The Urdu of Bahrain
The Urdu belong to the Indo-Aryan people who originated near Delhi, India. Aryan tribes entered India about 1500 BC mixing with mongoloids, Greeks, and Huns. This caused the Indian features to become gradually more Caucasian and their language more diverse. Muslim influence promoted the linguistic change out of which the Urdu language eventually developed.
Urdu speaking Indians and Pakistanis migrated to Bahrain because of the common identity of Islam. In India most of the people are Hindu and follow a rigid caste system. In Bahrain they enjoy a stronger education system and better living conditions.
What are their lives like?
The islands receive only three inches of rainfall a year, but fresh underground springs along the northern coast of Bahrain provide ample water to drink and to irrigate crops.
Bahrain is more cosmopolitan than other middle eastern countries and its people enjoy a relatively high standard of living. The government provides free education, medical care and a superior electrical system. Most households have air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions, radios and telephones. Families usually eat one main meal a day that includes vegetables, lamb, fish, and rice.
Urdu Indians from the hotter regions wear light, loose clothing. Many of the men wear turbans. However, younger Bahrainis wear clothes that reflect Western influence.
Although the Muslims have a respect for marriage and family, polygamy is acceptable. Parents still arrange marriages, but do not force them on young people.
What are their beliefs?
What are their needs?
Bahrain has capitalized on the petroleum industry since 1932, but oil reserves will dry up by 2010. Fishing has declined due to pollution in the Gulf. Bahrain is diversifying, building industry and becoming a banking center for the Middle East. Opportunities for foreign businesses in Bahrain mean opportunities for Christian business people to share the Gospel.
Television and radio programs broadcast mostly in Arabic, although some English programs come out of Saudi Arabia. English Bibles, Christian literature and programs in English may be used as long as they show sensitivity to the Urdu culture. Several ministry groups are producing materials to reach Muslims in both English and Urdu.
Bahrain is an Independent Arab sheikdom (territorially governed by leaders called sheiks). Its constitution guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion, but parts of the constitution have been overruled by the Sheiks.
Bahraini Muslims consider the moral values of Western Christians to be pagan and are leery of opening up to them. There are two Anglican churches in Bahrain and approximately 43,000 (1991) Christians live there; very few are Urdu.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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