Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Introduction / History
The Jamshidi are a small minority tribe in northeastern Iran. They belong to a larger cluster of peoples known as the Char Aimaq, who live scattered throughout western Afghanistan and northern Iran. For many years, the Char Aimaq tribes have been moved, split, and combined by governments.
The Jamshidi are primarily concentrated in the Khorasan province, south of Mashhad, the main Aimaq city. Mashhad is one of 100 strategic cities, or "gateway cities," of the 10/40 Window. Once it has been reached with the Gospel, it will become a doorway into the surrounding unreached people groups.
Ignoring national boundaries, the Jamshidi roam freely on nomadic journeys across the dry, rugged mountains of Iran. They inhabit an area known for its world famous trade routes. As a group, the Char Aimaq speak a form of Persian called Farsi, with some Turkic (Aimaq) vocabulary. Most of them have pronounced Mongoloid features.
What are Their Lives Like?
The Jamshidi were at one time a completely nomadic tribe. Today, many have taken up farming due to droughts and erosion that occurred in the 1950's and 1960's. The farmers use wooden plows and primitive hoes to cultivate their gardens. Wheat, grapes, rice, barley, oats, melons, and vegetables are the main crops raised. Nevertheless, farming is still considered only a subsidiary activity in their culture.
The Jamshidi lifestyle centers around their herds, which provide them with meat, milk, fat, cheese, and skins for tent-making. As in Biblical times, wealth is measured in livestock. Even those who have taken up farming go out in their tents during the spring and summer months, wandering through the mountains with their herds. In the winter, the people live in brick huts in towns, and their herds eat stored grain.
The nuclear family is the most important social unit among the Jamshidi. It usually consists of a man, his wife (or wives), their children, and his parents. A woman joins her husband's nuclear family when they marry.
The primary occupation of women is carpet weaving, although they may also help tend the flocks. Carpets from each tribe have their own distinctive patterns. Mothers teach their daughters to make the carpets from wool on portable looms. When food sources are low, money made from the sale of carpets is used to purchase additional food. The carpets, along with livestock and cash, may also be used as marriage payments.
Traditionally, a khan is the head of a Jamshidi tribe. He is able to trace his ancestry to the founder of the tribe. Today, however, the Iranian government is pushing to break up this patrilineal ruling system (based on ancestry). Important decisions now reside officially in village councils. Although the old structure remains, the real power has shifted to Teheran, Iran's capital city.
What are Their Beliefs?
Hanafi Sunni Islam is the belief system among the Aimaq tribes. However, it is reported that the radical Iranian government has forced the Jamshidi to convert to its dominant Shi'ite beliefs. Shi'ites and Sunnis have been bitter rivals for centuries and still battle today.
Iran is an Islamic theocracy run by religious leaders who are very hostile toward Christianity. The country has been ravaged by internal revolution, war with Iraq, and religious upheaval. These horrors are blamed on evil Western influences, no doubt synonymous with Christianity. The previous Christian population has been exiled.
What are Their Needs?
Little is reported about the physical needs of the Char Aimaq of Iran, and even less is known about the Jamshidi tribe. Their remote location and dispersion have made them difficult to reach and study. However, we do know that their spiritual needs are great.
The Jamshidi have had very little exposure to the Gospel. Prayer is the key to seeing the Jamshidi reached with the Gospel.
* Pray that the doors of Iran will soon open to Christian missionaries.
* Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Iran through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to give the small number of Jamshidi believers opportunities to share the Gospel with their friends and families.
* Pray that God will provide greater freedom to live and work among the people of Iran.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Jamshidi church for the glory of His name!
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