• News

Kurds Iraq - Indo-European People In Iraq


The Kurds are Indo-European people that live in a region that spans Turkey, Iran, Syria, Armenia, and Iraq. Iraqi Kurds make up approximately 17 percent of the country’s population, numbering between 5-7 million.

Most reside in Iraq’s northern regions, in the four provinces of Irbil (also spelled “Erbil,” or “Arbil”), Suleymana, Kirkuk, and Kohuk. Around 90 percent of Iraqi Kurds are Sunni, and the remainder is Shi’ite, 150,000 of which reside in and around Baghdad and the northern Iran-Iraq border east of the capital.

A small minority are Christian, Yezidi, Baha’i, and, until their recent departure from Iraq, Jewish. Most Kurds see themselves as an ethnically distinct, autonomous or semi-autonomous component of Iraq, identifying closely with their ethnic Kurdish identity.

Kurdish nationalism has traditionally overshadowed allegiance to the Iraqi state and thus blurred the role of Sunni Islam as a cohesive force. This was especially true under Baathist pan-Arabism, which by definition excluded Kurds.

Under the Saddam regime, Kurds suffered brutal campaigns of violence and ethnic cleansing, the most notorious of which is al-Anfal, conducted between 1986 and 1989. Al-Anfal left some two million Kurds dead, thousands of which were killed by chemical weapons.

COPYRIGHT_IO: Published on https://www.islamopediaonline.org/kurds-iraq/ by Aaliyah Azeena on 2022-10-13T12:32:46.450Z

Since the fall of the regime, most Kurds have continued to seek measures of autonomy from Iraq. The issue has been particularly controversial due to the oil-rich Kirkuk region which Kurds claim as their own despite Arabization policies under the former regime.

According to Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, the question of Kurdish-Arab disputed territories was to be resolved in a three-step process of normalization, census, and referendum, a process which has yet to be completed.

Kurdish observers concerned about the outcome of any such referendum in Kirkuk point to the continued growth of the province’s Arab population. One Deputy Parliament Speaker, Aref Taifour, went so far as to call upon the estimated 15,000 Arab families who settled in the region under the former regime to return to “their original provinces” and not to be counted in the upcoming election.

A late January 2014 announcement by the government that a committee would be formed to “develop the controls and standards to support transforming” Tuz Khurmato, Fallujah, and the Nineveh Plains districts in provinces, and that a draft law would be proposed for the same end regarding Talafar district, provoked widespread controversy.

Many of these proposed provinces were home to minority populations, including the Turkmen of Tuz Khurmato and Talafar and the Assyrians of the Nineveh Plains. Tuz Khurmato, a disputed area, had previously requested to return to the governance of Kirkuk province and become part of the KRG, citing security neglect.

Kurds speak an Indo-European language related to Persian, and maintain certain aspects of Persian culture such as the celebration of the Persian New Year, Nowruz. Most adopted Islam nearly four several centuries later than the surrounding population.

Kurdish tribes also share many of the same characteristics as their Arab counterparts. Many were traditionally rural dwellers closely allied with familial and tribal affiliations.

Tribes exercised varying degrees of autonomy as part of larger tribal confederacies. Such affiliations have remained largely influential in Kurdish society, both galvanizing a united Kurdish front on one hand, and fragmenting its homogeneity on another.

The longstanding Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), for instance, was founded and continues to be led by the influential Barzani family which adheres to the Naqshabandi order of Sufi’ism and has a traditionalist-conservative tribal support base.

The party was established in 1946 by Massoud Barzani and currently led by his son, Mustafa Barzani, endorsing Kurdish unity and independence, which, according to its party platform, currently requires a democratic, pluralistic, and federal Iraqi state.

The second major Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), is currently led by Jalal Talabani and was founded in 1975 to counter the KPD with a more secular urban, intellectual, and socialist platform.

The party at the time had criticized its rival as being “feudalist, tribalist, bourgeois rightist and capitulationist.” Though the PUK accommodates a more inclusive spectrum of Kurdish nationalist views, it still maintains a tribal support-base, garnering followers from Sorani-speaking tribes who rival the Barzani clan, as well as from the Qadiri order of Sufiism to which Talabani subscribes (Romano, 2006, p. 197).

