S1R,-As an ex-Anglican who was for 13 years a missionary in a Moselm country, I should like to offer some information which may interest your American correspondent, Mr. J. A. Overlander.
Protestants, to take them first, do not talk of abandoning Protestantism but of abandoning religion. It is a curious fact that it is possible to give up every vestige of positive Christian belief held by Protestants and still retain the negativities, the Puritan morality (even if rejected this still is regarded as the norm of morality), and the anti-Catholicism.
Alongside this, of course, are difficulties also experienced by Catholics, notably that of giving the younger generation an inspiring conception of what they stand for.
Among Mohammedans, the first thing to remember is that the intellectual content is much slighter. I remember once telling a missionary meeting that the people 1 worked among were not idolaters; they worshipped the True God. but all they could accept of the Apostles Creed was: " I believe in God . almighty, creator of Heaven and earth . . . and in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."
What makes a Moslem is the recitation, in Arabic, of the She/rude, the Testimony: "There is no deity but Allah, and Mohammed is the Apostle of Allah." That, by the way, is the correct translation.
M anthropologists are beginning to realise, monotheism underlies much of primitive religion, so that in Africa, for instance, Islam picks Up something already present, makes no attack on anything save the use of images, tolerates superstition and magic. and lays no great burden on human sensuality.
It gives an immense sense of moral and intellectual superiority to those who leave primitive religion in its favour. Both among civilised and among savages, Moslems are held in a powerful social bond by three practices which are of' obligation: the formal prayer five times daily; the fast during the month of Ramadan; and the pilgrimage to Mecca which must be performed once in a lifetime. Further, in a Moslem State which is under the Moslem law, the Sharra (like the Mosaic law both a religious, a moral and a civil code), the penalty for lapsing -apostasy-is death. Even where more modern codes are in force, the feeling against apostasy is extremely strong.
The fact is that the bareness of the Moslem creed is both its strength and its weakness. Its simplicity brings it within the reach of all, and at the same time stultifies the deeper desires of the All of which indicates how difficult it is to draw parallels.
Margaret T. Monro
II Morningside Terrace, Edinburgh 10.