Ramadan 2007 / 1428 : Day 30 for October 12
The Zikri Baluch are an offshoot of mainstream Islam that is concentrated in the Baluchistan Province of Pakistan. There are about 750,000 adherents in this group. Most Zikris live in Baluchistan, but a large number also live in the region around Karachi and Iran. A high percentage of Zikris are involved in fishing, mainly along the coast of the Arabian Sea. Some are also involved in farming, basket weaving and making other hand crafted items.
Muslim But Different
Their practices are based around the teachings of Syed Mohammad Jaunpuri, a 15th century and South Asian Islamic Messiah figure (Mahdi). In religious practice, the Zikris differ greatly from mainstream Muslims. Zikris perform five daily prayer rituals called Zikr in which sacred verses are recited which differ from orthodox Islamic prayer. Zikris do pilgrimage to their most famous shrine at Koh-e-Murad, near the city of Turbat in Baluchistan, on the twenty seventh night of Ramadan. “Koh” means “mountain”, and “Murad” is a name, meaning “aim”or “desire”. It has been reported that the Zikris perform rites similar to a traditional Hajj when on pilgrimage to the shrine.
The name Zikri comes from the Arabic word dhikr (pronounced “Zikr” in South Asia) that refers to remembrance, usually of Allah. This is reflective of the Zikri worship, focused on the recitation of Islamic credos. The movement of Syed Jaunpuri started as a reaction to the worldly pursuits of the Muslim elite. Zikris have faced persecution mainly from Sunni Muslims, but this usually has occurred in areas where they are in a minority, or in conflict with non-Zikri power groups. The Zikri came to Baluchistan seeking safety, and in their isolation, they deviated from the Muslim majority practices.
The Future Question
It is probable that many other influences will come into the lives of the Zikri in the coming years. The Pakistani and Chinese governments have been deeply involved in developing the Gwadar deep-sea port which is being linked to the rest of Pakistan, to China and to Central Asia through a system of roads and pipelines. Gwadar’s population is about 50% Zikri. If the forecasted economic development based on the port actually takes place all of Baluchistan and the region will be significantly affected.
It has been reported by a couple of fishermen that Jesus appeared to them in a storm and rescued them while on a fishing trip. Pray that many more Zikri fishermen would truly encounter Jesus, and become real fishers of men!
Prayer Requests for the Zikri Baluch:
* In recent years a number of Zikris who have become followers of Jesus. Pray for growth in the ways of God (faith, hope and love) for all of these new believers (1 Cor 13).
* Pray also that these new believers would make known their faith among their family and friends, and that whole families and clans would become followers of Jesus.
* Pray that the top religious leaders of the Zikris would come to know Jesus, through the Scriptures, testimonies, films, dreams, visions, healings, etc., so that their followers would also embrace the Truth.