The Nizam, from the fear of intrigue, fills
his harem with low-class women. Some of the nobles bring their wives out
of purdah as soon as they leave the state on a holiday.

Polygamy is still common, especially among the well-to-do. A ready
purchase of slaves, during the great famine of 1900, as concubines,
proves that this evil still exists. Few men have "many" wives, however.

The effect on home life of this system is evident. The Sahibzada (the
next Nizam) when a boy was taken from the palace, his home, to escape
the evils and temptations of a royal zenana. He lived in a large house
with only his tutor and guardians till his marriage. A thoughtful munshi
who was anxious about his children's morals, deplored a system that made
the mother so ignorant of the outside world and so unable to direct a
young son aright.

Let me give you a few of my experiences with regard to Mussulman women,
especially during my stay in Hyderabad. One zenana we used to visit
belonged to an old man who professed to be a great reformer, but whose
women were still in strict purdah. He several times told us that he
would be delighted if we could persuade his wife and daughters to go out
with us, but of course they would not hear of such a thing. To their
minds it is only the very poor and degraded who wander about unveiled or
even drive in an open carriage, and would not all the ladies of their
acquaintance be horrified at the bare idea of their leaving their old
habits. So that all our arguments and persuasion were useless, and the
husband went on writing his papers on the need of reform in the
treatment of their women. With this lady and her daughters we one day
went to a fair for women only. We had to submit to having our carriage
covered with a very large sheet so that no eye could see through the
closed venetians, and when, after great difficulty, the lady had been
placed in the carriage we drove to the enclosure where the fair was to
be held. Right into the enclosure drove the carriage, and then the
ladies, carefully shrouded in sheets, were conducted through a narrow
gateway into a second enclosure, and there were thousands of women and
children. Not a man was to be seen anywhere. It was so strange to see
them wandering about freely in their bright-colored garments and to
remember the streets of the great city they had come from, where hardly
a woman is ever seen. These women never crossed the threshold of their
houses before perhaps, so it was like fairyland to them.

We found one large, gaily decorated erection belonging to one of the
Nawabs of Hyderabad, and the women called us in and plied us with many
questions, and then begged us to go to their house to see them. We went
one day to find these new friends. After driving two or three miles we
came to a quaint walled village, passed under the gateway, and were
directed to the great man's house. We were told he had two hundred women
in his zenana. In front of the house we saw a young man with a drawn
sword, just about to mount his horse. He seemed much amused when we told
him we wanted to go and see the ladies, but he conducted us in to see
the head of the house. He was very polite, and asked us why we had come,
etc. We told him our commission and showed our Gospel, and at last he
said, "Oh, yes! You can go in." So we were conducted to the other side
of the courtyard and came to an enormous iron gate. A little door in the
middle of it was opened for us to squeeze through, and we were in the

Outside were plenty of sun and air, a grand, spacious courtyard with
beds of flowers, and arched verandahs with large cushions to sit on and
lean against.

Inside was a narrow courtyard which gave you the impression of not being
big enough for all the women and children who crowded round. No garden,
no flowers, no pretty verandahs, nor cushions. Old ladies and young
girls, my heart sank as I saw them all shut in together in this prison.
They were very pleased for us to sing for them, but it seemed impossible
to talk to them. Even if _one_ wanted to listen the others would not let
her. We always came away with a sad feeling. The woman who first asked
us to go seemed to be in disgrace when we went the second time, and
would not come near us, and there seemed to be quite a little world to
itself of intrigue and quarrel, joy, and sorrow, and sin in there. One
old lady would have sung to her the quaint Hindustani bhajam "Rise,
pilgrim, get ready, the time is fast going," but she did not want to
hear about our Lord Jesus.

One day, when walking up a street in Hyderabad city selling Gospels, a
boy called us into a large house. Here we found a little Nawab being
taught by his teacher, who was very polite. The great houses give you a
curious feeling; all is grand and spacious, but nothing is comfortable
or home-like. Great verandahs and balconies all round the central
courtyard and garden. After hearing our errand, the young Nawab offered
to take us to his mother and grandmother. We went with him. In one
corner of the courtyard was a funny little hole, we could not call it a
door, with a dirty piece of sacking hanging in front of it. We went
through and found ourselves in the zenana. Crowds of women and a dirty,
dull, dreary-looking place are all that stays in my memory; but we were
not allowed to look long, for no sooner did the old grandmother find we
had the Gospel of Jesus, than she had us hustled out. In vain the boy
and younger woman pleaded for us to stay. She would not hear of it, so
we had to go. We left some Gospels with the boy. The teacher begged for
the whole Bible, which we sold him a few days later. Into many zenanas
we went in this way, but we did not get invited a second time as a rule,
and we generally find that having once been able to tell the Gospel in a
Mussulman house, if we do go a second time, we find the women primed
with stock arguments against us.

We find we get nearest to them in the medical work. We hear tales and
stories in the dead of night then, when sitting with them, which we do
not get a hint of at other times. I remember a woman once showing me her
arm all covered with cuts which she said her husband had done to her
because she had been fighting with the other wife. We, with our ideas of
freedom and liberty, may think these women unhappy, but _they_ do not
seem to be more so than our own women. They are quite used to their own
life and look down upon us poor things, who are so degraded that we
allow men to see us freely with no shame! They see no privation in not
being allowed to go out, or to see the world, and yet it is a suicidal
system. For the women have not the least idea of what the men and boys
are doing.

Many a time have I seen a mother try to chastize her boy, but he had
only to get to the door and slip out and she could not go after him.
Since the girls can never go out they do not need much education of any
sort, and the husband knows the wife has no knowledge whatever of the
world outside, so what is the use of talking to her? So amongst
Mussulmans there is stagnation, and they of nearly all the people in
India make least progress. Ninety-five per cent. of them are classed as
illiterate in the last census!

