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Difference Between Kurds and Shiites

Kurds vs Shiites

One of the ethnic groups of people who live mainly in the Middle East and in many other parts of the world as a minority are the Kurds, also referred to as the Kurdish people. Kurds subscribe to Shia Islam or Sunni which is a subdivision of Islam. The Shiites are a subdivision of Islam. They are considered the second largest subdivision of Islam.


The Kurds, also referred to as the Kurdish people, speak the Kurdish language. They are multilingual people and also speak languages of the nation or region they live in. They may speak three or more languages at times. Some of the languages they speak in addition to Kurdish are: Aramaic, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, etc. Kurds that are especially living in the diaspora community are well versed in the languages of the religion they practice.

Kurds live mainly in the Kurdistan region. This region includes countries like: Iran, Turkey, Syria, and some parts of Iraq. Other than the Kurdistan region, they are also distributed in other continents, and the diaspora population lives in countries like: Georgia, Russia, Armenia, Israel, Lebanon, some European countries, Azerbaijan, U.S., etc. In the Middle East the Kurds are considered to be the ethnic community which is the fourth largest.

The Kurdish people mainly subscribe to Islam. They subscribe to Sunni Islam and also to Shia Islam. The Kurds who subscribe to Shia Islam usually live in Central Iraq, Eastern Iraq, and are referred to as Fayli Kurds. The Kurdish people who live in Sivas, Turkey, and Tunceli and subscribe to Shia Islam are referred to as Alevis. There is a minority of Kurds who also subscribe to other religions like Christianity and Judaism.

The Kurdish culture is Hurrian or indigenous. It is considered to be a mixture of Ancient Iranian culture and has Islamic roots. One of the differentiating factors of the Kurdish culture is that the women keep their faces uncovered and also participate in mixed-gender activities.


Shiites are the followers of Ali. He was the son-in-law and cousin of Prophet Muhammad. Presently, 10-15 percent of Muslims are currently subscribers of Shiite Islam. The origin of Shiite Islam was a political movement in order to show support towards Ali. He was considered, according to the Shiites, the rightful leader after the Prophet Muhammad for the entire Islamic state.

There are many Shia branches, but presently they are divided into three main branches; Ithna branch, Ashariyyah branch, which is commonly referred to as Twelvers in English, and the smaller branches called the Zaidi and Ismaili.
Shiites are not just one cultural or ethnic group.The subscribers of Shia Islam include various groups of people. They are distributed throughout many parts of the world and speak the language of the region they live in.


  1. Kurds are an ethnic group of people who are distributed in many parts of the world. They mainly live in the Middle East and subscribe to different religions including Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc. They are multilingual people and speak Arabic as well as the language of the region they live in. Shiites, on the other hand, are not an ethnic group. It refers to a branch of Islam which is the second largest branch of Islam. It is a religion followed by people of many different ethnic groups including Kurds.

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