In all Oriental countries woman has always been regarded as a chattel, a plaything, the mere toy of man's lust; and yet the Woman's Position facts of history are lacking to prove that she was more in the East unhappy, in the great majority of instances at least, as an odalisque, or concubine, than her Western sister as a wife. Islam kept women—as indeed did all the polygynous countries of the East—from active participation in social and public life, thus placing a bar upon her mental and moral development; but, on the other hand, was equally careful to surround her with every luxury and comfort which the fine lady bestows today upon her pet kitten, or poodle. Whether this dwarfing of intellectuality, womanhood, and the moral nature, was adequately offset by the, no doubt, heightened pleasures of her sexual and sensual existence, or whether the greater liberty, and necessarily coarser contacts, of western civilization are preferable, we leave the facile judgment of the sex to determine.
But it seems an anomaly of sequence that, while Mohammed himself was undoubtedly actuated by a moral desire to raise woman from her primitive role, as a mere instrument of sensual gratification, to a higher social and matrimonial plane, in no country in the world—not even China—has the sensual and sexual idea so largely prevailed in regard to woman, both in society and religion, as in the Mohammedan.
The Christian, with the exception of a dim and not well defined idea of sexual reunion with the woman he loves after death, pictures his heaven as a place of spiritual, rather than sensual delight; while the Mohammedan, though denying woman a soul, by one of those adroit sinuosities of mind so peculiar to the East, fills his paradise with dark-eyed houris and the sensuous pleasures of the harem.