Azerbaijan Society


According to article 7 of the Constitution, Azerbaijan is a secular state that guarantees freedom of worship by article 48 of the Constitution. Traditionally the majority religion in the country is Islam since the 7th century and Shiism since the 16th century.

About 95% of the population is Muslim, of these 85% are Shiites and 15% Sunnis, making Azerbaijan the second country with the highest proportion of Shiites, only after Iran.

There are Christian (150,000) and Jewish (34,500) communities. Among Christians, the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Church together with the Armenian Apostolic Church (only in Upper Karabakh) have the most followers. In 2010 there were 498 Catholics in the country. Other Christian denominations with a presence in the country include Lutherans, Baptists, and Molokans. There are also small communities of Jews, Baha’is, Hare Krishnas, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Zoroastrianism had a long history in Azerbaijan, evident in places like the Baku Fire Temple or ceremonies like Noruz, along with Manichaeism.

In May 2002, Pope John Paul II visited Azerbaijan during his 96th international apostolic pilgrimage, the Supreme Pontiff had a 25-hour stay in the country with the aim of promoting peace, after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in United States. At the mass he celebrated in Baku, he claimed to have perceived that in the country “the heart of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church beats,” calling for peace and insisting that religions clearly oppose all forms of violence [6] .

In 2008 Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, visited Azebaijan to collect the first fruits of John Paul II’s visit, inaugurating the first Catholic church in the country, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, in Baku.

In 2010, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the pontifical council for culture, traveled to Baku to meet with Mehriban Aliyeva, wife of the Azerbaijani president. On that occasion, the cardinal’s assistant, Theodore Mascarenhas, defined Azerbaijan as “an example of what a modern Islamic nation could be like.”

The 2 as June as 2014 Mrs. Aliyeva traveled to Rome and had an audience with Pope Francisco. Hearing that was repeated the following year, on March 6, 2015, this time with her husband, Ilham Aliyev.

Under the motto We are all brothers, Pope Francis traveled to Azerbaijan in October 2016 for about 10 hours. The head of the Catholic Church met with President Ilham Alyev, and with the Catholic community and other religions of this country. The president described the pontiff’s visit to the Caucasian country as “historic”, citing its significance for Azerbaijani-Vatican relations, among other things for dialogue between civilizations. The pope celebrated Sunday mass at the Church of the Immaculate in Baku before the Salesian community, the only one that represents the nearly 500 Catholics living in the Muslim country. The relations of Catholics with the Azerbaijani religious and political authorities are considered good and they experienced a new impulse with the visit of John Paul II in 2002 [7] . The Pope made a new call for religions to collaborate in solving conflicts.

Novruz Feast

As a country located in Asia according to CHEEROUTDOOR, Azerbaijan maintains its national traditions and customs. A good example of this is the celebration of the religious holidays of Ramadan and Sacrifice, but above all, that of the oldest and most beloved by the people, the Novruz festival, which means “New Day”. It is celebrated on the spring equinox (March 21-22) on the occasion of the New Year and the arrival of the new season. It is prepared well in advance: houses are cleaned, trees are planted, people put on new clothes, paint eggs and prepare typical cakes such as shakarbura and pajlava.

Four weeks before the festival, on Tuesday, and due to the pyrolatrian tradition, fires are made and they jump over them. On the aforementioned day, families gather for dinner and the party ends with dances and popular games.

Holidays and important dates

National celebrations

  • January 1-4: New Years
  • January 20: Commemoration of the victims of Black January
  • February 26: Jodyalí Genocide
  • March 8: International Women’s Day
  • March 20 to 26: Novruz Festival
  • May 9: Victory Day against fascism
  • May 28: Republic Day
  • June 15: National Liberation Day
  • It changes every year: Ramadan Festival
  • June 26: Armed Forces Day
  • October 18: Independence Day
  • November 9: National Flag Day
  • November 12: Constitution Day
  • November 17: Renaissance Day
  • It is changed every year Gurban Festival (Eid al-Adha)
  • December 31: Solidarity Day of the Azerbaijanis of the world

Memorial days

  • January 20: Memorial Day for the Memorial
  • February 26: Joyali Genocide Day
  • March 31: Azerbaijani Genocide Day

Important events

  • One of the oldest asylums of prehistoric man (Cave of Azíj, dates back 20,000 years).
  • 1846 – First industrial oil well (Bibiheybat oil well).
  • 1900 – First school for girls in the Islamic world (Alexandrian Muslim Girls’ School of Russia).
  • 1908 – First opera in the Muslim world, Leili and Majnun (combination of western music with mugam).
  • 1902 – First Muslim woman appeared on the scene in European dress (without veil).
  • 1918 – First Democratic Republic in the Muslim East.
  • 1919 – First parliament in the Muslim East.
  • 1919- First democratic republic in the Islamic world to give women the right to vote.
  • First Muslim country to adopt the Latin alphabet to replace the Arabic script.
  • 1940 – First ballet in the Muslim world – The Maiden’s Tower.
  • 1982 – First European-style dramatic theater in the region.
  • May 2002 – Visit of Pope John Paul II.
  • 2008 – Visit of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State.
  • October 2016 – Visit of Pope Francis.

Azerbaijan Society