WITH A CHAPTER FOR CHILDREN.
Rev. HENRY HARRIS JESSUP, D.D.,
Seventeen years American Missionary in Syria.
EDITED BY Rev. C.S. ROBINSON, D.D., & Rev. ISAAC RILEY.
"The threshold weeps forty days when a girl is born." —Mt. Lebanon Proverb.
NEW YORK: DODD & MEAD, PUBLISHERS.
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1873, by DODD & MEAD, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
IS DEDICATED TO THE
CHRISTIAN WOMEN OF AMERICA.
Beirut, Syria, July, 1873.
Owing to the impossibility of my attending personally to the editing of this volume, I requested my old friends, Rev. C.S. Robinson, D.D., and Rev. Isaac Riley, of New York, to superintend the work, and would gratefully acknowledge their kind and disinterested aid, cheerfully proffered at no little sacrifice of time.
The Orient is the birthplace of prophecy. Before the advent of our Lord, the very air of the East was resounding with the "unconscious prophecies of heathenism." Men were in expectation of great changes in the earth. When Mohammed arose, he not only claimed to be the deliverer of a message inspired of Allah, but to foretell the events of futurity. He declared that the approach of the latter day could be distinguished by unmistakable signs, among which were two of the most notable character.
Before the latter day, the sun shall rise in the West, and God will send forth a cold odoriferous wind blowing from Syria Damascena, which shall sweep away the souls of all the faithful, and the Koran itself. What the world of Islam takes in its literal sense, we may take in a deeper spiritual meaning. Is it not true, that far in the West, the gospel sun began to rise and shed its beams on Syria, many years ago, and that in our day that cold odoriferous wind of truth and life, fragrant with the love of Jesus and the love of man, is beginning to blow from Syria Damascena, over all the Eastern world! The church and the school, the printing press and the translated Bible, the periodical and the ponderous volume, the testimony of living witnesses for the truth, and of martyrs who have died in its defence, all combine to sweep away the systems of error, whether styled Christian, Moslem or Pagan.
The remarkable uprising of christian women in Christian lands to a new interest in the welfare of woman in heathen and Mohammedan countries, is one of the great events of the present century. This book is meant to be a memorial of the early laborers in Syria, nearly all of whom have passed away. It is intended also as a record of the work done for women and girls of the Arab race; to show some of the great results which have been reached and to stimulate to new zeal and effort in their behalf.
In tracing the history of this work, it seemed necessary to describe the condition of woman in Syria when the missionaries first arrived, and to examine the different religious systems, which affect her position.
In preparing the chapter on the Pre-Islamic Arabs, I have found valuable materials in Chenery's Hariri, Sales and Rodwell's Koran, and Freytag's Arabic Proverbs.
For the facts about the Druze religion, I have consulted Col. Churchill's Works, Mount Lebanon, and several Arabic manuscripts in the mission library in Beirut.
Rev. S. Lyde's interesting book called the "Asian Mystery," has given me the principal items with regard to the Nusairiyeh religion. This confirms the statements of Suleiman Effendi, whose tract, revealing the secrets of the Nusairiyeh faith, was printed years ago at the Mission Press in Beirut, and translated by that ripe Arabic Scholar Prof. E. Salisbury of New Haven. The bloody Nusairiyeh never forgave Suleiman for revealing their mysteries; and having invited him to a feast in a village near Adana, 1871, brutally buried him alive in a dunghill!
For the historical statements of this volume, I am indebted to the files of the Missionary Herald, the Annual Reports of the Syria Mission, the archives of the mission in Beirut, the memoir of Mrs. Sarah L. Smith, and private letters from Mrs. Whiting, Mrs. De Forest, and various missionary and native friends.
Information on the general work of the Syrian Mission may be found in Dr. Anderson's "Missions to the Oriental churches," Rev. Isaac Bird's "Bible Work in Bible Lands," and the pamphlet sketches of Rev. T. Laurie and Rev. James S. Dennis.
The specimens of poetry from ancient Arabic poetesses, have been gathered from printed and manuscript volumes, and from the lips of the people.
Some accounts of child life in Syria and specimens of Oriental stories and nursery rhymes have been gathered into a "Children's Chapter." They have a value higher than that which is given by mere entertainment as they exhibit many phases of Arab home life. The illustrations of the volume consist of drawings from photographs by Bergheim of Jerusalem and Bonfils of Beirut.
The pages of Arabic were electrotyped in Beirut by Mr. Samuel Hallock, the skilful superintendent of the American Press.
I send out this record of the work carried on in Syria with deep gratitude for all that the Lord has done, and with an ardent desire that it may be the means of bringing this great field more vividly before the minds of Christian people, of wakening warmer devotion to the missionary cause, and so of hastening the time when every Arab woman shall enjoy the honor, and be worthy of the elevation which come with faith in Him who was first foretold as the seed of the woman.
HENRY HARRIS JESSUP. Beirut, Syria, Nov. 28, 1872.
CHAPTER I. PAGE State of Women among the Arabs of the Jahiliyeh, or the "Times of the Ignorance." 1
CHAPTER II. State of Women in the Mohammedan World. 7
CHAPTER III. The Druze Religion and Druze Women. 20
CHAPTER IV. Nusairiyeh. 35
CHAPTER V. Chronicle of Women's Work from 1820 to 1872. 45
CHAPTER VI. Mrs. Whiting's School. 57
CHAPTER VII. Dr. De Forest's Work in Beirut. 73
CHAPTER VIII. Re-opening of the School in Beirut. 97
CHAPTER IX. Luciya Shekkur. 114
CHAPTER X. Raheel. 120
CHAPTER XI. Hums. 140
CHAPTER XII. Miriam the Aleppine. 151
CHAPTER XIII. Modern Syrian Views with regard to Female Education. 158
CHAPTER XIV. Bedawin Arabs. 180
CHAPTER XV. Woman between Barbarism and Civilization. 191
CHAPTER XVI. Opinions of Protestant Syrians with regard to the Work of American Women in Syria. 200
CHAPTER XVII. Other Labors for Women and Girls in this Field. 204
CHAPTER XVIII. The Amount of Biblical Instruction given in Mission Schools. 215
CHAPTER XIX. The Children's Chapter. 233
WOMEN OF THE ARABS.
STATE OF WOMEN AMONG THE ARABS OF THE JAHILIYEH, OR THE "TIMES OF THE IGNORANCE."
In that eloquent Sura of the Koran, called Ettekwir, (lxxxi.) it is said, "When the girl buried alive shall be asked for what sin she was slain." The passage no doubt refers to the cruel practice which still in Mohammed's time lingered among the tribe of Temim, and which was afterwards eradicated by the influence of Islam. The origin of this practice has been ascribed to the superstitious rite of sacrificing children, common in remote times to all the Semites, and observed by the Jews up to the age of the Captivity, as we learn from the denunciations of Jeremiah. But in later times daughters were buried alive as a matter of household economy, owing to the poverty of many of the tribes, and to their fear of dishonor, since women were often carried off by their enemies in forays, and made slaves and concubines to strangers.
So that at a wedding, the wish expressed in the gratulations to the newly-married pair was, "with concord and sons," or "with concord and permanence; with sons and no daughters." This same salutation is universal in Syria now. The chief wish expressed by women to a bride is, "may God give you an arees," i.e. a bridegroom son.
In the Koran, Sura xiv, Mohammed argues against the Arabs of Kinaneh, who said that the angels were the daughters of God. "They (blasphemously) attribute daughters to God; yet they wish them not for themselves. When a female child is announced to one of them, his face grows dark, and he is as though he would choke."
The older Arab Proverbs show that the burying alive of female children was deemed praiseworthy.
"To send women before to the other world, is a benefit."
"The best son-in-law is the grave."
The Koran also says, that certain men when hearing of the birth of a daughter hide themselves "from the people because of the ill-tidings; shall he keep it with disgrace, or bury it in the dust." (Sura xvi.)
It is said that the only occasion on which Othman ever shed a tear, was when his little daughter, whom he was burying alive, wiped the dust of the grave-earth from his beard!
Before the Seventh Century this practice seems to have been gradually abandoned, but was retained the longest in the tribe of Temim. Naman, king of Hira, carried off among his prisoners in a foray, the daughter of Kais, chief of Temim, who fell in love with one of her captors and refused to return to her tribe, whereupon her father swore to bury alive all his future female children, which he did, to the number of ten.
Subsequent to this, rich men would buy the lives of girls devoted to inhumation, and Sa Saah thus rescued many, in one case giving two milch camels to buy the life of a new-born girl, and he was styled "the Reviver of the Maidens buried alive."
The following Arabic Proverbs having reference to women and girls will illustrate the ancient Arab ideas with regard to their character and position, better than volumes of historic discourse:
"Obedience to women will have to be repented of."
"A man can bear anything but the mention of his women."
"The heart of woman is given to folly."
"Leave not a girl nor a green pasture unguarded."
"What has a girl to do with the councils of a nation?"
"If you would marry a beauty, pay her dowry."
"Fear not to praise the man whose wives are true to him."
"Woman fattens on what she hears." (flattery)
"Women are the whips of Satan."
"If you would marry a girl, inquire about the traits of her mother."
"Trust neither a king, a horse, nor a woman. For the king is fastidious, the horse prone to run away, and the woman is perfidious."
"My father does the fighting, and my mother the talking about it."
"Our mother forbids us to err and runs into error."
"Alas for the people who are ruled by a woman!"
The position of woman among the Arabs before the times of Mohammed can be easily inferred from what has preceded. But there is another side to the picture. Although despised and abused, woman often asserted her dignity and maintained her rights, not only by physical force, but by intellectual superiority as well. The poetesses of the Arabs are numerous, and some of them hold a high rank. Their poetry was impromptu, impassioned, and chiefly of the elegiac and erotic type. The faculty of improvisation was cultivated even by the most barbarous tribes, and although such of their poetry as has been preserved is mostly a kind of rhymed prose, it often contains striking and beautiful thoughts. They called improvised poetry "the daughter of the hour."
