Category Archives: Comparitive Religion

Yes Virginia, There Is a Christian Catholicism

One of the most bizarre things about own homegrown rightwing Christian Protestant fundamentalists is that they subscribe to the belief that somehow the very first Christians of all, the Catholics, are not Christians. Whether the Papists are apostates or simply heretics is not clear, not that it matters since crazy is crazy. Some of these kooks even push philosophies that say that all evil today is coming out of Catholic Central in the Vatican.

Of course this is scriptural madness. There is no such thing as Catholics and Christians. Catholics are Christians, and I do not care how many times these schismatic born-again nuts insist that they are not.

In fact, they are the very first real Christians of all, ignoring the original Christians who were so Jewish that no Christian today in their right mind would practice their religion though many insist that they do. Yes, you ask one of these Protestant nutcases what sort of Christianity they practice and they all say that they practice “the original Christianity” of say 60 AD or so. Well they don’t practice Judaism, so no they don’t.

But in going back to what they see as the original pure untainted ideal from 2,000 years ago, these Protestant fruitcakes are the equivalent of Muslim Salafists, and when they excommunicate everyone else, they are as bad as Muslim Takfiris like ISIS. So our modern Protestant fundies are sort of a Christian ISIS without all the head-chopping. Wonderful.

Anyway, yes, Christianity and Catholicism were the same thing for 1,500 years until Martin Luther, ignoring a few heretical Catholic splits like the Cathars, who were my ancestors by the way).

The first actual church, the Syrian Orthodox Church founded in 60 AD, now being destroyed and genocided by the “Christian” United States, UK, and  EU, in addition to the jihadist Muslim Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was a Christian or Orthodox church. Catholicism and Orthodoxy are the same thing. One looks to Rome and the other to the east, formerly to Antioch but now to wherever the head of their local branch resides, as there is no Vatican of Orthodox since the Hagia Sofia was turned into a mosque by those lovely Muslims.

It’s all one church. The Western branch is headquartered in Rome, and the eastern branch is headquartered in various nations in Eastern Europe and the Near and Middle East. Even though love to slaughter each other in the modern era, it’s still all one big church. Cain and Abel if you will.

When these fruitcakes say that Catholics are not Christians, they are actually saying that there no Christianity for 1,500 years!

According to our modern evangelical loons, apparently there was some sort of primal Christianity in the Levant in the 1st Century (which was really just ultra-Reform Judaism). These incipient “Christians” kept kosher! Since when do Christians keep kosher? See how retarded these millenarian charismatic boneheads are?

Then apparently “Christianity” went away for 1,500 years. How likely is that?

I guess the real deal was crucified or something just like its prophet. Anyway in both cases, the Romans did it.

And then in re-run of the original, in imitation once again of its prophet, Christianity somehow rose from the dead, came back from extinction, shoved the Catholic Stone aside and strode out powerfully into the glaring sun of the brand new day. The man who resurrected the church and created Zombie Christianity or Protestantism is named named Martin Luther.

Nope. Catholicism in all of its baffling forms is the real deal – the original Christianity, and it doesn’t matter how many modern Protestant Flat Earthers say it’s not true. Historical facts are historical facts, and in this case, revisionism is just lying and some very stupid and transparent lying at that.

The first World Christian Church was headquarted in Rome in the 300’s with the conversion of the crumbling Roman Empire. Those who used to feed the heretics to the lions embraced the same heresy they once persecuted so savagely. That was the shot in the arm that the religion needed, and it was smooth sailing from then on. It mattered not that Christian Rome fell because soon enough the German pagans of Rome were automagically Christians themselves. Soon afterwards, a rival Catholic Church was established in Antioch in Christian Turkey and a rather restrained rivalry was on. All attempts to marry the two ends of the compass failed, but all in all it was an amicable divorce.

If anyone is a splitter or God forbid a heretic, it is the Protestants who frankly began their journey as blood-soaked Catholic heretic genocide victims. Tortured and murdered by the million for a century, the heretics became schismatics became a bona fide branch of Christianity not long after Luther died. The two branches of Western Christianity kept slaughtering each for a while, but familial homicide is actually one of the most common types, so the massacres go are not as counterintuitive as you would think.

Anyway if you have read this far, you can see that the point of this post that anyone who says, “No, I’m not Catholic. I’m Christian,” as you hear so often around my intellectually blighted environs, is a certified idiot and a delusional lunatic.

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Filed under Antiquity, Catholicism, Christian, Christianity, Comparitive Religion, Conservatism, Europe, History, Idiots, Islam, Judaism, Lunatics, Middle East, Near East, Orthodox, Political Science, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Roman Empire, Turkey

All Religion and All Mythology Is the Same

Jung was right.

From a comment on my article, Do Yezidis Worship the Devil?

I want to Thank You for the time you spent putting this article together, I found it fascinating. While reading your work I saw some obvious correlations to several things which I have seen in other mythologies. I want to explain my understanding first; my method is based on the works of Max Mueller and George Cox.

