Muslim Men in Somalia


Hard realities for Muslim men and families

| ·Total Somali population: 9,119,000 (July 2007 est.)

Somalia has suffered from a complicated civil war for over 20 years. Traditionally, Somali men were the providers of their families basic needs. However, when the war erupted there were several hundred thousand deaths. Thousands more were maimed or exiled. Over the past decade, more than half a million people fled the war – many of them men. This has devastated the family structure and left many families fatherless. The involvement in fighting, the trauma and the life in refugee camps have destroyed the vitality, vision and hope of Somali men.


Flag of Somalia


Map of Somalia

Some men have found a way to escape from the harsh realities of Somali life. Khat (Catha Edulis) is an evergreen shrub that grows in the highlands of Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen. Chewing the leaves of khat has a stimulating, narcotic effect, and like most drugs, khat is addictive and must be consumed daily. The majority of Somali men are addicted to khat, which has a huge influence on their life in Somali society. Men buy their khat at the market and then in the afternoon and evening, they meet with friends, drink tea and chew khat. Kept awake by the drug, men often come home late. Many children grow up seeing little of their fathers. The women are left responsible for the household chores, raising the children and providing for the family. Khat chewers suffer from various health problems, yet those who really suffer the most are their families. Men often spend most of their money on khat, yet their families go hungry.

Prayer starters:

* Pray that the bondage of khat would be broken. Social pressure encouraging men to chew is huge. Strength, wisdom and courage are needed to break this national addiction.

* Pray for wives and children to know how to cope with the absence of men.

* Pray that Somali society will experience God’s healing of families and come to know true fatherhood and the Father in Heaven.

About Khat

Somali: Jaad, also known as qat, qaat, quat, gat, chat, chad, chaad and miraa, is a flowering plant native to tropical East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Khat contains the alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant which causes excitement, loss of appetite, and euphoria. In 1980 the World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence, and the plant has been targeted by anti-drug organizations. It is a controlled / illegal substance in many countries, while being allowed or tolerated in others.

Both of khat’s major active ingredients — cathine and cathinone — are phenylalkylamines, meaning they are in the same class of chemicals as amphetamines. In fact, cathinone and cathine have a very similar molecular structure to amphetamine.

Researchers estimate that families spend an average of 17% of their income on khat, the real figure probably much more. The larger economic problems come from the time and resources used to both produce khat and consume it.

Life in Somalia

Traditionally 90% of the Somali population lived a nomadic pastoralist life (this has fallen to about 60% at present). Groups of men travelled through the desert with their camels and livestock. While traveling, they had to endure the hot sun, walk for months across vast distances and protect their animals from wild beasts. Somali men often possess great courage and boldness. Being a warrior has traditionally been one of their greatest ideals. It is in this setting that the Somali oral culture developed. Somali men are known for being poets and storytellers and they love to debate. These cultural aspects continue to be highly valued even in the growing urban centers.

Video: Somalia: Life in Mogadishu [2:14]


  1. Malota Maga says:

    I am a theology student at EGST and recently working my research on khat. Why chewing khat is often related with Muslims? This is my question throughout my life.

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