Introduction / History
The ancestors of the Moroccan Arabs originated in the Arabian Desert. From there, they gradually migrated into northern Africa. Over the centuries, the Arabs have become somewhat intermingled with the Berbers, and this has influenced their way of life. Nevertheless, the two groups have remained distinct.
Socially, there are two contrasting groups of Moroccan Arabs: those living in the cities and those in the rural areas. Most of the city-dwellers descended from the Moors; whereas, the rural-dwellers are considered "Arabized Berbers." Among the rural Arab, several classes have formed, which include nobles (alleged descendants of Mohammed), large landowners, peasants, and tenant farmers. The Moroccan Arab live mainly in the north and west portions of Morocco. However, they prefer living in the more fertile regions near the Mediterranean Sea. The Moroccan Arab make up less than half of the country's population. Their language is called Maghribi.
What are their lives like?
Most Moroccan Arab are rural peasants. Therefore, farming has become their way of life. Because the Arab are fond of grains, they produce and consume large amounts of barley, wheat, and cereals. In areas where water is plentiful, they grow other staples such as tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and peas. An abundance of grapes, olives, oranges, peaches, and pears are also grown.
Most of the rural peasants raise chickens, goats, and sheep. This supplemental food source provides milk, eggs, butter, and meat. Although they do very little hunting and fishing, trade with other tribes has flourished.
The coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea are becoming increasingly more urbanized. However, many Moroccan Arab still live in small towns and villages. A few live in expensive villas, while most live in slums. The towns are devoted mainly to commerce. Rural towns are surrounded by walls with towers and fortified gates. The homes, which line the narrow streets, are usually rectangular and made of adobe and stone. They typically have interior courtyards and flat roofs. In the mountain villages, homes are rectangular with a framework of poles, walls of earth or dry stones, and thatched roofs. These homes are portable and can easily be moved during nomadic seasons.
Arab society is both patriarchal (male-dominated) and patrilineal, which means that the male lineage is given more honor and all inheritances are passed down through the males. The Moroccan Arab, like most other Arabs, wear cotton turbans or caps with djellabas, which are long sleeved cotton tunics.
Whether in towns or villages, the women and men have distinct jobs. In the villages, men work the fields, herd the animals, and provide protection, while the women do housework and care for the children. Village women have a few agricultural tasks as well: milking the cows, goats, and sheep, and making butter. In the cities, women never work outside their homes. Traditional roles exist, but are being influenced by western culture.
Life for the Moroccan Arab centers on important ceremonies, such as birth, marriage, and death. A boy also celebrates his first haircut and circumcision. The most elaborate of all ceremonies is the wedding. To preserve their people, the Moroccan Arab only marry those inside their own group.
What are their beliefs?
Virtually all of the Moroccan Arabs in this region are Muslim. They adhere to the Koran and observe the five basic "pillars" of Islam, which include affirming that there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet; praying five times a day while facing Mecca; giving alms generously; fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year; and trying to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca.
What are their needs?
According to Islamic law, Muslims who profess faith in Jesus Christ can be put to death. Perhaps this explains why few of the Moroccan Arab in this region are Christian. They are in need of continuous prayer in order to break the strongholds that are keeping them bound.
* Pray that the Lord will grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies currently focusing on the Moroccan Arab.
* Ask God to give the Moroccan Arab believers boldness to share the love of Christ with their friends and families.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Moroccan Arab toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will call forth teams of intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Moroccan Arab.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Moroccan Arab of Morocco.