Religion in Iran

Religious beliefs in Iran / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Religion in Iran has been shaped by multiple religions and sects over the course of the country's history. Zoroastrianism was the main followed religion during the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC), Parthian Empire (247 BC - 224 AD), and Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD). Another Iranian religion known as Manichaeanism was present in Iran during this period. Jewish and Christian communities (the Church of the East) thrived, especially in the territories of northwestern, western, and southern Iran—mainly Caucasian Albania, Asoristan, Persian Armenia, and Caucasian Iberia. A significant number of Iranian peoples also adhered to Buddhism in what was then eastern Iran, such as the regions of Bactria and Sogdia.

Between 632-654 AD, the Rashidun Caliphate conquered Iran, and the next two centuries of Umayyad and Abbasid rule (as well as native Iranian rule during the Iranian Intermezzo) would see Iran, although initially resistant, gradually adopt Islam as the nation's predominant faith. Sunni Islam was the predominant form of Islam before the devastating Mongol conquest (1219-1221 AD), but with the advent of the Safavid Empire (1501-1736) Shi'ism became the predominant faith in Iran.[1]

There have been a number of surveys on the current religious makeup of Iran. Most show a very high percentage of Iranian identifying as Muslim—99.98% (the official 2011 Iranian government census, whose numbers were used by the CIA World Factbook),[2] 96.6% (2020 survey by the World Values Survey),[3] 96%, with 85% of the overall population identifying as Shias and with 11% of the population identifying as Sunnis (The Gulf/2000 Project under the University of Columbia), although one, a 2020 survey conducted by GAMAAN exclusively on the internet, found only about 40% of Iranians identifying as Muslim while from the 40% only 32% Identified as Shia Muslims.[4] Another GAMAAN survey conducted in Febuary 2022 about politcial systems, the number of Shia increased from 32% to 56% while Islam as a whole was 65% as 5% said they were Sunni Muslim and 4% said they were Spiritual or Sufi Muslims. In a December 2022 survey from GAMAAN, conducted through social media and a VPN platform 38% Identified as Shia Muslims while as a whole 46% Identified as Muslims with 5% saying they were Sunni Muslims and 3% saying they were Spiritual or Sufi Muslims.[5]

Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are officially recognized and protected, and have reserved seats in the Iranian parliament.[6] Iran is home to the second largest Jewish community in the Muslim world and the Middle East.[7] The three largest non-Muslim religious minorities in Iran are the followers of the Baháʼí Faith, Christianity and Yarsani.[8] Starting sometime after 1844, The Baháʼí community, became the largest religious minority group in Iran,[9] has been persecuted during its existence and is not recognized as a faith by the Iranian government.[10][11][12][13]

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