Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Introduction / History
The Luri are a nomadic tribe of shepherds who live in the Zagros Mountains of southwestern Iran. Many believe that they were, in fact, the original inhabitants of this area. Others suggest that they immigrated there from Syria during the seventh century A.D.
The Luri are primarily located in three regions: Lorestan, Bakhtaran and Kohkiluyeh, all of which are part of the Zagros Mountains. The valleys within this range have rich pastures that have been used by different nomadic tribes from time to time. Although most of the Luri live in this general area, other Luri communities can also be found scattered across Iran. A small number (61,300) also live across the border in Iraq.
The Luri speak a language, also called "Luri," that is very similar to modern Persian, or "Farsi." Since the Luri men regularly have contacts outside their own communities, they are generally bilingual. The women, however, usually only speak Luri.
What are Their Lives Like?
About half of the Luri are shepherds. They live as nomads, traveling six to eight months out of the year and living in black goat-hair tents. They only live in permanent dwellings for a few months during the winter. From October to April they live in low-lying pastures; but in the dry season, they move their flocks to high mountain pastures. The Luri believe that a shepherd's success is determined by his personal qualities and good luck.
Luri society is dominated by those possessing the largest herds and the most money. This upper class hires members of the lower class to tend to their flocks.
The majority of the Luri are members of the lower class of society. They depend on the upper class for jobs and economic support. Shepherds of small herds are often forced to hire out their sons to the large herd owners so that they might earn a sufficient income.
Some of the Luri prefer farming over shepherding. They live in permanent villages all year round, as opposed to moving from place to place, and raise wheat and barley as their principal crops.
The Luri are divided into political units called tribes, or "il." Each tribe consists of several distinct sub-tribes. Each sub-tribe, or "oulad," is made up of several families that have a common ancestor. The sub-tribes are divided into small villages of three to eight "tent households." The tent household includes a husband, wife, and children, along with their flock of sheep or goats.
Each tribe is headed by a hereditary chief, or "khan," who is recruited by one of the sub-tribes. A yearly tax on grains and animals provides financial support for the khan.
The Luri are known for their rich folklore. Their tales glorify the history of each tribal group and describe the adventures of their heroes. They also emphasize such characteristics as honor, loyalty, generosity, and, most importantly, bravery in battle.
What are Their Beliefs?
The Luri are practicing Shi'a Muslims. However, unlike many of the Shi'a who tend to be entirely dogmatic in their beliefs, the Luri have adopted a very practical belief system with simple religious practices.
Shrines dedicated to "holy men" (founders of various Islamic groups) are scattered throughout the region. Because these shrines are believed to posses healing powers, people with physical and psychological ailments visit them each year in hopes of being cured.
What are Their Needs?
Iran is currently facing serious economic and political problems. The Luri live in a constant state of political unrest, and there is a tremendous need for true, inner peace.
Many children do not attend school due to the lack of classrooms and teachers. Only about 48 percent of Iran's adults can read and write.
The Luri have had little chance of ever hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
* Pray that laws in Iran which restrict the preaching of the Gospel will be changed.
* Ask God to create an openness to Christianity within the hearts of the Luri.
* Pray that God will raise up laborers who understand the Muslim culture and who can effectively take the Gospel to them.
* Pray that God will provide contacts, strategies, and wisdom for missions agencies trying to reach the Luri.
* Ask the Lord to send Christian teachers to Iran.
* Pray that Iran's present condition of political unrest will cause the Luri to begin searching for true peace.
* Ask God to raise up a strong local church among the Luri.
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