Introduction / History
The traditional homeland of the Bedouin Arabs is the Arabian Desert. Some Bedouin groups have migrated into the Negev Desert region of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and also Lebanon. Among these are the Levantine Bedouins, also known as the Eastern Bedawi Bedouins. The Bedouin fall into two basic social classes. One class is known as the "true" Bedouin, and they live as nomadic shepherds. The other group has embraced farming and is known as the fellahin. The fellahin lead a more settled life on the edge of the desert. They move into the desert during the rainy winter seasons and back to the desert's edge during the hot, dry summers. They speak Badawi, or as it is more commonly called, Bedouin Arabic. Among the Levantine Bedouins in Lebanon, almost none of them retain the nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors. The Levantine Bedouins also live in the West Bank, Jordan, and Syria, but they are especially numerous in Egypt.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Levantine Bedouins are not quite settled, and they are not quite nomadic. In both Lebanon and the West Bank, established governments have bulldozed some of their settlements, sometimes using the excuse that they don't have permits. When that happens, they are left with nowhere to go and their homes are in ruins. The material culture of the Bedouins is limited. Their tents are their main possessions, and animals are very important. Some earn a living by buying and selling sheep and goats. Although the Bedouins once considered it degrading to have manual labor jobs, this has changed somewhat in recent years. Due to the need for better health conditions, more money, and better living conditions, some have accepted wage-paying jobs. Even when they are settled, the Levantine Bedouins are less likely to have access to modern medicine than their Arab and Israeli counterparts, partly because they live in more remote places. Rightly or wrongly they are either forgotten or considered to be outside the sphere of the Lebanese government.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The overwhelming majority of the Bedouin people are Sunni Muslims. Islam is based on the teachings of the prophet, Mohammed. Muslis believe the Koran ("holy book" of Islam) was given to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. Islam is a religion of works that is centered on five basic "pillars."(1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime.
What Are Their Needs?
Evangelization efforts among the Bedouin are challenging due to the harsh and unsettled nature of their lifestyle. It is very difficult to find workers willing to reach out to Bedouins, especially those who still live nomadic lifestyles. But we need to remember that at one time Muslim missionaries reached them, so they are Islamic to this day. The Levantine Bedouins also need to be empowered. Since they usually live in remote areas, they seldom have access to modern medicine or schools.
Pray for the Levantine Bedouins to have their medical and educational needs met. Pray for them to have a spiritual hunger that will leave them open to depending on the only Savior. Pray for workers to go to the Levantine Bedouins in Lebanon and the West Bank. Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among the Levantine Bedouins.
Scripture Prayers for the Bedouin, Levantine in Lebanon.