Still progress is being made, we feel quite sure, and one thing seems to
prove this. Though the Mohammedans in South India are backward and full
of things to be deplored, yet they are innocent of many things which are
evidently carried on in other Mohammedan countries. We, in South India,
who have for years worked amongst Moslems never heard of the customs
which seem to prevail in Egypt. Divorce is rarely heard of. Possibly it
is too expensive, as the husband must return the dower. A woman being
married to half a dozen husbands in succession is unheard of. Surely
this shows that where education spreads and where Christianity,
unconsciously perhaps, permeates the whole, there is a brighter day
dawning for Islam. What is wanted is more teachers, more helpers to take
up the work of spreading the knowledge of the Lord in Moslem lands.



Among the numerous nations and tribes which adhere to the doctrine of
Mohammed, the condition of women is of course not everywhere the same.
In the vicinity of Europe, e. g., in European Turkey, the influence of
European morality and customs has become more and more prevailing in
spite of the resistance of Moslem priests. Another difference in the
condition of women, which can be observed everywhere and which we shall
occasionally refer to, arises from their social position; among the
richer classes a woman must submit to rules and customs different from
those which are standard among the poorer classes. The fundamental
views, however, are the same; the evil is one, though its outward
appearance may differ in some respects.

The misfortune of a Mohammedan woman begins at her birth, for instead of
rejoicing at the arrival of her little daughter, the mother complains
that she is not a son. She knows that a girl will leave her at the age
of about fourteen, in order to live in her husband's house, and after
that she will hardly have any connection with her mother, whereas a son
will stay at his mother's house and support her in case she should be
divorced from her husband. Moreover the mother is anxious lest her
husband dismiss her and take another wife. In consequence the mother
feels less affection for her daughter than she would have felt for a
son; she takes little care of her and neglects her. When about six years
old the little girl begins to do housework; she is ordered to carry
water, to sweep the house, to do kitchen-work, and so on. For the least
mistake she is scolded and beaten, and even if it happens without any
reason, she is not allowed to complain or to defend herself. By this
treatment the mother prepares her for the hard lot which awaits her.
Sometimes also she will exclaim: "If you had had good fortune, you would
have been a boy and not a girl." The father treats her with no less
cruelty, so as to give her the impression that she is indeed an
unfortunate creature whom God does not love.

At meal times girls take the last place and must be content with what
others leave for them. When on holidays or on other occasions boys get
presents, the girls go away empty-handed. Even for boy's dress more is
spent than for that of the girls.


The teaching of girls is generally confined to prayers and a few
chapters of the Koran, which they learn by heart mechanically. Very
seldom are they taught to read and write. The exceptions are few and are
always the only children of the rich or the noble. By these exceptions
we know that Mohammedan girls are in every respect sufficiently
gifted for a higher education. Many of them have become prominent
scholars or artists, perfectly able to rival men. This has been proved
by the prose works and poems of Zubdat-ul-Nissa (that is, Flower of
Women)--by those of Leilai--and in modern times by the Persian woman
Zarin Tadj, still better known by her surname Qurat-ul-Ain (that is,
"Eyes' Comfort"). This woman descended from a priest's family, her
father as well as her uncle and father-in-law had been great
theologians, and her cousin, to whom she was married, was a
distinguished scholar. Her extraordinary beauty seems to have been
surpassed only by her intellect and character. When but a child she took
a great interest in the conversations on science which were often
carried on in her family, and surprised everybody by her sharp wit and
rich mind.

When later on she became acquainted with the doctrines of the Bab, a new
leader, who appeared in Persia about the middle of last century, she was
so deeply impressed by them that she entered into intercourse with him,
and in spite of the resistance of her family, appeared in public in
order to proclaim her master's doctrines.

Let us try to give Mohammedan women a share in the higher spiritual life
of their western sisters, and the slave creatures who serve only their
husbands' pleasure and ease will become companions in his life-work and
educators of his children. This would produce a perfect change in
Moslem family-life.

This vision of the future, however, is not yet fulfilled. The Mohammedan
girl spends her childhood in a dreary way, knowing that until her
fourteenth or fifteenth year life will not be changed. Then her parents
will marry her to a man, in the choice of whom they will be led by
financial reasons only. The young man's mother or some other elder
relation of his chooses a bride for him, and examines the girl with
regard to her health and bodily charms. Sometimes the young people are
allowed to exchange a few words with each other in presence of the
mother, but to get acquainted with each other as in Christian lands is
considered superfluous. After marriage she is a slave not only to her
husband, but also to her parents-in-law, towards whom she must behave
most courteously, and whom she must serve sometimes even before serving
her husband. Every morning she rises first and cleans the house; then
she must bring her father-in-law water to wash himself, and afterwards
his repast. Prudence makes her try to gain the affection of her
parents-in-law, that they may protect her, in case her husband should
dismiss her. Moreover, in the first year after her marriage a young wife
is not allowed to answer the questions of her parents and
brothers-in-law save by bowing or shaking her head; only if no one else
is present, she may talk to them. In the fourth year she is permitted to
answer by saying "no" or "yes"; after the birth of a child, however,
she may talk to every one. Besides, it is considered unbecoming that in
the presence of her parents-in-law she should sit near her husband or
occupy herself with her children. The only change and pleasure in a
married woman's life are the visits which she exchanges every now and
then with her parents, relations, and friends, as well as the weddings
and religious festivities which she is allowed to attend.

