What is the Religion of the Kurds

What is the religion of the kurds

What is the religion of the Kurds, The Kurds are an ethnic group primarily living in Kurdistan, an area spanning across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. As culturally diverse people they practice various religions and belief systems making it hard to pinpoint one religion as representative for all Kurds – their religious landscape is diverse reflecting historical, geographical and sociological circumstances; here we explore their rich religious landscape:

What is the religion of the kurds: Islam

A majority of Kurds are Muslims and Islam is an integral component of their cultural and religious identity. Both Sunni and Shia Islam can be found among Kurds; in Turkey most adhere to Sunni while Iran predominantly practices Shia Islam whereas Iraq and Syria feature more diverse populations that practice both forms. Islam shapes various aspects of life including daily rituals, traditions and celebrations for Kurds.

Kurdish Sufism:

Sufism, a spiritual dimension of Islam, has had a great influence on Kurdish culture and spirituality. Sufi practice emphasizes closeness to God through practices such as dhikr (remembrance) and Sufi gatherings; these gatherings often incorporate music, poetry and dance as ways to achieve higher states of spiritual consciousness.


Yazidism is an ancient, syncretic religion practiced by an increasing number of Kurds living primarily in Northern Iraq. Yazidis adhere to one God and venerate Melek Taus (The Peacock Angel). Yazidism remains relatively obscure outside their community due to being closed and secretive; unfortunately however, recent years have witnessed persecution by Islamic State (ISIS).


Zoroastrianism was historically widely practiced among Kurds before Islam’s spread; however, only a minority adhere to Zoroastrianism today.


In some parts of Kurdistan there exist communities of Kurdish Christians from Iraq, Syria and Iran who belong to various denominations including Assyrian Orthodox, Chaldean Catholicism and Syriac Orthodoxy among others.

Yarsanism (Ahl-e Haqq):

Yarsanism, with roots in Kurdistan, is an eclectic religious movement which integrates elements from various faith traditions such as Islam, Zoroastrianism and Yazidism. Yarsanism can be found among some Kurdish communities in Iran’s western part and among Yazidis living within Iran’s Kurdish communities in general.

Animism and Shamanism:

Some Kurdish communities, particularly in rural and remote locations, continue ancient animistic and shamanistic practices that involve belief in spirits, nature worshipping rituals and the role of shamans as intermediaries between spiritual realms and physical reality.

Understand that the religious landscape of Kurds is varied and constantly shifting. Their religious beliefs often correlate closely to cultural heritage and historical experiences; and religious practices vary significantly based on regional, tribal and individual considerations.

The Kurds’ religious diversity reflects their pluralistic society, where multiple faiths and traditions coexist peacefully, creating an atmosphere of tolerance and cohabitation. Although Islam remains the predominant faith among them, their spiritual landscape consists of numerous beliefs which continue to shape their cultural identity today.

Kurds Population

Kurds are an ethnic and linguistically distinct people group with an intricate history, inhabiting parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria to form Kurdistan – estimated between 25-35.5 million in population size making them one of the largest ethnicities without sovereign states.

Key Aspects of Kurdish Identity:


Kurds speak Kurdish, which belongs to the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European. There are various dialects of Kurdish including Kurmanji, Sorani and Pehlewani which serve as vital markers of cultural identity as a tool to preserve distinct heritages.


Kurds can trace their history all the way back to ancient Mesopotamian civilisations and beyond, being part of them since antiquity. Through history they have been subjected to influence from varying empires like Persians, Arabs, Ottomans etc.

Kurdistan Struggle:

Over time, Kurds have endured political and cultural oppression which led to numerous uprisings and movements advocating for Kurdish rights and autonomy. Kurds seek recognition of their distinct identity while seeking establishment of their state; however this goal has proven elusive due to geopolitical complexities and regional dynamics.

Kurdish Nationalism:

Kurdish nationalism emerged during the late 19th and early 20th centuries following the disintegration of Ottoman rule, seeking greater rights and autonomy for Kurds living within existing states or independent nationhood for Kurds living outside. Various Kurdish nationalist movements and parties sought greater rights for Kurds within existing nations while simultaneously working toward creating their own nation state for Kurds living overseas.

Cultural Heritage:

Kurdish culture is extremely varied, comprising traditions such as music, dance, clothing and culinary practices that are distinct to their communities. Their rich and vibrant heritage is deeply intertwined with history as well as religious beliefs.

Religion Diversity:

Kurds practice an eclectic range of religions, including Islam (both Sunni and Shia), Yazidism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Yarsanism and animism – this religious diversity mirrors their pluralistic society.

Role in Regional Conflicts:

Kurds have often found themselves caught up in regional and geopolitical struggles due to their geographical position and desire for autonomy. Kurdish groups have engaged in armed conflicts while seeking recognition and protection of their rights in spite of oppression.


Large Kurdish diaspora communities exist across various nations worldwide, with major concentrations found in Europe, North America and Australia. These diaspora communities play a pivotal role in advocating for Kurdish rights while upholding culture and identity outside Kurdistan.

Kurds have managed to preserve their distinct cultural identity despite facing challenges due to a lack of a sovereign state, showing resilience and determination in upholding their traditions, culture, language and heritage. Yet their quest for political autonomy remains an outstanding issue within this complex region of the Middle East.

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What is the religion of the kurds?What is the religion of the kurds

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