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Our Moslem sisters 



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s Zwemer 



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OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 



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A MOTHER AND HER DAUGHTER FROM TUNIS 



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Our Moslem Sisters 

A Cry of Need from Lands of Darkness 
Interpreted by 'Those Who Heard It 

I EDITED BY 

ANNIE VAN SOMMER 

AND 

SAMUEL M. ZWEMER 




y 



N«w York Chicago Toronto 

Fleming H. Revell Company 

London and Edinburgh 



;I^01, 



•*' ^e. 



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Copyright, 1907, 1^ 
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY 



THE Nt- A' VOKrCj 

publ::l::^:-ary| 
414784 

ASTO«<, L=ES" \ *nO 
TILCEK ^^ :- . ^'^B. 



SECOND EDITION 



New York : 158 Fifth Avenue 
Chicago : 80 Wabash Avenue 
Toronto : 25 Richmond St., W. 
London : 2 1 Paternoster Square 
Edinburgh : 100 Princes Street 



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INTRODUCTION 

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 oi the gathering, the Agha Khan, him- 
self 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 keep- 
^ ing half the community in ignorance and degrada- 
f tion 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 humanity. 
p The origin of the veil of Islam was, as is well 
bown, one of the marriage aflFairs of Mohammed 
j himself, with its appropriate revelation from Allah. 
j In the twenty-fourth Surah of the Koran women 
I are forbidden to appear unveiled before any member 
[ of the other sex, with the exception of near relatives. 

5 



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6 INTRODUCTION 

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influence of women was forever withdrawn from 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 cus- 
tomary to bury female infants alive. Mohammed 
improved on the baAaric 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 de- 
vised 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 chap- 
ters 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 mis- 
sionaries. 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 



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INTRODUCTION 7 

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 rela- 
tion 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, dark- 
ness 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 per- 
sonally 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 veneer- 
ing — only means one of three things, namely, either 
the husband is made callous and nonchalant by in- 
cessant 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 



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8 INTHODIJCTION 

I)rr)tcf«t; or both |mrtlr«i nr^ iKUontnt mu\ do not 
itppm'iatt! the \rw vixUw of life*. In thiM hni a\ne, 
the imriirM are nrarrr to n nort of happhir^M than In 
thi! forinrr two* (iUhouifh thrir happitirM U nrtfative 
In qimnlily wiul rvunrwrnt U\ nnturr," .... 
The writer!* of the folIowh»j( dmptern hdieve that 
the only remedy for thei*e P^oeUl cvIIn In the (Jop^pel. 
Tluit U why they write. 

The oeni>*lon tlmt led to the preparttthm and col- 
leetlon of thin nerlen r)f pttf^ern wnn the Cnlro (!on- 
ferenre. One of the mont IntereMina; nennlonn of 
thwt firnt jfenerftl (!o»iferenre on helmlf of the Mo- 
Immmedttn worhl, held nt ( nlro April 49, 1906, 
wn« tlmt on WoniHn'n Work for Women, Hnt the 
thne w«f* fur too nhort nor had there been preparft' 
tion for a ftdl and tr^c prenentntion and dlnennnion 
of the eondilirm and needn of mr Monlent nintern. 
Thone that h^ved tlieni felt thin and yet the women 
prewtt nei/ed the (jpportnttity and nnltedly nent 
forth the followlnjf appeal, endorsed by the whole 
(^onfercnee! 

''We, the women mU»*lonarlen, annembled at the 
( airo Conferenre, wonid nend thU appeal on behalf 
of the women nf Monlent landn to all the wrMtieti'n 
mih«lr)nary boardn and erjnmdtteen of (Jreat Hritain, 
America, Canada, France, (Jermany, Switzerland, 
Denmark. Norway, Sweden, Holland, Auntrallft, 
and New Zealand, 



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INTRODUCTION 9 

"While we have heard with deep thankfulness 
of many signs of God's blessing on the efforts al- 
ready 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 asSj^t but a fringe of this 
great work has been touchecb .^ 

"The same story has come ffb^i India, Persia, 
Arabia, Africa, and other Mohammedkn lands, mak- 
ing evident that the condition of women under Islam 
is everywhere the same — ^and that there is no hope 
of eflFectually 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 women. 

"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 work- 
ing 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 con- 
secrated women doctors; trained and consecrated 



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lo INTRODUCTION 

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 you/ '* 

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. 

Holland, Mich.. 
February, 1907. 



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CONTENTS 

CHAPTBR PAGE 

I. Hagar and Hb& Sists&s 15 

II. Egypt, ths Land of Bondage .... 24 

III. From Under the Yoke of Social Evils . 38 

IV. The Women of Egypt Once Mors . . . ^^ 
V. Behind the Opening Door in Tunis . . 72 

VI. "Not Dead, Only Dry" 89 

VII. Light in Darkest Morocco .... 99 

VIII. Mohammedan Women in the Central Soudan aiSN 

IX. A Story from East Africa . . . .131 

X. Our Arabian Sisters •' 135^ 

XI. Women's Life in the Yemen .... (i^Sy 

XII. Pen.and-Ink Sketches in Palestins . 15a 

XIII. Once More in Palestine ^^^ 

Xrv. Mohammedan Women in Syria . . ^^ 

XV. Behind the Lattice in Turkey . . . X93) 

XVI. A Voice from Bulgaria \204) 

XVII. Darkness and Daybreak in Persia . . ^7 / 

XVIII. Darkness and Daybreak in Persia (Part II) . (^^ 

XIX. The Condition of Mohammedan Women or ^^.. 
Baluchistan ^^J 

XX. In Southern India <59 

II 



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12 CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAOE 

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 Mb to Do?" . . 293 



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Facing tag§ 
A Mother and Her Daughter from Tunis • title 

Daughters of Egypt 14 

Bargains in Oranges 60 

Bt the Banks of the Nile 60 

Dorothy and Fatiicah 78 

Arab Woman Entering Saint's Tomb .... Is 

Types in Tunis and Algiers 90 

A Young Girl of the Abu Saad Tribe ... 96 
A Bedoubi Girl from North Africa . . . los 
Going to Market— Two Burden Bearers • .126 
Women Churning Butter in Bedouin Camp (Arabia) . 136 
Moslem and Christian Cemetery, etc 160 

A Village School or Syria— Moslem and Christian, 
ETC. 170 

A Family Group at Jericho 176 

Mat-makers (Persia) : Indoor Dress (Northern Persia) . 228 

Moslem Women of the Better Class in Street Dress 

(Syria) 264 

A Cry of Distress from Algiers . • • , • 294 

We are indebted to the kindness of Mr. Tallx>t Kelly for the use of 
hlspictnre on our cover. It is reproduced from "Berpt Painted and 
Described" by Talbot Kelly, published by Messis A. & C. BUck, Soho 
Square, London. 



X3 



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*' 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 
1. 33. 34. 

" 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. ii, 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 
xxxL8,9. (R. V.) 



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OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 



HAGAR AND HER SISTERS 

"We must concentrate attention upon the mothers, 
for what the mothers are, the children will be/' 
These words, spoken recently by a British states- 
man, are but the thoughts of many who have tried 
to save the children. And in looking at the mil- 
lions of Moslems in the world to-day, and wonder- 
ing 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. Moham- 
medan 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 Lx)rd 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 

XS 



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i6 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 them- 
selves, 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 wit- 
nesses 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 
God. 



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HA6AR AND HER SISTERS 17 

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 yes- 
terday, and there will be more to-morrow. Hun- 
dreds of child-wives and sixty-two per cent, they tell 
us of all the babies bom 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 
theirs. 

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 communi- 
cation 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 Mus- 
tapha Pasha Kamel's own words and tell him that 



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i8 OUR MTOSLEM SISTERS 

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 co-religionists: 

"Conquer with the force of knowledge and his- 
tory the strong fortresses of prejudice and bigotry, 
and open wide the gates of your heart for the recep- 
tion 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 tri- 
umphant 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 her- 
aldry, 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 



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HAGAR AND HER SISTERS 19 

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.' Gen- 
tlemen, 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, <md to think what 
might be. 

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 Moham- 
medans 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 bom." 

Unwelcome at birth, unloved in her life-time, with- 
out 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 



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20 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 niy own unworthiness and Christ's love to 
me, until Mr. E. asked the question nobody ever 



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HAGAR AND HER SISTERS 21 

notices, 'Has any one been omitted in the distribu- 
tion 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 pl^ad 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 Theel 
How for a single day this pathway trace. 

And feel no loving arm thrown round about me. 
No all-sustaining grace ? 



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22 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

"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? 



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HAGAR AND HER SISTERS 2$ 

''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. 



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n 

EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE 

Egypt was the home of the earliest civilization in 
the world, which archseology traces back beyond 
3000 years b. c. The home of a race skilled both 
in the fine and mechanical arts ; loving nature, hon- 
oring women, and deeply impressed with the seri- 
ousness 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 fascination. 

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



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EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE 25 

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 con- 
ceived 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 sev- 
eral 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 Egjrpt are densely populated. 
A town of twenty-five thousand people is considered 
a mere village. It might be wondered what the peo- 
ple do for a livelihood, but they all seem to do some- 
thing. There are all sorts of tradesmen and artifi- 
cers. 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. 



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26 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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

Egjrpt is largely an agricultural country, and 
naturally the largest percentage of her inhabitants 
are tillers of the soil. A little more than half be- 
long to the peasant class and are known as "fella- 
heen." 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 coun- 
try 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 ccHidition of Egypt and the 
Egjrptian. What of the moral and spiritual? 

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

Because Mohammedans worship one Grod, 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 Mohammedan- 



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EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE 27 

ism 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 unfaith- 
fuhiess of the old Christian churches of the 
East? 

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 in- 
vestigation 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 re- 
buked 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 Egjrptian 
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 mani- 



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28 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

tested in their ctistoiiis, in tfadr speedi, 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 be- 
cause the idea is lacking." "Home, sweet Home" 
with all its wealth of meaning is a conception for- 
eign 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 other- 
wise 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." 



