Arab, Iraqi in Iraq







Largest Religion


Profile Source: GAAPNet: Updated original Bethany people profile

Introduction / History

The Iraqi Arabs descended from a people group cluster called the Levant Arabs. The Levant Arabs originally settled all over the Arabian Peninsula and later migrated to North Africa. They are spread from Israel to Kuwait and as far east as Iran. "Levant" is a broad term that includes several groups of Arabs: the Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, Arabic Jewish, Chaldean, and Syrian Arabs.

Most scholars consider Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula to be the original Arabs. The Arabian culture was developed by tribes of nomads and villagers who lived in the Arabian Desert for many centuries. It was also from there that Arab migrations began, eventually leading to the expansion of the Arab world. Modern day Iraq is the home of the ancient Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. Iraq was occupied by Britain during World War I. In 1932, Iraq gained its independence. Today three-fourths of Iraq is Arab.

What are Their Lives Like?

Although the Iraqi Arabs have settled in towns or villages, they have held on to their tribal affiliations. Their fortress-like villages can be easily defended. Each house has windows on all sides and is built facing the outside of the village. All goods and persons passing through town are strictly controlled.

Individual dwellings tend to be elaborately decorated, flat-roofed homes called "town houses." Lime wash and brickwork are used around the windows as a form of artistic design. The rooms usually have some type of carpeting, and when entering the house, one must leave his shoes at the door. The walls are lined with mattresses and cushions to sit on and lean against. A main reception room and a kitchen are located on the top floor. The flat roofs are used by the women for drying laundry.

Social life is extremely important to Arabs. They like to share a daily coffee time by sitting on the floor and drinking coffee from cups without handles. Their diet basically consists of wheat bread and porridge made with boiled meat or chicken. Village farmers raise wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, coffee, melons, dates, cattle, sheep, and pomegranates. Domestic animals are kept to supply milk and eggs.

Islam has greatly influenced the lives of the Iraqi Arabs. To preserve their people, they are only allowed to marry those inside their own group. Inheritances are passed down through the males. In this system, men inherit more than women. Since children are considered a family's greatest asset, females are valued mostly for their ability to bear children. Women wear veils or burka both in town and at home.

In the past, all marriages were arranged by the parents; however, it is becoming more acceptable for young people to choose their own mates. Young girls are considered ready for marriage by age nine.

What are Their Beliefs?

In 1968, the Iraqi constitution established Islam as the religion of the state. Iraq is dominated by Shi'ite Muslims (over half) and Sunni Muslims (more than one-third). Islam is a religion of works that is based on five basic "pillars." (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) He must pray five times a day while facing Mecca. (3) He must give generously. (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.

The Apostle Thomas brought Christianity to Mesopotamia. The Church was centered in and spread from the Assyrian city of Arbel, located in the North. Today there are several denominations that have churches in Iraq.

What are Their Needs?

God loves the Iraqi Arabs! Most of them only know a god called "Allah", but Jesus, the Savior wants them to hear and know of His great love. Most believe Jesus is a prophet, teacher, and a good man; just not God's Son. Many have a great spiritual hunger, which has increased since the overthrow of the Sunni- led government of Saddam Hussein. Others are hearing His name for the very first time and responding.

The greatest spiritual need that must be met among the Iraqi Arabs is training for evangelistic workers, church planters, children's workers, and pastors. Praise God that Bibles and Christian literature have already been printed. Now they must be distributed, and the Word of God must be taught.

A door of opportunity has been opened for the Church today to share the love of God with the Iraqi Arabs. Will we respond?

Prayer Points

* Pray that the Iraqi Arab Christians would be protected from harm and persecution.
* Pray for Christian workers from nearby countries who are making initial plans for church planting and church planter training in Iraq.
* Ask God to give wisdom to the new government in Iraq and open their hearts to the Gospel.
* Ask God to change the spiritual climate over Iraq.

Profile Source: GAAPNet: Updated original Bethany people profile Copyrighted ©: Yes Used with permission

People Name General Arab, Iraqi
People Name in Country Arab, Iraqi
Population in Iraq 13,981,000
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Arab, Mesopotamian Speakers, Arab-Mesopotamian, Iraqi Arab, Iraqi Arabs, Mesopotamian Spoken, North Iraqi Arab
Affinity Bloc Arab World
People Cluster Arab, Levant
People Name General Arab, Iraqi
Ethnic Code CMT30
Country Iraq
Continent Asia
Region Middle East and North Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Location in Country Tigris and Euphrates area
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken (Unknown) Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken (Unknown)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken
Largest Religion Islam
0.50%    ( Evangelical  0.20% )
Ethnic Religions
Other / Small
Christian Segments
Other Christian
Roman Catholic
Photo Source: James Gordon Creative Commons: Yes
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Profile Source:
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
Get Involved
Register ministry activity for this group

Copyright © 2014 Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.