Friday, February 09, 2007

The Yezidis

I read about the Yezidis and did a small research out of interest about them some time ago, but the reason that motivated me to write about the Yezidis on my blog was caeser’s post on his blog, which was a sort, his own insight and comments to another blogger’s post.

The general view of the Yezidis by many people is identifying them as “the worshippers of Satan” - I will come to that later – I laugh when I hear this, because I can’t imagine Yezidis do head-banging and doing the corna sign while listening to Dimmu Borgir or Venom or any other death/Black metal bands during some satanic rituals where people doing ritual performances such as big fire or preparing to sacrifice another human soul for the sake of Satan! There is a very nice article I found on the internet talking about the relationship between Satanism and Heavy Metal music! Satanism itself in its broader context doesn't regard Satan as THE sacred entity, rather than it is considered as the means to controls human's attitude and behavior. In addition, Satanism as a word and practice, according to Wikipedia give great evidence that the Yezidis is far from being considered Satanists, especially when making comparisons related to the roots and origins for each – not to forget how human unlimited imagination and psychological nature can use myth, religion, and social influences to create an all new variety of concepts and rules, such as the involvement of cannibalism, vandalism, the use of Hebrew language, and even the way to dress.

Generally speaking, most historians identify Yezidism as a reglious group where its customs and rituals were derived from other religions, such as Islam, Christianity, and more recently to Zoroastrianism, because of its similarities with Yezidism, especially regarding the belief in the universal spirit concept.

The main language used by the Yezidis (or Yazidis) is Kurdish. This was one of the reasons some historians differed in pinpointing the origins of Yezidism. Some historians referred to Yezidism as one of the three branches derived from Yazdânism, the religion that Kurds used to believe in before converting to Islam - The other two branches from Yazdânism are: the Alawite (or Al Alavit or Alevism), followed by people in northwest the Iraqi Kurdish area, in some parts of Turkey and the Syrian coast; and the second branch of Yazdânism is the Yarsanism, where mostly followed by people in south of the Kurdish areas and west Iran. All three share the belief in incarnation and the existence of seven guardian angels!

Some historians believed that the roots and origins of the Yezidis go further back into the depth of history and relate them to ancient civilizations in Iraq, such as the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Acadians. According to scholars, the word “Yezidi” comes from Sumerian language, which means “the person who is on true path”!

However, despite objections, there are many among historians who believe that Sheikh Uday (or Adi or Adii) bin Mustafa, a descendent from the Umayyad dynasty (661-750), is the man regarded as the founder of the Yezidis!! He settled in the mountains northern of the Iraqi city of Mosul in the early 12th century, and he was regraded by almost all historians as the one who did all writings regrading their rituals and practices. After his death in 1162, the Yezidis rituals and customs derived around the years from their original practices, they became influenced by Sufi Islam, and took new forms influenced by other religions and sects, such as, Manichaean, Christianity, Nestorian, Zoroastrian among others.

The Yezidis believe that God created the universe and appointed seven angels to guard and rule the universe. The leader of these seven angels is called Malek Taus, or the Peacock Angle. Thus, for the Yezidis, God is only the creator, he is the supreme who created everything, and Malek Taus is the acting force on earth and the universe on behalf of God. Historians and scholars identified Malek Taus as Satan, as known in Islam and Christianity. The Yezidis belief in the incarnation, and they believe that the seven angels come in the form of human beings, and that Shaikh uday himself and his companion Shaikh Hasan are among those seven angels. The other four angels are known as the four Mysteries, Shamsadin, Fakhradin, Sajadin and Naserdin, in addition, of course, to their leader, Malak Taus. The story goes on when God created Adam; God called for the seven angels, he ordered them to bring dust from earth. They obeyed him and from that dust God created Adam and give him soul from his own breath. God, then, ordered them to bow to Adam, and obey him. All Angels bowed except for Satan, who thought to be made of God’s illumination, which makes him more superior than bowing or obeying to a being made of dust (or mud). God pardoned Satan and praised him, according to the Yezidis. Further more, God made Malek Taus (or Satan) the leader of the angels and he became his representative on earth. The Yezidis refer to God’s decision by saying that God’s supremacy would make Malek Taus obey him easily and bow for Adam, but God did not do that, because this is part of what they call “God’s majestic and sublime nature”. As a conclusion, the concept of good and evil does not exist in Yezidi faith, and they reject the idea that Satan is the symbol of evil, as in other religions such as Islam and Christianity. They believe that a human spirit goes through a process of purification from such things like evil or sins, and that the concept of good and evil originated from humans i.e. exists in the minds and souls of humans, nothing more, and nothing less. In addition, every human being is free to choose between good and evil in their lives, and to choose good, submission to Malek Taus is the most important of all, because he was given the same choice by God.

Interestingly, according to the Yezidis, Malek Taus has seven jars, he fill them with his tears for 10000 years, and these tears will be used to extinguish the fire in hell.

