Cyrenaican Arab in Libya

The Arab, Cyrenaican have only been reported in Libya
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya and also an ex-province or state of the country (alongside Tripolitania and Fezzan) in an old system of administrative divisions which was abolished in the early 1970s in favor of a system of smaller-size municipalities or baladiyat. Prior to the abolishment of the old system, under the administrative divisions of Libya during the Kingdom, Italian or Ottoman eras, Cyrenaica represented the eastern half of Libya (the western half being shared by Tripolitania and Fezzan). The name Cyrenaica is obviously derived from Cyrene, a historical city around which the region has evolved. Kufra, a vital oasis for overland travel, is situated amid the desert southern part of the ex-province of Cyrenaica. Cyrenaica was a Roman province on the northern coast of Africa between Egypt and Numidia and also included the island of Rhodes; In antiquity, it was heavily colonized by Greeks. That area is now the eastern part of the Mediterranean coast of Libya. Conquered by Alexander the Great, Cyrenaica passed to the dynasty of the Lagids, which is better known as the Ptolemaic Dynasty. It briefly gained independence under Magas, the stepson of Ptolemy I Soter, but was reabsorbed into the Ptolemaic empire after the death of Magas. It was separated from the main kingdom by Ptolemy VIII and given to his son Ptolemy Apion, who, dying without heirs in 96 BC, bequeathed it to the Roman Republic. It became a senatorial province in 20 BC. Although there is confusion as to the exact territory Rome inherited, by 78 BC, this land was organized as an administrative province with Crete. The Tetrarchy reforms of Diocletian in 296 changed all of the administrative structure. Cyrenaica was split into two provinces, until later when the Byzantine Empire came to power. Cyrenaica was conquered by the Islamic Arabs, and became known as Barka, after its new provincial capital, the ancient Barka. Later, it was annexed to Egypt, although still under the same name. Ultimately, it was annexed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1517 where it remained for about 400 years. The Italians occupied Cyrenaica during the Italo-Turkish War in 1911. On January 1, 1934, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan were united as the Italian colony of Libya. These three had little in common historically. Though Libya has been an independent nation since 1951, there is ongoing fighting that threatens to splinter the country. Cyrenaica declared their independence the year after strongman Muammar Gaddafi was killed, and the unity of Libya is still in question. Cyrenaica can easily become a separate nation in the years to come. The Cyrenaica people live mainly in the eastern half of Libya.

What Are Their Lives Like?

We know very little about the daily lifestyle of the Cyrenaican Arabs. Most likely they will continue to live in danger until there is peace in Libya. However, there are many forests on the northern slopes of Cyrenaica, and the soil in these areas produces abundant barley harvests. There are also wide expanses of grassy hillsides and valleys dotted with trees. This is where Bedouins pasture their flocks and herds. The temperature in the area is mild, with adequate rainfall, but there is a drought about every five years. This is always potentially hazardous to the well-being of the Cyrenaican people, as many of them farm the land and/or feed their livestock from the produce of the land.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Cyrenaican Arabs 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 for a lasting and just peace in Libya. Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among the Cyrenaican Arabs. Pray for the Cyrenaican Arabs to have the spiritual desire to look to the cross and the empty grave for answers. Pray for the Lord to provide a way for them to find the only Savior.

Scripture Prayers for the Arab, Cyrenaican in Libya.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  
Expanded PDF Profile

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2014-12-24
Global Prayer Digest: 2016-12-23
Global Prayer Digest: 2017-12-07
Global Prayer Digest: 2019-12-07
People Name General Arab, Cyrenaican
People Name in Country Arab, Cyrenaican
Natural Name Cyrenaican Arab
Pronunciation sigh-rah-NAY-ken
Population this Country 1,444,000
Population all Countries 1,444,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 29
Alternate Names Arab, Libyan; Cyernaican Arab; Cyrenaican Arab
People ID 11454
ROP3 Code 102342
Country Libya
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 4  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Widespread, especially in the north.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Libya
Region Africa, North and Middle East
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 4  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Widespread, especially in the north..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Arab, Cyrenaican in Libya Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Arabic, Libyan Spoken (1,444,000 speakers)
Language Code ayl   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Eastern Libyan Arabic
Dialect Code 7119   Global Recordings Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Arabic, Libyan Spoken (1,444,000 speakers)
Language Code ayl   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Eastern Libyan Arabic
Dialect Code 7119   Global Recordings Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Arabic, Libyan Spoken

Primary Language:  Arabic, Libyan Spoken

Bible Translation Status:  Unspecified

Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Arabic Bible Online
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Arabic, Libyan Spoken
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime
Film / Video The Prophets' Story
Film / Video The Prophets' Story
General Gospel resources links
Text / Printed Matter Tools for faith conversations
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.03 %)
0.10 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.90 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.4 %
45.8 %
Other Christian
1.8 %
5.0 %
Roman Catholic
47.0 %
Photo Source ليبي_صح - Wikimedia  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more