Southern Shilha Berber in Morocco


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Southern Shilha (also known as the Sousi Berbers) live in the western High Atlas and the Anti Atlas Mountains of southwestern Morocco. They also live in the plains and valleys which lie between them.

Most parts of the mountains are well watered, and between November and May the region is blanketed in snow. Vegetation is almost non-existent along the southern slopes. But wherever they live, a majority of the Shilha raise crops and livestock. (The varieties and breeds depend on local conditions of the climate and soil.)

The people live in villages of all sizes, using the limited soil and water resources with care. They build small dams and cultivate terraces where cereals and other crops are grown.

The Southern Shilha are a poor but proud people. They are tough and hard working, scratching out a meager existence in a part of the world that is physically antagonistic to an agricultural society.


What Are Their Lives Like?

No other group in Morocco starting from tribal origins has achieved as much as the Southern Shilha. A high degree of unity is the key to their success. This unity extends beyond tribal boundaries to encompass all who speak Tachelhit, their native language.

Most of the Shilha are farmers and shepherds. On the plots of ground that are not regularly irrigated, they grow barley and sometimes rye. On the lower slopes, they herd sheep and goats. Surplus farm and animal products are sold at weekly markets.

In the villages, the Berber way of life has remained unchanged over the centuries. Most Shilha villages contain between 50 and 500 people. They typically live in two-story, mud brick homes with flat roofs. In the more rugged mountain areas they live in sturdy goat skin tents.

Urban men and women wear western clothing, sometimes with long hooded robes, or jellabas, over them. Men wear turbans, or skull caps, called tagiyas, and women wear veils or head scarves. Rural women dress colorfully, but modestly, wearing several layers of clothing.

The Shilha don't really value education because they believe that hard work is of higher value. Only a small number complete more than a few years of public schooling. In rural areas; however, many male children attend Islamic schools where they are taught the Koran.

A typical family consists of close relatives living under the authority of the male head of the family. A new bride, often as young as 14, will move into the home of the husband's family after marriage.

Since the late 19th century, many Shilha have left their poor, overpopulated valleys, in hopes of finding new resources in the northern cities of Morocco. Some have become profitable grocers, shopkeepers, or wholesalers. Others have entered the fabric trade. Today, some of the most important businessmen in Casablanca are Shilha.


What Are Their Beliefs?

Although the Shilha are nearly all Muslim, their religion is mingled with spiritism and mysticism. Interestingly, this blended religion has created in them a curiosity and yearning to know more about their god. They worship a god whom they believe wants to be present in their daily lives. Such a spiritual climate is ripe for a presentation of the Gospel! Unfortunately, distribution of Bibles is against the law at this time.


What Are Their Needs?

In rural areas, only about half of the people have access to health services. These facilities usually only consist of a small clinic with a nurse, but no doctor. Most villages contain a shrine for their particular "saint." People often visit these domed buildings in search of healing.

It is illegal for a Moroccan to become a Christian or to evangelize others; however, the Shilha are showing an interest in Christianity and the Bible now more than ever before. Morocco is closed to traditional missions work, but there are creative ways in which to enter the country as tentmakers.


Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send Christian medical teams to work among the Shilha.
Pray that God will encourage the small number of Shilha believers.
Ask God to raise up those willing to go to Morocco as tentmakers.
Ask the Holy Spirit to continue to stir a hunger in the people to have a personal relationship with the one true God.
Pray that God will open the hearts of Morocco's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
Pray that the laws restricting the preaching of the Gospel in Morocco will change.
Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Shilha.


Scripture Prayers for the Berber, Southern Shilha in Morocco.


Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Berber, Southern Shilha
People Name in Country Berber, Southern Shilha
Natural Name Southern Shilha Berber
Pronunciation SHIL-huh BUR-bur
Alternate Names Ishilhayn; Shleuh; Shluh; Sous Berber; Sousi Berber; Tashelhit
Population this Country 3,505,000
Population all Countries 3,658,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 70
People ID 14911
ROP3 Code 108945
ROP25 Code 309189
ROP25 Name Berber, Shilha
Country Morocco
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 24  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Souss-Massa-Drâa, Guelmim-Es Semara, Marrakesh-Tensift-Al Haouz, and Tadla-Azilal regions: coast south to Ifni, north to near Agadir, northeast to Marrakech outskirts, east to Drâa, including Sous valley, and south near the border.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Morocco
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 24  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Souss-Massa-Drâa, Guelmim-Es Semara, Marrakesh-Tensift-Al Haouz, and Tadla-Azilal regions: coast south to Ifni, north to near Agadir, northeast to Marrakech outskirts, east to Drâa, including Sous valley, and south near the border..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Berber, Southern Shilha in Morocco Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.16 %)
0.20 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
99.80 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %
Primary Language Tachelhit (3,505,000 speakers)
Language Code shi   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Tachelhit (3,505,000 speakers)
Language Code shi   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Tachelhit

Primary Language:  Tachelhit

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1906-1925)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (2021)
Bible-Complete No
FCBH NT (www.bible.is) Online
YouVersion NT (www.bible.com) Online
Possible Print Bibles
Amazon
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Online Audio Scripture Talking Bibles
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Tachelhit Jesus Film Project
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Resources in Tachelhit language General / Other
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General Walk with the Prophets and meet the Messiah Al Massira
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Android Bible app: Tachelhit YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Tachelhit YouVersion Bibles
Photo Source ABS 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.



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