Brahui in Turkmenistan

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The exact origin of the term "Brahui" is unknown, but it is probably a derivative of the name "Abraham," distinguishing the Muslim Brahui from their Hindu Jat neighbors. Over three-quarters of the Brahui live in Pakistan, with a significant number in Afghanistan and much smaller groups in Iran and Turkmenistan. Brahui often move back and forth across these borders in search of adequate pastures and water for their flocks.

The Brahui speak a language of the same name, though many are bilingual, also speaking Balochi. Several other people groups speak Brahui as a secondary language, most notably the closely-related Baloch, the Jat, and the Sayyid. Like their counterparts in Pakistan, the Brahui in Iran are considered a Frontier People.

Historians differ as to the early history of the Brahui. More recently, the Brahui rose to power in the 1600s when they overthrew a dynasty of Hindu kings and established the Khanate of Kalat. Under Nasir Khan, the confederacy reached its peak in the 1700s. Today, the province and city of Kalat in Pakistan divide the Brahui between northern and southern tribes.

The Brahui people live mainly in Pakistan, but they also have a sizable number in Iran. There are also Brahui communities in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Over the last 150 years, the Brahui have largely shed their nomadic lifestyles and settled in large towns; today, only around 20% of the Brahui remain nomadic or semi-nomadic.

The nomadic Brahui migrate between the highlands and lowlands in search of proper temperatures, rainfall, and pasture for their flocks. Their lives revolve around the movement between various wells, which can be as much as 45 miles apart. Because winters in the highlands are icy, the Brahui live on the plains during the colder months. They return to the hills only after the lambs are born in February or March.

The Brahui in Turkmenistan are organized into groups of cooperating households called khalks. Each khalk combines its herds into one flock under the care of a professional resident shepherd. The resident shepherd controls up to 500 sheep. This procedure allows the men and their adult sons to work on local village farms for wheat. Having one resident shepherd also enables the men to take their herds to market for sale and to exchange information with other Brahui about the locations of various camps and flocks.

The Brahui marry within their extended families. Fathers prefer their sons to marry a cousin on the father's side, although occasionally families will consider the wishes of the couple. Men may take multiple wives, but the expenses incurred limit this practice. Divorce is rare among the Brahui. The ideal family comprises married sons who live with their parents. After the father's death, brothers continue to live together with a united family estate under the leadership of the eldest son.

The tribe is the basic political unit of the Brahui. Tribes base their membership primarily on political allegiance and secondarily on patrilineal descent (common male ancestors). The Brahui recognize 27 tribes, eight of which are considered "nuclear" tribes and nineteen "peripheral". Tribal leadership is primarily informal and is based on relationships among leaders at various levels.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Brahui in Turkmenistan practice Sunni Islam, often mixed with beliefs in evil spirits. They believe Islam offers guidance for the afterlife, but their daily lives require the help of the spirit world.

What Are Their Needs?

The Brahui in Turkmenistan have the New Testament in their language, as well as the JESUS Film and some gospel recordings. They need much intercession, additional evangelical materials, and added laborers. The nomadic Brahui need laborers who are willing and able to adapt to their harsh nomadic lifestyle. The Brahui need teachers and educational materials to improve their literacy and educational levels and create more economic opportunities.

Prayer Points

Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
Ask the Lord to send laborers with servants' hearts and adaptability to work among the Brahui in Turkmenistan.
Thank God for the availability of the New Testament and the JESUS Film in the Brahui language. Pray that God's Word will bear much fruit among the Brahui in Turkmenistan.
Ask the Holy Spirit to empower Brahui followers of Christ to live for Jesus and make disciples who will make other disciples.
Pray that God will raise up a movement of strong, multiplying local churches among the Brahui.

Scripture Prayers for the Brahui in Turkmenistan.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Brahui
People Name in Country Brahui
Pronunciation brah-WEE
Alternate Names Birahui; Brahudi; Kalat; Kur Galli; ब्रहुई
Population this Country 1,300
Population all Countries 686,000
Total Countries 4
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 10959
ROP3 Code 101653
ROP25 Code 301406
ROP25 Name Brahui
Country Turkmenistan
Region Asia, Central
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Turkmenistan
Region Asia, Central
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Map of Brahui in Turkmenistan Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.10 %)
0.11 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.90 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Brahui (1,300 speakers)
Language Code brh   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Sarawan
Dialect Code 8355   Global Recordings Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Brahui (1,300 speakers)
Language Code brh   Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect Sarawan
Dialect Code 8355   Global Recordings Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Brahui
Photo Source Akhtar Hassan - Wikimedia  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group location: Web research. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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