Prayer Profile
The Salar of China

[IMAGE] Most of the Salar live in the eastern portion of the Qinghai Province, which is located in central China. They speak their own language, also called Salar. Salar belongs to one of the Turkic groups of the Altaic language family, and is very closely related to Uighur and Uzbek.

Although their exact origin is not known, the Salar appear to be descendants of a Turkmen tribe that originated near Samarkand, the former capital of Uzbekistan. It is believed that their ancestors migrated to their present regions during the Mongolian dynasty (1279 to 1368).

The literacy rate among the Salar has been very poor in the past. Today, however, it is gradually increasing, but only in Chinese, since Salar is still an unwritten language.

The nearly 93,000 Salar have a reputation for being the most zealous Muslims in China. Who will share the Truth with these precious people?

What are their lives like?
Villages are the largest units of the Salar society. Each village has its own mosque and cemetery. Extended families commonly live together in two-story adobe (cement block) houses. Their homes are characterized by the intricately carved pillars, door frames, and eaves. Adobe-walled courtyards are built around the houses, and fruit trees are planted within the courtyards. This practice, which is still common on in Uzbekistan, was apparently passed down to the Salar from their Samakand ancestors.

The strength of the Salar economy lies in agriculture. The Salar farmers produce wheat, highland barley, buckwheat, walnuts, potatoes and other vegetables. They also grow such fruits as melons, apples, grapes, and apricots. In addition to farming, many of the Salar also raise sheep for wool and mutton, while others work as lumberjacks. Their basic diet consists of steamed buns, noodles, and vegetable soup.

Salar families are strongly patriarchal (male-dominated) and patrilineal, meaning that the line of descent is through the fathers. Since homes generally include extended families, marriage is often viewed as being a union of two families rather than a "love" match. In times past, parents selected their children's marriage partners, using a "matchmaker" in the negotiations. A "bride price" of between one to four horses, cloth, and sugar was paid to the bride's parents. Wedding ceremonies then were conducted outside the bride's house, with the bride listening to the ceremony from within.

What are their beliefs?
The Salar have been devoted Hafanite Muslims since their conversion to Islam in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In fact, they have participated in several Islamic revolts since then. In 1958 the national Chinese government removed all of the mullahs (trained Muslims holding official posts); however, since 1980, formerly forbidden religious activities have begun to revive.

Muslim communities consist of a religious hierarchy of leadership that is based on Islamic tradition. This hierarchy controls both the social and political customs of the community. The mosque is the center of the community and the Islamic leaders are called imams.

What are their needs?
Although Islamic beliefs are weakening among the Salar young people, they have nothing to replace them with. The only knowledge they have about Christianity consists of the false notions that have been propagated by their Muslim imams.

The Bible has not been translated into the Salar language. There are no Christian radio or television broadcasts available in their area, and there are currently no missions agencies working among them.

The majority of the Salar have never heard the precious name of Jesus or that He died to set them free. Of those who have heard the Gospel, only a small number are known to have accepted Jesus as their Savior.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Salar.
  • Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
  • Ask God to encourage and protect the nine known Salar Christians.
  • Pray that Christian radio and television broadcasts will soon be made available in the Salar language.
  • Ask God to raise up qualified linguists to devise a written script for the Salar so that the Bible can be translated into their native language.
  • Pray that God will soften the hearts of these devout Muslims to the Gospel.
  • Ask God to open the hearts of China's government leaders to the Gospel.
  • Pray that a strong local church will be raised up by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Salar
  • Country: China
  • Their language: salar
  • Population: (1990) 87,900
    (1995) 92,900
    (2000) 97,700
  • Largest religion: Muslims (Hanafites) 99.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 9
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: None
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 6,500 (7%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 2,800 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 3,700 (4%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 86,400 (93%)
  • Country: China
  • Population: (1990) 1,135,043,400
    (1995) 1,199,901,200
    (2000) 1,262,195,800
  • Major peoples in size order: Han Chinese (Mandarin) 67.7%
    Han Chinese (Wu) 7.5%
    Han Chinese (Cantonese) 4.5%
  • Major religions: Nonreligious 55%
    Chinese folk-religionists 17%
    Atheists 12.7%
  • Number of denominations: 42

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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