The Tajik of Russia
The Tajik, a large Central Asian people group, are concentrated primarily in Afghanistan and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Another 40,000 Tajik also live in Russia. The Tajik are an Indo-Iranian people with light skin and black hair. Intermarriage with surrounding peoples has greatly influenced their features, making it difficult to recognize them by appearance. Their language, called Tajiki, consists of numerous dialects of the Persian language, Farsi.
The Tajik are the oldest people group in Central Asia. Their homeland was historically the center of trade routes, due to the fact that the Europeans and Arabs traded with the Indians and Chinese. Their strategic location has given the Tajik a history of oppression by and servitude to other peoples. They have been conquered by numerous groups, including the armies of Alexander the Great, the Arabs, the Mongols, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Tajik were traditionally rural farmers and herdsmen. They raised such livestock as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. Their farms were located on irrigated terraces on the sides of mountains, with major crops being wheat and barley. In the last fifty years, the Tajik have become increasingly more urban. In the cities, they are involved in modern occupations and live in concrete, Soviet-style apartment buildings.
Tajik women usually wear flowered head scarves and colorful native clothing made of printed silk and cotton. They seldom wear veils, but occasionally wear chaddars, which are multi-purpose Islamic shawls. Men traditionally wore embroidered skullcaps, shirts, and trousers, sometimes with quilted and belted robes or coats. In urban areas, Western-style clothing is worn.
Bread is the staple food, and the Tajik make bread out of anything that can be ground into flour, including peas and mulberries. They also eat rice, grapes, dried fruits, chicken, mutton, and vegetable dishes. A favorite dish is called pilaf. It is made of fried or sautéed mutton and vegetables, topped with a large amount of rice.
Traditionally, most Tajik marriages were arranged by the parents, but today the great majority of Tajik are free to choose their own partners. After marriage, the bride moves in with her husband's family. In Tajik society, the oldest male in an extended family unit has authority over his entire household.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Before their conquest with the Arabs in the eighth century, the Tajik followed a variety of religions, including Buddhism, Zoroastrianism (the religious system founded in Persia by Zoroaster and teaching the worship of Ormazd in the context of a universal struggle between the forces of light and of darkness), and various sects of Christianity. The Arab invaders brought Islam, a new religion to which all the Tajik eventually converted. Islam became a vital part of Tajik ethnic identity and played a major role in keeping the Tajik from giving in to Russian cultural pressure.
Islam is a religion of works based on five basic requirements: affirming that Allah is the only god and that Mohammed was his prophet; praying five times a day while facing Mecca; giving alms to the poor; fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year; and making at least one pilgrimage to Mecca, if possible.
What Are Their Needs?
The Tajik of Russia have had little contact with the true Gospel. Although they are surrounded by professing Christians, the Russians, they have no real knowledge of Christ's work on the cross. Islam plays a vital part in their ethnic identity, and many fear to leave Islam because they equate it with giving up their identity. Normally open and receptive to visitors and new ideas, they resist any attempts to share the Gospel with them. Intercession is needed to break the power Islam has over their lives. Laborers who are willing to share the Good News with them are also essential.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up loving Russian Christians to share the Gospel with the Tajik.
- Pray for the effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Tajik.
- Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in their area.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Tajik so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Tajik bound for many generations.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Tajik who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Pray that the Tajik will hunger to know Jesus and that God will reveal Himself to them through dreams and visions.
See Also the following Tajik groups:
the Afghani Tajik of Pakistan and
the Chinese Tajik;
the Tajik of Kazakstan;
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Tajik
- Country: Russia
- Their language: Tajiki
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 0%
- Church members: 0
- 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: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 10,700 (28%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 27,500 (72%)
- Country: Russia
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 50
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.