When the wind stirs the heavy folds of cloth, the pious boys and girls of Mecca say it is the angels that watch around the Kaaba, whose wings lift the covering. It must be a wonderful sight to see thousands of Moslem pilgrims stand around this place and kneel and pray.
Besides running around the Kaaba, kissing the black stone and drinking water from a holy well called zemzem, they have one day on which they sacrifice sheep or other animals. One curious custom on this day of sacrifice I must tell you of. It is called “stoning the great devil.” Early in the morning thousands of pilgrims go to a place in the valley of Mina where there are three white pillars made of masonry; the first and largest is called the Great Devil. The pilgrims cast stones at this pillar. Each one must stand at the distance of not less than fifteen feet and say, as he throws seven pebbles: “In the name of God the Almighty I do this, and in hatred of the devil and his shame.” The Moslems fail to realise that Satan is in the hearts of men and not behind a pillar, nor that he can be driven away with prayer better than by pebbles.
For thirteen hundred years Moslems have come every year to Mecca, and gone away, with no one ever to tell them of the Son of God, the Saviour of the World. Thirteen hundred years! Don’t you think it is time to go and tell them? And will you not pray that even this place may open its doors to Jesus Christ, and crown Him Lord of all?
SABBACH-KUM BIL KHEIR!
That is to say, “Good-morning!” And the Arabs in the picture do not add, “have you used Pears’ Soap?” but, “have you had your cup of Mocha coffee?” Soap is a luxury in most parts of Arabia and the vast majority of its inhabitants never use it; millions would not know it if they saw it. Perhaps the old Sheikh, however, used a bit of soap to wash his hands and feet early before sunrise when he went to the mosque to pray. Now he has returned and sits in the coffee-shop ready to take a sip of coffee and “drink tobacco” from the long pipe. The Arabs always speak of drinking tobacco when they mean to smoke; I suppose one reason is because they use the peculiar water-pipes with the long stems in which the smoke passes through the water and bubbles out to the mouth. Have you time to stop and study the picture with me?
What a pretty window in the corner! The Arabs call a window shibaak, which means network, because their windows are very much like a fish-net. Glass is seldom used in Arabia except by Europeans and Arabs who have become civilised; and so the carpenter or joiner fits little round bars, one into the other, like marbles or beads on a string and the result is often very beautiful. Light and air come in (not to speak of clouds of dust) while no one can look through from the outside; and you know how afraid Arab girls and women are to show their faces to strangers.