Introduction / History
The Deccani live on the so-called "tableland" of central India, between the Godavari and Manjra Rivers. They are primarily concentrated in central Maharashtra State and in the arid Deccan Plateau. They also live in major cites such as Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, as well as various rural areas.
Beginning in the 1100's, Muslim rulers conquered most of northern India. They then moved southward to subdue the Deccan Plateau, a region that was populated by many Dravidian-speaking Muslims.
A distinct Islamic culture developed in the Deccan region, and it became the greatest center of Arabic learning in India until the Moghul conquest of 1687. In 1724, the Deccani regained power and became princely rulers. However, in 1948, when India declared its independence, they were forced under Hindu rule. Many emigrated to Pakistan; those who remained are now a minority group of Muslims.
What are their lives like?
When the government of India ended Muslim rule, the Deccani were converted from princely rulers, military officers, and wealthy landowners to blacksmiths, shopkeepers, and carpenters. Muslim professionals adjusted more easily, entering banking, business, and employment as scientists and teachers. The former servants of the established Muslim government and nobility are now living on small pensions or the meager incomes of family members.
In the countryside, Deccani Muslim culture embraces a mixture of Hindu and Muslim elements. However, much bitterness remains, due to the loss of their former glory. The educated urban population, which consists of only one-quarter of the Deccani, lives a more secular modern life and has very little in common with the conservative urban Muslim community and religious leaders.
The social lives of the Deccani center around their local religious community and immediate families. Groups usually cluster around their own local mosques. Intermarriage is rare between the Deccani Muslim castes. Their society is patriarchal, which means that the fathers have absolute authority in the homes. Most women wear veils while in public. Each home contains small shrines in honor of their saints. The shrines are decorated with banners, flowers, and bright paintings of tigers.
Deccani Muslims honor learning and place a great emphasis on the arts. Painting is their specialty, especially the beautiful illustrations in poetry books. There are numerous art schools spread throughout the area of the Deccani. Some of these schools were begun as early as the 1500's by the migrating Muslims who were influenced by the famous Persian art.
What are their beliefs?
Virtually all of the Deccani are devout Muslims. They worship, play instruments, and sing at the ancient graves of their saints. Worship of saints is very common, and the extravagant decorations over their graves attract even the Hindus. As a whole, Islam in India include strong elements of mysticism.
The Deccani Muslims have been challenged in their religious beliefs by the Dravidians and various other Muslim sects that migrated into the Deccan Plateau long ago. Their religion, language, and ethnic recognition were belittled and discriminated against by the new Hindu Indian government. As a result, they have seemingly lost a vitality for Islam. It is no longer a spiritual lifestyle to them, but is more a part of their identity as a people.
What are their needs?
Deprived of their former sources of wealth and power, many Deccani have given way to deep destitution and despair. They have struggled long and hard to maintain their culture, beliefs, and pride. They need encouragement and hope, which can only be realized through a clear understanding of the Gospel. Since Muslims revere holy scriptures, use of the Bible is essential. There are currently no known Christians among the Deccani.
* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Deccani.
* Pray that the Holy Spirit will open the hearts and minds of the people to a clear understanding of the Gospel.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Deccani toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will open the hearts of India's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will raise up teams of intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Deccani.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Deccani.