Samuel Marinus Zwemer.

Arabia; the cradle of Islam; online

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Arabia: The Cradle
of Islam

Studies in the Geography, People and
Politics of the Peninsula with an
account of Islam and Mission-work





New York Chicago Toronto

Fleming H. Revell Company

Publishers of Evangelical Literature


Librt*/y of Conoress

AUG 20 1900

Copyright entry

Sta*ND CO^Y.

Ufriivtod to


SEP 21 lyuu


Copyright, 1900





The ^'Student Volunteers'' of America






And Jesus said unto him : This day is salvation come to this house, for-
asmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man is come to
seek and to save that which was lost. — Luke xix. 9, 10.

Introductory Note

THE author of this instructive volume is in the direct line
of missionary pioneers to the Moslem world. He fol-
lows Raymond Lull, Henry Martyn, Ion Keith-Falconer, and
Bishop French, and, with his friend and comrade the Rev.
James Cantine, now stands in the shining line of succession at
the close of a decade of patient and brave service at that
lonely outpost on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Others have
followed in their footsteps, until the Arabian Mission, the
adopted child of the Reformed Church in America, is at
present a compact and resolute group of men and women at
the gates of Arabia, waiting on God's will, and intent first of
all upon fulfilling in the spirit of obedience to the Master the
duty assigned them.

These ten years of quiet, unflinching service have been full
of prayer, observation, study, and wistful survey of the great
task, while at the same time every opportunity has been im-
proved to gain a foothold, to plant a standard, to overcome a
prejudice, to sow a seed, and to win a soul. The fruits of this
intelligent and conscientious effort to grasp the situation and
plan the campaign are given to us in this valuable study of
"Arabia, the Cradle of Islam." It is a missionary contribu-
tion to our knowledge of the world. The author is entirely
familiar with the literature of his subject. English, German,
French, and Dutch authorities are at his command. The less
accessible Arabic authors are easily within his reach, and he
brings from those mysterious gardens of spices into his clear,
straightforward narrative, the local coloring and fragrance, as
well as the indisputable witness of original medieval sources.
The ethnological, geographical, archeological, commercial, and



political information of the descriptive chapters brings to our
hands a valuable and readable summary of facts, in a form
which is highly useful, and will be sure to quicken an intelligent
interest in one of the great religious and international problems
of our times.

His study of Islam is from the missionary standpoint, but
this does not necessarily mean that it is unfair, or unhistorica),
or lacking in scholarly acumen. Purely scientific and aca-
demic study of an ethnic religion is one method of approaching
it. It can thus be classified, labelled, and put upon the shelf in
the historical museum of the world's religions, and the result
has a value which none will dispute. This, however, is not the
only, or indeed the most serviceable, way of examining, esti-
mating and passing a final judgment upon a religious system.
Such study must be comparative ; it must have some standard
of value ; it must not discard acknowledged tests of excellence ;
it must make use of certain measurements of capacity and
power ; it must be pursued in the light of practical ethics, and
be in harmony with the great fundamental laws of religious ex-
perience and spiritual progress which have controlled thus far
the regenerative processes of human development.

The missionary in forming his final judgment inevitably com-
pares the religion he studies with the religion he teaches. He
need not do this in any unkind, or bitter, or abusive spirit.
On the contrary, he may do it with a supreme desire to un-
cover delusion, and make clear the truth as it has been given
to him by the Great Teacher. He may make a generous and
sympathetic allowance for the influence of local environment,
he may trace in an historic spirit the natural evolution of a
religious system, he may give all due credit to every worthy
element and every pleasing characteristic therein, he may re-
gard its symbols with respect, and also with all charity and con-
sideration the leaders and guides whom the people reverence ;
yet his own judgment may still be inflexible, his own allegiance
unfaltering, and he may feel it to be his duty to put into plain,


direct, and vigorous prose his irreversible verdict that Chris-
tianity being true, Islam is not, Buddhism is not, Hinduism is

There he stands ; he is not afraid of the issue. His Master
is the one supreme and infallible judge, who can pronounce an
unerring verdict concerning the truth of any religion. He has
ventured to bear witness to the truth which his Master has
taught him. Let no one lightly question the value of the con-
tribution he makes to the comparative study of religion.

The spirit in which our author has written of Islam is marked
by fairness, sobriety, and discrimination, and yet there is no
mistaking the verdict of one who speaks with an authority
which is based upon exceptional opportunities of observation,
close study of literary sources and moral results, and undoubted
honesty of purpose.

