Kumzari in Iran

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group location: SIL / WLMS. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Kumzari
Country: Iran
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 700
World Population: 5,800
Primary Language: Kumzari
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Luri-Bakhtiari
Affinity Bloc: Persian-Median
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kumzari speak a language that is related to Persian but has some Arabic aspects. They also use a form of Omani Arabic to communicate with other tribes and with the government. In appearance, the Kumzari resemble other Arabs. They are short and stocky with black hair and dark complexions. They sometimes carry unique, long-handled axes with small ax heads. They also use a type of fishing boat found nowhere else.

Where Are they Located?

Though a small number live in Iran, most Kumzari are located in northern Oman at the northernmost part of the Musandam Peninsula. They live primarily in the seacoast town of Kumzar and also in Khasab and Diba. The Musandam Peninsula is a landmark for navigators, with its high mountains plunging down to the sea. Overlooking the Strait of Hormuz, the rugged land makes it difficult to access the mountain villages and coastal cities. Due to their location, the Kumzari remain isolated.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Kumzari are primarily fishermen, although some also herd sheep and goats and grow date palms during the summer. Others work as sailors, boat builders, merchants, or craftsmen. A few men have also gone to work in the oil fields of Oman or the United Arab Emirates. They are diverse in their careers and some work as doctors, nurses, business men and women, students, poets, writers, engineers, and teachers.

The main diet of the Kumzari consists of goat milk, cheese, goat meat, mutton, and fish. They also regularly consume figs, coffee, and canned foods. At mealtime, they place mats on the ground, and the food is placed on these mats. Men and women sit in separate circles with other family members sharing food from a tray on the mat.

Kumzari men construct the homes, conduct the agricultural activities, fish, collect honey, and shear, slaughter, and skin the animals. The women process agricultural products, feed and milk the animals, make butter and cheese, and engage in all the domestic duties such as carrying water, cooking, and sewing.

Kumzari houses are built extremely close together. In fact, the only gap among the crowded houses is a narrow drainage channel for the village. Houses are made from stone and have tiny courtyards and flat stone roofs. Among the crafts produced by the Kumzari are braided articles from the date palm. These include such items as brushes made from the ribs and leaves, fans for cooling people, mats on which to dry fish and dates, pottery, clay coffee pots, and the jerez. The jerez may be used as a walking stick in the rugged terrain or as a means of defense from wildcats. Other times it is used to hold sacks slung over the shoulder or as an ornamental accessory brought to important tribal community functions.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kumzari are entirely Muslim, following the teachings of the Koran. Like some other Muslim peoples around the world, they have their own type of folk Islam, which combines Islam with their pre-Islamic practices. They believe in evil spirits, which are warded off by cowrie shells tied to the bows of their boats. They believe in a she-devil who casts shadows and walks around in rags, carrying a basket. They believe she causes miscarriages in pregnant women. They also believe in monstrous creatures of various kinds.

What Are Their Needs?

The Kumzari have no Christian resources available to them, and no mission agency is currently working among them, either in Oman or Iran. Prayer is greatly needed for contacts with these isolated Muslims.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Holy Spirit to give the Kumazari people in Iran teachable and understanding hearts.
Pray that a strong movement of the Holy Spirit will bring entire Kumazari families into a rich experience of God's blessing.
Pray for Kumazari families to be drawn by the Holy Spirit to seek forgiveness, and to understand the adequacy of Christ's work on the cross.
Pray for teams of believers to do sustained, focused prayer for the Lord to open the hearts of Kumazari family leaders to experience God's blessing through family-based discovery Bible studies.

Text Source:   Keith Carey