Uyghur in Russia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Uyghur are a Turkic people located primarily in northwestern China. Their origins can be traced back to Turkish nomads who lived in Siberia. They became independent of the Turks in 744 AD, but they were forced to leave their homeland in 840 AD. It was then that most of them immigrated to what is now western China, where in modern times they have resided in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China has chosen to use "Xinjiang" to specifically designate the Uyghur homeland. The Uyghur people, though, prefer to use "East Turkestan" as the name of the area where they have lived for centuries in NW China that was once part of the Turk's sphere of influence. Uyghur literally means "allied. " For centuries, the Uyghur were an important trade link between China and the rest of the world, especially along the Silk Road. They worked as caravan drivers transporting Chinese goods. The strategic locations of their homes allowed them to be the "middlemen" between the Orient and Europe. Today China essentially seeks to destroy the Uyghur culture, including the use of the Uyghur language and the practice of their Islamic faith. The goal seems to be the assimilation of Uyghurs into the Han Chinese-dominated society with no separate identity or culture, and with the Han Chinese in control. In years past, there have been extremist Uyghurs wanting to separate from China so they can pursue their culture and religious beliefs with greater freedom. The Chinese appear to have used incidents of Uyghur separatist violence as an excuse to carry out cultural genocide against the Uyghurs. Many Uyghurs have left China seeking better opportunities and more freedom for themselves and their children due to the systemic discrimination at the hands of the majority Han Chinese. This oppressive discrimination has become more severe in recent decades given the Chinese government's plan to gain greater control over the land and resources of Xinjiang. You can find significant diasporic communities of Uyghurs in the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Smaller communities live in other countries, including Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United States. In addition to the challenges of adjusting to life in a different country, these Uyghur refugees also struggle with trauma over the condition of loved ones left behind in China.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Uyghurs in Russia have been heavily influenced by Russians as well as other Central Asian peoples. Most are bilingual and today, few of them speak Uyghur as their first language. Regarding the Uyghurs in Russia, for many years there have been communities of Uyghur people living on either side of the Chinese-Russian border. One major reason that Uyghurs go to Russia is to improve their education through attending post-secondary institutions. These Uyghur students resemble non-Uyghur students at Russian schools. Like other Uyghur students outside China, though, these students face the possibility that the Chinese government may demand they return home. Unfortunately, the Russian government has been willing to do that for the Chinese. An extra severe burden comes from the fear of what the Chinese government might do to their Uyghur relatives back in Xinjiang. Traditionally, the Uyghurs were shepherds and oasis farmers. Today, however, many in Russia are involved in businesses that include manufacturing, mining, oil drilling, trading, and transportation. Their diet has been greatly influenced by their rural past. They usually eat meat at every meal as well as dairy products. The Uyghurs love to drink tea with milk. Their staple foods also include noodles and round bread made from maize or wheat flour. Singing and dancing are important social activities among the Uyghurs. They play stringed, wind, and percussion instruments. The Mukam ("Twelve Great Melodies") have been part of Uyghur culture for many centuries. In villages, Uyghur men have traditionally worn long robes with distinctive collars. The robes are fastened on the right side and have long waist bands. The village women have worn loose-sleeved, one-piece dresses covered with black vests. Today, however, it is becoming more common for those living in Russian cities to wear western style clothing.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Islam has been the dominant religion of the Uyghur since the tenth century. In the past, they were Muslim in name only; however, there is some renewal that is currently taking place among them as they face today's serious challenges.

What Are Their Needs?

The eyes of the Uyghurs need to be opened to the saving truth of Jesus Christ. They need to experience the love and grace of the one, true God. This is also the best way for the Uyghur people to flourish as a unique culture under the God who loves all the peoples of the world. The combination of their strong Uyghur Islamic faith—especially in rural areas—and their struggles to protect their unique culture have caused the Uyghur people to keep out other religious and cultural beliefs they view as a potential threat to their unity and viability. The severe Chinese persecution has intensified this protection of their faith and culture. At the same time, this opens the possibilities of Christ followers coming alongside Uyghur people and stand with them in the midst of their fears and trauma.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Uyghur in Russia.

Pray the Lord raises up strong local churches among the Uyghurs, which lead to Disciple Making Movements. Pray for spiritual hunger among the Uyghurs in Russia that will open them to the only savior of mankind. Pray for Holy Spirit led workers to go to the Uyghurs in Russia.

Profile Source:   JoshuaProject  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-03-30
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-03-05
People Name General Uyghur
People Name in Country Uyghur
Pronunciation WEE-gur
Population this Country 3,800
Population all Countries 12,453,000
Total Countries 17
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Huihe; Kashgar; Kashgar Turki; Kashgar-Yarkand; Taranchi; Uigher; Uighuir; Uighur; Uiguir; Uigur; Uygher; Weiwuer; Yuanhe; उयघुर
People ID 15755
ROP3 Code 110469
Country Russia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country Russia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

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Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Uyghur (3,800 speakers)
Language Code uig   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Uyghur (3,800 speakers)
Language Code uig   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Uyghur

Primary Language:  Uyghur

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1898-1995)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1914-2005)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1950-2018)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Audio Recordings Xush Hewer Uyghur audio Bible
Film / Video Beware!
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Video / Animation
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Uyghur
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Film / Video More Than Dreams-Ali
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video The Prophets' Story
General Got Questions Ministry
Text / Printed Matter Bible: ھازىرقى زامام ئۇيغۇرچە تەرجىمىسى
Text / Printed Matter Download scripture in this language
Text / Printed Matter Muqeddes Kitab
Text / Printed Matter Online Bible text (Scripture Earth)
Text / Printed Matter Uyghurche Muqeddes Kitab Jemiyiti
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
Other Christian
Roman Catholic
Photo Source EnricX  Creative Commons 
Profile Source JoshuaProject  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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