Somali in Sweden

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People Name: Somali
Country: Sweden
10/40 Window: No
Population: 49,000
World Population: 26,240,400
Primary Language: Somali
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Somali
Affinity Bloc: Horn of Africa Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Somali share a common language, a cultural heritage, and adhere to a single faith. The Somalis first appeared in the Horn of Africa around 1200 and began expanding westward and southward about 150 years later. They converted to Islam around 1550, under the influence of Arab traders that had settled along the coast of present-day Somalia. By 1650, they had moved into Ethiopia.

The Somalis consider themselves warriors. They are a very individualistic people, sharply divided by clans. There are often fights between clans, resulting in many deaths. The results in recent decades have been tragic. Somalia is basically ungovernable, and their economy is in shambles. As many as are able flee to other parts of the world.

Somalis began to arrive in Sweden in the 1980s and more are still arriving. There are Somali communities in Borlänge and Stockholm. Many live with other Muslim communities in Malmo.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Somali culture revolves around their clans. For that reason, Somalis have a strong tendency to re-settle with members of their clans. Somalis are used to an informal system of sending funds to members of their clans in Somalia. Swedish banks are stopping some of this since it can possibly be used for money laundering or terrorism. Somalis have 100 ethnically based community organizations in Sweden.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding between the Swedes, who have not experienced war in over 100 years, and Somalis who know nothing but war. The infrastructure of Sweden is highly advanced. Somalis come from a land where roads, hospitals and schools are almost always in shambles because of war.

The Swedish government is cracking down on Somali family members joining the young men who have migrated from Somalia.

A good number of Somalis in Sweden are refugees or asylum seekers with a high unemployment rate. Their educational background is not sufficient for Sweden’s job market.

But others have settled into Swedish society well. There are Somalis who are distance runners, models, musicians, and even a politician. Some Somalis have taken up ice hockey.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Although the Somali are nearly all Shafiite Muslims, numerous beliefs and traditions have been intermingled with their Islamic practices. Some observe the standard Islamic prayers, but Somali women have never worn any kind of traditional Muslim veil. Somali frequently turn to the wadaad (a religious expert) for blessings, charms, and advice in worldly matters.

Though there is not yet a movement to Christ among Somalis in Sweden, one Somali woman, Mon Walters, is a high-profile believer. With the protection of the Swedish government, this woman is able to tell Somalis that Jesus Christ offers what they have always needed.

What Are Their Needs?

Somalis in Sweden have an alarmingly high unemployment rate. They understand they need to learn Swedish and develop useful job skills for the Swedish economy. Believers can give them the training they need and teach them the ways of Jesus in the process.

Prayer Points

Pray that Muslims will listen to Muslim-background believers and turn to the God of love.
Pray that believers will reach the Somali community in Sweden.
Pray for them to reach this Somali network in such a way that there will be a church planting movement among the Somalis in Sweden that will work its way back to Somalia.

Text Source:   Joshua Project