Most Kurds converted to Islam after the Arab conquest of the Sassanid Empire. However, there were Kurdish converts to Christianity even after the spread of Islam. In the ninth century, a Kurd named Nasr or Narseh converted to Christianity, and changed his name to Theophobos during the reign of Emperor Theophilus and was the emperor's intimate friend and commander for many years. During the same period, the Kurdish prince Ibn ad-Dahhak, who possessed the fortress of al-Jafary, abandoned Islam for Orthodox Christianity. In return, the Byzantines gave him land and a fortress. In 927, he and his family was executed during a raid by Thamal, the Arab governor of Tarsus.
The Armenian family of the Zakarids, whose ancestors were Christianized Kurds, ruled parts of northern Armenia in the 13th century AD and tried to reinvigorate intellectual activities by founding new monasteries. During Armeno-Georgian union the family led the unified Armeno-Georgian army. Two brothers of this family, Zakare and Ivane led the army to victory in Ani in 1199.
A part of the Kurdish tribe of Muhallamiyyah of Tur abdin converted from Orthodox Syriac to Islam around 1609, and according to Horatio Southgate, they remembered their Christian origins in 19th century.
Kurds who converted to Christianity usually turned to the Nestorian Church. In 1884, researchers of the Royal Geographical Society reported about a Kurdish tribe in Sivas which retained certain Christian observances and sometimes identified as Christian. It is also possible that many Kurdish Christians have been linguistically and hence ethnically absorbed by Semitic-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia, especially after Islamic expansions in Middle East.
In the early 20th century, a Lutheran mission from United States and Germany began to serve the Kurds of Iran. From 1911 to 1916, it established a Kurdish congregation and an orphanage. One of the most prominent Kurdish leaders in Iraqi Kurdistan, Sheikh Ahmed Barzani who was a brother of Mustafa Barzani, announced his conversion to Christianity during his uprising against the Iraqi government in 1931.
Contemporary Kurdish Christians
In recent years a few Kurds from Muslim background have converted to Christianity. After the Gulf War in 1991, Christian agencies offered help to Kurdish refugees, who were amazed that the assistance came from Christians.
The Kurdish-Speaking Church of Christ (The Kurdzman Church of Christ) was established in Hewlêr (Arbil) by the end of 2000, and has branches in the Silêmanî, Duhok governorates. This is the first evangelical Kurdish church in Iraq. Its logo is formed of a yellow sun and a cross rising up behind a mountain range. Kurdzman Church of Christ held its first three-day conference in Ainkawa north of Arbil in 2005 with the participation of 300 new Kurdish converts. According to other sources, 500 Kurdish Muslim youths have converted to Christianity since 2006 throughout Kurdistan. In recent years, the trend of Kurds converting to Christianity continues especially in northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan).
- Massehi in Kurdish Wiktionary
- G. R. Driver, The Religion of the Kurds, Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London, 1922, p.208
- I. Sevcenko, Review of New Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, Slavic Review, p.111, 1968.
- A. Vasilyev, Vizantija i araby. Vol. II. (Saint-Petersburg, 1902), p. 220.
- Paul F. Robinson, Just War in Comparative Perspective, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 233pp., 2003, (see p.162)
- David Nicolle, Christa Hook, Saracen Faris, 1050-1250 AD, 64 pp., Osprey Publishing, 1994, ISBN 1-85532-453-9, see p.7, Table A.
- T. F. Mathews, A. Taylor, The Armenian Gospels of Gladzor: The Life of Christ Illuminated, Getty Publications, 2001, ISBN 9780892366279 ( see p.23 :
Thirteenth century Armenian historians note that the family ancestors were Christianized Kurds
- V. Minorsky, Studies in Caucasian History, 196 pp., 1957, ISBN 9780521057356, (see p.102)
- A. Vauchez, R. B. Dobson, M. Lapidge, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages: A-J, 1624 pp., Editions du Cerf, 2000, ISBN 0227679318, 9780227679319, see p.107
- R. J. Mouawad, The Kurds and Their Christian Neighbors, Parole de l'Orient, vol. XVII, pp.127-141, 1992. (see pp.131-132)
- John Joseph, The Modern Assyrians of the Middle East: Encounters with Western Christian Missions, Archaeologists, & Colonial Powers, Brill Academic Publishers, 292 pp., 2000, ISBN 90-04-11641-9, p.61
- Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, 1884, p.313
- M.R. Izady, The Kurds: A Concise Handbook, Taylor & Francis, 1992, ISBN 0-8448-1727-9, pp.163,164.
- John Joseph, Warren D. Gribbons, Muslim-Christian Relations and Inter-Christian Rivalries in the Noddle East, SUNY Press, 1983, ISBN 0-87395-600-1, p.179
- The Kurdish Minority Problem, p.11, Dec. 1948, ORE 71-48, CIA .
- A Muslim Leader Converted to Christianity in Iraqi Kurdistan
- urbana.org - Articles[dead link]
- God Will Start With You, Rev. David Holwick, First Baptist Church, New Jersey, Sep. 1997; original source is Brigada/Mission Frontier magazine, May 9, 1997.
- Revival Times
- UNAMI: Iraqi Media Monitoring
- IRAQ: Sunni extremists threaten to kill Christian converts in north
- Kurds in Northern Iraq Converting to Christianity: Iraqi General
- Kurdistanica.com - Christianity
- The Kurds, by Diana Colby
- Holy Bible in Kurdish (Latín alphabet)
- Holy Bible in Kurdish (Kurdish Script)
- Bible Society in Lebanon prepares Scripture Calendars in Kurdish Surani
- Jesus' Peshmerga <-- page removed or link broken
- Kurdish Christians - Information, Videos, News and Images about Kurdish Christians