The modern Tajiks descended from ancient Iranian peoples in Central Asia and northern Afghanistan. Historically, the Tajiks were an agricultural people prior to the Arab invasion and conquest of Iran.
Tajiks constitute the primary population of Tajikistan, with a major presence in Afghanistan, a somewhat lesser presence in Uzbekistan, and smaller populations in other Central Asian countries. Afghan Tajiks actually outnumber the population of Tajikistan.
Afghan migrant workers, pilgrims and merchants settled in Iran over the years. By the early 20th century, these migrants had become numerous enough to be recognized as their own ethnic group. By 1978, Afghan migrant workers numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 led to a new wave of migration from Afghanistan to Iran, coinciding with the rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran began to recognize these migrant workers and refugees as legals, issuing them "blue cards," which gave them access to social services and education, but restricted them from some jobs.
By 1992, an estimated 2.8 million Afghans lived in Iran. The majority lived in or near urban areas; only about 10% lived in refugee camps. The international community did little to support the Iranian government in providing for the Afghan immigrants, and in 1992 with a change of government in Afghanistan, Iran began encouraging refugees to repatriate back to Afghanistan. Many who did not leave voluntarily were deported.
The takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2021 led to a new wave of immigration from Afghanistan to multiple Central Asian countries, including Iran.
Tajiks speak an eastern dialect of Farsi, called Dari. Like other Afghans in Iran, their lifestyles vary widely, depending primarily on how recently they migrated to Iran.
Afghan Tajik families that have lived in Iran for several generations have generally been absorbed into the economic and cultural life of Iran. They still live primarily in urban areas and occupy several different kinds of jobs. These families have sometimes intermarried with Iranians. A recent change in Iran's citizenship laws enabled the children of such marriages to be granted Iranian citizenship. Previously, if the husband was not Iranian, citizenship was not an option for the children.
"Blue card" and refugee Tajiks may face an uncertain future. During efforts to repatriate the refugees, many had their blue cards confiscated and were forced to leave. Some of those deported reported abuse and torture during the process.
Refugees legally permitted to work in Iran are restricted to dangerous and poorly paid manual labor jobs. Undocumented Afghan children in Iran are often denied access to education. Additionally, recent surges in nationalism have led to violence against Afghan immigrants; the Iranian government does little to prevent this. Afghan nationals are not allowed in several provinces in Iran and restricted in several others.
Prior to the Arab conquest, Tajiks variously followed Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. Today, the vast majority follow Sunni Islam, though some minority pockets adhere to branches of Shia Islam.
Both the Bible and the JESUS Film have been translated into Dari. An audio Bible and gospel recordings in Dari supplement the resources available. As a frontier people group, the primary need for Afghan Tajiks is for workers to take the gospel to them.
Materially, Afghan Tajiks in Iran need government protection from violence and racism, and they need acceptance as members of Iranian society. Those who are being repatriated to Afghanistan need direction and safe passage. Recent refugees fleeing Taliban rule need basic provisions such as food, shelter and medicine.
Thank God for the resources available in the Dari language!
Ask God to give the church in Iran a vision for reaching the Afghan Tajiks with the gospel. Pray for relationships with Afghan Tajiks to develop.
Ask Jesus to reveal himself to Afghan Tajiks through dreams and visions, and to show them that he is the only way to salvation.
Pray for a disciple making movement among Afghan Tajiks.
Pray for favor in the eyes of the government and of Iranian citizens, for protection from violence and discrimination, and for opportunities for good jobs.
Scripture Prayers for the Afghan, Tajik in Iran.
|Profile Source: Joshua Project|
|People Name General||Afghan, Tajik|
|People Name in Country||Afghan, Tajik|
|Natural Name||Afghan Tajik|
|Population this Country||422,000|
|Population all Countries||11,916,000|
|Progress Scale||1 ●|
|Frontier People Group||Yes|
|GSEC||1 (per PeopleGroups.org)|
|Pioneer Workers Needed||8|
|Alternate Names||Fars; Irani; Persian|
|Persecution Rank||9 (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)|
|Location in Country||South Khorasan province. Source: Ethnologue 2020|
Primary Language: Dari
|Bible Translation ▲||Status (Years)|
|Bible-New Testament||Yes (1982-1985)|
|Possible Print Bibles|
|Forum Bible Agencies|
|National Bible Societies|
|World Bible Finder|
|Resource Type ▲||Resource Name|
|Audio Recordings||Audio Bible teaching|
|Audio Recordings||Love letter to you from scripture|
|Audio Recordings||Love letter to you from scripture|
|Audio Recordings||Online New Testament|
|Audio Recordings||Oral Bible Stories|
|Audio Recordings||Story of Jesus audio|
|Film / Video||God's Love Story|
|Film / Video||God's Story video|
|Film / Video||Indigitube.tv Video / Animation|
|Film / Video||Jesus Film: view in Dari|
|Film / Video||LUMO film of Gospels|
|Film / Video||Magdalena video|
|Film / Video||Rivka video|
|Film / Video||The Prophets' Story|
|Film / Video||The Savior 3 - Woman at the Well|
|Film / Video||The Savior 7 - Golgotha|
|General||Bible for Children|
|General||Four Spiritual Laws|
|General||Gospel resources links|
|Mobile App||Download audio Bible app as APK file|
|Major Religion ▲||Percent|
|Christianity (Evangelical 0.01 %)||
|Other / Small||
|Christian Segments ▲||Percent|