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EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE 29 

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-Sax- 
on 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 com- 
mon that the women themselves expect a whipping 
occasionally. 

It has been said that the theology of Islam does 
not give woman a place in heaven, but that state- 
ment 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 Mos- 
lem sheikh who said, *T 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 



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30 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 condi- 
tion of Egyptian women. "As a babe she is unwel- 
come; 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 pro- 
viding her with enjoyments similar to those prom- 
ised 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 de- 
pendent 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 



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EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE 31 

around in these countries to see for ourselves that 
Mohammedanism, as its founder anticipated, has 
not improved the morality of those who have em- 
braced 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 cbn- 
ception of the laxity of morals in Mohammedan 
lands and it is a thing to be wondered at and ex- 
cused 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 con- 
cerns family life and the treatment of women, is 
vile and revolting. The veil and lattice of the 
Harem, even though established to guard her mod- 
esty 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 im- 
proper 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 learn- 
ing to love her books. Thrown back into the seclu- 



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33 OUR MOSLEM BISTERS 

sion 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 fascina- 
tion 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 enthu- 
siastic, 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 shed- 
ding bitter and rebellious tears because, poor things I 
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 gar- 
ments 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 ^'hid- 
den," for not a speck of her face showed except one 



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EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE 33 

bright eye. She could not stay away from her 
beloved school, she said, so had begged special per- 
mission 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 
§?rvants except eunuch^, Und^r §i4qh cgnditigns it 



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34 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 par- 
ticular 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 ex- 
travagantly fond of society. They welcome in the 
mosthospitablemannerany 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 Egjrp- 
tian 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 



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EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE 35 

shutters, would feign illness so as to get an oppor- 
tunity 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 Egjrptian to 
distrust his womenfolk and to believe them capable 
of any misdemeanor. Therefore they must be care- 
fully watched and kept in check. This distrust re- 
acts 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 
Eg3rptian 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 imveiled 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 dur- 
ing the cotton season, seven or eight months of the 
year. 

During the cotton-ginning season many women 



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36 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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, wend- 
ing their way to town. Those who live in the larger 
towns are often employed as hodcarriers for masons. 

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-bom 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 road- 
side till she g^ves 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 bdiind 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 stidc! Often, 
too, she has to exercise her wits to tell her lord 
amusing stories for his entertainment as they jour- 
ney by the way. One day sc«ne tourists met just 
such a couple on a country road* The poor woman 



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EGYPT, THE LAND OF BONDAGE 37 

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- 
f aced peasant the suggestion was followed. 



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Ill 

FROM UNDER THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 

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 oc- 
casion?" In answer he said, "I have just seen my 
bride for the first time and I am woefully disap- 
pointed. 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 up- 
stairs and peep in at the Harem window and see for 
yourselves." Glad of the chance of such a privilege, 

38 



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THE YOKE OP SOCIAL EVILS 39 

they did so and came back saying, ''Brother, heap 
more ashes on your head !" 

Frequent divorce is a natural result of these un- 
happy 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 them. 

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 promi- 
nent 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 ex- 
ception." 

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 Hving 
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." 



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40 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 his- 
tory of one's Mohammedan acquaintances in Eg3rpt 
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 marry- 
ing 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 con- 
genial to him. Seeing no other way to accomplish 
it, he married and divorced in rapid succession six 
tinjes. 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 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 41 

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 
d^^dation 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 re- 
volting 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 



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42 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 ser- 
vant or a strange peasant to marry her. The revolt- 
ing 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 hus- 
band. This case actually happened, and many like 
it with varying circumstances might be related, al- 
though it can gladly be said that the irrevocable 
divorce is not of such frequent occurrence as the 
revocable. 

Some incidents will illustrate the various circum- 
stances 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 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 43 

his one wife sixteen years, explaining that he de- 
served 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 hus- 
band 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 an- 
swered 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 be- 
came 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 re- 
stored 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 im- 
possibility of such a thing in a Moslem family. The 
little wife was beautiful, bright, and intelligent, be- 



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44 Of;tt MOHLUH fIfflTfSftfl 

ing hiriy wi^H 4i4aoii#4, ftii4 wm fAA§ io mik4 h^ 

hUt>^ mi)} A fmmiy /// ifHi^r^'^inig: *«4 pr^mMng 
f^UMrm, T\m fntimr wh^ w^mt Up t¥m<9i tim te « 
M^jtmnrnwAm *v/mI4 v#rtfy Ifw ffut rtwui <>«^i « 0«wif 
m « p<?f (iK* t J^^w *'^/uM ^i^H tfH4#f f^kmk fiy»4k 

U\^ \)tmi\iiA mupHmAUm wik Up nmrry tim Uftff^- 

i(tuuim f/pf Uh ip»i>» fuium)^ w*4> igfuprmi mul ut(iy, 
tim m\\y i\\\nfi ¥AMi ^tm^M Up ^\y^ foim my pm^f^ 
fpf rufif^, 

'V\wf*t wn^ H mm wi¥P w»^ hiriy w4Ui^P^ m4 
wfli«^ ami^i^MfM \py \\\^ m\ii^Apm^ m \p*^\nfi ¥§ry W' 
(^iP^riuipU, Vm fir^ wik wh^ » vestry nk4 w^pmm 
f/irt Usui wp ¥Pn9 ¥P imr im^^pMui 4iy^prtM im m4 
nmrUi4 # ^^^^pful^ f>Utt Hmm wm m <$-w, §fp te 
m»rm4 * iUM, H wiw Mky(^ Im 4W nf4 r^tty 
4hor^M H^f i^^rjHUl ¥ifihf t/Mi j^r<fM»MM Up 4^p ^ U^ 
pUniiit Urn i1m4, w\up w^pfM w//t (^m^rnnt Up Mnff <w# 
of iyifo wiv»i9, AfiMf ^ wfMk « ¥pn wm ip^prn Up ttm 
ihif4, »«4 ^P UU fntfi mk w*^ ipr^pi$t^}i ipm^ Up Him 
ij^HOi^ Hii nufi^ U^ Urn ii^M, ^\m w*^ Urn nkp^ My* 
liU^ of ilw iUr^^ wJy*^^/ Ipm <4m im4 Up mrry (h§ ferf/y 
Hn4 walk Mm4 iim tf^pi^u^r UUm a ^fy*tti/ Whm 
rtw \piihy 4i^4 M^ j/^r^Hi* nmrrtilM, tiunitp^r thrm 
Uh i\^ I^Hjijtf mi4 wmi iuu^ iim i'^pmiry, Tim fm^ 
ipat^ ki i^^M UiHiniH^ f^-k mmipm imp, wimrm^p^pn 
nmAp^r ihr^^ r^i^rfM in » f#<f# *fl4 nrnfip^r iWQ 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 4S 

was turned out of the house. On the next quAirel 
with number three the man married a fourth time— 
a ifirt younger than hi» 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 eome 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 intro- 
duced 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 divorcetl 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 Utter wished to have her back her parents ct)uld 
not agree about allowing the marriage and qunr relied 
so much that they divorced each other I The tinie 
occupied by these proceedings was between a year 
and eighteen months. Here were six |)er}ti)ns con* 
cemed, and four marriages and four divt)rces had 
taken place. A baby had arrived on the scene, but 
its parentage was a mysteiy in the mix-up, 

It is quite usual for a woman to be divorced be- 
fore the birth of her first child, and we could not but 
feel sympathy with the poor )'oung mother who 



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46 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

under such circumstances called her baby "Venge- 
ance." 

Love, the best and most holy of human joys, has 
been almost strangled to death in Egypt by the in- 
stitution 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 prin- 
ciple 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 jeal- 
ousy 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 condi- 
tion of the children of divorced parents. Accord- 
ing 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 mar- 
ries again and the children live with grandparents 
or other near relations or even alternate between the 
houses of the remarried father and mother, thus be- 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 47 

coming mere little street waifs who have no definite 
abiding place. They certainly do suffer from neg- 
lect, 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 Moham- 
medan 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 ' 



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4S OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

to make any impression upon them. When a^ked 
why a certdin 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 vil- 
lage."— "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 oif 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 Mo- 
hammed allowed a man to have four wives on the 
condition that he could treat all alike; and since 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 49 

human nature makes that condition next to an im- 
possibility therefore Mohammed meant for a man 
to have only one wife! Many educated Moham- 
medans 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, represent- 
ative country-men, wealthy and conservative, were 
known to have very extensive harems, each one hav- 
ing twen,ty-four wives and concubines. 

Many fruitless attempts have been made to de- 
fend 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, polyg- 
amy 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 in- 
jure," "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 



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so OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 lan- 
guage, was just on the point of marr3ring. Being 
much interested in the young man, one of the mis- 
sionaries 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 mak- 
ing 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 disappoint- 
ment 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 
trouble. 

As can be quite easily understood it is rarely 
possible for fellow-wives to live together in the same 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 51 

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 Has- 
san." 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 quar- 
rels 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 arid read to separately, much to the 
inconvenience of the teacher, who could not under- 
stand 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 jeal- 
ousy 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 mar- 



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52 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

ried, but one is constantly meeting with cases of 
marriage at a much eariier 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 danc- 
ing women had been more than usually entertain- 
ing; 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 fol- 
lowed him, "See that baby there asleep ! Is it right 
to marry her?" At the risk of bringing great dis- 
grace 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. Super- 
stition 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 in- 
fluence. Many mothers will not wash their chil- 
dren for fear they may be made attractive and thus 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 53 

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 conver- 
sation, one said to the other, "What is that ugly 
thing black as tar in your arms ?" The other smil- 
ing 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 under- 
stood 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 influ- 
ence 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- 



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54 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 &ct 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 educa- 
tion 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 appeal- 
ing marks of old age interest us in her. The good- 
bye 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 persecu- 
tion, 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 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 55 

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 in- 
formation 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 imder all 
the tenets and principles of Islam and not being con- 
verted 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 imto 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 



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56 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Eg)rptian 
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 in- 
fluence, 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. 



