Kurd, Kurmanji in Iran





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Kurds are the largest people group without their own homeland. They are spread across the towering mountains and barren plains of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. This oil-rich area is known as "Kurdistan."

The Northern Kurd of Iran live in the most rugged part of Kurdistan along the Turkey-Iran border. In the winter, temperatures drop to minus 30C. In the summer, they reach 45C. Water is in short supply, and there are problems with malaria, trachoma, and tuberculosis. This area is twice as densely populated as the rest of Iran.

For a brief period after World War II, this part of Iran was home to the independent Kurdish Republic of Mahabad; however, this ended in 1946. Many Kurds still wait hopefully for an independent homeland. In July of 1989, the leader of the Iranian Kurdish Democratic party was assassinated in his hotel room in Vienna, Austria. The Iranian government is suspected in the murder.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Kurds of Iran make their living by farming and raising livestock, much the same way as their relatives in Turkey and Iraq. Although a few Kurds still live the semi-nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors, most now live in small villages of less than 2000 people.

The Iranian Kurds are better off than their cousins in Turkey. Land reforms since 1960 have allowed roughly a third of them to buy their first plots of land. However, they are still culturally repressed. Iranian schools are ill equipped and there are not nearly enough of them. Medical care is inadequate in the towns and almost non-existent in the rural areas. There is also constant hostility between the Sunni Muslim Kurds in the north and the Shiite Muslim Kurds farther south.

Large families are still the norm for Kurds. Each household usually has five or six members. The disintegration of the "tribal system" began at the turn of the century, and entered its final phase in the seventies. Massive migration to the cities has also contributed to the extinction of a tribal society.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Nearly all the Kurds are Muslim, most being Shafiite Sunnis. They first embraced Islam after the Arab conquests of the seventh century. They look to Islam as a basis for social justice.

Despite being predominantly Sunnis, religion has created deep rifts among the Kurds. These differences also have prejudicial overtones towards the lower class. Many of the dispossessed Kurd minorities have become associated with the secret and unorthodox sects of Islam--the most fervently rebellious people in Kurd society.

Even among the Sunni Kurds, there remain traces of an earlier pagan, violent-type faith. This occasionally surfaces and has set the Kurds of Iran apart from other Muslims. In rural areas, many still believe in jinnis and demons, and practice such things as animal worship. According to Muslim legend, jinnis are spirits capable of assuming either human or animal form, and exercising supernatural influence over people. Until recent times, mullahs (Islamic religious leaders) acted as village witch doctors. They would perform ceremonies and recite incantations to drive out madness or to cure the sick.

What Are Their Needs?

The Northern Kurd of Iran are living in poor conditions. Good water supplies are scarce, and they are exposed to diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. Politically, the Kurds are oppressed by the Iranian government. They need the liberty to educate their children in their own language.

The Kurds have followed Islam for many years. Although the New Testament is now available in their language, there are still only a few known Northern Kurd believers in Iran.

Prayer Points

* Pray that God will supply clean water for the Northern Kurd of Iran.
* Ask the Lord to raise up Christian medical teams who can bring supplies and expertise to the Kurds.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts and open their ears to the Gospel.
* Pray that the Lord will send laborers into Iran, to reap a harvest among the Northern Kurd.
* Pray for the small number of Northern Kurd Christians and ask God to give them open doors of ministry to their own people.
* Pray that a strong Christian church will be raised up among the Northern Kurd of Iran.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-10-18
Video Links:
Life's Gold
People Name General Kurd, Kurmanji
People Name in Country Kurd, Kurmanji
Population in Iran 471,000
World Population 14,778,000
Countries 32
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Kermanji, Kurmanji, Turkish Kurd, Yazidi, Yezidi
Affinity Bloc Persian-Median
People Cluster Kurd
People Name General Kurd, Kurmanji
Ethnic Code CNT24c
People ID 12877
Country Iran
Region Central Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 7  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country North and west of Lake Urmia. Some in Kalardast region, Mazandaran Province. Northern Kurdish variety of Khorasani Kurmanji is east of the Caspian Sea, in north Khorassan Province, Quchan and Bojnurd towns.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Kurdish, Northern (471,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Kurdish, Northern 471,000
For Primary Language: Kurdish, Northern

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1856-2010)
New Testament Yes   (1872-2005)
Complete Bible Yes   (2008)
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible-in-Your-Language Text / Printed Matter
Bible: Kurdish New Testament & Psalms Text / Printed Matter
God's Story Video Film / Video
Got Questions Ministry General
International Bible Society Text / Printed Matter
Jesus Film: view in Kurdish, Northern Film / Video
Kermanji Kurd Language Film Film / Video
Kurdish Ministry Resources General
Magdalena (Jesus Film Project) Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
The Hope Video Film / Video
Primary Religion: Islam

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.10 %)
0.40 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.60 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
45.0 %
Other Christian
10.0 %
15.0 %
Roman Catholic
30.0 %
Photo Source: Anonymous  
Map Source: Bryan Nicholson / cartoMission  
Video Source: Create International
Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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