Although almost all Bedouin have followed Islam since early in its history, those who remained nomadic in the deserts of the Middle East found the religion barely accessible to them as an ongoing spiritual and psychological support, owing to their distance from Islamic religious instruction and institutions. For such support, they relied instead on primordial, often animistic, practices that had not changed much from the religious behavior of their pre-Islamic ancestors, and which could still be witnessed among pre-modern Bedouin down to the late 20th century. This chapter identifies the similarities between these ancient pre-Islamic religious practices and those of the biblical Israelites, focusing specifically on their common attitudes toward sacrifice, the sacredness of blood, the role of ethics, and respect for taboos, oaths, and vows.
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