Introduction / History
Their name, "Baloch," is shrouded in controversy. Some say it means "nomad," while others claim that it is an old Persian word meaning "the cock's crest." Some believe the name "Baloch" is derived from the name of the Babylonian king and god Belus. Others believe the word is a derivation of Sanskrit words "Bal" meaning strength and "Och" meaning high or magnificent.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Their history is just as mysterious. Some have traced their origins to Nimrod, son of Cush (Noah's grandson). But while some things are uncertain, we do know that they first moved to the region in the twelfth century. The Baloch claim their origins to be in Aleppo in what is now Syria. They are descendants of Hazrat Ameer Hamza, the uncle of Islamic prophet Mohammed. Based on an analysis of the linguistic connections of the Balochi language, the original homeland of the Balochi tribes was likely the east or southeast area of the central Caspian region. During the Moghul period, this territory became known as "Balochistan." The Baloch homeland reaches from eastern Balochistan to southwestern Punjab, which borders India. This high, dry region was once a very populated country watered by a large number of flowing rivers. Today, it is a barren area of rocky mountains and dry river valleys mixed with desert land.
Baloch dialects are divided into three basic categories: Western, Eastern and Southern. From there they are divided into subgroups such as the Shambhani. Though there are Baloch people in Afghanistan, and even a small Diaspora in certain Gulf States, about seventy percent live in Pakistan, including the Shambhani subgroup.
Baloch marriages are arranged between the bride's father and the prospective groom. There is a "bride price" of livestock and cash. Once a woman is married, she passes from the authority of her father to that of her husband. Marriages are monogamous and lifelong, and marrying a non-Baloch is strictly forbidden for most Baloch subgroups.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Balochmayar, or the "Balochiway," is the honor code by which the Shambhani Baloch live. These principles include extending hospitality and mercy, dealing with each other honestly, and offering refuge to strangers. They are preserved through both songs and poetry. Children learn proper behavior by watching their elders and are taunted whenever they misbehave. Baloch mothers pass traditions to children through oral history retelling. For many centuries the tradition of a Baloch mother singing lullabies to her children has played an important role in the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation.
Many Baloch cannot read or write and until recently, their language was unwritten. However, they have a long tradition of poetic compositions. They give high status to poets and professional minstrels.
Gold ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets are an important aspect of Baloch women's possessions. They wear a gold brooch that is used to fasten two parts of the dress together over the chest.
Though there is a tiny Shia minority among the Baloch, almost all are Sunni Muslims. They believe that the supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.
What Are Their Needs?
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.
Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.
In most of the Muslim world, people depend on the spirit world for their daily needs since they regard Allah as too distant. Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well we live in our daily lives. For that reason, they must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them with spiritual forces.
The Baloch have been isolated for many years due to harsh climate, the difficulty of communicating in mountainous terrain, and their former reputation as bandits. Pakistan's Balochistan Province is very poor. Baloch communities often need adequate potable water sources, schools and hospitals. Above all, they need the chance to allow Jesus Christ to bless them with abundant life.
Pray for the Lord to make a way for the Baloch to have a movement to Christ that will bless every subgroup materially and spiritually.
Pray that Baloch families may be open to the message of the gospel and the person of Jesus Christ, the only savior.
Pray that God will provide workers who speak the Balochi languages to work with the Shambhani Baloch people.
Pray for Shambhani Baloch families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ's work on the cross as the only payment for sin.
Scripture Prayers for the Baloch Shambhani in Pakistan.