The Anatolian Turk of Iraq
To most of the world, Turks are citizens of the Republic of Turkey, occupying the historic bridge of land called Anatolia, which links Europe to Asia. Significant numbers of Turkish communities also exist, however, in many countries other than Turkey. The more than 20,000 Anatolian Turk of Iraq fit into this category. Within Iraq, they are a definite minority, representing less than 0.1% of the population.
The Anatolian Turk are a homogeneous group in language and culture, and they are very much aware and proud of being Turks. More than any other Turkish speaking group, they are nationalistic, identifying themselves with their heritage and homeland.
The Suljuk Turk ruled over the region for nearly 200 years, firmly implanting Islam and Turkish culture into the population. The 500-year reign of the Ottoman empire also left to modern-day Turks a heritage which gives them a militant pride in being Turkish.
What are their lives like?
Very little is known about the location and specific lifestyle of the Turk in Iraq. The Gulf War and the subsequent formation of a "safe zone" near the border of Turkey have made it difficult to gain up-to-date information. Undoubtedly, some of the Anatolian Turk of Iraq have moved to the cities and are involved in various occupations, but most are probably rural farmers.
Turkish villages have long faced the problems of isolation, poverty, insecurity, overpopulation, ill health, and illiteracy. To deal with these problems, the villagers have developed social institutions which center on the extended family and the village community. These institutions provide a degree of security and self-sufficiency.
In all villages there remains a strong sense of tradition, the principal tradition being the strength of the extended, patriarchal family. The family functions as a unit, with each individual performing a prescribed task. The families are also mutually involved in community affairs and events, which gives them an even greater sense of oneness.
The traditional family consists of a man, his wife, their unmarried children, and their married sons and their families. After the death of the father, each son sets up a separate household to start the pattern anew. This tradition is weakening, but more often than not, there are more family members living in one house than just the nuclear family.
The greatest social distinctions in the Turkish community are age, sex, wealth, and family prestige. Children are taught to respect their elders. Women are not as secluded as they are in other Muslim nations; nevertheless, they hold subordinate positions to men, despite the fact that they work in the fields--as well as in the home with the usual duties of raising the children, cooking, and serving meals.
Traditionally, a young man's parents will select a wife for him and bring the bride into their home to live. A modern marriage consists of a private ceremony and a lavish feast sometimes lasting several days. Until the bride bears a child (preferably a son), her status is very low within the family structure. Family honor depends a great deal on the conduct of its women. A girl must be a virgin at the time of her marriage: the assurance of her virginity is a major concern.
What are their beliefs?
Religion is deep within the hearts of the Turks. The majority of the Anatolian Turk of Iraq are Muslims of the Hanafite tradition. In their homes, most Anatolian observe the formalities associated with being Muslim. They attend services at the mosque and pray more than once a day, provided these rituals do not interfere with the work that needs to be done.
What are their needs?
While many basic Christian resources are available to the Anatolian Turk, no missions agency is currently targeting them, and there are only four known believers among them. The situation in Iraq makes it difficult to reach them. Prayer is the key to seeing doors for ministry opened in Iraq.
- Ask the Lord to open doors into Iraq for the Gospel message to go forth.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Anatolian Turk through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God would protect the Anatolian believers and that they would have the freedom to share Jesus with others.
- Pray that Bibles and Christian literature would be distributed among the Anatolian Turk.
- Ask God for the Christian radio broadcasts which are available in the area to reach the Anatolian Turk.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Anatolian Turk bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Anatolian Turk church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Anatolian Turk
- Country: Iraq
- Their language: Turkce
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 4
- 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: None
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 6,100 (30%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 14,300 (70%)
- Country: Iraq
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 22
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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