Introduction / History
Ansari is Arabic and is derived from Ansar (also Arabic) which has a literal meaning of "those who support". It is considered to be primarily a nisbat which is a second or suffix name used as a specifier. Ansar originates from the Medinan people who assisted the prophet Muhammed as he migrated from Mecca to Medina. These people later became his emissaries and soldiers.
Where Are they Located?
AN ANSARI STORY:
The Ansari weaver invited the businessman into his home. When the two men sat down to tea, the weaver told him the story of his community. "We Ansaris live for generations in the same house. Most of our relatives live on this street. Allah has blessed us. All our family members work together in our carpet business, and our kids grow up together. We even have our own mosque just up the street. You said that we were the friendliest people you have met in India. Our name, 'Ansari,' means 'friend indeed' or 'one who helps.' We can trace our ancestors back to a community in Saudi Arabia called 'Ansari.' When our prophet Mohammed and his men were trying to escape from his enemies, he was welcomed into the homes of the Ansari people in Medina. Allah has taught us to do good deeds. This may allow us someday to be in Paradise." (Source: Global Prayer Digest 2008-8-22)
The Ansari reside in most countries of South Asia.
What Are Their Lives Like?
They are predominately artisans by trade and are mostly poor and illiterate. The weaving of silk is a common trade skill of these people. Although traditionally weavers and textile sellers, the Ansaris are now involved in a wide range of small business in towns like Janakpur or Lumbini. Predominately in the Maithili language, though also in Nepali or Bhojpuri, these textile artisans trade with Darzi tailors and other Muslim merchants. The Ansaris are not vegetarian and widely accepting of drink and food from other communities. They tend, however, to be rather clannish and guarded about marriage within the group. Bangles and beads are commonly worn and glass bangles are a symbol of married women in some communities. The Ansaris are Muslim who practice Islamic laws for life and living, though folk Islam practices are common.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Ansari are Muslim who practice folk Islam which incorporates many folk beliefs into their observance of the religion. There are almost no followers of Christ among the Muslim Ansaris.
What Are Their Needs?
The friendliness of the Ansaris can open doors for believers to develop closeness with them and opportunities to share the gospel. In recent years numerous teams have begun working in north India among the Ansaris but almost no work has begun in Nepal. Pray for the expansion of country work into the Ansari communities of Narayani, Bheri and Lumbini Zones.