The Beja are a nomadic people group with a million and a half members who live in the northeastern portion of the African nation of Sudan. Eastern Sudan has been the homeland of the Beja since the days of the pharaohs 4,000 years ago. Despite contact with the Egyptians, along with Greeks and Romans, it was the Muslims who finally had a real and lasting impression on the Beja. Although the Beja had partially accepted Christianity in 500 A.D., their conversion was only skin deep and beginning in 640 A.D., when Arabs first invaded Sudan, the Beja began to gradually adopt the Islamic faith. The Arabs did not conquer Sudan, and although many Beja tribes still do not speak Arabic, Islam left a lasting impact on their lifestyle, customs and religious practices.
There are a number of Beja subgroups. Sometimes they are subdivided by clan, other times by language. The Hadendoa Beja speak Bedawiyet, though most also speak Sudanese Arabic.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Hadendoa Bejas are traditionally a pastoral people. Droughts and lack of grazing reserves have caused some to find new livelihoods in farming, labor jobs at seaport cities or selling some of their products.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Throughout their history, Beja groups have practiced a number of different religions, including ancestor and demon worship, devotion to Egyptian gods, Jacobite Christianity and now Islam. Although they are Muslims, Islam is not deep rooted or well understood by the Hadendoa Beja. Sharia, or Muslim religious law, is of some importance for settled Beja but matters little to the nomads. Salif, customary Beja law, is more important than either Sharia or modern Sudan code law. Salif emphasizes the mandate of hospitality and provides for rates and modes of compensation for all manner of physical injury, ranging from one blow through murder. They do not make the required pilgrimage to Mecca, and many concerned with the traditional belief of do not say the regular required prayers. The Hadendoa Beja continue to be highly afraid of jinn, or bad spirits, which they believe exist everywhere and cause sickness and accidents maintain peace between individuals.
Pray for many opportunities for the Hadendoa Beja people to hear the gospel and respond to it.
Pray for the Lord to speak to many Hadendoa Beja elders through dreams and visions.
Pray for many Hadendoa Beja to have the spiritual hunger it will take to embrace Jesus Christ no matter what the cost.
May there soon be Hadendoa Beja disciples making more disciples.
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