Introduction / History
The Kurds are one of the largest ethno-linguistic people group in the world without their own nation. The homeland of the Kurds is in the Middle East, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and the northern sections of Iraq and Syria. After WWII Kurds began to migrate from the violence and turmoil of their native land to countries in the West. About 10,000 central Kurds now make their home in the USA. Many live in San Diego and Memphis, TN. Some Kurdish families in the USA now speak English in their homes while others still speak Central Kurdish, Sorani. The majority of Kurds speak Northern Kurdish or Kurmanji. Kurds in and from Iraq speak Sorani. Sorani is written in Arabic script while Kurmanji is written in Latin letters. About one sixth of the Kurds in the USA speak Sorani.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The traditional occupation of the Kurds in their homeland was that of nomadic herding of goats and sheep. In the USA, they have had to take on new jobs such as construction, owning restaurants, small businesses and in manufacturing. Kurdish parents encourage their boys and girls to obtain a college education. Family is an essential part of Kurdish culture. The relationship between family members is close. The clan and community are more important than the individual in traditional Kurdish society. The Kurdish father is the traditional head of the home. Traditionally a Kurdish man and woman in love could not marry without both their families' permission. That policy is changing due to the individualistic nature of American society. It has always been unthinkable for an unmarried Kurdish couple to live together as Americans typically do. A woman in Kurdistan was not considered an adult unless she was married and had children. In the USA a Kurdish woman may pursue a professional career and not marry. Kurdish women and girls are supposed to dress modestly. Dressing immodestly would dishonor her family. Kurdish families in the USA often have more children than the typical American family. American Kurds tend to live in nuclear families while in Kurdistan, the land of the Kurds, they lived in extended families up to four generations under the one roof. Respecting older people is integral part of Kurdish culture. Hospitality and family honor are significant features. Many young people have started to put their own interests before that of their family and community. American school systems train young people to be independent. Kurdish families, who have moved to Western countries, have faced pressures to change. Maintaining Kurdish values and adapting to their new Western country is a difficult balancing act every Kurdish person living in the USA must face.
What Are Their Beliefs?
About 75% of the world's Kurds claim to be Sunni Muslims. Smaller Kurdish groups include Shia, Sufi, Christian and Yazidi. Sunni Kurds tend to be more tolerate of other faiths than other Muslims. Sunni Kurds try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. They believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. The Kurdish New Year on March 21 is celebrated as a major holiday by all Kurds regardless of religion.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kurds living in the USA must understand that biblical Christianity is not just a Western religion. They must see that their good works and devotion to family will not gain them the forgiveness of their sins or eternal life. Newly arrived Kurds need to learn English and new job skills in order to fit into their new nation.
Pray the Lord leads American believers to build friendships with Kurds and tell them about their Savior. Pray that God creates a hunger for the Bible and spiritual truth in the heart of the Kurdish people living in the USA. Ask God to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among American Kurds in this decade. Pray that Kurdish leaders are willing to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ.
Scripture Prayers for the Kurd, Central in United States.