Introduction / History Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula are the original Arabs. Their distinctive culture developed in the Arabian Desert from people who lived either as tribal nomads or town dwellers. From there, migrations began that led to the spread of the Arab world.
It appears that most of the Shukria Arabs live in central Sudan. Most live in an area bounded by the Blue Nile, Nile, and Atbara rivers. They live primarily in rural villages and settlements situated along small waterways. These villages are of two different types: large villages, and the other more popular style, villages strung out along the Nile River in a continuous chain of closely adjacent huts.
The Shukria are primarily Sunni Muslims. One of the smallest groups of Arabs in Sudan, the Shukria compose a very small percentage of Sudan's total population. They speak an Arabic dialect called Shukriyya, or Badawi.
What are their lives like? Life is centered around the village for most of the Shukria. Large villages in Sudan can have up to 3,000 people; whereas, small villages have only a few hundred. Villages have no formal physical structure. Most have only one shop, which supplies necessities such as sugar, coffee beans, spices, and kerosene. Most families live in compounds composed of one or more houses, all of which are enclosed by a wall of mud or thorns. The houses are usually single-storied, flat-roofed structures made of mud brick. Usually, there is only one interior room. Occasionally, homes will have a thatched roof extending out to make a porch. It is thought that some Shukria live in southern Sudan below the juncture of the Blue and White Niles, living in what is known as Sudanese style houses. These are round, one room huts with thatched, cone-shaped roofs. In some areas, the base is made of mud; in others, it is of thatch.
In Sudan, the great majority of the population is employed in agriculture, and it is the basis of the Shukria economy. The major crops grown include wheat, maize, vegetables, and coffee. Domestic animals are kept in small yards to supply daily needs of milk and eggs.
Social life is important to the Shukria. They typically share a daily coffee time by sitting on the floor and drinking coffee. Because wood is expensive and somewhat scarce, animal dung is used as fuel for cooking.
Typically, Arab groups practice endogamy (marriage within a small social circle). However, as tribal intermixture has increased in recent years, village loyalty has replaced tribal loyalty for many. As a result, village endogamy has become the norm. Polygyny (having more than one wife) is rare in Sudan; most Arabs there have only one wife. In the past, marriages were arranged, but, increasingly, individual choice is becoming acceptable. Inheritance is patrilineal (traced through the males). In this system, boys inherit more than girls. The value of young girls is seen in their ability to have children and bond families through marriage. Children are seen as the family's greatest asset.
What are their beliefs? Being Muslims, the Shukria follow the teachings of the prophet Mohammed. In order to attain heaven, one must adhere to these teachings, which are revealed in their holy book, the Koran. The Muslim religion is a religion of works based on five "pillars," or duties. These include affirming that there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet; praying five times a day; giving alms to the poor; fasting during the month of Ramadan; and making a pilgrimage to Mecca, if possible.
What are their needs? A profession of faith in Jesus may cost a Muslim his family, honor, job, and sometimes his life. Evangelization will be challenging due to the nature of the Arabs' lifestyle and belief system. Prayer remains the key to seeing them reached.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of Sudan's leaders to the preaching of the Gospel.
* Ask God to anoint Christian radio broadcasts that are being aired in their region.
* Pray that Jesus will reveal Himself as Lord to the Shukria.
* Pray that signs and wonders will follow the Shukria believers as they share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a vigorous Shukria church for the glory of His name!