The Indo Pakistani
of Africa and Southwest Asia
A cluster of 4 Indo-Pakistani Groups from 4 countries.
The Indo-Pakistani are originally from the subcontinent of India. Today, they live in many nations around the world. Although most of the groups are classified as "reached," there are still a few that have not yet been touched by the Gospel. These Indo-Pakistani groups are located in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Cote d'Ivoire, and Zaire. The largest of these groups is located in Yemen, with a population of more than 700,000.
In Yemen and Zaire, most of the Indo-Pakistani are Hindus; while in Saudi Arabia, they are primarily Muslims. Many of them speak Hindi as their native tongue, while others speak various other Indian languages. They may also speak the language of the nation in which they now live.
"Indo-Pakistani" is a general term used to describe these groups, since many peoples of Indian origin do not specify which language group they belong to. For example, many of them may actually be Gujarati, Hindi, or Punjabi; but together (especially for census purposes), they are simply known as the Indo-Pakistani.
What are their lives like?
The Brahmans form the highest Hindu caste. This class consists of the religious and scholarly. However, as a result of British influence in India, educational opportunities gradually became available to most of the other castes. The Indo-Pakistani groups outside of India tend to exhibit this British influence more than the people living in India. These immigrant groups have also shown Western influence in their clothing. Still, some of the Hindu Indo-Pakistani continue to wear their traditional clothes: the men wear dhotis (loin cloths), and the women wear saris (cloths that are wrapped around the waist and over the shoulder or head). Most of them also continue to eat their native Indian foods. Although the Hindu religion commands vegetarianism, most of the Indo-Pakistani eat some types of meat.
Islamic influence has been strong among some of the Indo-Pakistani, especially in Saudi Arabia, but also in Yemen. There, the Indo-Pakistani are required to follow Islamic law. For example, the women are required to wear chadors, which are loose, usually black robes worn by Muslim women. The chador covers the entire body from head to toe, and most of the face. Chadors much be worn in public and during the month of Ramadan. In addition, the Hindu Indo-Pakistani are treated as second class citizens by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
What are their beliefs?
According to Hindu doctrine, animals as well as humans have souls. Hindus believe that souls live innumerable lives in different bodies, being born again, or reincarnated, after death as animals or humans. They believe that if a person lives a good life, his soul will be born into a higher state. Whereas, if he leads an evil life, his soul will be born into a lower state, perhaps even as a worm! The cycle supposedly continues until the soul achieves spiritual perfection and enters a higher state of existence.
In contrast, Muslims believe that there is only one god, Allah. Theirs is a religion of works based on five basic "pillars." Muslims must affirm that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." They are also required to pray five times a day, give alms to the poor, fast during the month of Ramadan, and try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca.
What are their needs?
Saudi Arabia and Yemen do not allow Christian missionaries to enter the countries. As a result, it is very difficult to reach the Indo-Pakistani who live there. In Zaire, the civil war has disrupted missions work, and any work among the Indo-Pakistani is virtually impossible at this time. Although the Indo-Pakistani Muslims of Cote d'Ivoire are guaranteed religious freedom, they remain bound by a religion of works. While their country is 12% Christian, very few of the Indo-Pakistani in Cote d'Ivoire ever have heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Local Christians must seize the opportunity to share Christ with the Indo-Pakistani.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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