Introduction / History The Northern Kurds are actually part of a much greater Kurd population. They are made up of a number of clans, tribes, and tribal confederations, many of which have been in existence for thousands of years. This large people group shares several important and common ties. Not only do they speak closely related languages, but they also share a common culture, geographical homeland, and sense of identity.
Where are they located? Many Kurds live in the beautiful Caucasus Mountains which are located in southwestern Russia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. They originated in modern Turkey and Iran. Large numbers of Kurds arrived in the Caucasus during the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were seeking refuge from the wars between Ottoman Turkey and Tsarist Russia. Unlike the Kurds of nearby Armenia and Georgia, who are mainly Yezidi Muslims, most of the Northern Kurds are Sunni Muslims.
What are their lives like? Although many Northern Kurds still farm and care for animals, many now live in cities.
Kurds living in the former Soviet countries are among the most prosperous citizens. They face no discrimination, and many even hold high political offices. They enjoy the use of utilities, roads, housing, and medical facilities that would be considered "luxurious" in their homeland of Kurdistan.
The daily diet of most Kurds centers on bread, dairy products, dates, tea, and meat. The wealthier Kurds have a more varied diet and consume more rice, meats, and fruits. In accordance with their Islamic beliefs, Kurds are forbidden to eat pork or drink alcohol.
Any difficulties in Kurdish society are camouflaged by family ties, religious beliefs, and tribal traditions. These factors still shape the Kurds' ideas, despite the almost total collapse of their tribal structures. Although they are still modest in behavior, the Kurdish women are not required to wear a veil and are not particularly shy of strange men. Some women have even been able to engage in politics within their tribes and have become very successful.
What are their beliefs? Nearly all Kurds are Muslim, most being Shafiite Sunnis. They first embraced Islam after the Arab conquests of the seventh century. Today, they primarily look to Islam as a basis for social justice. However, despite being predominantly Muslim, religion has created deep rifts among the Kurds. Many of the dispossessed Kurd minorities have become associated with secret and unorthodox sects of Islam.
What are their needs? Kurds have a strong sense of family values and tradition runs deep within their communities. Because of their firmly held beliefs, the Kurds have been resistant to evangelization. The New Testament has already been translated into Kurmanji.
Prayer Points Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to share the Gospel with Northern Kurds.
Ask God to give the Northern Kurdish believers opportunities to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of Kurds so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
Pray that God will open the hearts of governmental leaders to the Gospel.
Pray that God will raise up strong fellowships of believers among the Kurds.