Introduction / History Many people groups were on the move in the 1200s because of various conquering armies including the Mongols and the Seljukids. At that time, the ancestors of today's Azerbaijanis were among the Oghuz Turkic tribes. Some moved into Anatolia (where Turkey is now located) and became Sunni Muslims. Others moved into the Caucasus region, Azerbaijan and what is now Iran, where they became Shi 'ite Muslims. These people eventually became the Azerbaijanis, or Azeris.
In Iran the term "Azeri" is used formally for these people; however, informally, Azeris and other Turkic speaking Iranian populations are colloquially referred to as "Tork" (Turk) or "Azerbaijanis." They are distinguished from the Iranian majority by the fact their language is Turkic based rather than Persian based. This is the largest minority group in Iran.
Where are they located? Azeri Turks live in Iran and Azerbaijan, but smaller numbers live in Turkey and Iraq. There is a smaller diaspora of them scattered in various Western countries as well.
What are their lives like? Despite some friction in the past, Azerbaijanis in Iran came to be "well represented at all levels of political, military, and intellectual hierarchies, as well as the religious hierarchy." The living conditions of Azeris in Iran closely resemble that of the majority people, the Persian Iranians. Most likely they hold the same kinds of jobs as the Iranian majority. However, Azerbaijanis can sometimes be offended when an Iranian comedy makes fun of them as an ethnic group.
Azerbaijanis in Iran straddle different cultures and languages. Their language is close to the Turkish language, though they must function in Farsi, the official language of Iran.
What are their beliefs? Azerbaijanis are Shi 'ite Muslims like the Iranian majority, though they are not likely to be devout because Shi 'ite Islam is imposed by the government of Iran. Many are disillusioned enough with religion to just go through the motions; others have given up on spiritual matters altogether.
What are their needs? The Azerbaijanis in Iran need the chance to find spiritual freedom in Christ, and to serve Him all the days of their lives.
Prayer Points Pray for the Lord to thrust out workers to take the blessings of Christ to this people group.
Ask God to raise up entire families and communities within the Azerbaijanis in Iran until their culture is transformed in all its spheres to fully glorify God and represent His Kingdom here on earth.
Pray for every opposing spirit influencing the Azerbaijanis in Iran to give way to the liberating, life-giving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Pray for many to be discipled as Jesus followers, and that there will soon be a movement of disciples making disciples.