Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
Very little is known about the history of the Koli people, and there is conflicting information about their origins. According to one source, the Koli were once a fishing community.
There are several Koli subgroups. Muslim Koli people of India speak the Gujarati language.
What are their lives like?
The traditional occupation of the coastal Koli is fishing, although many are now employed in schools and government offices. Other Koli people work in agriculture. As sharecroppers, they raise cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane, corn, and oil seeds. The biggest problem for the farmers is the control of the water supply. Some of the tribes live near the eastern tributaries of the Indus River, which overflows in July and August, serving as an irrigation system for their crops.
Koli people exhibit a vivid array of colors in their paintings and other artistic designs.
Some live in simple houses with thatched roofs, mud walls, and dirt floors; others live in decorative homes with tiled roofs, brick walls, and paved or cement floors.
Most of the Koli people live in poverty. Less than half of them are literate. Their social status is considered low, but not "impure." Their spiritual poverty is most desperate.
What are their beliefs?
These people are Sunni Muslims who believe that the supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.
In most of the Muslim world, people depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.
What are their needs?
Muslim Koli people need to know that true peace and love can only be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pray for a team of knowledgeable believers to help the Koli people have adequate clean water.
Pray for the Koli people to have easy access to the many Christian resources that are available to them in the Gujarati language.
Pray for a disciple-making movement to begin among the Koli people and spread to other Muslim peoples in India.
Pray that the many gospel resources will soon be available, along with people to help them understand God's truth.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will help them to turn to Jesus for answers.
ReferencesView Koli (Muslim traditions) in all countries.