Introduction / History
The Crimean Tatars of Uzbekistan are actually part of a much greater Tatar population that lives primarily in Russia. Large numbers of Crimean Tatars can also be found in Turkey, Romania, and the Ukraine.
The Crimean Tatars are descendants of the Mongols who swept through eastern Europe in the 13th century. Their history has been both complex and turbulent. For many years they have endured hardship, oppression, and injustice.
By end of the 1440s, the Crimean Khanate was established on the Crimean Peninsula. However, Russian rule came late in the 18th century and was very repressive. In 1944, Stalin accused the entire Crimean Tatar population of collaborating with the Nazis, and had them deported to Soviet Central Asia. Sadly, almost half of them died in the process. To this day, the Tatars are still struggling to return to the homeland they were forced to leave almost half a century ago.
What are their lives like?
Since the massive deportation of the Tatars in 1944, much of the traditional Crimean lifestyle has been lost. They have undergone an intense process of assimilation into Russian culture. The older people have maintained a strong sense of ethnic identity; however, it has been extremely difficult for them to pass it on to their children.
Family ties are very important to the Crimean Tatars. The size of the immediate family ranges from four to five members; however, two or three generations will often live together in the same house. The great majority of the Crimean Tatars marry within their culture, unlike some of their Tatar cousins. The family is strongly patriarchal, or dominated by the men. The line of descent is through the father and inheritance is passed down through the males. Work is divided along traditional lines with men working outside and women working in the home, tending to the children and the household duties.
Tatar children have no schools of their own. The school system publicly denies thousands of young Tatars knowledge of their nationality, history, language, and culture. As a result, about three quarters of these children cannot read or speak their native language, Krym.
A majority of the Crimean Tatars who live in the cities wear western style clothing. Elderly and rural people wear more traditional dress such as scarves, turbans, robes, and sandals.
The Tatars have a deep love for songs and music, which are popular at holidays and feasts. They perform popular folk songs, called manes and chin, whenever there is a celebration.
What are their beliefs?
The Tatars are Sunni Muslims who belong to the Hanafite branch. However, they have no version of the Qu'ran in their language. The Muslim faith includes observing Ramadan, a month of ritual fasting. During Ramadan, they are praying for Islam to fill the earth. They also make an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, (the holy city of Islam), whenever possible.
What are their needs?
Some evidence suggests that the Crimean Tatars have a thirst for the Word of God.
There is a great need for laborers to work among the Tatars. Tentmakers with skills in agriculture and construction are needed, in addition to those who can evangelize and do church planting. The Tatars also need job training skills and help in establishing small businesses. English language studies may be needed as well.
It is God's will for these precious people to come to know Him, for He "...is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". (2 Peter 3:9)
* Ask the Lord to call full-time missionaries who are willing to go to Uzbekistan and share Christ with the Tatars.
* Pray that Christian broadcasts will soon be made available in their language.
* Ask God to help those who are leaving comforts behind and risking their lives to return to their homeland.
* 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 Uzbekistan's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise a strong local church among the Crimean Tatar.