The greatest misfortune in the life of a Mohammedan woman, however, is
the absolute uncertainty of the duration of her marriage, which robs her
of all real happiness. According to Moslem law, every Mohammedan is
entitled to take four legitimate wives. Although Moslem law demands that
a man who has several wives ought to treat them equally, and forbids the
neglect of one by preferring the other, matters are generally different
in reality. The first wife, instead of retaining a certain pre-eminence,
as would be just, gradually becomes the servant of her fellow-wife or
wives; if not, her husband dismisses her at last. It is impossible to
give all the particulars of the misery which needs must result from such
marriages, not only for the wife herself, but very often also for her

The idea, that woman is a subordinate creature, destined only to serve
man, has been so to say numerically expressed in the Mohammedan law of
inheritance, all the particulars of which are founded on the principle:
two parts to man, one part to woman. For instance, after the death of
the wife, the husband inherits a quarter of her fortune, in case there
are children; if there are none, half of it, whereas, the wife inherits
only a quarter or an eighth. If several wives survive their husband,
they inherit these parts together. Accordingly, daughters inherit only
half as much as sons.

Very seldom a Mohammedan widow is married again. She generally stays in
her late husband's house, in order to educate her children, for whom a
tutor is chosen. The tutor administers the children's fortune and gives
the mother as much money as is necessary for their subsistence. When the
children are grown up, the mother generally stays for the rest of her
life at one of her sons', not so often at a daughter's. In poor
families, however, the woman strives hard to gain her living by washing,
spinning, sewing, knitting stockings, and other things of that kind.
Later on the grown-up children sustain their mother, so that women who
have children spend their old age in comparative comfort. If, however, a
widow, perhaps for want, consents to be married again, her own condition
may be improved, but her children suffer.

Some older women must be mentioned who are rather frequent in Moslem
lands, and who form a class by themselves. Generally they have been
married several times, but either have no children, or have abandoned
them to their fate. They pass their old age without a companion and
gain their living in as easy a manner as possible, being not very
particular in choosing the means. Outwardly they seem to be utterly
devoted to their religious duties, and are always seen to murmur prayers
and count their beads, by which behavior even religious people are often
deceived so as to support them. On closer observation, however, their
real occupation proves to be roaming about in the houses and intruding
themselves in a skilful and unobserved way in order to spy out people's
whereabouts. They try to make themselves agreeable to the female members
of the household by tale-bearing or making commissions of different
kinds, particularly those which the women cannot make themselves or
which the landlord of the house must not know about. Thus they gain
influence over those whom they have served, and assure themselves of
their gratitude. They promote love-intrigues, make marriages, and so on;
if desired, they will also go to some celebrated fortune-teller, in
order to secure a talisman.

These talismans or amulets generally consist of a scrap of paper, on
which there are written sayings, names, letters, figures, or signs with
common ink, or often with a yellow liquid made of saffron, musk, or
amber; sometimes even serpent's blood is used for this purpose. If the
talisman is to be worn on the body, the paper is folded in the form of a
triangle or a quadrant, then wrapped in a piece of cotton which has been
made water-proof, and at last covered with a piece of fine cloth. The
amulet is fastened upon the head or tied around the upper-arm or worn on
the breast, with a string around the neck. Some people sew it upon the
inside of their clothes so that it lies on the backbone or on the heart.
Sometimes the amulet must be fastened with seven-colored silk. Sometimes
also it is thrown into water, to be drunk as soon as the writing is
dissolved, or it is burnt and they breathe the smoke.

Talismans and amulets are said to protect men and animals from the evil
eye, from the bite of wild beasts, and from wounds in war; they cause
love or hatred, they produce or prevent sleep and madness. Their
preparation is considered a special science, which demands special study
and is practised by so-called magicians or fortune-tellers, but also by
dervishes, and even by priests. The latter generally only write verses
from the Koran, which women wear around their neck as amulets.

Perhaps all this superstition is harmless in itself or does a direct
harm only to their purses. Indirectly, however, it has a demoralizing
influence upon all classes of people, especially upon women, who, as
guardians of customs, are most attached to these fables. Only true
civilization and Christianity will redeem and deliver.

In order to deepen the impression of what has been said and to add
something from real life, I will tell the story of a Moslem woman, just
as I heard it in Kashgar, where I have been working for five years for
the spreading of the Gospel.

Some fifty years ago there lived in Kashgar a man called Chodsha
Burhaneddin. He was descended from a family which since the middle of
the seventeenth century has given Kashgar its kings. His fellow citizens
esteemed him very much on account of his strict observance of the
religious prescriptions of Islam. He married a woman of noble descent,
and for some time contented himself with his one wife. But according to
Islam it is a merit to take if possible four wives, in order to increase
the number of the adherents of Islam. For this reason Chodsha brought
home another wife whenever he travelled on business to the Russian town
of Andishan on that side of the Tienshan, until the number of four was
full. The consequence was that he not only neglected his first wife, but
even had her do all the housework alone, thus making her the servant of
his three other wives. She had to serve them from early morning till
late at night. Without grumbling and with great diligence the poor woman
took all the work upon herself; secretly, however, she bewailed her hard
lot and employed her few free hours for the education of her little
daughter. However, she did not succeed in satisfying her husband. He
always found fault, beat her, and bade her not show her face before him.
His wife submitted patiently and silently; she desisted even from paying
visits to her parents and acquaintances, which would have given her
some comfort, lest her husband think she had gone to her beloved ones to
complain of his treatment. Four years passed. Meanwhile several
political revolutions had taken place in Kashgar. In China the numerous
Chinese Mohammedans had revolted, and the revolt had spread over the
western countries. In eastern Turkestan the Chinese officials as well as
the soldiers and the merchants had been killed by the Mohammedans; only
a few escaped death by accepting Islam. This state of matters was put an
end to by Jakob Beg. He had come from Chanab Chokand, north of the
Tienshan, under the pretext of helping the descendant of the old
Kashgarian dynasty of the Chodshas to the throne. In due time he put the
Prince aside and founded a kingdom of his own, which included the whole
of eastern Turkestan. After taking hold of the government he tried to
weaken the Chodshas in every way possible, some of them were
assassinated, others put in prison in order to be executed. One of the
latter was Chodsha Burhaneddin. As soon as his wife heard that her
husband had been made a prisoner, she hurried to her father, who was
well esteemed at Jakob Beg's court, and besought him to make the most of
his influence in order to save her husband. Then she prepared a meal,
took it to her imprisoned husband, and encouraged him. At his request
she roused her father still more so as to betake himself at once to
Jakob Beg, and to prevail on him to set the prisoner at liberty that
same night. Chodsha Burhaneddin returned to his house and entered the
room of his wife whom he had so long neglected, in order to thank her
for his delivery. Afterwards she had one more child, a boy.

