Introduction / History
Starting in the eighth century over a period of one thousand years, the inhabitants of northern and central Sudan gradually became Muslims. This Arabization of the population took place by military conquest and trade. The various ethno-linguistic groups of Sudan adopted Arabic as their first language and converted to Islam. These peoples make up the Sudanese Arabs of today. The process of Arabization is continuing today with many sub-Saharan African tribes. The Rufaa are one of the many "Arabized" groups living in the northern part of Sudan. Although they speak a language called Sudani, (Sudanese Arabic) the location, culture, and history of the Rufaa are not known. Further investigation is an essential prerequisite before any mission work can begin among this people group.
What Are Their Lives Like?
For the Arabized Rufaa people, agriculture is the basis of the economy. Sorghum and millet are their staple crops, along with watermelons, gourds, okra, sesame, and cotton. They also raise cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, and dogs. They make cheese and butter from the milk of both the cows and goats.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Most of the Arabized tribes live in permanent settlements or villages. Their houses are simple round huts with thatched roofs. Those who are nomadic live in temporary camps due to their constant migrating tendencies. They usually live in dome-shaped shelters made of branches covered with grass. In the cities, where the few merchants and businessmen live, the houses are generally rectangular in shape and have tin roofs.
Most of the Arabized African tribes live much like the Arabs of other regions. Their lives revolve around important ceremonies such as birth, marriage, death, and the first haircut and circumcision for boys. The most elaborate of all ceremonies is the marriage ceremony. Polygamy (having more than one wife) is a common practice among the Arabized tribes in Sudan. However, according to Islamic law, a man cannot have more than four wives. After marriage, the newlywed couple generally lives with or near the husband's parents. However, in some groups, the young couple will live with the wife's family until after the birth of the first child.
With the death of Mohammed in A.D. 632, the Arabs erupted from the desert pastures of Arabia and overran the lands to the east and west. They intermarried with the local North African tribes and introduced them to Islam. The tribes began adopting the traditions and practices associated with Islamic culture. The spread of Islam continued and became even more advanced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when many schools of religious learning were founded. Today, virtually all of the Arabized tribes like the Rufaa are 100% Muslim. The Islamic religious system is now part of their identity as a people.
What Are Their Needs?
The majority of the Arabized tribes are not being ministered to by mission agencies and there are no known believers living among them. There is a great need for more prayer and evangelistic work among these precious people with the light of the gospel.
Pray for the Lord to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the Rufaa people in Sudan.
Pray for workers, filled with the love of the Holy Spirit, to go to the Rufaa people.
Pray for the Rufaa people to crave pure spiritual milk and find it in the Word of God.
Pray for a Holy Spirit directed movement to Christ among the Rufaa people.
Scripture Prayers for the Rufaa, Rufaiyin in Sudan.