The queen of Arabic poetesses is El Khunsa, who flourished in the days of Mohammed. Elegies on her two warrior brothers Sakhr and Mu'awiyeh are among the gems of ancient Arabic poetry. She was not what would be called in modern times a refined or delicate lady, being regarded as proud and masculine in temper even by the Arabs of her own age. In the eighth year of the Hegira, her son Abbas brought a thousand warriors to join the forces of the Prophet. She came with him and recited her poetry to Mohammed. She lamented her brother for years. She sang of Sakhr:
"His goodness is known by his brotherly face, Thrice blessed such sign of a heavenly grace: You would think from his aspect of meekness and shame, That his anger was stirred at the thought of his fame. Oh rare virtue and beautiful, natural trait, Which never will change by the change of estate! When clad in his armor and prepared for the fray, The army rejoiceth and winneth the day!"
Again, she lamented him as follows:
"Each glorious rising sun brings Sakhr to my mind, I think anew of him when sets the orb of day; And had I not beheld the grief and sorrow blind Of many mourning ones o'er brothers snatched away, I should have slain myself, from deep and dark despair."
The poet Nabighah erected for her a red leather tent at the fair of Okaz, in token of honor, and in the contest of poetry gave her the highest place above all but Maymun, saying to her, "If I had not heard him, I would say that thou didst surpass every one in poetry. I confess that you surpass all women." To which she haughtily replied, "Not the less do I surpass all men."
The following are among the famous lines of El Khunsa, which gave her the title of princess of Arab poetesses. The translation I have made quite literal.
"Ah time has its wonders; its changes amaze, It leaves us the tail while the head it slays; It leaves us the low while the highest decays; It leaves the obscure, the despised, and the slave, But of honored and loved ones, the true and the brave It leaves us to mourn o'er the untimely grave. The two new creations, the day and the night, Though ceaselessly changing, are pure as the light: But man changes to error, corruption and blight."
The most ancient Arab poetess, Zarifeh, is supposed to have lived as long ago as the Second Century, in the time of the bursting of the famous dyke of Mareb, which devastated the land of Saba. Another poetess, Rakash, sister of the king of Hira, was given in marriage, by the king when intoxicated, to a man named Adi.
Alas, in these days the Moslem Arabs do not wait until blinded by wine, to give their daughters in marriage to strangers. I once overheard two Moslem young men converging in a shop, one of whom was about to be married. His companion said to him, "have you heard anything about the looks of your betrothed?" "Not much," said he, "only I am assured that she is white."
In a book written by Mirai ibn Yusef el Hanbali, are the names of twenty Arab women who improvised poetry. Among them are Leila, Leila el Akhyaliyeh, Lubna, Zeinab, Afra, Hind, May, Jenub, Hubaish, Zarifeh, Jemileh, Remleh, Lotifeh, and others. Most of the verses ascribed to them are erotic poetry of an amatory character, full of the most extravagant expressions of devotion of which language is capable, and yet the greater part of it hardly bearing translation. It reminds one strikingly of Solomon's Song, full of passionate eloquence. And yet in the poetry of El Khunsa and others, which is of an elegiac character, there are passages full of sententious apothegms and proverbial wisdom.
STATE OF WOMEN IN THE MOHAMMADAN WORLD.
Our knowledge of the position of women among the Mohammedans is derived from the Koran, Moslem tradition, and Moslem practice.
I. In the first place, the Koran does not teach that women have no souls. Not only was Mohammed too deeply indebted to his rich wife Khadijah, to venture such an assertion, but he actually teaches in the Koran the immortality and moral responsibility of women. One of his wives having complained to him that God often praised the men, but not the women who had fled the country for the faith, he immediately produced the following revelation:
"I will not suffer the work of him among you who worketh to be lost, whether he be male or female." (Sura iii.)
In Sura iv. it is said:
"Whoso doeth good works, and is a true believer, whether male or female, shall be admitted into Paradise."
In Sura xxxiii:
"Truly, the Muslemen and the Muslimate, (fem.) The believing men and the believing women, The devout men and the devout women, The men of truth and the women of truth, The patient men and the patient women, The humble men and the humble women, The charitable men and the charitable women, The fasting men and the fasting women, The chaste men and the chaste women, And the men and women who oft remember God; For them hath God prepared Forgiveness and a rich recompense."
II. Thus Mohammedans cannot and do not deny that women have souls, but their brutal treatment of women has naturally led to this view. The Caliph Omar said that "women are worthless creatures and soil men's reputations." In Sura iv. it is written:
"Men are superior to women, on account of the qualities With which God has gifted the one above the other, And on account of the outlay they make, from their substance for them. Virtuous women are obedient.... But chide those for whose refractoriness Ye have cause to fear ... and scourge them."
The interpretation of this last injunction being left to the individual believer, it is carried out with terrible severity. The scourging and beating of wives is one of the worst features of Moslem domestic life. It is a degraded and degrading practice, and having the sanction of the Koran, will be indulged in without rebuke as long as Islamism as a system and a faith prevails in the world. Happily for the poor women, the husbands do not generally beat them so as to imperil their lives, in case their own relatives reside in the vicinity, lest the excruciating screams of the suffering should reach the ears of her parents and bring the husband into disgrace. But where there is no fear of interference or of discovery, the blows and kicks are applied in the most merciless and barbarous manner. Women are killed in this way, and no outsider knows the cause. One of my Moslem neighbors once beat one of his wives to death. I heard her screams day after day, and finally, one night, when all was still, I heard a dreadful shriek, and blow after blow falling upon her back and head. I could hear the brute cursing her as he beat her. The police would not interfere, and I could not enter the house. The next day there was a funeral from that house, and she was carried off and buried in the most hasty and unfeeling manner. Sometimes it happens that the woman is strong enough to defend herself, and conquers a peace; but ordinarily when you hear a scream in the Moslem quarter of the city and ask the reason, it will be said to you with an indifferent shrug of the shoulder, "that is only some man beating his wife."
That thirty-eighth verse of Sura iv. is one of the many proofs that the Koran is not the book of God, because it violates the law of love. "Husbands love your wives," is a precept of the Gospel and not of the Koran. Yet it is a sad fact that the nominal Christians of this dark land are not much better in this respect than their Moslem neighbors. The Greeks, Maronites and Papal Greeks beat their wives on the slightest provocation. In the more enlightened towns and cities this custom is "going out of fashion," though still often resorted to in fits of passion. Sometimes the male relatives of the wife retaliate in case a husband beats her. In the village of Schwire, in Lebanon, a man beat his wife in a brutal manner and she fled to the house of her brother. The brother watched his opportunity; waylaid the offending husband, and avenged his sister's injuries by giving him a severe flogging. In Eastern Turkey, a missionary in one of the towns noticed that not one woman attended church on Sunday. He expostulated with the Protestants, and urged them to persuade their wives to accompany them. The next Sunday the women were all present, as meek and quiet as could be wished. The missionary was delighted, and asked one of the men how they persuaded them to come? He replied, "We all beat our wives soundly until they consented to come!" This wife-beating custom has evidently been borrowed by the Christian sects from their Moslem rulers and oppressors, and nothing but a pure Christianity can induce them to abandon it.
III. Some have supposed that there will be no place in the Moslem Paradise for women, as their place will be taken by the seventy-two bright-eyed Houris or damsels of Paradise. Mohammed once said that when he took a view of Paradise he saw the majority of its inhabitants to be the poor, and when he looked down into hell, he saw the greater part of the wretches confined there to be women! Yet he positively promised his followers that the very meanest in Paradise will have eighty thousand servants, seventy-two wives of the Houris, besides the wives he had in this world. The promises of the Houris are almost exclusively to be found in Suras, written at a time when Mohammed had only a single wife of sixty years of age, and in all the ten years subsequent to the Hegira, women are only twice mentioned as the reward of the faithful. And this, while in four Suras, the proper wives of the faithful are spoken of as accompanying their husbands into the gardens of bliss.
"They and their wives on that day Shall rest in shady groves." (Sura 36.)
"Enter ye and your wives into Paradise delighted." (Sura 43.)
"Gardens of Eden into which they shall enter Together with the just of their fathers, and their wives." (Sura 13.)
An old woman once desired Mohammed to intercede with God that she might be admitted to Paradise, and he told her that no old woman would enter that place. She burst into loud weeping, when he explained himself by saying that God would then make her young again.
I was once a fellow-passenger in the Damascus diligence, with a Mohammedan pilgrim going to Mecca by way of Beirut and Egypt, in company with his wife. I asked him whether his wife would have any place in Paradise when he received his quota of seventy-two Houris. "Yes," said he, looking towards his wife, whose veil prevented our seeing her, although she could see us, "if she obeys me in all respects, and is a faithful wife, and goes to Mecca, she will be made more beautiful than all the Houris of Paradise." Paradise is thus held up to the women as the reward of obedience to their husbands, and this is about the sum and substance of what the majority of Moslem women know about religion.
Women are never admitted to pray with men in public, being obliged to perform their devotions at home, or if they visit the Mosques, it must be at a time when the men are not there, for the Moslems are of opinion that the presence of women inspires a different kind of devotion from that which is desirable in a place set apart for the worship of God.
The Moslem idea of woman is vile and degraded. A Moslem absent from home never addresses a letter to his wife, but to his son or brother, or some male relative. It is considered a grievous insult to ask a Moslem about the health of his wife. If obliged to allude to a woman in conversation, you must use the word "ajellak Allah," "May God elevate you" above the contamination of this subject! You would be expected to use the same expression in referring to a donkey, a dog, a shoe, a swine or anything vile. It is somewhat like the Irish expression, "Saving your presence, sir," when alluding to an unpleasant subject.
A Greek christian (?) in Tripoli came to an American Missionary physician and said, "there is a woman, 'ajell shanak Allah' here who is ill. I beg your pardon for mentioning so vile a subject to your excellency." Said the doctor, "and who may it be?" "Ajellak, it is my wife!"
