Introduction / History
Islam came to Syria soon after the death of Mohammed. The population at that time was mainly Jewish, Eastern Orthodox Christians and animists. Over the centuries more and more people converted to Islam and more and more Muslims moved into the area. In the first Arab-Israeli War of 1947-1948, thousands of Palestinian Arabs fled their homes in the area now known are Israel. Atrocities were committed by both sides in the war. Since that time, Arabs who departed Israel have not been allowed to return to their homeland. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, thousands more left east Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. Some of the Palestinians who departed Israel in 1948 and 1967 came to live in Syria. The Syrian government has not granted the Palestinians citizenship although the Palestinians have almost the same rights as Syrian citizens. The Syrian government does not want Palestinians to take jobs that could be filled by Syrians or take resources the government could use for their own people.
What Are Their Lives Like?
A civil war began in 2011 in Syria. Hundreds of thousands have died, and millions are displaced. What security and economic stability the Palestinians had until 2011 has been destroyed. Some Palestinians have supported the Syrian government, while others have supported other factions making up the opposition to the government.
Since 2011 many Palestinians in Syria have lost their jobs and had their homes demolished. Some have tried to flee to Turkey, Jordan, the West or a less violent part of Syria. One faction in the war may control a certain area only to have the same territory overrun by another faction. Such tragic, unstable conditions make it impossible for a family to live a normal life. Once a Palestinian family arrives at a new place they often must live in tents and live on handouts from the UN, wealthy Arab nations or the West.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Almost all Palestinian Arabs are Muslims, mostly Sunni. Islam is a religion of works that is based on five basic "pillars" which are (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; and (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime.
What Are Their Needs?
Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols.
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
The most important physical need for all people living in Syria is peace! The Palestinians living in Syria may not ever have heard a clear presentation of the gospel. Isa or Jesus is much more than the human prophet that He is deemed to be in Islam. Medical teams of Christ followers can help the Palestinians in camps and show them the love of Christ. Christian teachers can set up schools for Palestinian children. Refugee camps often do not provide for their inhabitants' basic needs. Christians meeting those needs would open the door for the gospel.
Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Palestinians in Syria in this decade. Pray the Holy Spirit produces a hunger for spiritual things among Palestinians in Syria. Pray that Palestinians would tune into Christian TV and radio programs.
Pray that Palestinian parents in Syria would be able to provide adequately for their children.
Scripture Prayers for the Arab, Palestinian in Syria.