MANY years ago, in a country far across the sea, lived a man who was named Mohammed. He was born in the city of Mecca, in Arabia, and for the first 'thirty-five years of his life, he lived very much as other men did. After awhile he claimed to have visions from God, in which he said he was shown the true way for men to live. At first no one would believe what he said, but finally some of his own family and friends came to think him a prophet. He went from place to place teaching his new doctrines, and telling the people he was a prophet from God. Many scoffed at him, but others believed in him, and the number of his followers grew very large, until there finally came to be more Mohammedans than Christians in the world. Mohammed wrote out the things which he claimed were shown him in vision. This book was called the Koran, and is the Bible of the Mohammedans. 

This man and his hosts of followers fought many battles with the enemies of their faith, and they expected finally to rule the world. Their wars were called the "Holy Wars," and many were the brave men who laid down their lives for what they really thought was the truth. When you are older, you will often hear and read, of the "Holy Wars, and if you remember this, you will know what is meant. Mohammed's life was often in great danger, but he finally died a peaceful death, and was buried in the city of Medina. Every year great numbers of Mohammedans make pilgrimages to Mecca, the birthplace of their great prophet, and also to Medina, his burial-place. Mohammed and his followers built many mosques, or places of worship; indeed, some of the grandest buildings in the world are Mohammedan mosques. Of the many hundreds of these, there are three, which are thought to be holier than the others. These are the "Mosque of the Prophet," at Medina; the "Great Mosque," at Mecca; and the "Mosque of Omar," at Jerusalem, on the very spot where the temple of God once stood. 

But you will wonder what all this has to do with the birds in the picture. Well, you shall hear now about the "Mosque of the Pigeons." 

It seems that, a pigeon was once the means of saving Mohammed's life, and so ever after that, it was regarded by the Mohammedans, as a sacred bird. 

A mosque was finally built for these birds in Constantinople, and here great numbers of them are still reared. It is a part of the inside of this mosque, which is shown in the picture. Many good Mohammedans are foolish enough to think they are serving God by giving their whole time to the care of these pigeons. How thankful we ought to be that we know a better way to serve God. 

E. B.