I remember once meeting the Mohammedan Mufti of Beirut in Dr. Van Dyck's study at the printing press. The Mufti's wife, (at least one of them,) was ill, and he wished medical advice, but could not insult the Doctor by alluding to a woman in his presence. So he commenced, after innumerable salutations, repeating good-morning, and may your day be happy, until he could decently proceed to business. "Your excellency must be aware that I have a sick man at my house. May God grant you health! Indeed, peace to your head. Inshullah, it is only a slight attack!" "He has pain in his back, headache, and he will not eat." "Has he any fever?" "A little." "I will come and see her this afternoon." "May God increase your good. Good morning, sir!"
The Mohammedan laws with regard to polygamy, inheritance and divorce, are a decided advance on the Pagan Arabs of "the Ignorance."
The Pagan Arabs allowed any number of wives. The Koran allows only four to any believer, the prophet himself having peculiar privileges in this respect. The modern practice of Mohammedans in taking a score or more of wives is directly contrary to the Koran. The Pagan Arabs suffered no woman to have any part of the husband's or father's inheritance, on the ground that none should inherit who could not go to war, and the widows were disposed of as a part of their husband's possessions. The Koran says, (Sura iv.) "Women ought to have a part of what their parents leave." A male shall have twice as much as a female. But a man's parents, and also his brothers and sisters are to have equal shares, without reference to sex. "God commandeth you to give the male the portion of two females. If she be an only daughter, she shall have the half. Your wives shall have a fourth part of what ye leave, if ye have no issue."
Among the Pagan Arabs, divorce was a mere matter of caprice. The Koran says, (Sura ii.) "You may divorce your wives twice (and take them back again). But if the husband divorce her a third time, it is not lawful for him to take her again, until she shall have been actually married to another husband, and then divorced by him." I have known cases where the husband in a fit of passion has divorced his wife the third time, and, in order to get her back again, has hired another man to marry her and then divorce her. A rich Effendi had divorced his wife the third time, and wishing to re-marry her, hired a poor man to marry her for a consideration of seven hundred piastres. He took the wife and the money, and the next day refused to give her up for less than five thousand piastres, which the Effendi was obliged to pay, as the woman had become the lawful and wedded wife of the poor man.
No Mohammedan ever walks with his wife in the street, and in Moslem cities, very few if any of men of other sects are willing to be seen in public in company with a woman. The women are closely veiled, and if a man and his wife have occasion to go anywhere together, he walks in advance and she walks a long distance behind him. Nofel Effendi, one of the most learned and intelligent Protestants in Syria, once gave me the explanation of this aversion to walking in public with women, in a more satisfactory manner than I had ever heard it before. Said he, "You Franks can walk with your wives in public, because their faces are unveiled, and it is known that they are your wives, but our women are so closely veiled that if I should walk with my wife in the street, no one would know whether I was walking with my own wife or another man's! You cannot expect a respectable man to put himself into such an embarrassing position!" No Moslem woman or girl would dare go into the street without a veil, for fear of personal chastisement from the husband and father, and the Greek, Maronite and other nominal Christian women in Syria shrink from exposing their faces, through fear of insult from the Mohammedans.
When European women, either residents or travellers, pass through the Moslem quarter of these cities of Syria and Palestine, with faces unveiled, they are made the theme of the most outrageous and insulting comments by the Moslem populace. Well is it for the feelings of the most of these worthy Christian women, that they do not understand the Arabic language. The Turkish governor of Tripoli was obliged to suppress the insulting epithets of the Moslems towards European ladies when they first began to reside there, by the infliction of the bastinado.
In 1857, the Rev. Mr. Lyons in Tripoli, hired Sheikh Owad, a Moslem bigot, to teach him the Arabic grammar. He was a conceited boor; well versed in Arabic grammar, but more ignorant of geography, arithmetic and good breeding than a child. One day Mrs. Lyons passed through the room where he was teaching Mr. L. and he turned his head away from her and spat towards her with a look of unutterable contempt. It was the last time he did it, and he has now become so civilized that he can say good morning to the wife of a missionary, and even consent to teach the sacred, pure and undefiled Arabic to a woman! I believe that he has not yet given his assent to the fact that the earth revolves on its axis, but he has learned that there are women in the world who know more than Sheikh Owad.
In ancient times Moslem women were occasionally taught to read the Koran, and among the wealthier and more aristocratic classes, married women are now sometimes taught to read, but the mass of the Moslem men are bitterly opposed to the instruction of women. When a man decides to have his wife taught to read, the usual plan is to hire a blind Mohammedan Sheikh, who knows the Koran by heart. He sits at one side of the room, and she at the other, some elderly woman, either her mother or her mother-in-law, being present. The blind Sheikhs have remarkable memories and sharp ears, and can detect the slightest error in pronunciation or rendering, so they are employed in the most of the Moslem-schools. The mass of the Mohammedans are nervously afraid of entrusting the knowledge of reading and writing to their wives and daughters, lest they abuse it by writing clandestine letters to improper persons. "Teach a girl to read and write!" said a Mohammedan Mufti in Tripoli to me, "Why, she will write letters, sir,—yes, actually write letters! the thing is not to be thought of for a moment." I replied, "Effendum, you put your foot on the women's necks and then blame them for not rising. Educate your girls and train them to intelligence and virtue, and then their pens will write only what ought to be written. Train the hand to hold a pen, without training the mind to direct it, and only mischief can result." "Saheah, saheah," "very true, very true," said he, "But how can this be done?"
It has begun to be done in Syria. From the days of Mrs. Sarah L. Smith to the present time, Moslem girls have been taught to read and write and sew, and there are many now learning in the various American, British and Prussian schools. But it will be long before any true idea of the dignity of woman enters the debased minds of Arab Mohammedans. The simple fact is that there is no moral purity or elevation among the men, and how can it be expected among the women. The Moslem idea of woman is infinitely lower than the old Jewish idea. Woman in the time of Christ was highly honored. Believing women followed Christ throughout Galilee and Judea, and although enemies stood watching with hateful gaze on every side, not one word of insinuation was ever lisped against them. It is a most sadly impressive fact to one living in Syria at the present day, that the liberty and respect allowed to woman in the days of our Saviour would now be absolutely impossible. In purely Greek or Maronite or Armenian villages, the women enjoy far greater liberty than where there is a Moslem element in the population. And it is worthy of remark and grateful recognition, that although Christianity in the East has sunk almost to a level, in outward morality, with the Islamic and semi-Pagan sects, there is a striking difference between the lowest nominal Christian community and the highest Mohammedan, in the respect paid to woman. Ignorant and oppressed as the Greek and Maronite women may be, you feel on entering their houses, that the degrading yoke of Moslem brutality is not on their necks. Their husbands may be coarse, ignorant and brutal, beating their wives and despising their daughters, mourning at the birth of a daughter, and marrying her without her consent, and yet there are lower depths of coarseness and brutality, of cruelty and bestiality, which are only found among Mohammedans. I once suggested to a Tripoli Moslem, that he send his daughters to our Girls' School, then taught by Miss Sada Gregory, a native teacher trained in the family of Mrs. Whiting, and he looked at me with an expression of mingled pity and contempt, saying, "Educate a girl! You might as well attempt to educate a cat!"
Not two months since, I was conversing with several of the aristocratic Mohammedans of Beirut, who were in attendance at the commencement of the Beirut Protestant Medical College. The subject of the education of girls was introduced, and one of them said, "we are beginning to have our girls instructed in your Protestant schools, and would you believe it, I heard one of them read the other day, (probably his own daughter,) and she actually asked a question about the construction of a noun preceded by a preposition! I never heard the like of it. The things do distinguish and understand what they read, after all!" The others replied, "Mashallah! Mashallah!" "The will of God be done!"
Some ten years ago, an influential Moslem Sheikh in Beirut, who was a personal friend of Mr. Araman, the husband of Lulu, brought his daughter Wahidy (only one) to the Seminary to be instructed, on condition that no man should ever see her face. As Mr. Araman himself was one of the teachers, and I was accustomed to make constant visits to the school, she was obliged to wear a light veil, which she drew adroitly over her face whenever the door was opened. This went on for months and years, until at length in recitation she would draw the veil aside. Then she used to listen to public addresses in the school without her veil, and finally, in June, 1867, she read a composition on the stage at the Public Examination, on, "The value of education to the women and girls of Syria," her father, Sheikh Said el Ghur, being present, with a number of his Moslem friends.
THE DRUZE RELIGION AND DRUZE WOMEN.
The great expounder and defender of the Druze religion is Hamze, the "Universal Intelligence," the only Mediator between God and man, and the medium of the creation of all things. This Hamze was a shrewd, able and unprincipled man. In his writings he not only defends the abominations of Hakem, but lays down the complete code of Druze doctrine and duty.
It is the belief of many, and said to be the orthodox view among the Druzes that their system as such is to last exactly 900 lunar years. The date of the Druze era is 408 Hegira, or 1020 A.D. The present year, 1872, corresponds to the year 1289 Anno Hegira, so that in nineteen lunar years the system will begin to come to an end according to its own reckoning, and after 1000 years it will cease to exist. Others have fixed this present year as the year of the great cataclysm, but the interpreters are so secret and reserved in their statements, that it is only by casual remarks that we can arrive at any idea of their real belief. Lying to infidels is such a meritorious act, that you cannot depend on one word they say of themselves or their doctrines. Their secret books, which were found in the civil wars of 1841 and 1845, have been translated and published by De Sacy, and we have a number of them in the original Arabic manuscripts in the Mission Library in Beirut. From a chapter in one of these, entitled "Methak en Nissa," or the "Engagements of Women," I have translated the following passages, to show the religious position of women, as bearing upon my object in describing the condition of Syrian females.
"Believers are both male and female. By instruction women pass from ignorance to knowledge, and become angels like the Five Ministers who bear the Throne: i.e., the Doctrine of the Unity. All male and female believers ought to be free from all impurity and disgrace and dishonor. Believing women should shun lying (to the brethren) and infidelity and concupiscence, and the appearance of evil, and show the excellency of their work above all Trinitarian women, avoiding all suspicion and taint which might bring ill upon their brethren, and avoiding giving attention to what is contrary to the Divine Unity.
