Islam arrived in the area now known as Pakistan in 711 AD when a Muslim Arab army conquered the northwestern part of the Indus Valley from Kashmir to the Arabian Sea. Technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and sufis flocked from the rest of the Arab and Muslim world to the Islamic Sultanate in South Asia and settled permanently.
The descendants of these Arabs usually go by the title of Shaikh. Shaikh is also a term that is usually attributed to the leaders or elders of Arabian social groups. Other variants of this term are Sheik, Shaykh, Shaikh, Cheikh, Šeih, Šejh, Seyh.
Where Are they Located?
There are a few Shaikhs even in far-away New Zealand, but most are in the South Asian countries of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. A small number live in Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Shaikhs are not bound by one particular profession. They can be broadly grouped into five communities. Three of these communities are the Siddiks, Farukis and Abbasi who are often descendants of Arab immigrants. The other two are the Chistis and Kuraishis communities who tend to be mainly from converts to Islam. Common surnames are Mondal, Siddiqui, Usmani, Faroqui and Sheikh.
As prominent Muslims in Buddhist and Hindu dominated Sri Lanka, the Shaikhs probably don't have the high status they enjoy in Muslim countries.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Shaikhs profess Islam and have both Sunni and Shia traditions among them. They are among the most devout Muslims in South Asia.
What Are Their Needs?
Shaikhs need to understand their proper position before God is one of a sinner who needs forgiveness and mercy from a holy God. There is nothing any person can do to earn forgiveness; it is a gift from the Almighty.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Shaikh in Sri Lanka teachable and understanding hearts.
Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Shaikh families into a rich experience of God's blessing.
Pray for Shaikh 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 Shaikh family leaders to experience God's blessing through a movement of family-based discovery Bible studies.
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