Azerbaijani in Georgia

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Azerbaijani
Country: Georgia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 219,000
World Population: 8,920,800
Primary Language: Azerbaijani, North
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Azerbaijani
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Azerbaijanis, AKA, Azeris, have a long history in Georgia. There was much intermixing of various ethnic groups that became more pronounced during the days of the Seljuk Empire (1037-1194) when the Georgians allied with a group of tribes, which allowed for more Turkic peoples to settle in Georgia. These Turkic peoples eventually consolidated into what we now call the Azerbaijanis. They embraced the Persian form of Islam during the earlier days when they were dominated by the Persians. Two Russo-Persian Wars in the early 1800s put this region under the control of the Russian Empire. The Azerbaijani community spread north and westward through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, all the while holding a presence in Georgia, which they have had ever since. Azeris who live in Georgia are most likely to be found in the capital city of Tbilisi, but also in more rural towns such as Kvemo Kartli, Kakheti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, and Shida Kartli.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Azerbaijanis make up a small percentage of the Georgian population, but they have a larger presence than they do in most other surrounding countries. Many Azeris do not know the Georgian language sufficiently to be able to participate in everyday society which leaves them with not enough representation to have their needs met. They do not always assimilate well, partly because they are Shia Muslim in a Christian country.
Though the Azeris are an old nation, very few of their tribal traditions have been preserved in Georgia. Georgia, like most Caucasus nations, has suffered from the tension between various ethnic groups, which has sometimes resulted in violence. Ironically, the Azeris in Georgia live peacefully side by side with the Armenians, a people they have fought against as recently as 2020-21.
Most Azeris are involved in industry rather than agriculture and live in cities as apartment dwellers. In addition to living in Georgia's capital city of Tiblisi, Azeris also live in small cities and towns in the countryside.
The Azerbaijani diet consists mainly of rice pilaf and a variety of grilled and boiled meats including beef, goat, and lamb. Traditional dishes include bozartma (mutton stew), dovga (a soup made from yogurt), meat, and herbs. Tea and wine are popular drinks.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Because of the Azeri's historical ties with Iran, Shia Islam is dominant. The Azeris are primarily of the Ithna Ashari (Twelver's) tradition of Shia Islam, which emphasizes the importance of 12 divinely ordained leaders, one of whom will appear with Christ in the end times. There are also some Sunni Muslims among them. Until the twentieth century, most Azeris identified more with Islam than with their nationality. These beliefs were modified, especially under the atheistic rule of the USSR.

What Are Their Needs?

The Azeris need the chance to make Christ the center of their lives so they can live life to the full (Jn. 10:10).

Prayer Points

Pray for dedicated, Holy Spirit anointed workers to go to the Azeris in Georgia.
Pray for spiritual discernment and hunger among these Shia Muslims.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to move among Azeri family heads, so they will be willing to listen to the gospel with open hearts and minds.
Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among Azeris in the 2020s.

Text Source:   Joshua Project