Azeri Turk in Iran

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Many people groups were on the move in the 1200s because of various conquering armies including the Mongols and the Seljukids. At that time, the ancestors of today's Azerbaijanis were among the Oghuz Turkic tribes. Some moved into Anatolia (where Turkey is now located) and became Sunni Muslims. Others moved into the Caucasus region, Azerbaijan and what is now Iran, where they became Shi 'ite Muslims. These people eventually became the Azerbaijanis, or Azeris.

In Iran the term "Azeri" is used formally for these people; however, informally, Azeris and other Turkic speaking Iranian populations are colloquially referred to as "Tork" (Turk) or "Azerbaijanis." They are distinguished from the Iranian majority by the fact their language is Turkic based rather than Persian based. This is the largest minority group in Iran.

Where Are they Located?

Azeri Turks live in Iran and Azerbaijan, but smaller numbers live in Turkey and Iraq. There is a smaller diaspora of them scattered in various Western countries as well.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Despite some friction in the past, Azerbaijanis in Iran came to be "well represented at all levels of political, military, and intellectual hierarchies, as well as the religious hierarchy." The living conditions of Azeris in Iran closely resemble that of the majority people, the Persian Iranians. Most likely they hold the same kinds of jobs as the Iranian majority. However, Azerbaijanis can sometimes be offended when an Iranian comedy makes fun of them as an ethnic group.

Azerbaijanis in Iran straddle different cultures and languages. Their language is close to the Turkish language, though they must function in Farsi, the official language of Iran.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Azerbaijanis are Shi 'ite Muslims like the Iranian majority, though they are not likely to be devout because Shi 'ite Islam is imposed by the government of Iran. Many are disillusioned enough with religion to just go through the motions; others have given up on spiritual matters altogether.

What Are Their Needs?

The Azerbaijanis in Iran need the chance to find spiritual freedom in Christ, and to serve Him all the days of their lives.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to thrust out workers to take the blessings of Christ to this people group.
Ask God to raise up entire families and communities within the Azerbaijanis in Iran until their culture is transformed in all its spheres to fully glorify God and represent His Kingdom here on earth.
Pray for every opposing spirit influencing the Azerbaijanis in Iran to give way to the liberating, life-giving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Pray for many to be discipled as Jesus followers, and that there will soon be a movement of disciples making disciples.

Scripture Prayers for the Azerbaijani, Azeri Turk in Iran.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

The Waiting World - The Azerbaijani
Source:  The Waiting World      Download

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-11-30
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-11-20
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-11-21
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-11-22
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-10-01
People Name General Azerbaijani, Azeri Turk
People Name in Country Azerbaijani, Azeri Turk
Natural Name Azeri Turk
Pronunciation uh-ZARE-ee terk
Population this Country 17,427,000
Population all Countries 18,388,000
Total Countries 6
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 349
Alternate Names Afshar; Shachsewenen; South Azerbaijani
People ID 18859
ROP3 Code 100677
Country Iran
Region Asia, Central
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 9  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Widespread, especially north and central.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Iran
Region Asia, Central
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 9  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Widespread, especially north and central..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Azerbaijani, Azeri Turk in Iran Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Azerbaijani, South
Language Code azb   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Azerbaijani, South
Language Code azb   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Azerbaijani, South
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.60 %)
1.80 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
98.20 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
60.0 %
40.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source Travlr 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Video Source The Waiting World
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more