« ZurückWeiter »
Congress (which has been held:
active measures looking towar
THREE STRATEGIC CENTERS OF THE MOSLEM WORLD
BY REV. SAMUEL M. ZWEMER, D.D., CAIRO, EGYPT.
HE unity of the Moslem Moslem empire. It is the heart of
the Christian Church in ter. And Constantinople has, since
Mecca—The Religious Capital together, by the warp and woof of I. Mecca is not only the religious their cosmopolitan influence, the capital of the cradle of the Moslem whole. Mecca, Constantinople and faith and the birthplace of their Cairo stand out supreme
prophet, but it is the central shrine of ters of influence to-day. Every Mos- Islam, toward which for centuries lem throughout the world, even at the prayers and pilgrimages have graviuttermost extremities of the vast tated. The whole Old Testament brotherhood, as, for example, those narrative as it is given in distorted who are in Japan or in China, has form, both in the Koran and in tradipersonal relations almost daily with tion, finds in Mecca its real environthese three cities. He stretches his ment. Adam and Eve met each other prayer carpet toward Mecca; he prays at Mt. Arafah. Eve lies buried at on Fridays, not for his own local Jiddah. God himself appointed the sovereign or ruler, but for the caliph place for the Kaaba, and the stone is of Stamboul; and the chances are that still sacred on which Abraham stood if he reads the Koran, it bears on its when he erected the building! title-page the imprint of Cairo. His The importance of Mecca is not in hope for salvation culminates in a its stationary population of scarcely pilgrimage to Mecca; his hope for vic- 60,000, but in the number of pilgrims tory over the unbelievers who oppress from every nation of Islam that visit Moslems, and for whom the day of it every year. Statistics are hopelessly vengeance will come, is in the great contradictory and confusing as Rajah of Constantinople; and his hope gards the number of those who visit to succeed in worsting his Christian the city annually. According to Turkopponents by arguments, is fostered by ish official estimates in 1907, there the productions of the Cairo press. were no less than 281,000 pilgrims. Mecca has not lost its importance with Their coming is an
index of the the passing of the centuries, but is growth and strength of Islam, and more than ever a city whose pulse their return from Mecca to their throbs with a religious life that finds native villages in Java, Bengal, West an outlet to the farthest limits of the Africa, Cape Colony and Russia,
means the advent of fanatical am- ter to which his followers should bassadors of the greatness and glory gather, and hence he reasserted the of their faith, however much they sanctity of the Black Stone that may have been disappointed in the 'came down from heaven;' he oractual condition of the city and of the dained that everywhere throughout the Kaaba. When we consider Mecca, world the Moslem should pray lookMohammed's words of prophecy in ing toward the Kaaba, and enjoined the second chapter of his book seem him to make the pilgrimage thither. to have been literally fulfilled: "So Mecca is to the Moslem what Jeruwe have made you the center of the salem is to the Jew. It bears with it nations that you should bear witness all the influence of centuries of asto men.” The old pagan pantheon sociations. It carries the Moslem back has become the religious sanctuary to the cradle of his faith and the childand the goal of universal pilgrimage hood of his prophet. .. And, for one-seventh of the human race. most of all, it bids him remember that From Sierra Leone to Canton, and
all his brother Moslems are worshipfrom Tobolsk to Cape Town, the ing toward the same sacred spot; faithful spread their prayer carpets, that he is one of a great company of build their houses (in fufillment of an believers united by one faith, filled important tradition, even their out- with the same hopes, reverencing the houses !) and bury their dead toward same thing, worshiping the the meridian of Mecca. Seen from God.” an aeroplane, there would be con- The question of the occupation of centric circles of living worshipers Mecca as a center for Christian miscovering an ever-widening area and sions may well stagger our faith when one would also see stretched out vast we consider at what tremendous cost areas of Moslem cemeteries with every the city was unveiled by intrepid grave built toward the sacred city. travelers. Augustus Ralli has recently Well may we ponder the words of given us a book under the striking title Stanley Lane-Poole as to the place of "Christians at Mecca," in which he which Mecca and the pilgrimage hold tells the story of all those Christian in the Moslem faith. Have they not pilgrims who, either in disguise or by a special significance at this day when abandoning their faith, or in one or we speak of the strategic occupation two cases, under compulsion, reached of the world for its evangelization ? the sacred city. From Bartema, Wild
He wrote: "Is it asked how the and Joseph Pitts to Burton, Burckdestroyer of idols could have recon- hardt, Hurgronje and Courtellemont, ciled his conscience to the circuits of they took their lives in their hands, the Kaaba and the veneration of the herded with strange companions, unBlack Stone covered with adoring derwent untold hardships, and by luck kisses? The rites of the pilgrimage or pluck came scathless out of this can not certainly be defended against lion's den of Islam. According to the charge of superstition; but it is Doughty, scarcely a pilgrimage takes easy to see why Mohammed enjoined place without some persons being put them.
