Kurd, Kurmanji in Turkmenistan

Kurd, Kurmanji
Photo Source:  manothegreek 
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People Name: Kurd, Kurmanji
Country: Turkmenistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 54,000
World Population: 14,881,100
Primary Language: Kurdish, Northern
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.50 %
Evangelicals: 0.20 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Kurd
Affinity Bloc: Persian-Median
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kurds are one of the largest ethno-linguistic people group in the world without their own nation. The homeland of the Kurds is in the Middle East, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and the northern sections of Iraq and Syria.

Kurds were sent to what is now Turkmenistan in the 1600s by Abbas I of Persia and Nader Shah. Centuries later, they lived under the thumb of Josef Stalin and the USSR. Stalin sent more Kurds to this land in 1937 and again in 1944.

After WWII Kurds began to migrate from the violence and turmoil of their native land to other countries. Some migrated to the former Central Asian Soviet Republics such as Turkmenistan. By the early 1980s the government of Turkmenistan was attempting to assimilate Kurds into the Turkmen culture and language. Today Kurds speak Turkmen at home while others speak Northern Kurdish or Kurmanji. Almost all Kurds in Turkmenistan also speak Russian which is helpful for any business transaction.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Northern Kurds living in the former Soviet countries such as Turkmenistan are among the most prosperous citizens. They face little or no discrimination, and many even hold high political offices, work as professionals and own large businesses. They enjoy the use of utilities, roads, housing and medical facilities that would be considered "luxurious" in their homeland of Kurdistan.

The traditional occupation of the Kurds in their homeland was that of nomadic herding of goats and sheep. Northern Kurdish parents encourage their boys and girls to obtain a college education. Family is an essential part of Northern Kurdish culture. The relationship between family members is close. The clan and community are more important than the individual in traditional Northern Kurdish society. The Kurdish father is the traditional head of the home. The groom's family must pay a bride price to the relatives of the bride because she becomes officially part of the groom's family after the wedding. Traditionally a Kurdish man and woman in love could not marry without both their families' permission. According to traditional values it was unthinkable for an unmarried Kurdish couple to live together.

A woman in Kurdistan was not considered an adult unless she was married and had children. In Turkmenistan a Kurdish woman may pursue a professional career and not marry. Northern Kurdish women and girls are expected to dress modestly. Dressing immodestly would dishonor her family. Turkmen Kurds tend to live in nuclear families while in Kurdistan, the land of the Kurds, they lived in extended families up to four generations under the one roof. Respecting older people is integral part of Kurdish culture.

Hospitality and family honor are significant features of Northern Kurdish culture in Turkmenistan. Many young people have started to put their own interests before that of their family and community. Modern school systems train young people to be independent. Kurdish families have faced pressures to change. Maintaining Kurdish values and adapting to Turkmen culture is a difficult balancing act every Kurdish person living in Turkmenistan must face.

What Are Their Beliefs?

About 75% of the world's Kurds claim to be Sunni Muslims. Smaller Kurdish groups include Shia, Sufi, Christian and Yazidi. Sunni Kurds try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. They believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. The Kurdish New Year on March 21 is celebrated as a major holiday by all Kurds regardless of religion.

What Are Their Needs?

The Kurds living in Turkmenistan must understand that biblical Christianity is not just a Western religion. They must see that their good works and devotion to family will not gain them the forgiveness of their sins or eternal life. Newly arrived Kurds need to learn the Turkmen language and job skills in order to fit into their new nation.

Prayer Points

Pray the Lord leads Christ followers to build friendships with Kurds and tell them about their Savior. Pray that God creates a hunger for the Bible and spiritual truth in the hearts of Northern Kurdish people living in Turkmenistan. Ask God to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among Kurds in Turkmenistan. Pray that Kurdish leaders are willing to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ.

Text Source:   Joshua Project