Some years after these events Chodsha fell ill. Knowing that his end was
near, repentance overwhelmed him, and he asked his first wife to pardon
him whatever wrong he had done her. It was only she whom he wished to be
near him in his pains. His other wives he did not at all care for now,
and detested them even in such a manner as to drive them away, whenever
they approached him. When at last death had released him from his pains,
his three younger wives were married again, leaving their children to
their fate. His first wife, however, remained faithful to him even after
death; she refused all proposals, honorable as some of them were, and
devoted herself entirely to the education of her son and daughter, whom
she lived to see married.

From this example, to which many others might be added, it becomes clear
to what deep humiliations Mohammedan women are subject, and what
treasure of faithfulness and sacrifice are nevertheless hidden in some
of these oppressed and crushed lives. Without knowing the doctrines of
Christian religion, Chodsha's wife had practised them. What she dimly
anticipated, has been fulfilled in her son, whom I baptized as the
first-fruits in Kashgar, and received into the church. Did the
Mohammedan women but know to what height Christianity would raise them!
Could they but compare the Mohammedan proverb: "Do not ask a woman's
advice, and if she gives it, do the contrary," with the Apostle Paul's
words: "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that
loveth his wife, loveth himself" (Ephes. V:28), and "There is neither
male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus," they would know
the distance which separates Christian views from those of Islam.

If on summer evenings when the heat of the day is over, the inhabitant
of a Mohammedan town goes out for a walk to enjoy the evening coolness
before the gates, he will sometimes pass the burial-grounds. Weeping and
wailing come to his ear. Pitifully he will look at the figures of
mourning women who are kneeling by the graves. But the sorrow which is
revealed there is not always meant for the loss of some beloved one
dead; very often women visit the graves of their relations or, if they
have none, of saints, in order to weep out undisturbed and unheard their
hopeless, desolate lives. In their houses they dare not give way to
their sorrows for fear of their husbands, therefore they go to the dead
in order to tell them their griefs!

May these words bring that sound of wailing to the hearts of Christian
women! May they, for whom Christian morality has made life fair and
worthy, who as a beloved husband's true friend and companion take part
in his joys and sorrows, or those who in the fulfilment of self-chosen
duties have found happiness and content, may they often remember the
hard fate of their Moslem sisters in the Orient, and help carry the
message of salvation to them.



The social condition of Mohammedan women in Kansu Province in Northwest
China is not so hard as those of their sisters in the more western
countries. The Mohammedans, having been in China now about a thousand
years, have, save in the matter of idolatry, practically adopted the
Chinese customs, even to the binding of the feet of their little girls.
Among the wealthier Mohammedans, as with the wealthier Chinese, polygamy
is common, many having two or three wives, and among the middle class,
when there has been no issue by the first wife, many take unto
themselves a second wife. Divorces are of rare occurrence.

There are no harems. The better-class women are not seen much on the
streets, but in the country places, the farmer's wife, daughters, and
daughters-in-law go out into the fields, weed and reap the corn, carry
water, gather in fuel, and wear no veil. The daughters and
daughters-in-law of the better class, from the age of fifteen to thirty,
often wear a black veil when going on a visit to their friends, as also
do the Chinese.

In the busy farming seasons, the Mohammedan men, with their wives of the
poorer class, hire themselves out to the Chinese farmers, and come down
in large numbers to weed in the spring and gather in the corn in summer
and autumn. They bring their children with them and stay on the farm
till the busy time is over. We always get a goodly number of visits from

Speaking of the Mohammedan male population in our prefecture of Si-ning,
the vast majority are ignorant of the tenets of the Koran, know little
of anything, save that Masheng-ren is their prophet, and that there is a
Supreme Being somewhere of whom they are almost as ignorant as the
Chinese. They seem to realize it a duty to attend worship on two special
occasions each year, but the majority of them never darken the mosque
doors at other times. Seldom a day passes but we have Mohammedan
visitors, and the answer we get from nine out of every ten to questions
about their doctrine is, "We are only blind folks and we do not know
anything." Their ah-hongs or pastors do not trouble to teach any save
the students, for which they are paid. Some even speak of heaven as
being Khuda (God). In many ways are they influenced by the Chinese
around them.

Already I have referred to the binding of the feet of their little
girls. In sickness it is a common thing to see the patient with a tiny
book written in Arabic bound up in red cloth and sewn on the shoulder
or back of the outside garment, to shield them from the evil spirits.
Many also observe the lucky and unlucky days in the Chinese calendar, by
removing from one house to another. One of our patients had even
resorted to the Buddhists or agnostics to recite prayers and use charms
to drive away his sickness.

At the present rate of spiritual declension, in another century many
will either be Buddhists or agnostics.