Though Kurdish tribalism is Islamic in nature, religion has traditionally taken a secondary role to Kurdish nationalism. In recent years, however, especially since 2003, Islam has become a prominent and dynamic force in both the public and private spheres.

Religious political parties such as the Islamist Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), modeled on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, have garnered increasing support amongst a younger generation of Kurds and across university campuses, especially in the wake of regional protest movements in 2010-2011.

Additionally, Kurdish Muslim clerics have had a growing presence in the Kurdish political sphere, joining public protests for improved services in otherwise secular areas, and in some cases, calling for “jihad” against corruption.

The Islamic Scholars Union of Kurdistan, considered the highest union of Sunni Kurdish religious scholars, has also drawn attention, issuing fatwas dealing with the increasingly prominent issues of the role of Islam in the post-Saddam Iraqi regime.

A decision, issued in 2008 by Kurdish government authorities, established that honor-killings would be treated as murder in Kurdish provinces, even though Iraq’s general criminal code does not (the Iraqi code provides mitigated prison sentences for those who kill for reasons related to honor).

Honor-killings especially remain a widespread problem despite the introduction of the 2008 law, since social norms continue to dictate conditions and many cases go unreported to authorities.

Socioeconomic factors have also played a major role in the community and have set it apart from others in Iraq. Under the Saddam-regime, the country’s northern resources were either left underutilized or revenue from them was redirected to the regime, leaving the local infrastructure extremely weak.

However, while a large portion of Iraqi land is non-arable, the northern Kurdish region is rich with natural resources that include fertile land, water, oil, and natural gas. Many families have relied on the region’s land and the nomadic herding economy that its mountainous terrain allows for, along with agricultural production in the foothills.

Additionally, many Kurds today work in urban areas, and while income on average is higher for Iraq’s Kurds than in the rest of the country, the lack of job opportunities has become a growing problem.

Unemployment, which stood at 20 percent at the beginning of 2011, continues to be a major challenge, especially since more than half of Iraqi Kurds are currently under the age of 20.

The majority of Kurdish city-dwellers work in construction, trade, and most often, as civil servants; nearly half of the community is employed by the government.

Like Iraq’s southern Shi’ite regions, religious tourism has also been gaining popularity and is considered a potential source of income.

The Kurdish government’s Ministry of Religious endowment claims that more than one million visitors came to Iraq’s Kurdish provinces in 2010.


Efforts to improve the local economy have been marked by reconstruction programs implemented since 2003 that include the construction of roads, schools, hospitals, and airports.

Share: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

About The Authors

Aaliyah Azeena

Aaliyah Azeena - Aaliyah Azeena is using her own voice to speak up for ourselves, the Musilm and kickstart an open honest dialogue about Islam in today’s society. She is raising the place of Muslim women in mainstream society, drawing awareness to the Qur’an’s message of gender equality and Islam’s principle of peace. Aaliyah is paving the way toward a world in which every woman can raise her head without fear of being attacked for her gender or beliefs. She is pioneering our own paths as Muslim women living in today’s modern society, and this is our story.

Recent Articles

  • Religion Law And Iraq - The Way It Affects The Global Society


    Religion Law And Iraq - The Way It Affects The Global Society

    What comes to your mind when you hear religion law and Iraq? Some people might not have enough ideas about how these are all connected and significant to the world. Balancing justice with long-term peace and security in a post-conflict context is extremely difficult. The challenges in Iraq's post-IS (Islamic State) landscape are discussed in this article.

  • Fatwa - An Interesting Islamic Ruling


    Fatwa - An Interesting Islamic Ruling

    When news broke on August 12, 2022, that the writer Salman Rushdie had been attacked, many people immediately remembered the fatwa, or edict, issued in 1989 by Iran's Supreme Leader at the time, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, calling on all Muslims to kill him. Rushdie's 1988 novel, "The Satanic Verses," was accused by Khomeini of insulting Islam and blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad. Riots and credible death threats drove Rushdie into exile, where he spent the next nine years under British police protection. He did not resurface until 1998, after Iran promised not to enforce the fatwa but did not rescind it.

