| · Assam State in India
| · Population: 27 million
| · Hindus: 15 million
| · Bengali Muslims: 5.8 million
| · Assamese Muslims: 2.5 million
| · Christians: 800,000
The majority of the population of Assam, a state in northeast India, is Hindu. But Muslims are very present in Assam, forming almost a third of the population. Most Muslims in Assam are Bengali in origin, but there are indigenous Assamese Muslims.
The history of the indigenous Muslims of Assam is a long one, though many details are obscure, especially for the Assamese Muslims. A Brahmin priest from Kamrup (near the geographical middle of Assam) was reported to have embraced Islam around the 13th century. He wrote and presented a book of tantric (mystical) practices called the “Pool of Nectar”, which was translated into Arabic, Persian and Turkish. Through this many yogic practices entered into Islamic mysticism throughout south, central and even west Asia. Later in the 16th century, an Islamic saint is said to have come to preach Islam in the area. This Muslim saint’s tomb and the mosque which adjoins it is known as Pao Mecca, or ‘One-Fourth of Mecca’, as it is reputed to have a quarter of the sanctity of Mecca itself!
Integration of the Assamese Muslims, India
It is likely that the Assamese Muslims, who are found primarily in the northeastern parts of the state, are descended particularly from those who embraced Islam during this earlier period. The Assamese Muslims are well integrated with the rest of Assamese society. Proud of their language and culture, Assamese Muslims have often been in positions of influence within the society of Assam and even India; one of their most famous individuals was Fakharuddin Ali Ahmed, President of the Indian Republic from Assam.
Continuing Work among the Assamese Muslims, India
Ironically, the only complete translation of the Qur’an into Assamese has been done by an Islamic sect considered heretical by most Muslims; this translation has been rejected by most Assamese Muslims. A translation of the Bible using religious terminology familiar to Assamese Muslims has not yet been published. Many Assamese Muslims are involved in folk customs, mixing local animistic beliefs in with their practice of Islam.
There are small numbers of workers who are seeking to bring the Gospel to the Assamese Muslims. Evangelists, church-planters, translators and Bible teachers are all needed to accomplish the task of making disciples in this people group. About 250 new workers would be needed to have just one church worker for every 10,000 Assamese Muslims.
Prayer Focus for the Assamese Muslims, India
* Pray for the publication of a translation of the Scriptures using religious terminology which would be familiar to Assamese Muslims.
* Pray for God to raise up workers willing to take the Gospel to and work long-term among the Assamese Muslims.
* Pray that fellowships of believers from this people group would emerge and multiply across the region.