Yezidis


Yezidis
   The Yezidis are a religiously heterodox Kurdish group who have often, but incorrectly, been referred to by the pejorative title of devil worshippers. In reality, the Yezidis are a branch of the indigenous Kurdish religion of the Cult of Angels.
   The Yezidis have two sacred books written in, rather surprisingly, Arabic. The Mashaf-rash (black, i.e., sacred book) is much longer and contains the fundamentals of their religion. The Kitab al-Djilwa is much shorter and is ascribed to the reputed founder of the religion, Sheikh Adi.
   Yezidi refers to angels, and Lucifer (Malak Tawus or the Peacock Angel) is the main angel worshipped. Malak Tawus, however, is not the prince of darkness but the most powerful of all the archangels. Anzal, a sculptured bird icon, is the main relic of the Peacock Angel who created the material world out of the pieces of the original cosmic egg in which the Spirit formerly resided. When Adam was driven out of paradise, he had no opening in his bowels and thus suffered great discomfort until God sent a bird to peck an orifice in him. The most important Yezidi celebration is the Jam, a seven-day feast during the second week of October in which the bird icon Anzal is presented to the faithful. The Yezidis are prohibited from eating lettuce, fish, gazelles, the flesh of poultry, and gourds. The color dark blue is also forbidden; urinating in a standing position, dressing while sitting, using a closet, and washing in a bathroom are also proscribed.
   Formerly a much larger group, the Yezidis have been decimated by persecution and massacres perpetrated by their Muslim neighbors, who look upon them as heretics. Even today, the Yezidis charge that they are experiencing oppression, along with forced conversion and assimilation from elements of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The Yezidi villages of Kahataniya and Al-Jazeera were struck by terrorist attacks on 14 August 2007. Today the Yezidis constitute at the most 5 percent of the Kurdish population and probably a lot less. They are concentrated in several different pockets in the Bahdinani area of northern Iraq; in the cities of Sinjar, Bahshika, and Bahzani in the Nineveh Plain southwest of Mosul; and east of Mosul in Lalish, where their most important shrine, the tomb of Sheikh Adi, is located.
   During the 1830s, many Yezidis left these areas due to persecutions carried out by such Kurdish leaders as Mir Muhammad of Soran (also known as Miri Kor, or the Blind Mir) and settled in the Tor Abdin mountains between Mardin and Midyat in what is now Turkey and also near Batman in Turkey. Subsequently, most of them have migrated to Germany to escape continuing persecution. Yezidis also migrated to the Caucasus in Russia for similar reasons in the 19th century. Lately, however, the Yezidis have also suffered persecution in Armenia.
   The Yezidis speak the Kurdish language Kurmanji. In recent years there also was an Arab attempt to strip them of their Kurdish identity by declaring them Umayyad Arabs. This rewriting of ethnic history was attempted by falsely identifying the Yezidis with the Umayyad caliph Yezid, who reigned from 680 to 683.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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