"We have written this epistle to be read to all believing women who hold to the Unity of Hakem, who knows His Eternity and obey their husbands. But let no Dai or Mazun read it to a woman until he is well assured of her faith and her religion, and she shall have made a written profession of her faith. He shall not read it to one woman alone, nor in a house where there is but one woman, even though he be worthy of all confidence, lest suspicion be awakened and the tongue of slander be loosed. Let there be assembled together at least three women, and let them sit behind a curtain or screen, so as not to be seen. Each woman must be accompanied by her husband, or her father, or brother or son, if he be a Unitarian. The Dai in reading must keep his eyes fixed on his book, neither turning towards the place where the women are, nor casting a glance towards it, nor listening to them. The woman, moreover, must not speak a word during the reading, and whether she is affected by a transport of joy, or moved by an impression of respect and fear, she must carefully abstain from showing her feelings either by smiles or tears. For the smiles, the tears, and the words of a woman may excite man's passions. Let her give her whole attention to the reading, receive it in her heart, and apply all the faculties of her mind to understand its meaning, in order clearly to conceive the true signification of what she is listening to. If she finds any passage obscure, let her ask the Dai, (the preacher,) and he shall answer, if he can, and if not, promise to ask those who are more learned, and when he has obtained the solution he must inform her, if she be deemed worthy.
"The highest duty of Unitarian women is to know our Moulah Hakem and the Kaim Hamze. If they follow Him, let them know that He has released them entirely from the observance of the Seven Arbitrary Pillars of the Law (of Islam) which are (1) Prayer, (2) Fasting, (3) Pilgrimage, (4) Asserting, There is no God but God and Mohammed is the Prophet of God, (5) Giving tithes, (6) War on infidels, (7) Submission to authority. But on the other hand, all believing women must perform the Seven Religious Duties: The First and greatest is Truth in your words: (i.e. to the brethren and sisters); the Second is, To watch reciprocally over the safety of the brethren; the Third is, to renounce wholly and entirely whatever religion you may have previously professed; the Fourth is, To keep yourselves apart, clear and distinct from all who are in error; the Fifth is, To recognize the existence of the Unity of our Lord in all ages, times and epochs; the Sixth is, To be satisfied with His will and His works, whatever they may be; The Seventh is, To abandon and resign yourselves to all His orders whether in prosperity or adversity. You must keep these Seven Commandments, and keep them strictly secret from all who are of a different religion. If the Druze women do all this and fulfil their duties, they are indeed among the good, and shall have their reward among the 159 Angels of the Presence and among the Prophets who were Apostles, and be saved from the snare of the accursed Iblis (Diabolus). Praise then to our Lord Hakim, the praise of the thankful! He is my hope and victory!"
What can you expect of the women, if the teachers are thus warped with hypocrisy and falsehood. They receive you politely. Dr. De Forest used to say, that there is not a boor in the Druze nation. But their very politeness confounds you. The old Druze women are masters of a pious religious phraseology. "We are all sinners." "The Lord's will be done." "Praise to His name." "He only can command." "The Lord be merciful to us." "He orders all things," and yet they will lie and deceive, and if not of the initiated class, they will swear in the most fearful manner. The Okkal cannot swear, smoke or drink, but they tell a story of a village where the people were all Okkal, and things having reached a high pitch of excitement, they sent for a body of Jehal or the non-initiated to come over and swear on the subject, that their pure minds might be relieved! When they talk in the most affectingly pious manner, and really surpass you in religious sentiment, you hardly know what to do. Tell them God knows the heart. They reply, "He alone is the All-knowing, the Searcher of the hearts of men." You shrink from telling them in plain language that they are hypocrites and liars. You can tell them of the personal love of a personal Saviour, and this simple story will affect and has affected the minds of some of them more than all logic and eloquent refutation of their foggy and mysterious doctrinal system.
They respect us and treat us politely for political reasons. During the massacres of 1860, I rode from Abeih to Beirut in the midst of burning villages, and armed bodies of Druzes passed us shouting the war song "Ma hala ya ma hala kotal en Nosara," "How sweet, oh how sweet, to kill the Christians," and yet as they passed us they stopped and most politely paid their salams, saying, "Naharkum Saieed," "May your day be blessed," "Allah yahtikum el afiyeh," "God give you health!"
When a Druze Sheikh wishes to marry, he asks consent of the father without having seen the daughter. If the father consents, he informs her, and if she consents, the suitor sends his affianced presents of clothes and jewelry, which remain in her hands as a pledge of his fidelity. She is pictured to him as the paragon of beauty and excellence, but he is never allowed to see her, speak to her, or write to her, should she know how to write. His mother or aunt may see her or bring reports, but he does not see her until the wedding contract is signed and the bride is brought to his house.
The following is the marriage ceremony of the Druzes. It is read by the Kadi or Sheikh, and in accordance to the Druze doctrine that they must outwardly conform to the religion of the governing power, it is a purely Mohammedan ordinance.
"Praise to God, the original Creator of all things; the Gracious in all His gifts and prohibitions; who has decreed and fixed the ordinance of marriage; may Allah pray for (bless) our Prophet Mohammed, and his four successors! Now after this, we say that marriage is one of the laws given by the prophets, and one of the statutes of the pious to guard against vice; a gift from the Lord of the earth and the heaven. Praise to Him who by it has brought the far ones near, and made the foreigner a relative and friend! We are assembled here to attend to a matter decreed and fated of Allah, and whose beginning, middle and end he has connected with the most happy and auspicious circumstances. This matter is the blessed covenant of marriage. Inshullah, may it be completed and perfected, and praise to Allah, the Great Completer! Amen!
"In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. He is my portion and sufficiency. May Allah pray for his pure prophet!"
This is the marriage contract between the person named A. son of —— of the village of —— in the district of —— in Lebanon, and his betrothed named B. the daughter of —— of the village of —— she being a maiden of full and marriageable age, with no legal obstacles to her marriage. (May Allah protect her veil, and have mercy on her relatives and friends!)
In view of the mercies of Allah and his prophet Mohammed, they pay fifty piastres ($2.00) of full and lawful number, weight and measure, of the Imperial mint of our Moulah the Sultan, (may the exalted and merciful One give him the victory!) and of new white silver. The agent of the husband is —— and of the wife is ——.
It is the absolute and bounden duty of the husband to provide clothing for the body of his wife and a crown for her head, and of the wife to give him his due honor and rights and do his work, and Allah will be with those who fear Him, and not suffer those who do well to lose their reward.
Signed Sheikh —— (seal) — seal Witnesses — seal — seal
A whole week is given up to festivity before her arrival, and the retinue of the bride mounted on fine horses escort her amid the firing of musketry, the zilagheet shrieks of the women, and general rejoicing, to the bridegroom's house. Col. Churchill describes what follows: "The bride meantime, after having received the caresses and congratulations of her near relatives, is conducted to a chamber apart and placed on a divan, with a large tray of sweetmeats and confectionery before her, after which all the females withdraw and she is left alone, with a massive veil of muslin and gold thrown over her head and covering her face, breasts and shoulders down to the waist. What thoughts and sensations must crowd upon the maiden's mind in this solitude! not to be disturbed but by him who will shortly come to receive in that room his first impressions of her charms and attractions! Presently she hears footsteps at the door; it opens quietly; silently and unattended her lover approaches her, lifts the veil off her face, takes one glance, replaces it and withdraws."
He then returns to the grand reception-room, takes his seat at the head of the divan amid the throng of Sheikhs and other invited guests. He maintains an imperturbable silence, his mind being supposed to be absorbed by one engrossing object. It may be delight. It may be bitter disappointment. It is generally past midnight when the party breaks up and the family retires.
A plurality of wives is absolutely forbidden. If a Druze wishes to divorce his wife, he has merely to say, "You had better go back to your father," or she, the woman, wishes to leave her husband, she says, "I wish to go back to my father," and if her husband says, "Very well, go," the divorce in either case holds good, and the separation is irrevocable. Both parties are free to re-marry. Childlessness is a common cause of divorce.
The birth of a son is the occasion of great rejoicing and presents to the family. But the birth of a daughter is considered a misfortune, and of course not the slightest notice is taken of so inauspicious an event. This holds true among all the sects and peoples of Syria, and nothing but a Christian training and the inculcation of the pure principles of gospel morality can remove this deeply seated prejudice. The people say the reason of their dislike of daughters is that while a son builds up the house, and brings in a wife from without and perpetuates the family name, the daughter pulls down the house, loses her name, and is lost to the family.
The wealthier and more aristocratic Druze sitts or ladies are taught to read by the Fakih or teacher, but the masses of the women are in brutish ignorance. You enter a Druze house. The woman waits upon you and brings coffee, but you see only one eye, the rest of the head and face being closely veiled. In an aristocratic house, you would never be allowed to see the lady, and if she goes abroad, it is only at night, and with attendants on every side to keep off the profane gaze of strangers. If a physician is called to attend a sick Druze woman, he cannot see her face nor her tongue, unless she choose to thrust it through a hole in her veil. In many cases they suffer a woman to die sooner than have her face seen by a physician.
The Druzes marry but one wife at a time, and yet divorce is so common and so heartlessly practiced by the men, that the poor women live in constant fear of being driven from their homes.
In Abeih, we were startled one evening by the cry "Rouse ye men of self respect! Come and help us!" It was a dark, rainy night, and the earthen roof of a Druze house had fallen in, burying a young man, his wife and his mother, under the mass of earth, stones and timber. They all escaped death, but were seriously injured, the poor young wife suffering the most of all, having fallen with her left arm in a bed of burning coals, and having been compelled to lie there half an hour, so that when dug out, her hand was burned to a cinder! For several days the husband refused to send for a doctor, but at length his wife Hala was sent to the College Hospital (of the Prussian Knights of St. John) in Beirut where Dr. Post amputated the hand below the elbow.
One would naturally suppose that such a calamity, in which both so narrowly escaped death, would bind husband and wife together in the strongest bonds of affection and sympathy. But not so in this case. The poor young wife is now threatened with divorce, because she is no longer of any use to her husband, and her two little children are to be taken from her! She lies on her bed in the Hospital, the very picture of stoical resignation. Not a groan or complaint escapes her.
She said one day, "Oh how glad I am that this happened, for it has taken away all my sins, and I shall never have to suffer again in this world or the next!" This is the doctrine of the Druzes, and, cold and false as it is, she has made it her support and her stay.
