THE AFRO - ARABS OF COMOROS
Introduction / History
The Comoro Islands have been given the unfortunate nickname of the “coup, coup islands.” The name comes from the many military coups that the island nation has experienced since its independence from France in 1975. One of the four major islands of the Comoros, Mayotte, voted to remain a French protectorate. The Comoros have been a stop on the trade routes between Africa and Asia for over six centuries. Some Arab merchants and sailors decided to stay in the Comoros and married local women. The primary language of the Arabs is Comorian Maore. They also may speak Arabic. They can communicate with their relatives and read the Koran. Educated Arabs speak French and English. The JESUS Film is available in Maore.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Most Arabs in the Comoros fit into the middle class as shop and restaurant owners. Fishing is the livelihood of many. Some Arabs are wealthy landowners of spice plantations. The main source of income for the islands is the growing of the plants that give us vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg. The ylang ylang plant yields an expensive oil used in perfume making and an herbal medicine.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Islam is the official religion of the Comoros. The population was converted to Islam by Arab traders and missionaries in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Comorian people are Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. They try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. 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. The Islam of the many Comorians is mixed with folk religion and animism. The majority of the Comorians have never heard a clear presentation of the gospel. There are few if any believers among the Comorian Arabs.