Introduction / History Rather than calling themselves "Berbers," they refer to themselves by the name of their particular tribe. Berbers also use the overarching term "Imazighen." The arrival of Arabs in Morocco in the seventh century resulted in the gradual conversion of some Berbers to Islam. It was not until the thirteenth century, however, with the arrival of large numbers of Arabs from the Middle East, that the majority of Berbers accepted Islam, learned the Arabic language, and were assimilated into Arab culture. There are many Berber tribes; among them are the Atta. This tribe was noted for conducting raids on neighboring peoples as far east as what is now Algeria. The now live in southeastern Morocco.
What are their lives like? Saharan Berbers like the Atta tribe have long been nomads, but in recent years they have become more settled. Governments impose their will on Berber peoples, restrict their movement, and force them to settle. The various Berber tribes in Morocco are leaving their mark on the language and culture of this Northwest African country, largely because of their large population. Berbers are in the majority, and their language has affected the Arabic dialect of Morocco.
What are their beliefs? The Berbers are Sunni Muslims who believe that the One, Supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship. 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. Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will. In most of the Muslim world, people depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.
Prayer Points Pray the Berbers of Morocco will have access to the good news of Jesus in many forms, hearing clearly who he is, in their mother tongue. Pray this will be the decade of harvest among Berber peoples in Morocco. Pray for the gospel to spread from family to family and village to village. Pray for the Lord to show himself powerful among the Atta Berber people through healing those in physical and spiritual need. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.
Widespread, especially Middle and east High Atlas Mountains, adjacent valleys to Taza, Rabat area; 1,200,000 in rural areas between Taza, Khemisset, Azilal, Errachidia; 100,000 outside the language area. (Source: Ethnologue 2016)