Dr. Post and Mrs. Bliss have pointed her to the Lamb of God "who bore our sins in His own body on the tree," and she seems interested to hear and learn more.
Her younger sister is in the Beirut Seminary. May this poor sufferer find peace where alone it can be found, in trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood cleanseth from all sin!
The cruelty of her husband, sanctioned as it is by the religious code of the Druzes, may be the means of opening her eyes to the falsity of that heartless Christless system, and lead her to the foot of the Cross!
Christians, who read these lines, pray for Hala of Abeih!
More than twenty years ago in the little Druze village of Aitath, in Lebanon, about seven miles from Beirut, lived a family of Druze Sheikhs of the tribe of Telhuk. This tribe was divided into the great Sheikhs and the little Sheikhs, and among the latter was the Sheikh Khottar. The proximity of this village to Beirut, its elevated position, cool air, and fine fountain of water, made it a favorite summer retreat for the missionaries from the withering heats of the plain. Sheikh Khottar and his wife the Sitt, having both died, their orphan son Selim and daughter Abla, called the Sitt (or lady) Abla, were placed under the care of other members of the family of Telhuk. The missionaries opened a school for boys and Selim attended it. Dr. and Mrs. Van Dyck were living in Aitath at the time, and the young Druze maiden Abla, who was betrothed to a Druze Sheikh, became greatly attached to Mrs. Van Dyck, and came almost constantly to visit her. The light of a better faith and the truth of a pure gospel gradually dawned upon her mind, until her love for Mrs. Van Dyck grew into love for the Saviour of sinners. The Sheikh to whom she was betrothed was greatly enraged at her course in visiting a Christian lady, and meeting her one day when returning to her home, attacked her in the most brutal manner, and gave her a severe beating. She fled and took refuge in the house of Mrs. Van Dyck, who had taught her to read and given her a Bible. A short time after, several of her cousins seized her and scourged her most cruelly, and a violent persecution was excited against her and her brother Selim. She was in daily and hourly expectation of being killed by her male relatives, as it had never been heard of in the Druze nation that a young girl should dare to become a Christian, and Mr. Whiting, missionary in Abeih, sent over a courageous Protestant youth named Saleh, who took the Sitt Abla by night over the rough mountain road to Abeih in safety. But even here she was not safe. The Druzes of Lebanon at that time were at the height of their feudal power. Girls and women were killed among them without the least notice on the part of the mountain government. Abla was like a prisoner in the missionary's house, not venturing to go outside the door, and in order to be at peace, she went down with her brother to Beirut, where she has since resided. Selim united with the Church, but was afterwards suspended from communion for improper conduct, and joined himself to the Jesuits, so that Abla has had to endure a two-fold persecution from her Druze relatives and her Jesuit brother. On her removal to Beirut she was disinherited and deprived of her little portion of her father's estate, and her life has been a constant struggle with persecution, poverty and want. Yet amid all, she has stood firm as a rock, never swerving from the truth, or showing any disposition to go back to her old friends. At times she has suffered from extreme privation, and the missionaries and native Protestants would only hear of it through others who happened to meet her. Since uniting with the Church in 1849 she has lived a Christian life. In a recent conversation she said, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things ... and I still continue, by the grace of Him Exalted, and by the merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour, awaiting a happy death, and everlasting rest."
Her Christian experience is like that of Khozma Ata. She is the only female member of the Protestant church in Syria from among the Druzes, except Sitt Abla. She was born, in Beirut of the Druze family of Witwat, and when quite a child was taken by Dr. Beadle, then by Miss Tilden, living at one time in Aleppo, then in Jerusalem, and finally settled in the family of Dr. De Forest, where she continued until his departure for America in 1854. For several years she has been an invalid, and is not often able to leave her house, even to go to church. Two of her little girls are in the Female Seminary. In 1861 she taught a day school for girls in Beirut, and assisted Dr. De Forest in his work in the Beirut Seminary. I called upon her a few days since, and she handed me a roll of Arabic manuscript, which she said she had been translating from the English. It is a series of stories for children which she has prepared to be printed in our monthly journal for Syrian children. The name of the journal is "koukab es Subah," or "Morning Star." She has been confined to her bed a part of the summer, and when she gave me the manuscript, she apologized for the handwriting, on the ground that she had written the most of it sitting or lying on her bed. She has not forgotten the example and instructions of Dr. and Mrs. De Forest, and speaks of them with enthusiastic interest. Her husband failed in business some years ago, and she is in a constant struggle with want, but her old friends and loving sisters, Raheel and Lulu, who are among her nearest neighbors, are unremitting in their kind attentions to her.
What a difference between the faithful Christian nurture her little children are receiving at home, and the worse than no training received by the children of her Druze relatives at Ras Beirut, who are still under the shadow of their old superstitions. She never curses her children nor invokes the wrath of God upon them. She is never beaten and spit upon and tortured and threatened with death by her husband. It is worth much to have rescued a Khozma and an Abla from the degradation of Druze superstition! These two good women, with Abdullah in Beirut, and Hassan, Hassein, Asaad and Ali, in Lebanon, are among the living witnesses to the preciousness of the love of Christ, who have come forth from the Druze community. They have been persecuted, and may be again, but they stand firm in Christ. Not a few Druze girls are gathered in our schools in Beirut, Lebanon, and the vicinity of Hermon, as well as in other schools in Damascus, Hasbeiya and elsewhere, and some of their young men are receiving a Christian education.
To the North of Mount Lebanon, and along the low range of mountains extending from Antioch to Tripoli, and from the Mediterranean on the West to Hums on the East, live a strange, wild, blood-thirsty race called the Nusairiyeh numbering about 200,000 souls, and now for the first time in their history coming within the range of Missionary effort.
The Druzes admit women to the Akkal or initiated class, but not so the Nusairiyeh. The great secret of the Sacrament is administered in a secluded place, the women being shut up in a house, or kept away from the mysteries. In these assemblies the Sheikh reads prayers, and then all join in cursing Abubekr, Omar, Othman, Sheikh et-Turkoman and the Christians and others. Then he gives a spoonful of wine, first to the Sheikhs present, and then to all the rest. They then eat fruit, offer other prayers, and the assembly breaks up. The rites of initiation are frightful in the extreme, attended by threats, imprecations and blasphemous oaths, declaring their lives forfeited if they expose the secrets of the order.
They use given signs and questions, by which they salute each other, and ascertain whether a stranger is one of them or not. In their books they employ the double interlacing triangle or seal of Solomon. They call each other brethren, and enjoin love and truthfulness, but only to the brethren. In this they are like the Druzes. So little do they regard all outside their own sect, that they pray to God to take out of the hearts of all others than themselves, what little light of knowledge and certainty they may possess! The effect of this secret, exclusive, and selfish system is shown in the conduct of the Nusairiyeh in robbing and murdering Moslems and Christians without compunction.
As it has been said, the Nusairiyeh women are entirely excluded from all participation in religious ceremonies and prayers, and from all religious teaching. The reason given, is two-fold; the first being that women cannot be trusted to keep a secret, and the second because they are considered by the Nusairiyeh as something unclean. They believe that the soul of a wicked man may pass at death into a brute, or he may be punished for his sins in this life by being born in a woman's form in the next generation. And so, if a woman live in virtue and obedience, there is hope of her again being born into the world as a man, and becoming one of the illuminati and possessors of the secret. It is a long time for the poor things to wait, but it is a convenient reward for their husbands to hold out before them.
Yet the women are so religiously inclined by nature that they will have some object of worship, and while their husbands, fathers and sons are talking and praying about the celestial hierarchies, and the unfathomable mysteries, the wives, mothers and daughters will throng the "zeyarehs," or holy visiting shrines, on the hill tops, and among the groves of green trees, to propitiate the favor of the reputed saints of ancient days. These shrines are supposed to have miraculous powers, but Friday is the day when the prophets are more especially "at home," to receive visitors. On other days they may be "on a journey," or asleep. Whenever a Nuisairiyeh woman is in sorrow or trouble or fear, she goes to the zeyareh and cries in a piteous tone, "zeyareh, hear me!"
Their women do not veil themselves, and consequently there is more of freedom among them than among Moslems and Druzes, and in their great festivals, men and women all dance together.
When a young man sees a girl who pleases him, he bargains with her father, agreeing to pay from twenty dollars to two hundred, according to the dignity of her family; of which sum she receives but four dollars, unless her father should choose to give her a red bridal box and bedding for her outfit. She rides in great state to the bridegroom's house amid the firing of guns and shouts of the women, and on dismounting, the bridegroom gives her a present of from one to three dollars, called the "dismounting money."
Divorce needs only the will of the man, and polygamy is common. Lane says in speaking of Egypt, "The depraving effects of this freedom of divorce upon both sexes, may be easily imagined. There are many men in this country who, in the course of ten years, have married as many as twenty, thirty or more wives; and women, not far advanced in age, who have been wives to a dozen or more men successively."
The Nusairiyeh women smoke, swear, and use the most vile and unclean language, and even go beyond the men in these respects. Swearing and lying are universal not only among the Nusairiyeh, but among the most of the Syrian people. You never receive a direct reply from a Nusairy. He will answer your question by asking another, in order, if possible, to ascertain your object in asking it and to conceal the true state of the case. Their Moslem and nominal Christian neighbors are not much better. They all lie, and swear, and deceive. Mr. Lyde illustrates the ignorance of the Greek clergy in Latakiah by the following incident. A ploughman who had learned something of the Bible, heard a Greek priest cursing the father of a little child. He said, "My father, is it right to curse?" "Oh," said he, "it was only from my lips." "But does not the psalmist say, Keep the door of my lips?" "That," replied the priest, "is only in the English Bible."
Walpole says of the Nusairiyeh women, "when young, they are handsome, often fair, with light hair and jet-black eyes; or the rarer beauty of fair eyes and coal-black hair or eyebrows."
