Photo Source: Anonymous
Map Source: People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
|Online Audio NT:
The majority of Turkmen live in Turkmenistan, which is located in south Central Asia along the Caspian Sea. Many others live in the surrounding Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, with a smaller number in Azerbaijan. Their culture has been strongly influenced in the past by both the Turkic conquerors, who imposed their language on them, and the Arabs, who forced them to convert to Islam. Long ago, they developed a strong ethnic identity as "children of the desert" because they would plunder rich caravans of Persian traders.
In the 17th century, the Turkmen, or Trukhmens as they were called in Russia, migrated into the Caucasus. Turkmen use Russian as their literary language.
For centuries the Turkmen lived as nomadic herdsmen. Their society was characterized by a distinct economic division between the cattlemen and farmers. This division was present in almost every tribe, settlement, and family. However, seventy years of Soviet rule has virtually eliminated their nomadic lifestyle. The socialization of farmland changed their traditional settlement patterns, and movement into the cities weakened their customs and traditions.
Tribal loyalties continue to have a strong influence over the Turkmen, even in Azerbaijan. The largest descent group is the tribe, then the clan, then the family. Members of a tribe are bound by a strong sense of family loyalty. Tribal loyalty is reinforced by the fact that the Turkmen will only marry within their tribes. Arranged marriages are common, and families often intermarry to preserve wealth. Although there have been political and economic changes through the years, less changes have occurred in the areas of family life and religion.
The Turkmen are especially known for their trade in the bazaars, where many samples of their handicrafts can be found. Some of these include metal and wooden household utensils, tools, and furniture. Many have also supplemented their income by producing intricately designed carpets. Oil and gas production are major sources of wealth for the Turkmen.
Turkmen tend to be physically strong and easily able to endure harsh environments. They are characterized by their hospitality, sincerity, and trustworthiness; however, they are also known as being hot-headed and vengeful.
Men usually wear baggy trousers, coarse shirts, boots, and wool hats. Women love wearing jewelry, especially anklet and bracelets. They cover their heads with cloth, like turbans that are also adorned with jewelry.
The Turkmen people are Sunni Muslims who 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 Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.
In most of the Muslim world, common 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 they live on a daily basis. For that reason, some Muslims appease spirits using charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces. More orthodox Muslims consider these practices heretical and un-Islamic.
The Turkmen people in Azerbaijan need to be given the chance to hear the life-changing gospel so they can enjoy life to the full.
Pray for loving gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Turkmen people for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing the hearts of these people would be open and ready to follow him.
Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended families so the gospel will spread rapidly.
Pray for the spiritual lives of the Turkmen people to become fruitful so others will be drawn to Jesus Christ.