The Uighur of China
More than 7.6 million Uighurs live in the western portion of China. Their origins can be traced back to Turkish nomads who lived in the former Soviet Union, south of Lake Baikal. History tells us that they became independent of the Turks in 744; however, in 840, less than 100 years later, they were forced by the Kirghiz to leave their homeland. It was then that most of them immigrated to the Xingjiang province of western China, where they have remained until today. In the twelfth century they aligned themselves with Genghis Khan, but never became unified under one leadership until 1884.
For centuries the Uighurs, whose name means "united" or "allied," were an important link between China and the rest of the world. They lived along the silk road and worked as caravan drivers transporting Chinese goods. The strategic location of their oasis homes allowed them to be the "middlemen" for commerce between the orient and Europe.
What are their needs?
Traditionally, the Uighurs were shepherds and oasis farmers. Today, however, many of them are involved in businesses such as manufacturing, mining, oil drilling, trading, and transportation. One can easily see that their diet has been heavily influenced by their agrarian past. Meat is eaten at every meal, and dairy products are enjoyed daily.
In comparison to other people groups in China, the Uighurs are relatively prosperous. Many even own items such as televisions and cassette recorders.
Various political, religious, and ethnic conflicts have characterized the history of the Uighurs. Nevertheless, they are still described as being a "proud, happy, and independent people." They possess a unique blend of cultural elegance all their own. While remaining isolated enough to preserve their rural simplicity, they successfully made many contacts with other cultures. Such a rare mixture of simplicity and sophistication has given the Uighurs a unique and obvious charm.
Until recent times, the Uighurs lived in self-governing villages. This is gradually beginning to change, however. Over the past few years, the Chinese government has placed many Han Chinese into collective farms that are located among the Uighurs of Xingjiang. This has brought about drastic changes in the lifestyles of the Uighurs. The Chinese, aided by the growing number of Han in this area, have attempted to harness the independence of the Uighurs by forcing their self-governed villages to become communes. Such changes have stirred the desire of the Uighurs to remain autonomous. Nevertheless, their thousand-year-old traditions are slowly beginning to disappear as they are forced to embrace this new way of life.
What are their beliefs?
Islam has been the dominant religion of the Uighurs since the 10th century. In the past, they were Muslim in name only; however, there is some renewal that is currently taking place among them. One hundred percent of the Uighurs now claim to be Hanafite Muslims.
Mosques in the capital city, Urumqi, are overflowing with followers. On the pavement surrounding the mosques, worshippers kneel on their prayer mats and offer prayers faithfully. Islamic literature is freely bought and sold, and the graves of Muslim saints are highly venerated.
What are their needs?
There are currently 16 missions agencies working among the Uighurs, but sadly, there are no known converts. As Muslims, they are taught that Christians are their enemies. Even school children are indoctrinated with atheism. It is reported that Christians in this area of China are persecuted.
The Bible has already been translated into the Uighur language; Christian broadcasts and the Jesus film are available. In spite of these facts, they remain untouched with the Gospel. There are no Uighur churches established, and more than 5.1 million Uighur have never heard that salvation comes through Jesus Christ. They desperately need to know the Truth of the Gospel.
- Ask God to cause His love for the Uighurs to be transplanted into your heart.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Muslim Uighurs towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will grant His wisdom to the missions agencies working among the Uighurs, so that they might know how to effectively minister to Muslims.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to thrust laborers into the fields of western China.
- Pray that the small number of Christians in western China will stay strong, even in the midst of persecution.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Uighurs by the year 2000.
See also the following Uighur Groups:
The Uighur of;
The Yellow Uighur of China.
Other Muslim Groups in China:
The Tajik; and
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Uighur
- Country: China
- Their language: weiwuer
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 0%
- Church members: None
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 16
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 2,443,500 (32%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 5,192,300 (68%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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