Introduction / History
The Levantine Arabs historically lived in a region called "the Levant". This includes Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Sometimes included in the region are Egypt, Iraq and Turkey. Today, large populations can be found worldwide.
A surprisingly large percentage of them are found in the Western Hemisphere, especially in Brazil, the U.S., Canada and Mexico as well as perhaps in every Latin American country. A substantial number live in African countries as well.
Originally speakers of Aramaic and followers of Canaanite culture and language, the Levantine Arabs gradually came to speak Arabic and to practice Islam for the most part.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Levant Arabs typically live in villages located near fertile regions; but they can also be found near mountain foothills in less arid regions. Although they have settled in towns or villages, they have held on to their tribal affiliations.
The various tribes are ruled by sheiks (Arab chiefs that are considered to be experts in Islam and in relating to the outside world). 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.
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.
Despite Islamic teachings, the reality of different classes of Arabs still persists. The type of clothing worn has become one of the determining factors. Levant tribesmen dress differently than other villagers and can be easily recognized. The women wear veils both in town and at home. Boys show that they are becoming men by changing their headgear and wearing daggers.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Almost all of the Levant Arabs are Muslims. The Levant Arabs have had a close association with Islam throughout their history; and today, all of them except for the Arabic Jewish Arabs are Muslims. The two main branches of Islam in the region are the Shi'ites and Shafiites.
Islam has greatly influenced the lives of the Levant Arabs. To preserve their people, they are only allowed to marry those inside their own group. Levant Arab society is patrilineal, which means that inheritances are passed down through the males. In this system, boys inherit more than girls. Since children are considered a family's greatest asset, females are valued for their ability to bear children.
What Are Their Needs?
A Muslim who professes faith in Jesus Christ can lose his family, his honor, his job, or even his life. At the present time, there are only a few known Christians within the Levant Arab community, with the largest number found among the Iraqi Arabs. Evangelization efforts among these tribes are challenging due to restrictions in many of the countries, as well as general antagonism towards Christianity. Intercession is the key to reaching them with the Gospel
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to reach out and share the love of Christ with them.
* Pray that God will raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Levantine Arabs.
* Ask God to give the Levantine Arab believers opportunities to share the love of Christ with their own people.
* Pray that their traditional Muslim culture will soften, creating open doors for the Gospel to be preached among them.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of these Muslims towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Levant Arabs.
|Profile Source: Joshua Project|