Introduction / History Tadziks are some of the original Iranian population of Iran, Afghanistan, and the region historically known as Turkestan. The name "Tadzik" refers to the traditionally non-nomadic, Caucasian people who speak various forms of Persian. They were the heirs and transmitters of the Central Asian culture that spread from the Iranian Plateau into an area extending roughly from the Caspian Sea to the borders of China. They built villages of flat-roofed mud or stone houses and cultivated irrigated fields of wheat, barley, and millet. Their gardens were famous for melons and a variety of fruits. Their crafts were highly developed, and their towns along the caravan routes linking Persia, China, and India were centers of trade.
Tadziks are a proud, diverse, surviving people, but are also recognized to be gracious and hospitable. They are hard workers and very family oriented. In Iran, their area of greatest concentration is in the region west of the city of Shiraz.
What are their lives like? More than half of Iran is either rugged terrain or wasteland, most of which is uninhabitable salt deserts. About one-tenth of the country is suitable for farming, and another one-fourth is suitable for grazing. Nearly one-third of the agricultural land area is irrigated, mostly in the hilly margins between desert and mountains.
Health conditions outside the capital are poor. Many inhabitants in small towns and rural areas suffer from unsanitary conditions and a shortage of medical personnel and facilities. Contagious diseases such as scarlet fever, whooping cough, pulmonary tuberculosis, and typhoid fever are prevalent. The infant mortality rate is a serious problem; it is very high by both international and Middle Eastern standards. Life expectancy is about 65 years for both sexes.
Although five years of primary education is compulsory in Iran, many rural children never attend school because of either parental objection or a lack of facilities. The secondary school system is relatively undeveloped, and it serves mainly to prepare small numbers of students for university-level education. The illiteracy rate in the country is high (over 90%) and compares poorly even to that of other Middle Eastern countries. However, the Tadzik manage to transmit their values and traditions through folklore, folk songs, and folk dances.
Many of the Tadziks are rural migrant farmers and herdsmen, who own their land and have little tribal organization. Other Tadziks live in the cities, where they are usually merchants and highly skilled craftsmen. Tadzik men wear turbans over brightly colored, embroidered caps, or if working in the fields, they wear woolen caps. Rural Tadzik women wear shawls rather than veils.
The culture of Iran is heavily influenced by the Muslim religion, as is evident in the art, literature, and social structure of the country. After the 1979 revolution, the Shi'ite clergy led a drive for renewed Muslim practices. Women were ordered to return to more traditional roles, movie theaters were closed, and radio stations were prohibited from broadcasting music. The segregation of men and women at social functions was re-instituted. Many women again wore the traditional chador, a long black cloth that is draped over the head and body.
What are their beliefs? Tadziks are virtually all Muslim, with most being Sunni Muslims of the Hanafite branch. Islam pervades all areas of life, including rituals relating to birth, puberty, marriage, and death. Memorized Arabic prayers are said daily. However, spiritism is also widely practiced, based on folk beliefs that include the use of amulets and charms.
What are their needs? There are only a few known Tadzik believers, but there may be numbers of secret believers. The Bible is available to them. In addition, Bible correspondence materials in their language are being circulated. Fervent intercession is the key to seeing Tadziks turn to Christ.
Prayer Points * Pray that the doors of Iran will soon be opened to the preaching of the Gospel.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom, favor, and protection to any missions agencies focusing on the Tadzik.
* Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among Tadziks, with many conversions resulting.
* Ask God to open the spiritual ears of Tadziks as they listen to Christian radio broadcasts in the Tajiki language.
* Pray that God will strengthen, embolden, and protect the few Tadzik believers.
* Ask God to raise up a mighty army of prayer warriors who will intercede for the Tadziks.
* Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among Tadziks.