Jew, South Asian in Pakistan

Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Jew, South Asian
Country: Pakistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 900
World Population: 7,900
Primary Language: Sindhi
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Jews
Affinity Bloc: Jews
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The history of the Jewish people in Pakistan dates back to 1839 when a number of Jewish people living in Mashhad, Persia fled the country due to persecution. They settled in Rawalpindi, Punjab Province of Pakistan. The Jewish community of Mashhad, Iran formed in the 1740s, when the Persian leader, Nadir Afshar, (ruled 1736 to 1747) ordered that over 40 Jewish families were to be relocated from other cities in Persia to Mashhad, which was under Persian control at that time. Afshar gave them freedom to maintain their Jewish heritage and traditions. Unfortunately, in 1839 a pogram known as The Allahd (God's Justice) was perpetrated by Muslims against the Jewish community in Mashhad. On the very first day of their attack the Muslims burned down their synagogue, looted their homes and murder an estimated 40 of their people. They terrorized the Jews and forced them to vocally proclaim their "allegiance" to Islam. The Jewish leaders at the time instructed the estimated 2,400 Jews to verbally convert in order that they would live. Following this event, many of the Mashhadi Jews remained in Mashhad, took Muslim names, and went to the mosques. However, in secret they met to read the Torah and practice their Jewish traditions. A small number of them escaped and some settled in Rawalpindi in the current state of Punjab, Pakistan in 1839. They mainly worked as traders and lived in the Babu Mohallah area of as this was the business center of Rawaipindi. They built a beautiful synagogue. The affluence and grandeur of this synagogue indicated these Mashihadi Jews were a wealthy group of people in the community. In 1861 another Jewish group, the Bene Israel, migrated from India and about 150 of them settled in the Sindh Province of Pakistan, primarily in Karachi. They worked as tradesmen, artisans and civil servants. When India was partitioned in 1947, Muslim refugees flooded into Pakistan. The Pakistani Muslims began to destroy Jewish synagogues, prayer halls and schools. When Israel became an independent country in 1948 the Muslims intensified their attacks against the Jewish people throughout Pakistan. Many of the Mashhadi Jews from Rawaipindi migrated to Bombay, India. Those from Karachi primarily went to Israel. Their next large exodus was in the late 1960s following the Arab-Israel war. In 1980 a small number of Palestinians living in refugee camps located in Lebanon were killed by Israeli forces who were defending themselves. In retaliation the Muslims in Pakistan attacked the Jewish people in their country. This persecution caused many of the remaining Pakistani Jews to leave Pakistan. The beautiful synagogue of the Mashhad Jews in Rawaipindi is in shambles. It is occupied by three families who have isolated themselves from others in the community. The Jewish Pakistani people are gradually beginning to disappear from the country.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most of these Pakistani Jews are removed from their Jewish traditions and belief in God as given in the Torah. They are scattered throughout Islamic Pakistan, a country that bitterly dislikes Israel and the Jewish people. A number of these Jews deny their Jewish identity especially when it comes to their jobs. In their mix marriages the Jewish spouse usually converts to Islam and becomes a nominal Muslim.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Although they may be aware of some of their Hebraic roots grounded in the laws and tenets of their faith derived from the Torah, Hebraic writings and Jewish prayers they are not practicing. They do not have synagogues where they can go on Sabbath, High Holy Days and to join in congregational fellowship. One factor that is strong in their cultural Jewish identity is they are usually not open to other religions nor do they feel compelled to draw others to them based on religious beliefs.

What Are Their Needs?

Their isolation, mix-marriages and disconnection with their Jewish religion all contribute to their need to know God and the saving grace of Jesus, their Messiah. They need strong believers to show them God's message through the internet, social media, radio, JESUS Film, and gospel recordings.

Prayer Points

Pray that God will open a way for these people to be reached through his word given through the internet, social media, radio, JESUS Film and gospel recordings. Pray that they will understand that becoming a follower of Jesus does not mean that they lose their Jewish identity; instead it enables them to enter into the joy of knowing God's plan of salvation. Pray that if they accept the Lord they will grow in faith and with wisdom reach out to their own people with the gospel. Pray for a Disciple Making Movement among the Jewish people in Pakistan.

Text Source:   Joshua Project