The times of prayer are not observed save by the ah-hongs and mullahs
and a few of the old men.

These few particulars showing the indifference and ignorance among the
men, what can be expected of the women? They are heathen, except in
name. In our prefecture, we receive a welcome among them whenever we go,
but how long this will continue it is hard to tell. In the southwest of
this province, where formerly much friendliness was shown towards the
missionaries, latterly a spirit of bitterness and opposition has been
manifested owing to a few becoming interested in the Gospel and
attending regularly on Sunday. The ah-hongs have warned their people
that if any join the church they will be put to death when the foreign
ambassador arrives from Turkey. Who this individual is, is not very
apparent, and from whence he will get his power to put Chinese subjects
to death is a mystery. Doubtless it is only a scheme of the ah-hongs to
put the people in fear.

So far, however, we have open doors here and no opposition, but owing to
lack of workers there is NO ONE TO ENTER IN, NO ONE to take the Bread of
Life to them, NO ONE to bear the glad news to them.

After the rebellion of 1895, when retribution fell heavily on the
Mohammedans, thousands of them were reduced to the verge of starvation;
women, who had been accustomed to the comforts of a good home, were
deprived of their warm winter clothing and left only with thin summer
tattered garments, right in the depth of winter with a thermometer
registering below zero (Fahrenheit). By the help of many kind friends in
different parts of China, we were enabled to open a soup-kitchen and
provide hot food every day for six weeks, during the bitterest part of
the winter, to an average of three hundred persons each day, and also to
give away several warm garments to those in direst need. Every day we
taught the people to repeat hymns, grace before meat, and told them
stories from the Bible. On the Chinese New Year's Day we gave them a
special treat of mutton-broth and afterwards showed them, with the magic
lantern, some scenes in the life of our Lord. In the winter of 1896-7 we
again provided food to an average of one hundred and twenty each day,
nearly all widows and children.

When the rebellion was over the Mohammedans were no longer permitted to
reside in the east suburb, where formerly they numbered ten thousand
persons, save a few of the poor widows who gained a subsistence by
begging, but were sent to reside in a few villages thirty miles from the
city. Occasionally we have a visit from some of the women and it is
cheering to find that they remember much of what was told them in those
years of their adversity, and we may hope that some at least will meet
us in the white-robed throng hereafter.

At present we have one Mohammedan woman, much interested in the Gospel,
who comes regularly to worship on Sundays when the farmers are not busy.
One difficulty stands in their way and that is, the Chinese women hate
them and scorn to sit beside them, and we cannot wonder, for they have
suffered much at their hands, many having lost their all twice in their
lifetime, and some thrice; nevertheless, we are thankful for the more
Christ-like spirit shown towards them by the Christians, who are willing
to forget the past and give them a welcome, converse with them freely,
and recognize them as sisters for whom also Christ hath died.

There are two sects of Mohammedans in our district and there are often
serious quarrels between them, and some of the people fear that if many
Mohammedans became Christians serious trouble might ensue; but we feel
sure that if the Christians manifest the spirit of their Master, loving
their enemies, blessing their persecutors, praying for those who
ill-treat them, that finally they would disarm their hatred and be
permitted to live in peace; whereas the two sects lacking that inward
spiritual grace, hating each other, and backbiting each other, finally
bring about strife.

The careful readers of this chapter will observe from what we have
written that the life of their Mohammedan sisters in China is not so
hard and prison-like as that of their sisters in North Africa, Persia,
etc, where they are secluded for a lifetime in the prison-like harems at
the command of their husbands. Nevertheless, their need is just as
great, their souls just as precious, their ignorance of spiritual things
just as deep, their lives just as much of a blank, their hope for the
future just as dark; they live and die "just like animals," they are
wont to say; and all the hopelessness, darkness, and lovelessness
continues not because of their SECLUSION in harems at the mercy of their
husbands but because of their EXCLUSION from their right to the joys and
hope of the Christian life by the lukewarm indifference of the Church of
Christ to-day, which fails to realize the great responsibility to carry
the Gospel to every creature.

In our vast parish, stretching one hundred miles from east to west and
two hundred and thirty miles from southeast to northwest, comprising six
cities, sixteen walled towns, and thousands of villages with a mixed
population of Chinese, Mohammedans, Mongolians, Tibetans, and
aborigines, my husband and I are left to labor alone. This does not
spell seclusion but exclusion from the knowledge of the Way of
Salvation for tens of thousands of souls for whom Christ died.

When Jesus saw the leper He had compassion on him; when He saw the widow
of Nain He said "Weep not"; when the mourners wept at the grave of
Lazarus He saw them and wept also; when He looked from the Mount of
Olives on the city of Jerusalem and thought of her doom, He wept. Would
that in a vision or in a dream of the night, you could behold something
of the hopelessness of your less favored sisters; would that you could
hear just a few of their plaintive cries and see tears rolling down
their cheeks as they unburden their sorrows to the sympathetic ear.
Then, methinks, you would not rest till you had accomplished something
to make these many dark hearts brighter and sad hearts lighter.



(_Translated from the Dutch_)

The life of the Mohammedan woman in general here is not that of a being
on a par with man, but rather comparable with that of a dumb animal, a
creature inferior to and much less worthy than man, which is kept and
utilized as long as it performs some services.

Fatalism, as taught and nourished by Islam, places the woman in a
servile relationship to the man, so much so that she, although
considered a creature of no particular value, does not take offence at
being accounted a negligible quantity.

Maltreatment of women takes place occasionally but is by no means
general, because nothing hinders the husband from driving away his wife
with whom he may not be satisfied, without even observing the simplest
form of a legal procedure.

