Photo Source: Manfred Lentz - Flickr Creative Commons
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
|People Name:||Bedouin, Suafa|
|Primary Language:||Arabic, Algerian Spoken|
|Christian Adherents:||0.01 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|People Cluster:||Bedouin, Saharan|
|Affinity Bloc:||Arab World|
The Arab conquests of the seventh century brought about a rapid expansion of the Bedouin tribes. At that time, thousands of Bedouins left the Middle East and began spreading across North Africa. They have adapted well to the nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life in the desert. The name "Bedouin" is derived from the Arab word bedu. It is a term used to differentiate between those groups who migrate with their herds and those which have settled in an urban or agricultural area. Although distinct, both communities rely on each other economically, socially and politically. Many people picture the Bedouin people as nomads clothed in long flowing robes, riding across the desert on their camels. In reality however, their identity is more varied. Today, many Bedouin live as semi-nomads, both migrating with their herds and engaging in some form of settled agriculture. Apart from tribal affiliations, there is little to distinguish one group from another. Bedouin tribes speak Arabic and claim Arab descent. One of these tribes is the Suafa. This tribe lives only in Algeria. Though the Suafa are not the only Bedouin tribe in Algeria, this country is home for more Bedouins than any other except Saudi Arabia.
Bedouin society is organized according to a series of overlapping kin groups. The family is the smallest unit, followed by the clan, then the tribe. The Suafa tribe has a tradition of marrying a fairly close relative like a cousin. This is a way for families to keep the little wealth they have. Like other Bedouins, the Suafa tribe has less physical wealth than most other populations in Algeria. In the past, it was shameful for a Bedouin to accept a wage-paying job. Today, however, many have been forced by economic circumstances into full- or part-time employment. It's difficult for the Suafa tribe to gain access to adequate medical care. They also have a lower literacy rate than the Arab and Berber populations in Algeria since they typically live further from urban centers. In their spare time, the Suafa tribe loves camel racing and falconry as sports. They sometimes bet their livestock on a particular camel race.
While most of the Bedouin are Sunni Muslims (many of the Malikite branch), there is still a basic belief in spirits known as jinnis. The jinnis are, according to Arab legend, spirits capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural influence over humans. Their folk Islamic rituals do not give them reassurance or peace, and they often feel fearful. The Koran warns against dabbling in the spirit world, but people often think that they need the spirit world to help them for their daily needs. A few Bedouin tribes have been influenced by the mystic tradition in Islam known as Sufism. A Sufi is someone who believes that he has acquired a special inner knowledge direct from Allah. It is more emotion-based than other forms of Islam, and many Sufis are seeking a relationship with Allah. This is a possible Segway to the gospel.
The Bedouins have many physical needs. They often go without enough food, and they rarely have access to produce, which is where we get most of our vitamins and minerals. Commonly, Bedouins suffer from respiratory diseases, and they don't have adequate access to medical facilities since they live in remote areas. Their nomadic lifestyle is rapidly becoming less and less possible given the increasing dryness of their desert homelands.
Pray for the Suafa Bedouins to look to God for their physical and spiritual needs. Pray for the Lord to show himself faithful to the Suafa Bedouins of Algeria by providing for all of their needs according to his riches and glory. Pray for the Lord to thrust out faithful workers to them. Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among the Suafa Bedouins in Algeria.