The Indian Muslim Shaikh are an ethno-religious people group with a large Muslim community from the the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in India. Shaikh is an Arabic word meaning an elder or chief and implies someone who executes justice.
They were the first people to embrace Islam on the advice of Prophet Mohammed and were given the title of Shaikh. The title Shaikh was originally given only to those of Arabic descent but has been adopted by Muslim converts from lower caste Hindus. They rank below the Sayyad in Muslim social hierarchy. According to the recorded history of the community they migrated to India during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658).
The Shaikh people are multi-lingual; they speak Urdu as their mother tongue, which is written in the Persian – Arabic script. They also speak Hindi and write using the Devnagari script in North India. They also speak the regional language of their home states. Some also speak English.
The Shaikh are devout Muslims and belong mostly to the dominant Sunni sect of Islam; some are Shia followers. Like all Muslims they believe in Allah as the Almighty and revere Prophet Mohammed as his messenger to whom their scripture, the Koran, was revealed. They adhere strictly to the tenets of Islam and pray daily at mosques. They are under great pressure to maintain honor in their society. The Shaikh are known to visit the tomb shrines of the Pirs (Muslim saints) to pay homage and to ask saints to intercede on their behalf.
Pray as Christians encounter Shaikh that they will take time to understand their specific ethnic, linguistic, and religious background.
Pray Christians will intentionally live among, form friendships with, and share the Gospel with Shaikh.
Pray God will remove spiritual, social, religious, and cultural barriers that exist among the Shaikh and open their hearts and mind to the message of Christ.
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