Why should the man, particularly amongst Moslems, "the Lord of
Creation," weary himself or even become angry, seeing it is far wiser
and more profitable that he exchange the worn-out wife and mother, who
can no longer add to the number of his children, for a younger and
stronger wife? This profitable barter, too, need cost him but a trifle.

This exchange of wives has even a more demoralizing tendency than the
practice of polygamy itself, which luxury only those can participate in
whose salary is at least fifteen florins per month.

The results of the sinful practice of polygamy, especially for the
children and consequently for the state, would be less sad to
contemplate, were it not that the polygamist exchanges his wife as
readily for another as he who can afford but one wife at a time.

It is scarcely necessary for me to enumerate here the effects of this
evil of which the wife is the victim.

This much-loved evil is a strong bulwark against the spread of the
ethics of Christianity.

A second and a very powerful opponent of mission work is found in the
peculiar Mohammedan village organization, in which the Moslem sheikh or
spiritual leader plays the most important rôle.

Another peculiarity of Islam here, is the fact that the inland
population and the millions of inhabitants who live in the lowlands of
Java are peculiarly interrelated and mutually dependent. Only in a few
of the larger towns in Java do we find the trades practised.

The villager is a farmer, and since rice is the chief article of food
and this must be raised by irrigation channels in a hilly country like
Java, the villagers are, as a matter of course, compelled to live at
peace with one another, becoming interdependent through the production
of the staff of life.

A Moslem family that becomes Christian soon experiences deprivation. The
so-called "silent power" soon makes its influence felt, ostracising them
from every privilege.

This becomes the more easy to understand when we remember that the
division of the cultivable soil and of the water supply with all other
civil rights and privileges, are entrusted by Dutch law to the
Mohammedan village government, in which the Moslem sheikh or priest
enjoys an ex-officio vote.

Because of this peculiar condition of life in the East Indies, the
writer and other missionaries in Java have purposely settled in an
inland district in the very midst of the Mohammedan population, where
those families who have embraced Christianity may gather about the
mission centre and gradually form a nucleus (in course of time a village
or town), where independent legal privileges may be enjoyed and the
people ruled over by their own native Christian chiefs. In this manner
these communities can gradually become "a salt" and "a light" for their
Mohammedan environment.

Of very much importance in this connection is the action taken by Her
Majesty, our beloved Queen Wilhelmina, who--at the request of our former
Minister of Colonies, the Honorable Mr. Van Idenburg, at present
Governor of Paramaribo, in South America--commissioned the
States-General of the Netherlands to describe and protect the legal
status of the native Christians.

By reason of this our Christian converts can now claim at least the
right of existence, and even the native Christian woman can obtain that
justice before the law to which she is entitled.



Malaysia comprises the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago. The latter
includes the great islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Celebes, and
innumerable smaller ones. The one island of Java contains about
three-fourths of the entire population of Malaysia, which is probably
about forty millions. The vast majority of the population are
Mohammedans, but the hill-tribes of the Peninsula and of the larger
islands are still heathen, the Dyaks of Borneo and the Battas of Sumatra
being the most numerous of the non-Mohammedan races. There are also many
hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrants in Malaysia, of whom only
one here and there have become Mohammedan.

The principal Mohammedan races are: (1) the Malays proper, who inhabit
the Peninsula, the east coast of Sumatra, and the neighboring islands,
and are scattered to some extent amongst all the seaport towns of the
Archipelago; (2) in Sumatra, the Achinese in the north, and the Rejans
and Lampongs in the south; (3) in Java, the Sundanese in the west, the
Javanese in the centre and east, and the Madurese in the extreme east;
and (4) the Bugis in Celebes.

The greatest success in the conversion of Mohammedans to Christianity
has been achieved by the German (Barmen) Mission in Sumatra, and chiefly
among the Battas, a very numerous heathen race, who have been gradually
won in small numbers to the faith of Islam, probably for centuries.
About fifty thousand of the Battas are now Christians, and many of these
were at one time Mohammedans.

In Java the Dutch have made considerable efforts to convert the natives
to Christianity for three hundred years past, and as the result of this
early work there are considerable Christian communities still existing.
It is only within the last century, however, that the work of the
missionary societies has infused new life into the work of converting
the Mohammedans. The greatest numerical success has been achieved by
those who devote their efforts to the founding of Christian communities
in villages of their own, entirely distinct from the Mohammedans, with
their own Christian village headmen. It is found that in the Mohammedan
villages the Christians suffer so much persecution from the headmen and
others, that in some cases Christianity has been entirely stamped out,
and the Christians have disappeared, no one knows where. The Christian
villages have in most cases been established in unsettled districts,
whole families being moved from other places, and clearing the jungle
to form their own settlements. These people have been won to Christ by
preaching among the Mohammedans, and are protected from persecution by
thus gathering them into Christian communities. Much work is also done
by means of schools and dispensaries. The Dutch Government provides both
the school buildings and salaries of schoolmasters, under certain rules,
and it also erects hospitals, and provides medicines free to every
missionary. There are also instances in which Christian communities have
grown up in the midst of Mohammedan surroundings, and it is claimed that
such Christians are of a stronger type, and exercise a more powerful
influence among their fellow-countrymen. A Dutch missionary writes that
polygamy and divorce are very prevalent in Java, there being many who
have changed husbands or wives as many as ten or twenty times. The man
has to pay the priest two guilders for a divorce, but a woman would have
to pay twenty-five guilders; the latter is known as "Buffalo divorce,"
i. e., brutal. In Java the second wife is called "A fire in the house."
Four wives are allowed, and any number of concubines. In case of divorce
the girls follow the father, and the boys follow the mother. Divorced
women are often in straitened circumstances and become concubines or the
kept mistresses of Europeans or even of the Chinese.

