Introduction / History
The Hazaras are a distinct people of Afghanistan, set apart from fellow Afghans by religion, mixed ethnicity, and an independent nature. They have been persecuted for these differences, especially over the last 200 years. They face discrimination as Shi'ite Muslims, a minority among Afghanistan's dominant Sunni Muslims, as well as for ethnic bias. Their Asiatic facial features make them stand out in Afghanistan.
Pre-second century inhabitants, they are likely Afghanistan's oldest. Their traditional homeland lies in central Afghanistan amid rugged mountains in a nearly inaccessible region of craggy peaks and rushing rivers called the Hazarajat.
Hazara origins are much debated. The current theory, supported by obvious Asian features, favors descent from Mongol soldiers left behind by Genghis Khan in the 13th century, with considerable Turkish admixture. Their unwritten dialect, Hazaragi, contains elements of many languages: Arabic, Urdu, Mongol, Turkish, and Dari.
Prior to the 19th century, the Hazaras were 67 percent of the total population of Afghanistan. More than half were massacred in 1893 when their autonomy was lost as a result of political action. Later fundamentalist governments, including the Taliban, attempted to dismiss them historically, politically, and culturally. Other people groups in Afghanistan have continued to attack them until the Hazaras were driven from political power. A fortunate few have been able to flee to peaceful countries like Australia.
Where are they located?
Most Hazaras live in central Afghanistan, but since 1979, many have had to flee to safer lands like Australia and New Zealand. Some are still arriving.
What are their lives like?
Hazara women are honored in legends. Before the advent of the Taliban, these independent and industrious Hazara women were highly educated and entered teaching or medical professions as well as serving in political roles. Such women have a good chance of fitting in with a Western culture like that of Australia.
What are their beliefs?
The Hazaras are Imami Shi'ite Muslims, otherwise known as "Twelvers", who hold a strong reverence for the son-in-law of the prophet Mohammed. A number of Hazara people who have strong ties with the Tajik people are Ismaili Shi'ites, also known as "Seveners". There are strong antagonistic feelings between the two sects; each one often denies they have any ethnic affinity with the other.
What are their needs?
The Hazaras need a safe place where they can begin new lives and begin new careers.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to share Christ with the Hazaras and to help them adjust to live in Australia.
* Pray that God will send Christian teachers and literacy workers who can minister to Hazara refugees in Australia.
* Pray that the Christians who live near and among the Hazaras in Australia will be bold in sharing their faith in Jesus.
* Pray for the Holy Spirit to birth a cascading discipleship movement among the Hazaras for God's glory.
Text source: Keith Carey