The Somali of Saudi Arabia
The Somali first came to Africa around 1200 A.D., and were converted to Islam about 1550 by Arabian traders. Today, nearly 40,000 Somali can be found in Saudi Arabia. The Somali are primarily nomadic shepherds who came from Djibouti or Somalia in search of water and land for their herds. They are usually characterized as being very individualistic; scornful of danger, hunger, or thirst; and constantly involved in blood feuds with other tribes and peoples.
Saudi Arabia, located on the Arabian Peninsula, contains twenty-five percent of the world's oil reserves beneath its sandy, rocky surface. There are no rivers; and most of the land is arid or semi-arid desert.
What are their lives like?
Although the Somali nomads roam the deserts with their herds of camels, goats, and sheep in search of water and land, they consider themselves primarily warriors. The men often leave the women in charge of the herds, so that they might train to become more effective fighters.
Their society is based on the nuclear family, which consists of a husband, wife, and children. The man is the head of his household. A typical family owns a herd of sheep or goats and a few burden camels. Some may also own a herd of breeding and milking camels. The more camels a man has, the greater his prestige. They are sharply divided by clans, and recognize no civic relationship except to their own relatives.
The nomads live in portable huts made of wooden branches covered with skins and grass mats. They are easily collapsible so that they can be loaded on pack animals and moved along with the herds.
Their diet includes milk, camel and goat meat, rice, and other grains. Tea is also a favorite drink. Having an abundant supply of food is a status symbol among the clans. Each family periodically holds banquets for their relatives and friends. A family's prestige is determined by the frequency of its feasts, the number of people invited, and the quality and quantity of food served.
Typically, the Somali wear brightly colored cloths draped over their bodies like togas. The men may also wear kilt like garments.
Limited polygamy—up to four wives—is permitted. The wives are responsible for tending to the children, although the father helps with their religious training. The divorce rate is high among the Somali.
What are their beliefs?
Islam's holiest city, Mecca, is located in Saudi Arabia. Muslims are required to pray toward Mecca five times a day. In addition, more than two million Muslims make a pilgrimage to the city every year. No Christian is permitted to set foot in Mecca.
The government of Saudi Arabia has banned all Christian literature, and spends large sums of money to spread Islam around the world by building mosques and sending out missionaries. The world's largest printing presses are set up in this country and are used to print 28 million copies of the Koran each year.
What are their needs?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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