Introduction / History Pre-second century inhabitants, Hazaras are likely the first to live in Afghanistan. Their traditional homeland lies in central Afghanistan amid rugged mountains - a wildly beautiful, nearly inaccessible region of craggy peaks and rushing rivers called the Hazarajat. Hazara origins are much debated. Their name is from a Persian word meaning "thousand." 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 regional languages—Arabic, Urdu, Mongol, Turkish and Dari/Farsi, which is now Afghanistan's primary language.
Prior to the 19th century, Hazara were 67% of the total population, the largest Afghan ethnic group. More than half were massacred in 1893 when they lost their autonomy through political action. Later militant governments, including the Taliban, attempted to dismiss them historically, politically and culturally by labeling them a mere religious entity and continued to attack them until they were driven from power. With the Pashtun-dominated Taliban in power, persecution of the Hazaras has increased tremendously.
Understandably, the Hazara have left Afghanistan to countries where they can safely earn a living a raise families. Some of these countries are geographically close such as Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and the United Arab Emirates. Others have fled much further to Australia, Canada and the United States. Surprisingly, there are a couple thousand in Indonesia, in Southeast Asia. Those who live in Indonesia are in Puncak, a town in western Java Island.
What are their lives like? Hazaras are trying to either re-settle in Indonesia or use that country as a springboard to Australia, Malaysia or Singapore. Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention, so these Hazaras have no rights in this Southeast Asian country. Hazara refugees have been stuck for many years without getting an education, work or health care. There are news reports of Hazaras who protest in Indonesia being beaten by the police. A smaller number have married local Indonesians and started new lives in that country. Since Indonesia's economy is weak, there are very few foreigners who can settle there. Some Hazaras have committed suicide.
What are their beliefs? Hazara people are usually Shia Muslim. Shia practices tend toward the ecstatic. They affirm human free will, and they differ with the Sunni Muslims in matters of law and ceremony. Unlike the Sunnis, Shias believe that Mohammad's successor should be someone in his bloodline, namely Ali. Because some of their leaders have faced violent, martyr's death, Shias understand that a righteous man can be killed by the unrighteous. For this reason, Christ's death on a Roman cross isn't as foreign to them as it is to Sunnis. Only about 15 percent of the world's Muslims are Shia; most of the rest are Sunni.
To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.
What are their needs? The Hazara people in Indonesia need the opportunity to start new lives. They also need the chance for a new spiritual start.
Prayer Points Pray for loving gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Hazara people for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing the hearts of these people would be open and ready to follow him.
Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended families so the gospel will spread rapidly.
Pray for the spiritual lives of the Hazara people to become fruitful so others will be drawn to Jesus Christ. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.