The Sunnah people and Sunnah areas in Iran

April 6, 2011 § 3 Comments


The Sunnah people and Sunnah areas in Iran

  • “الحمد لله رب العالمين و الصلاة و السلام على سيدنا محمد،المبعوث رحمة للعالمين و على اله و اصحابه و التابعين لهم باحسان الى يوم الديناما بعد:” مثل المؤمنين في توادهم و تراحمهم و تعاطفهم كمثل الجسد اذا اشتكى منه عضو تداعى له سائر الجسد بالسهر و الحمى
Before Islam, Iran was ruled by the cruel Sassanid empire. Iran was conquered in era of the second Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (Allah is well pleased with him) after a severe fight of the Muslim army (the companions of the Prophet, among them Africans, Europeans, Arabs of course AND Persians) and after that, the Iranians accepted the natural religion Islam. After Islam was accepted in most parts of Iran, there was also a very small Shia community  in the era of Umavids and Abbasids (Qom for instance was Shia before even Iran turned to a Shia country. There were some Zaidis i.e. moderate Shia and Rafidah i.e. Imamite Shias in some parts of Iran, mostly near the borders of Iraq, the mother of extreme Shi’ism). The Shia were restricted only in four cities of Iran: Kashan, Sabzavar, Qom and Saveh.
Before five centuries in 906 H.Q (1500 AD), when Safavian got the government, so the Shiah community in Iran started their activities and preached their idealogies. Finaly the first Shiite state appeared in the history of Iran after the Safavid dynasty forced most Iranians to convert to the extreme form of Shi’ism, the rejectionist (Rafidi) Imamite twelver sect. They literally massacred nearly an entire people, to make sure that those who won’t freely convert to Shi’ism eventually will do so.
After it, the king Ismaeel Safavi (founder of the Safawi State) took the reins of power in the Safawian State and adopted Tabriz, the capital of his government. As he declared the Shiah twelver sect the official religoin of the state in 907 H.Q(1501 AD), Then Sunnis in Iran suffered from deteriorations,  they faced injustice and were tortured, the Sunnis were displaced and massacred.
Since that time till today, the Shiites in Iran have full authority and hold the reins of power in all aspects of life, political, economical, social and other fields. On other side, the Sunni community does not have any authority they are kept away from the key posts of the country, they can not participate in important decisions, the Sunnis do not have any right inligislativ departments and management of the country, rather they are gifted all kinds of injustice and discrimination.
Because of the lack of precise statistical and no one is allowed  to carry out the precise number of minorities whose belong to differnet sectarianism and nationalism in Iran, it is very difficult to determine the number of those who belong to the Sunni community. But despite all that we can affirm that the number is estimated at more than 18 million people of the total population of Iran that is around 70 million. This number is equivalent to more than 25 percent of the population of Iran.
Current sources give a percentage of 9-10%, not long time ago the Iranian government seriously claimed that there are 2-4% Sunnis in Iran (in the last year they seem to be a bit more realistic and some Iranian state sources acknowledge a number of 9%). This of course is more than ridiculous but at the same time it is not unusual for secterian and racist governments to underestiminate the percentage of their religious and ethnic minorities (Turkey for explain underestiminates extremely their kurdish minority, even though the Kurds are nearly 30% of the turkish population!). Any Iran expert can do his very own quick research by analyzing the main ethnicities of Iran.
The areas of the Sunnis in Iran are as follows:
1-Kurdistan province that is located in western Iran. Its capital city is Sanandaj. the Kurdish people are nearly 100% of the population of the province. There are about 5-8 million Iranian Kurds in Iran, and most of them (except a minority like in Kermanshah, the Faily Kurds) are Sunnis.

2- Western Azerbaijan province: which is located in the northwest of Iran, here, the Kurdish Sunnis are majority of the province.

3- Kermanshah province: that is located in the southeast of Iran, Overthere, also the Kurdish people recognized the largest proportion of its population and the capital city of this provice is Kermanshah. (they are Sunni and Shia Kurds).

4- Turkmen Sahra: which is located in the northern Iran around of the coast of the Caspian Sea to the southern border of Turkmenistan. Turkmens are virtually all Sunnis and the population of the province is at least of one million.

5- Khorasan Province: that is located in northern Iran and extends to the borders of Afghanistan in eastern Iran. The Khorassan province is mostly Shia, with a notable Sunni minority. Cities like Birjand are at leat 50% Sunni and Khorassani Sunnis are of two ethnicities: Khorassanis (Persians of Khorassan) and Balochis.