It may not be out of place to note the hearty, outspoken
satisfaction with which the author regards the extension of
British authority over the long sweep of the Arabian coast line.
His admiration and delight can only be fully understood by
one who has been a resident in the East, and has felt the blight
of Moslem rule, and its utter hopelessness as an instrument of

Let this book have its hour of quiet opportunity, and it will
broaden our vision, enlarge our knowledge, and deepen our in-
terest in themes which will never lose their hold upon the at-
tention of thoughtful men.

James S. Dennis.


THERE are indications that Arabia will not always remain
in its long patriarchal sleep and that there is a future in
store for the Arab. Politics, civilization and missions have all
begun to touch the hem of the peninsula and it seems that soon
there will be one more land — or at least portions of it — to add
to "the white man's burden." History is making in the Per-
sian Gulf, and Yemen will not forever remain, a tempting prize,
— untouched. The spiritual burden of Arabia is the Moham-
medan religion and it is in its cradle we can best see the fruits
of Islam. We have sought to trace the spiritual as well as the
physical geography of Arabia by showing how Islam grew out
of the earlier Judaism, Sabeanism and Christianity.

The purpose of this book is especially to call attention to
Arabia and the need of missionary work for the Arabs. There
is no dearth of literature on Arabia, the Arabs and Islam, but
most of the books on Arabia are antiquated or inaccessible to
the ordinary reader ; some of the best are out of print. The
only modern work in English, which gives a general idea of
the whole peninsula is Bayard Taylor's somewhat juvenile
" Travels in Arabia.''^ In German there is the scholarly com-
pilation of Albrecht Zehm, '^Arabic und die Araber, seit
hundert jahren,'' which is generally accurate, but is rather dull
reading and has neither illustrations nor maps. From the
missionary standpoint there are no books on Arabia save the
biographies of Keith-Falconer, Bishop French and Kamil Abd-

This fact together with the friends of the author urged their
united plea for a book on this " Neglected Peninsula," its peo-
ple, religion and missions. We have written from a missionary



viewpoint, so that the book has certain features which are in-
tended specially for those who are interested in the missionary-
enterprise. But that enterprise has now so large a place in
modern thought that no student of secular history can afford
to remain in ignorance of its movements.

Some of the chapters are necessarily based largely on the
books by other travellers, but if any object to quotation marks,
we would remind them that Emerson's writings are said to
contain three thousand three hundred and ninety three quota-
tions from eight hundred and sixty-eight individuals ! The
material for the book was collected during nine years of resi-
dence in Arabia. It was for the most part put into its present
form at Bahrein during the summer of 1899, in the midst of
many outside duties and distractions.

I wish especially to acknowledge my indebtedness to W. A.
Buchanan, Esq., of London, who gave the initiative for the
preparation of this volume and to my friend INIr. D. L. Pierson
who has generously undertaken the entire oversight of its pub-

The system for the spelling of Arabic names in the text fol-
loAvs in general that of the Royal Geographical Society. This
system consists, in brief, in three rules : (i) words made famil-
iar by long usage remain unchanged ; («) vowels are pronounced
as in Italian and consonants as in English ; (3) no redundant
letters are written and all those written are pronounced.

We send these chapters on their errand, and hope that espe-
cially the later ones may reach the hearts of the Student Volun-
teers for foreign missions to whom they are dedicated; we
pray also that the number of those who love the Arabs and
labor for their enlightenment and redemption may increase.


Bahrein, Arabia,

Table of Contents


The Neglected Peninsula . ; . . . ij

Arabia the centre of Moslem world — Its boundaries — The coast
— Physical characteristics — Climate — Water-supply — Geology
— The Wadys — Mountains — Deserts.


The Geographical Divisions of Arabia . . -25

Natural divisions — Provinces — Political geography — Important
flora and fauna — Population.


The Holy Land of Arabia — Mecca . . . .30

Its boundaries — Sacredness — European travellers — Jiddah — Its
bombardment — The pilgrimage — Mecca — Its location — Water-
supply — Governor — The Kaaba — The Black Stone — Zemzem
— Duty of pilgrimage — The pilgrims — The day of sacrifice —
The certificate — Character of Meccans — Temporary marriages
— Superstitions — Mishkash — Schools of Mecca — Course, .„of-



The Holy Land of Arabia — Medina ....

