Pashayi, Southwest in Afghanistan

Pashayi, Southwest
Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Pashayi, Southwest
Country: Afghanistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 131,000
World Population: 131,000
Primary Language: Pashai, Southwest
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.01 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Muslim - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Southwest Pashayi, also called the Tagau, Pashai, and Pasyayi, are of the Kashmiri people cluster. They live in Afghanistan, mostly in the valleys of the Hindu Kush in northeastern Afghanistan. They tend to live in valleys located near major river systems. The Southwest Pashayi mostly live the Tagau Valley, north of Sarobi, northeast of Kabul. It is believed that the Pashayi once inhabited the northeastern plains of Afghanistan but were forced to move to the mountains as the Pashtun invaded their areas. Very few people actually refer to themselves as Pashayi, rather they call themselves Safi, Kohistanis, or Nuristanis. Pashayi, a Dardic language, is their primary language and has many dialects. The Southwestern Pashayi speak the Southwest dialect of Pashayi, which is unintelligible to other Pashayi speakers. The literacy rate for their first language is less than one percent and the literacy rate for their second language is between five and fifteen percent.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Pashayi are mostly rice farmers, for those living at lower elevations, and wheat and maize farmers and herders, for those living at the higher elevations. Pashayi are tribal people. They are often led by a village council which is the authority on issues affecting the entire village. The council is composed of extended family members from each family unit. Personal disputes are left to be resolved by the individual who was hurt in some way, which often leads to feuds. The Pashayi value masculinity and honor more than anything else. To them the ideal man is one who is a proud warrior, loyal to his family, dangerous to his enemies, and always prepared to deal with a feud. Every Pashayi man carries a knife or a gun. The Pashayi culture has a rich tradition of songs and folklore which is passed down by oral tradition. Songs are often sung about their culture and traditionally, around harvest time, the young people in the village travel to other villages to sing the songs they'd composed throughout the year.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Pashayi converted to Sunni Islam in the late sixteenth century. Many Pashayi have maintained some Folk Islamic practices, and it is not uncommon for Pashayi men to leave their communities to study under Pakistani or Afghani holy men. There are shrines dedicated to saints throughout their areas. There are few, if any, known believers or churches among them. There are Christian audio recordings in this language.

What Are Their Needs?

Although the physical needs of the Pashayi are staggering, they pale in comparison to their spiritual needs. There are no known Christ followers among the Pashayi or the Southwestern Pashayi. Few Christian resources are available in their languages, and no mission agencies are permitted to enter Afghanistan except as relief workers.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to save key Pashayi leaders who will boldly declare the gospel to their own people. Pray that evangelistic literature will soon be made available to the Pashayi. Ask God to send medical teams and humanitarian aid workers to minister to the physical needs of the Pashayi. Pray that the laws in Afghanistan which restrict the preaching of the gospel will soon be changed. Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Afghanistan through intercession. Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Pashayi.

Text Source:   Joshua Project