Jalo Berber in Libya

The Jalo Berber have only been reported in Libya
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The name "Berber" is derived from the Latin word barbari, meaning "barbarians." This term was used by the Romans in the third century A.D. to describe the "people of the Maghrib." (The Maghrib refers to the regions of North Africa that were conquered by Muslims between 670 and 700 A.D. It included Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and the western portion of Libya). The Berbers define themselves as the Imazighen, which means "man of noble origin." Their various languages belong to the Hamito-Semitic language family which includes five major groupings as well as a large number of dialects. Although the Berber languages differ greatly from one another in sound, they only vary slightly in grammar and vocabulary. Berbers are scattered across the vast regions of North Africa. Their tribes stretch from the Siwa Oasis in Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean. Most likely they once inhabited the entirety of North African, forcing the black population to move further southward through the desert. However, the exact origins of the Berbers and how they arrived in North Africa still remain a mystery. Although the Maghrib has been, for the most part, "Arabized" by language and Islamic culture over the centuries, there are still groups of Berbers who have retained much of their original Berber traditions and characteristics. One of these groups is the Jalo Berbers who live only in Libya.

What Are Their Lives Like?

No Berber tribe depends exclusively on farming for survival, yet their economy rests on a fine balance between farming and raising cattle. Hunting rarely adds to the food supply. They depend on domestic animals for carrying heavy loads, milk and dairy products, meat, and hides. In regard to labor, the men do most of the farming, while the women are responsible for milking and gathering. The Berbers are often noted for their skills in various crafts. Domestic tasks such as weaving and pottery are the main work of the women. The men specialize in woodworking, metalworking, and, more surprisingly, fine needlework. The Jalo are now free to display their traditional beautiful needlework at cultural festivals. They also can speak their own dialect of Berber without much interference from the Libyan government which is almost non-existent. Berber societies can be broken down into three basic units: the community, the district, and the tribe. The community is a political collection of clans; the district is a cluster of communities; and the tribe is a group of districts that are characterized by a common territory, name and culture. Government at the community level is notably democratic. All authority is vested in an assembly called the jemaa. The jemaa, composed of all adult males, usually meets weekly. The primary purpose of these assemblies is to preserve peace within their region, and the threat from insurgents is making their job much more difficult. In view of the general acceptance of Islam, it is particularly interesting that almost all Berbers prefer monogamous marriages. Even the oasis dwellers and the Tuareg hold this preference. In the few tribes where polygamy does exist, it is practiced only by the few wealthy men.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Unlike orthodox Muslims, Jalo Berbers believe the spirits of their ancestors are gods. They consult these ancestral spirits, and then sleep in their tombs to await responses in dreams. Jalo Berbers are nominally Muslim; observance of Islamic law is generally lax. The concept of baraka, or holiness, is highly developed in North Africa. The Jalo Berbers believe that many people are endowed with baraka, of which the holiest are the shurifa, or the direct descendants of Mohammed. Another class of holy people is known as the marabouts. Among some Jalo Berbers, marabouts are considered to be different from ordinary men. They are believed to possess, even after death, the powers of protection and healing.

What Are Their Needs?

The quality of life for the Jalo Berbers is very poor. The need for community development projects may provide open doors through which Christ's ambassadors may enter. Since the Jalo live in Libya, they really need protection from armed insurgents.

Prayer Points

Pray for a church planting movement among every Berber people in Libya. Pray that the Jalo Berbers will have a hunger for spiritual truth and allow Jesus Christ to satisfy it. Pray for the Jalo Berbers to have many chances to hear and respond to the gospel.

Scripture Prayers for the Berber, Jalo in Libya.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Berber, Jalo
People Name in Country Berber, Jalo
Natural Name Jalo Berber
Alternate Names Jalo Berber
Population this Country 51,000
Population all Countries 51,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 12315
ROP3 Code 104164
ROP25 Code 301088
ROP25 Name Berber, Saharan
Country Libya
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 3  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Widespread, especially in the north.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Libya
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 3  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Widespread, especially in the north..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Arabic, Libyan (51,000 speakers)
Language Code ayl   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Arabic, Libyan (51,000 speakers)
Language Code ayl   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Arabic, Libyan
Photo Source Silvia Cosimini - FreeImages  Creative Commons 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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