Thursday, September 4, 2014

Yezidi or Yazidi Religion: What is it?

We are all aware of the 50,000 or so Yazidis, also spelled Yezidis, trapped on Mount  Sinjar by ISIS.  Some of the women are held captive as sex slaves.  ISIS calls them their wives.  The children are also in danger of unspeakable horrors.  U.S. has sent Marines with a rescue mission supposedly in place.  The story has lost much steam over the last few weeks with Americans preferring to concentrate on Ferguson, Missouri, and ISIS's beheadings of journalists.

So who are the Yazidis and what is their religion about?  Reporters like to gloss over the details, claiming it's some sort of combination of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.  Although that's not an out-and-out lie, it omits the core of the Yazidi/Yezidi religion.  
The Yazidis are more closely related to Zoroastrianism than Christianity.  Zoroaster, the religion's founder, preached two mentalities under one god, Ahura Mazda.  This religion comes from the Ismaeli branch of Islam.  BTW, Ishmael was the older brother of Isaac who got kicked to the curb with his Egyptian mother after Sara gave birth to Abraham's second son Isaac.
Zoroastrians pray in front of fire.  They believe in reincarnation, but only once the end of the world happens.  The Magi from the Christmas story were believed to be Zoroastrians.

Yazidis' roots are Zoroastrian, but they have added their own spin on the religion.  Shaykh Abi Musafir, born 1070-1162, was the founder.  Mithra the sun god is involved in the religon. Yazidis have two holy books, the Black Book and Revelation.  Some believe Revelation is a forgery, authored by Westerners with the intention of sugar coating the odd religion.  The Black Book might also be a forgery, but there is a debate.  Most believe this group never had an official sacred text, but passed their traditions orally through their holy men or priests.
Yazidis are concentrated in northern Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Syria, Germany, and small pockets all over Europe and the U.S. Yazidis believe that God (the Christian God) is under the care of seven angels with Malak Tawas (spelled several different ways) as the head of the seven angels.  Westerners and ISIS believe Malak Tawas is really Satan.  Shaytan is Satan in the Koran.  Shaytan, also called Melek Tawas, refused to bow down to Adam and Eve after God commanded him to.  Yazidis believe God and Satan made amends and reconciled.  The peacock is Malak Tawas's symbol.  Satan was not created by God, but born of a white pearl.  

Yazidi name stems from "yazata" or divine being,  or possibly from Umayyad Yazid, the Sultan Ez.  They speak Kurmanji.  Yazidis believe in reincarnation, pray five times a day, fast, celebrate their own New Year's Eve, throw a Festival of the Peacock, refuse to eat lettuce, and make a pilgrimage to Sheikh Musafir's tomb, the religion's founder.  They believe Jesus was an angel in human form and Mohammad was a prophet.  They won't spit or wear the color blue.  Some believe the color blue represents Noah.  This is especially interesting to me because the Flood might have been about getting rid of all of the fallen angels.  

Yazidis are baptized and circumcised (not a requirement).  They are monogamous, but priests/chiefs can be polygamous.  They believe they descended from Adam alone-NOT Eve.  They also practice Honor Killings which are directed towards women who violate their laws, culture, and traditions.  Recently, a case in Germany was reported about a Yazidi girl who fell in love with a German boy.  Her family killed her.  

I became fascinated with this religion while writing Halo of the Damned and Halo of the Nephilim.  Much research went into the books.

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