He well knew the to death as intruded Christians. An consolidating effect of forming a cen- educated and pious Moslem here in
What Jerusalem and Palestine are to Christendom this, and vastly more, Mecca and Arabia are to the Mohammedan world. Not only is this
Cairo assured me only a few days ago surely waiting for some one to go to that when he went on pilgrimage and this great city and to stand amid its took pictures of the city, his life was hundred thousand pilgrims and point endangered more than once by the them away from the reeking shambles fanaticism of the inhabitants. How- of their yearly sacrifice to the Lamb ever, there are many who believe that of God that taketh away the sin of the the opening of the Hedjaz Railway, es- world; away from the well of Zempecially as a branch is to be carried to zem to the Water of Life! Jiddah, and the gradual breaking up of Turkish power in Arabia, may mean
Constantinople the Political Capital the removal of restrictions against II. Constantinople by its very non-Moslems.
location on the Bosphorus, facing two Mecca is a challenge to faith and to continents and two great civilizations, Christian heroism. If it were an is- will always be of political and comland in the South Seas with a similar mercial importance. In view of the population and annual pilgrimage, how wonderful events that are transpilong would the church wait for men ring as we write these lines, the words like Paton, Chalmers or Williams to of Sir William Ramsay concerning enter fearlessly, even tho it should this great capital of Islam seem alcost life? No one who has read the most prophetic: "Constantinople is account of social life at Mecca, as the center about which history regiven by Hurgronje, and corroborated volves. It is the bridge that binds by every recent traveler, can doubt the East to the West, the old to the the utter need of this city for the civilization, which must
must be Gospel. Mecca is the microcosm of Is- brought into harmony before the cullam in its religious life and aspirations. mination of all civilization can appear, According to Hurgronje, “it is Islam, bringing peace on earth and goodthe official religion, which brings to- will toward men.” gether and amalgamates all the Founded by Constantine and beauheterogeneous constituents of Mec- tified by Justinian, the old city repcan life.
On the other hand this represented visibly the overthrow of society itself welds into a chaotic paganism and the triumph of Chriswhole the prejudices and supersti- tianity. The great church of St. tions of all countries." In other Sophia was literally built by stripping words, Mecca is the sink-hole of the glory from heathen temples far Islam. All witnesses agree on the and near, and yet that very church flagrant immorality which pervades has for centuries since the fall of the streets and even the mosque of Constantinople in 1453 also symbolthe sacred city, on the prevalence of ized the conquest of Oriental Christithe slave trade, on the fleecing of anity by Islam. Will it soon again pilgrims, and the corruption of the resound with praises to the Trinity ? local government. If Mecca is the It is evident to the student of hisglory of the Moslem world, they tory that all other factors which add glory in their shame. The Christ to the glory of this metropolis are who wept over Jerusalem and had insignificant in comparison with its compassion the multitudes is political and religious importance in