Among Delhi’s broad tree-lined boulevards, beautiful estates, parks, historic imperial buildings, government buildings, and gleaming sky-scrapers, are over-crowded older neighborhoods built in ancient times, as well as many densely populated slums. The vast, bustling, over-crowded, and never-sleeping city is filled with countless motorized rickshaws, cars, and buses.
The National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) includes New Delhi, the capital of India. 27 million people call the Delhi metropolitan area home, making it the third largest urban area in the world.
Despite long-standing efforts to limit air pollution, Delhi is among the most polluted cities in the world. The climate is a both humid and hot.
The people are 82% Hindu, 13% Muslim, and 3.5% Sikh. Other religious groups each account for less than 1%. Even though Delhi is a wealthy city, there is widespread poverty.
The first Muslim empire in India was founded in Delhi in 1206, and Seven Dynasties of the “Delhi Sultanate” ruled north India until 1526. Muslim Sultans in Delhi ruled the Hindu majority in parts of India for 650 years.
Today there are seven Muslim neighborhoods established by those dynasties. After that, the Mughal Dynasty (1526-1857), which at times controlled almost the entire continent, ruled from Delhi until they were conquered by the British.
Before the bloody partition of Pakistan and Bangladesh from India in 1947, one of the great human tragedies of the twentieth century, all Muslims in the subcontinent were led from Delhi. Today, numerous national and international Muslim organizations are based in the city. The decrees issued by Ahmed Bukhari, the Imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi (India’s largest mosque), hold great sway among Muslims nationwide.
Muslims in India often feel increasingly marginalized and powerless. Governmental policies have tragically encouraged increasing numbers of violent mob attacks by Hindus against Muslim “cow-killers.” Muslims generally keep low profiles across India.
In each of the Muslim communities established by the Seven Dynasties, there are at least a handful of believers, and in some, there are regular gatherings of people studying the Bible. There are people ministering in Muslim enclaves across Delhi. Others are ministering in the communities surrounding the tombs of Muslim saints. Yet, there does not appear to be any sizeable movement of Muslims to Christ in the city.
Good work is happening among refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and there are small gatherings of Pashtun and Dari believers. Many creative types of outreach are happening. It is difficult for foreigners to serve as missionaries, and most take on creative access roles. Most of the senior workers have been forced out of India in recent years.
There is a small amount of persecution of believers by their families and communities, with the usual pattern of believers being expelled from their families, losing their children, their jobs, etc. But there is significant freedom for Muslims to become Christians in India, since Muslims fear Hindu government harassment much more than a few Muslims leaving Islam.