Ismaili Muslims in the remote Pamir mountains
The soaring Pamir mountains dominate the landscape of greater Badashan / Badakshan, which spills over North Eastern Afghanistan, Eastern Tajikistan and Northern Pakistan. The peoples who live in these isolated mountain communities generally feel distinct from the majority of the populations in their nations. Badakshanis speak Eastern Persian mountain languages. They are often fairer skinned than others in their countries, with Caucasian features. However, the most distinctive aspect of Badakshani identity is their religion.
Badakshan is the one part of the world where the Muslim Ismaili sect makes up the majority of the population. The Agha Khan, their spiritual leader, has become like a god to them. To quote a Badakshani: “The Agha Khan is like a living Koran for us. He shows us the way and how to live. Our religion is not stuck in history. We have a modern Imam to show us how to live in the 21st Century. We see the light of Mohammed on him.” Most other Muslims consider the Ismailis to be heretics.
There are few believers in Badakshan and no known believing communities. However, many Badakshanis are coming to faith elsewhere. There are believers in Dushanbe – the capital of Tajikistan – and in Moscow, where many Tajik Badakshanis become migrant labourers. Pray for believers living in other places, that they might wisely proclaim Jesus in their communities.
- Meditate on Jeremiah 16:19-21 and use it in prayer.
- Pray for those who worship the Agha Khan as a god, and that they may come to a realisation that he is just a man.
- Spiritual blindness and the spirit of deception seem to be two major strongholds in Badakshan. Pray for these barriers to the Gospel to be removed.
Video: Sights and Sounds of Badakhshan
Special Section: Pray for the Uyghur Peoples of China
The following information came from Western China as we were preparing the “30 Days” for 2009. We have asked for prayer for the Uyghurs in the past. It seems urgent to pray now. Some Uyghurs live within 400 kilometers of Badakshan.
In Northwest China there are only 100-200 believers among the Uyghur people (pronounced ‘ooy-goor’) who number about 11 million in population. The Uyghurs are largely preoccupied with a) making a living and b) the strife between their Muslim / Uyghur cultural heritage and the controlling Chinese Communist system. This area was a significant point on the Silk Road from Europe and the Middle East to China and now it seems to be one of the last regions to be reached by the Body of Christ. In the past fifteen years, thousands of Muslims all along the Silk Road in Central Asia have become believers in Jesus (along with millions of Han Chinese), however, there is still no resilient Uyghur church. There are many stories of unfair treatment, as well as house fellowships being broken up as soon as they get started. Three key men are now in jail; the little community of believers is floundering. Fear keeps them from moving beyond private belief to a sharing, deep life in Christ.
May God guide you to pray for the Uyghurs as only he can.