Avar in Georgia

Avar
Photo Source:  Frontier Ventures 
People Name: Avar
Country: Georgia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 1,800
World Population: 893,700
Primary Language: Avar
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Caucasus
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The large majority of the Avar people live in the Dagestan Republic of Russia. They are a Northeastern Caucasian, Muslim people who make up the biggest ethnic group in Dagestan. The Avar adopted Islam in the 12th century and remain Muslim today. After a three decades long war, the Russian Empire conquered the Avar homeland in 1864. A small population of Avar left Dagestan and settled in northern Georgia. The New Testament and the JESUS Film are available in the Avar language. Avar adults in Georgia also speak Russian and Georgian.

What Are Their Lives Like?

An honor/shame code is deeply ingrained in the Avar cultural psyche. This is true throughout all 34 of the Dagestani people groups, but perhaps most pronounced in the Avar. Imam Shamil, arguably the most famous Dagestani in history, was Avar. He led the defense against the Russians of Dagestan and the Avar people. Honor was the leading theme of these dozens of battles. The Avar people (and all of Dagestan) were finally subdued by the Russian Empire in 1864. The code of honor among the Avar has never diminished. In Post-Soviet Dagestan, the Avar (and secondarily the Dargin) carry the primary political power in the Republic of Dagestan in southern Russia.

Avars call themselves "free mountaineers who inhabit the highest lands." The Avar language is spoken in more than 200 Avar towns and villages in the highest mountains of southern Dagestan. All of these people then utilize Russian as a second language. Russian is taught in the local schools. Large numbers of Avar people have down-migrated to cities and towns primarily for economic reasons. They have found work in factories, construction, trade and retail. Makhachkala is largest city in Dagestan. This city has the largest single ethnic representation of Avar. Some Avar have taken advantage of the Russian educational system to enter the professions.

The Avar carry many ancient cultural strengths, capped by their intense sense of honor; however, one strength not found in Avar culture is grace, forgiveness, tolerance, and mercy, has left the Avar (and all of the Dagestanis peoples) vulnerable to intense cycles of violence on many levels. Present day Dagestan is beset by increasing cycles of violence between Muslim power factions—squelching trade, tourism, and economic well-being.

The Avar who still live in rural villages grow grains, fruits and vegetables. Some men take care of sheep, goats and horses. These Avar cling to the ways of their ancestors.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Avar practice Sunni Islam. Sunnis believe that the supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.

The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.

Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.

What Are Their Needs?

The Avar of Georgia need to hear a clear presentation of the gospel of Christ. Only the peace and forgiveness of Christ can stop the constant feuding between the Avar clans and other peoples of the Caucasus area.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Avar of Georgia.

Pray for a spiritual hunger among the Avar that will be satisfied by none other than the only Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pray for a movement to Christ among Avar to spread far and wide.

For the light of Christ to shine upon the Avar of Georgia.

Text Source:   Joshua Project