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The Yezidi Religion.

Byline: Lazgin Khider Al-Barany

Yezidism is derived from ancient Assyrian and Babylonian religions.

Members of one of the oldest religions in the Middle East now exist from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Ukraine and several other European nations.

The Yezidis (also spelled Iyzidis or Yazidis) are a specific subset of the Kurdish people and live in parts of traditionally Kurdish areas currently located in northern Iraq, northeast Syria, southeast Turkey, as well as in the ex-Soviet states, mostly in the Caucasus (Armenia and Georgia) with a few numbers in Ukraine and the Russian Federation. A large number of Yezidis have migrated to European countries, mainly to Germany and Sweden. According to unofficial estimates, the number of Yezidis in the world varies between 1.5 and 2 million. Throughout history, they have undergone many massacres and mass killings, which is why only a small number of the Yezidi population remains.

Yezidism is an old, historical religion, born and developed in Mesopotamia. In terms of history and culture, it represents a synthesis of Mithraism, Mazdaism, and Zoroastrianism.

The Yazidis believe in one Godthe God who is without companionswhom they address by the Kurdish name "Khuda" and worship as the first cause and prime source of the universe. The task of creation and the establishment of plant and animal life on earth were assigned to seven angels who are active in the world affairs. These are Ezrail, Cibrail, Mikail, Dirdail, Simkail, Azazil, and Esrafil. Cibrail was the greatest. However, some believe that Azazil was the greatest. God himself created man. The Yezidis employ the title "Malek Taus" (Peacock Angel) and use representation of the peacock as the emblem of their faith.

The Yezidi religion incorporates the universal principles of ethics and morality: right and wrong, justice, truth, loyalty, mercy, and love. The Day of Judgment, when the Yezidis will be rewarded for their trust in Malek Taus, is quite remote; meanwhile, souls live on through transmigration. Evil is recognized as a fact of life and is not considered the work of any supernatural being. The story of Adam and Eve is part of the Yezidi tradition; far from encompassing Adam's fall, however, the angel is shown as a provider of practical advice on the biological function of the body.

In accordance with Yezidizm, fire, water, air, and the sun and moon are sacred elements.

The Yazidis also maintain that every man and woman from their community must possess the following qualities:

1. Rasti (truth). Every Yezidi should be truthful to protect him/her from lies. He/she should stand by his/her word and decision and always see the truth, say the truth, and defend the truth.

2. Nasin (knowledge). This implies that every Yezidi should know himself/herself, his/her environment, and should have a strong and positively motivated belief.

3. Shermi (shame). This means to stay away from wrongdoing. A person who has the sense of shame and shyness will never do things to be later discredited.

The great prophet of the Yezidi religion who links faith and reality with the last 800 years of recorded history is Sheikh Adi whose tomb in Lalish, north of Iraq, is the most sacred shrine. The Yezidis have two sacred books: Kitab el-Jelwa (The Book of Revelation), the most sacred book in the Yezidi religion, and the Meshef Resh (Kurdish words meaning the Black Book). The last one contains the Yezidi account of the creation of the world, the origin of man, and the story of Adam and Eve.

The sacred triangle in Yezidism is Ezid, Tawus Malek, and Sheikh Adi. Ezid is one of the names of God. As far as Tawus Malek is concerned, he is the head of the angels and is identified as Azazil. According to the Yezidi belief, Sheik Adi worked miracles and carried secret between Tawus Malek and God.

Yezidizm maintains that every religion reflects a truth. Therefore, everybody should cater to their own religion and should be free exercise their beliefs. According to the Yezidis, a person who does not cater to his own religion will never cater for other religions. It is for this reason that the Yezidis do not accept anybody from other religions and have no missionary intentions. The Yezidis respect all religions and expect the same from the others.

The great staging points of human life are solemnized in Yezidi families with the blend of tribal customs and religious code. At birth, an infant is baptized by the sheikh and the Pir using water from the White Fountain at Lalesh. Male circumcision is an important rite in the Yezidi religion. Another relationship limited to Yezidis is established at puberty when the bride and the bridegroom select a "brother/sister of the hereafter" from a family of sheikhs. Marriage has customarily been arranged by the parents of the bride and groom. Traditionally, Yezidis have not been permitted to marry outside their faith. Although the religion permits men to have more than one wife, this is uncommon. Divorce is permitted but is very rare.

There are official festivals in the Yezidi religious year, which begins on the first Wednesday in April in the Seleucid calendar (mid-April by the Gregorian calendar). The feast of Sarisal (New Year) is celebrated in every village where Yezidis live. The second feast, celebrated only at Lalesh, last for three days from the evening of July 18 to the morning of July 21 (Seleucid). It is called the Feast of 40 Days. The principle feast of the year is the seven-day Feast of the Assembly, held at Lalesh. The feast lasts from the evening of September 23 to the morning of September 30. The fourth official festival in the Yezidi calendar, preceded by three days of general fasting, occurs on the first Friday in December (Seleucid).

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Publication:The Kurdish Globe (Erbil, Iraq)
Date:Apr 16, 2008
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