Introduction / History
On the southern edge of the West African Sahara live the Moors of Niger. Niger is a landlocked country surrounded by Chad, Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali. It is a tropical country with mountains and plains. A chain of arid plateaus can be found in the drought-prone Sahel region, which parallels the southern frontier. Along the Niger River and the Sahel are open grasslands. Unfortunately, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, heavily dependent on foreign aid.
The Moors of Niger are a nomadic people who sometimes fight over watering and grazing rights, particularly during the dry season. Subsistence farming and animal production are their main sources of income.
The largest uranium reserves in the world are located in Niger, and many Moors occasionally work in the extraction of uranium. The extraction and exporting of uranium and other minerals are the country's largest sources of income.
What are their lives like?
The Moors are a nomadic tribe who live in tents made of woven wool. Their basic family unit is the "tent." They are very proud of the fact that their origin can be traced to the Arabs.
Marriages among the Moors are pre-arranged by the parents, with the groom's father requesting the hand of the bride. A Moorish woman never marries against her family's wishes. She is given a dowry (money or property) upon marriage. After the wedding, the groom never enters the tent of his in-laws, nor does he share their table or look them in the eye when talking. The parents visit their daughter only when their son-in-law is absent. Sadly, divorce is common among the Moors.
When Moors from different nomadic tribes meet, several rigid customs are followed. These customs, which are a consequence of the long history of raids in the desert, are used by the groups to regulate the meeting. For example, when two people are talking, several mannerisms are used to indicate their involvement in the conversation. If a Moor blows on his hand during a conversation, it means he does not believe anything that is being said. If he puts his finger in his ear, it means that he is not interested in what is being said.
Moorish society is organized into successive ranks of tribes, clans, sub-clans, and family or "tent" units. There are four basic class divisions that are based on heritage, race, and occupation. The White Moor form the two upper classes, while the Black Moor make up the two lower classes. This division is based solely on parental descent, not on skin color. For example, if a father is considered white, his children, despite the darkness of their skin or the social condition of their mother, inherit the status of "White Moor."
A White Moor is ethnologically defined as "a nomad of Berber-Arab origin." They represent the two upper classes of Moorish society: the warriors and the religious leaders. The Black Moor make up the two lower classes. They live in a world of their own-usually one of slavery. There are two types of Black Moor: the 'abd-le-tilad (slaves who belong to the tents and are part of the family), and the 'abd-le-tarbiya (acquired slaves). Even though slavery is now against the law, it continues to be a fundamental part of the social and economic structure of the Moors.
What are their beliefs?
Virtually all of the Moors of Niger are Malikite Muslims. They faithfully adhere to the laws of the Koran and basic Islamic practices, which include praying, fasting, and giving alms to the poor. The Moor acknowledge two main Islamic brotherhoods: the Qadiri and the Tajani. The Qadiri is the most widespread group and is characterized by many secret societies that are saturated with mysticism.
What are their needs?
The Moors need to experience the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Much intercession is needed to reach them with the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Niger and share Christ with the Moors.
* Ask God to give the small number of Moor believers boldness to share the love of Christ with their own people.
* Pray for the effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Moors.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Moors towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will raise up teams of intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for these precious people.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Moor.