Taif — Heathen idols — The road to Medina — Sanctity of Medina

— The prophet's mosque — Was Mohammed buried there ? —

The five tombs — Prayer for Fatima — Living on the pilgrims

— Character of people — Yanbo — Importance of Mecca to Islam.

Aden and an Inland Journey . . . . .53

The gatevirays to Arabia Felix — Aden — Its ancient history — For-
tifications — Tanks — Divisions — Population — Journey inland —
Wahat — The vegetation of Yemen — A Turkish customhouse
— The storm in the wady — Taiz — The story of the books.




Yemen : the Switzerland of Arabia . . . .62

The Jews of Yemen — From Taiz to Ibb and Yerim — Beauty
of scenery — Climate — All's footprint — Damar — Sana — Com-
merce and manufactures — Roda — From Sana to the coast —
The terraces of Yemen — Suk-el Khamis — Menakha — Bajil —


The Unexplored Regions of Hadramaut . . .72

Von Wrede's travels — Halevy — Mr. and Mrs. Bent's journeys —
Makalla — Incense-trade — The castles and palaces — Shibam —
Shehr and its ruler — Hadramaut and the Indian archipelago.


Muscat and the Coastlands of Oman . . . • 78

Boundaries — Population — Government — Muscat — Heat — The
forts — The town — The gardens — Trade — The coast of Oman
— The pirate-coast — The Batina — Sib, Barka, Sohar — From
Muscat to Ras-el-Had — Sur — Carter's exploration — The Mah-
rah and Gharah tribes — Frankincense.


The Land of the Camel . . . . . .88

" The mother of the camel " — Importance of the camel to Arabia
— Tradition as to creation — Species — The dromedary — An il-
lustration of design — Products of the camel — Characteristics —
The interior of Oman — Chief authorities — Fertility — Caravan-
routes — Peter Zwemer's journey — Jebel Achdar.


The Pearl Islands of the Gulf . . , -97

Ancient history of Bahrein — Origin of name — Population —
Menamah — The fresh-water springs — The pearl-fisheries —
Superstitions about pearls — Value and export — Method of div-
ing — Boats — Apparatus — Dangers to the divers — Mother-of-
pearl — Other manufactures — Ruins at Ali — The climate — Po-
litical history — English protection.



The Eastern Threshold of Arabia . . . .no

The province of Hassa — Katar — The Route inland — Ojeir —
Journey to Hofhoof — The two curses of agriculture — The
capital of Hassa — Plan of the town — Its manufactures — Curi-
ous coinage — The government of Hassa — Katif — Its un-

The River-Country and the Date- Palm . . .119

The cradle of the race — Boundaries of Mesopotamia — The
Tigris-Euphrates — Meadow lands — The palms — Their beauty
— Fruitf ulness — Usefulness — Varieties of dates — Value —
Other products — Population — Provinces and districts — The


The Cities and Villages of Turkish- Arabia . . .128

Kuweit — Fao — Aboo Hassib — Busrah — The river navigation —
A journey — Kurna — Ezra's tomb — Amara — The tomb of the
barber — The arch of Ctesiphon — Bagdad, past and present —
Population — Trade — Kelleks.


A Journey Down the Euphrates . . . .136

Journey to Hillah — The route — Kerbela — Down the Euphrates
— Diwaniyeh — The soldier-guard — Amphibious Arabs — Sa-
mawa — Ya Ali, Ya Hassan ! — Nasariya — Ur — The end of our
journey — The future of Mesopotamia.

The Interior — Known and Unknown .... 143
What it includes — Its four divisions — ( x ) " The empty quarter "
— Ignorance of this part of Arabia — (2)Nejran — The Dauasir-
valley and other wadys — Halevy's travels — Aflaj — The Ro-
man expedition to Nejran — (3) Nejd — Its proper limits — The
zephyrs of Nejd — Soil — Vegetation — Animals — The ostrich —
The horse — The chief authorities on this part of Arabia —
The population of Nejd — The character of government — In-
tercourse with Mesopotamia — Chief cities — Hail — Riad — (4)
Jebel Shammar — The Bedouin-tribes — Division — Character
and customs — Robbery — ^Universal poverty.



"The Time of Ignorance" . . . . .158

Why so-called — The golden age of literature — The influence of
Christianity and Judaism — Tribal constitution of society —
Commerce — Incense — Foreign invasions — Political commotion
— The condition of women — Female infanticide — The veil —
Rights of women — Marriage choice — Polygamy and Polyan-
dry — Two kinds of marriage — Did Islam elevate woman ? —
Writing in " the days of ignorance " — Poetry — Mohammed's
opinion of poets — The religions — Sabeanism — The Pantheon
at Mecca — Jinn — Totemism — Tattooing — Names of idols —
Allah — Decay of idolatry — The Hanifs.