Every mythology no matter where it comes from is based originally on some observed phenomena be it solar, social-human, repetitive natures or wisdom and each culture contains, hidden in their myths, identical parts to foreign myths only with slight variations. For instance, in one, the primary focus will be on an object or a hero whereas in another from a different culture, it will focus on other aspects of that myth as primary with the object and hero still in it but not the primary aspect of it. George Cox proves this many times in his books.

“Malak Taus” contains two foreign words in the phrase which mean something similar yet entirely different to what you claim Yezidis say. Mulku (Sumerian), Marduk (Babylonian), Melkarte (Phoenician), Melchizedek (Hebrew), Moloch, Michael (Christian) these all mean the same thing;

“King”

“Tau” “Taw” “Thau” Sumerian, Egyptian, Phoenician, Celtic;

“Mark” …as in the sign of the resurrection; the resurrected deity.

Incidentally, the “Thau” was formed by tying with ropes, a long straight tree trunk horizontally to the point of a much larger oak just below the first branches. It was this giant tree cross that Druids worshiped/prayed before to receive divine inspiration.

“Once a year, on New Year’s Day, God calls his angels together and hands the power over to the angel who is to descend to Earth.”

The resurrection of the deity, who is a king; King of the Resurrected: Malak Taus. According to Max Mueller’s theories that would be one way to read the name.

“…one must communicate with him through intermediaries”

There is a strange logic in communing with a being who by his teachings shows you the opposite way to be, therefore giving away the divine truths. I applaud this concept if it is in fact what these people believe.

“What is it about birds that made them worthy of worship by the ancients?”

They appear to be able to ascend to the heavens so they act as messengers of the gods; this is the same in Egyptian, Celtic, Roman, Greek mythology.

“Without fire, there would be no life.”

Prometheus stole the fire from God (read, the spirit of life) which Athena then blew into man, who was formed of clay. In this version it is the Tree of Life which mankind partakes of.

“…worshiped seven angels who guided the courses of seven planets”

All cosmogony identical to Christian, Greek, Roman, Egyptian; 1. Sun 2. Moon 3. Mars 4. Venus 5. Jupiter 6. Saturn 7. Mercury which is cognate with the Ogdoad and Hebrew planes who are eight in number when you include heaven, God etc.

The “peacock angel” is the Phoenician-Egyptian Siri (Phoenix) the bird of creation who touched down to earth and formed all things. It represents creation itself, Ananke and Phanes in the Orphic. Protogonos and Metis as Prometheus in the Greek.

Yezidism is possibly the most ancient religion of them all, going back possibly 8-9,000 years. It is interesting that both it and the similiar Zoroastrianism both retain fire worship and a caste system, implying that the Hindu religion of India may also be based on some of the most ancient religions known to man.

Christian, Greek, Roman and Egyptian religion all worshiped 7 “angels” representing seven planetary objects: Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury – the same seven planet as were worshiped in the first religion 9,000 years ago.

The peacock angel is the Siri or Phoenix in Phoenician-Egyptian religion, who fell to Earth and created all things. The same Phoenix is the bird which rises from the ashes to recreate mythological or legendary societal greatness from the ashes of a ruined culture in fascist mythology. Ananke, Phanes, Protogonos and Metis as Prometheus in the Greek.

The worship of fire. Fire = life. The original man was made of clay. Prometheus stole fire (the life spirit) from God and gave it to Athena. Athena blew it into man who was made of clay, giving him fire-life. Fire is life. Without fire, there is no life spirit, and there is no life.

All ancient religions include bird worship. This is because birds and birds alone can rise to the heavens and hence serve as animate intermediaries between man and the Gods. Egyptian, Celtic, Roman and Greek religions all worshiped birds.

God may not be contacted directly, but must only be contacted via intermediaries. This is akin to the Jewish Kabbalist concept that God is such a strange concept that man can not only never know what God even is, but man cannot is not even able to truly formulate the concept in his mind of what God is, as God is too “rarefied” for man’s simple mind. God is “beyond all understanding.”

Malak Taus is the resurrected King. Christianity is the living embodiment of this 9,000 year old concept.

Every mythology no matter where it comes from is based originally on some observed phenomena be it solar, social-human, repetitive natures or wisdom and each culture contains, hidden in their myths, identical parts to foreign myths only with slight variations.

Of course. Human beings are all the same. Our myths and religions are even the same because the essence of what it means to be a human is somewhat restricted by the nature of Homo Sapiens. This is what Jung and his collective unconscious is all about.

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Filed under Comparitive Religion, Jung, Psychology, Religion

“Hindu Ethics and the West,” by Dota

An excellent essay by Dota on Hindu ethics and how they are incomprehensible to the Westerner.

Hindu Ethics and the West

By Dota

Dedication: This essay is dedicated to all the valiant peoples of European ancestry who stand against the modern currents of our time in defense of Western Civilization. You are not alone.

Before we jump right into the thick of things, I’d like to explicitly state that I am not an expert in Hinduism or Philosophy. I have no doubt that after reading this essay some of you are going to challenge the arguments presented here, and I encourage you to do so. Some of you might have questions, and I might not have answers to them all. I do however encourage all of you to research this fascinating subject and formulate your own opinions.

