Prayer Profile
The Shikaki of Iraq

[IMAGE] The Shikaki Kurdish are actually part of a much greater Kurd population. They are made up of a number of clans, tribes, and tribal confederations, many of which have been in existence for thousands of years. This large people group shares several important and common ties. Not only do they speak closely related languages, but they also share a common culture, geographical homeland, and sense of identity. Kurdish people are basically more alike than are other people groups, and they feel it.

The Shikaki Kurd are a confederacy of tribes of Northern Kurdistan. They live primarily in the mountainous area where the borders of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq meet, in the district of Dustan and Qotur, northwest of Lake Urmia. These various tribes and clans are distinguished by the languages they speak. The Shikaki language is possibly a dialect of Kurmanji. Apart from the Shikaki Kurd of Iraq, other large communities can also be found in Turkey and Iran.

What are their lives like?
In recent times, particularly since the early 1930's, the primitive, tribal organizations of the Shikaki Kurd have been largely suppressed. As a result, many of the nomads have moved from the rural, economically depressed areas into the cities. There, industry provides jobs for about 6% of the population, while the others are engaged in trade, services, and craft work.

Basic Kurdish society is mainly rural, with most people making their living from farming and raising livestock. Most of them are fairly settled; however, some still practice a semi-nomadic lifestyle, moving from place to place with their herds of goats and sheep. The nomadic shepherds move into the mountain areas during the summer and down to the plains in the winter.

Although Kurdish farming techniques are somewhat archaic, they are now being integrated into the capitalist market. Cotton, sugar, beets, and tobacco, are replacing the traditional food crops. The Kurds grow them both to sell in the market and for export. Their daily diet is built around bread, dairy products, dates, tea, and meat. Pork and alcoholic beverages are tabooed.

Kurdish women generally enjoy more freedom than do the Arabian, Turkish, or Persian women. For example, veils are not generally worn. Although they are modest in their behavior, they are not particularly shy of strange men.

What are their beliefs?
Nearly all Kurds are Muslims, most being Shafite Sunnis. They first embraced Islam after the Arab conquests of the seventh century. Today, they look to Islam as a basis for social justice.

Even among the Sunni Kurds, there are traces of an earlier pagan and violent type faith which sets them apart from other Muslims. In the rural areas, a few still believe in jinnis (spirits capable of assuming human or animal forms) and demons. Many are also involved in elements of animal worship.

Mullahs (Muslim spiritual leaders) play an important role in the social and cultural life of those living in the country. Until recent times, mullahs would act as village witch doctors, performing ceremonies and reciting chants to drive out madness or cure the sick.

Religious fraternities still operate throughout this region of the world. In the past, some influential sheiks (spiritual leaders) even became members of parliament. However, their authority eventually began to crumble. Today, their spiritual and economic power is being challenged.

What are their needs?
Although four missions agencies have targeted the Shikaki Kurd of Iraq, their progress has been minimal. Currently, there are only twenty known believers within their group.

The Bible has not yet been translated into the Shikaki language, and there are no Christian radio or television broadcasts available. Laborers, a translation of the scripture, and other evangelistic materials are desperately needed to reach them with the Light of the Gospel. They have not rejected the Good News; they simply have never heard.

Prayer Points

  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Shikaki bound.
  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Iraq and share Christ with the Shikaki Kurd.
  • Pray that God will call out prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Ask God to give missions agencies strategies for reaching these Muslims with the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Shikaki language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will open the hearts of Iraq's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a triumphant Church among the Shikaki Kurd for the glory of His name!

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Shikaki
  • Country: Iraq
  • Their language: Shikaki
  • Population: (1990) 18,100
    (1995) 20,400
    (2000) 23,800
  • Largest religion: Muslim 99.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 20
  • 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: 4
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,300 (17%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 1,000 (5%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 2,300 (12%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 17,100 (83%)
  • Country: Iraq
  • Population: (1990) 18,078,000
    (1995) 20,448,900
    (2000) 23,753,200
  • Major peoples in size order: Iraqi Arab 64.0%
    Southern Kurd 8.5%
    Northern Kurd 6.5%
    Iraqi Kurd 6.0%
    Azerbaijani 5.6%
  • Major religions: Muslims 95.9%
    Christians 3.2%
    Nonreligious 0.5%
  • Number of denominations: 22

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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