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THE YOKE OF SOCIAL EVILS 57 

No one imagined that she was such an earnest Chris- 
tian 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, say- 
ing, "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 Pres- 
bsrtery 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 her 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 sis- 
ter's recovery. She began to mend, and the prayers 



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58 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

of her devoted sister at her bedside that she might 
be restored so as to have an opportunity to learn 
of Grod 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 Gk)d knows how 
far-reaching it is. 

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

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 bom 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 exer- 
cises a sway that can neither be denied or despised. 
The lords of creation — ^and that the men of Egjrpt 
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 



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THE YOKE OP SOCIAL EVILS 59 

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 
jdelded. 

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 chil- 
dren 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 act- 
ing 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 mis- 
sion 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" 



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IV 

THE WOMEN OF EGYPT ONCE MORE 

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

— Mazzini. 

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 lovable? 

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 peer- 
ing over a black crape veil) walking in the streets 
of the cities, or driving sitting huddled together on 
karros,* 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, 

*Long narrow carts, the sides of which are only very 
slightly raised. 

60 



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BARGAINS IN ORANGES 



BY THE BANKS OF THE NILE 

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THE WOMEN OF EGYPT ONCE MORE 6i 

wearing indeed the inevitable "habarah" and veil,* 
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 attract- 
ing admiration to herself. 

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 ac- 
tions to the music of some native chant; and he is 

*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 chiffon. 



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62 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 hol- 
lowness of a make-belief grief ; and he is struck with 
the demonstrativeness of the women and the pecu- 
liarity 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 nov- 
elty 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 Eg3rptian house, or speak 
to an Egyptian woman. 

It is therefore left to the Christian missionary to 
know — and to know with an ever widening knowl- 
edge — ^what are the disabilities and what the capa- 
bilities as well as possibilities of these daughters of 
Hagar. 



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THE WOMEN OF EGYPT ONCE MORE 63 

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 ab- 
ject 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 confine- 
ment 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 
millieme 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 



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64 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

freedom and liberty, come confinement and re- 
straint. 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 "veil." 

Still she has for a time some little comfort in be- 
ing the important person of the community. She is 
the bride-elect and there is some excitement in see- 
ing the new "galibeeyahs"* 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 an- 
other. 

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 her- 
self 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 

*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. 



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THE WOMEN OF EGYPT ONCE MORE 65 

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 harsh- 
ness of one who might have been good to her. His- 
tory 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 abil- 
ity 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 in- 
variably attributes her being so to his own foresight, 
a;nd. diligent iusist^nc^ ia keeping her wholly ufld^t 



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66 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

his control^ limiting those who come to the house, 
and not letting her go out of the house even after 
she has become an dder woman. Between thirty- 
five and forty she is an old woman with grand- 
children, 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 &ncy 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 return- 
ing home the third time, she made up her mind to 
get her husband to permanently divorce her. Her 
mother oi course abetted her^ and a woman (as pay- 



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THE WOMEN OF EGYPT ONCE MORE 67 

ment for a piece of fancy work she had asked Fati- 
mah 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 deli- 
cate-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 



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68 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

as they can possibly be, their bodies ingrained with 
dirt, their heads encrusted with sores and filth, their 
eyes inflamed and uncleansed, their garments smell- 
ing, 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 chil- 
dren 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 un- 
dermined by close confinement and want of exercise, 
is it a wonder that they sink into a state of callous- 
ness 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 con- 



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THE WOMEN OF EGYPT ONCE MORE 69 

dition of things, rather does one wonder when the 
reverse prevails, and one is able to realize their pos- 
sibilities 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 per- 
sons 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 gos- 
sip, 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 household. 

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 



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70 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 illus- 
trated 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 back- 
ward position of their brethren in the faith, and de- 
sire 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 



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THE WOMEN OP EGYPT ONCE MORE 71 

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/' 

"Chastity— 
"She that hath that is clothed in complete sted." 

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 blessed." 



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V 
BEHIND THE OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS 

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

It is not possible for her, under existing circum- 
stances, 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 administered. 

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 Mos- 
lem sisters have never known anything better, and 
the majority are perfectly contented with things as 
they are. To thoroughly appreciate and msJce a 
right use of liberty, one must be trained, there must 
be education to meet its responsibilities, and without 

72 



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BEHIND OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS 73 

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 ab- 
sence 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 stnltk 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, pin- 
ing 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 



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74 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

their neighbors than in more elevated topics of con- 
versation.) 

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 man- 
ner 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 real- 
ized 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, Supersti- 
tion. 

Polygamy shall be placed first, although it is not 
the greatest bane of Tunisian home life. By Mo- 
hammedan 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 fre- 
quently take a second wife in the hope of having 



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BEHIND OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS 75 

children, or it may be a son, the first wife being 
childless. 

In other houses one finds under the same roof 
two wives of onfe husband, each having a large num- 
ber 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 spe- 
cial 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 mas- 
ter 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 cafe or the more aris- 
tocratic 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 
menage. 

Divorce is, however, the great Qurse which blights 



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76 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 thou- 
sand 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 ex- 
pression) twelve wives, one after another; but this 
last was related with bated breath as being an un- 
usual and opprobrious act. 

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 pro- 
nounced the words, "Tulka be thalethe" (Divorce 
by three, or threefold). This, even though uttered 



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BEHIND OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS n 

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 meat^ 



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78 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

The history of the two little girls in the accom- 
panying photograph, shows clearly the contrast be- 
tween 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, Doro- 
thy, 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 al- 
ready 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 pre- 
sented 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 Fati- 
ma's being married before hgr elder sister, Hanani^ 



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BEHIND OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS 79 

who was not so good-looking and had consequently 
been passed over by the professional matchmakers. 
She vowed to separate the young couple by "work- 
ing 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 con- 
trived 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 yotmg 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 gar- 
ment 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 



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8o OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

divorced. And this statement was accepted as per- 
fectly 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, 



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BEHIND OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS 8i 

the invalid is next taken to the tomb of some cele- 
brated "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 I 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 
cafe 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 in- 
tervals the holy man was bellowing like a mad bull. 
Securing a comer 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 de- 



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83 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

scending 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 thick- 
ness, 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 gar- 
ment! 

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 appa- 
rent 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 



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BEHIND OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS 83 

become a shapeless niass. 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 be- 
came suddenly scanty, while other shops appeared 
equally bare. 

The "saint" might enter a shop, turn the con- 
tents 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 ap- 
pearance 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 seiz- 
ing 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 



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84 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 reach- 
ing 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 rem- 
edy, 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 indigna- 
, tion when I discovered that the family firmly be- 
lieved 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 



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BEHIND OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS 85 

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 noi- 
some atmosphere becomes. Deceit and lying are so 
prevalent that a mother questions the simplest state- 
ments 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 conversa- 
tion 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 con- 
stantly 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 con- 
dition of affairs from a Western, or better still 
a Christian, standpoint, and should realize the larger 



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86 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 al- 
ready ctdtivating 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 bene- 
fits 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 sys- 
tems. 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 g^ve 
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 fiance. 

Suddenly two servant girls rushed into the room 
exclaiming: "Sidi Mohammed is coming! Here 



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BEHIND OPENING DOOR IN TUNIS 87 

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 sal- 
utations, welcomes, and kissing of hands, to con- 
duct 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 Mohamme- 
danism, 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 Charybdis? 

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 



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88 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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. 



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VI 
"NOT DEAD, ONLY DRY" 

"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 clip- 
pings to make a new thorn hedge where it had been 
broken down. 

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." 

89 



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90 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 faith : 

"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 deliber- 
ately 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, liv- 
ing to-day, unmet by Him. 

To begin with, the first glance will show their in- 



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fh 



in 

< 

< 
H 






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-•_J 



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"NOT DEAD, ONLY DRY" 9« 

telligence. Get an average ignorant Englishwoman 
of the peasant class to repeat a Bible story that she 
has never heard before. She will dully remem- 
ber 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 be- 
yond the day's need. 

And their powers of feeling : do their faces look 
as if these have been crushed out by a life of servi- 
tude? 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 



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92 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

their menkind, who have been indulged from baby- 
hood; 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 be- 
lieve 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 in- 
habitants of the earth." For impressionableness 
on the Divine side, they are as quick as in enlight- 
ened 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 i^ untrueness bom of constant 
fear of the consequence of every trifling act, moral 
impurity that steeps even the children — wild jeal- 
ousy that will make them pine away and die if a 
rival baby comes. Their minds are rife with super- 
stition and fertile in intrigue. 



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"NOT DEAD, ONLY DRY'' 93 

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 re- 
sourcefulness 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 de- 
velopment till the brain has lost its power of expan- 
sion 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 



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94 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 sjonptoms 
showing that it was from slow poison. 

The second to marry was the little friend. At 
her wedding feast those who had forced the mar- 
riage 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 sum- 
mer. 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 "J^sus"; 
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 hus- 



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**NOT DEAD, ONLY DRY" 95 

bands. 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 tedi- 
ous, 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 countrjrwomen have no claim after the 
little life becomes independent of them for existence. 

Look at the awful and fierce sadness of this face : 
more like a wild creature than a woman. "*" She has 
* See illtiBtratioii opposite page 294. 



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96 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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. 

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 bless- 
ing," is His promise. The "season" for the show- 
ers 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 



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V 




A YOUNG GIRL OF THE ABU SAAD TRIBE 



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"NOT DEAD, ONLY DRY" 97 

nearing. God's "season" comes when all has gone 
down to despair. 

So we look round on our Moslem field, and tri- 
umph 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 them- 
selves in the east; then the wind wheels to the east 
and gets behind thetn, and in an hour or less, unre- 
sisted, they are overhead; imresisted, 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 po- 
tentiality. 

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 



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98 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

dried They arc not yet full of rain, so they do not 
empty themselves upon the earth. 

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 road- 
side pool, but your prayer-breath may go up to be 
gathered in God*s clouds and break in His "plenti- 
ful 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 be- 
lieved it? Shall we give ourselves to hasten it? 

And when it comes, we shall see the latent possi- 
bilities awake, and the latent powers assert them- 
selves, 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." 



