Introduction / History
Turkmen culture has been strongly influenced in the past by both Turkic conquerors, who imposed their language on them, and Arabs, who forced them to convert to Islam. They were nomadic for hundreds of years, making their living by raising livestock and selling Persian slaves they had captured. A common saying was that a Turkmen’s home is where his horse is. They began to settle in the 19th century. At that point they became semi-nomadic, herding their sheep and camels during part of the year and growing crops in their homeland the other part of the year. The Turkmen were forced onto collective farms when Turkmenistan became one of the "Soviet Socialist Republics," and their days as nomads came to an end. Turkmen tend to be physically strong and easily able to endure the harshness of the environment. They are characterized by their hospitality, sincerity, and trustworthiness; however, they are also known as being hot-headed and revengeful. The Turkmen are one of the many Central Asian ethnic groups that have a related Turkic language. These languages are not necessarily mutually intelligible, but they often understand part of the other languages. The Turkmen have their own nation, Turkmenistan, where most of them live. There is also a large population of Turkmen in Iran, where they make up about a third of the population. They also live in just about all Central Asian nations and there is even a very small number in India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Turkmen are especially known for their brisk trade in the bazaars, where people can find many samples of their handicrafts. Some of these include metal and wooden household utensils, tools, and furniture. Many have also supplemented their income by producing intricately designed carpets. Tribal loyalties continue to have a strong influence over the Turkmen. The largest descent group is the tribe, then the clan, then the family. Members of a tribe are bound by a strong sense of family loyalty. Tribal loyalty is reinforced by the fact that the Turkmen will only marry within their tribes. Arranged marriages are common, and families often intermarry to preserve wealth. Although there have been political and economic changes through the years, less changes have occurred in the areas of family life and religion. However, this is very difficult for the Turkmen in India to sustain since they are a small ethnic group that professes Islam in a Hindu land.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Nestorian Christians entered Turkmenistan in the fourth century AD. ; by the beginning of the fourteenth century, though, any lingering trace of Christianity had been totally replaced by Islam. This transition gradually came to influence the political, civil, and economic lives of the people. In 1928, the Soviet authorities launched an anti-religious campaign aimed at the complete destruction of Islam among the Turkmen. The campaign was the harshest and most violent of all anti-Islamic attacks in Central Asia. Today, despite their outward conformity to Islam, mysticism and other past religious traditions are still prevalent among the Turkmen people.
What Are Their Needs?
There are almost no Christian believers among the Turkmen people. The vast majority of the Turkmen live without the abundant life offered by Jesus, the one who wants to give them joy and salvation. This is especially true in India where there are probably no believers from the Turkmen people.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Turkmen people teachable and understanding hearts. Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Turkmen families into a rich experience of God’s blessing. Pray for Turkmen families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ’s work on the cross. Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Turkmen family leaders to experience God’s blessing through a movement of family-based discovery Bible studies.
Scripture Prayers for the Turkmen in India.