Shaikh unspecified in India

Shaikh unspecified
Photo Source:  Mikhail Nilov - Pexels 
Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Shaikh unspecified
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 72,208,000
World Population: 221,413,200
Primary Language: Urdu
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Muslim - Shaikh
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Islam arrived in what is now West Bengal and Bangladesh in the early 1200s with a military attack by Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji. It was an early foothold of Islam in a region dominated by the local religions collectively known as Hinduism. For hundreds of years, Muslim conquerors fought for more of Bengal, all the while facing resistance by Hindu kings. Historians are divided between those who say Hindus converted to Islam by force and those who say conversion was voluntary. In either case the result has been a region with one basic language and two world religions: Hinduism and Islam. As time progressed the two Bengali religious communities were divided not only by religion but by economics. Bengali Muslims gravitated to being landless laborers while the Hindus became landlords and urban specialists.
After India gained her independence in 1947, the Muslim regions broke away from predominantly Hindu India. A West and East Pakistan emerged, with East Pakistan eventually gaining independence from Pakistan in a brutal 1971 war. The result was the establishment of a new Bengali speaking nation called Bangladesh. This was made up mainly of Bengali speaking Muslims, though there were (and still are) members of other religious communities who speak the Bengali language.
Hindu Bengalis live mainly in India’s adjacent state of West Bengal although close to 10% of Bangladesh’s population is Hindu. There are also millions of Muslim Bengali speakers outside of Bangladesh, mainly in West Bengal. Bengali is the largest language bloc for any Muslim people group worldwide.

What Are Their Lives Like?

With a population in the tens of millions, Muslim Bengalis in India can be found in almost any profession. Muslim Bengalis have made major contributions through literature. They have many renowned intellectuals in both Bangladesh and India.
Though there are often love marriages in urban areas, family-oriented arranged marriages are most common among Bengali Muslims. It starts with a matchmaker who approaches both families to make sure the couple is compatible. No unemployed man is acceptable as a groom. Family elders take care of the formalities for the engagement.
The wedding ceremony can take up to three days. It includes many rituals including one where the bride has turmeric put on her forehead. The groom’s mother gives her daughter-in-law jewelry and a saree for the wedding. They dress up two fishes like a bride and groom.
Bride and groom are seated, and asked if they accept the other as their spouse, and they each respond, “I do.” There are many more gifts exchanged between families and for the new couple. The ceremonies can take up to three days.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Though they are officially Sunni Muslim, Bengalis have an affinity for saints known as pirs. They believe these saints hold much spiritual power that can help one gain wealth and heal health problems. Pirs are similar to their Hindu equivalent, the sadhu mendicants. In recent decades, pirs have gained excessive political power in Bangladesh, leading some to want their influence diminished. Long after they die the graves of pirs are visited by those who want physical or material blessings.
Bengali Muslims also commonly embrace Sufism. This is a mystical and emotional Islamic practice which seeks to reach a state of spiritual purity known as fitra. Sufis form themselves into orders led by spiritual teachers.

What Are Their Needs?

There is a massive harvest in the making, and Bengalis are in the midst of discipling Muslims for Christ! While conservative estimates of Bengali Muslim-background followers of Christ are in the tens of thousands, some Bengali and western missionary leaders claim that a couple million Bengali Muslims have become followers of Christ within rapidly growing movements. Most of these have reportedly occurred in the 21st century.
The best things outsiders can do is regularly and faithfully pray for a complete harvest that will leave Bengalis blessed by the Lord.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord of the Harvest to continue leading thousands of Muslim Bengalis to the Savior of all nations.
Pray that this largest Muslim group will find the truth of the Prophet Isa, the One who is the savior of all mankind.
Pray for the Lord to thrust out loving and steadfast workers for this neglected harvest.
Pray for Muslim background Bengali disciples to make more disciples.

Text Source:   Joshua Project