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VII 
LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO 

The factors in a Moorish woman's life are 
largely those of her Moslem sisters everywhere; 
excepting as exaggerated by the absence of all Eng- 
lish or French influence. In Morocco we have the 
rugged path Mohammed allotted their sex pain- ' 
fully 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 weak- 
ened by heredity. 

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 white- 

99 

414784 

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lOO OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

washed 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 poison- 
ings, and rankling bitternesses. 

Slavery is more common than in other countries 
so near the borders of civilization, and the posses- 
sion 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 unassisted. 

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. 



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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO lOl 

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. Undoubt- 
edly 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 accompan)ring minstrels, appear in their 
most gorgeous dress and criticise that of others. 
Meanwhile they engage in empty and profitless con- 
versation, which too often passes into the injiu*ious 
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 fulfilled. 

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 forttmately is not numerous. I was visit- 
ing 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 atmos- 



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I02 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

phere 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 sec- 
ond 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 ex- 
perienced, 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 promis- 
ing, 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, 
I 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 oppo- 
sition first ceased. Then an awakening, and at 



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A BEDOUIN GIRL FROM NORTH AFRICA 



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} ., . 



4 

I 
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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO 103 

least intellectual, acceptance of the vital truths of 
Christianity and readiness to explain them to new- 
comers. 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 fol- 
lowed by our prayers. 

Classes for sewing, reading, and singing are im- 
portant factors as means of reaching the women and 
girls. The first of my four years at the TuUoch 
Memorial Hospital, Tangier, brought me in contact 
with a most interesting woman. Many years she 
had been under Mrs. Mensink^s teaching and other- 
wise had known the missionaries. A gradual awak- 
ening was manifest, until, during that year, when 
ill with pnetmionia, I found her apparently trusting 
Jesus. One difficulty haunted her, she was igno- 
rant, 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 ceme- 
tery, 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 



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104 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

prayer meeting has been formed, where each of 
these new converts takes pftrt 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 oc- 
curred in our own home. We had spoken to a con- 
vert 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 her- 
self. 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 



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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO 105 

missionary, since departed, lived with her a fort- 
night in the early days of the North African Mis- 
sion. She dates her conversion from that time and, 
without any resident missionary since, dependent 
only upon the teaching of a few days or weeks dur- 
ing an itinerating visit, she still knows and can ex- 
plain to others that "the blood of Jesus Christ 
cleanseth from all sin." Nearly all of this year's 
nimierous converts are the result of much seed-sow- 
ing 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 hand- 
maid to awaken interest in the Gospel story. To 
our great grief, however, the continued political un- 
rest, 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 



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io6 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 for- 
eigner. 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 for- 
eigner can securely take his place in any caravan 
without fear of ill. 

Raisuli's capture of European and American citi- 
zens for hostages alarmed many, but he had sought 
the Government's recognition of his lawful Kaid- 
ship, 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 jus- 
tice, 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 



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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO 107 

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 mission- 
ary has had the great advantage of being favora- 
bly 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 faith- 
fully has lain dormant. Just a few, one here and 
there, gathered into the fold; native converts pre- 
pared for colportage work ; the building of a foun- 
dation 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, courte- 
ous, and hospitable. The average colonist, or even 
tourist, seldom recommends the Kingdom of God, 



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io8 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 consump- 
tion! 

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 Hos- 
pital in the town. Here I did one year's out-patient 
work during the absence of the efficient and inde- 
fatigable 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 medi- 
cal 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 



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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO 109 

former by the North Africa Mission, and five 
American lady workers of the Gospel Union Mis- 
sion do good house to house service in that little 
town. Its inhabitants are unusually genial and re- 
ceptive; these are days of seed-sowing, for the har- 
vest 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 



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no OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 sherifar 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 mis- 
sionaries, 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 oppo- 
sition, and despite all efforts to foil their purpose, 
passed through the waters of baptism unveiled be- 
fore 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 courage- 
ously to avert the calamity to his kingdom, but God 
heard continued and earnest prayer that a first pub- 
lic 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 com^/' One of them received such a spiritual 



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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO in 

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 col- 
loquial Gospel of Luke in one of the highest Gov- 
ernment 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 ce- 
mented.^ 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 niunerous 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 needed. 

Our American brethren have hitherto published 
only the Gospel of Lxike, 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 



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112 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 long- 
est 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 tre- 
mendous 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 sub- 
mit to the necessary operations. 

Away from the coast a similar patience and train- 



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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO 113 

ing 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 repre- 
sent the willingness of the people for medical work. 
Sad, indeed, are those instances wherein a little as- 
sistance 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 ex- 
plained 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 gath- 
ered to the feast. Our hostess had lived some years 
in England with her merchant husband, but a knowl- 
edge 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 pres- 
ent instance. A few months ago she said to a 
fellow missionary, "I know the right is with you. 



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114 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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. Every- 
thing 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 truths! 

Sometimes those cases where I have given long- 
est 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 seri- 
ous 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 speakings and usually more 



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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO nS 

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 indi- 
vidual 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 civi- 
lized nations will, perhaps, "fear the propaganda of 
the Cross and the distribution of the Bible lest 
fanatics be aroused, holy war proclaimed and blood- 
shed ensue." At least thus they said when IGiar- 
toum was opened to the merchant, and similarly have 
thought other nations in their respective colonies. 
They have not yet learned that the converted Mos- 
lem is the only one who can be trusted, and the men 
will largely be influenced by what their mothers and 



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ii6 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 keep- 
ing, and the place of safety to the native mind is 
the mission house. To meet, in any degree, exist- 
ing needs, or use present opportunities for freely 
distributing and reading the Gospel, teaching its 
precepts and hastening Christ's Kingdom in "Sim- 
set land," we must strongly re-enforce every station. 
Increase the number of missionaries working under 
each mission. Send forth wc»nen 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 re- 
quests 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 



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LIGHT IN DARKEST MOROCCO 117 

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 hun- 
dred 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 !" 



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VIII 

MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN THE CENTRAL 
SOUDAN 

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 sys- 
tems 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 sen- 
sualism 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 system. 

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 

Ii8 



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IN THE CENTRAL SOUDAN 119 

— 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 sus- 
pected of unfaithfulness. In one instance in which 
a female slave had assisted one of his wives to 
escape, both being detected, the wife was immedi- 
ately 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 bom 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. 



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I20 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 con- 
versation I found it was trouble that had brought 
her. She had been for some years loved by her hus- 
band 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 cer- 
tainly 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 fre- 
quency with which they can obtain redress for 
cruelty from their husbands in the native courts, 
gives them power and a position in the commimity 
not to be despised. A man, for instance, in order 
to get a girl of sixtf^en years in marriage will pay 



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IN THE CENTRAL SOUDAN 121 

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 be- 
fore 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 
fnarry. 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 
choice. 

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 
watched. 

There is a very vicious and terribly degrading 
habit amongst the Hausas, which is known as 
"Tsaranchi." One cannot give in a word an Eng- 



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122 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

lish eqtiivalent and one does not desire to describe 
its meaning. It has the effect of demoralizing most 
of the young girls and making it ahnost 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 sys- 
tem of polygamy and slave concubinage, have intro- 
duced 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 con- 
dition, 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 



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IN THE CENTRAL SOUDAN i^3 

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 sem- 
blance 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 be- 
trothed. 

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 



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124 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 them- 
selves 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 Africa. 

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 



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IN THE CENTRAL SOUDAN 125 

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 pos- 
sibilities of the future! 

Very few girls attain the most elementary stand- 
ard 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 



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126 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

the Koran well, and who were considered quite pro- 
ficient; and at least one case I know of a woman 
who, because of her wisdom and education, was en- 
trusted with the rule of two or three cities in her 
father's Emirate. 

The chief occupations of women are the grinding 
of com 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 agricul- 
tural 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 



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IN THE CENTRAL SOUDAN 127 

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 step- 
mother 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 infre- 
quently attended the services and was much inter- 
ested. 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 



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128 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 com- 
panion 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 suffer- 
ings 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 ter- 
rible 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 



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IN THE CENTRAL SOUDAN 129 

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 per- 
verted 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 funda- 
mental 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 begin- 
ning 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 sug- 
gest that a woman should be considered the helpmeet 



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I30 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

of the man in all that pertains to this life Godward 
and manward, are restoring to their wives and moth- 
ers 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. 



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IX 
A STORY FROM EAST AFRICA 

Mombasa, though a Mohammedan town, is per- 
haps 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 at- 
tendant 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 man- 
ners, living in those days with her sister in a dark, 
ill-ventilated room which opened on to a small court- 
yard 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. 

X3X 



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132 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 again?" 



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A STORY FROM EAST AFRICA 133 

"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 hap- 
pen unless they have a house and property of their 
own. They become household drudges to those re- 
lations 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 



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134 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 "Sit- 
ting in darkness and the shadow of death." Love is 
what they want. Our love that will bring knowl- 
edge of Christ's great love to them. Will you not 
pray for them? 



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X 

OUR ARABIAN SISTERS 

"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 be- 
gin 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 in- 
struction and discipline are very indifferent; atten- 
tion to the lesson is not demanded, so that a Moslem 
school is a paradise for a lazy girl! A girl is re- 
moved 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 hereafter. 

General ignorance is the cause of general unhappi- 

135 



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136 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

ness and such dense ignorance often makes them sus- 
picious 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 gross- 
est 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 imme- 
diately 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 posi- 
tions. 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 difference. 

It is a common thing for us to be asked to pre- 
scribe poison for a riyal wife who has been added 



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OUR ARABIAN SISTERS 137 

to the household and for the time being is the 
favorite. Through jealousy some of these sup- 
planted wives plunge into a life of sin. I do not 
know anything more pathetic than to have to listen 
ta a poor soul pleading for a love-philter or potion 
to bring back the so-called love of a perfidious hus- 
band. Women, whether rich or poor, naturally pre- 
fer to be the only wife. Divorce is fearfully com- 
mon; 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. 



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138 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 inde- 
scribable. Unnatural vice abounds, and so do con- 
tagious 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. 



