The Kashmiri people live in an interesting place geographically, with Muslim Pakistan to the west, Hindu India to the south and Buddhist Tibet to the east. All three religions have influenced Kashmir, and even today it contains one of the holiest places of pilgrimage for Hindus.
However, the ethnic Kashmiri people are mostly Muslim. Living across the India- Pakistan border with a population close to eight million, the vast majority of them live in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir. Ever since the independence of India from Britain in 1947 the region has been in conflict—both because India and Pakistan claim the territory as their own, and also because the Kashmiri don’t feel that they belong to either of these countries.
It is not Islamic extremism that drives Kashmiris to desire an independent state, though that has been one of many movements aimed at influencing them.
Rather, it is their identity as Kashmiri. In fact, because of the significant influences of Sufism (an Islamic form of mysticism), Kashmiris are generally convinced, but not extremist, in their faith.
Still, it can be observed that Kashmiris have become more conservative during the past 15 years, partly due to warnings from a famous Muslim TV preacher that Christians would try to convert them. In spite of traces of mission work in their area dating back over a hundred years, there are hardly any followers of Jesus among them.
WAYS TO PRAY
- Current efforts to reach Kashmiris with the gospel are few, though Indian missionaries are working hard in the region. Pray for their efforts.
- Many influences compete for the attention and devotion of the Kashmiris. Pray that they will have clear direction to create peace and stability in the region.
- Pray for political and separatist leaders involved in the conflict to pursue unity for the sake of the Kashmiri people.