The Sudanese Arabs
A cluster of 7 groups in 7 different countries.
The Sudanese Arabs originated in the Khartoum region of Sudan many centuries ago. Today, they live primarily in northern and central Sudan, and in Egypt. A few groups are also scattered in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Libya, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates.
The first "pure" Arabs were called "Bedouins." They were tribal nomads from Saudi Arabia, famous for their love of poetry and war. The Sudanese are a tribe who branched off of the Bedouins. They are a heterogeneous people with a mixture of diverse blood and cultures. Their native language is called Sudani or Khartoum Arabic, and is a dialect of Arabic.
The ability to speak Arabic, or one of its dialects, has long been a unifying factor among the Arab people. The fact that most Arabs are Muslims has also served to unify them. The Islamic religion, which developed during the seventh century, gave the Arab-speaking villagers and the nomadic Bedouins common ground. Over the centuries, Arab Muslims have traveled across the Middle East and North Africa, spreading Islam to all who would accept it.
What are their lives?
Most Sudanese Arabs live in small rural villages. They grow grains, vegetables, and cotton, and raise livestock, all of which are used for food or trade. Clusters of mud-brick homes with dirt floors make up the villages. The homes are built close together, which reflects the close ties between the family members within the communities. Although farming is the chief occupation of the villagers, some of them have jobs as skilled carpenters, tailors, religious leaders, or barbers.
Some Sudanese Arabs live in towns or cities. They have a greater variety of occupations, but weaker family ties, than those who live in the villages. These Arabs have more concern for such things as economic prosperity and education.
Other Sudanese Arabs have continued living the nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors. They have temporary dwellings and move from place to place with their herds. Camels are used to transport them across desert lands, and their economy is based primarily on stock breeding and trade.
Whether villagers, city-dwellers, or nomads, the Sudanese Arabs have emerged as a people with the ability to assimilate into a changing society. Today, many of them work in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, attend universities in neighboring countries, or use trucks instead of camels. However, through these and other changes, a single thread continues to bind all Arabs together: a common cultural heritage. The values and traditional practices of the ancient Bedouins have been carried over into the lifestyles of the Sudanese Arabs; and today, they possess many aspects of pure Arab culture. Rigid codes of honor, loyalty, hostility, and hospitality are among those that have remained strong throughout the centuries.
In the Arab culture, children are considered to be a family's greatest asset, providing both workers and security for the parents as they grow older. Although boys and girls may be raised together when they are young, they are treated differently. Mothers show great affection towards the boys, pampering them and responding to their every wish. Girls are shown some affection, but are not pampered. The boys are taught by their fathers to obey and respect older males. Girls are taught the values of obedience to their future husbands. Teenagers are not permitted to have any contact with the opposite sex until after marriage.
While the men gather in the local mosque five times a day for prayer, the women meet in homes and have their own religious services, conducted by female religious leaders. Only on certain occasions are the women permitted inside the mosques.
What are their beliefs?
According to Islamic law, a man may have up to four wives. Rules concerning marriage and divorce are held in accordance to what is written in the Koran. Regulations regarding inheritance, taxation, wartime, submission to those in authority, and the roles of family members can also be found in the Koran.
What are their needs?
The historical link between Arabs and the Islamic religion is still very strong. Much intercession is needed to change their strong, deep-rooted beliefs in Islam to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Further evangelism efforts must be made in order to reach them with the Truth.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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