Introduction / History The Indo-Pakistanis are originally from the subcontinent of India. Today, they live in many nations around the world. These Indo-Pakistani groups are located in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Cote d'Ivoire, and Democratic Republic of Congo. The largest of these groups is located in Yemen.
In Yemen and Democratic Republic of Congo, most of the Indo-Pakistanis are Hindus; while in Saudi Arabia, they are primarily Muslims. Many speak Hindi as their native tongue, while others speak various other Indian languages. They may also speak the language of the nation in which they now live.
"Indo-Pakistani" is a general term used to describe these groups, since many peoples of Indian origin do not specify which language group they belong to. For example, many may actually be Gujarati, Hindi, or Punjabi; but together (especially for census purposes), they are simply known as the Indo-Pakistani.
What are their lives like? The lives of Hindus have traditionally been governed by a rigid system of heriditary classes known as castes. Castes are actually culture groups based primarily on occupation, with members of the same profession belonging to the same caste. These castes are divided into sub-castes, which are further divided into even smaller social classes. The caste system is very strict, and members of one caste are not allowed to change from the caste in which they were born. People are required to marry within their caste and to do the work assigned to their caste. Generally, only Indians of the higher, wealthier castes have been able to immigrate to other countries. After arriving in other countries, they often establish their own businesses.
The Brahmins form the highest Hindu caste. This class consists of the religious and scholarly. However, as a result of British influence in India, educational opportunities gradually became available to most of the other castes. The Indo-Pakistani groups outside of India tend to exhibit this British influence more than the people living in India. These immigrant groups have also shown Western influence in their clothing. Still, some of the Hindu Indo-Pakistani continue to wear their traditional clothes: the men wear dhotis (loin cloths), and the women wear saris (cloths that are wrapped around the waist and over the shoulder or head). Most of them also continue to eat their native Indian foods. Although the Hindu religion requires vegetarianism, most Indo-Pakistanis eat some types of meat.
Islamic influence has been strong among some of the Indo-Pakistani, especially in Saudi Arabia, but also in Yemen. There, the Indo-Pakistani are required to follow Islamic law. For example, the women are required to wear chadors, which are loose, usually black robes worn by Muslim women. The chador covers the entire body from head to toe, and most of the face. Chadors much be worn in public and during the month of Ramadan. In addition, the Hindu Indo-Pakistani are treated as second class citizens by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
What are their beliefs? Hindus are polytheistic, which means that they worship many gods and goddesses. The most important gods worshipped are Brahman, the creator of the universe; Vishnu, its preserver; and Shiva, its destroyer. Another important Hindu deity is Shiva's wife, who has several names. She is best known as Durga, Kali, Parvati, or Uma. As Parvati or Uma, she is the beloved goddess of motherhood. As Durga or Kali, she is the feared goddess of destruction.
According to Hindu doctrine, animals as well as humans have souls. Hindus believe that souls live innumerable lives in different bodies, being born again, or reincarnated, after death as animals or humans. They believe that if a person lives a good life, his soul will be born into a higher state. Whereas, if he leads an evil life, his soul will be born into a lower state, perhaps even as a worm! The cycle supposedly continues until the soul achieves spiritual perfection and enters a higher state of existence.
In contrast, Muslims believe that there is only one god, Allah. Theirs is a religion of works based on five basic "pillars." Muslims must affirm that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." They are also required to pray five times a day, give alms to the poor, fast during the month of Ramadan, and try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca.
What are their needs? The Hindu Indo-Pakistanis of Yemen and Saudi Arabia live difficult lives due to the fact that they are a religious minority in Muslim countries. Those living in Democratic Republic of Congo have been greatly affected by a recent civil war that has devastated the nation.
Saudi Arabia and Yemen do not allow Christian missionaries to enter the countries. As a result, it is very difficult to reach the Indo-Pakistani who live there. In Democratic Republic of Congo, the civil war has disrupted missions work, and any work among the Indo-Pakistanis is virtually impossible at this time. Although the Indo-Pakistani Muslims of Cote d'Ivoire are guaranteed religious freedom, they remain followers of a religion of works. Very few of the Indo-Pakistanis in Cote d'Ivoire ever have heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Local Christians must seize the opportunity to share Christ with the Indo-Pakistanis.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among each of the Indo-Pakistani groups.
* Pray that Christians in Cote d'Ivoire will have a burden to reach their Muslim neighbors.
* Ask the Lord to send Christian businessmen to minister life to the Indo-Pakistani in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
* Pray that the war-torn Indo-Pakistani of Democratic Republic of Congo will begin to call on God for help.
* Ask the Lord to raise up prayer teams who will faithfully intercede for Indo-Pakistanis.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth many fellowships of Christian believers among Indo-Pakistanis for the glory of His name!