There are 185,000 Christians in Oman. They make up a tiny minority – just 3.6 per cent of the total population.
What does persecution look like in Oman?
In Oman, all Omani citizens are assumed to be Muslim. Islam is the state religion, and legislation is mostly based on Islamic law. Although civil courts were established more than 20 years ago, the legal system still assumes all citizens are Muslims and makes legal rulings under that assumption.
The level of persecution for Christians in Oman depends on if they are migrant workers or if they are Omani.
Local converts from Islam are under the most pressure—their families, neighbours and broader society all press them to return to their national and tribal faith. Converts can be expelled from their families and lose their jobs. Their children can be taken from them, and families could strip away their inheritance rights.
Christians who have converted from Islam but who are not Omani face different levels of pressure based on the level of pressure in their home countries. Normally, they live in expatriate communities of people from the native land, so the local community makes a dramatic difference in the persecution that followers of Jesus face.
The government largely tolerates foreign Christian communities, but even so, greatly restricts and monitors their public gatherings. All Christian meetings are monitored for political statements and attendance by Omani citizens. Additionally, all religious organizations must be registered with authorities.
Omani converts are easily the most persecuted in Oman. They come under significant pressure in their private, family and community lives. This pressure slightly increases outside cities and in rural areas.
“Now that I follow Christ, I have discovered the scriptures that describe prayer as incense, like Psalm 141:2: ‘May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.’ When I read scriptures like this, I understand that prayer should be something that permeates my home like the incense I burn, which even wafts out onto the street. My neighbours may not see me burning the incense, but the fragrance often reaches them, and those who enter my home will walk away with the fragrance on them.”Suad
What has changed compared to last year?
Oman has fallen two spots on this year’s World Watch List, but persecution has actually risen in the small country in the Arabian Peninsula. Pressure in daily life for followers of Jesus—especially those who have converted from Islam—continues to be very high across the board. Oppression, discrimination and coercion are common, and even non-converts face daily discrimination and monitoring from the government and Omani society.
Open Doors raises prayer support for Christians and churches in Oman.
- In the Arabian Peninsula, fear is a barrier to the growth of Christ’s Church. There is a fear that if you doubt Islam, it will prevent you from entering heaven, as fear is seen as a form of unbelief in Islamic society. Then, there is the fear of what will happen if you start following Christ, the fear of trusting brothers and sisters, and the fear that one of your new fellow Christians will betray you. Please pray this bondage of fear will be broken.
- Many believers who convert from Islam live in secret and isolation from other followers of Jesus. Ask God to bring these isolated secret believers into fellowship with other believers. Pray for whole families to come to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- As the church of the Arabian Peninsula grows, many believers from a Muslim background seek to marry. These Christians desire to raise up families who love and honour God through Jesus. Pray for God to connect believers to one another for the purpose of marriage. Pray for God to raise up families who glorify His name.
God, we ask for the peace only You can give to fill your people living in Oman. We pray for Christians who have found Jesus even though they were raised in Islam. We pray You would protect them from their families and communities who may target them for their new faith in You. We ask You to guide Christians who are isolated in their communities to each other. Amen.