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OUR ARABIAN SISTERS I39 

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 prev- 
alent 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 cen- 
turies, 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 



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I4P OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Chris- 
tian women to go into such unlovely surroundings 
and touch bodies loathsome from disease in the 
dispensaries. 

When the men have wisdom to perceive that the 
education of their women and girls means the eleva- 
tion 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 follows : 

"The Mohammedan religion has done much to 
degrade womanhood. To be sure, female infanticide 
formerly practised by the heathen Arabs was abol- 



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OUR ARABIAN SISTERS 141 

ished 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 f^ecognized 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 character- 
istics to women, is it any wonder that they have 
come to regard themselves as mere beasts of burden ? 



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142 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 in- 
trigues. 

"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 ap- 
pealed to the husband to prevail upon his wife to 
consent to more severe treatment than.she was will- 
ing 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 
ag^gravated by their foolish native treatment A 



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OUR ARABIAN SISTERS I43 

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 admin- 
ister 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 Bedotun 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 Jh^ toyyns will aJIpw thCTi^dvcs tP bfJ treated by a 



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144 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Mo- 
hammedan 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 re- 
covered 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- 



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OUR ARABIAN SISTERS 14S 

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 
'Tiath made of one blood all nations/' 



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XI 

WOMEN'S UFE IN THE YEMEN 

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 province. 

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 in- 
habitants to seek a new home in Africa, where, hav- 
ing 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 north- 
ward 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 aft^r pesj^ rises from the 

146 



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WOMEN'S LIFE IN THE YEMEN 147 

mass of debris yet everjrwhere 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 eversrthing 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. 



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148 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

There was a native chief who used to come occa- 
sionally to our dispensary whose children were num- 
bered by three figures, and Khan Bahadur Numcher- 
jee 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 pro- 
foundly, promised to do all that he could for her, 
took her home and divorced her the same day, cast- 
ing 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, courte- 
ous, and kind, I look upon him as one of nature's 
noblemen whom even Mohammedanism cannot spoil. 



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WOMEN'S LIFE IN THE YEMEN 149 

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 Caesarean 
section, and so earned the gratitude of both hus- 
band 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 un- 
fortunately the reverse is the case. Men seem al- 
ways 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 



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ISO OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 jok- 
ingly 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 keep- 
ing their wives so closely confined and for not de- 
lighting in their company, and making them com- 
panions and friends. But almost invariably I have 
been answered thus, "The Prophet (upon whom be 



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WOMEN'S LIFE IN THE YEMEN 151 

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 daugh- 
ter 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 be- 
cause 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" ? 



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XII 
PEN-AND-INK SKETCHES IN PALESTINE 

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 resi- 
dence of nearly twenty years in Palestine and much 
intercourse among all classes, both in city and vil- 
lage life, the writer of this chapter can confirm the 
statement 

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 another. 

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 

15a 



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SKETCHES IN PALESTINE i53 

and to bring others as frequently as he has the incli- 
nation or the mcttiey 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 over- 
fed 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 kind- 
ness 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 



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154 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 chil- 
dren, 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 sen- 
tenced for life. They are found to be there for hav- 
ing murdered their "da-ra-ir," that is, their hus- 
bands' 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 



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SKETCHES IN PALESTINE I55 

AH 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 bom. 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 affec- 
tion for their offspring and certainly take (for 
a while at least) more responsibility for their young 
than many Moslems do in Palestine. 

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! 



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156 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 con- 
tinued 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 Mos- 
lems whom Jesus Christ came to redeem. Let us 
pray for them and go and find them ! He will point 
the way. 

Saleh Al Wahhab is a Moslem in good position 



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SKETCHES IN PALESTINE 157 

with ample means. He first married a sweet-look- 
ing young girl, Belise by name, but she had no chil- 
dren, 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 Matawaly 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 orna- 
ments — ^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 die ! 

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 influ- 
ences and results of lying, corruption in Govern- 
ment affairs, tyranny, bribery, bigotry, and con- 
tempt for women. He only reaped as he had sown. 
However, he heard the Gospel on his dying bed and 



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158 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 trou- 
blesome 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 



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SKETCHES IN PALESTINE 159 

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 swine ?" 

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 Mos- 
lems?" Sometimes they are married several times 
and divorced by several men. If they have no chil- 



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i6o OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

dren, after their strength fails them so that they 
cannot work, they beg and lead a miserable cpcist- 
ence, and die. A woman who has lived at ease* and 
in high position, after being divorced, will some- 
times reach the very lowest degrees of poverty, hun- 
ger, and misery, and then die. For such, there are 
no funeral expenses; nothing is required but a shal- 
low 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." 

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

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 scat- 
tered and wandering sheep they might find. Prob- 
ably the Gtospel 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 
joumeyings, often, in perils of water, in perils of 
robbers, in perils in the wilderness, in perils among 



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A MOSLEM CEMETERV 



A CHRISTIAN CEMETERY 



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SKETCHES IN PALESTINE i6i 

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 hear- 
ing "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 salva- 
tion 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 mil- 
lion Moslems in the world. "How can they hear 
without a preacher?" 

Hindiyea's story will also interest you. A Mos- 
lem woman lay dying in a coast town of old S)rro- 
Phcenicia. She was the wife of an aged Katib — 
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 hus- 
band 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 thoug^ht of a foreign lady, a tni§- 



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i62 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

sionary, 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, Hindijea, 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/' 

Hindiyea 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 Mo- 
hammed 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 



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SKETCHES IN PALESTINE 163 

life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not 
life" (i 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 con- 
fesseth the Son hath the Father also" (i 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" 



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XIII 
ONCE MORE IN PALESTINE 

The condition of all Moslem women must neces- 
sarily 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 enlight- 
ened Moslems to follow European ways in the mat- 
ter 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 

X64 



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ONCE MORE IN PALESTINE 165 

their studies in Egypt or Europe) you will often 
find one having two wives. Also among the land- 
owners, 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 i 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 hus- 
band's temper. If anything went wrong, he imme- 
diately 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 



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l66 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 con- 
sidered 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 gen- 
erally 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 one ! 

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 rela- 



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ONCE MORE IN PALESTINE 167 

tion she has, should he be dead, until another mar- 
riage 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, how- 
ever, 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 hus- 
band has married another. How often in our Pales- 
tine 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 fall- 
ing on their unhappy heads ! 

Among the poorer classes divorce is extremely 
prevalent. If a woman has no child, she is imme- 
diately 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 



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i68 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

dies, the children are supported by his brothers or 
relations, while the widow marries again. It is sel- 
dom 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 Mos- 
lems 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 re- 
port 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 sup- 



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ONCE MORE IN PALESTINE 169 

port 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 chil- 
dren'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 be- 
tween 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 Mo- 
hammed, into the "chattel" to be used, and when 
worn out, thrown away! 

The Christian woman's home in Palestine is gen- 
erally 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 



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I/O OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

another, to the public baths, and to the cemetery 
regularly once a week, where they meet and com- 
mune with the spirits of departed friends. 

The girls go to school regularly. The richer 
Moslems have resident governesses for their daugh- 
ters, and they are eager for education. There is 
no doubt that the customs are changing. Educa- 
tion is raising the woman, and the man will natu- 
rally appreciate the change and will welcome com- 
panionship 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 min- 
isters 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 



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ONCE MORE IN PALESTINE i/i 

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," congrat- 
ulations 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 every- 
thing given to them. 

I am glad to say that Qiristian 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 be- 
comes what is virtually a servant to her mother-in- 
law. We know that mothers-in-law even in Eng- 
land 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 sub- 
mit to her fate. 

Perhaps you say, "Why does her husband not 



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172 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

protect his wife from unkindness, does he not care 
for her?" There you strike upon the root of a Mos- 
lem 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 be- 
neath 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. 



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ONCE MORE IN PALESTINE I73 

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 bom, 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 pleas- 
ures are smoking and gossip. 

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 be- 
fore them in Him and His Gospel 



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XIV 
MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA 

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 re- 
sistance, and that means the hearts of the women 
who are bom into this bondage. 

There are probably from 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 
Mohammedans in Syria, and this estimate also in- 
cludes 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 distinguish- 
ing 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 Mo- 
hammedan 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 

»74 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA 17S 

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 Chris- 
tian 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 Mo- 
hammedan 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. 



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176 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Mo- 
hammedan 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 won- 
derful, after all. However, it is far better than being 
shut indoors all the time. 

Any one living among these people becomes gradu- 
ally accustomed to the accepted state of things, espe- 
cially 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 re- 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA i77 

gards 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 



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178 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Mo- 
hammedan women. "Why did that man take an- 
other 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 chil- 
dren. Two were not enough." 

Can there be any real happiness for a Moham- 
medan 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 con- 
stantly 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 h^ thought he should 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA 179 

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 Moham- 
medan 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 suffer- 
ing. 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, heart- 
burnings, 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 scenes. 

In a city of Northern Syria where the Moham- 
medans are the most powerful class and their 



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i8o OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 be- 
cause 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 ex- 
plained 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 apart- 
ment 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 Eng- 
lish women living in Syria as the wife of a Moham- 
medan, 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 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA i8i 

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 occa- 
sionally 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 



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i83 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 chil- 
dren, 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 law- 
ful 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 knowl- 
edge, 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 indi- 
cated. Each day he came to see what she had ac- 
complished, 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 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA 183 

Ifovemment. 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 in- 
tolerable 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 S3rmpathy 
with such a course. "What else could be done?" 
they say. 

Probably a Mohammedan would not see the in- 
consistency 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 allow- 
ing 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 dis- 



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i84 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

satisfied. 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 mitil 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 mem- 
ber 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 Me j lis 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 herself. 

