Introduction / History
The roots of the Jebala Arab go back to the original Arabs from the Arabian Desert. From there, their ancestors migrated into northern Africa. Although there was some mingling with the native Berbers of the area, the Arabs remained a distinct group.
In northern Morocco, there are two contrasting groups of Arabs: the rural dwellers and the city dwellers. Most of the city dwellers are descendants of the Moors; rural inhabitants are largely "Arabized" Berbers. Within the rural segment, there are several classes: nobles (allegedly descended from Mohammed), large land owners, peasants, and tenant farmers.
The Jebala Arab are one of the smaller groups of Arabs and compose only a tiny fraction of Morocco's population. Most of them live in the northern and western portions of the country, particularly near the tip that reaches northward toward Spain. Many live in or near the cities of Tangier and Tetouan, stretching south toward Fez.
What are their lives like?
Most Jebala Arab are rural peasants who farm for a living. Large amounts of barley and wheat are both produced and consumed. In areas where water is plentiful, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and peas are grown. Grapes, olives, oranges, peaches, and pears are also cultivated. The Jebala Arab also raise animals such as chickens, goats, and sheep. This provides eggs, milk, butter, and meat to supplement their diets. Little hunting or fishing occurs, but trading flourishes.
The coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea are increasingly becoming urbanized; however, many Jebala Arab still live in small towns and villages. Housing ranges from villas to slums, with slums being dominant. In the towns, rectangular homes made of adobe and stone line very narrow streets. In the villages, rectangular homes have frameworks of poles, walls of earth or dry stones, and roofs of thatch.
Jebala Arab dress is typical of that of other Arabs. Most men wear faded, brown, long-sleeved Moroccan tunics made of cotton. Cotton turbans or caps and small leather pouches complete the outfit. Originally, Jebala Arab women covered themselves from head to foot with a white woolen blanket known as the haik. Now, most wear woolen skirts, tied with two foot long, red wool belts.
In the villages, Jebala Arab women do the housework and care for the children, while the men work the fields, herd the animals, and provide protection. The women also perform some farm tasks, such as milking the cows, goats, and sheep and making butter. In the towns and cities, women do not work outside the home. Traditional roles still exist, but they are under tremendous influence from Western culture.
As a means of preserving their people and as an influence of their Muslim religion, Arabs practice endogamous marriages (marrying only within a small social circle). Inheritance is patrilineal (traced through the males), and rule is patriarchal (male dominated). As is typical of Arabs, life for the Jebala Arab is centered around important ceremonies and family. Major ceremonies include birth, marriage, and death, with the most elaborate being marriage.
What are their beliefs?
Virtually all Jebala Arab are Muslims. As such, they follow the teachings of the prophet Mohammed. In order to attain heaven, one must adhere to these teachings as 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?
Very few of the Jebala Arab have heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Even among the few who have heard, a profession of faith in Jesus may cost them their families, honor, jobs, and sometimes their lives. Evangelization among them will be challenging, due to the nature of the Arabs' lifestyle and belief system. Prayer remains the key to seeing them reached.
* Ask the Lord to open the doors of Morocco to the preaching of the Gospel.
* Pray for effective evangelistic tools to be translated for the Jebala Arab.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to supernaturally reveal Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life to the Jebala Arab.
* Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Jebala Arab towards the Gospel message.
* Pray that God will save key leaders among the Jebala Arab who will boldly declare the Lordship of Jesus.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Jebala Arab.