The Tatar of Kyrgyzstan
The Tatar are a group of Turkic people who have large communities in virtually every republic of the former Soviet Union. While the main population is centered around the Volga region, they also inhabit Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, and the Central Asian republics.
The Tatar have had a strong civilization since the tenth century. It survived the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century and the Russian conquest of the sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century, Tatar cities ranked among the greatest cultural centers of the Islamic world.
Because the Tatar have dispersed to several urban Russian cities, more than thirty percent of them claim Russian as their mother tongue. The others speak their native language, called Tatar.
The physical appearance of the Tatar ranges from blue-eyed blondes to more Mongoloid features. They have oval faces with very little facial hair.
What are their lives like?
Dispersion of the Tatar into the Central Asian republics such as Kyrgyzstan is primarily a nineteenth century occurrence. In urban areas, their lives are no different from contemporary Russians. However, in rural areas, some still cling to their pre-Revolutionary traditions. In rural areas, up to three generations may live under one roof.
Their social system is strongly patriarchal. This means that the father is the legal head of the household and his word is final in all family matters. The men are also in charge of the family income and how it is spent. Women usually cook, carry water, wash clothes, and tend livestock.
Much of Tatar culture and society have been shaped by Islamic laws and traditions. Polygamy is permitted, although monogamy is the norm. Arranged marriages are uncommon, and ethnically mixed marriages are becoming more prevalent.
What are their beliefs?
The Tatar are 83%
Sunni Muslims. The five duties or "pillars" of the Islamic faith are as follows: recitation of the creed (shahadah), daily prayer (salat), almsgiving (zakat), fasting (sawm), and pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca. They pray by facing Mecca at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset, and at night. Men pray in the mosque under the leadership of a prayer leader, and the women usually pray at home. When they do worship at the mosque, the men and women worship separately.
Muslims strictly adhere to the belief in only one god, as expressed in their creed: "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." Mohammed is considered to be the "seal of the prophets." Muslims believe that his revelation completes the biblical revelations received by Jews and Christians.
Although the Tatar are monotheistic (believing in only one god), they also honor saints and holy places. Some beliefs in supernatural powers, such as the "evil eye," still exist from pre-Islamic days. Many Tatar today will identify themselves as being a Muslim before they will identify themselves as being a Tatar.
Unfortunately, the view of Christianity held by the Tatar has been marred by the Russian Orthodox Church's attempts to convert them through coercion and tax inducements. During the nineteenth century, their mosques were frequently burned or destroyed. The few who were "converted" by these measures returned to their Islamic faith when the repression stopped.
What are their needs?
Kyrgyzstan is in an uncertain position as a republic. Having shed the Communist yoke, it now has many decisions to make. They desperately need God's wisdom as they make choices concerning the future of their nation.
Both the New Testament and the Jesus film are available in the Tatar language; however, less than 2% of the Tatar of Kyrgyzstan are Christians. Only one mission agency is currently working among them. More laborers are needed to share the Light of the Gospel. There is also a great need for Christian radio and television programs to be broadcast in the Tatar language.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Kirghizia and share Christ with the Tatar.
- Pray that they will become dissatisfied with Islam, and that they will begin searching for the Truth.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Tatar Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to complete translation of the Bible into the Tatar language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Tatar toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will open the hearts of Kirghizia's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Tatar by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Tatar
- Country: Kyrgyzstan
- Their language: Tatar
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 1.5%
- Church members: 1,171
- Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 33,200 (43%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 44,900 (57%)
- Country: Kyrgyzstan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 17
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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