Farsi-Speaking Persian Muslims

Quick Facts

Place of Origin:  Iran is southwest of Asia and is surrounded by Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkmenstan all to its right (east), Iraq, Saudi Arabi, and Turkey all to its left (west).
Religion:  99.6% Sunni and Shiʿi Muslims, 0.4% Christian/other
Population:  82.91 million
(Primary) Language: Farsi
(Secondary) Language: Indo-European, Altaic, and Afro-Asiatic
Other Information: 
  • Up until the Second World War, there were only twelve Iranians in Canada.
  • The Ghermezians, a Jewish-Iranian family that came to Canada in the 1960s, built a real estate empire and developed some of the largest shopping centres in the world, including the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta.
  • Iranians are on average more secular. A recent study by York University scholars, for example, showed that in contrast to Canadian Pakistanis, Afghans and Palestinians, over 80% of Iranian-Canadians do not consider themselves religious and are "tending to the secular.
  • In 2016, according to Census data, 225,155 people in Canada had Farsi as their mother tongue. In fact, Farsi was the 11th ranked immigrant language in the country.
  • Iranian Flag meaning: The Iranian flag has three colors and an emblem in the middle of the flag. The first color, which is green, symbolizes various things such as the Persian culture, nature, growth and vitality, but it also represents the Islam.
  • The second color, white symbolizes peace and freedom. The third color, red symbolizes the blood of the martyr and it also represents courage. When it comes to the emblem in the middle of the flag, it is symbol of martyrdom, a reminder of the people who gave their lives for Iran. The emblem is actually a unique Persian-inspired alphabet symbol for the name of God.

When did Farsi-Speaking Persian Muslims first come to Canada?

Iranians started coming to Canada in the 1980’s because of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. From 2011-2016, Canada has seen about 42,000 Iranians migrating to Canada. Majority of Iranians came from urban areas; this is why a vast majority of them settle in the GTA.

Where do Farsi-Speaking Persian Muslim predominantly gather in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)?

A number of Iranians live in the concentrated areas such as North York (“Tehranto”), Richmond Hill, and Scarborough.
Population estimate in the GTA:  250,000

What are Farsi-Speaking Persian Muslim's lives like?

  • Persians love to write poetry and commemorate various activities that may have happened in the past.
  • They are also known for their music and delicious cuisines. Rice and meat (specifically lamb) are two of their favourite dishes.
  • Majority of Persians come from a farming background therefore, agriculture is an integral part of their lives.
  • Persians attend mosques (specifically Shi’a Mosques) and Islamic institutions to keep their culture growing.

What do Farsi-Speaking Persian Muslims believe?

  • They believe in Allah (God) and the tenets of Islam. 
  • Most Muslim men believe in growing their beard to show their religious association.
  • There is no ordination in  Islam and there is no priesthood but an Arabic ulama, a community of scholars. 
  • The Persian Muslims also believe in praying five times a day.
  • There are various mosques that are specified for Farsi-speaking Persians in Toronto. The Islamic Iranian Centre of Imam Ali is one of them.

for the Farsi-Speaking Persian Muslims in the GTA

  • Ask God to raise up GTA Jesus followers to meet Iranians, get the good news to them, and read the Bible with them.
  • Many Iranians want to return to their ancient Zoroastrian religion because of the failure of Islam in their country to satisfy their deepest needs and disillusionment; pray for Jesus to communicate to Iranians through dreams and visions to draw them to Himself.
  • There is a lot of division/disunity among Iranians, including among GTA believers. Pray for the Spirit of God to bring healing, peace, and unity to the believers, including the pastoral leaders.
  • There has been considerable positive response to the good news among GTA’s Iranians and it is reaching back to Iran itself--- pray that this multiplies and transforms Iran.


Urban Research Assisting Churches is a website that seeks to provide an accessible online portal for receiving and sharing tools, information, expertise, and resources related to engaging and embracing the diverse peoples of Canada. Click the Ureach Toronto Logo for more resources on Farsi-Speaking Persian Muslims.
Prayercast is a website dedicated to activating prayer around the world.
For prayer resources on Farsi-Speaking Persian Muslim peoples, click the Prayercast logo.