When a fight takes place between the tribes, the women, like the women of the Druzes, enter into the spirit of it with demoniacal fury. During the battle they bring jars of water, shout, sing, and encourage the men, and at the close carry off the booty, such as pots, pans, chickens, quilts, wooden doors, trays, etc. In the Druze war of 1860, I saw the Druze women running with the men through Aitath, on their way to the scene of hostilities in the Metn. The Bedawin women likewise aid their husbands in the commissariat of their nomad warfare.
The Rev. Mr. Lyde was the first to undertake direct missionary labors among the Nusairiyeh, and his work has been carried on by the Reformed Presbyterian Mission in Latakiah. The Rev. J. Beattie sends me the following facts with regard to the work now going on among the women and girls.
The first convert under the labors of Mr. Lyde was Hammud, of the village of Merj, a young man of fine mind and most lovely character, who gave promise of great usefulness. After he became a Christian, his mother, finding that no Nusairy girl would marry a Christian, determined to secure a young girl and have her educated for Hammud. So she paid four Turkish pounds for a little Nusairy girl named Zahara or Venus, whose widowed mother had removed to her village. This payment was in accordance with Nusairy customs, and constituted the girl's dowry. After the betrothal in 1863, Hammud sent her to Latakiah, where she was taken into the family of the late Dr. Dodds for instruction and training. She gladly received the truth, and Hammud labored earnestly for her enlightenment. Everything seemed bright and promising, until suddenly all their earthly hopes were dashed by the early death of Hammud in December, 1864. He died in the triumphs of the Christian faith, and from that time she gave herself to the Lord. In August, 1865, she with several others was baptized and received into the communion of the Church. At her own request, she was baptized as Miriam.
In 1866 she was married to Yusef Jedid, and lived with him in several of the villages among the Nusairiyeh, where he was engaged in teaching. Her husband at length removed to Bahluliyeh in 1870, and a wide door of usefulness was opened to them. Her little daughters Lulu and Helany were with her, and there was every prospect that she would be able to do much for Christ among her benighted sisters. But the same disease, consumption, which prostrated Hammud, now laid her aside. It was probably brought on by a careless exposure of her health while lying down on the damp ground and falling asleep uncovered, as the natives of the mountain villages are in the habit of doing. The missionaries from Latakiah constantly visited her, and Dr. Metheny gave her the benefit of his medical skill, but all in vain. She loved to converse on heavenly things, and hear the Scriptures and prayer. But when the missionaries returned to the city, she was overwhelmed by the rebukes and merciless upbraidings of the fellaheen, who have no sympathy for the sick, the disabled and the dying. Her ears were filled with the sound of cursing and bitterness, and no wonder that she entreated the missionaries not to leave her. She told Mr. Beattie that she did not fear to die, for her trust was in Jesus Christ, but it was hard to be left among such coarse and unsympathizing people. At length she was brought into Latakiah, where she seemed to feel more at home. At times she passed through severe spiritual conflicts, and said she was struggling with the adversary, who had tried to make her blaspheme. At one time she was in great excitement, but when the 34th Psalm was read she became entirely composed and calm, and in turn, began chanting the 23rd Psalm to the end. She sent for all of her friends and begged their forgiveness, commended her children to the care of Miss Crawford, and asked Mr. Beattie to pray with her again. Her bodily sufferings now increased, when suddenly she called out, "The Lord be glorified! To God give the glory!" Soon after, she gently fell "asleep in Jesus." Thus died the first woman, as far as we know, ever truly converted from among the Pagan Nusairiyeh. Her conversion opened the way for that work of moral, religious and intellectual elevation among the Nusairy females which has since been carried on in Latakiah and vicinity.
The first Christian woman to undertake the direct task of educating and elevating the Nusairiyeh females was Miss Crawford. She commenced her work in 1869. The Mission had found that the Boarding School for boys was training a class of young men, who could not find, among the tens of thousands of families in their native mountains, a single girl fitted to be one's companion for life. The females were everywhere neglected, and Miss Crawford came to Syria just at the time of the greatest need. Under the care and direction of the Mission, she commenced a Boarding School for girls in Latakiah in the fall of 1869. At first, but few pupils could be persuaded to come. Only two attended during the first year. Their names were Sada and Naiuf, the sister of Zahara. The next year Sada left, and ten new ones entered the school: Marie, Howa, Naiseh, Shehla, Thaljeh, (snow,) Tumra, (fruit,) Ghazella, Husna, Bureib'han, and Harba. They were all from twelve to fourteen in age, and remained through the winter, but at the beginning of wheat harvest, their friends forced them to return to their homes for the summer. They made marked progress both in study and deportment, and before leaving for their homes passed a creditable examination both in their studies and in needlework. The fact was thus established to the astonishment of the citizens of Latakiah, that the Nusairiyeh girls were equal in intellect and skill in needlework to the brightest of the city girls. In the autumn of 1871 it was feared that the Pagan parents of the girls would prevent their return to the school, but, greatly to the gratification of the missionaries, all of the ten returned, bringing with them nine others; Hamameh, (dove,) Henireh, Elmaza, (diamond,) Deebeh,(she-wolf,) Alexandra, Zeinab, Lulu, (pearl,) Howwa, (Eve,) and Naameh, (grace).
During the year the pupils brought new joy to the hearts of their teachers. Not only were their numbers greatly increased, but the older girls seemed all to be under the influence of deep religious impressions on their return to the school. Although they had spent the summer among the wild fellaheen and been compelled to listen to blasphemy, impurity and cursing on every side, they had been able by the aid of God's Spirit to discriminate between good and evil, and to contrast the lawless wickedness of the fellaheen with the holy precepts of the Bible. Finding themselves unable to meet the requirements of God's pure and holy law, they returned under serious distress of mind, asking what they should do to be saved? Such of them as could do so, had been in the habit of meeting together during the summer for prayer, and of repeating the ten commandments and other portions of Scripture with which they were familiar. They had been threatened and beaten by their friends on account of their religious views, but they remained unmoved. The child-like simple faith of some of them was remarkable. Marie was punished on one occasion by her father for attending the missionary service at B'hamra on the Sabbath. He forbade her to eat for a whole day, and she prayed that God would give her bread. Soon after, on her way to the village fountain, she found part of a merkuk, loaf of bread, by the wayside, which she picked up and ate most gratefully, regarding it as a direct answer to her prayer. Another Ghuzaleh, was brutally beaten because she would not swear and blaspheme, and all were threatened and insulted because they would not work on Sunday.
In November, 1871, seven of these girls, on their own application, were received into the membership of the Church. It was an interesting sight to see that group of Nusairiyeh heathen girls standing to receive the ordinance of Christian baptism. In the spring of 1872, another was added to the list. These little ones of Christ have all thus far shown themselves faithful. They were sent back to their homes in the summer, and several, if not the most, of them may be forbidden to return again to the school. Some may say, why allow them to go home? The policy of encouraging children to run away from their parents and connect themselves with foreign missionaries and missionary institutions, will lead the heathen to hate the very name of Christianity, and to charge it with being a foe to all social and family order, and on the broad ground of missionary usefulness, the girls can do far more good in their own homes than elsewhere.
CHRONICLE OF WOMEN'S WORK FROM 1820 TO 1872.
It must not be inferred from what has been said on a preceding page with regard to the favorable position occupied by the women of the nominal Christian sects of Syria as compared with the Mohammedan women, that the first missionaries found the Greek and Maronite women and girls who speak the Arabic language eager or even willing to receive instruction. Far from it. The effects of the Mohammedan domination of twelve hundred years have been to degrade and depress all the sects and nationalities who are subject to Islam. Not only were there not women and girls found to learn to read, but the great mass of the men of the Christian sects could neither read nor write. Many of the prominent Arab merchants in Beirut to-day can neither read nor write. I say Arab merchants, and yet very few of the Arabs of the Greek Church have more than a mere tinge of Arab blood in their veins. To call them Syrians, would be to confound them with the "Syrian" or "Jacobite" sect, who are found only in the vicinity of Hums, Hamath and Mardin. So with the Maronites. They are chiefly of a darker complexion than the Arab Greeks, and are supposed to have had their origin in Mesopotamia. Yet all these sects and races speak the common Arabic language, and hence it will be convenient to call them Arabs, although I am aware, that while many of the modern Syrians glory in the name "Oulad el Arab," many others regard it with dislike.
The Syrian Christianity, moreover, so often alluded to in the history of the Syrian Mission, is the lowest type of the religion of the Greek and Roman churches. Saint-worship and picture-worship are universal. An ignorant priesthood, and a superstitious people, no Bibles, and no readers to read them, no schools and no teachers capable of conducting them, prayers in unknown tongues, and a bitter feeling of party spirit in all the sects, universal belief in the efficacy of fasts and vows, pilgrimages and offerings to the shrines of reputed saints, churches without a preached gospel, and prayers performed as a duty without the worship of the heart, universal Mariolatry, a Sabbath desecrated by priests and people alike, God's name everywhere profaned by men, women and children, and truthfulness of lip almost absolutely unknown; the women and girls degraded and oppressed and left to the tender mercies of a corrupt clergy through the infamies of the confessional; all these practices and many others which space forbids us to mention, combined with the social bondage entailed upon woman by the gross code of Islam, rendered the women of the nominal Christian sects of Syria almost as hopeless subjects of missionary labor as were their less favored Druze and Moslem sisters.
In order to present the leading facts in the history of Mission Work for Syrian women, I propose to give a brief review of the salient points, in the order of time, as I have been able to glean them from the missionary documents within my reach.
The first Protestant missionary to Syria since the days of the Apostles, was the Rev. Levi Parsons, who reached Jerusalem January 16, 1821, and died in Alexandria February 10, 1822. In 1823, Rev. Pliny Fisk, and Dr. Jonas King reached Jerusalem to take his place, and on the 10th of July came to Beirut. Dr. King spent the summer in Deir el Kamr, and Mr. Fisk in a building now occupied by the Jesuit College in Aintura.
On the 16th of November, 1823, Messrs. Goodell and Bird reached Beirut, and on the 6th of December, 1824, they wrote as follows: "Mr. King's Arabic instructor laughs heartily that the ladies of our company are served first at table. He said that if any person should come to his house and speak to his wife first, he should be offended. He said the English ladies have some understanding, the Arab women have none. It is the custom of this country that a woman must never be seen eating or walking, or in company with her husband. When she walks abroad, she must wrap herself in a large white sheet, and look like a ghost, and at home she must be treated more like a slave than a partner. Indeed, women are considered of so little consequence that to ask a man after the health of his wife, is a question which is said never to find a place in the social intercourse of this country."
