“To be Somali is to be Muslim”
Among Somalis it is a commonly held idea that, “All Somalis are Muslim and if there are any Somalis who say otherwise they are only being paid to do so.” Even Somalis who are not particularly devout in their practice of religion will claim allegiance to Islam. Although there is a growing number of Somali young people being trained in Islamic theology, the main barrier to believing the Good News among the Somalis is not so much a theological barrier as it is the societal view that, “To be a Somali is to be a Muslim”. Many people in Muslim majority countries have similar ideas and attitudes.
On the other hand, all of the infighting and killing going on across clan lines among the Somalis in recent years has led to some questioning Islam. Some ask, “Why has Islam not kept us from killing each other?”. Other Somalis who have lived in Muslim societies, such as Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States, have experienced a certain amount of discrimination causing them to become more open to the Gospel. At the same time Somalis who were fairly nominal in their practice of Islam in Somalia (where they were “all Muslim”) often take more seriously their Islamic identity and practice when they come to the West. They do this as a means of coping with the feared loss of identity and contamination by the evil aspects of Western society.
* Pray that Somalis could see the true value of the kingdom (Mt.13:44-46). God’s forgiveness and abundant life in the Messiah are present realities of that kingdom.
* Pray that the Somalis who come to faith in the Messiah would not only be seen as rebels by their families. May they have opportunities to demonstrate that they can be culturally Somali and followers of Jesus at the same time.
Testimony from Somalia
Libaan spent years outside of Somalia in several different countries. Eventually, he received a portion from the Injil (Gospel). He was impressed by what he read. The text was beautiful with a deep message. After two more years he fully believed the message and entrusted his life to Isa Al Masih (Jesus the Messiah). Afterwards he experienced deep joy and peace about his future. God’s forgiveness filled him with hope! Libaan’s relatives heard that Libaan had become a Gal (Somali word for a pagan). Most Somalis can’t imagine that Christians may also be people who fear God, because they assume that Christians live a very worldly lifestyle (including drunkenness and immorality). Returning to see his family Libaan insisted that he not be called a Gal. In his view he was submitted to God, the Almighty. While his family received him well at first, later they rejected him. This experience broke his heart. Somali believers are few in number. They experience loneliness and rejection even from their most beloved family members. Only encouragement and comfort from God helps them to overcome.
Video: I Against My Brother – a Somali Story
One muslim woman’s journey of faith that challenges her ideas about what it means to be a Christian, and drives her to a decision that could cost her everything… (Editors Note: wonderful video!)
Background on Somalia (World Factbook)
The regime of Mohamed SIAD Barre was ousted in January 1991; turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy have followed in the years since. In May of 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool.
Beginning in 1993, a two-year UN humanitarian effort (primarily in the south) was able to alleviate famine conditions, but when the UN withdrew in 1995, having suffered significant casualties, order still had not been restored. Today the Horn of Africa has been hit by the worst drought in 60 years, with some areas on the verge of famine.
Economy of Somalia
Somalia’s economic fortunes are driven by its deep political divisions. The northwestern area has declared its independence as the “Republic of Somaliland”; the northeastern region of Puntland is a semi-autonomous state; and the remaining southern portion is riddled with the struggles of rival factions. Economic life continues, in part because much activity is local and relatively easily protected. Agriculture is the most important sector, with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and about 65% of export earnings, but Saudi Arabia’s ban on Somali livestock, due to Rift Valley Fever concerns, has severely hampered the sector. Nomads and semi-nomads, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia’s principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports. Somalia’s small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and sold as scrap metal. Statistics on Somalia’s GDP, growth, per capita income, and inflation should be viewed skeptically.
Statistics on Somalia
Population: 10,251,568 (July 2013 est.) World Rank #84
Life Expectancy at Birth: 51.19 years. World Rank #217
Ethnic groups: Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000)
Religions: Sunni Muslim
Languages: Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English
Literacy: 37.8% male: 49.7%, female: 25.8%
School life expectancy: 3 years
+ Gospel Language Link: Hear the Good News in the SOMALI language