Introduction / History
The term Uzbek, meaning "master of himself"—this accurately describes the people. Their love of freedom and sense of restlessness have often caused conflicts with the conquerors who have invaded their homeland, the west central Asian region known as Turkestan, throughout the centuries.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Uzbeks are a Turkic people group located primarily in Central Asia. There are large Uzbek communities in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as well as small communities in many other nations, including the United States.
Many are skillful bazaar artisans (silver and goldsmiths, leather workers, woodcarvers, and rug makers). The traditional social unit, which was based on kinship ties, is continuing to slowly break apart.
Traditionally, most Uzbeks were semi-nomadic shepherds; however, today, most of those living in Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan either farm or live and work in larger towns and cities. Among those who farm cotton, fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Their common staple food is rice and "osh" is the national dish cooked with rice. Pasta is also a common food item. It was probably brought to Central Asia hundreds of years ago by Italian or Chinese traders who traveled along the Silk Road. Two favorite pasta dishes are ash (a noodle dish sometimes mixed with yogurt) and ashak (an Uzbek-style ravioli).
The traditional dress of the Uzbeks is very distinctive. But today, most wear Western style clothing, especially those who live in large, previously Soviet cities.
Rural Uzbek men love to play buzkashi, a wild polo-like game with two teams on horseback. The game, which uses the headless carcass of a goat or calf as the "ball," can be very violent and go on for two or three days. The object of the game is to pick up the "ball" and carry it to a goal that may be as far as two miles away. The other team attempts to stop whoever has the animal with any means necessary, even using whips to attack him. Another popular past-time is to hunt wild birds with falcons.
The Uzbeks are not open to outside spiritual input.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The majority of the Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims. The role of the numerous holy places of pilgrimage in Kazakhstan is less significant than in other territories of Central Asia where the tribal structures are still strong. Pre-Islamic shamanism (belief that there is an unseen world of many gods, demons, and ancestral sprits) survives in an Islamic form. Today the shaman (priest or medicine man) is a practicing Muslim who combines shamanistic trances with reciting Islamic prayers, fasts, and other Islamic practices.
What Are Their Needs?
Pray for God to send a powerful hunger and thirst for righteousness that will only be satisfied by Jesus Christ.
There are no known followers of Christ among the Northern Uzbeks in Kazakhstan. Pray for God to bring forth His blessing, strengthening and healing weakening families and communities within the Uzbeks.
Ask him to cause his abundant life and love through Jesus to be widely embraced by these beloved families.
Scripture Prayers for the Uzbek, Northern in Kazakhstan.