Introduction / History
The Comorians live on a group of islands in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique, Africa. The Comoros chain consists of four main islands plus several smaller ones. Comorian communities can be found on all of the islands in the chain, as well as in Madagascar. The different Comorian groups take their name from the particular island on which they live.
The official name of the islands is the Federal and Islamic Republic of the Comoros. Until 1975, all the islands belonged to France. At that time, the three largest islands declared their independence but Mayotte, the fourth island, chose to remain a French possession.
The Comorians are a blend of settlers from the past: Iranian traders, mainland Africans, Arabs, and Malagasy. Because of poor economic conditions, the islands receive monetary and technical support from other countries.
What are their lives like?
Most of the islanders work as farmers or fishermen, while a few raise cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. A small number work in industry or in jobs relating to tourism. The Comoros Islands are very poor and underdeveloped.
The basic diet of the Comorian people consists of rice, potatoes, corn, fish, coconuts, and bananas. Other crops are sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, and pineapples.
Although young people wear Western style clothing, traditional clothing is still common among the adults. In town, a Comorian man will typically wear a white cotton garment and a knee-length shirt, sometimes with a white jacket and a white skull cap. When he goes out of town, he wears a long cloth sarong (colorful skirt). Most women wear long, colorful cotton dresses, with bright shawls as face coverings. Other women prefer wearing black robes that cover their heads.
Polygamy is an acceptable practice among the Comorian people. Children are expected to help with the farming, fishing, and caring of the animals. For recreation, the Comorian enjoy dancing, singing, and playing instruments, especially horns and drums.
Between a quarter and one-third of all the Comorian live in cities; whether in rural or urban areas, however, housing on the island is generally of poor quality. Although French and Arabic are the official languages of the islands, the Comorians speak their own Swahili dialect.
What are their beliefs?
The Comorians are Shafiite Muslims, yet mosque attendance is very low. Mixed with their Islamic practices is a strong involvement in occultism and spirit possession.
Traditionally, the Comorians have been very resistant to any kind of religious change; however, they are gradually becoming more receptive to other ideas.
What are their needs?
The physical needs of the Comorians are numerous. Major problems on the Comoros Islands include poverty, disease, and hunger. Educational levels are low and only slightly less than half of the population is literate.
There is a shortage of hospitals and doctors, and many people suffer from illnesses and chronic malnutrition. Because of a poor water supply, good hygiene is lacking. Such problems contribute to a high death rate, especially among young children.
The spiritual needs of the Comorians are even greater than their physical needs. Though freedom of religion exists on the islands, evangelism is not well received by these Shafiite Muslims. Their commitment to Islam, coupled with involvement in occult practices, has made these people difficult to reach.
Christian resources are limited. Consequently, the number of Comorian believers remains small. Prayer is the first step toward seeing these people reached with the Good News that Jesus Christ came to set them free.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to the Comoros Islands and share the Gospel with the Comorians.
* Ask the Lord to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Comorians.
* Pray that God will give the small number of Comorian believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask the Lord to send Christian teachers and medical teams to work among the Comorians.
* Ask God to raise an army of intercessors for the Comorians.