Photograph By Chetan Karkhanis

Pray for Kashmiris

The Kashmiri people live in an interesting place geographically: with Muslim Pakistan to the West, Hindu India to the South and Buddhist Tibet in the East. All three religions have influenced Kashmir, and even today it contains one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Hindus.

However, the ethnic Kashmiri people are mostly Muslim. Living across the India/Pakistan border with a population close to 8 million, the vast majority of them live in the Indian states of Jammu & Kashmir. Ever since the independence of India from Britain in the 1947 the region has been in conflict – both because India and Pakistan claim the territory as their own, and because the Kashmiri don’t feel that they belong to either of these countries.

Learn more about the situation in Kashmir via Al Jazeera

It is not Islamic extremism which drives Kashmiris to desire an independent state, although that has been one of many movements aimed at influencing them. Rather, it is their identity as Kashmiri. In fact, because of the significant influences of Sufism, an Islamic form of mysticism, Kashmiris are generally convinced, but not extremist, in their faith.

Sonmarg, Kashmir, India | Photograph by Chetan Karkhanis

Still, it can be observed that Kashmiris have become more conservative during the past fifteen years, partly due to warnings from a famous Muslim TV preacher that Christians would try to convert them. In spite of traces of mission work in their area dating back over a hundred years, there are hardly any followers of Jesus among them.

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How to Pray

  1. Current efforts to reach Kashmiris with the gospel are few, though Indian missionaries are working hard in the region. Pray for their efforts.
  2. Many influences compete for the attention and devotion of the Kashmiris. Pray they will have clear direction to create peace and stability in the region.
  3. For political and separatist leaders involved in the conflict to pursue unity for the sake of the Kashmiri people.

Top image of a Kashmiri woman cooking in Zanskar valley, India by Sandeep Pachaten, via Flickr / Creative Commons

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