Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
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|Online Audio NT:||No|
In the thirteenth century, Lar became a center of trade and commerce in southern Persia (today called Iran). Larestan was nearly always an obscure region, never becoming involved in the politics and conflicts of mainstream Persia. The Larestanis are of Persian descent, so they are closely related to the Iranian majority ethnically as well as linguistically. Though they have their own language, Lari, it is very similar to Farsi, Iran's trade language. Larestan is part of Iran's southwestern Fars Province. This region is characterized by valleys and low mountains. The town of Lar is the chief settlement of the Larestani people. However, since it is a poor region, many of the Larestanis have migrated to other parts of Iran for work.
Today, Larestan is one of the poorest regions of Iran. Just like their ancestors, many of today's Larestani are either farmers or shepherds. The farmers grow a variety of crops including cereals and citrus fruits. Since date palms grow in abundance, dates also are a major crop. Tobacco, cotton, mustard, and sesame are important cash crops. Most farmers depend entirely on rainfall to water their crops, but in a few areas, farmers practice irrigation. The nomadic shepherds raise animals such as camels, horses and sheep. The agricultural and nomadic economies have traditionally supported each other; farmers and shepherds trade their products. The nomadic way of life is disappearing because the government has encouraged nomads to settle as farmers. Larestani history tells us many of its people were traders. Today that influence still remains, for many Larestani are traders or peddlers. Others are employed in various industries, including the making of firearms, bricks and tiles and the weaving of cotton cloth and carpet. Except along the coast, there is little rain, and the weather is usually very hot. Trees such as tamarisks, acacias and conifers are common. A major problem in Larestan is water supply. Underground water sources are often too salty to drink; thus, the people have built cisterns in many places to catch rainwater. The Larestani have a rich literary heritage, with many writings have been published in the Lari language. A number of Larestani poets also have become well known throughout Iran, and their works are published in the Farsi language.
Unlike the Shia Iranian majority, the Larestani are usually Sunni. They believe that the one, 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 unlike their Shia counterparts. In most of the Muslim world, people depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.
The Larestani have great physical needs. Larestan is one of the most economically undeveloped regions of Iran, and many of the people struggle to earn a living. Larestan lacks a reliable supply of fresh water. This tends to hinder growth and development, especially regarding agriculture. The material needs of the Larestani are many, yet the spiritual needs are even greater. We don't know of a single follower of Christ among these Muslims.
Pray for the Larestani people to have hearts that are open to the abundant blessings of Jesus Christ. Pray for their families to prosper financially and spiritually as they experience a relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray for a movement to Christ among the Larestani that will spread joy, peace and salvation to other peoples in Iran.