Kurdish Christians

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Kurdish Christians
Kurdên Xirîstiyan
mostly: Orthodox[1]
Kurdish languages, Zaza–Gorani languages

Kurdish Christians[a][2][3][4] are Kurds who follow Christianity. Though the majority of Kurds were converted to Islam during the expansion of the Islamic caliphates in the 7th century,[5] there still remained a number of Kurdish Christians. Modernly however, the majority of Kurdish Christians are evangelicals, and evangelical Kurdish churches have been established in Erbil, Selimani, and Duhok in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and in Hassakeh, Qamishli, Kobani, Amouda, and Afrin (until 2018) in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.[6]


Two Kurds with an Armenian Catholic cleric (middle), 1873

In the 10th century AD, the Kurdish prince Ibn ad-Dahhak, who possessed the fortress of al-Jafary, converted from Islam to Orthodox Christianity and in return the Byzantines gave him land and a fortress.[7] In 927 AD, he and his family were executed during a raid by Thamal, the Muslim Arab governor of Tarsus.[8]

In the late 11th and the early 12th century AD, a minority of the army of the fortress city of Shayzar was made up of Kurdish Christian soldiers.[9]

The Zakarids–Mkhargrdzeli, an Armenian[10][11]–Georgian dynasty of Kurdish[12][13][14][15][16] origin, ruled parts of northern Armenia in the 13th century AD and tried to reinvigorate intellectual activities by founding new monasteries.[17] At the peak of Kingdom of Georgia, the family led the unified Armeno-Georgian army. Two brothers of this family, Zakare and Ivane Mkhargrdzeli led the army to victory in Ani in 1199.

Marco Polo, in his book, stated that some of the Kurds who inhabited the mountainous part of Mosul were Christians, while others were Muslims.[18]

Kurdish Christian converts usually were a part of the Nestorian Church.[19] 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.[20]

One of the most prominent Kurdish leaders in Iraqi Kurdistan, Sheikh Ahmed Barzani, a brother of Mustafa Barzani, announced his conversion to Christianity during his uprising against the Iraqi government in 1931.[21]

Contemporary Kurdish Christians[edit]

Part of the English-language New Testament was first available in the Kurdish language in 1856.[22]

The Kurdish Church of Christ (The Kurdzman Church of Christ) was established in Hewlêr (Erbil) by the end of 2000, and has branches in the Silêmanî, Duhok governorates. This is the first evangelical Kurdish church in Iraq.[23] Its logo is formed of a yellow sun and a cross rising up behind a mountain range. According to one Kurdish convert, an estimated 500 Kurdish Muslim youths have converted to Christianity since 2006 throughout Kurdistan.[24] A Kurdish convert from the Iraqi military who claims to have transported weapons of mass destruction also stated that a wave of Kurds converting to Christianity is taking place in northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan).[25]

