April 29, 2020
Dagestan is a republic of Russia, bordering the east coast of the Caspian Sea, Georgia and Azerbaijan. About 95 percent of the 2.9 million people of Dagestan are Muslim. Two of the largest people groups are the Avars and the Dargins.
The extremely conservative movement of Wahhabism has spread from Saudi Arabia, where it originated, to influence Muslim society around the world. In Dagestan, where it was introduced in the 1980s, it inspired the formation of a political entity in the late ’90s which tried to declare independence and resulted in several years of violent conflict.
Wahhabis remain influential in the region. Despite harsh restrictions on behavior that control what to eat, what to wear, and how to worship, Wahhabism offers ready responses to those angry with the corruption they witness at every level of society.
But Dagestan’s traditional culture also survives. Music is forbidden in Wahhabism, so it is not heard in the mosques. But mission workers know a Dargin blade-smith and artisan who used to enjoy popular music. He says that when he repented and became a “serious Muslim” (that is, a Wahhabi) he gave up music. But when the mission workers visited his home, the whole family joyfully joined in the region’s traditional “Lezginka” dance to music.
IDEAS FOR PRAYER
1. PRAY FOR the few hundred believers in Dagestan and for efforts to translate the Bible into Dagestan’s indigenous languages in written and audio versions.
2. PRAY FOR Dagestan’s authorities to be free from corruption. As you pray, be inspired by Ezekiel 36:26–27.
3. WAHHABISM demands conformity to what it considers “pure” Islam. Pray that Avars and Dargins will have their own revelations of Jesus and the freedom He offers. Pray from Philippians 1:9–11.
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