In conversation with a Mohammedan woman one 
day we were commenting on the fact that a certain 
wealthy bridegroom had given directions to the pro- 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA 185 

fessiotial who was to adorn his bride for her mar- 
riage, not to disfigure her face with the thick shining 
paste which is usually considered (though very mis- 
takenly) 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 under- 
stand ! 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 pro- 
portionate 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 in- 
fluence 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 



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i86 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

much intermarrymg 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. Fre- 
quently, in paying visits, we will find a blind Mo- 
hammedan 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 in- 
teresting, 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 pic- 
turesque. 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 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA 187 

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 her- 
self, the bridegroom's mother, a woman of fine pres- 
ence, 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 look- 
ing 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 illus- 
trated in the life of a Druze prince who married a 
girl of high family, beautiful and of a strong char- 
.acter 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 



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l88 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

day when she had been on a visit to her native vil- 
lage 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 tmderstood, 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 hus- 
band 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 Moham- 
medan 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 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA 189 

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, hav- 
ing 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 sur- 
prising 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 sleep- 
ing, eating, and diseases, to their clothes, and their 
servants, and the current gossip of the neighbor- 
hood. Formerly it was not believed that girls were 
capable of learning anything, and years ago an 
Effendi in Tripoli, when urged to have his daugh- 
ter taught to read, exclaimed, "Teach a girl to read ! 
I should as soon try to teach a cat!" But those 



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190 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

days are passing and the Mohammedans are b^in- 
ning 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 hun- 
dred girls. The Koran is the text-book, reading and 
writing are taught and needle-work has a large place 
in the curriculum. 

Years ago an old Effendi was attending the ex- 
amination 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 dis- 
tance 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 with- 
out being taught it at school, so I brought them 
back to this good place." 

The aim of the Mohammedans in their schools is 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN IN SYRIA 191 

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 Eng- 
land, 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 "dark- 
ness into His Marvellous Light" ? 



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XV 
BEHIND THE LATTICE IN TURKEY 

If the condition of women under Islam is de- 
graded 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 ex- 
tended 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 modem 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 play- 

Z92 



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BEHIND THE LATTICE IN TURKEY 193 

ing 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 Mos- 
lem woman. 

The slow but sure disintegration of these customs, 
prejudices, and superstitions, is going on, thank Grod ! 
Darkness is fleeing before the light. If the churches 
of Christ will but take the watchword, "The Mos- 
lem 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 fing^ers, as they offered their Frank fellow- 



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194 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 re- 
verse manner from our writing, and we soon estab- 
lished 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 con- 
cealed. As the train awaited the signal for depart- 
ure 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 offi- 
cer standing by the station, who was evidently striv- 
ing to control his emotion answering to the grief of 
the child. Finally he yielded to the heart-broken 
cryiog 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 ap- 
pointments for travelling. Not so with the father 
and his child, who were so grieved over their com- 
ing separation. When finally the door had been 
slammed by the guard, and locked, and our journey 



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BEHIND THE LATTICE IN TURKEY 195 

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 return- 
ing 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 ref u$ed ? Yet, pity it is that without the 



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196 OUR MOSLEM SISTEES 

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 dis- 
pleases 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. Al- 
though 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 unhap- 



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BEHIND THE LATTICE IN TURKEY 197 

piness 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 deep- 
est 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 moun- 
tain 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 in- 
doors. The Turkish woman can climb. She can 
reach lofty heights. Slowly and painfully she will 
leave her dense ignorance, her habits of supersti- 
tion, her jealousies, and her intrigues behind her 
and will emerge, led by the loving hand of her 



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198 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

Christian sister, sometimes of her husband or child, 
into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

We admit that ofttimes the obstacles seem in- 
superable, when we meet the barrier of the una- 
wakened 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 jealous- 
ies, 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 piti- 
fulness 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 mari- 
time sections; yet here also, thanks to the multipli- 



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BEHIND THE LATTICE IN TURKEY 199 

cation of schools and teachers and loving Christian 
women trained in those schools, conditions are be- 
ginning to be changed. "In one city of western 
Turkey," we are told, "the Turks themselves asked 
for a kindergarten teacher from our American mis- 
sion 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 Arme- 
nians, 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 civi- 
lization 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, al- 
though 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 pro- 
gressive portions of Turkey : "The power of educa- 
tion 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. 



/ 



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200 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

In the beautiful American College for Girls, on the 
Jieights 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 coun- 
: try : "Either marry your daughter at sixteen or bury 
her!" is still very much in force beyond those lim- 
ited 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 pro- 
hibit any general output of publications ; this, com- 
bined with the very general poverty of the people, 
makes many a home bookless, and the great major- 



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BEHIND THE LATTICE IN TURKEY 201 

ity 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 ap- 
proaching party of travellers. They may have mis- 
taken 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 



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3Q2 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

child of his lay at home grievously ill What an 
opportunity bad been missed 1 If he only had 
spoken, the pitiful need in that home would have 
been opened up to the missionary teacher, who, al- 
though not a doctor, would have done what she 
cotdd 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 awaken- 
ing man, and to find the dormant soul of this 
woman. No opposition can long stand before the 
appeal of the Gospel, when tactfully, lovingly, pray- 
erfully brought to bear upon such souls. 

Fatima Khanum ("my Sovereign Fatima"), a 
Bible woman, seventy years old, finds the joy of the 



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0ft5 



BEfflND THE LATTICE IN TURKEY 203 

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" ? 



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XVI 
A VOICE FROM BULGARIA 

I RECEIVED some days ago your letter asking for 
something upon the condition of Mohammedan 
women in Bulgaria. My observation has been lim- 
ited, 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 Egjrpt is. 
There is a free intercourse also between Turkish, 
Bulgarian, and Armenian women, which must influ- 
ence the home life and the views of the Moham- 
medan 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 under- 
stand till now, that religion is the root of culture. 

Polygamy is by no means prevalent among the 

«4 



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A VOICE FROM BULGARIA 205 

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 inter- 
ested 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 fol- 
lowed 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, 



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2o6 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

found great comfort in the prayers and Christian 
sympathy of this same dear friend during a long 
iUness. 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 pleas- 
ant 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 tell- 
ing 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. 



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XVII 
DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 

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 
comptetely 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 be- 
hind 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 comer 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 



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208 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

tea or smoking, listening to the talc of the death of 
their martyrs, but crouching on the stony street out- 
side in the darkness, a crowd of women are strain- 
ing their ears to catch what they can. Such are 
the passing glimpses one gets of the Persian woman 
in public. 

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 con- 
ducted 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 ac- 
cess, 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 fur- 
nishings, to the other wives; each of whom would 
make life a burden to her lord, were marked dis- 
crimination shown in such things. He, therefore, 
contents himself with reserving the best of every- 
thing for the berooHf or outer apartments, where 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 209 

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 portieres 
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 ail- 
ments, for which in America or Europe outdoor 



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KD ors MOSLEM SISTERS 



oacns. ^rzivL 2 tsc xt i» wqirj to the moon- 
izr]s. or r: ±e bs±& is ^cujV gd, tix pfajskan feds 
^ 9KS cas i^K paliciit cannot 



i c LL'tc: :3C .Lgn'j L fe xzDc in ncr |Kgaem c uv ir oi i- 
f^i^-r. Soi liieic 3S ^r^ sBsade mcfH at lu^ossiUc 
v'fsui-Mr^ znf ir " i stj s sri ie r"'-Tuiirs A vist to the 
rsxrrac=s wrcjf ' rii' ^tr* g ^nat i]p in 2 litde dirty 
rDsgc vtaosc bzcses are rxsd hords, the chief in- 
dustry cf ^KiiDSc w j c ae i is ihc irrTring of goats 
ani sbeepL acd wrrVr-g^ jsp beds of nannre with 
bare fieei, a:>d nzcj.irrtg it br haxxi into cakes for 
rod. Or. if the by^grr^d bare both the means and 
the cK^rsatxxu f cr her sake to make an mranipmcnt 
t^KiQ the nxxmtaris large cnoo^ to afford security 
from robbers and wandcni^ tribes, she would be 
conSned largehr to the precincts indosed by the can- 
vas wall suiiuuuding the haiem. She rides only in 
a kajava, or badcet. ex* in a dosed takhierawan, 
or horse litter, on as she sits perdied high up, 
astride a man's saddle, looking in her balloon gar- 
ments, and doubtless feeling, mcve 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 bodi 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 2 1 1 

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 short- 
est 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 opportu- 
nity. 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 treat- 
ment 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 or- 
dered, as an essential condition of the patient's 



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212 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 patient. 

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 await- 
ing 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, how- 
ever, 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 prelimi- 
nary to my inquiries concerning her symptoms; or 
rather in lieu of them, the competent Persian phy- 
sician 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 ma- 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 213 

larial disease, which had manifested some grave 
S3miptoms, and I tried to impress upon the family 
the importance of her taking prompt measures to 
avert another paroxysm. Feeling somewhat anx- 
ious 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 makie "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 dis- 
eases bring; upon the Persian woman a great amount 
of physical suffering dicectly 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 bur- 
den, 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 con- 
dition. 



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214 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 appa- 
rently 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 re- 
stricted 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 men- 
tioning 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 215 

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 fol- 
lowing reply from a lady, which we print as it was 
written : 

LETTER FROM A MOSLEM WOMAN 

To the honored and exalted editor of the ''Guide*': — 
"I myself have no education, but my two chil- 
dren, 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 



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2i6 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 men- 
tion their names) who are superstitious to an in- 
credible 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 fortu- 
nate time. Is it then strange that women believe in 
written prayers, fortune telling, and the istekharaf 
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. 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 2 1 7 

"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 econ- 
omizes 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 thejr both go be- 
fore the judge, who without making any investiga- 
tion 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 chil- 
dren. The neighbor women, seeing all this, are com- 
pletely 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 



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2i8 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 fulfil 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 intoxi- 
cating 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 feel- 
ings 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 busi- 
ness 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 in- 
toxicated, 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. 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 2 19 

"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 exhibi- 
tion of a school for missionary children, exclaimed, 
"When will our daughters have such opportuni- 
ties?" A young girl was filled with the extraordi- 



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220 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

nary 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 studious- 
ness; 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 221 

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 re- 
spected 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 bet- 
ter 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 con- 
sidered as directly opposed to the command of the 
Prophet. It is regarded as a cardinal sin not to mar- 
ry, and our single ladies are often assured the only 
prospect before them is of the eternal pains of hell- 
fire, 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 



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222 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Pompilia : 

"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 comer 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 re^ 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 223 

suit, 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 mar- 
riages 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 have never 
had a difference." Another said, "He is so kind 
to me; he has never yet scolded me for an5rthing I 
did/' She added, "But I am extremely careful to 
avoid what I know he does not like and in all mat- 
ters I try my best to please him." It must be said, 
however, that one of these men is secretly a be- 
liever 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 ro- 
mantic history of Qurrat-el-A)^, 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 



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224 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 con- 
tinually 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 en- 
lightened. "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 pam- 
per her in that way.'' The yoimger 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, "Jeal- 
ousy 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." 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA ^25 

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 over- 
powered 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 Grod 
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 stories." 