The largest Christian communities in Malaysia are in North Celebes and
on the island of Amboina. These are the result of the early labors of
the chaplains of the Dutch East India Company.

Among the Malays proper very little missionary work has been attempted
and practically nothing has been accomplished. From 1815 to 1843 the
London Missionary Society carried on work among the Malays at Penang,
Malacca, and Singapore, but then withdrew all their missionaries to
China, with the exception of Rev. B. P. Keasberry, who continued to work
among the Malays in Singapore as a self-supporting missionary until his
death, in 1872. He baptized a few Malays, both men and women, one or two
of whom are still living, but make no profession of Christianity. Within
the last twenty years we know of one Malay man and two or three women
who have been converted to Christianity and baptized in Singapore and
Penang, none of whom has gone back to Islam.

The extent to which polygamy is practised among the Malays depends very
greatly upon the amount which has to be paid as dowry, and this varies
very much in the different parts of the Peninsula and Eastern Sumatra.
Divorce, however, is common everywhere. In our personal intercourse with
the Malays, we have realized how very much the women resemble those of
other nationalities in their aspirations, but how useless it is for them
to try to make any real progress, because they are so tied by customs.
They say, "We must be content to live as we do, for we are powerless to
do otherwise." When they go out for walks they must be closely veiled
or covered, and must walk in front of the men, which seems courteous to
us until we are told the reason, which is that the men can watch them,
and see that they do not cast glances at other men. Many of the women
learn to read the Koran, and a few learn to read and write Malayan in
the government vernacular schools, but the latter is sometimes objected
to on the ground that the girls will write letters to men. It is very
difficult to get Malay girls to attend a Christian school, for fear they
might become Christians. The people living in the agricultural districts
seem to be happy and contented, and yet here polygamy is more common
than in the towns. The heart of the wife and mother is often burdened
because her husband has taken a second or third wife, when there is
little enough money for one family to live upon. As a rule the men do
not want their wives to know when they are taking new wives. They
usually say they are going away to work for a few days. We have been
asked to write letters to such husbands requesting money, and begging
the husband to return. Sometimes the answers to these letters contain
loving messages to the wife, asking her not to believe the stories told
her, but still he returns not, or worse still, no money comes. The wives
with tears streaming down their cheeks say, "How can his small wages
support three or four wives?" In one case a wife received a letter
saying that she could marry again, as the husband had decided to marry
another woman. We have been asked by such deserted wives to enclose love
potions or medicine in letters to win back the love of the husbands. The
love potions consist of the ashes of a piece of paper which has had some
words written on it and is afterwards burnt, the ashes being put in a
paper, enclosed in a letter and sent to a friend, who is requested to
put it in a cup of coffee, and give it to the wayward husband. One woman
whom we knew personally had been deserted by her husband; she lived in a
house by herself, and would not leave it for more than an hour at a
time, fearing her husband would return and accuse her of unfaithfulness.
She earned her living partly by taking in sewing, and her relatives
would help her as they could. A young girl was to be married to a man
who had a wife and family in another town. We asked the girl's mother if
she knew about this. She replied, "Yes, but he has fair wages; he can
support two wives." We enquired of a relative of the bridegroom's first
wife if she knew her husband was to be married again. She answered, "He
will not tell her, but I am sure she will feel it in her heart." In many
cases the deserted wives have to support the children, which they do by
sewing or making and selling cakes.



Those of us who have read the pages of this book right through to the
end, will find such words as are at the head of this chapter rise
involuntarily to our lips. What must we do?

Thank God, He has a plan. "He sent not His Son into the world to condemn
the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." "It is not
the will of your Father in Heaven that one of these little ones should
perish." Then let us all ask Him to teach us how these countless Moslem
women and girls may be saved. He can bless the old ways of work and He
can lead into new ways.

The following methods have been tried and each one is capable of further

Women's medical work has removed prejudice and opened closed doors. We
should have many more women missionary doctors. We should also have many
qualified nurses, especially those skilled in midwifery. They are often
only summoned to attend difficult or dangerous cases, so that it is a
necessity to be _thoroughly efficient_, and they need to do the work in
a missionary spirit. Women's hospitals as a base of operations are
needed, so that those who cannot be attended to in their own homes,
with any hope of cure, may be admitted to the hospital. But there should
be associated with every nurse or doctor some workers who are wholly
given up to evangelistic work. Through lack of these much of the
influence of the medical missionary fails to accomplish its wished-for
result. The doctors and nurses feel this themselves strongly. The same
is felt everywhere amongst educational missionaries. The work of the
school needs to be followed up by the visit to the home. There are
countless doors open to the young wives who have been taught in school,
and who would delight in a visit from one of the mission ladies.

This might be done by older workers and we earnestly urge that women's
missionary boards and societies should be willing to receive women for
this department older than they can take for school or medical work. The
language is learnt through constant intercourse with the women. If older
women who could meet their own expenses might be allowed to give
themselves solely to this evangelistic work, we believe that a large
increase would be made to our missionary force.


Women's settlements are only beginning to be tried in different parts of
the field, but we believe that this method would be found very helpful
both in towns and villages, but especially in the villages. The thought
is, to have a group of about four workers and one or two native helpers
living together, composing a women's household, into which the Moslem
women may freely come without fear of meeting any men. These settlements
should be within easy reach of an ordinary mission station, so that the
work should be part of the whole, and the husbands should be cared for
by others at the same time. School, medical, and evangelistic work may
all be done from a settlement.

It is felt in the educational work that girl's boarding schools are far
more fruitful for good than day schools. One sort of school that seems
to have had the happiest results has been where a lady missionary has a
little group of some twelve girls living with her. They are her
companions night and day; she shares all their conversation, their play,
their household duties, their lessons. The pure, refining influence of
her constant companionship has more effect on these young lives than any
other that has been tried. Will not many Christian women give themselves
to such work as this?

