Introduction / History Until the beginning of the 20th century, Afghanistan was mainly an affiliation of tribes, held together by intrigue and force of the rulers. Throughout the years, rival chiefs and foreign powers sought to control the major areas. Today, Afghanistan is an independent nation in the midst of a war between the Taliban and a multinational force led by the United States. It is home to more than 70 ethnic groups, with the Darwazi composing a tiny fraction of the total population.
Very little is known about the Darwazi except that they live in the town of Darwazi on the banks of the Amu Darya River. This river forms the border between Afghanistan and its northern neighbors: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. The region has a temperate climate with enough precipitation to adequately water the crops.
It is unknown whether the Darwazi are named after the town in which they live or whether the town is named after the people. Their language, also called Darwazi, is part of the Indo-Iranian language family.
What are their lives like? The economy of Afghanistan is based primarily on farming and raising livestock. While there is little fertile land in the mountains, there are good grazing grounds. As a result, the Darwazi practice a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, moving their herds according to the seasons.
It is thought that the Darwazi, like other groups in the area, have two classes: the lower class artisans and the upper class landowners. The main crafts of the artisans are woodworking, weaving, blacksmithing, pottery, and basketry. Their products are used by all the village people. Bazaars are important trade centers for both agricultural products and craft items. Traditional handicrafts are widespread, highly developed, and often very refined.
The basic unit of the Darwazi community is the village, which is surrounded by farm land and grazing land. The land is owned by the male head of the family, and grazing rights are inherited by his sons. Cooperation is based on kinship ties and relatives are expected to support one another in times of crisis or need.
Houses are usually built on the slopes of hills, but close to streams so that the villagers will have clean water. The size of the house depends on the wealth of the family. Most properties are enclosed by stone walls that divide the property into two sections: one for a living area and the other for livestock.
In addition to class distinctions, the Darwazi practice a division of labor according to sex. Traditionally, both males and females were expected to contribute in the making of a meal. The women provided the bread, which symbolized their responsibilities of farming and gathering the firewood. The men supplied a dairy product, representing their responsibility of herding the animals.
What are their beliefs? Islam was introduced to the people of Afghanistan during the 7th century with the Arab invasions. By the 9th century, the Darwazi had converted to Islam. Today, the Darwazi are completely Sunni Muslim, with no known Christians among them. As Muslims, the Darwazi believe in one god (Allah), daily prayers, almsgiving, fasting, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca during one's lifetime, if possible.
What are their needs? Ethnic relations between the major people groups in Afghanistan have been marked by conflict. Historically, the stronger groups have attempted to dominate the weaker ones. The Soviet invasion and current war between the Taliban and the multinational forces have all but destroyed the nation of Afghanistan. Little of the social structure remains, and many people have fled their homeland and found relative safety in other areas. While there are a number of missions agencies still working in the country (though none with the Darwazi), it remains very dangerous, with frequent evacuations of personnel.
Before any substantial efforts can be made to reach the Darwazi, the war must end. Sustained, fervent prayer is needed to see this happen. Then there will be many opportunities to minister to the people and rebuild the nation.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to bring a lasting peace to the nation of Afghanistan.
* Pray that the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Darwazi towards the Gospel.
* Pray for God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Darwazi.