Introduction / History
The Bangash people are one of the 30 major tribes that make up the Pashtun. The Pashtun are the largest tribal people in the world, with over 50 million members. Most Bangash live northwestern Pakistan near the city of Peshawar and the Afghan border. Smaller groups live across northern India. The Pashtun ruled Afghanistan from 1747 until 1973 and are the dominant people in that country.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Like all Pashtun, the Bangash live and die based on their honor code. One’s public reputation is paramount to a Pashtun. All one’s decisions should avoid shaming one’s family and tribe. Such a collectivistic mentality is difficult for a person from the West to comprehend.
Many Pashtuns have left their traditional homeland of Pakistan and Afghanistan and moved to areas where they are a minority, such as northern India, the Persian Gulf and the West. Due to the poverty and unrest in their homeland, many men leave and seek employment. They send much of their earnings home to support their families. A husband and father may spend only a few weeks a year with his family.
The primary language of the Bangash is Northern Pashto. Many Bangash men can speak Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. A complete Bible became available in Northern Pashto in 2019. The Bangash are primarily an oral culture with only a minority of people being able to read and write. There are few, if any, Bangash followers of Christ.
The traditional occupations of the Bangash involve agriculture and animal husbandry. They grow barley, wheat and millet along with seasonal fruit and vegetables. They raise goats, sheep and cattle for their hides, meat and milk products. Bangash trade surplus grain and animals for things they cannot make themselves such as cell phones, radios, appliances and weapons. Many Bangash now live in urban areas where they work as drivers, security guards and in the construction and retail businesses.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Men and women have clearly defined roles in Bangash society. Men work, fight and provide for their families. Women work in the home and take care of her children. A woman must submit to her father, husband and brothers. In cities, women are becoming more educated and working outside the home.
All Pashtun men must be a warrior. Any affront to one’s family or tribe must be avenged. As a result, blood feuds sometimes last for decades.
The Bangash are evenly divided between Sunnis and Shias, the two main branches of Islam. These two Muslim groups have been fighting each other since the time of Mohammad’s death. Both groups of Islam believe that by obeying the Five Pillars of Islam that one will obtain paradise when one dies. Most Bangash also practice folk Islam with a belief in evil spirits and a reverence for Muslim saints and their ancestors.
What Are Their Needs?
Few rural Bangash have access to modern medicine and schools for their children. Teams of medical personnel can help bring basic health to the Bangash. Teachers can help their children learn to read and write. Most of all, the Bangash need to hear a clear presentation of the good news of Isa or Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.
* Scripture Prayers for the Pashtun Bangash in Pakistan.
Pray that radio and TV programs become available in the dialect of Northern Pashto that the Bangash speak.
Pray that Bangash families respond positively to these radio and TV programs.
Pray for a just and lasting peace in the areas where the Bangash live.
Pray for a spiritual hunger for God in Bangash leaders that will lead them to the cross.
Pray the Lord raises up a strong church planting movement among the Bangash of Pakistan this decade.