Introduction / History
The Northern Kurds, also known as Kurmanji because of their language, are part of a much greater Kurdish population. They are made up of a number of clans, tribes, and tribal confederations, many of which have been in existence for thousands of years. This large people group shares several important and common ties. Not only do they speak closely related languages, but they also share a common culture, geographical homeland, and sense of identity.
Kurds are divided by both outside influences and internal strife. In spite of their longing for a united Kurdistan, the people have not yet successfully initiated any political or liberation movement. Historical trends have driven them apart and accentuated their differences. However, since 1965, these proud and fiercely independent people have made a clear return to their roots. The urge to speak Kurdish is becoming a catalyst for more and more educated Kurds. These networks of independence-minded Kurds can seep into their communities in other countries like Ukraine.
Where are they located?
Most Northern Kurds live in Turkey, Iraq, Syria or Iran, but there is a considerable Kurmanji speaking Kurdish diaspora in several countries including the United States and Ukraine.
What are their lives like?
Although many Northern Kurds still farm and care for animals, many now live in cities.
Kurds living in the former Soviet countries like Ukraine are among the most prosperous citizens. They face no discrimination, and many even hold high political offices. They enjoy the use of utilities, roads, housing, and medical facilities that would be considered "luxurious" in their homeland of Kurdistan.
What are their beliefs?
Although Kurds are predominantly Sunnis, there is stormy hostility between the Sunni Kurds and the Shi'ite Kurds. These differences have class overtones, and the lower-class minorities are associated with the more unorthodox sects of Islam. These have proven to be the most fervently rebellious parts of Kurdish society.
Even among the Sunni Kurds, there are traces of an earlier pagan and violent type faith which sets them apart from other Muslims. In the rural areas, many still believe in jinnis, demons, and elements of animal worship. Mullahs (Muslim spiritual leaders) play an important role in the social and cultural life of those living in the country.
What are their needs?
Kurds have a strong sense of family values and tradition runs deep within their communities. Because of their firmly held beliefs, the Kurds have been resistant to evangelization. The New Testament has already been translated into Kurmanji.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to share the gospel with Northern Kurds.
* Ask God to give the Northern Kurdish believers opportunities to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of Kurds so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will raise up strong fellowships of believers among Kurmanji speaking Northern Kurds.
Text source: Keith Carey