Why didn't Armenians or Georgians ever become Muslim like the Anatolians, Azeris, Circassians, et cetera did?


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
Arabia did convert to Islam from its traditional religions, though.
Of course, but while Armenia hasn't always been independent, it was only in the Early Modern period that that it became a province in a Muslim dominated empire, Ottomans, for a protracted period of time.

These historic Muslim dominated empires didn't themselves necessarily stress conversion of Christians. They were perfectly happy to have Christian majorities to tax. Egypt became Muslim dominated already in the 7th c, and its still estimated that the place didn't become Muslim majority until about the 13th c. (and Arab language majority in about the 16th c.).

So, not enough time for the Armenians to come to the conclusion themselves that they would be better of as Muslims rather than Christians?
Mar 2016
Not sure if many. Aren't those islamized Armenians usually knowledgeable about their background anyway? Georgian Muslims and Laz seem more or less assimilated, but Armenian identity tightly connected with Christianity like the Assyrians.
I think there is a sizable Kurd converts of Armenian origin in the East. It is unlikely and a bit naive to believe that some of them did not convert in the course of 600 years. What was the advantage of being Muslim in Ottoman Empire? I know there are some tax benefits but if it was significant, it would be a good motivation to convert.
Sep 2016
Armenia used to be much larger. It is very likely that a lot of Armenians converted to Islam, today we know them as Turks.
It depends on time period that we are talking about. Armenia was a part of Georgian kingdom at one point, for example.

This is Georgia and it's vassal territories in the beginning of 13th century :
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Sep 2016
I don't know too much about the topic of religious conversion in the Near East and Caucasus, but wasn't Armenia the first country in history to officially designate Christianity as their state religion ?
Yes, Armenia was the first country.

Iberia or Kartli ( Georgian kingdom ) followed few decades after Armenia. Christianity was adopted in 326 AD. Though Ivane Javakhishvili believed that it happened in 337 AD. So Christianity has a very long history in Georgia as well.

During the reign of Vakhtang Gorgasali in Iberia, in a step towards autocephaly, the Patriarch of Antioch elevated the Bishop of Mtskheta to the rank of Catholicos of Iberia with the approval of the Byzantine emperor.

Western Georgia was also for a long time Byzantine's sphere of influence. Arabs weren't able to establish their rule in Western parts of Georgia. Byzantine lost it's last dependencies only by 9th century, as Kingdom of Abkhazians expanded.


Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
Why didn't Armenians or Georgians ever become Muslim like the Anatolians (later being transformed into Turks), Azeris, Circassians, et cetera did? What allowed these two ethnic groups to largely remain Christian (there are occasional exceptions--for instance, the Laz Georgians and, until recently, the Adjaran Georgians were mostly Muslim) even while most of their neighbors (pretty much everyone except the Russians) eventually became Muslim sooner or later?
Some did, but the process of the full conversion of the elite was interrupted. A number of prominent Armenians lived in enforced exile in the Abbasid court in the ninth century, and some seem to have converted to Islam. The Holy Cross church in Aght'amar was built by Gagik I Artsruni in part to burnish his pious credentials as Christian king of Armenia, something that much-needed needed given that his grandfather and father had converted to Islam and that he had recently fought on the side of the Ostikan (the Muslim governor of Armenia) against the Bagratids. We also have some evidence of Arabization: Bagrat Bagratuni commissiond Nonnos of Nisibis’ commentary in Arabic, and only after his “exile” to Samarra did his brother have it translated to Armenian. The pressure to convert to Islam declined as the Abbasids did, though, and it does not take long before we see alarm bells of Byzantinization going off in the histories of Ghevond (traditionally considered to be 8th c., Tim Greenwood has convincing placed it in the second half of the 880s) and Step'anos Taronetsi.

The cathedral has some unusual sculpture. The Old Testament scenes represent kingship and trials accomplished by heroes from the book. Gagik's Holy Cross Church shows a concern over conversion to Islam.

Gagik himself appears in the central medallion, looking a lot like an Islamic king:

It's no coincidence that one of the reliefs features saints Sahak and Hamazasp, Artsrunik princes martyred in 783 for refusing to convert to Islam: