The Tajiks of Central Asia are the oldest surviving people group in that region. The name "Tadzik" refers to the traditionally non-nomadic people who speak various forms of Persian. They were the heirs and transmitters of the Central Asian culture that spread from the Iranian Plateau into an area extending roughly from the Caspian Sea to the borders of China. From village settlements they grew many kinds of crops. The Tajiks were craftsmen and their towns laid along caravan routes linking Persia, China and India for international trade. Tajiks have repeatedly been invaded and conquered throughout their history which is one of the reasons they don't neatly fit in with any ethnic category. The armies of Alexander the Great, the Arabs in the seventh century, Genghis Khan, the Turks, the British, and the Russian empire have all had a profound impact on these people. In fact, the numerous invasions have been the major factor in the dispersion of Tajiks to other locations such as Iran, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Ukraine, and Russia. They are especially populous in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and their home country, Tajikistan.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Tajiks are a proud, diverse, surviving people, but are also recognized to be gracious and hospitable. They are hard workers and very family oriented. Like most peoples of Central Asia, the Tajiks can be either urban or rural. Those in rural areas live much as their ancestors once did, only with better technology. Tajik farmers still grow amazing crops, and many of them also herd livestock. Since Tajikistan gained their independence in 1991, there have been efforts to revive the Tajik language and culture among Tajiks in Tajikistan and beyond. Unfortunately, this is tied in with the Islamic religious system in the minds of some. The issue can also become politicized, especially in places where the Tajiks are an ethnic minority like Kazakhstan.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Tajiks are virtually all Muslim, with most being Sunni Muslims of the conservative Hanafite branch. Islam pervades all areas of life, including rituals relating to birth, puberty, marriage, and death. However, they also practice spiritism based on folk beliefs that include the use of amulets and charms. For some of them, especially those in urban areas, Islam has been weakened.
What Are Their Needs?
The Tajik people are unreached no matter where they live, and that includes Kazakhstan. Their traditional Islam has dulled their spirits to their need for forgiveness by a sin-free Savior. They have yet to have a movement to Christ among any Tajik population.
Pray for a people movement to Christ among the Tajiks to happen this decade. Pray for the Lord to bless the Tajiks in such a way they know that he is the only one worthy of their praise and devotion. Pray for workers to go to the Tajiks in Kazakhstan. Pray for the Tajiks, especially their elders, to have a hunger for truth and righteousness that will lead them to Jesus Christ.
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