Prayer Profile
The Kurdish of Afghanistan

[IMAGE] The Kurds are a people without a politically recognized homeland. Within this broad group of people are diverse tribal associations, lifestyles, and religious practices. However, they have retained a strong, common ethnic identity.

For more than four hundred years, the small Kurd community in Afghanistan has been far removed from its traditional homeland in northwestern Iran. During Persian rule in the 1500's, these Kurd were moved to their present location to serve as border guards against Turk and Mongol invaders. They have been there ever since.

It is difficult to know how the Kurd in Afghanistan have fared during the past ten years. The Soviet invasion and continuing civil war have had drastic effects on the nation as a whole, and up-to-date information is difficult to obtain. It is assumed that the war has driven many into the cities of Kabul or Herat, and possibly even into refugee camps in Iran.

What Are Their Lives Like?
After several centuries away from their original homeland of Kurdistan, many of the Afghan Kurd now speak Turkmen or Dari as their first language. They have retained their native language, Kurdi, as well. They are very much aware of their Kurdish heritage, despite having no country of their own. The Kurds differ greatly in economic, social, and political organization, depending on the particular region in which they now live.

In Kurd society, most people still make their living from farming, and raising livestock. In most cases, agricultural methods are underdeveloped, and the resulting yield is low. While most Kurd are fairly settled, some still practice a semi-nomadic lifestyle. The nomads move within specified territories, following their herds of goats and sheep up to the mountains during the summer months and down to the plains during the winter.

Generally, the Kurd are patrilocal. This means that married sons usually live in the homes of their fathers. Also, there is a clear division of labor by age and sex.

The people of Afghanistan are currently experiencing and being affected by political turmoil within the nation. It is, therefore, difficult to attain exact information on their present situation. With its destruction of towns and villages, the civil war has caused massive movements of people into one of two directions: immigration (mainly to Pakistan and Iran), or escape to the relative safety of the capital city, Kabul. The population of Kabul now includes almost half of Afghanistan's total urban population.

What Are Their Beliefs?
The Afghan Kurd, like nearly all Kurds, are Muslim. Most belong to the Sunni branch of the religion. They embraced Islam in the seventh century A.D., following the Arab conquests. Today, Islam is still honored and forms the basis of their social justice system. Religious dignitaries are treated with great respect, though they may also be sent to court for political reasons.

The Muslim Kurd observe the five essential "pillars" or duties in Islam: (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give alms generously. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime. Muslims are also forbidden from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using slander or deceit, and making idols.

What Are Their Needs?
Afghanistan remains one of the neediest nations in the world. The average life expectancy is only about 46 years—one of the world's lowest. The adult literacy rate is only about 25%.

Civil peace has eluded the Afghans, and spiritual peace is also lacking. Although there are some Christian resources available in their language, Afghanistan's continuing political turmoil has prevented the entrance of missions organizations. Only through fervent prayer can the doors of Afghanistan be opened to the Gospel.

Prayer Points
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to bring a lasting peace to the nation of Afghanistan.
  • Pray that missionaries would be ready to take the Gospel to the Kurd of Afghanistan.
  • Pray that medical workers and literacy teachers who can show the love of Christ in practical ways will be sent to work among the Kurd.
  • Pray for innovative ways to get Christian resources to the Kurd.
  • Pray that the Kurd will hunger to know Jesus and that God will reveal Himself to them through dreams and visions.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Kurd bound for many generations.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Kurd by the year 2000.

See also profiles on the following Kurd groups:
The Alveica of Turkey; The Dimili of Turkey; The Herki of Turkey, Iran and Iraq; The Kurd of Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan: The Northern Kurd of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Armenia; The Southern Kurd of Iraq and Iran; the Western Kurd of Syria; and the Shikaki of Turkey.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Kurd
  • Country: Afghanistan
  • Their language: Kurdi
  • Population: (1990) 15,000
    (1995) 20,100
    (2000) 26,700
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Shafiite) 99.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 2
  • Scriptures in their own language: Portions
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,000 (15%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 600 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 2,400 (12%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 17,100 (85%)
  • Country: Afghanistan
  • Population: (1990) 15,044,500
    (1995) 20,140,500
    (2000) 26,673,600
  • Major peoples in size order: Pathan 48.5%
    Afghani Tajik 17.9%
    Hazara 8.1%
    Southern Uzbek 8%
    Persian 3.3%
  • Major religions: Muslim 99.4%
    Hindu 0.4%
    Christian 0.1%
  • Number of denominations: 9

© 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.

[Home] [Calendar] [Country List]