Jan. 24, 1825, Dr. Goodell wrote, "Some adult females come occasionally to be taught by Mrs. Bird or Mrs. Goodell, and although their attendance is very irregular, and their disadvantages very great, being without Arabic books, and their friends deriding their efforts, yet they make some improvement. One of them, who a fortnight ago did not know a single letter of the alphabet, can now read one verse in the Bible."
July 1, 1825, Messrs. Goodell and Bird speak of the first girls taught to read in Syria in mission schools. "Our school contains between eighty and ninety scholars, who are all boys except two. One is the teacher's wife, who is perhaps fifteen years of age, and the other a little girl about ten." That teacher was Tannus el Haddad, who died a few years ago, venerated and beloved by all sects and classes of the people, having been for many years deacon of the Beirut Church, and his wife, Im Beshara, still lives, with an interesting family.
On the 21st of Dec, 1825, Dr. King wrote as follows: "I spent about a month in Tyre, and made some efforts to establish a school for Tyrian females, and was very near succeeding, when one of the principal priests rose up and said, 'It is by no means expedient to teach women to read the word of God. It is better for them to remain in ignorance than to know how to read and write. They are quite bad enough with what little they now know. Teach them to read and write, and there would be no living with them!'" That Tyrian priest of fifty years ago, was a fair sample of his black-frocked brethren throughout Syria from that time to this. There have been a few worthy exceptions, but the Syrian priesthood of all sects, taken as a class, are the avowed enemies of the education and elevation of their people. Some of the exceptions to this rule will be mentioned in the subsequent pages of this volume.
In 1826, there were three hundred children in the Mission schools in the vicinity of Beirut.
In 1827, there were 600 pupils in 13 schools, of whom one hundred and twenty were girls! In view of the political, social and religious condition of Syria at that time, that statement is more remarkable than almost any fact in the history of the Syrian Mission. It shows that Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Goodell must have labored to good purpose in persuading their benighted Syrian sisters to send their daughters to school, and to these two Christian women is due the credit of having commenced Woman's Work for Women in modern times in Syria. In that same year, the wives of Bishop Dionysius Carabet and Gregory Wortabet were received to the communion of the Church in Beirut, being the first spiritual fruits of Women's Work for Women in modern Syria.
During 1828 and 1829 the Missionaries temporarily withdrew to Malta. In 1833, Dr. Thomson and Dr. Dodge arrived in Beirut. The Mission now consisted of Messrs. Bird, Whiting, Eli Smith, Drs. Thomson and Dodge. In a letter written at that time by Messrs. Bird, Smith and Thomson, it is said, "Of the females, none can either read or write, or the exceptions are so very few as not to deserve consideration. Female education is not merely neglected, but discouraged and opposed." They also stated, that "the whole number of native children in the Mission Schools from the beginning had been 650; 500 before the interruption in 1828, and 150 since." "Female education as such is yet nearly untried."
During that year Mrs. Thomson and Mrs. Dodge commenced a school for girls in Beirut. Dr. Eli Smith speaks of this school as follows, in the Memoir of Mrs. S.L. Smith: "A few girls were previously found in some of the public schools supported by the Mission, and a few had lived in the Mission families. But these ladies wished to bring them more directly under missionary influence, and to confer upon them the benefit of a system of instruction adapted to females. A commencement was accordingly made, by giving lessons to such little girls as could be irregularly assembled for an hour or two a day at the Mission-house; such an informal beginning being not only all that the ladies had time to attempt, but being also considered desirable as less likely to excite jealousy and opposition. For the project was entered upon with much trembling and apprehension. Not merely indifference to female education had to be encountered, but strong prejudice against it existing in the public mind from time immemorial. The Oriental prejudice against innovations from any quarter, and especially from foreigners, threatened resistance. The seclusion of females within their own immediate circle of relationship, originally Oriental, but strengthened by Mohammedan influence, stood in the way. And more than all, religious jealousy, looking upon the missionaries as dangerous heretics, and their influence as contamination, seemed to give unequivocal warning that the attempt might be fruitless. But the missionaries were not aware of the hold they had gained upon the public confidence. The event proved in this, as in many other missionary attempts, that strong faith is a better principle to act upon in the propagation of the gospel, than cautious calculation. Even down to the present time (1840) it is not known that a word of opposition has been uttered against the school which was then commenced.
"On the arrival of Mrs. S.L. Smith in Beirut in January, 1834, she found some six or eight girls assembled every afternoon in Mrs. Thomson's room at the Mission house, receiving instruction in sewing and reading. One was far enough advanced to aid in teaching, and the widow of Gregory Wortabet occasionally assisted. On the removal of Mrs. Thomson and Mrs. Dodge to Jerusalem, the entire charge of the school devolved upon Mrs. Smith, aided by Mrs. Wortabet. Especial attention was given to reading, sewing, knitting and good behavior. In November, 1835, Miss Rebecca Williams arrived in Beirut as an assistant to Mrs. Smith. The school then increased, and in the spring of 1836 an examination was held, at which the mothers of the children and some other female friends were present. The scholars together amounted to upwards of forty; the room was well-filled, "presenting a scene that would have delighted the heart of many a friend of missions. Classes were examined in reading, spelling, geography, first lessons in arithmetic, Scripture questions, the English language, and sacred music, and the whole was closed by a brief address from Mrs. Dodge. The mothers then came forward of their own accord, and in a gratifying manner expressed their thanks to the ladies for what they had done for their daughters." Of the pupils of this school, the greater part were Arabs of the Greek Church; two were Jewesses; and some were Druzes; and at times there were eight or ten Moslems.
A Sabbath School, with five teachers and thirty pupils, was established at the same time, the majority of the scholars being girls. A native female prayer-meeting was also commenced at this time, conducted by three missionary ladies and two native Protestant women. At times, as many as twenty were present, and this first female prayer-meeting in Syria in modern times, was attended with manifest tokens of the Divine blessing.
As has been already stated, the seclusion of Oriental females renders it almost impossible for a male missionary to visit among them or hold religious meetings exclusively for women. This must be done, if at all, by the missionary's wife or by Christian women devoted especially to this work. It was true in 1834, and it is almost equally true in 1873. The Arabs have a proverb, "The tree is not cut down, but by a branch of itself;" i.e. the axe handle is of wood. So none can reach the women of Syria but women. The Church of Rome understands this, and is sending French, Italian and Spanish nuns in multitudes to work upon the girls and women of Syria, and the women of the Syria Mission, married and unmarried, have done a noble work in the past in the elevation and education of their Syrian sisters. And in this connection it should be observed, that a sine qua non of efficient usefulness among the women of Syria, is that the Christian women who labor for them should know the Arabic language. Ignorance of the language is regarded by the people as indicating a want of sympathy with them, and is an almost insuperable barrier to a true spiritual influence. The great work to be done for the women of the world in the future, is to be done in their own mother-tongue, and it would be well that all the Female Seminaries in foreign lands should be so thoroughly supplied with teachers, that those most familiar with the native language could be free to devote a portion of their time to labors among the native women in their homes.
In 1834 and 1835 Mrs. Dodge conducted a school for Druze girls in Aaleih, in Lebanon. This School in Aaleih, a village about 2300 feet above the level of the sea, was once suddenly broken up. Not a girl appeared at the morning session. A rumor had spread through the village, that the English fleet had come up Mount Lebanon from Beirut, and was approaching Aaleih to carry off all the girls to England! The panic however subsided, and the girls returned to school. In 1836 Mrs. Hebard and Mrs. Dodge carried on the work which Mrs. Smith had so much loved, and which was only temporarily interrupted by her death.
In 1837, Mrs. Whiting and Miss Tilden had an interesting school of Mohammedan girls in Jerusalem, and Mrs. Whiting had several native girls in her own family.
In reply to certain inquiries contained in a note I addressed to Miss T. she writes: "I arrived in Beirut, June 16, 1835. Mr. and Mrs. Whiting in Jerusalem were desirous that I should take a small school that Mrs. Whiting had gathered, of Mohammedan girls. She had in her family two girls from Beirut, Salome, (Mrs. Prof. Wortabet,) and Hanne, (Mrs. Reichardt.) There were in school from 12 to 20 or more scholars, all Moslems. Only one Christian girl could be persuaded to attend. I think that the inducement they had to send their daughters was the instruction given in sewing and knitting, free of expense to them. Mrs. Whiting taught the same scholars on the Sabbath. The Scripture used in their instruction, both week days and on the Sabbath, was the Psalms. After a year and a half I went to Beirut and assisted in the girl's school, which was somewhat larger and more promising. Miss Williams had become Mrs. Hebard, and Miss Badger from Malta was teaching at the time. Mrs. Smith's boarding scholar Raheel, was with Mrs. Hebard. I suppose that female education in the family was commenced in Syria by Mr. Bird, who taught the girl that married Demetrius. (Miss T. probably meant to say Dr. Thomson, as Mariya, daughter of Yakob Agha, was first placed in his family by her father in 1834.) The girls taught in the different missionaries' families were Raheel, Salome, Hanne, Khozma, Lulu, Kefa, and Susan Haddad. Schools were taught in the mountains, and instruction given to the women, and meetings held with them as the ladies had strength and opportunity, at their different summer residences. The day scholars were taught in Arabic, and the boarding scholars in Arabic and English. I taught them Colburn's Arithmetic. I taught also written arithmetic, reading, etc., in the boys' school."
In 1841, war broke out between the Druzes and Maronites, and the nine schools of the Mission, including the Male Seminary of 31 pupils, the Girls' School of 25 pupils, and the Druze High School in Deir el Kamr, were broken up.
In 1842, the schools were resumed. In twelve schools were 279 pupils, of whom 52 were girls, and twelve young girls were living as boarders in mission families.
In 1843, there were thirteen schools with 438 pupils, and eleven young girls in mission families.
