Southern Kurd in Iran

The Southern Kurd have only been reported in Iran
Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Southern Kurds of Iran are actually part of a much greater Kurdish population. They are made up of a number of clans, tribes, and tribal confederations, many of which have been in existence for thousands of years. This large people group shares several important and common ties. For instance, they speak a group of closely related languages, they have a shared culture, they have a common geographical homeland, and they have a common sense of identity. Kurds are basically more alike than are other people groups, and they feel it.

The Southern Kurds of Iran live along the Iraq-Iran border in the Iranian provinces of Kermanshah and Luristan. Though the Southern Kurds enjoy a milder climate than do their relatives farther north, both groups face many common problems. Water is scarce, and there are persistent problems with such diseases as trachoma, tuberculosis, and malaria.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Kurds of this region make their living in much the same way as their relatives in Turkey and Iraq, farming and raising cattle and goats. The area is well wooded and a few still live the semi-nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors. However, most still live in small villages of under 2000 people.

Generally speaking, the Southern Kurds are better off than the Kurds in Turkey, especially in regard to land ownership. Since 1960, land reform has allowed nearly one-third of the Kurds to buy their first plots of land. However, they are still culturally repressed, their language banned, and their children forced to learn Persian in schools. There is much hostility between the Sunni Muslim Northern Kurds and the Shiite Kurds farther south.

The Kurds are noted for their elaborate and colorful national costumes. The men's costumes consist of baggy, colored trousers and plain shirts with huge sleeves split at the wrist and tied at the elbow. Brightly colored vests and sashes are also worn. Women usually wear heavy clothing that is brightly embroidered. However, many rural Kurds have abandoned their native costumes for western style dress.

The most important Kurdish national festival is the New Year celebration which is held on March 21st. This is a long ceremony that may continue for a week or more. Many specific foods and condiments are prepared in advance. Special flowers are grown for the occasion and branches covered with fresh buds are cut and made to adorn the feast. New clothes are worn, and some old pottery is broken for good luck. People visit each other's houses, and old feuds and misunderstandings are reconciled for the occasion. Gifts are given by seniors to their juniors in age, and high ranking social figures are paid visits and brought gifts.

Southern Kurds are primarily Shia Muslim, and this has created tension with Kurdish groups that are Sunni Muslim.
What Are Their Beliefs?

Nearly all Kurds are Muslim, most being Shafite Sunnis. They first embraced Islam after the Arab conquests of the seventh century. Islam is looked to 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.

What Are Their Needs?

Since they live in an area where water is scarce, the Southern Kurds need to be educated in irrigation and agricultural techniques. This would greatly improve their cultivation of crops and successful raising of cattle. Their persistent problems with certain diseases show the need for improved medical services. Politically, they are oppressed by the Iranian government. They need the liberty to educate their children in their own language.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Iran and share Christ with Southern Kurds.
Pray that the doors of Iran will soon open to missionaries.
Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the few known Southern Kurd Christians.
Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of Southern Kurds towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
Pray that God will open the hearts of Iran's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among Southern Kurds.

Scripture Prayers for the Kurd, Southern in Iran.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2006-10-03
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-11-26
Global Prayer Digest: 2019-11-12
People Name General Kurd, Southern
People Name in Country Kurd, Southern
Natural Name Southern Kurd
Pronunciation kerd
Population this Country 3,548,000
Population all Countries 3,548,000
Total Countries 1
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 71
Alternate Names Carduchi; Kurd; Kurdish; Southern Kurd
People ID 12874
ROP3 Code 105452
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 West, mainly Kermanshah and Ilam provinces; to east, Hamadan, Lorestan, Kordestan, and Khuzestan provinces; southeast, small area in Sistan va Baluchestan Province.   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 West, mainly Kermanshah and Ilam provinces; to east, Hamadan, Lorestan, Kordestan, and Khuzestan provinces; southeast, small area in Sistan va Baluchestan Province..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Kurd, Southern in Iran Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Kurdish, Southern (3,548,000 speakers)
Language Code sdh   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Kurdish, Southern (3,548,000 speakers)
Language Code sdh   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Kurdish, Southern

Primary Language:  Kurdish, Southern

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1894-1900)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Kurdish, Southern Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Magdalena video Jesus Film Project
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children Jesus Film Project
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General Gospel tract General / Other
General Kurdish Ministry Resources General / Other
General Zume Training Zume Project
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.00 %)
1.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
30.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
30.0 %
Roman Catholic
40.0 %
Photo Source National Archives  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more