Much might be done in the way of small orphanages for girls, or homes
where the children of divorced mothers might be received.

The possibilities before us of what these girls might become through the
home training of several years are almost unlimited. The natural
intelligence and sweetness of character shown by many of them show what
might be made of them. They have all the light-heartedness and merry
ways of western girls, with the same tenderness towards suffering. And
at the same time there is a strength of character and determination of
will that not only explains, perhaps, many of the divorces which now
take place, but it raises hopes of what these girls may become, and may
accomplish for the regeneration of their people.

If they become followers of Christ, they are of the stuff of which
martyrs are made. One little girl in a mission school in Egypt stood up
in front of all her companions and boldly said that she believed in
Jesus. The news was quickly told at home and she was severely beaten. A
day or two afterwards, she was back in her place at school. Her teacher
asked had she been beaten very much. "Yes," she said, "but never mind,
wasn't Jesus beaten for me?"

The centuries of oppression that have passed over the heads of these
women have not crushed their spirit. It rises afresh against all the
stupidity and ignorance of those who oppress them. And men still find
out even among Moslems:

    "What man on earth hath power or skill
    To stem the torrent of a woman's will?
    For when she will, she will, you may depend on't,
    And when she won't, she won't, and there's an end on't."

That efforts to educate and train the girls are really appreciated by
the men is evident from one fact known of large training schools in
Syria. We are told that not one girl graduated there has been divorced,
nor have any of their husbands introduced a second wife into their
homes. This shows us that what the Moslem man really needs is a wife who
is able to be a companion to him. One who can talk to him, keep his home
neat, and knows how to take care of his children. And in many a case the
lessons of heavenly things which the young wife has learnt at school
have been willingly listened to by the husband.

The chief aim in our work should be to have constant touch with the
girls, to love them, to win their love, and to live Christ before them,
not resting satisfied with anything short of their salvation.

But all this needs to be taken up in dead earnest; and Christian women
can only do it in the power of the Holy Spirit, yielding their lives
wholly to the Lord for it. If we do rise to it, and diligently give
ourselves to win the women and girls of Islam for Christ, and train them
up to live for Him in their homes, we shall find the answer to Abraham's
prayer for his son Ishmael begin to come true: "As for Ishmael I have
heard thee. Behold I have blessed him,"--and God's blessing _is life for

And to Our Moslem Sisters may come again the words that were spoken to
Hagar: "_The Lord hath heard thy affliction._" "_And she called the name
of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me, for she said, Have I
also here looked after Him that seeth me._" The fountain of water in the
wilderness by which the angel found her was called Beer lahai-roi: "_The
well of Him that liveth and seeth me._" And the very name of Ishmael
means, "_God shall hear._" Is it not an invitation and an encouragement
to us to take on our hearts these multitudes of their children and claim
the promises for them? _Blessing is life._ "_I am come that they might
have life and that they might have it more abundantly._"

For this end we ask you to enter into a covenant of prayer with us, that
we may not cease to intercede for our broken-hearted sisters, that they
may be comforted, and for the captives of Satan, that they may be set
free, that the prison gates may be opened for them so that the oil of
joy may be given them for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit
of heaviness.

    "Life! life! eternal life!
    Jesus alone is the giver.
    Life! life! abundant life!
    Glory to Jesus for ever."

When this Life becomes theirs, Our Moslem Sisters will be our own
sisters in a new sense of the word, and we shall see the evangelization
of the Mohammedan home and of all Moslem lands.


    "O Lord God, to whom the sceptre of right belongeth, lift up
    Thyself and travel in the greatness of Thy strength throughout
    the Mohammedan lands of the East; because of the anointing of
    Thy Son Jesus Christ as Thy true Prophet, Priest, and King,
    destroy the sword of Islam, and break the yoke of the false
    prophet Mohammed from off the necks of Egypt, Arabia, Turkey,
    Persia, and other Moslem lands, so that there may be opened
    throughout these lands a great door and effectual for the
    Gospel, that the Word of the Lord may have free course and be
    glorified, and the veil upon so many hearts may be removed,
    through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen." (From the C. M. S. Cycle
    of Prayer.)


  _The_ Mohammedan World _of_ Today
  A Symposium edited by JAMES L. BARTON, D.D.,
  S. M. ZWEMER, D.D. and E. M. WHERRY, D.D.
  _Illustrated, 8 vo., Cloth, $1.50 net_

  Islam and Christianity
  The Irresponsible Conflict
  By E. M. WHERRY, D.D. _Cloth, $1.25 net_

  Our Moslem Sisters
  A Symposium edited by ANNIE VAN SOMMER
  _Illustrated, Cloth, $1.25 net_

  Arabia, the Cradle of Islam
  By S. M. ZWEMER, D.D., F. R. G. S.
  _Illustrated, Cloth, $2.00_

  Persian Life and Customs
  _Illustrations and Maps, Cloth, $1.25_

  The Egyptian Sudan
  _Illustrated, Cloth, $1.00 net_

  Constantinople and Its Problems
  _Illustrated, Cloth, $1.25 net_

  Henry Martyn
  _First Modern Missionary to Mohammedans_
  By GEORGE SMITH _Illustrated, Cloth, $1.50 net_

  Missions and Modern History
  _2 vols., 8 vo., Cloth, $4.00 net_


Transcriber's Note:

Varying transliterations of Arabic words have not been changed, but
obvious mistakes have been corrected.

Underscores have been used to denote italics, as in the following
example: _italic_.

The illustration referred to in footnote [D] is the illustration entitled

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