Although most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, they are not as a rule overly religious. Indeed, an old Kurdish maxim has it that compared with an unbeliever, a Kurd is a good Muslim.
   This having been said, however, it must also be noted that there exists an incredible amount of religious diversity among the Kurds, not only in Islam but also in various pre-Islamic, heterodox, and syn-cretist beliefs. What is more, sheikhs still play an important religious as well as political role in rural areas. Finally, as with the rest of the Islamic world, Islamist forces have been gaining strength among a minority of Kurds. Indeed, within the sway of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, the Islamists were long the third strongest force after the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Sunni Kurds distinguish themselves from their Sunni Turkish and Arab neighbors by adhering to the Shafii school of Islamic law, instead of the Hanefi school. In addition, at least 5 percent of the Kurds profess orthodox Shiite beliefs, particularly in Iran.
   Among Iraqi Kurds, adherents of what has been called the Cult of Angels still exist. Alevis (Qizilbash), Ahl-i Haqq, and Yezidis contain elements of pre-Islamic, syncretistic, and extreme Islamic heterodox beliefs. Although some claim that as many as one-third of the Kurds still adhere to these sects, this is almost certainly an exaggeration. In Turkey, a sizable minority of the ethnic Kurds is Alevis, which serves to divide them from their orthodox Sunni cousins. Naqshbandi and Qadiri sufi orders also continue to play an important role in the lives of some Kurds.
   Finally, it should be noted that historically Christians and Jews were also present among the Kurds. Christian Assyrians still constitute an important minority within the KRG's sway in northern Iraq.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .


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