The Bedouin are an ethnic group found across North Africa, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and the Arabic Peninsula. Different groups of them are found in different parts of it, and are primarily Muslim with a few Christian families. This plays a major part in their outlook.   Each Bedouin male of adult age is expected to be armed and ready to fight, usually with some type of sabre and/or lance to allow fighting from camelback. They also teach sword dances and recite poetry for entertainment.   Bedouins regularly raid settlements, caravans, and other tribes and seen as a good test of their military prowess. This is called Ghazw in Arabic, and allows them to get goods to either trade or to help in their survival in the desert.   The Bedouin are an exceptionally old traditional peoples starting as goat herders, agriculture, and fishing as far back as 6000 BC, from the Syrian Steppes. They set up networks of routes, and settlements. Along with raiding, they regularly would demand tribute from other tribes, internally & externally, to avoid being raided.  The Yemenis & the Qaysis are the oldest two established groups, and hail primarily from the Arabic Peninsula. Their livestock are kept in Dirahs and they regularly live in black goat hair tents referred to as Bayt al-Shar. They speak Arabic, or at least a derivative of it.


Shared customary codes and values

The family / clan / tribe comes first above all else.

Funerary and Memorial customs

At the end of life, the Muslim Bedouin are meant to have the highest ranking male family member whisper in the person's ear: "There is no Allah but the One True Allah, and Mohammed is his Prophet." The remains are to be washed, wrapped in cloth and buried within 24 hours. The body is not to be cut up or desecrated for any reason, with the belief that it will return on Judgement Day. Christian Bedouin believe similarly except hey look to use the Last Rites or similar.

Common Taboos

The eating of pork or the drinking of alcohol is classed as haram (forbidden) in the majority Muslim Bedouin, as is scavenging animal carcasses. The latter two not so much in Christian tribes, though they are in a minority. Turning away anyone in need of help is usually forbidden too, though kept at arms length, as well as insulting any guests.   Tattooing is also strictly banned.


Gender Ideals

Males and females are generally separate in society. The women and girls are primarily required to be modest, looking after the family and household. Men & boys are expected to look after the camels & goats, along with protecting the community, and carrying out any business with outsiders & other tribes.

Relationship Ideals

Family & clan are the most important aspect to their culture. They have a saying that is: "I and my brother are against my cousin. I and my cousin is against the stranger." They can be insular viewing extended family as the most important aspect. With them having connections to travelling distances in the desert kin is more important than outsiders, as they can trust their kin to help if and when needed for simple survival.
Related Organizations

Cover image: by Nakkas Osman - Bilkent University


Please Login in order to comment!