Arabian Mission

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Mission for Protestant proselytization in Arabia; established in 1889.

The mission was founded by James Cantine and Samuel Zwemer, students at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, under the guidance of Professor John G. Lansing. Initially independent, it came under the Reformed (Dutch) Church's Board of Foreign Missions in 1893 but remained nondenominational.

By 1902, missions had been established at Basra, Bahrain, and Muscat, and in 1910 another was started in Kuwait. Despite the distribution of a considerable amount of Christian literature, the missionaries' objective of winning converts made little headway against the conservative Islam of Arabia. Many people were reached, however, through the work of dedicated teachers and medical doctors and received modern education and health services for the first time. Between 1889 and 1938, eighty missionaries went to Arabia, and, in the years between the world wars, tens of thousands of patients were treated each year in the Arabian Mission's seven hospitals.

The missionaries' work left a legacy of goodwill that has persisted to this day, and the sons of missionaries later played a significant role as American diplomats in the Arab world.


Mason, Alfred De Witt, and Barny, Frederick J. History of the Arabian Mission, 18551923. New York: Board of Foreign Missions, Reformed Church in America, 1926.

Zwemer, Samuel M., and Cantine, James. The Golden Milestone: Reminiscences of Pioneer Days Fifty Years Ago in Arabia. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1938.

Malcolm C. Peck