Introduction / History The Afshari are descendants from the larger Azerbaijani people cluster that occupies a wide area from Caucasus to the Iranian plateau. The Afshars (sometimes spelled Avshar) are a nomadic turkic tribe which originated in central Asia and is now found in parts of Iran, Syria and Turkey. Many Afshari make their home in the area surrounding the Iranian city of Kemerman.
What are their lives like? The Afshari are well known as skilled carpet weavers. The men practice animal husbandry, while the women sell their highly prized rugs, runners and decorative pieces. Their large families live in tents in tents hand- woven from black goat hair. They are semi -nomadic, moving between winter and summer pasture lands. In recent decades trucks and motorcycles have replaced camels and horses. Most Afshari families own a radio and a cassette recorder, they are connected to the world by radio and they love to listen to music.
What are their beliefs? The Afshari are primarily Muslims of the ithna ashari tradition but there are some Hanafite Muslims as well. Isla, among the Afshari is a reflection of the historical ties that exist between Azerbaijan and Iran. Until the twentieth century, most Afshari identified themselves as Muslim rather than Azerbaijani. They believe that being a"spiritual community of Islam" was much more important that being a nation. Among the Afshari, religious practices are less restrictive of women's activities than in most of Muslim countries. The majority of Afshari have jobs outside the home and a few have attained leadership positions. However, some evidence of the traditional, restrictive female role remains.
What are their needs? The Afshari livng in Iran are very resistant to the Gospel. Currently, there are no known believers among them. The availability of the Jesus film and scriptures are all positive aspects. But with only one missions agency targeting them, reaching the Afshari remains a difficult task.
Prayer Points * Pray for Christian radio programming in the Afshari dialect of Azerbaijani.
* Pray that gospel recordings will soon be distributed in their communities.
* Pray that Afshari people who may have studied abroad and become believers in Christ will return to their people and spread the gospel. * Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language.