The Teymur of Afghanistan
The Teymur are a small minority tribe located in the northwestern mountains of Afghanistan. They belong to a larger cluster of peoples known as the Aimaq, who live scattered throughout western Afghanistan and northern Iran. For many years, the Aimaq tribes have been moved, split, and combined by governments.
Ignoring national boundaries, the semi-nomadic Teymur roam freely on journeys across the dry, rugged mountains of Afghanistan. They inhabit an area known for its world famous trade routes, and this has produced a people of mixed heritage.
The Teymur, like other Aimaq tribes, speak a form of Persian called Farsi, with some Turkic (Aimaq) vocabulary. However, the people living in the lowlands speak a different dialect than those in the mountain regions. Additional research must be done to show whether the Afghan Farsi or the Iranian Dari Bible can be understood by the Teymur.
What are their lives like?
At one time, the Teymur were a completely nomadic people. Today, however, they are semi-nomadic, traveling only during certain seasons. Due to problems with drought and erosion in the 1950's and 1960's, many of the Teymur nomads became farmers. They raise wheat, grapes, rice, barley, oats, melons, and vegetables with primitive hoes and wooden plows. Nevertheless, agriculture is still considered only a secondary activity in their culture, and a man's wealth is determined by the size of his herds.
The Teymur are dependent on their herds to supply meat, milk, fat, and cheese. The animal skins are also used for making tents. While farming, the Teymur stay in towns and live in brick huts. Their flocks remain in the valleys and eat gathered grain. During the spring and summer months, they wander through the mountains, living in tents.
Teymur society is both patriarchal (male-dominated) and patrilineal (tracing ancestral descent through the males). The nuclear family is the most important unit of society. It usually consists of a man, his parents, his wife or wives, and their children. Once a young girl marries, she is considered part of her husband's immediate family. Ethnic identity among the Teymur is based on family and clan.
The Teymur women may help watch the flocks, but their primary occupation is weaving carpet. Each tribe or town has its own unique pattern, which is passed down from mother to daughter. The women use portable looms to make these fine, wool carpets. When food sources are low, the money earned from the carpet sales may be the only means of survival for the Teymur. The carpets, along with livestock and cash, are also used as marriage payments.
What are their beliefs?
The Teymur are virtually all Sunni (orthodox) Muslims of the Hanafite branch. They believe Hanafi to be the purest form of Islam. Their strong Islamic beliefs often ridicule the "corrupted monotheism" of Christianity. However, many Muslims are familiar with the Old Testament stories, which are re-told in the Koran. They also trace their own spiritual lineage back to Abraham.
What are their needs?
During and after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. and other countries sent military aid to Afghanistan's "freedom fighters." Today, because the country struggles with political wars and human rights abuses, this aid has been cut off. The entire country was terribly affected by the war against the Soviets. Whole villages were destroyed and food supplies were threatened. Today, Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Few have safe drinking water, and fighting is still going on in some areas.
The remote location and wide dispersion of the Teymur have made them hard to reach with the Gospel. At the present time, there is no Christian witness available to the Teymur. Prayer is the first step toward seeing them reached with the Light of the Gospel.
- Pray that God will begin mending the lives of these war-torn people.
- Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Teymur (Aimaq) language.
- Pray that Christian humanitarian aid workers and medical teams will have opportunities to work among the Teymur and share God's love with them in practical ways.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Teymur bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams that will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
- Pray that Christian broadcasts will soon be made available to the Teymur.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Teymur by the year 2000.
See also the following Aimaq Groups:
The Firozkohi of Afghanistan;
The Jamshidi of Iran;
The Jamshidi of Afghanistan;
The Taimani of Afghanistan;
The Teymur of Iran;
The Aimaq Hazara of Afghanistan.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Teymur
- Country: Afghanistan
- Their language: Teymur
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 18
- 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: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 7,300 (9%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 83,300 (91%)
- Country: Afghanistan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 9
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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