Prayer Profile
The Darghinian of Russia

[IMAGE] The Darghinian, or Dargwa as they call themselves, are a large ethnic group in Daghestan, formerly one of the autonomous Soviet republics in the northern Caucasus, but now a part of Russia. Within this region, the Darghinian compose approximately 15% of the population. Numbering over 350,000, the Darghinian have inhabited the foothill, mountain, and alpine zones on the western shore of the Caspian Sea for many centuries. During the Soviet era, some Darghinian moved to the lowlands, where they became engaged in agriculture and industry.

The history of the Darghinian is one of struggle, being constantly invaded over the course of centuries; first by the Huns, then by the Turks, the Mongols, the Persians, and in the nineteenth century, by the Russians. Suffering both social and colonial oppression, the Darghinian were among the most active peoples to frequently protest in speeches and rebellions against Russian power.

What are their lives like?
Modern Darghinian live in nuclear families, with two generations living under one roof. A set of families make up a tukhum, a group of related families who trace their descent through a common male ancestor. Marriage within the tukhum is common, and the ideal age of marriage is 17 for women and 25 for men.

Traditionally, the Darghinian relied mostly on stock breeding as their livelihood, but today, agriculture is the main source of income. Living in such different zones as the foothills and mountain zones, the practices and techniques of cultivation vary between the lowland and the highland farmers.

The lowland farmers mainly produce wheat, whereas the highland farmers rely on barley, rye, maize, and legumes. Agricultural labor is done by men in the lowlands and by women in the highlands. The lowland farmers use metal plows on large fields; whereas, the highland farmers work with more primitive tools on smaller areas.

The Darghinian staples are grain, dairy products, meat, vegetables, fruits, greens, and berries. During the Soviet rule, Russian and European dishes became more popular, and the use of canned and commercially prepared foods increased.

The most developed crafts of the Darghinian are wool products, metal items, and wood works. Leather, pottery, and tapestries are also important products. The Darghinian are especially known for their expertise in making weapons.

What are their beliefs?
Daghestan, along with the Chechen-Ingush Republic, is one of the strongest bastions of conservative Islam in the former Soviet Union. Since the eleventh century, Islam has been the predominant religion of the Darghinian. Despite past attempts by Soviet authorities to discourage religious practices, closing mosques and Islamic schools, and forbidding religious publications, the influence of Islam has remained strong and is even increasing. The countryside is scattered with tombs and shrines of Muslim holy men, which serve as destinations for pilgrimages and places of prayer.

The Islamic practices of the Darghinian are strongly syncretic; that is, it is mixed with a substantial heritage of pre-Islamic pagan beliefs. The agricultural calendar, ceremonies, and household and family rites reflect many of these pagan influences.

Before modern medical services were introduced in the late nineteenth century, Darghinian medicine was a combination of folk and Eastern medicine, with the khakim, or folk healers, being relied upon for the curing of various sicknesses and diseases.

What are their needs?
With the increasing popularity of Islam and the growing power of Muslim politicians, thousands of mosques and hundreds of Islamic schools have been re-opened in the Muslim territories that are still part of the Russian Federation. With neither the Bible nor the Jesus film available in their language, the Darghinian need to encounter Christians who will show them the love of Jesus in practical ways.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth willing workers to the Darghinian of Russia.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into Dargin.
  • Pray that God will bless the efforts of the one missions agency that is targeting the Darghinian.
  • Pray that God will strengthen, encourage, and protect the very small number of Darghinian believers.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Darghinian bound for many generations.
  • Ask God to raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Darghinian.
  • Pray that the Jesus film will soon be made available to the Darghinian.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Darghinian church to the glory of His name!

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Darghinian
  • Country: Russia
  • Their language: Dargin
  • Population: (1990) 355,500
    (1995) 353,300
    (2000) 349,800
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Shafiite) 98%
    Muslim (Shia) 1.9%
  • Christian: <1%
  • Church members: 35
  • 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: 1
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 46,000 (13%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 10,600 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 35,400 (10%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 307,300 (87%)
  • Country: Russia
  • Population: (1990) 147,913,000
    (1995) 146,999,800
    (2000) 145,551,500
  • Major peoples in size order: Russian 79.4%
    Tatar 3.7%
    Ukranian 2.9%
    Chuvash 1.2%
    Bashkir 0.9%
  • Major religions: Christian 58.1%
    Nonreligious 18%
    Atheist 12.6%
  • Number of denominations: 50

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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