Iran religion; History of Iran religion from Zoroastrian to Islam

Iran religion

The main religion in Iran

Religion in Iran has played a very important role in shaping people's culture from the beginning. not only the culture but also the political decisions in the country. From the very beginning of history, and even before the advent of Islam, Iranians were highly influenced by their Iran religion and were highly religious.

In most countries, like Iran, there is a majority of people that have a common history, culture, language, and religion. There are also smaller groups that have their own ethnic and religious characteristics and are called minorities. in this article, we are going to talk about all Iran religions.

As the history of the wars of Iranian kings and the migration of various people to Iran, people of different religions settled in Iran. This has led Iran to host all the major religions of the world and people of different cultures and religions in Iran to live in peace and equality with each other now.

religions in Iran

History of religions in Iran

There is a direct relationship between religion and religious beliefs and human social life. The importance of religion is such that its themes and concepts affect the human lifestyle. Religion affects various social indicators, including population growth.

The vast land of Iran with a very ancient history has experienced different religions in different historical periods. In other words, Iran's history is full of mixing and disagreement between beliefs and opinions and religion and government. In other words, throughout the history of Iran, the land has had many populations, races, and governments, some of which have been immigrants or invaders from other lands.

Before Islam, the people of Iran also had religions such as Zoroaster, Manichaeism, etc., and after the advent of Islam, they became Muslims. The last religion to enter Iran was Islam. Thus, after the formation of the Safavid government, "Shiism" has always been the official religion of Iran.

ancient Iran religions

ancient Iran religions and Iranian religions, in general, are some religions or religious movements that explain issues based on the cultural model and beliefs of Iranians. They have played a prominent role in the formation or spread of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The origins of the world's progressive religions stem from the simple beliefs of the primitive tribes and clans and nomadic tribes who lived in the world thousands of years ago.

For more than four thousand years, a series of intellectual developments and religious ideas have emerged in the Aryan race of this land and water, which began with primitive principles such as fetishism, animism, and the worship of nature. That is the difference between Islam and the official religion of us Iranians today.

In the first millennium BC, due to the mixing of Aryans with indigenous peoples in Iran and India, a new culture and civilization emerged in those two countries, and their languages, which were previously local dialects and later evolved, became independent languages.

Such as the Old Persian (Achaemenid period inscriptions) or the Median language (Avesta Book Age) or the Sanskrit language (the era of the four Veda books) or the Old Pahlavi language (Parthian era). These ancient languages are no longer spoken in Iran and are among the dead languages, but in India, Sanskrit is still alive and well, and the sacred books of the Hindus are preserved.

Also, in religion and beliefs, the beliefs of the ancient Aryans in India and ancient Iran have been common, a tablet inscription in Bogazkoy near Ankara from the time of the Hittite civilization in 1907. It was discovered that it refers to the names of the gods that were worshiped by the ancient Aryans and are still worshiped in India.

What are ancient Iranian religions?

If we want to classify the religions of ancient Iran, they can be classified as follows:

  • The ancient religion of Moghan
  • The ritual of Mehrism or Mithraism
  • The ancient religion of Zoroaster
  • Ancient Manichaean religion
  • The ancient religion of Mazdak

Common elements of ancient religions

Although primitive religions are scattered around the world and no connection can be made between them, it is surprising that those religions share similar beliefs. Some of these common elements of primitive religions are:

God and the gods in ancient religions

It should be noted that religious people believe in a very sublime and supernatural God. They believe that God's knowledge and power are infinite and that if anything is found contrary to it in religious texts, they will try to interpret it. It is clear from the Holy Qur'an that the polytheists also constantly believed in such a god.

Sociologists consider polytheism to be before monotheism, but the followers of monotheistic religions strongly oppose this hypothesis and consider polytheism to be a deviation from monotheism. They are. These types of religions do not believe in divine messengers, ie prophets.

Ancient religions and ancestral worship

Fear of death had caused superstitions in primitive societies, and some ancient peoples feared the return of the dead, so they took action to prevent their return. There have been, and still are, manifestations of this belief in lands such as Japan.

Magic in ancient religions

In those ancient religions, magic was a ritual of consolation and seeking help from the forces of nature. In this ceremony, the sorcerer works and leads the ceremony. Wizards also used their power to treat patients, called shamans.

Sacrifice in ancient religions

Among the tribes around the world, there were various sacrifices for the deity, from pouring a sip of water or wine to donating plants and products, slaughtering animals and children and adults, as well as setting children on fire.

Which religion in Iran has the most followers?

Today, there is no country where all individuals and citizens are of the same race and ethnicity, speak the same language, and follow the same religion. The issue of respect for the rights of minorities and non-discrimination between them is one of the issues that is being considered by international human rights organizations today.

For a population to be recognized as a minority, they must first be small in number, second, not sovereign, and third, racial, national, cultural, or religious.

According to Article 12 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, "Iran's official religion is Islam and Shia." This principle must be unchangeable. According to Article 13 of the same law, "Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are the only religious minorities who are free to practice their religion within the limits of the law and practice their religion according to their circumstances and religious teachings."

