The Afghani Tajik of Afghanistan
The Tajiks are believed to be the original Persian population of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. The majority of Tajiks live in Tajikistan, which is one of the central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. The Afghani Tajiks live in the Hindu Kush Mountains of northeastern Afghanistan, touching Tajikistan. They often identify themselves by the particular valley they live in or near.
The Afghani Tajiks are light-skinned Caucasians with an aquiline nose and black hair. Intermarriage with Uzbeks and Pushtun has greatly influenced their features, however, so they are not always easily recognized.
Although the Afghani Tajiks are a proud, hard-working people, they are also acclaimed as being very gracious and hospitable. They are devout Muslims, strong in their faith and adhering closely to its beliefs.
The crafts of the Tajik people are very highly developed. In fact, many of their towns were once known as being great centers of trade with Persia, China, and India.
What are their lives like?
The most outstanding feature of Afghanistan is the Hindu Kush Mountains. This huge mountain range serves as a barrier between the fertile northern provinces and the rest of the country. It also divides the nation into three distinct regions: the central highlands, the northern plains, and the southwestern plateau.
Living in the highlands of northeastern Afghanistan, rural Tajiks work as migrant farmers and herdsmen. Although they live in tribes, they seem to have little tribal organization. For example, many of them own their own land where they farm mostly wheat, barley, and grain. The more urbanized Tajiks often work as traders or as highly skilled artists. They live in villages of flat-roofed mud or stone houses.
Tajik men wear turbans over brightly embroidered caps while working in the fields. Most Muslim women wear veils, but rural Tajik women prefer shawls. Those women living in cities usually wear sack-like dresses that cover them from head to toe.
Preserving their values and traditions is very important to the Tajiks. They use folklore, folk songs, and folk dances to pass their celebrated customs on to the next generation.
What are their beliefs?
The Tajiks are 99%
Muslim. Most of them are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi Sect, but there are a few Ismaili Shia Muslims living in the remote mountain areas. Islam permeates every area of their lives. Rituals relating to birth, puberty, marriage, and death are all built around their beliefs. They faithfully repeat memorized prayers five times a day.
In addition to Islamic beliefs, spiritism (superstitious beliefs that incorporate use of charms and amulets) is also widespread among the Tajiks.
What are their needs?
The Tajiks have known frequent war and internal tribal strife. Their territories have continually been invaded over the centuries by Arabians, Greeks, Mongolians, Persians, Turks, Russians, and the British. In 1979 the Soviets, fearing loss of communistic control over the Afghan people, led a massive invasion into Afghanistan. Since 1979, approximately 3 million Afghans have fled across the border into Pakistan; about half of them were Tajiks. The nation is now in extreme turmoil because of the on-going civil war.
Due to unsanitary living conditions, mainly poor water, plus the harshness of the lifestyle in Afghanistan, the average life expectancy is only 46 years. Statistically this is one of the world's lowest figures. The literacy rate among adult Afghanis rests at only 25%, while among the Tajiks, a mere 10%. The need for qualified medical teams and school teachers is great.
The Islamic religion is very difficult to penetrate. Converts to Christianity will more than likely be "banished" from their families. Because of this the Tajiks, though usually warm and hospitable, are becoming more and more apprehensive towards outsiders.
The Tajiks speak Dari Persian, a language that came from King Darius (mentioned in the book of Daniel). A Dari (or Farsi) New Testament is available and the Old Testament is being translated. Unfortunately, only about 10% of the Tajiks are able to read.
- Ask God to restore political peace and stability to Afghanistan.
- Ask God to call Christian workers who are trained in the Farsi language to take the Gospel to the Tajiks.
- Pray that the Christian relief workers who are working in Pakistan will be effective witnesses among the Tajiks who have been displaced from their homes.
- Pray that the falsehood of the Muslim religion will be exposed to its followers, and that their emptiness will be filled with a hunger to know the Jesus Christ.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts and the Jesus Film will be heard by listening ears and receptive hearts.
- Pray that relief funds will be made available for those living in famine stricken areas.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Afghani Tajiks by the year 2000.
See Also the following Tajik groups:
the Afghani Tajik of Pakistan;
the Chinese Tajik;
the Tajik of Kazakstan;
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Afghani Tajik
- Country: Afghanistan
- Their language: dari
- Largest religion: Muslims (Hanafites) 99%
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 361
- Scriptures in their own language: Portions. New Testament.
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 13
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 1,226,100 (34%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 2,379,100 (66%)
- Country: Afghanistan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 9
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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