6- Sistan and Baluchistan province: is located in the southeast of Iran, where Balochs are acknowledged the largest  proportion of its population. This region stretching from South Khorasan to the Sea of Oman in the south and from east to the Pakistan border. The population is between 2.5-3 million, there is a small minority of Shias (in Zahedan and Zabol, mostly Persian immigrants who are getting paid to move to Baluchistan). There are around 1.5-2 million Balochis in Iran.

7- Hormozgan province, especially BandarAbbas city, which is the capital city and its suburbs, Qeshm island and other areas on the coasts of the Gulf and Oman Sea. Hormozgan – just like other former majority Sunni provinces – also faces mass immigration of Shias from Tehran, Isfahan etc. Nevertheless, the province was and is still known to be a Sunni province. Qeshm Island is majority Sunni so are most of the cities like Bandar-e-Lengeh, Bandar-e-Abbas etc. Hormozgani Sunnis are of two ethnicities: Bandaris (southern Persians) and Arab Bandaris. The population of the province is around 1.5 million.

8- Fars province, especially Laristan and its suburbs and villages, also other areas of the province such as: Tala Dar, Khur, Owz, Kheng, Fishour and other regions. Fars province, as its name says (Fars=Persia) is the heartland of Iran and it still populated by original Persian Sunnis. Lurs and Persians are the two ethnicities representing the Sunnis of this province which has a notable Sunni minority.

9- Bushehr province, especially Bushehr city and its surrounding villages, also thes areas: Bandar Maqam,Tawbandi, Koshkenar and other areas in the southwestern of Iran. Most Sunnis are of arab origin.

10- The outskirts of Khalkhal city in Ardebil province.

11- Talish and Anbaran those are located in the west of the Caspian Sea in the north of Iran.

As one can see, geographically, the Sunnis in Iran live in the border areas, mostly. They live in separate cities and provinces and they are distinct from each other, thus making their appearance as one body weaker than Sunnis in Iraq or Bahrain.
Clearly Iran is a country which is made up of many ethnicities. Of these nine the most commonly reffered to are the Persians, Azeri, Kurds, Arabs and Baloch because they make up larger numbers. But according to different sources, there are around 80 different ethnicities in Iran.
The problem is that most would say that Persians make up a clear majority in Iran. This is however NOT true. One would naturally think that a country that has during most of it’s existence been known as “Persia” by outsiders would be majority Persian. The point is understandable – but this is a misconception.
There is a tendency by Persians too, to underestimate the Azeri, Kurdish, Balcoh and  Arab numbers – because they are all in significant numbers and can or do outnumber the Persians themselves. The Westerner can also be blamed for this generalization of the peoples of Iran. Western travellers have been “blind” to ethnic divisions and consequently thought of the Kurds, Azeris, Arabs etc. as “Persian”…
Below you will find a list of the largest ethnic groups of Iran – according to different sources (than those which are internationally recognized in e.g. by “world fact book”:

Population:
77,891,220 (July 2011 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%
Religions:
Muslim 98% (Shia 89%, Sunni 9%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha’i) 2%

Let’s convert that into a round number – 80 million.
The nine largest ethnicities in Iran and their estimated in numbers and % (of 78 million):

Azeris ca. 24% = 18 million (Shia)

Persians (Bandari, Khorasani etc) ca. 51 % = 39 million (majority Shia, small Sunni communities, mostly in Khorasan and the southern areas of Iran, i.e. Hormozgan/Bandaris)

Kurds ca. 7 % = 5  million (mostly Sunni)

Arabs ca. 3 % = 2 million  (majority Shia, with a significant Sunni minority in Khuzestan and the gulf areas of Iran)

Balochs ca. 2 % = 1.5 million  (Sunni)

Turkic groups – (Qashqai, Turkmen etc.) ca. 3 % = 2 million  (majority Sunni)

Gilaki and Mazandaranica. 8 % = 6  million (Shia with Sunni minority)

According to our and other Sunni Iranian sources (like the Shura council of the Iranian Sunnis “Shams”) these numbers are very underestimated. Most “independant” sources mostly rely on CIA and the sources of the Iranian government, which does not give a official, up-to-date release of its religious minorities. As we said before, we, like the “Shura council” believe that Sunnis in Iran make up at least 20% of the population. The percentage of 9% is definately underestimated, yet even if one looks at the official numbers one can easily figure out that Sunni Iranians  at the very least are are no more less than 10 million and this makes them the largest religious minority group of Iran. This is the whole point, wether they are 10, 15 million is not the issue, rather it is notable that Sunnis, after the Shias are the largest sect inside Iran.

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