Neglected Arabia / Arabia Calling 1892–1962

ISBN:  (13) 978-1-85207-110-3   Extent:   8 volumes, 4,600 pages, including many photos

Author: N/A  Published: 1988
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available

The Arabian Mission was founded in 1889 by the Dutch Reformed Church in America, with a group of Trustees including Thomas Russell of Montclair, Rev. Prof. J. G. Lansing of New Brunswick and Rev. A. Zwemer of Spring Lake, Michigan. In 1891 the Trustees requested a regular report from the Treasurer and Secretary of the Mission in the field, and the first quarterly Field Reports began on January 1st, 1892, submitted from Basra by James Cantine, Treasurer, S. M. Zwemer, Secretary, and C. E. Riggs M.D.
Archive Editions presents here the complete run of the journal of the Arabian Mission of the Reformed Church in America 1892-1962 comprising: Field Reports 1892-1898; Quarterly Reports 1898-1901; Neglected Arabia 1902-1949; Arabia Calling 1949-1962; Annual Reports. This edition is reprinted from original material in the Gardner A. Sage Library of the Reformed Church in America, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.


From the first permanent station at Basra recommendations were made to open missions at Bahrain, Muscat and, soon after, Kuwait. The missionaries learnt Arabic. They quickly discovered that their teaching and preaching tours tended to arouse resistance; and that the most effective way of winning the attention and support of the local people was to offer medical care and, later, education.

In the early years there is a constant picture of ill-health among the missionaries themselves. Rev. P. J. Zwemer, who served from the beginning, returned to the U.S. in 1898 to die before the age of 30. Mr Barny all but succumbed to typhoid in 1899. The Rev. Stone died of a heat apoplexy after only a few months at the Muscat station. In 1905 Dr Marion Thoms died at an early age after six years in Bahrain. The missionaries were tenacious, and the names of certain families - Zwemer, Van Ess, Thoms - recur throughout Neglected Arabia as younger generations followed on.

As the missionaries turned from purely evangelical work to increasing social involvement, the journal evolved to reflect their wider interests. Neglected Arabia becomes more substantial, with numerous essays not only on the missionaries' regular work but on their observations of local territories and communities.


The Arabian Mission journals form an extraordinarily rich research source. They are much more than the chronicle of Christian missionary activity - this is only the starting point. Over a 70-year period the publication is the mirror of social, medical and educational development in the Gulf states. Neglected Arabia is an indispensable source for medical history in particular, with extensive information on the incidence of disease and methods of treatment.
An historical aspect of particular interest is the development of the relationship between the missionary stations and the local communities. From an early date the work of the Mission was valued by the Rulers. In 1903 the Mission in Muscat was given a piece of land by the Sultan to extend the garden, an unusual tribute as "he is noted as being very adverse to foreigners obtaining any further hold upon his country." In 1915 Sheikh Mobarrek of Koweit gave the land for the mission house. The journals contain more than one account of meetings with Ibn Saud; in 1915: "you feel at once, here is a man I can trust", and in 1937 his cordiality to the missionaries is recorded. In 1948 the Sultan of Oman opened the new hospital at Matrah.
The interest of the Arabian Mission journals, as they develop over the course of three-quarters of a century, is only partly in their information content - the medical statistics, the social reports and local colour. Their value lies in the hidden message of the relationship between two religious faiths, superficially supposed to be in conflict. With time, trust and above all practical work, Christian missionaries and Muslim communities found a remarkable and enduring bond.


Evolution of the journal
The Arabian Mission began publication of its Field Report in 1892. Nos. 1-26 appeared, concluding on June 30, 1898. The Quarterly Letters were published from nos. 27 through 40 (,July 1898-December 1901). Average extent of each issue at this time was c.16pp.
Starting with no. 41 the journal was published as Neglected Arabia, up to no. 215 (1902-Winter 1949). Finally it appeared as Arabia Calling from nos. 216 through 250 (Spring 1949-March 1962).
The edition includes the Annual Reports for later years which are integrated in the numbered series.
Format and arrangement
The edition is reprinted in 8 volumes in a library bound format of 248 x 160mm in the following sequence:
Volume I: Nos. 1-40: Field Reports 1892-1898/Quarterly Letters 1898- 1901
Volume II: Nos. 41-71: Neglected Arabia 1902-1909
Volume III: Nos. 72-103: Neglected Arabia 1910-1917
Volume IV: Nos. 104-131:Neglected Arabia 1918-1924
Volume V: Nos. 132-155: Neglected Arabia 1925-1930
Volume VI: Nos. 156-186: Neglected Arabia 1931-1939
Volume VII: Nos. 187-215: Neglected Arabia 1939-1949
Volume VIII: Nos. 216-250: Arabia Calling 1949-1962


The headings of the early numbers include: evangelistic work and tours, usually with comments on the sickness of various missionaries; Bible work and sales; medical work- recommendations, e.g. for improvements in teaching work; field conditions, work for women. Presently regular reports were published from the stations, comprising: Basra- Amara- Bahrain- Muscat- (from 1902) Kuwait; (from 1948) Qatar.
Neglected Arabia is profusely illustrated with photographs and other illustrations. The following are examples of historical interest:
1898 Map of Bahrain
1903 Sketch map of Northern Oman
1897 and 1903 Muscat: old and new Missions
1902 The hospital at Bahrain
1906 Portrait of Sheikh Mobarrek of Koweit
1908 Debai bazaar
1916 Military operations north of Basra.
Medical interest
Published medical information from an early date began to cover statistics of cases seen with some analysis, e.g.: numbers of patients seen - incidence of eye disease - pearl divers: diseases of the ear; predisposition to tuberculosis - incidence of dental care, fractures, gunshot wounds, "acute mania", pneumonia.
From 1893 there is a statement of dispensary work at Bahrain with average numbers of patients, numbers receiving treatment, etc. Gifts in return for medical services are recorded; in addition to money: bread, chickens, eggs, ducks, fish etc. The 1893 cholera epidemic in Basra and Bahrain is reported. In Bahrain 5000 deaths are estimated; 60 died in the household of Shaikh Isa alone, including his son.
In 1902 there is an account of the first cataract operation under chloroform. In the same year statistics show 2,235 patients were treated in one 15-week period at one station. In the 1930s regular reports appear under headings of Men´s Medical Work and Women´s Medical Work for Basra, Kuwait, Bahrain and Muscat.
As the years pass the building and operation of fully equipped modern hospitals is recorded; for the greater part of the 20th century, the Arabian Mission is seen to have been the main or even the sole source of medical care.

Social and regional interest
The journals contain many articles of the most diverse interest on social and regional affairs. The Arabian Mission is particularly notable as a source of information on the conditions of Muslim women, as the missionaries´ wives were able to treat women and provided regular reports. By the 1930s regular reports were published on boys´ and girls´ schools in Basra, Kuwait and Bahrain.
The following are among the many articles of particular historical interest:
1892 Bahrain: population of the island c.50,000
1895 Report on attack on Sultan of Oman by a rebellious Shaikh
1898 Climatic observations concerning the Gulf
1902 Historical and social description of the Hadramaut
1903 Appeal for women workers among the women of Arabia
1912 A 10-year analysis of rainfall and temperature at Bahrain
1914 Funeral of the Sultan of Oman
1918 A tour to Riyadh
A tour to the pirate coast (Abu Dhabi)
Moslem funeral customs
1920 Shaikh Ahmed (of Kuwait) goes to London
1926 Drilling of water wells in Bahrain
Children in Arabia
1944 How the war affects the Mission
Numerous articles on tours, visits, topography and communities of the Gulf and inland areas. 

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