Religions in Iran

By | February 15, 2020

About 98.4% of the population in Iran are Muslims, of whom 90.4% are Shi’ites. Sunnislam is primarily represented among minority groups such as Kurds, Turkmen and Baluchis.


Iran was Islamized in the 600s. Shia Islam became a state religion at the time of the Safavid takeover of power in 1501, and Shia Muslim jurists were in a political position of power. More recently, they took up the fight against the British tobacco monopoly 1891–92, and supported the demand for a new constitution in the period 1905–11. The proclamation of the Islamic Republic, February 1979, represents a highlight of this development.

From the magnificent Imam Mosque in Esfahan

Religious minorities

The country has a number of religious minorities. The Constitution guarantees religious rights for the approved minorities, ie Jews, Christians and Zarathustra followers (parsers).

In Parliament, the Christians have two seats, Jews and the Persians one seat each. Zarathustra followers belong to the latest expiry of Old Iranian religion and today constitute a group of about 0.1%; this group is mentioned in the Quran among the “book people” and their religious practice is thus protected by the law of the land. Jews make up about 0.1%, Christians make up around 0.7%.

The majority of Christians belong to the Armenian Orthodox (Gregorian) Church, followed by the Assyrian Church. There are also small Catholic churches, both with Latin and Oriental rites. The Protestant churches are relatively new in the area, but show great activity.

There are still a small number of Bahá’í adherents, but this religious community is considered heretical, and Bahá’í institutions and sacred buildings were banned in 1983.