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Rwala Bedouin Pitek, Emily


The Rwala Bedouin are nomadic pastoralists who move throughout southeastern Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia to sustain herds through the varying seasons. Traditionally, the Bedouin grazing territory extended north towards Damascus (as far as Homs), west bounded by Wādi Sirhān (an arid 200 mile-long depression along the border of Saudi Arabai and Jordan), east towards the Iraqi border (as far as Karbalā), and south towards Sakāka (bounded by the Nafūd desert). More recently, “their relationship to land has been altered by the creation of nation-states in the 20th century and the establishment of national boundaries across their customary migration routes” (Young, 2009). This entry focuses on the Rwala Bedouin living in northern Saudi Arabia around the time of 1913. The Rwala Bedouin are Sunni Muslims, and believe in an omnipresent high god: In addition to Allâh are the inhabitants of the celestial world (malâjika) and the inhabitants of the spiritual earthly world (ˇginn), which were both created by Allâh. No full-time religious specialists are present. Individuals who are more knowledgeable or literate in Arabic might lead prayers, but each individual is ultimately responsible for their own religious practice. For the Rwala Bedouin, religion is bound up with all aspects of life. Consequently, this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with society at large.

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Attribution 4.0 International