Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Introduction / History
The Moor of Mali inhabit a small kingdom in the upper reaches of the Niger River. They are nomadic Berbers. The term "Moor" is generally applied to any person, regardless of skin color, who speaks one of the Hassaniya dialects. Therefore, there are both black and white Moors who speak the same language. Hassaniya, in its purest form, draws heavily from the original spoken Arabic.
It is believed that the Moor probably emigrated from neighboring Mauritania into the Sahel region of Mali. The Sahel lies immediately south of the Sahara and stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.
Mali is generally flat and the land consists of plains and plateaus. The southern part of the country is hilly. Disturbances among nomadic groups in the region often occur over watering and grazing rights. In the early 1970's and 1980's, the Moor of Mali were seriously affected by drought and famine.
What are Their Lives Like?
The Moor are a nomadic tribe who live in tents made of woven wool. Their basic family unit is the "tent." They are very proud of the fact that their origin can be traced to the Arabs.
Marriages among the Moor are pre-arranged by the parents, with the groom's father requesting the hand of the bride. A Moorish woman never marries against her family's wishes. She is given a dowry (money or property) upon marriage. After the wedding, the groom never enters the tent of his in-laws, nor does he share their table or look them in the eye when talking. The parents visit their daughter only when their son-in-law is absent. Sadly, divorce is common among the Moor.
When Moors from different nomadic tribes meet, several rigid customs are followed. These customs, which are a consequence of the long history of raids in the desert, are used by the groups to regulate the meeting. For example, when two people are talking, several mannerisms are used to indicate their involvement in the conversation. If a Moor blows on his hand during a conversation, it means he does not believe anything that is being said. If he puts his finger in his ear, it means that he is not interested in what is being said.
Moorish society is organized into successive ranks of tribes, clans, sub-clans, and tent units. There are four basic class divisions that are based on heritage, race, and occupation. The White Moor form the two upper classes, while the Black Moor make up the two lower classes. This division is based solely on parental descent, not on skin color. For example, if a father is considered white, his children, despite the darkness of their skin or the social condition of their mother, inherit the status of "White Moor."
A White Moor is ethnologically defined as "a nomad of Berber-Arab origin." They represent the two upper classes of Moorish society: the warriors and the religious leaders. The Black Moor make up the two lower classes. They live in a world of their own-usually one of slavery. There are two types of Black Moor: the 'abd-le-tilad (slaves who belong to the tents and are part of the family), and the 'abd-le-tarbiya (acquired slaves). Even though slavery is now against the law, it continues to be a fundamental part of the social and economic structure of the Moor.
What are Their Beliefs?
Virtually all of the Moor of Mali are Malikite Muslims. They faithfully adhere to the laws of the Koran and the basic Islamic practices, which include praying, fasting, and giving alms to the poor. The Moor acknowledge two main Islamic brotherhoods: the Qadiri and the Tajani. The Qadiri is the most widespread group and is characterized by many secret societies that are saturated with mysticism.
What are Their Needs?
The Moor need to experience the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Much intercession is needed to reach them with the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Mali and share Christ with the Moor.
* Ask God to give the small number of Moor believers boldness to share the love of Christ with their own people.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Moor towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will raise up teams of intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for these precious people.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Moor.