Introduction / History
Persians (also known as Iranians) are an ethnic group native to Iran. Around 1000 B.C., various Persian tribes began to settle in the territory that is now Iran. The tribes became a more cohesive political unit under the Achaemenian dynasty. Their unity soon made them the dominant ethnic group in the region. For 1,200 years, Persians conquered empires and their rule extended from Egypt to India until their conquest by Arabs in the 7th century A.D.
It was not until the Islamic revolution of 1979 that massive changes came to Iran, when a vast majority emigrated for security reasons. In the 21st century, most Iranians were leaving the country because of political crackdowns, illegal asset confiscation by the state, heavy-handed social and religious control, or the danger of persecution based on sexual orientation. Although the vast majority of Persians now live either in Iran or in one of the nearby countries, small Persian communities can also be found in many other nations around the world including Slovakia.
There is a growing relationship between the countries of Iran and Slovakia in both the political and cultural arena. There is an active presence of Iranians in the country's book fairs, cinema and other arts. Due to an agreement by the government of Slovakia to facilitate issuing visas to Iranian nationals, there is a growing number of Persians who flock to Slovakia.
What are their lives like?
Iranian citizens who immigrate to Slovakia first apply for temporary residence permits that are renewed until they have permanent residence status. For this purpose, Iranians try their best to live in Slovakia for five uninterrupted years. They also are granted Slovak citizenship when they establish themselves and help in the growth of the country's economy.
Iranians relocate to Slovakia for employment and /or for reuniting with their families because they find that these are the safest options to obtain residence. Most of them who immigrate are self-employed successful businessman and entrepreneurs. Starting a business and investing in their companies grants them various facilities from the government. The other main reason for Iranians to immigrate to Slovakia is for higher education in Slovak universities and other accredited educational institutions.
To cater to the vast number of expatriates in the capital city, there are a handful of Persian restaurants that serve traditional Persian fare of kebabs, biryanis, baklavas, Iranian style tea, etc.
What are their beliefs?
Ever since Shia form of Islam became the national religion of Iran, Iranians strictly adhere to the tenets of the sect, where the clergy play an important role in both the social and political lives of the people. Today, most Iranians are officially Shia Muslims of the Ithna Ashari branch.
However, many Iranians who migrate are disillusioned with state-enforced spirituality, especially in light of the hypocrisy which they saw in the Iranian government. For this reason, most are either Shia Muslim only in name. Some expatriate Iranians also consider themselves irreligious, agnostic, or atheist.
Slovakia does not have a mosque except for an Islamic center located in Bratislava. Iranian Muslims sometimes gather for daily prayers at the center which holds about 80-100 people.
What are their needs?
Iranians are hardworking people, and they show the same kind of work ethic in the countries where they immigrate. They face challenging situations in new countries until they find a way to support themselves.
Fortunately, being in a place where there is freedom of religion gives them a chance to hear and respond to the claims of Jesus Christ. However, there is a lack of workers who will lead them in their search for spirituality.
Pray for a flourishing movement to Christ among Iranians in Slovakia.
Pray for harvest workers who are familiar with the culture and language of the Persians, who can reach them with an in-depth knowledge of the Koran.
Ask the Lord to reveal himself to the Iranians through visions and dreams so that they may seek the truth.
Pray that God will rise up faithful intercessors, who will stand in the gap for the Iranians in Europe.
Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect formerly Muslim Iranians who have come to faith and through whom their entire community may come to find the Lord.
Pray that the many Slovakian missionary movements may also have a burden to reach the immigrants through their outreach activities.
Text source: Joshua Project