Nuristani, Ashkuni in Afghanistan

Joshua Project has identified the Nuristani, Ashkuni only in Afghanistan






Largest Religion

Main Language


The Nuristani

Source:  Asia Harvest      Download
Introduction / History

Perched high on steep mountainsides, Ashkuni villages maintain an ancient adjustment to difficult circumstances. Mountain trails are not suitable even for mules, and one must walk almost everywhere. Villages range from 30 to 300 households surrounded by terraced fields fed by miles of tortuous irrigation channels.

Located in 5 main valley systems with a number of tributaries, each drainage area speaks its own dialect (Kati, Waiqali, Ashuni, Paruni). Suspicious of outsiders, even Ashkuni from a few miles away, everything is regulated by village level consensus based on centuries of experience that have ensured survival. Strict rules enforced by public opinion and an elected village group specify the order in which fields are irrigated and when the men must move goats and sheep to different pastures.

Until a few years ago, the way to gain status in the highly competitive Ashkuni society was to stage a raid or give a feast. Today, raids have been replaced by oratory since Ashkuni culture also respects skillful public speakers. Ashkunis also like to be known for honesty, impartiality, and wisdom. An Ashkuni who is considered successful possesses several sons, many goats, and a generous nature.

In 1970, Gospel recording teams discovered 26 distinct Ashkuni dialects as they visited the isolated valleys and mountains of Nuristan. During the Russian invasion, Afghan refugees flooded into Pakistan. Believers brought them food, tents and clothing. These workers also used Gospel recordings effectively with Ashkunis who stayed in their own tribal groups in the refugee camps. Although there were no known Ashkuni believers in the camps many were prepared to believe in the Savior.

What Are Their Beliefs?

For over 800 years they held out against the Muslim tide that threatened to sweep into their valleys. Traditional prestige was marked by how many Muslims a young man killed in raids. But in 1895-6 these valleys were conquered and were forcibly converted to Islam. The numerically dominant Muslims changed their name from infidels to "Ashkuni," that is "Land of the Light." Islam had finally triumphed in these mountain villages. Each village is made up of several named wards, each with its own mosque and its own leader who acts to mediate disputes and to deal with the government. After the end of the war against Russia, one million refugees were reported back in Afghanistan. The Ashkunis in their homeland will be less isolated than in the past. Agricultural and medical teams, among others, will be welcomed.

There is no known evangelism taking place in the area and none would be openly permitted. It may be possible to evangelize among the "Ashkuni", the Kafirs of Pakistan, and through them eventually have a basis for evangelization in Afghanistan. Evangelism is not openly permitted in Afghanistan. Therefore, probably none is taking place in Nuristan. Across the border in Pakistan, some of the animistic Kafirs are beginning to respond to the gospel. Pray that as they come to know Jesus as Savior, they will reach out to their Muslim cousins in Afghanistan.

Prayer Points

* Our Father, today thousands of us lift up the Ashkuni, praying that thousands of them will come to know and obey You as Savior.

Profile Source:   Etnopedia  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Nuristani, Ashkuni
People Name in Country Nuristani, Ashkuni
Population in Afghanistan 42,000
World Population 42,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Nuristani, Wamayi
Affinity Bloc Persian-Median
People Cluster Nuristan
People Name General Nuristani, Ashkuni
Ethnic Code CNT24d
People ID 10453
Country Afghanistan
Region Central Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 5  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Kunar Province, northwest of Asadabad, Pech Valley around Wama.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Ashkun (42,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Ashkun 42,000
For Primary Language: Ashkun

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Islam
Religion Subdivision: Sunni

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Video Source: Asia Harvest
Profile Source: Etnopedia  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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