As to a woman's duty, Mohammed declared that 
if the worship of one created being could be per- 
mitted to another, he would have enjoined the wor- 
ship 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 prop- 
erty, 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 
m^^nner, th^ qhiWr^n ^r^ not taught to say father 



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226 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

and mother, but the master, the older brother, the 
mistress, the lady sister, the older sister. 

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 pres- 
ence 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 mat- 
ter. 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 Grod curse you! this child gives 
me the headache ! come, take it also on your back." 

A full two-page colored cartoon depicts the car- 
riage 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 227 

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 ap- 
pear, and the edition of the paper runs up into the 
thousands, people are beginning to think. 



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XVIII 
DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 

PART II 

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 

228 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 229 

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 my- 
self, 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." 

When one first comes to a Moslem country, a 
sentiment of profound pity for the women pre- 
dominates ; but as it is evident that half the popula- 
tion cannot be kept in an tmnatural and degraded 
condition, without entailing disastrous consequences 
on the other half, one begins to feel equal S3mipathy 
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 mar- 
ried 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 cer- 



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230 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

tain rare conditions, is a man's right without restric- 
tion. 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, espe- 
cially 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 pro- 
posed 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 chil- 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 23 1 

dren, if the family be wealthy, they remain with the 
father; if poor, in case both parents find other part- 
ners, they are often cast adrift to shift for them- 
selves. 

On a journey, the wife of the muleteer was seen to 
be laying aside part of the tea, sugar, etc., pur- 
chased 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 impossi- 
bility, 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, 



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93J Oi;it MOHLKM IIIHTKIlll 

they nay, m tor M^/hftmrn^d, hf wft§ ii)l</w«d pectilhf 
pflvjlegf^i, fi^4 f(rnnt€<\ to trthar fn€n. Some wtK? 
t/mftl/lf f th« Imarnft ftinlew, explain (heir t(m(htct in 
the «anie way. Th/iw who do r^tA attept thin «olfi- 
ti/m My the Imamn did wn;nf( in havinj; a plurality 
of wiveft. When afil<ed alxnit the Shah, they feply 
he d/ien wrrmjf in practi/iinff p<'lyK«my, hut it }» per- 
mitfe/l to him tietauw he hun the p</wef in W» hand». 

No M/iftlem w<mmn in niippriwd to have any right 
to re^juire or expect that her hunf^and will he trm to 
her in the mar ria/ge reUtUm, thmijjh fidelity to him 
in rif(or(ni^]y exacted of her^ and her f^feach of H 
in puninhahle with deaths 

There may t;e inntancen where the wrjtnen of n 
p<ily/gafm;iin h//tiftehold Agree; the canual ntrnnger, 
who viftitn a harem withmit any knowledge of the 
lanj^tfa^e, or pernonal a<:<|uaintan(:e with the inrmtten^ 
will <;fffn he awured that ttjey Iwe each other 
frmdly, and are more than nintern In friendship; but 
the trtiftfed fafnily friend^ or the lady d^iCtof^ can 
tell a ^/ery different tale. 

Our doctor told me once^ nhe thr7Uj;ht the two 
wmnen of a certain h<;une, were an excepti^m to the 
general rtile, and that they really were friendn; htit 
nf9(fti after, ttie older (me ying nick, nhe naw a g(Hf6 
deal of her In private, and wan ohlifyed nadly to con- 
few nhe had h^en ml«»tal<en. 

I have my«?^1f l<n//wn of (me cane, In which the 
rival wiven were of the name mind. One of c^r 
neighhorn had two partnern of hln Jr;yn and norrow*/ 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 233 

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 bet- 
ter. 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 "Qiristian 
women have their heaven now, but afterwards they 
will inherit endless suffering; we have hell in this 
life, but hereafter shall come eternal bliss." 

"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 



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234 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 pub- 
lic 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 foimtain. 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 roue, 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 235 

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 intro- 
duced 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 muH 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. An- 
other effect is that curiosity is stimulated, and a 
premature and unhallowed knowledge is gained of 
the most sacred relations of life, which is contami- 
nating, and destroys for ever the innocence of child- 
hood. 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 in- 
dulged 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; 



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236 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

purity IS not expected of him, and often the mosi: 
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 house- 
hold 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 it- 
self, while the Jews and Christians, whose family life 
is comparatively pure, survive and win in the race 
of Hfe. 

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 noth- 
ing 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 237 

fact, that in other countries their sisters enjoy ad- 
vantages 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 can- 
not 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 cur- 
tain and the veil, they cannot be dispensed with, for 
fear of worse evils. Ignorance and seclusion are 
better than education and liberty without moral re- 
straint 

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 Chris- 
tianity. 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 per- 
sonal responsibility to God, of self-respect, self- 
controly kindness, and love, that cause the heart3 of 



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238 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

their husbands safely to trust in them. Can we say 
as much for any other system of education or re- 
ligion? 

Certainly Mohammedanism, with its twin evils 
of polygamy and divorce, has not only failed to ele- 
vate woman, but has everywhere resulted in her 
degradation. More pitiful than the more obvious 
wrongs inflicted by this system, is the effect pro- 
duced upon character. Being distrusted, she has be- 
come imtrustworthy; 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 imruly 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 un- 
written 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 239 

obscene songs, vile allusions, and impure narratives. 
A missionary lady visiting at the home of a high- 
bom Moslem woman, very religious and devout ac- 
cording 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 sys- 
tem, 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 specified. 

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 ; observ- 
ing 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 



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240 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 dispen- 
sary 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 siimrised at the Syrophenician woman being 
They are used to the epithet and 
ilves. One often hears one berating 
ing, as "child of a dog." When 
ation by want, the Persian woman 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 241 

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 com- 
passion 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 instantlyj 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, 
^nd that He as^e^ for a 4rink of yrater, for tp-dajr 



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242 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 tear- 
ing 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 comer 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 imder- 
stand; 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 243 

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 loca- 
tion 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 mar- 
vellous 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 con- 
dolence 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 in- 



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244 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

stitutions, under the protection of law, and in the 
light of publicityi 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 impos- 
sible 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 walk- 
ing 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 enlight- 
enment; 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 



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DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 245 

transformed faces : the sweetness plucked from bit- 
terness, the "Uly 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 per- 
fectly calm, saying, "Why should we fear death? 
It can only take us to Jesus, which is far better; 
as living or djring 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 paral3rtic 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 



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246 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 mis- 
fortune, nursed him for years with such rare pa- 
tience 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 country. 

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 mes- 

sag-e 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 



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^ DARKNESS AND DAYBREAK IN PERSIA 247 

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 hus- 
band 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. Be- 
ing stricken with consumption, she went to the hos- 
pital, 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, 



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24S OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

*Tis saifL sold an be ever 
And ooonted the deed wcfl 

And what is the price (rf a hmnaii soul? , 

The price it is set so h^ 
The Son of God gaTe all that He had 

When He came on earth to boy. 

Sobmeiged in the sea of sin are the saals. 

Are the soals of Persian girls; 
Ah! who win dire to the lowest depths. 

To gather these hidden pearls? 

They are gems for the crown of the King of longs;, 

More precious far in His sight 
Than the jewels rare of the Shah-hi-Shah,'- 

An His glory and delight. 



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XIX 

THE CONDITION OF MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN 
IN BALUCHISTAN 

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 espe- 
cially 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 con- 
tinual 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 in- 
vites 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 be- 
trothal of girls who are not yet bom is frequent, and 

349 



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2SO OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

a promise of a girl thus made is considered par- 
ticularly 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 
bom. 

'^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 fram- 
ing 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 de- 
pendents 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 increas- 
ing 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 cultiva- 



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WOMEN IN BALUCHISTAN 251 

tion. 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. Sla- 
very 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 com- 
mon 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 



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252 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 doc- 
tor 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 illustra- 
tion 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 fort- 
night. When this was proposed, the woman who 
brought her said at once, "If she does that her hus- 
band will send her away." The poor girl had to de- 
part 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. 



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XX 

IN SOUTHERN INDIA 

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 Moham- 
medans. 

Amongst the higher classes, especially amongst 
the rich and well-to-do, polygamy is still common, 
though there are niany 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 diffi- 
cult 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 

a$3 



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254 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Moham- 
medans 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 ap- 
pears 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 ter- 
rible 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 in- 
dividual 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 



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IN SOUTHERN INDIA 255 

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 al- 
ways 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 dis- 
tant town without my seeing her again. Some 



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2S6 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Moham- 
medans are. 

The part of South India where the Moham- 
medans are most independent is the "Nizam's Do- 
minion," 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. Every- 
thing inside is purely Mohatnmedan, and the Eng- 



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IN SOUTHERN INDIA 257 

lish live at Seciinderabad, where the English troot)s 
are stationed, just a few miles off. 

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, how- 
ever. 

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 sys- 
tem 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 



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2S8 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

reformer, but whose women were still in strict pur- 
dah. He several times told us that he would be de- 
lighted 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 gate- 
way into a second enclosure, and there were thou- 
sands 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 gar- 
ments 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, SQ it W^s lik^ fairyland 
to them. 



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IN SOUTHERN INDIA 259 

We found one large, gaily decorated erection be- 
longing to one of the Nawabs of Hyderabad, and the 
women called us in and plied us with many ques- 
tions, 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 Gtospel, and at last he 
said, "Oh, yes ! You can go in." So we were con- 
ducted to the other side of the courtjrard 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 zenana. 

