The Arabized Black of Libya
The Arabs are one of the world's largest and most rapidly growing ethnic groups. In the seventh and eleventh centuries, Arabs invaded northern Africa, causing many tribes and nomadic groups to be displaced. These invasions also absorbed, to some extent, the passive communities of black farmers, Jewish artists, and Berber refugees living in the area. As a result, many different Arab groups now exist throughout North Africa. One of these groups is the Arabized Black of Libya, who have adopted Arab culture, language, and religion.
The Arabized Black live mostly in the southern provinces of Fazzan, a series of oases in the southwestern desert of Libya. These oases, which are essentially groundwater that rises to the surface, provide enough water for the Arabized Black to engage in agriculture. Others live in the populated cities farther north, near the Mediterranean Coast. The Arabized Black speak Fazzani, one of the many dialects of Arabic, the official language of Libya.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Arabized Black are rural families who rely on agriculture and livestock herding. Corn, wheat, and citrus fruits are among the crops grown. Cattle, sheep, and chickens are raised and provide meat, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese. The men do most of the agricultural work, while the women remain in their homes, cooking meals and caring for the children and small animals. There are some rural families who lead a nomadic existence, migrating seasonally with their herds in search of better land and water. In addition, some young Arabized Black have moved to the cities where they have taken jobs in construction, textiles, food processing, and the oil industry.
The Arabized Black have a history of artistic work and hand crafts, which still persists today. Some of the crafts made include carpets, baskets, leather goods, and elaborately designed jewelry. These are sold in local markets and small shops. Large, ornamented mosques reflect the importance of art as decoration in the Muslim religion.
The Arabized Black dress in a fashion similar to that of other Arabs. Long- sleeved cotton tunics, or djellabas, are worn with sandals and cotton turbans or caps.
Life for the Arabized Black centers around important ceremonies, such as birth, marriage, death, and for boys, the first haircut and circumcision. The most elaborate of all ceremonies is the wedding. Most men have more than one wife, but under Islamic law they cannot have more than four. After marriage, a couple generally lives near the husband's parents; however, in some first marriages, a young couple lives with the wife's family until after the birth of their first child.
The birth of children, especially boys, is cause for celebration among the Arabized Black. The first word a baby hears is the word "Allah" whispered in its ear. Boys help their fathers and older brothers in the fields and are taught to obey and respect older males. Girls help their mothers cook and help care for younger children.
Education in Libya is free, and all young people must attend school through the high school level. Schools are even located in rural villages, enabling children of farmers and nomads to acquire an education. Today, females have an opportunity to learn to read, a benefit which was discouraged in the past.
What are their beliefs?
The Arabized Black of Libya are entirely Muslim, much like the rest of the country. They follow the teachings of Mohammed, as written in the Koran. They pray five times daily at the local mosques and follow Islamic ceremonies and laws.
What are their needs?
The Arabized Black have some Christian resources available to them, but their strong devotion and historical connection to Islam have created barriers to their acceptance of the Gospel. Currently, there are no missions agencies working among them, and the great majority of them have not had an opportunity to respond to the Gospel. Fervent intercession is essential if the hold that Islam has on their lives is to be broken.
- Ask the Lord to open the doors of Libya to the preaching of the Gospel.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Arabized Black towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that evangelical literature will be translated into Fazzani and distributed among the Arabized Black.
- Pray that the Lord Jesus will reveal Himself to the Arabized Black through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will save key leaders among the Arabized Black who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Arabized Black bound.
- Ask God to raise up a mighty army of prayer warriors who will stand in the gap for the Arabized Black.
- Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Arabized Black by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Arabized Black
- Country: Libya
- Their language: Fazzani
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 10
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 29,200 (30%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 68,100 (70%)
- Country: Libya
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 16
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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