  • Dr. Ali Goma - Egyptian Islamic Scholar, Jurist, And Public Figure


    Dr. Ali Goma - Egyptian Islamic Scholar, Jurist, And Public Figure

    Dr. Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of Egypt. He was born on March 3rd, 1952 in Bani Suwaif. He studies at the Faculty of Commerce, and then after graduating, he completed another bachelor’s degree from Al-Azhar in 1979, followed by two masters and a PhD degree in 1988. Before becoming the Grand Mufti, he was Professor of Juristic Methodologies at Al-Azhar University.

  • Pakistan Transnational Influences And Militancy - The Effects To The Society


    Pakistan Transnational Influences And Militancy - The Effects To The Society

    Pakistan transnational influences and militancy, have huge effects in the society. The growing influence of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (IS) is a worrisome. Terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State frequently rely on local militant groups to establish new affiliates or branches around the world. While previous research has primarily focused on the motivations of groups to align, as well as the effects of alliances on the lethality.

  • Sayyad Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah Lebanon Responds To Question If It's Permissible To Take Loans If You're Non Islam - The Shariah View


    Sayyad Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah Lebanon Responds To Question If It's Permissible To Take Loans If You're Non Islam - The Shariah View

    He is known as Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussain Fadlallah. He was born in Lebanon on November 16, 1935 and died on July 4, 2010. He was a renowned Shia cleric. Following his education in Islam in his hometown of Najaf, Iraq, Fadlallah emigrated to Lebanon in 1952. In the years that followed, he started the Mabarrat Association, spoke a lot, did a lot of research, wrote many books, and set up a lot of Islamic religious institutions.

  • Abdu Zubayr - His Biography, Conversion, And Legacy


    Abdu Zubayr - His Biography, Conversion, And Legacy

    In the service of the caliphs Abu Bakr (r. 632-634) and Umar (r. 634-644), Abdu Zubayr ibn al-Awwam was an Arab Muslim commander who took part in the early Muslim conquests of Sasanian Iraq (r. 633-634), Byzantine Syria (r. 634-638), and the African Exarchate (r. 639–643). Through Qusai ibn Kilab, a Quraish chieftain in Mecca who was in his fourth generation, he also shared lineage with Muhammad.

  • Hosseini Nassab Seyed Reza - A Co-founder Of Various Islamic Institutions


    Hosseini Nassab Seyed Reza - A Co-founder Of Various Islamic Institutions

    Grand Ayatollah Seyed Reza Hosseini Nassab (b. 1960) studied at taught at Qom Seminary from 1976 to 1991. In 1991, upon accomplishment of three thesis in Islamic Jurisprudence, Astronomy and acknowledgment of Shi'a faith, he received Professorship Certificate a doctorate degree from the Qom Seminary. He has co-founded a number of Islamic institutions in various major cities in Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, and currently resides in Toronto, Canada.

  • Al-Nour Party Calls On Copts Join


    Al-Nour Party Calls On Copts Join

    Emad Eddine Abdel-Ghaffour, acting President of Al-Nour Party, called on Christians to join the party, stressing that the party is for all Egyptians and is not restricted to any one group. He also said that the party has created a committee to establish contacts with Copts and Nubians, as well as professionals such as college professors and experts in different fields.

  • Youm7 - Daily Egyptian Newspaper


    Youm7 - Daily Egyptian Newspaper

    Youm7 is a daily, electronic newspaper based in Cairo, Egypt. Formed in October 2008, Youm7 was initially a weekly paper; it became daily on May 31, 2011. Youm7 also launched its English-language website in May 2011, "with the goal of providing quality coverage of Egyptian news in English."

  • Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi - The Grand Imam Of Al-Azhar Mosque

  • Atiyyah Saqr - Writer And Consultant For The Egyptian Ministry Of Awqaf

  • Mohamed Abdel Salam Faraj - Co-Founder Of The Egyptian Islamic Jihad

  • Khairat El-Shater - Deputy Of The Supreme Guide

  • Hilaludd - President Of China Islamic Association Since 2001