Introduction / History Azerbaijan is located in the Caucasus Mountain region on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. It is there, in the land of the ancient Medes, that we find more than six million Azerbaijani (also known as the Azeri). The name "Azeri" is thought to have come from the fourth century ruler, Atropat, who governed the area that is now northwestern Iran. However, it may have been derived from azer, the Persian word for fire.
The Azeri have been subjected to numerous invasions throughout history. The homeland of the Azeri was first conquered by the Persians in the sixth century B.C. Islam was introduced into the area during the seventh century A.D., and has been practiced there ever since. By the eleventh century, Persian influence was overpowered by Turkic influence. During the thirteenth century, this region of Asia fell under the dominion of Genghis Khan.
Azerbaijanis have moved to Germany from Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan. Many went to Germany from Iran in the 1960s, while others went there after Azerbaijan lost the Nagorno-Karabakh War, which ended in 1994.
Where are they located? The Azerbaijanis in Germany live in urban centers such as Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Mainz, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, and Suttgart.
What are their lives like? There have been great scholars, athletes, artists, and actors among Germany's Azerbaijani population, but most of them are trying to survive through modest jobs.
What are their beliefs? The Azerbaijani are primarily Shi'ite Muslims, but there are a number of Sunni Muslims as well. Islam among the Azerbaijani is a reflection of the historical ties that exist between Azerbaijan and Iran. Until the twentieth century, most Azeri identified themselves as Muslims rather than Azerbaijani or Turks. They believe that being a "spiritual community of Islam" was much more important than being a nation.
The Islamic religious practices of the Azerbaijanis are less restrictive of women's activities than they are for most other Muslim peoples. Most women have jobs outside the home, which helped them fit in better than other Muslim peoples who have migrated to Germany.
What are their needs? The Azerbaijanis in Germany have almost no gospel witness in their communities. They are Shi'ite Muslims whose culture straddles those of the Turks (language) and Iranians (religion). It will take a deliberate effort to take Jesus to the Azerbaijanis in Germany.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to send his servants to share the life-giving message of Christ and assist Azerbaijanis in Germany in finding the abundant life that He intends for them.
* Pray for a powerful disciple making movement among Azerbaijanis in Germany that will affect their communities all over Europe.
* Pray for the Azerbaijanis in Germany to have the chance to hear and respond to the JESUS Film and gospel recordings in their language.