Islam in its Cradle — The Moslem's God . . . 169

Different views — Carlyle — Hugh Broughton — Borrowed ele-
ments of Islam — The God of Islam — Palgrave's portrait — At-
tributes of God — What God is not — Analysis of Islam — Bor-
rowed elements of Islam.


The Prophet and his Book . . . . .179

The prophet of Islam — Birth of Mohammed — His environment —
Factors that helped to make the man — Political, religious and
family factor — Khadijah — Mohammed's appearance, mind and
character — His transgression of law — His sensuality — His
murders — Expeditions — Mohammed, as he became through
tradition — His glories, favor and power as an intercessor —
How Moslems regard the Koran — Its character according to
Dr. Post, Goethe and Noldeke — Its names — Contents — Origin
— Recension — Its beauties — Its defects — Its omissions.


The Wahabi Rulers and Reformers . . . .191

The story of past century — The Wahabis — Character of teaching
—The preacher and the sword — Taking of Mecca and Me-
dina — Kerbela — Mohammed Ali — The Hejaz campaign —
Ghalye — Turkish cruelty — English expedition — Peace — The
Wahabi dynasty — Abdullah bin Rashid — Rise of Nejd king-
dom — Character of rule — Hail conquers Riad.



The Rulers of Oman ...... 202

Oman rulers — Seyid Said — Feysul bin Turki — The rebels take
Muscat — Arab warfare — European diplomacy.


The Story of the Turks in Arabia .... 206
Hejaz — The Sherifs of Mecca — Othman Pasha — Threats to
assassinate him — Turkish troops in Asir — Losses — The con-
quest of Yemen — Turkish rule — Rebellions — The rebellion of
1892 — Bagdad, Busrah and Hassa — Taxes — The Turks and
Bedouins — The army — Character of rule.


British Influence in Arabia . . . . .218

British possessions — Aden — Socotra — Perim — Kuria Muria islands
— Bahrein — Her naval supremacy — In the Gulf — German
testimony — Survey of coasts — Telegraph and posts — Slave-
trade — Commerce — British India S. N. Co. — Gulf trade — The
rupee — Trade of Aden — Overland railway — Treaties with
tribes — The Trucial League — England in Oman — Aden —
Makalla — Method of " protection " — British consuls and


Present Politics in Arabia . . . . . 233

Hejaz — Future of Yemen — France in Oman — Russia in the Gulf
— The Tigris-Euphrates Valley — The greater kingdom — God's
providence in history.


The Arabic Language ...... 238

Wide extent — Its character — Renan's opinion — The Semitic
family — Their original home — The two theories — Table of the
group — The influence of the Koran on the Arabic language —
Koran Arabic not pure — Origin of alphabet — Cufic — Ca-
ligraphy as an art — Difficulty and beauty of Arabic speech — Its
purity — Literature — Difficulty of pronunciation — Of its gram-
mar — Keith Falconer's testimony.



The Literature OF THE Arabs . . . . -251

Division of its literature — The seven poems — The Koran — Al
Hariri — Its beauty and variety — Arabic poetry in general —
Influence of Arabic and other languages — English influence
on the Arabic — The Arabic Bible and a Christian literature.


The Arab ........ 258

Origin of tribes — Two theories — Yemenite and Maadite — The
caravan routes — Bedouinsand townsmen — Clark's classification
— Genealogies — Tribal names — Character of Arabs — Influence
of neighbors — Their physique — Their aristocracy — Intolerance
— Speech — Oaths — Robbery — Privilege of sanctuary — Gener-
osity — Blood-revenge — Childhood — Fireside talk — Marriage
among Bedouins — Position of women — Four witnesses —
I Doughty — Burckhardt — Lady Ann Blunt — Hurgronje —

Woman despised — The kinds of dwelling — Tents and houses
— Dress — The staple foods — Coffee, tobacco and locusts.

Arabian Arts and Sciences ..... 274

Music of the Arabs — War chants — Instruments of music — Songs
— Kaseedahs in Yemen — Mecca chants — Science oiAikar and
Wasm — Tracking camels — Tribal marks — Medical knowledge
of the Arabs — Diseases — Remedies — A prescription — The
Koran's panacea — A Mecca M. D. — Amulets — Superstitions.


