If any words best describe the history of Northern India, they would be invasion, conquest, and migration. “Rajput” originally referred to the various clans that ruled ancient South Asia. Muslim Rajputs trace their history back to the arrival of Islam in the 8th century.
During the Muslim Moghul Empire (12th-16th c.) many Rajputs became Muslim for a variety of reasons, including political expediency. Some turned to Islam’s theoretical message of the equality of all people and found freedom from the Hindu caste system. However, whether Hindu or Muslim, Rajputs are known for their honor and pride. They continue to share a similar culture.
More than 17 million Rajputs are Sunni Muslims, but it is not uncommon for them to incorporate other religious beliefs. In Medieval times, Sufi missionaries brought mystical Islam to the region, preaching a message of love, tolerance, and openness.
“Baba Farid” is a well-known Sufi saint whose shrine in Pakpattan, Pakistan, remains a destination for many pilgrims each year. Devotees rely on saints for help in daily life. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, known as “the Father of Pakistan,” is a famous Rajput.
Once known as the ruling class, many Rajputs now struggle with identity issues related to class and nationality. They are also wrestling with the impact of violence on some of their communities. Some Rajputs are heavily involved in the drug trade.
In many communities, the Rajput are in desperate need of basic services such as clean water and homes for the homeless. Entrepreneurs are needed to start productive businesses. Parents need jobs, as poverty plagues many. Children need educational opportunities.
There are known believers among the Rajput, but no known movement to Christ. Christian resources, including Gospel recordings and The Jesus Film, are available in Punjabi, one of the main languages of the Rajput. However, better quality resources are needed. In general, more workers are needed, and more Rajputs need access to God’s Word.
Historically, Christianity has been seen as a bad foreign influence and a threat to the Rajput way of life. Believers need much courage to share their faith and to live as salt and light in their communities. As believers live their faith boldly and as more resources reach the Rajput, God will draw many more to Himself, even revealing Jesus to them in dreams and visions. The social stigma decreases as more Rajput families – and even clans – come to Christ.