Need For Medical Missions In The Land Of Islam
( Originally Published 1913 )
It does not require much examination of the conditions prevalent in countries such as Persia, Arabia, Palestine, and North Africa, during the presence of sickness, to bring home the fact that here also we are faced with tremendous need. Practically all through these lands there is the most extraordinary ignorance of the proper nature of disease, and the way to effect a cure. Everywhere there is made apparent the darkening superstition that flourishes under the reign of Mahomet. The case is reported by Dr Rutter William-son, in his " Healing of the Nations," of a little Mahommedan boy, son of a Turkish Governor, who became ill. A Mahommedan " hakim " was called in, and his treatment consisted in writing the name of " Allah " upon a saucer, and then giving instructions that the writing should be subjected to a series of washings until all traces of the same were washed away ! The inky fluid was then to be drunk by the patient, " who was bound to get better because he would have drunk the name of God so many times ! " Far worse, however, are several other measures that are employed. In Arabia, the Kai or actual cautery is a favourite cure for many different affections. Holes are burnt in the skin in various parts of the body " to let the disease out," and even sick children of tender years are branded with red-hot irons. Amulets, charms, etc., are everywhere worn to protect " from the evil eye," and these often consist of extracts from the Koran.
A Mecca " M.D.," we read in Dr Zwemer's " Arabia, The Cradle of Islam," was also " watchmaker, gunsmith, and distiller of perfume ; to fill up his idle hours he did a little silver plating and dealt in old coins ! " And so we might continue bringing up instance after instance illustrative of the same appalling conditions. But enough has been said, and there are none who will not sadly admit that under Mahommedanism the terrible reign of quackery is dealing out woe and death amongst the sick on every hand. Can any deny the need for Medical Missions ?
And now in closing this section of our subject, we earnestly submit that in view of the foregoing conditions the great Mission Fields of the world present to-day a state of necessity that is simply enormous for the healing benefits of Medical Missions. Whether it be Heathen or Moslem, the same need is every-where manifest. And surely the only answer which the servants of Jesus Christ have any right to give to these suffering multitudes is the reply that is embodied in Medical Missions. These races are entitled to share in the blessing of that healing science which we enjoy. It is not a case of giving them just as much as we think we can spare. It is pre-eminently in the name of every sacred instinct in our common humanity, the giving them that share of those blessings which conscience tells us is owing to them. The wonderful gifts of modern medical knowledge such as anaesthetics and antiseptics, have not been bestowed upon the favoured people of Christian lands for their use alone. They have certainly been given as a very solemn trust, to be held and utilised for the benefit of all races. They have been poured forth from the hands of a beneficient Creator not for the healing of the suffering European and American—and for him only—but for the good of distressed mankind in every quarter of the globe. Every moral obligation under which we are placed emphasises the truth of that fact.
" My little children," wrote the Apostle John, " Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and truth," and he puts in the same place the pregnant question,—" But whoso hath this world's goods and seeth his brother have need and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from hom, how dwelleth the Love of God in him?"
Can we close this chapter in a more fitting way than by passing on that question to every Christian reader ?