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 southeastern Turkey to the relative calm of Lebanon. Since the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975 the Kurds have suffered as much as any people in Lebanon. About one quarter of a million Kurds live in Lebanon, mostly in the northern section of the country. Some Lebanese Kurds speak northern Kurdish or Kurmanji at home while others speak Arabic.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Kurds of Lebanon have been in a weak position both socially and economically. Though ill-paid for their unskilled manual labor, they cannot press for better conditions for fear of deportation. Many of the Kurds are not Lebanese citizens. Many Lebanese Kurds take any job they can find in order to feed their families. Since Lebanon's civil war began in 1975, Kurds have been among the country's most oppressed people. Many of them, as well as a number of Syrians and Shi'ite Muslims from southern Lebanon, have been massacred in the wars. Others have fled to the slums of southern Beirut looking for safety. 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. The groom's family must pay a bride price to the relatives of the bride because she becomes officially part of the groom's family after the wedding. Traditionally a Kurdish man and woman in love could not marry without both their families' permission. Kurdish women and girls are supposed to dress modestly. Dressing immodestly would dishonor her family. 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.
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. 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 the most important holiday by all Kurds regardless of religion. Celebrations often go on for more than a week. Gifts are exchanged. Families and friends get together for meals.
What Are Their Needs?
The Kurds living in Lebanon 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. As much as the Lebanese Kurds need peace in their neighborhoods and nation, they need spiritual peace with God even more.
Pray the Lord leads Lebanese 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 Lebanon. Ask God to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among Lebanese Kurds in this decade. Pray that Kurdish leaders are willing to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ.
Scripture Prayers for the Kurd, Kurmanji in Lebanon.