Introduction / History
The Najdi are a tribe that straddles what we call Arabs and what we call Bedouins, so we call them Bedouin Arabs. The traditional homeland of the Bedouin Arabs is the Arabian Desert; however, some Bedouin groups have migrated north into the Negev Desert region. Jordan was one of the first lands to be inhabited by the Bedouin, and today many Bedouin still live there, primarily raising sheep and goats.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Bedouin fall into two basic social classes. One class is known as the "true" Bedouin, and they live as nomadic shepherds. The other group has embraced farming and is known as the fellahin. The fellahin lead a more settled life on the edge of the desert. In contrast, the "true" Bedouin have been known for raiding any caravans that cross their paths while journeying across barren deserts. They move into the desert during the rainy winter seasons and back to the desert's edge during the hot, dry summers. The Najdi form of Arabic is among the most prestigious since it is closer to the classical Arabic of the Koran, the Muslim holy book. This Arabic language is mainly spoken in central Saudi Arabia, but also in the other countries of the Arabian Peninsula, Syria, Jordan, and especially Iraq. There are smaller numbers of Najdi speakers in the Netherlands, Canada and the United States.
Nadji Bedouin Arabs have a relatively harsh existence. They have no permanent homes, but live in portable, black tents made from woven goat hair. The tents are divided by a decorative partition called a gata. Half of the tent is for the women, children, cooking utensils, and storage. The other half contains a fireplace and is used for entertaining. The women do most of the work, while the men socialize and make plans for the group.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The material culture of the Bedouin is limited. Their tents are their main possessions, and animals are very important for their nomadic lifestyle. Camels are their main means of transportation. They buy and sell sheep and goats.
Dairy products are the main food source for Nadji Bedouin Arabs. Milk from camels and goats is made into yogurt and butter. Most of their meals consist of a bowl of milk, yogurt, or rice. When possible, they eat round loaves of unleavened bread. Dates, which can be found in desert oases, are dessert. Meat is only served on special occasions such as marriage feasts, ceremonial events, or when guests are present.
To endure the extreme heat of the desert, Nadji Bedouin Arabs wear light-weight light-colored clothing. It is very loose-fitting, allowing for the circulation of air.
Although the Bedouin once considered it degrading to have manual labor jobs, this has changed somewhat in recent years, especially in urban settings. Due to the need for better health care, more money, and better living conditions, some have accepted wage-paying jobs. However, most of them still despise this type of work.
Islam has greatly influenced the lives of the Bedouin. For example, to preserve their people, the Bedouin are only allowed to marry those inside their own group. Also, the society is patrilineal, which means that inheritances are passed down through the males.
Almost all of the Bedouin Arabs in Jordan are Sunni Muslims. Islam is based on the teachings of the prophet, Mohammed. The Koran ("holy book" of Islam) was supposedly given to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel.
What Are Their Needs?
Islam is a religion of works that is centered on five basic "pillars." (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (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.
Evangelization efforts among the Nadji Bedouin Arabs are challenging due to the harsh and unsettled nature of their lifestyle. There is a need for missionaries who are willing and able to endure the severe conditions of the desert to reach them for Christ. They would first have to master the Najdi language, then produce songs and stories about Jesus that the people can accept.
Pray for these remote Muslims to have dreams and visions of the Risen Savior and be drawn to him.
Pray for workers who are willing to endure hardships, learn a difficult language, and produce gospel materials for these people who need to hear good news.
Pray for the rapid spread of the gospel among the Nadji Bedouin Arabs.
Scripture Prayers for the Arab, Saudi - Najdi in Jordan.