"Marvellously adapted alike to the climate, character, and occupations of those countries upon which it has laid its adamantine grip, Islam holds its votary in complete thrall from the cradle to the grave. To him, it is not only religion, it is government, philosophy, and science as well. The Muhammadan conception is not so much that of a state church as, if the phrase may be permitted, of a church state. The undergirders with which society itself is warped round are not of civil, but of ecclesiastical, fabrication; and, wrapped in this superb, if paralysing, creed, the Musulman lives in contented surrender of all volition, deems it his highest duty to worship God and to compel, or, where impossible, to despise those who do not worship Him in the spirit, and then dies in sure and certain hope of Paradise.
"...These Siyyids, or descendants of the Prophet, are an intolerable nuisance to the country, deducing from their alleged descent and from the prerogative of the green turban, the right to an independence and insolence of bearing from which their countrymen, no less than foreigners, are made to suffer.
"...As a community, the Persian Jews are sunk in great poverty and ignorance.... Throughout the Musulman countries of the East these unhappy people have been subjected to the persecution which custom has taught themselves, as well as the world, to regard as their normal lot. Usually compelled to live apart in a Ghetto, or separate quarter of the towns, they have from time immemorial suffered from disabilities of occupation, dress, and habits, which have marked them out as social pariahs from their fellow-creatures. ...In Isfahan, where there are said to be 3,700, and where they occupy a relatively better status than elsewhere in Persia, they are not permitted to wear the `kulah' or Persian head-dress, to have shops in the bazaar, to build the walls of their houses as high as a Muslim neighbour's, or to ride in the streets.... As soon, however, as any outburst of bigotry takes place in Persia or elsewhere, the Jews are apt to be the first victims Every man's hand is then against them; and woe betide the luckless Hebrew who is the first to encounter a Persian street mob.
"...Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of Mashhad
life, before I leave the subject of the shrine and the pilgrims,
is the provision that is made for the material solace of the
letter during their stay in the city. In recognition of the
long journeys which they have made, of the hardships which
they have sustained, and of the distances by which they are
severed from family and home, they are permitted, with the
connivance of the ecclesiastical law and its officers, to contract
temporary marriages during their sojourn in the city. There
is a large permanent population of wives suitable for the
purpose. A mulla is found, under whose sanction a contract
is drawn up and formally sealed by both parties, a fee is
paid, and the union is legally accomplished. After the lapse
of a fortnight or a month, or whatever be the specified period,
the contract terminates; the temporary husband returns to
his own lares et penates in some distant clime, and the lady,
after an enforced celibacy of fourteen days' duration, resumes
her career of persevering matrimony. In other words, a
gigantic system of prostitution, under the sanction of the
Church, prevails in Mashhad. There is probably not a more
immoral city in Asia; and I should be sorry to say how many
of the unmurmuring pilgrims who traverse seas and lands
to kiss the grating of the &Imam's tomb are not also encouraged
and consoled upon their march by the prospect of an agreeable
holiday and what might be described in the English
vernacular as `a good spree.'"