Introduction / History The term "Urdu" does not adequately describe the Urdu people as such, but is merely a language distinction. Urdu, now the official language of Pakistan, is an Indo-Iranian language that developed from the Hindi language. It is heavily laden with Persian and Arabic words and is written in the Persian script. Urdu-speaking Muslims are not an ethnic group in the strictest sense, but are rather a collection of ethnic groups who have been widely dispersed geographically. They possess a sense of "group identity" based on cultural and historical factors.
A majority of the Urdu speakers originate in Pakistan and the northern states of India. However, in recent years, many Urdu-speaking Muslims have emigrated to European countries like Belgium, searching for economic opportunities. Urdu speaking skilled laborers and highly educated professionals have emigrated to Western Europe.
Where are they located? Many Muslim minorities like the Urdu live in Verviers, a city in Belgium.
What are their lives like? Though many come to Europe with a good educational background, Urdu speaking Pakistanis have a high unemployment rate. They are often looked upon with suspicion by the Belgian majority. These factors together have made them ripe to join militant Islamicists who wage war in the Middle East and commit terrorist attacks in Europe.
What are their beliefs? Although the Urdu speakers are all Muslims, this is no longer a unifying factor. There are intense differences among the various Muslim sects; the Hanafites, Shafiites, and Ithna-Asharis. Since entire communities tended to migrate together, different Islamic sects are found in different countries. Islam is central to their identity even if they do not practice it.
What are their needs? Very few mission agencies are focusing on the Urdu speaking communities. There needs to be greater efforts to effectively reach Urdu speakers with the gospel in Europe where there is freedom of religion.
Assuming all Europeans are "Christian," Urdu speakers equate sexual immorality and the like with "Christianity." They need to see true Christianity lived out to understand that it has something valid for anyone who wants to live a holy life.
Prayer Points * Pray that there will be concentrated efforts to reach Pakistanis and other Muslims in Belgium in the near future.
* Pray that Urdu speakers living in Belgium would know the love and kindness of God through the actions of Christian neighbors.
* Pray for Pakistanis in Belgium to begin a church planting movement.