During the year 1844, 186 persons were publicly recognized as Protestants in Hasbeiya. Fifteen women attended a daily afternoon prayer-meeting, and expressed great surprise and delight at the thought that religion was a thing in which women had a share! A fiery persecution was commenced against the Protestants, who all fled to Abeih in Lebanon. On their return they were attacked and stoned in the streets, and Deacon Fuaz was severely wounded.
In 1845, Lebanon was again desolated with civil war, the schools were suspended, and the instruction of 182 girls and 424 boys interrupted for a time.
MRS. WHITING'S SCHOOL.
In 1846, Mrs. Whiting commenced a girls' day-school in her family at Abeih, and in Beirut there were four schools for boys and girls together, and one school for girls alone. In 18 Mission schools there were 144 girls and 384 boys. This girls' school in Abeih in 1846 was taught by Salome (Mrs. Wortabet) and Hanne, (Mrs. Reichardt,) the two oldest girls in Mr. Whiting's family. It was impossible to begin the school before August 1st, as the houses of the village which had been burned in the war of the preceding year had not been rebuilt, and suitable accommodations could not readily be found. During the summer there were twelve pupils, and in the fall twenty-five, from the Druze, Maronite, Greek Catholic and Greek sects, and the greatest freedom was used in giving instruction in the Bible and the Assembly's and Watts' Catechisms. A portion of every day was spent in giving especial religious instruction, and on the Sabbath a part of the pupils were gathered into the Sabbath School. During the fall a room was erected on the Mission premises for the girls' school, at an expense of 100 dollars.
The following letter from Mrs. Whiting needs no introduction. It bears a melancholy interest from the fact that the beloved writer died shortly afterwards, at Newark, N.J., May 18th, 1873.
"My first introduction to the women of Syria was by Mrs. Bird, mother of Rev. Wm. Bird and Mrs. Van Lennep. She was then in the midst of her little family of four children. I daily found her in her nursery, surrounded by native women who came to her in great numbers, often with their sick children. They were always received with the greatest kindness and ministered to. She might be seen giving a warm bath to a sick child, or waiting and watching the effect of other remedies. Mothers from the neighboring villages of Lebanon were allowed to bring their sick children and remain for days in her house until relief was obtained. She was soon known throughout Beirut and these villages as the friend of the suffering, and I have ever thought that by these Christian self-denying labors, she did much towards gaining the confidence of the people. And who shall say that while good Father Bird was in his study library among the 'Popes and Fathers,' preparing his controversial work 'The Thirteen Letters,' this dear sister, by her efforts, was not making a way to the hearts of these people for the reception of gospel truth, which has since been preached so successfully in the neighboring villages of Lebanon?
"In the autumn of 1834, Mr. Whiting was removed to the Jerusalem station. I found the women accessible and ready to visit me, and invite me to their houses, but unwilling to place their girls under my instruction. All my efforts for some time were fruitless. Under date of Aug. 22, I find this entry in Mr. Whiting's journal: "During the past week, three little Moslem girls have been placed under Mrs. Whiting's instruction for the purpose of learning to read and sew. They seem much pleased with their new employment, and their parents, who are respectable Moslems, express great satisfaction in the prospect of their learning. They say, in the Oriental style that the children are no longer theirs, but ours, and that they shall remain with us and learn everything we think proper to teach them. This event excited much talk in the city, particularly among the Moslem mothers. The number of scholars, chiefly Moslem girls, increased to twenty-five and thirty."
At a later date, Jan., 1836, "one of the girls in Mrs. Whiting's school, came with a complaint against a Jew who had been attempting to frighten her away from the school by telling her and her uncle (her guardian) that her teacher certainly had some evil design, and no doubt intended to select the finest of the girls, and send them away to the Pasha, and that it was even written so in the books which she was teaching the children to read. Whether the Jew has been set up by others to tell the people this absurd nonsense, I cannot say, but certainly it is a new thing for Jews to make any opposition, or to show any hostility to us. And this looks very much like the evil influence which has been attempted in another quarter."
"March 7. Yesterday Mrs. W. commenced a Sunday school for the pupils of her day school. They were much delighted. They began to learn the Sermon on the Mount."
"Sept. 7. Had a visit from two Sheikhs of the Mosque of David. One of them inquired particularly respecting Mrs. Whiting's school for Moslem girls, and wished to know what she taught them to read. I showed him the little spelling-book which we use, with which he was much pleased and begged me to lend it to him. I gave him one, with a copy of the Psalms, which he wished to compare with the Psalms of David as the Moslems have them. He invited me strongly to come and visit him, and to bring Mrs. Whiting to see his family."
The school continued with little interruption until October 3d, when Miss Tilden arrived and had the charge of the school for nearly two years. I left in feeble health, with Mr. Whiting, for the United States, where we spent more than one year. Miss Tilden during our absence was engaged in teaching in the boys' school in Beirut. On my return the Moslem school was not resumed, and soon after Mr. Whiting was again transferred to the Abeih station.
My work in the family school began in October, 1835, when Salome Carabet and Hanne Wortabet were placed by their parents in our family school. We afterwards added to the number Melita Carabet, and the two orphan girls Sada and Rufka Gregory. These two were brought to us in a very providential way. They were the children of Yakob Gregory, a respectable Armenian well known in Beirut.
He had two children, and when these were quite young, he left his wife, and nothing was heard of him afterwards. The mother died soon after and left the children in the care of the American Mission and the Armenian Bishop. The old grandmother, who was in Aleppo, on hearing of her death, soon returned to Beirut to look after the children. She was allowed to visit them in the Bishop's family, where they were cared for, and one day, in a stealthy way, she took Sada into the city, placed her in the hands of a Jew, on board of a native boat bound for Jaffa. I suppose Sada was then about six years old. They set sail. The child cried bitterly on finding her grandmother was not on board as she had promised. There was on board the boat an Armenian, well acquainted with her father, who inquired of her the cause. On hearing her story he remonstrated, with the Jew, who said she had been placed in his hands by her grandmother to be sent to Jerusalem. On their arriving at Jaffa, the affair was made known to Mr. Murad, the American Consul. He sent for the Jew, took the child from his hands, and dismissed him, and wrote to Mr. Whiting in Jerusalem an account of the affair, and was directed by him to send the child to us. Not long after, her grandmother came to Jerusalem bringing Rufka. She tried to interest the Armenian Convent in her behalf. Here I find an extract from Mr. Whiting's journal, which will give you all of interest on this point. "After being out much of the morning, I returned and found the grandmother of little Sada, who had brought her little sister Rufka to leave her with us. She had a quarrel with the convent, and fled for refuge to us. We cannot but be thankful that both these little orphans are at length quietly placed under our care and instruction."
The parents of three of the girls in our family, being Protestants, always gave their sanction to our mode of instructing and training them. Bishop Carabet likewise aided us in every way in his power, and ever seemed most grateful for what I was doing for his daughters. In his last sickness, when enfeebled by age, I often visited him. Once on going into his room, he was seated as usual on his Turkish rug. One of the family rose to offer me a chair, I said, "let me sit near you on your rug, that I may talk to you." With much emotion he replied, "Inshullah tukodee jenb il Messiah fe melakoot is sema!" "God grant that you may sit by the side of Christ in the kingdom of Heaven!"
We were from time to time encouraged by tokens of a work of God's Spirit in their hearts. Melita Carabet was the first to indulge a hope in Christ, and united with the Church in Abeih. Salome united in Beirut; Hanne in Hasbeiya, where her brother, Rev. John Wortabet, was pastor. Sada was received by Mr. Calhoun at Abeih, soon after Mr. Whiting's death, and Rufka in later years united with the United Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Egypt. I have ever thought these girls were under great obligations to the American Churches and the American Mission, who for so many years supported and instructed them, and I have ever tried to impress upon them a sense of their obligation to impart to others of their countrywomen what they had received. I believe as early as 1836, they began assisting me in the Moslem school for girls in Jerusalem, in which they continued to assist Miss Tilden until the school was given up.
Soon after our removal to Abeih, October, 1844, we established a day-school for girls in the village on the Mission premises, of which Salome and Hanne had the entire charge under my superintendence. When the Station at Mosul was established, Salome was appointed by the Mission to assist Mrs. Williams in her work among the women, in which work she continued until her marriage with Rev. John Wortabet. Melita was afterwards appointed by the Mission to the Aleppo Station to assist Mrs. Eddy and Mrs. Ford in the work, and so they were employed at various stations in the work of teaching, until I left the Mission. I have kept up a continual correspondence with them, and have learned from others to my joy, that they were doing the work for which I had trained them."
The above deeply interesting letter from Mrs. Whiting is enough in itself to show what an amount of patient Christian labor was expended through a course of many years, in the education of the five young Syrian maidens who were entrusted in the providence of God to her care. I have been personally acquainted with four of them for seventeen years, and can testify, as can many others, of the good use they have made of their high opportunities. The amount of good they have accomplished as teachers, in Abeih, Jerusalem, Deir el Komr, Hasbeiya, Tripoli, Aleppo, Mosul, Alexandria, Cairo, Melbourne, (Australia,) and in the Mission Female Seminary and the Prussian Deaconesses' Institute in Beirut, will never be known until all things are revealed. I have received letters from several of them, which I will give in their own language, as they are written in English. The first is from Salome, now the wife of the Rev. Prof. John Wortabet, M.D., of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut.
"I do not consider my history worth recording, and it is only out of consideration of what is due to Mrs. Whiting for the labor she bestowed upon us, that I am induced to take up my pen to comply with your request. I was taken by Mrs. Whiting when only six years old, together with Hannie Wortabet, who was five years old, to be brought up in her family, she having no children of her own. Owing partly to the nature of the religious instruction we received, and partly to my own timid sensitive nature, I was, from time to time for many years, under deep spiritual terrors, without any saving result. When I was about sixteen, a revival of religion took place, under whose influence I was also brought. Mr. Calhoun was my spiritual adviser, and although my mind groped in darkness, and bordered on despair for many weeks, I hope I was then led to put my trust in Jesus, and if ever I am saved, my only hope now is, and ever shall be, in the merits of Jesus' blood and His promises."