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|Baraba Tatar, Siberian
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The Baraba Tatars live in southwestern Siberia east of the Ural Mountains and north of Kazakhstan. The people of the south Siberia came under the control of the Mongols in the 13th century. As a result, they accepted and took on many aspects of the Mongol culture. The Tatars of the region accepted Islam in the 14th century. The Russian Empire gained control over the southwest Siberia in the late 16th century. The Baraba Tatars are a sub-group of the Siberian Tatars. The Baraba Tatars speak their own dialect of the Tatar language. The Siberian Tatars receive their education in Russian language schools. However, they have maintained the use of their own language and belief in Islam to the present day. The Siberian Tatar language was put into Cyrillic script in 1939. It is unknown whether any Scripture or Christian materials have been translated into Siberian Baraba Tatar.
In traditional Tatar culture, the men fished, hunted and raised animals for their livelihood. Women took care of children and raised crops of barley, potatoes and peas during the short summers. Since the founding of the Soviet Union in the early 20th century, the Siberian Tatars have been "Russified." They were incorporated into the dominant Russian culture. The Tatars learned to speak Russian, joined the Red Army, worked in Soviet factories and on Soviet collective farms. Stalin viewed the Tatars with suspicion because of their practice of Islam. Many Siberian Tartars were forcibly removed from their homeland to other parts of the Soviet Union. A number of Siberian Tatars won accolades as military heroes in WW2. Horses remain a big part of Tatar society. The Tartars still use horses for transportation and recreation. Meat and dairy products are a major part of the Tartars' diet. During their Tatar festivals, they wear colorful traditional clothing, dance and sing Tatar epic songs.
The vast portion of the Siberian Tartars claim to be Sunni Muslim. A small group say they have no religious beliefs. Folk religion and the belief in natural spirits heavily influences their brand of Islam. Sunnis are the largest branch of Islam. They try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Muhammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. 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. The Tatars often celebrate Christian holidays.
The Siberian Tatars need to see that trusting in Christ as their Lord and Savior will not make them any less a Tatar. Isa or Jesus is much more than the prophet that He is alleged to be in Islam. Only through Christ can the Tatars be forgiven of their sins and gain eternal life. Only Jesus can free them from their fear of evil spirits.
Pray that Christian resources become available in the Siberian Baraba Tartar language including the Bible and the JESUS Film. Pray that the Holy Spirit creates a hunger for spiritual truth in the hearts of Baraba Tatar leaders and heads of households. Ask the Lord to send workers to tell the Baraba Tartars the good news of Christ. Pray the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Baraba Tatars of Russia in this decade.