The Star- Worshippers of Mesopotamia .... 285
Where they live — Their peculiar religion — Their language —
Literature — A prayer-meeting of the Star Worshippers —
Strange ceremonies — The dogmas —Gnostic ideas — Priest-
hood — Baptisms — Babylonian origin.


Early Christianity in Arabia ..... 300
Pentecost — Paul's journey — The Arabs and the Romans — Chris-
tian tribes of the North — Mavia — Naaman's edict — Chris-
tianity in Yemen — Character of Oriental Christianity — The


Collyridians — Theophilus — Nejian converts — Martyrs —
Abraha, king of Yemen — Marching to Mecca — The defeat —
End of early Christianity — The record of the rocks.



The Dawn of Modern Arabian Missions

Raymond Lull — Henry Martyn — Why the Moslem world was
neglected — Claudius Buchanan's sermon — The Syrian mis-
sions — Doctor Van Dyck — His Bible translation — Henry
Martyn, the pioneer — His Arabian assistant — Visit to Muscat —
His Arabic version — Anthony N. Groves — Dr. John Wilson of
Bombay — The Bible Society — Opening of doors — Major-Gen-
eral Haig's journeys — Arabia open — Dr. and Mrs. Harpur and
the C. M. S. — A call to prayer — Bagdad occupied — The pres-
ent work — Missionary journeys to the Jews — William Lethaby
at Kerak — The North Africa mission among the nomads —
Samuel Van Tassel — The Christian Missionary Alliance —
Mackay's appeal from Uganda — The response.


Ion Keith Falconer and the Aden Mission . . • 331

Keith Falconer's character — Education — At Cambridge — Mission
work— His " eccentricity " — Leipzig and Assiut — How he

came to go to Arabia — His first visit — Plans for the interior

His second voyage to Aden— Dwelling — Illness — Death

The influence of his life— The mission at Sheikh Othman.


Bishop French the Veteran Missionary to Muscat . . 344

"The most distinguished of all C. M. S. missionaries" — Re-
sponds to Mackay's appeal — His character — His letters from
Muscat — His plans for the interior — Death — The grave.


The American Arabian Mission . . ... . 353

Its origin— The student band— The first plan— Laid before the
church — Organization — The Missionary Hymn— James Can-
tine — Syria — Cairo — Aden — Kamil — Journeys of exploration
to the Gulf and Sana — Busrah— Dr. C. E. Riggs— Death of
Kamil — Opposition from government — Home administration —

14 r.-//i/.f OF CONTENTS

Inihreiu oooupied-^-laues of work — Muscat — Journey through
Yeiucn Tho ii\ission transferred to the Refornicil Church —
Tumbles at Muscat and l>usrah — Pr. Worrall — lourneys in
Oman — Scripture-sales — I'ii-st fruits — Reinforcements,

In Mkmoriam . . . . • . .367

Teter John Zwemer — George E, Stone.


Probijrms of the Arabian Fiki n . . . . . 374

The »::eneral ]Mvblein of misssions to Moslems — The Arabian
pivblem — What jv^rt of Arabia is accessible — Turkish Arabia
— Its accessibility — l.inutations — The accessibility of inde-
pendent Arabia — Clinvatt^ — Moslem fanaticism — English in-
fluence — Illiteracy — The Bedou ins — The present missionary
force — Its utter inadevjuacy — Methods of work — Medical
missions — Schools — Work for women — Col^xirtage — Preach-
ing — Contiwei-sy — What should be its character — The atti-
tude of the Moslem mind — Fate of converts — Thoughtless and
thoughtful Mi^slems — The Bible as dynamite — The right men
for the work.


Thb Outlook FOR Missions TO M0S1.RMS . . . .391

Two views of work for Moslems — Christian fatalism — Results in
Mivslem lands — India — Pei-sia — Constantinople — Sumatra and
JaNti — Other signs of progress — The significance of persecution
— Character of converts- Vivmise of God for victory over
Islam — Christ or Mohammed — Missionary promises of the
Old Testament — The Rock of Jesus' Sonshij^ — Special promises
for Arabia — Hag5\r and Ishmael — The prayer of Abraham —
The sign of the covenant with Ishmael — The third i-evelation
of God's love — The sca»s of Islimael — Kedar and Nebaioth —

Online LibrarySamuel Marinus ZwemerArabia; the cradle of Islam; → online text (page 1 of 35)