Religious minority groups in Iran are divided into three groups: Christian, Zoroastrian, and Jewish. The Jews are the oldest racial minority and a follower of Moses, who played a key role in the history of Iran in important government affairs. Christianity itself is divided into Armenian and Assyrian branches, and Zoroastrianism is one of the religions recognized in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

But in the case of the Baha'i sect, since the Baha'is are not part of the divine religions, contrary to the claims of the Baha'is who believe that Baha'i is a new religion, and as a political party and opposition to the Islamic system, they are engaged in political activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islam and Shiites. Therefore, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize them due to these and other factors.


With the Arab invasion of Iran, most Iranians change their religion to Islam. In the Safavid dynasty, Shia Islam became the official religion of Iran today. From that era, many mosques with incredible Iranian architecture were built around Iran that become one of the most important attractions in Iran tourism.

Muslims believe that God sent the Quran to Prophet Mohammed through an angel called Gabriel. According to their beliefs, many prophets have sent a revelation and Muhammad is the last one and also believe that Islam is the most complete and last divine religion.

What is the difference between Shia and Sunni?

Before answering, I would like to remind you that the differences between Muslims in practical matters and some details of acts of worship do not lead to the departure of any Muslim from the circle of Islam. Islamic scholars, both Shia and Sunni, have acknowledged this throughout history and have always lived a life of peace and love and brotherhood with their Muslim brothers.

Therefore, it should be noted that the discussion of why some disagreements and actions do not mean the separation and non-unity of Muslims. All Muslims, while having differences, have a lot in common in their religious roots and principles.

Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam are the two major sects of Islam. Their division follows a separation following the death of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in 632 AD, a dispute over Muhammad's succession as caliph of the Islamic Ummah, which spread to various parts of the world, leading to the Battle of Jamal and the Battle of Safin.

Shia and Sunnis are the same in the principles of Islam and the main beliefs of this religion. Also, the Qur'an and the culture and legacy of the Prophet, prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage are the same in these two main branches of the Islamic religion in Iran.

religion in islam

The difference between these two sects of Islam is based on the details and principles of the Imamate and succession of the Prophet, and they are spontaneous in some religious rulings.

religion in Iran


From the first century AD, during the Parthian period, the Christian religion spread to the western regions of Iran, such as Kurdistan and Azerbaijan. According to Christian tradition, two apostles, Simon and Judas, went to the east to preach.

Christianity spread to the end of the sixth century in different regions such as Isfahan, Yazd, Tehran, Shiraz, and Mashhad. Groups of Persian Christians were created and developed several years ago after the Bible translation.

Currently, apart from the two Armenian sects (Gregorian) and Assyrian (Nestorian), a group of followers of the Catholic and Protestant sects also live in Iran and are considered religious minorities. They are free in their religious and religious activities and have three representatives in the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

These Christian groups, which were generally Protestant, began to build churches in various cities of Iran and some of them become famous in the Iran tour. With the advent of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, any propaganda activities of Christians were declared illegal. Two-thirds of the Christians are Iranians of Armenian origin and one-third Assyrian. The largest Armenian gathering in the Middle East is in Iran.


Before the Sassanid dynasty was exterminated by the Muslims, the official religion in Iran was Zoroastrian. This ritual, as its name suggests, is attributed to a person who has named Zoroaster

According to the themes of the Avesta, the highest power of the universe is "Ahura Mazda". In Zoroastrianism, as a religion in Iran, there are three practical principles: good speech, good sense, good deeds. Respect for the fire as one of the glorious manifestations of keeping it and performing a special ceremony around it in the fire temple led by the priests is the most distinctive feature of this religion.

Between the years 32 and 168 AH, a large migration of Iranian Zoroastrians to India took place. In the second phase of migration, after the Mongol invasion, groups of Zoroastrians went to India. However, until then, a large group of Zoroastrian believers still lived in Iran and were constantly persecuted until the Qajar period.

Today, the Iranian Zoroastrian community in Yazd, Kerman, Shiraz, Tehran, and a small number in Ahvaz and Isfahan have religious and cultural activities. There are about sixty thousand Zoroastrians in Iran. Iranian Zoroastrians, like some other religious minority groups, are represented in the Islamic Consultative Assembly.


The Iranian Jews are from ancient tribes who settled in Iran and became familiar with Iranian culture. Because of the salvation of the people of Israel by Cyrus the king of Iran from the captivity of Babylon, Cyrus has been respected in Torah. The tombs of the sacred Jews are located in the cities of Susa, Hamadan, and Tuyserkan.

The religious beliefs of Iranian Jews are not significantly different from other Jews and they are free to perform religious ceremonies and they have been granted civil rights in Iran's constitution and have one representative in the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

religion in Iran

And reside in many Iranian cities such as Isfahan, Kashan, Yazd, Hamedan, and Tehran, and are engaged in commercial and economic activities.

FAQ about religions in Iran

What is the main religion in Iran?

The official religion in Iran is Islam. More than 95% of Iranians are Muslim.

How many Iranian Muslims are Shia and many of them are Sunni?

About 90-95% of Iranians are Shia Muslims and 5-10% of them are Sunni Muslims.

Which religions are also having followers in Iran?

religious minorities recognized only three other religions: Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians.

Do Iranians consider the Baha’i religion as a major religion?

Since the Baha'is are not part of divine religions, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize them as a religion in Iran, although they are the largest religious group in Iran after Islam.