Memon in Sri Lanka

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Anonymous  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Memon
Country: Sri Lanka
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 2,100
World Population: 890,100
Primary Language: Gujarati
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: South Asia Muslim - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Memon are a people group originally from northwestern India. They later migrated to Pakistan, but a small faction of early traders migrated to the island of Sri Lanka in 1870. More Memons left India for Sri Lanka due to Gujarat's Hindu-Muslim riot in 1947.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Despite being such a small community, the Memons pride themselves in keeping alive their traditions they carried over as immigrants and consider themselves experts in their industry. They are traditionally businessmen—traders, shippers, importers and exporters. For centuries they thrived economically while other Muslim groups struggled. Centuries before independence, the Memons practiced charity and social involvement.

In recent years young Memons have pursued careers in other fields such as medicine, law, sports, and poetry. The Memons typically marry within their people groups. The wedding itself has multiple ceremonies leading up to it, including application of henna and turmeric much like the Hindu communities. At the wedding reception, the men and women congregate in separate rooms, as is the tradition with most Muslim weddings. Their main languages include Memoni language as well as Gujarati.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Memons are Sunni Muslims who believe that the supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.

In most of the Muslim world, people depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces. As with most Muslims, the Memons do not believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ, his death or resurrection.

What Are Their Needs?

As they venture into new roles, away from their traditional careers, they can meet Christian believers and be encouraged to open their hearts to Christ. Their leaders may seek the one true God and be encouraged to influence others to as well.

Prayer Points

Pray that they will be moved to seek others outside of their ethnic group and build godly friendships with believers.

Pray for a spiritual hunger that will give the Memon people a willingness to accept the eternal blessings of Jesus Christ.

Pray for a movement that will bless the Memon people with a relationship with Jesus Christ, who offers life to the full.

Pray for the Lord to thrust out workers to the Memon people.

Text Source:   Joshua Project