Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
Sudanese Arabs make up the majority of the people living in the nation of Sudan in Africa. Islam came to the region in the 12th century and over time most of the population converted. The ancestry of the Sudanese Arabs is highly diverse as are their cultures. The main items that draw the Sudanese Arabs together is their Sudanese Arabic language and practice of Islam. Some Sudanese Arabs have left the poverty and turmoil of their homeland to seek better economic opportunities and freedom in the West. These new nations include Sweden.
What are their lives like?
Sweden has a developed economy and one of the highest living standards of the world. Health care and university education is funded by the government. The main sources of income are timber, iron ore, automobiles, hydropower, arms sales, and telecommunications. In their homeland, many Sudanese Arabs led a semi-nomadic life taking care of their animals. Much of the land was unsuitable for agriculture due to the lack of rain. Sudanese Arabs frequently take low paying jobs that the Swedish citizens distain such as jobs in sanitation, construction, factories, restaurants and as taxi drivers. As the Sudanese population benefits from Sweden's free educational system, they are gaining jobs which require more skills. Upon arrival in Sweden, the Sudanese must get a place to live, learn the Swedish language and put their children in schools. Becoming fluent in Swedish and becoming accustomed to the new Western culture may take years. The Sudanese people face a huge challenge in fitting into a modern European society and at the same time, retaining their Arab culture, religion and language. They speak their own language at home and Swedish on the job and with their neighbors. In traditional Sudanese families, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This pattern of behavior will change as Sudanese young people are educated in Swedish schools and culture. Swedish citizens normally have fewer children than the Muslims coming into the country. In Sudanese culture the more sons a father and mother have, the more they are blessed by Allah.
What are their beliefs?
The vast majority of Sudanese Arabs living in Sweden are Sunni Muslims. The Sudanese Arabs try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain paradise upon death. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. For many younger Sudanese Arabs their Islam has become more cultural than religious. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. Many Sudanese Arabs also celebrate the Christian holidays of Sweden.
What are their needs?
The Sudanese living in Sweden must come to understand that neither Islam nor material wealth will gain them the joy and peace of mind they seek. Jesus or Isa is much more than a prophet as He is described in the Koran. Only Jesus can forgive their sins and give them eternal life. Newly arrived Sudanese need help in learning Swedish, finding housing and employment and getting their children in schools.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of Sudanese Arabs towards Christians. Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to churches and mission agencies focusing on the Sudanese. Ask the Lord to send additional long-term laborers to live among the Sudanese in Sweden and share the love of Christ with them. Pray for effectiveness of the JESUS Film among the Sudanese Arabs. Pray for God to raise up Disciple Making Movement among the Sudanese Arabs in Sweden in this decade.
ReferencesView Arab, Sudanese in all countries.