Photo Source: Rod Waddington - Flickr Creative Commons
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|Country:||United Arab Emirates|
|Christian Adherents:||0.00 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|People Cluster:||Arab, Arabian|
|Affinity Bloc:||Arab World|
The Socotran live on the island of Socotra, which is located in shark-infested waters between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Socotra's name is traced back to Sanskrit (an ancient Indic language), meaning "island abode of bliss," and is mentioned in various legends. The inhabitants of Socotra differ from mainland Arabs, and are believed to be a mixture of Greek, Portuguese, African, and Arabs. Their language is a version of the ancient Himyarite language, which was spoken in pre-Islamic Arabia for many centuries. Socotra was long ruled by the Mahra sultans of southeastern Yemen. Their rule was interrupted by Portuguese occupation between 1507 and 1511. In 1834, the British tried, but failed, to purchase the island. However, in the 1880s, the sultan accepted British protection for the sultanate. The sultanate finally came to an end in 1967, when Socotra became part of Yemen.
Life is hard for those who live on Socotra Island. Those with resources are able to move to places with a stronger economy like the UAE where they can work in the oil fields, etc.
Today, the Socotran are almost completely Muslim. Approximately half belong to the Shia Zaydis sect, which is quite fanatical and rigid in its form. Most of the Zaydis are warriors and perceive all wars to be a manifestation of Jihad (a Muslim holy war or crusade against non Muslims). They take their name from Zayd, who first established a state south of the Caspian Sea, and died in 864 AD. Zaydis reject all forms of Sufism (a mystic sect of Islam). The remaining Socotran are either Sunni Muslim or (to a minor extent) Ismailis. Though their beliefs are based mainly in Islam they have, until recent years, been very low key on that. Influences from the mainland, which is more fundamental, have changed the way people practice their beliefs.
The Socotran people need to find ways to earn a better living. As things stand, they have few if any choices. Those who have family members affected by the civil war in Yemen have to deal with much stress in a place where they can do little or nothing about it.
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the UAE to minister life to the Socotran. Pray that gospel radio broadcasts will be made available in the Socotran language. Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil through worship and intercession. Ask the Lord to bring forth a strong and growing church planting movement for the glory of His name.