Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Information on Yezidis
Yezidis worship one God but no prophets. They recognize and respect both Jesus and Mohammed, but as men of faith, not prophets. Yezidi beliefs are a complicated mixture of Islamic and Zoroastrian beliefs, with Gnostic, Jewish, and Shamanistic elements. Worship centers around seven Angels (Malek is from the Arabic word for 'angel'), the most important of which is named Melek Taus, or the "Peacock Angel," also known as Lucifer.
Lucifer plays a different role in Yezidism, where he is considered the chief Archangel, and the creator of the material world. In Yezidi belief, Lucifer is not a fallen angel, or the enemy of God. They are forbidden from referring to him as Satan. The Yezidi have long been accused of "Devil worship" due to misunderstandings of their religious doctrine. In the Yezidi religion, Lucifer is a beneficient deity, long since reconciled with the Creator.
In this religion, God created Adam, but no Eve, and therefore all men came from Adam alone. The Yezidis were first born among all men, and consider themselves to be “the chosen people.” The Yezidis are strictly forbidden to marry outside the Yezidi, and must marry within their caste. While Kurds say the Yezidis are Kurds, the Yezidis claim to be neither Arab nor Kurd, simply Yezidis or, perhaps, Yezidi first and Kurd second.
The designation “Yezidi” applies to both a set of religious beliefs and a genetic or tribal identity. Because Yezidis keep to themselves, it is easy for others to misunderstand, or deliberately mis-project, the Yezidi religion. This can have dire consequences. One must now be born Yezidi, and converts are not accepted. There is no specific Yezidi Holy text, but important information about Yezidi practices is contained in the Mes'haf i Resh, or "black book", and the Jilwa, or "book of revelation." The Yezidi religion places taboos on the eating of fish or the meat of gazelles; the wearing of blue clothing is forbidden. Many Yazidi rituals center on Sheik Adi, a Sufi Arab who lived in northern Iraq in the 12th century and is considered the religion's chief saint. Pilgrims hold festivals near his tomb, north of Mosul.
Yazidis are primarily ethnic Kurds, and most live in Sinjar district, 120 km to the northwest of Mosul. Some 100,000 - 350,000 (estimates vary) Yazidis are living in villages around Mosul, 405 km north of Baghdad. There are smaller communities in Armenia (some 40,000 according to 2001 census), Georgia, Iran, Russia (31,273 as per 2002 census), Syria, and Turkey (some 80,000 in 1970; 23,000 in 1985 and 377 people in 2007). They number around 500,000 individuals in total, but estimates vary on their population size, partially due to the Yazidi tradition of secrecy when asked about one's religious beliefs.