Prayer Profile
Tuat Berber of Algeria

[IMAGE] Nearly 56,000 Tuat Berber live in northern Algeria. The Tuat region covers approximately 48,000 square kilometers. Their principal city, In-Salah, lies in the center of Algeria near the Plateau Du Tademait.

The population in the Tuat region is of mixed descent. The original inhabitants, Harratine Negroes, are still the most numerous. Jews also lived there at one time; however, none have lived there since the forced conversions to Islam in the fifteenth century.

The Tuat Berber can be divided into four main groups: the Gurara Oases (inhabited exclusively by Zenata Berbers), the Tadekelt, the Kerzaz, and the Tuat.

The Tuats, like other North African tribes, have gradually shifted from Berber to Arab speech, which is the language of trade and religion. However, they also speak their native language, Tuat, as well. This has helped them to preserve many of their original Berber customs.

What are their lives like?
The Tuat are mostly farmers. Their staple crop is dates, but barley, wheat, sorghum, millet, and a few other crops are also grown. They generally have more camels than horses and cattle, since caravan trading is very important. They also raise numerous donkeys, goats, and sheep.

There are about 300 to 400 small Tuat villages and towns. The larger villages are protected by mud walls and are essentially independent of all others. Wealthy families live in rectangular houses with walls four meters high. The Harratines and slaves live outside the towns. Wars between the towns are rare, and the people generally live in harmony with one another.

Society is divided into "castes," or rigid class distinctions, based on such things as birth or wealth. The castes are: the shurifa (those of noble birth who allegedly descended from Mohammed); the marabouts ("holy people" considered to be different from ordinary men); freemen (wealthy non-slaves); and the Harratine (descendants of free slaves and Negroid peoples).

Each Berber village is governed by a democratic council, or jemma, composed of all adult males who meet weekly. The Tuats usually marry only within their own group and strict monogamy is practiced. In-Salah, it is customary for the girls to be "fattened up" for marriage.

What are their beliefs?
Prior to the seventh century, the Berbers had successfully resisted foreign invasions of Islam. However, with the Arab conquests of the seventh century, the Berbers were shattered. Some fled or were driven into the desert, while others submitted, becoming "Arabized" in language and, to some extent, racially mixed. All embraced Islam, the majority becoming Sunni Muslims.

Although the Tuat follow the Islamic fundamentals, there is still much intermingling with existing pagan beliefs. Consequently, Islam in North Africa is somewhat different from Islam in the Middle East. For example, orthodox Sunnis do not celebrate some of the main Muslim festivals. Also, the concept of baraka, or holiness, is highly developed in North Africa. The Tuats believe that many people are endowed with baraka, of which the holiest are the shurifa (the direct descendants of Mohammed). The marabouts, another class of holy people, are considered to be different from ordinary men. They are believed to possess the powers of protection and healing, even after death.

What are their needs?
With Islam as their prevailing religion, the Tuat Berbers have never been successfully penetrated with the Gospel. There are currently no missions agencies targeting the Tuat. The Bible has not yet been translated into their native language; neither are there any Christian broadcasts available.

Among the 99.9% Tuat Muslims, there are only six known believers. The spiritual stronghold of Islam that is over them can only be broken down through much fervent prayer. These precious people desperately need to know the joy and peace that can only be found through Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Algeria and share Christ with the Berbers.
  • Pray that the Lord will raise up missionaries who are sensitive to the Muslim culture and can effectively disciple new converts.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Tuat Christians.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Tuat language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of these Muslims towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will open the hearts of Algeria's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Tuats by the year 2000.

See also the following Groups:
The Saharan Berbers;
The Riff Berbers of Morocco, Algeria, and France;
The Central Shilhah of Algeria, Morocco, and the Berbaber of France;
The Southern Shilhah of Algeria and Morocco;
The Kabyle Berbers of Algeria, Belgium, and France;

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Tuat Berber
  • Country: Algeria
  • Their language: Tuat
  • Population: (1990) 49,900
    (1995) 55,900
    (2000) 62,300
  • Largest religion: Mulsims (Malakites) 99.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 6
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: None
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,400 (6%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 1,700 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 1,700 (3%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel:52,500 (94%)
  • Country: Algeria
  • Population: (1990) 24,935,400
    (1995) 27,939,000
    (2000) 31,158,400
  • Major peoples in size order: Algerian Arab 62.2%
    Hamyan Bedouin 6.9%
    Greater Kabyle 6.1%
    Tajakant Bedouin 4.1%
  • Major religions: Muslims 99.2%
    Christians 0.6%
    Non religious 0.1%
  • Number of denominations: 23

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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