History: 1221: Tehran is established as the most important regional town after the city of Rayy is destroyed by the Mongols.
1722: Tehran is raided and occupied by the Afghans.
1729: Nadir Shah liberates Tehran from Afghans.
1788: Agha Mohammad Khan, the head of the Qajar dynasty, makes Tehran the capital of Persia.
1925: Shah Reza Pahlavi takes over as the Qajar dynasty crumbles. The new Shah begins to ambitiously develop Iran’s capital.
1979: Shah is overthrown in people’s revolt. Students and young people storm American embassy and hold 52 Americans hostage for over 400 days.
1999: State of the art Tehran metro opens.
Languages: The majority of the people speak Farsi (Persian) in Tehran. There are also a number of people who speak Armenian, English, French and Russian.
Population: The population of Tehran is said to be anywhere from 10 to 14 million people. Most of Tehran’s inhabitants are Persians, but Azeris represent 25 percent of the population. Other important minority groups include Kurds and Gilakis. Tehran is about 99 percent Muslim while the remaining percent consists of Christians, Zoroastrians and Jews.
Spiritual Identity: Tehran, possibly more than anywhere else in Iran is going through a spiritual identity crisis of sorts. Young men and women have become disillusioned with Islam and have begun to search elsewhere for truth. Many have embraced Zoroastrianism while others have looked eastward to New Age religions. Still, a good number have.
Status of Christianity: Even as Iran returns to a more conservative time and brakes are put on reforms, the churches of Tehran are full and vibrant. Church leaders while cautious, report that every Friday (the traditional day of worship in Iran) their congregations are filled to capacity. One church has had to provide five services to accommodate the swelling numbers of attendees. Also in force is the underground church, which too is growing. Recently Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ was shown in Tehran movie theaters.
A Tehran native living outside of Iran recently reflected on what he would do if Iran would open up, “The first thing I would tell them is that Jesus loves them and that he is their only hope.” Citizens of Tehran are hearing that message everyday in churches and on satellite television.