Who are the Ezidis?

August 4, 2018 at 10:09 am

Lalish, April 2018, the Red Wednesday ceremony of Yazidi component. Photo: Heman Baban

Lalish, April 2018, the Red Wednesday ceremony of Yazidi component. Photo: Heman Baban

KirkukNow
Ezidis were hurt the most during the Islamic State (ISIL) rule in the Middle East. As ISIL raid mounted on Sinjar district, 120km west of Mosul, 100 thousand Ezidis were surrounded without access to food or water. The crisis put them on the focus suddenly.
Ezidis live in the different areas, mostly northern Iraq, northeast of Syria and southeast of Turkey. According to the statistics of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), 550 thousand Ezidis used to live in Iraq. While facing persecution and demonisation, the number of Ezidis have drastically decreased throughout the recent centuries.
The oppression of Ezidis starts with misunderstanding their name, as the fundamental groups like ISIL refer the name to Yazid bin al-Muaawiya (the name is Yazidi in Arabic), the second Caliph of Ummayad state (647-683). However, new research shows that the name has nothing to do with that caliph or even the city of Yazid in Iran, but has come from the old Persian “Ezid” word, which means angel or god.

The number of Ezidis have drastically decreased throughout the recent centuries

Thus, Ezidi means “those who worship God”. They also refer to themselves as Dasni, or Diyusis, or Abrishiya, from the old Nestorian church of the east. Their religion is a mixture of old Kurdish beliefs, calling it Yazdan Parsti (in Kurdish worshipping God) or Mitra religion. Their sacred texts are all in Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish, all verbal.

Mosul, 19 April 2017, Ezidis celebrate the Red Wednesday in Bashiqa. Photo: Muhannad Sinjari

Mosul, 19 April 2017, Ezidis celebrate the Red Wednesday in Bashiqa. Photo: Muhannad Sinjari

As secrecy is an element of their religion, some have interpreted their faith to be linked with Zoroastrianism or Sun Worshipping, although new research shows that the while the position of the sun is elevated for Ezidis (they decorate their coffins with sun signs, and their graves should face the east), it does not reach the level of worshipping.
Pir is a name of a class among Ezidis, used for religious leaders. They baptise the children with sacred water, or divide bread in a marriage ceremony, giving half to the groom and have to the bride, while the bride is covered with red.
In December, Ezidis fast for three days. During 15-20 September, the Ezidis visit Lalish shrine and Sheikh Abdi shrine for pilgrimage, the latter is north of Mosul and east of Duhok by ., practising some religious rituals.

During 15-20 September, the Ezidis visit Lalish shrine and Sheikh Abdi shrine for pilgrimage

The god of Ezidis is named Yazdan, with an elevated level. He cannot be worshipped directly, as he is secret power, the creator of the universe, without any guard. However, seven other souls have taken shape through that god, the greatest of them being the Malak Taus (The Peacock Angel), the implementer of the divine will. In the ancient Christendom, the peacock was a sign of immortality, as the bird’s meat does not decay. The Peacock Angel embodies the God for Ezidis. Thus the religion is considered to be monotheistic.
Ezidis believe in reincarnation of the soul, and the actual purification of the new birth of individuals and generations through it.

Mosul province, April 2017, reconstructing a shrine of Ezidis in Bashiqa. Photo: Muhannad Sinjari

Mosul province, April 2017, reconstructing a shrine of Ezidis in Bashiqa. Photo: Muhannad Sinjari

ISIL committed mass murders against Ezidis, after taking their major city on 3 August 2014, only to be recaptured on 13 November 2015. During their rule, 360,000 Ezidis fled, 90 thousand went abroad, according to the statistics of the Ezidi Affairs Department in KRG. More stats show that 3,315 abducted Ezidis have been rescued, 1,155 women among them, 337 men, 954 female children, 870 male children, while the fate of 3,102 Ezidis is still unknown after their abduction.

43 mass graves have been discovered in Sinjar district alone up until now

43 mass graves have been discovered in Sinjar district alone up until now. Furthermore, ISIL exploded 68 sacred places and shrines of Ezidis.
Although persecuted and surrounded by hostile forces for centuries, Ezidis have never given up on their religion, a proof of how dear and firm they hold their identity.

Sources:
KirkukNow website,
Khidir Domli, research of the components of Iraq
BBC

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