There are two holy books for the Yezidis; the first is called the Book of Revelation, and the second is called the Black Book, but sources argue that both books were written in Arabic, and other say in Kurdish! It is not known how many prayers the Yezidis do; some say they do five daily prayers: dawn, sunrise, noon, afternoon and sunset. Some say there are only two prayers, and other say there are only three, but all agree that the Yezidis prayers must be in the direction of the sun. The Yezidis also have their own annual six days pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheikh Uday north of the city of Mosul every August. Most of the rituals and pilgrimage’s practices are very secretive so information on this is based on speculations and the imagination of scholars and historians. The Yezidis regard themselves as separate (and superior) race; they believe that they were created from Adam and the rest of human race is created from Eve, that’s why is impossible for someone to marry from the Yezidis! Further more, their obstain from other cultures and religions as means of protecting their own prohibited them from even using other non-Yezidi’s belongings, such as clothes, houses, furniture…etc In addition, each Yizidi believe that he must have a mentor, this is one very strong obligation the Yezidis believe in.

It is estimated that the number of the Yezidis population between 40 thousand and one million, spread in areas around Shikhan, Sanjar, Tilkeef, Ba’shiqa, Bahzani north the city of Mosul. In addition, they live further north of Iraq, such in Duhok and Zakho. Yezidis can be found with small numbers in countries other than Iraq, such as Syria, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Iran the Caucasus, and Yemen.


Marshmallow26 said...

Well done Max!

We used to hear such things about the Yezidis which I don't believe...I used to hear that the Yezidis can't eat Onion or cabbage or lettuce because the Satan is hiding or living between the leaves...
Or they can't pronounce the letter " Sh" because this is the first letter of Sattan's name in Arabic or Kurdish " Shaitan"...
Or they can't say Shikhta "match" !!

I have been to their village once because it is so close to our ancient village “Alqush" north of Mousol close to Dohuk.
I have seen their men and women and heard their language it is Kurdish but close to Persian as well.

MixMax said...

hi marsh,

yes, indeed, I heard the same when i was in Iraq about the traditions the Yezidis have, especially regarding the SH.

You mean they do speak Kurdish but differnt from the normal Kurdish language, is like an accent close to Persian??

Marshmallow26 said...

yes it is closer to Persian than its to Kurdish...I heard them talking, and could tell the different in accent and words...

Anonymous said...

I came across your site while trying to post on middle eastern blogs. I'm working on the metal movie "Global Metal" The follow up to 'Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" and we're looking for middle eastern metal fans that are travelling to Dubai for the Desert Rock Fest.
Email me please if you have any friends who are going.

aNarki-13 said...

Hello 'Max!
for the best reference on Yezidi customs (i believe this is the case)

try to find the book written by Siddeq el Damaluji, he lived with them for almost 25 years, day to day, and i believe gave the soundest view available on this part of Iraq.

great post there!

Anonymous said...


Came across this while procrastnating over an essay. Was reading the news and they mentioned Yezidis, wondered what the religion was about.

You should put this on wikipedia, there's no entry for it.

Anonymous said...


i am yezidi... your article is very interesting. of course, and please believe that, yezidis aren´t in any relation to the "bad figure" that you call For me as a yezidi, this word is forbidden, because it´s blasphemy. yezidi think that god is perfect, so there can be no evil. the yezidis talk in kurmanji, which is a regular kurdish dialect and i guess it´s the most spoken dialect trough all dialects. anyway, thank you for your article... sorry, got to improve my english :-)

MixMax said...

thanks for the reference :)

Anon 4:48
thanks for visiting my blog. Information are there on Wikipedia, I believe, with nice links to other resource related to the same topic

Anon 7:52
I am glad you liked the article, your input and comments enriches the whole topic. I really appreicate it, and your english is very good :)

Anonymous said...

Hi again...

i have to add one more thing. I´m sorry, there is no much i can say about my religion, but it´s very difficult to put my thought in a good chronological argumentation, but i will try. the thing i wanna add to this discussion is the story about melek taus, who is in fact a fallen angel. but this is only the one half of the story, the other half aren´t really mentioned by many fiends. the saga says, that melek taus was banned into hell for some reason (i don´t remember now). But than, when melek taus was in hell, he cried more than thousands years, till the fire of hell was cold, so that the yezidis also got no hell in their theology, which is also a proof, that there is no evil in this religion. after the angel cried so many years, god gave the angel amnesty and give the angel a leading role in creating the world...

more coming soon... greetz

Anonymous said...

Oh right, this too! My religion is 6000 years old, not 3000!

I'll tell you more about this later! Thanks!

Ezidi at myself said...

Hello... I finds your article very interessting but also offensive. The Ezidi religion has nothing to do with Satan or The other guy from Syria you mention. I am so sick tired of hearing people posting blogs and articles about my religion, and untrue and offensive. It is well seen that the writer has heard something about Ezidi from some guys, who have heard something from another one.
Ezidi is a natur religion, which means that their rituals are based on natur and Earth. This religion is very old and has been carry on by the tongue and the speak from the elder. Pleas Pleas, have contact with a ezidi before you post anything. We are a little miniority group and it is very difficult for us to defence ourselves.
contact me for further question on
m e h d i b e b a n @ g m a i l . com