There are some 80-100 Christian Kurds that converted in recent times in the city of Kobanî in the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.[26][27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kurdish: کوردێن خرستیان, romanized: Kurdên Xirîstiyan; Kurdish: کوردێن فلە, romanized: Kurdên File; Kurdish: Kurdên Xaçparêz; also commonly used: Kurdish: Kurdên Mesîhî. Mesîhî being a loan word from Arabic: مسيحي, romanizedMasīḥī.
  1. ^ Muhammad, Hoshavi. "Monk Madai. The Kurdish People and Christianity". OrthoChristian.Com.
  2. ^ Seker, Can (2006). "Zerdeştî û Ezdayetî".
  3. ^ Mîdî, Sozdar (2014). "Ta Kengê Bêdengî Li Ser Tewrên Tabûra Pêncan ya Islama Tundrew" (PDF). Pênûsa Nû. 28: 6.
  4. ^ "Çîroka 2 keçên Şingalê: Du ol di malekê de!". Rûdaw.net. 2015-08-03. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  5. ^ Kennedy, Hugh (Hugh N.) (2004). The Prophet and the age of the Caliphates : the Islamic Near East from the sixth to the eleventh century (2nd ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson/Longman. ISBN 0-582-40525-4. OCLC 55792252.
  6. ^ Maenza, Nadine; Alton, David (2020-10-12). "The Untold Story of Syrian Kurdish Christians". Providence. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  7. ^ A. Vasilyev, Vizantija i araby. Vol. II. (Saint-Petersburg, 1902), p. 220.
  8. ^ Paul F. Robinson, Just War in Comparative Perspective, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 233pp., 2003, (see p.162)
  9. ^ David Nicolle, Christa Hook, Saracen Faris, 1050-1250 AD, 64 pp., Osprey Publishing, 1994, ISBN 1-85532-453-9, see p.7, Table A.
  10. ^ Encyclopaedia of Islam. — E. J. BRILL, 1986. — Vol. I. — P. 507 "Ani was for the first time conquered by the Georgians in 1124, under David II, who laid the foundation of the power of the Georgian kings; the town was given as a fief to the Armenian family of the Zakarids, (in Georgian: Mkhargrdzeli = Longimani) "
  11. ^ Cyril Toumanoff. Armenia and Georgia // The Cambridge Medieval History. — Cambridge, 1966. — vol. IV: The Byzantine Empire, part I chapter XIV. — p. 593—637 "Later, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Armenian house of the Zachariads (Mkhargrdzeli) ruled in northern Armenia at Ani, Lor'i, Kars, and Dvin under the Georgian aegis."
  12. ^ Alexei Lidov, 1991, The mural paintings of Akhtala, p. 14, Nauka Publishers, Central Dept. of Oriental Literature, University of Michigan, ISBN 5-02-017569-2, ISBN 978-5-02-017569-3, It is clear from the account of these Armenian historians that Ivane's great grandfather broke away from the Kurdish tribe of Babir
  13. ^ Vladimir Minorsky, 1953, Studies in Caucasian History, p. 102, CUP Archive, ISBN 0-521-05735-3, ISBN 978-0-521-05735-6, According to a tradition which has every reason to be true, their ancestors were Mesopotamian Kurds of the tribe (xel) Babirakan.
  14. ^ Richard Barrie Dobson, 2000, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages: A-J, p. 107, Editions du Cerf, University of Michigan, ISBN 0-227-67931-8, ISBN 978-0-227-67931-9, under the Christianized Kurdish dynasty of Zak'arids they tried to re-establish nazarar system...
  15. ^ William Edward David Allen, 1932, A History of the Georgian People: From the Beginning Down to the Russian Conquest in the Nineteenth Century, p. 104, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-7100-6959-6, ISBN 978-0-7100-6959-7, She retained and leant upon the numerous relatives of Sargis Mkhargrdzeli, an aznauri of Kurdish origin
  16. ^ Vardan Arewelts'i's, Compilation of History In these time there lived the glorious princes Zak'are' and Iwane', sons of Sargis, son of Vahram, son of Zak'are', son of Sargis of Kurdish nationality (i K'urd azge') p. 82
  17. ^ 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
  18. ^ Polo, Marco (1920). "Chapter 5" . In Cordier, Henri (ed.). The Travels of Marco Polo . Translated by Yule, Henry. London – via Wikisource.{{citation}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, 1884, p.313
  21. ^ The Kurdish Minority Problem, p.11, Dec. 1948, ORE 71-48, CIA "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-03-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  22. ^ Dehqan, Mustafa (2009). "A Kirmaşanî Translation of the Gospel of John" (PDF). Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. 61 (1–2): 207–211. doi:10.2143/JECS.61.1.2045832. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  23. ^ Revival Times Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Sunni extremists (21 May 2007). "Threaten to kill Christian converts in north". IRIN.
  25. ^ Kurds in Northern Iraq Converting to Christianity: Iraqi General
  26. ^ Christianity Grows in Syrian Town in Wake of IS
  27. ^ "Christianity grows in Syrian town once besieged by Islamic State". Reuters. 2019-04-16. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  28. ^ "Kurds Embrace Christianity and Kobani Celebrates Inauguration of Church". The Syrian Observer. 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2021-11-05.

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