Shia Islam in Afghanistan

Masjid Jame in Kabul during construction in 2008, which is the largest Shia mosque Afghanistan.[1]

Shia Islam in Afghanistan is practiced by a minority of the population; estimates vary from 7%[2] to 15%[3][4] or 20%.[5] Afghan Shia are primarily the Twelvers, while a minority are Ismailis.


The majority of Afghan Shia are Twelvers, primarily of the Hazara ethnicity. The next-largest Twelver community are the Farsiwan of the western Herat and Farah provinces. Other, far smaller, Afghan Twelver communities include the Bayat and Qizilbash populations, as well as some of those who claim to be Sayeds.


A smaller portion of Afghan Shia are Nizari Ismailis ("Seveners"); these populations include many of the Pamir language speakers of the northeastern portion of the country (predominantly in Badakhshan Province bordering Tajikistan).

Baghlan Province is also home to an Ismaili community, the Sayeds of Kayan. Their leader is Sayed Mansur Naderi and his son, Sayed Jaffar Naderi.[6] During the Soviet-Afghan War, about 10,000 Ismaili militamen defended the Baghlan Ismaili stronghold of Kayan. They have sided with the Soviets due to differences with the other groups of fighters.[7] Unlike other Ismaili communities in the region and worldwide, the Baghlan Ismailis do not defer to the spiritual leader of Ismailis worldwide, the Agha Khan.[6]

See also


  1. Hashimi, Zar (2010-06-22). "Masjid Jame, Kabul | Zar Hashimi". Flickr. Retrieved 2016-11-28.
  2. "Chapter 1: Religious Affiliation". The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity. Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. August 9, 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  3. "Country Profile: Afghanistan" (PDF). Library of Congress Country Studies. August 2008. Retrieved 2010-09-03.
  4. "Afghanistan". Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Retrieved 2010-09-03.
  5. Waheed Massoud (6 December 2011). "Why have Afghanistan's Shias been targeted now?". BBC News. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  6. 1 2 Hindokosh, May 2003 at
  7. Michael V. Bhatia; Mark Sedra (2008). Afghanistan, arms and conflict: armed groups, disarmament and security in a post-war society. Psychology Press. pp. 252–. ISBN 978-0-415-45308-0. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
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