Introduction / History The Turks of Romania are often referred to as the Osmanlis, the Rumelian Turks, and the Balkan Turks, (Rumelia means "land of the Romans" and refers to the Balkan Mountains). They are the descendants of the Ottoman Turks who migrated from their central Asian homeland, conquered Anatolia (modern day Turkey), and eventually established the Ottoman Empire.
At its peak, the Ottoman Empire encompassed the Balkan Mountains, Arabia, and North Africa. At one time, the empire also threatened to take over Vienna. Romania was part of the Ottoman Empire for more than 300 years, until the country gained its independence in the 1860s.
Religious freedom was guaranteed to all citizens under the Communist Romanian Constitution, but in practice, religion was not encouraged and clergy were restricted and often hindered in their duties. Religious education was discouraged and, in some cases, totally banned.
What are their lives like? During the long Ottoman Empire reign, Rumelian Turks often settled in Balkan towns and served as military personnel or administrators, or worked as craftsmen. During the late eighteenth century, many Crimean Tatars and Circassians from the Caucasus migrated to the Dobruja region, where they were given land by the Ottoman government. The immigrants formed farming villages, adopted the Turkish language and religion, and intermingled with Rumelian Turks. These Dobruja Rumelian Turks are still a distinctive cultural entity. However, religious, linguistic, and social differences prevented Rumelian Turks from intermarrying with the local populations in large numbers. When they did intermarry, Turkish men usually married Muslim, non-Turkish women. Under Communist rule, the Muslim minority was governed by a Mufti (Muslim leader), whose seat was at Constanta, the capital of the Dobruja region.
Many Turks left the Balkans after Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania became independent countries in the nineteenth century. After World War II, about 200,000 Turks from Bulgaria and Romania were relocated in Turkey. Many of the estimated 5.5 million Rumelian Turk who returned to Turkey were given land. Local people call the Rumelian Turk settlements "immigrant villages." The Dobruja Turks who migrated to Turkey have been assimilated in large numbers into the Turkish professional classes and serve in various government organizations.
Lamb, a favorite meat of the Turks, is typically prepared as a pilaf (rice and oil cooked with small bits of meat). Turks relish sweets, and they are especially fond of Turkish delight (a gummy confection usually cut in cubes and dusted with sugar). The Muslim religion forbids drinking alcoholic beverages; instead, the Turks drink lots of strong coffee and yogurt.
What are their beliefs? While the majority of Romanians are Christian (mostly Orthodox, but also Protestant and Roman Catholic), nearly all Rumelian Turks in Romania are Hanafite Muslim. The Turks adhere to the five essential "pillars" or duties in Islam: (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime.
What are their needs? The Bible and the Jesus film are available in Turkish. However, very few Rumelian Turks in Romania are known to have become Christians. These precious people desperately need committed workers who will show them Christ's love.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth Christian laborers to live and work among Rumelian Turks of Romania.
* Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Rumelian Turks.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Rumelian Turkish Christians.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of Rumelian Turks towards Christians so they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a strong and growing Rumelian Christian presence for the glory of His name!