Introduction / History The Kazakh, a Turkic people, are the second largest Muslim people group of Central Asia. In times past, they may have been the most influential of the various Central Asian ethnic groups. While most of the Kazakhs now live in Kazakhstan, they make up less than half of the country's population. Large communities can also be found in Mongolia, Ukraine, and Russia, but there are also some who have migrated to Italy and other western countries.
The Kazakhs developed a distinct ethnic identity in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Several of their clans formed a federation that would provide mutual protection. As other clans joined the federation, its political influence began to take on an ethnic character.
During the nineteenth century, the Russians acquired Central Asia through a steady process of annexation. They eventually claimed the entire territory of Kazakhstan. Tragically, about half of the Kazakh population was killed during the Russian Civil War of the 1920s and 1930s. During this time, many fled to China and Mongolia. Today some of them have wandered even further from home to places like Italy.
Where are they located? Kazakhs in Italy tend to live in large cities like Milan, Rome and Florence.
What are their lives like? Some of the few Kazakhs in Italy are doing menial work, others are in professional jobs, and there are a few members of the Kazakh elite in that country, one of which was facing embezzlement charges in the early 2010s. The Kazakhs in Italy must adjust to a new culture and new language.
What are their beliefs? The Kazakhs embraced Islam during the sixteenth century and still consider themselves Muslim today. However, their Islamic practices have been combined with traditional folk religions. Traditional Kazakh folk religion includes beliefs in spirits. They practice animism and ancestor worship. Animism is the belief that non-human objects have spirits. Ancestor worship involves praying and offering sacrifices to deceased ancestors. They also practice various traditional rituals before and after marriage, at birth, and at death.
However, much of their spiritual beliefs were curtailed when they were under the control of the atheistic Soviet Union. To a large degree, Kazakhs forgot much of what they learned about Islam. Today the Kazakhs in Italy have the chance to cultivate their spiritual lives without being forced to adhere to either Islam or atheism.
What are their needs? Kazakhs in Italy need spiritual hunger that will lead them to find the Lord Jesus who satisfies all who seek truth and righteousness.
Prayer Points * Pray for Kazakhs in Italy to find ways to earn a good living and provide valuable services to the nation.
* Pray for the Lord to raise up believers to take the ways of Jesus Christ to the Kazakhs.
* Pray for the Kazakhs to be discipled in such a way that they will live holy lives and take the gospel to others.