Introduction / History
In 1871, British colonialists labeled the Perna as a "criminal tribe" and a "Denotified and Nomadic Tribe." Both of these labels stigmatized them, and it still causes them problems today, more than 60 years after the newly independent Indian government took them out of these categories. Though they were once nomads, they are now in settled communities.
Though they are mainly Hindu, some converted to Islam hundreds of years ago, and retain this religion today.
Where are they located?
Muslim Perna people in India live in Punjab state, though most live over the border in Pakistan.
What are their lives like?
Most are landless farm workers, though some own their own farms. Commonly they are moving to cities to take on construction jobs. Unfortunately, it is common in the Perna community for a wife to be sold into prostitution by her in-laws after she bears her first child. Her husband often doesn't work. She must "work" from 11 at night till 7 in the morning, come home and take care of the needs of her family members. Her mother in law usually collects the money from her. Perna women adamantly do not want their daughters to go into sex work, so they try to get them into good schools.
What are their beliefs?
Muslim Perna people are Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. They believe that the One, Supreme God, Allah, spoken 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.
In most of the Muslim world, peoples 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. The often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.
What are their needs?
The Perna people need a constructive way to earn a living. Perhaps believers can help their women with the trauma of being prostitutes and teach them marketable skills.
Pray for a movement of Jesus to heal and strengthen Perna families.
Pray for a "Book of Acts" type of movement to Christ among the Perna.
Pray for the Perna people to understand and embrace that Jesus wants to bless their families and neighborhoods.
Pray for Holy Spirit anointed believers from the Perna people to change their society from within.
Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers Perna disciples to make more disciples.
ReferencesView Perna (Muslim traditions) in all countries.