Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
Afghanistan boasts the largest Tajik population outside their homeland to the north in Tajikistan. Comprising over one-quarter of the Afghan population, they are the second largest group in the country. Dating from the 4th century, historical evidence strongly supports their being one of the most ancient of the surviving Central Asian people groups. An old Turkish expression, "Tajik" is synonymous with "Persian." Most often they refer to themselves by the valley name of their home region rather than as Tajik.
A small number of them have left Central Asia and settled in Ukraine.
What are their lives like?
In Ukraine, the Afghan Tajiks struggle with a different language and a brutal war with Russia. Though they are small in number, they try to maintain their ancient artistic traditions such as poetry, folk tales, artwork, songs and dances in a strange land. Creative expressions include handsome carpets, ceramics, richly embroidered costumes and men's brightly colored caps and jewelry.
Tajik society is male dominated, but women have known less public restriction in the workplace and society (except under Taliban rule) than women in other Muslim groups. Their private lives are similar, however, leaning to the man's advantage. Women have no rights of inheritance.
Both Ukraine and Tajikistan were once part of the USSR. Today the Tajik government is pressured by Russia to take a pro-Kremlin stance. This situation can possibly make it awkward for Tajiks in Ukraine.
What are their beliefs?
Forcefully converted to Islam by Arabs in the 7th century, Afghan Tajiks remain almost entirely Muslim. Religious traditions dictate rituals to celebrate important life passages, including birth, marriage and death. Every day they recite memorized prayers and in some communities Tajiks practices incorporating magic, charms and animistic beliefs still have a place.
What are their needs?
Despite the strong church presence in Ukraine, the Afghan Tajiks remain solidly Muslim. They need to hear about the life-changing savior.
Pray for Holy Spirit anointed Ukrainian Christ followers to take the Lord to the Muslim Afghan Tajiks.
Pray for the Afghan Tajiks to have a desire for spiritual truth, and to find it in the old rugged cross.
Pray for disciplers to make disciples of the Afghan Tajik people.
ReferencesView Afghan, Tajik in all countries.