Outside were plenty of sun and air, a grand, spa- 
cious 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 



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26o OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 bha- 
jam "Rise, pilgrim, get ready, the time is fast go- 
ing," 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 roimd 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 
comer of the courtyard was a funny little hole, we 
could not call it a door, with a dirty piece of sack- 
ing 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 



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IN SOUTHERN INDIA 261 

look long, for no sooner did the old grandmother 
find we had the Grospel 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 hav- 
ing 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 
pur 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 



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262 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 expen- 
sive, 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, un- 
consciously 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. 



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XXI 
THE MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN OF TURKESTAN 

Among the numerous nations and tribes which ad- 
here 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 morahty and customs has 
become more and more prevaiHng 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 
aopearance 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 

263 



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264 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

stay at his mother's house and support her in case 
she should be divorced from her husband. More- 
over 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 rea:son, 
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 im- 
pression that she is indeed an unfortunate creature 
whom Gk)d 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 th^it Mobam- 



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WOMEN OP TURKESTAN 265 

medan 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' Com- 
fort"). 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 sur- 
passed only by her intellect and character. When 
but a child she took a great interest in the conver- 
sations 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 pro- 
claim 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 



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266 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

would produce a perfect change in Moslem family- 
life. 

This vision of the future, however, is not yet ful- 
filled. The Mohammedan girl spends her child- 
hood in a dreary way, knowing that tmtil her four- 
teenth 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 ex- 
change 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 hus- 
band, but also to her parents-in-law, towards whom 
she must behave most courteously, and whom she 
must serve sometimes even before serving her hus- 
band. 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. Pru- 
dence 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 an- 



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WOMEN OF TURKESTAN 7,6j 

swer 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 Moham- 
medan 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 dis- 
misses 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 children. 

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 



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268 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 mar- 
ried several times, but either have no children, or 
have abandoned them to their fate. They pass their 



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WOMEN OF TURKESTAN 269 

old age without a companion and gain their living 
in as easy a manner as possible, being not very par- 
ticular 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 influ- 
ence 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 tri- 
angle or a quadrant, then wrapped in a piece of 
cotton which has been made water-proof, and at 



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I 



270 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 1 

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. In- 
directly, 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 



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WOMEN OF TURKESTAN 271 

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 seven- 
teenth 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 num- 
ber of the adherents of Islam. For this reason 
Chodsha brought home another wife whenever he 
travelled on business to the Russian town of Andi- 
shan 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 hus- 
band. He always found fault, beat her, and bade 
her not show her face before him. His wife sub- 
mitted patiently and silently; she desisted even from 
pa)ring visits to her parents and acquaintances, 



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212 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 Moham- 
medans; 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 



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WOMEN OF TURKESTAN 273 

prisoner at liberty that same night. Chodsha Bur- 
haneddin returned to his house and entered the 
rodm 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 over- 
whelmed 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 re- 
fused 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 humilia- 
tions Mohammedan women are subject, and what 
treasure of faithfulness and sacrifice are neverthe- 
less 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 
rec^iv^d into th^ qhqrch, Did the Moh^mm^dan 



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274 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

women but know to what height Christianity would 
raise them! Could they but compare the Moham- 
medan 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 



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WOMEN OF TURKESTAN 275 

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. 



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XXII 

IN FAR-OFF CATHAY 

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 coun- 
tries. The Mohammedans, having been in China 
now about a thousand years, have, save in the mat- 
ter of idolatry, practically adopted the Chinese cus- 
toms, 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 coun- 
try places, the farmer's wife, daughters, and daugh- 
ters-in-law go out into the fields, weed and reap the 
com, carry water, gather in fuel, and wear no veil. 
The daughters and daughters-in-law of the better 
5S, from the age of fifteen to thirty, often wear a 
ck veil when going on a visit to their friends, as 
D do the Chinese. 

276 



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IN FAR-OFF CATHAY V7 

In the busy farming seasons, the Mohammedan 
men, with their wives of the poorer class, hire them- 
selves 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 them. 

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 Moham- 
medan 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 any- 
thing." 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 inferred 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 



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278 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 ag- 
nostics to recite prayers and use charms to drive 
away his sickness. 

At the present rate of spirittial declension, in an- 
other 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 ex- 
pected 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. 



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IN FAR-OFF CATHAY 279 

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 h3mins, 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 sub- 
urb, where formerly they numbered ten thousand 



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28o OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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. Occa- 
sionally 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 ad- 
versity, 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 tiirice; 
nevertheless, we are thankful for the more Christ- 
like spirit shown towards them by the Christians, 
who arc 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 dis- 
trict 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 ene- 
mies, blessing their persecutors, praying for those 
who ill-treat them, that finally they would disarm 
their hatred and be permitted to live in peace; 



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IN FAR-OFF CATHAY 281 

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 spirit- 
ual 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 love- 
lessness continues not because of their seclusion 
in harems at the mercy of their husbands but be- 
cause' of their exclusion from their right to the 
joys and hope of the Christian life by the luke- 
warm 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 



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282 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 roll- 
ing down their cheeks as they unburden their sor- 
rows 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. 



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XXIII 

OUR MOSLEM SISTERS IN JAVA 

(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 of- 
fence 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 Mos- 
lems, "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 

283 



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284 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 demor- 
alizing 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 vic- 
tim. 

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

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

Another peculiarity of Islam here, is the fact 
that the inland population and the millions of in- 
habitants 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 irriga- 
tion channels in a hilly country like Java, the vil- 



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OUR MOSLEM SISTERS IN JAVA 285 

lagers 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 Christi- 
anity may gather about the mission centre and grad- 
ually 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 com- 
munities 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 Iden- 
burg, at present Governor of Paramaribo, in South 



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286 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

America— commissioned the States-General of the 
Netherlands to describe and protect the legal status 
of the native Qiristians. 

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 be- 
fore the law to which she is entitled. 



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XXIV 
THE MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN OF MALAYSIA 

Malaysia comprises the Malay Peninsula and 
Archipelago. The latter includes the great islands 
of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Celebes, and innu- 
merable smaller ones. The one island of Java con- 
tains about three-fourths of the entire population of 
Malaysia, which is probably about fortymillions. 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 be- 
come Mohammedan. 

The principal Mohammedan races are: (i) 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 Lam- 
pongs in the south; (3) in Java, the Sundanese in the 
west, the Javanese in the centre and east, and the 

»87 



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288 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

Madurese in the extreme east; and (4) the Bugis in 
Celebes. 

The greatest success in the conversion of Moham- 
medans 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 Mohamme- 
dans. 

In Java the Dutch have made considerable efforts 
to convert the natives to Christianity for three hun- 
dred years past, and as the result of this early work 
there are considerable Christian communities still 
existing. It is only within the last century, how- 
ever, 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 Chris- 
tians suffer so much persecution from the headmen 
and others, that in some cases Christianity has been 
entirely stamped out, and the Christians have dis- 
appeared, no one knows where. The Christian vil- 
lages have in most cases been established in unsettled 
districts, whole families being moved from other 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN OP MALAYSIA 2S9 

places, and clearing the jungle to form their own 
settlements. These people have been won to Christ 
by preaching among the Mohammedans, and are pro- 
tected from persecution by thus gathering them into 
Christian communities. Much work is also done by 
means of schools and dispensaries. The Dutch Gov- 
ernment 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. Di- 
vorced 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. 



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290 OUR MOSLEM SISTER9 

These are the result of the early labors of the 
ffi?plaifi,q 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 ^^ 
London Missionary Society carried on woiic among 
the Malays at Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, but 
then withdrew all their missionaries to Qiina, with 
the exception of Rev. B. P. Keasberry, who con- 
tinued 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 
everjrwhere. In our personal intercourse with the 
Malays, we have realized how very much the women 
resemble those of other nationalities in their aspira-- 
tions, but how useless it is for them to try to make 
any real progress, because they are so tied by cus- 
toms. They say, "We must be content to live as we 
do, for we are powerless to do otherwise/' Whea 



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MOHAMMEDAN WOMEN OF MALAYSIA 291 

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 vernacu- 
lar 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 Chris- 
tians. The people living in the agricultural districts 
seem to be happy and contented, and yet here polyg- 
amy 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 hus- 
band 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 de- 



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39^ OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

cided 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 hus- 
band 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 bride- 
groom'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. 



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XXV 
"WHAT WILT THOU HAVE ME TO DO?'' 

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 development. 

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 hos- 
pitals as a base of operations are needed, so that those 

293 



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294 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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-f or 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 ear- 
nestly 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 con- 
stant 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 to- 



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I 



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"WHAT WILT THOU?*' 295 

gether, 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 board- 
ing 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 house- 
hold duties, their lessons. The pure, refining influ- 
ence of her constant companionship has more effect 
on these young lives than any other that has been 
tried. Will not many Christian women give them- 
selves to such work as this? 

Much might be done in the way of small orphan- 
ages for girls, or homes where the children of di- 
vorced 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. 



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296 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

And at the same time there is a strength of character 
and determination of will that not only explains, per- 
haps, many of the divorces which now take place, but 
it raises hopes of what these girls may become, and 
may acomplish 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 be- 
lieved in Jesus. The news was quickly told at home 
and she was severely beaten. A day or two after- 
wards, 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 



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"WHAT WILT THOU?'' 297 

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 con- 
stant touch with the girls, to love them, to win their 
love, and to live Christ before them, not resting sat- 
isfied 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 evermore. 

And to Our Moslem Sisters may come again the 
words that were spdcen to Hagar : "The Lord hath 
heard thy affliction/' "And she called the name of the 
Lord that spalee unto her, Thou God seest me, for site ' 
said. Have I also here loofded 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 



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298 OUR MOSLEM SISTERS 

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 chil- 
dren 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 Sis- 
ters 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. 

A Prayer. 

"O Lord God, to whom the sceptre of right be- 
longeth, 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 



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"WHAT WILT THOU?'' 299 

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.). 



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tP 8 1955 



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