Introduction / History The Southern Baluch of Oman are part of a larger Baluch community of several million. Their homeland lies in the southern areas of Baluchistan and Sind Provinces in southern Pakistan. They began migrating to the Arab lands 70 years ago when oil was discovered there. Their name, "Baluch," is shrouded in controversy. Some say it means "nomad," while others claim that it means "the cock's crest." Some have traced their origins to Nimrod, son of Cush (Noah's grandson). While some things are uncertain, we do know that they first moved to the region in the twelfth century. It was during the Mogul period that their territory became known as Baluchistan.
Despite the disrupted contact with their homeland, the Baluch in Oman have maintained their ethnic and linguistic distinctions. The various Baluch groups speak different languages, each with distinguishing traits. These languages have been classified as Eastern, Western, or Southern Baluchi.
What are their lives like? Arabs constitute the bulk of the population of Oman, but significant minorities of Indians, Pakistanis, and East Africans are found in the principal ports. The majority of the population is Ibadhi Muslim; Sunni Muslims form the other major religious group.
Arabic is the official language of Oman. Although the majority of the country's adult population was illiterate in 1970, the national education program has expanded rapidly since that time. New schools for children have been built, and adult literacy programs have been established.
Agriculture in Oman is dominated by the cultivation of export crops, primarily dates and limes. Some grains and vegetables are grown for local consumption, but most food must be imported.
The traditional Baluch economy is based on a combination of farming and semi-nomadic shepherding. While survival techniques may vary, each community tries to keep a wide variety of animals and grows many different crops.
Baluchmayar is the honor code by which the Baluch live. Principles such as extending hospitality and mercy, dealing with one another honestly, and offering refuge to strangers are very important. These beliefs are preserved through both songs and poetry. Children learn proper behavior by watching their elders and are taunted whenever they misbehave.
What are their beliefs? Ibadhi Islam is the state religion of Oman, but religious minorities have freedom of worship. However, no outreach to the unreached indigenous population is officially permitted. Although the Baluch are a scattered people, they all follow Islam. Most are Sunni Muslims, but underneath their Islamic faith is a strong undercurrent of animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits). Prior to the coming of Islam, the Baluch were probably followers of Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. Because of the mixture of old religions with Islam, the Baluch tend to be less devout than the more orthodox Arabs.
What are their needs? Oman is ruled by a sultan, who is advised by an appointed cabinet. The country has no constitution, legislature, or political parties. The judicial system is based on the law of Islam. A chief court and court of appeals are located in the city of Masqat.
In Oman, both the urban educated and the rural illiterates have had little exposure to the Gospel. In addition, according to Islamic law, a Muslim who professes faith in Jesus Christ can be put to death. That fact may partially explain the small number of Southern Baluch converts in Oman.
The New Testament and the Jesus film are available in the Baluchi language. However, if these tools are to produce lasting fruit, they must be accompanied by much prayer.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of Oman's leaders to the preaching of the Gospel.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Southern Baluch.
* Pray for many opportunities to show the Jesus film to the Southern Baluch.
* Pray that Jesus will reveal Himself as Lord to the Southern Baluch.
* Pray that God will greatly multiply the efforts of the Baluch believers as they share Christ with their friends and families.
* Ask God to raise up intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Baluch.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Southern Baluch.