Mahabad is situated in a region that was the center of the Mannaeans, who flourished in 10th to 7th centuries BC. Mannaeans “after suffering several defeats at the hands of both Scythians and Assyrians, the remnants of the Mannaean populace were absorbed by an Iranian people known as the Matieni and the area became known as Matiene. It was then annexed by the Medesin about 609 BC.

In the medieval period, the Kurdish dynasty of Hasanwâyhids (959-1015) was ruling the region. After destruction under the Mongols, Ilkhanate, and Timurid dynasty, the region was controlled by Kara Koyunlu (1375–1468) and Aq Qoyunlu (1378–1501)(both Oghuz Turkic tribes). As Muhamed Amin Zaki in his book, A Short History of the Kurds and Kurdistan, during regional conflicts between Kara Koyunlu and Aq Qoyunlu, the Mukri Kurds gained power in the fertile valleys of south of Lake Urmia.

Murki Kurds participated in several wars between Safavid dynasty and Ottoman Empire, and gained more predominance. In 17th century AD, Mahabad became the seat of Mukri principality (known as Murkriyān in Kurdish and Morkriyān in Persian). Many believe Budaq Sultan Murki, who built Mahabad’s Jameh Mosque is the founder of the current city.

Modern Kurdish State in Mahabad

Main article: Republic of Mahabad

Mahabad was the capital of the short-lived Republic of Mahabad, which was declared independent on January 1, 1946 under the leadership of Kurdish nationalist Qazi Muhammad.

The republic received strong support from the Soviet Union, which occupied Iran during the same era. It included the Kurdish towns of Bukan, Piranshahr, Sardasht and Oshnavieh.

After an agreement brokered by the United States, the Soviets agreed to leave Iran, and sovereignty was restored to the Shah in 1947. The Shah ordered an invasion of the Republic of Mahabad shortly afterwards, the leaders of the republic including Qazi Muhammad were arrested and executed. Qazi Muhammad was hanged on 31 March 1947.