Tatar in Finland

Tatar
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Shamilini - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
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People Name: Tatar
Country: Finland
10/40 Window: No
Population: 800
World Population: 6,377,400
Primary Language: Tatar
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Ural-Siberian
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The ancestors of the Tatars were a nomadic people living in northeastern Mongolia near Lake Baikal starting in the 5th century CE. Some of the Tatars and other Turkic peoples became part of Genghis Khan's conquering armies in the early 13th century, leading to a fusion of Mongol and Turkic peoples. These invaders of Russia and Hungary became known to Europeans as "Tatars" meaning "archer." After Genghis Khan's power eroded, Tatars were associated with the western half of the remaining Mongol domain and known as the Golden Horde. The Tatars have had a strong civilization since the tenth century. The Russians conquered them in the sixteenth century. In the 1800s, Tatar cities ranked among the greatest cultural centers of the Islamic world.
The Tatar people speak a language that is also called Tatar. However, in some urban areas, nearly one-third claim Russian as their mother tongue. Tatars might have blue eyes and blonde hair or look like Mongolians with very little facial hair. They speak a unique Turkic language called Kazan Tatar, although many now claim Russian as their mother tongue. Although most of them live around the Volga region, others inhabit Azerbaijan, Armenia, Byelorussia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Central Asian republics like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. There is also a longstanding community of Tatars in Finland that began in the late 1800s when Tatar merchants arrived in Finland from Russia to sell soap, furs, silk, and carpets. There was conflict between two camps of Tatars. One identified as Turks while the other identified as Tatars. They sometimes had to move in the 1940s when an aggressive USSR took over parts of Finland where they lived. Tatars eventually managed to get Finnish citizenship.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Tatars have integrated into Finnish society, and through the centuries they have proven to be good citizens. Largely thanks to them, recent Muslim migrants to Finland are more easily accepted than they are in many other parts of Europe. As expected, the Tatars have their own cultural associations in Finland to preserve their language and culture. Tatar culture is expressed through their own styles of music, food, and theater. There are few Tatar language plays, so they often do the same ones over and over again. The Tatars are noted for having a large number of publications in their language given their small population in Finland. They speak the Mishar dialect of Tatar with a Finnish accent.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Many Tatars place more of their identity in Islam than in being Tatar. Most are Hanafite, one of the four schools of Sunni Islam. While orthodox Muslims believe in Allah as the only God, many Tatars still honor saints and holy places. Some believe in supernatural powers such as the "evil eye," involving the ability to curse someone with a glance. Unlike most Muslims some of the Tatar eat pork, and very few observe the prescribed Islamic fasts. They remain more liberal than most orthodox Muslims of Central Asia, even inviting women to pray in the mosques instead of at home. Unfortunately, the Tatars' view of Christianity has been scarred by negative interactions with the Russian Orthodox Church and its earlier attempts to convert them through force. This has served to get them more dedicated to Islam and suspicious of any form of Christianity.

What Are Their Needs?

Christian laborers are needed to live and work among the Tatars. The Tatars in Finland need to see living Christianity in action by those who truly follow Jesus.

Prayer Points

Pray for Holy Spirit-driven workers to go to the Tatar people and begin a church planting movement in Finland.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Tatars to the empty tomb.
Pray for a powerful Tatar church where people place their hope and identity in Christ alone.

Text Source:   Joshua Project