Luri, Northern in Iran

Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Luri, Northern
Country: Iran
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 1,973,000
World Population: 2,100,000
Primary Language: Luri, Northern
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Luri-Bakhtiari
Affinity Bloc: Persian-Median
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Many people believe the Luri were the original inhabitants of southwestern Iran. Others suggest they immigrated there from Syria during the seventh century A.D.

Most of the Luri are nomadic shepherds, traveling with their flocks from place to place. However, the more settled Luri prefer farming.

The Luri speak a language, also called Luri, that is very similar to modern Persian, or Farsi. It is the closest language to Middle Persian that still exists. Since the Luri men regularly have contacts outside their own communities, they are bilingual. The women, however, usually only speak Luri.

The Luri people live in the Zagros Mountains which are in Iraq, Iran and Turkey. There are about 10 times more Luri people in Iran than there are in Iraq, but their lifestyles and religious beliefs are nearly identical.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Like most other shepherds of the Zagros, the Luri 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 personal qualities and good luck determine a shepherd’s success. Those with the largest herds and the most money dominate Luri society. This upper class hires members of the lower class to tend to their flocks. Shepherds of small herds often must hire out their sons to the large herd owners so that they might earn a sufficient income.

The more settled Luri prefer farming over shepherding. They live in permanent villages all year round, as opposed to moving from place to place. Wheat and barley are their principal crops.

The Luri have political units called tribes, or "il." Each tribe comprises several distinct sub-tribes. Each sub-tribe, or "oulad," comprises 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.

We know the Luri 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 bravery in battle.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Luri are practicing Shia Muslims. However, unlike many of the Shia who are 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 people believe these shrines possess healing powers, people with physical ailments visit them each year, hoping to be cured.


What Are Their Needs?

One hindrance in reaching the Luri with the gospel is the fact that they are a nomadic people who travel from place to place. Since they never remain in one place for very long, it will be extremely difficult for missionaries to reach them.

Prayer Points

Pray for God to show his blessing—strengthening and healing families and communities within the Northern Luri people so they will follow him.

Pray that God will send culturally sensitive Christ followers who will show them the way to the cross.

Pray for a movement to Christ that will flourish among this people group.

Pray for the Luri people to be blessed with peace, joy and spiritual prosperity as they follow Jesus Christ.

Text Source:   Joshua Project