Day 27. Sylhet Muslim in Bangladesh (SIH-let)
The Sylheti in Bangladesh are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi and Sufi sects. Their religious practices vary from conservative Islam to Sufism (a form of Islam focused on mystical spirituality and purification), which even includes some Hindu forms of worship. Sylhet has been regarded as the spiritual and cultural center of the country and is often considered an agricultural capital as well. According to the World Bank, Sylhet has one of the lowest incidences of poverty in Bangladesh and is projected to be in the forefront of Bangladesh’s economic growth. This is partly due to its vast natural resources such as natural gas, tea plantations and fisheries, and major infrastructural developments. Alongside these, its recent economic growth has also been empowered by billions in currency remittances from the Sylheti diaspora working in the UK, USA, Middle East, and elsewhere.
The Sylheti province in Bangladesh borders tribal lands to the east, including some of the most Christian areas of India. Yet many Bangladeshi ISIS extremists come from Sylheti origins. This could be for any number of reasons, including conservatism, pro-Pakistani leanings or even anti-Bengali sentiments. While Bengali is their trade language, portions of scripture, the JESUS Film, and other audio resources are available in Sylheti, their heart language. Many Sylhetis have rich backgrounds in storytelling, having been raised with Islamic and other stories communicating cultural ideals. However, they have lacked the one story that matters most.
Prayers for the families of the Sylheti:
Lord, speak to the Sylheti in dreams and visions, pointing them in the direction of believers, scriptures and other means to encourage them in their journey to Christ. Lord, help them see Jesus working among them and leading them to “worship in Spirit and Truth.” (Jn. 4:24)
Lord, encourage Sylheti believers dispersed throughout the nations to communicate stories about the kingdom of God and His love to their families in Bangladesh. Lord, help them recognize their spiritual needs and come to Christ for the riches of his forgiveness.
Lord, encourage believing families in faith in Jesus, to study Your Word, hear Your voice and obey. Lord, raise up a solid group of spiritual leaders for the Sylheti people, blessing their service with multiplying disciple-making movements developing and spreading among and beyond all the Sylheti people.
Lord, bring diaspora Sylhet-believers and believers from nearby India to share the Gospel with Sylhet Muslims.
God’s blessing for the Sylheti: A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him. (Jn. 4:23)