| · Population: 95 million
| · Hindus: 76.4 million
| · Muslims: 9.5 million
| · Christians: 1.1 million
Muslims first entered India’s Maharashtra State in the eighth century. There are now nearly 10 million Muslims in Maharashtra (out of a total population of 95 million). Muslims in Maharashtra speak mainly Urdu or its Deccani Urdu form and/or Marathi (the language of Maharashtra).
Maharashtra’s capital city, Mumbai (Bombay), is projected to become the largest city in the world by 2025 (its present population is 17.5 million). It has numerous Muslim communities from both branches of Islam – about one-third are Shiite Muslim and two-thirds are Sunni Muslim. Just three hours southeast of Mumbai by car is the city of Pune. Called the “Oxford of India”, Pune has over 200 colleges and universities, attracting many Muslim students from all over Asia and the Middle East.
Barring those in trading communities, most Muslims in Maharashtra are poor artisans or landless labourers. There has been and still is considerable migration to industrial towns in search of jobs. Many practices among Muslims in Maharashtra are similar to Hindu customs – some even offer vows to Hindu deities. Hindus and Muslims participate in each other’s festivals.
Testimony among the Ansari of Maharashtra State, India
One of the more recent works of God among Muslims in Maharashtra has been among the rural working class Ansari Muslims. The Ansari are one of the largest groups of Muslims in India, and are generally Sunni Muslims. Just a few years ago there were no known churches among the Ansari, but God has been working among them in various places in India, including in Maharashtra. In the past two years over 80 churches have been started among the Ansari Muslims!
Illustrative Story from Maharashtra State, India
Here is one recent illustrative story. After finishing a seemingly unsuccessful tract distribution many kilometres from their home, some evangelists found that someone had let the air out of their bicycle tyres. The men felt even more depressed and began the long walk home. Two men followed them for quite some distance. The evangelists thought they were going to be persecuted by them so they kept on walking – a bit faster. Finally the two men ran up to the evangelists. They confessed that they had let the air out of the bicycle tires, and proceeded to pump them up again. Then they invited the evangelists to their homes. By the end of the day, 55 people had gathered for prayer! Now, a church has formed and meets regularly in that town.
Prayer for the Muslims in Maharashtra, India:
* Pray that the Muslims who have believed in Christ will grow strong in their faith and that God will use their testimonies to bring others to faith in Christ.
* Pray that converts may have the grace to withstand the pressure from their families and community as a result of shifting their loyalty from Islam to Jesus.
* Pray that financial support would become available, especially for Indian Christians who want to be involved in evangelising Muslims.
* Pray for labourers to reach out to the Muslim college students.
* Praise God for those organisations that are evangelising Maharashtra’s Muslim people. Pray that many more may join them in the work.