Arabic-speaking Algerians in Algeria

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Today, the vast region of Northern Africa is predominantly inhabited by Arab Muslims. However, this was not always the case. The territory was once dominated by the Berbers, a non-Arab people who were at one time mostly Christians. The Berbers successfully withstood numerous invasions before finally being overrun by Arabs.

Beginning in the seventh century, Arab invasions caused many non-Islamic tribes, including the Berbers, to be displaced. The Berbers were particularly affected by the mass immigrations of Arab Bedouins in the eleventh century. At that time, some of the Berbers fled. Others were driven into the desert, where they began displacing or enslaving the Blacks who lived there. Many Berbers remained and submitted, becoming "Arabized" in language and, to some extent, racially mixed with the Arabs. All of the Berbers, without exception, embraced Islam.

Today, most of the Arabized Berbers still identify themselves as Berbers. However, elements of Arabic origin have now become so prominent that it is difficult to distinguish them from the Arabs.

What Are Their Lives Like?

For the Berbers, "Arabization" occurred in three overlapping stages. The first stage was the initial contact with the Arab invaders in the seventh century. The second stage began with the arrival of the Bedouins in the eleventh century. The third stage of Arabization, which took place between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, was accelerated by the arrival of refugees from Andalusia (a region in southern Spain).

Traditionally, the Berber economy rested on a fine balance between farming and raising cattle. Each tribe depended heavily on domestic animals for carrying heavy loads, milk and dairy products, meat, and hides or wool. Similarly, there was not a single tribe that did not also rely on agriculture for survival.

The arrival of the Bedouins in the eleventh century brought competition for pasture land. The Bedouins were numerous enough to compete with the Berbers who lived in the plains, but were not able to dislodge or greatly influence the mountain tribes. For this reason, the Arabization of the Berber was confined to the plains and plateau areas.

Between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Andalusian refugees settled in towns. They brought with them a richer and more classical form of Arabic speech. This had a profound effect on the partially-Arabized Berbers, causing the differences between urban and rural dialects to become even greater. Certainly, those who retained the original Berber language have also retained more of the traditional Berber culture and customs.

The adoption of Arab speech is only one aspect of Arabization. Many Berber groups resisted Islam at first; but by two or three centuries after the Arab invasions, they had all converted to the Islamic faith, at least in name. Wherever Arabic replaced the Berber language, laws from the Koran replaced the traditional tribal order.

The harshness of the Berber lifestyle in Northern Africa has led many of the Berbers to immigrate. Today, large communities of Arabized Berbers can be found in several nations, particularly Europe. Although most of them are only involved in unskilled or semi-skilled labor, they are able to earn more than they would "back home."

The Arabized Berbers, like many other groups that have immigrated to other nations, send much of their earnings back home to support their larger, extended families. Similarly, members of the extended families often travel to Europe, where they will live and work for short periods of time before returning home.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Today, virtually all of these tribes are Sunni Muslim, with most belonging to the Malikite branch of Islam. Islam is a major world religion that is based on five essential duties or "pillars": (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited to drink alcohol, eat pork, gamble, steal, use deceit, slander, and make idols.

While the Berbers adopted the five pillars of Islam, each was modified a little to fit their local traditions and tastes. For instance, many are very casual about prayer. Also, among some tribes, the giving of alms was not accepted because it was perceived as being some type of tax.

What Are Their Needs?

There are several Christian resources available to the Arabized Berbers; however, most of the tribes have a minimal Christian population. Several missions agencies have focused on the Arabized Berbers living in European nations, but they have had little success. New strategies must be developed and implemented so that these tribes can be effectively reached with the good news about Jesus.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Algerian, Arabic-speaking in Algeria.

* Ask God to call out prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
* Pray for the small number of Arabized Berber Christians.
* Ask God to give missions agencies improved strategies for reaching these tribes with the Gospel.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of these Muslim tribes towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among each of the Arabized Berber tribes.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2011-12-05
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-12-19
Global Prayer Digest: 2014-12-31
Global Prayer Digest: 2015-12-27
People Name General Algerian, Arabic-speaking
People Name in Country Algerian, Arabic-speaking
Natural Name Arabic-speaking Algerians
Pronunciation al-JEER-ee-uns
Population this Country 30,135,000
Population all Countries 33,743,000
Total Countries 18
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 3  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 603
Alternate Names Arabized Berber; Ibidites; Moroccan Arab
People ID 10379
ROP3 Code 100226
Country Algeria
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 24  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Algeria
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 24  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Map of Algerian, Arabic-speaking in Algeria Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Arabic, Algerian Spoken (30,135,000 speakers)
Language Code arq   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Arabic, Algerian Spoken (30,135,000 speakers)
Language Code arq   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Arabic, Algerian Spoken

Primary Language:  Arabic, Algerian Spoken

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1872-1964)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1965-2018)
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Arabic Bibles Online
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Algerian Contextual Gathering
Film / Video In the Light
Film / Video Video / Animation
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Arabic, Algerian Spoken
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Text / Printed Matter Online Bible text (Scripture Earth)
Text / Printed Matter World Missionary Press Booklets
Primary Religion: Islam
Religion Subdivision: Sunni
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.01 %)
0.01 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
95.49 %
4.50 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
100.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source WikiMedia - Basel2019  Creative Commons  Used with permission
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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