The purpose of this essay is to introduce you to the basics of Hindu ethical thought in light of Arthur Danto’s argument of why they are not compatible with Western ethics. This essay will first introduce the reader to Danto’s argument followed by an application of Hindu ethics in the context of certain stories from the Mahabharat and Ramayan; stories I grew up reading in Hindi class as a child. I will then attempt to draw a comparison between western morality and Dharma.

The scope of this essay is purely introductory and despite the mind-boggling diversity of the Hindu tradition, I will try and focus on mainstream Hindu practices and beliefs.

In his monumental book Mysticism and Morality (1972), Arthur Coleman Danto argues that the Indian ethical systems present within the Hindu and Buddhist traditions are not accessible to most Westerners. I would like to confess that I have not personally read Mysticism and Morality since I have not been able to find a copy of the book in Saskatoon. It is available in the University Library which I unfortunately have no access to.

For the purpose of this essay, we shall focus exclusively on the Hindu tradition and leave Buddhism out.  An excellent breakdown of the contents of this book can be accessed at Ralf Dumain’s blog here.

Danto’s major overarching argument is that the factual beliefs upon which Hindu ethics are constructed are not accessible to westerners, and hence the ethical systems themselves are of little value in the west. What are some of these factual beliefs? Many Hindu apologists will attempt to render Hinduism immune to critique by insisting that Hinduism has no doctrines or central creed. That Hindu beliefs cannot be homogenized.

However said apologists will also do everything in their power to link any Indian influences on outside cultures to the great monolithic Hinduism. I refer to this tactic as the shape-shifting apology. Thus Hinduism is rendered a monolith or a phantom depending on the apologist’s agenda.

However as Meera Nanda points out, Hinduism certainly possesses beliefs that are core and non negotiable (caste, Karma, Dharma) which we shall examine. In Hindu tradition, one’s caste is a function of one’s Karma, which in turn is a function of one’s Dharma. If a person’s karma (actions) fulfills his dharma (obligations/duties), he is rewarded in the next life and may find himself born in a higher caste.

Let us assume that a Brahmin sins by committing murder and is reincarnated as a Dalit in his next life. He is barred from accessing the village well and is forcefully segregated with a host of untouchability laws. On the face of it, it seems that justice has been served. However all of this depends on the existence of the interlocking forces of Karma and Dharma. To my knowledge, the Hindu texts do not attempt to prove their existence, but simply assume that their existence is a fact.

If one were to encounter a Dalit enduring social oppression, would it be moral to assist him/her? If Karma exists, then the answer is no, as that Dalit is reaping what was sowed in a previous lifetime. If Karma does not exist, then ignoring the plight of a suffering soul would be rightly regarded as callous indifference in Western ethical thought. Danto points out:

“…that if the factual beliefs of India to which I refer are false, there is very little point in Indian philosophy, and very little room for serious application of Indian moral beliefs. . .” (21)

In the context of caste, Ralph Dumain summarizes Danto’s position as thus:

 “Danto argues, as did Max Weber, that the caste system of Hinduism resists universality, as members of different castes are regarded as members of different species. This leads to a peculiar kind of toleration, just as we tolerate animals because they can’t be like us.

Hindus will tolerate the actions of others so long as their behavior is defined as licit for their caste. Therefore, the morality operant in this scenario stands or falls on the presupposed factual beliefs about caste.” (34-5)“

When one studies the Mahabharat, one is immediately struck by two things: The enormous literary value of this monumental epic and the shocking conduct of the amoral trickster god Krishna. In his paper Maximizing Dharma: Krsna’s Consequentialism in the Mahabharata, Joseph Dowd points out:

“For example, consider Krsna’s treatment of Bhisma, a warrior for the Kauravas. Bhisma knows that Sikhandi, a warrior for the Pandavas, was a woman in his previous life. Krsna tells the Pandavas to set Sikhandi on Bhisma. Bhisma refuses to fight Sikhandi, who deals Bhisma a mortal wound. Another example concerns Karna, another warrior for the Kauravas.

When Arjuna fights Karna, Karna’s chariot wheel gets stuck. Karna asks Arjuna to let him get his chariot unstuck before continuing with the battle. But Krsna reminds Arjuna of Karna’s misdeeds and tells him to kill Karna immediately. During a mace fight between Bhima and Duryodhana, Krsna tells Bhima to violate the warrior code by using a low blow.”

Joseph Dowd argues that Dharma (now referring to the Cosmic order) needs to be maintained and can only be done so if the Pandava faction triumphs over the evil Kaurava faction in the war. Krishna himself justifies his shocking actions as thus:

“Ye could never have slain them in battle by fighting fairly! King Duryodhana also could never be slain in a fair encounter! The same is the case with all those mighty car-warriors headed by [Bhisma]! From desire of doing good to you, I repeatedly applied my powers of illusion and caused them to be slain by diverse means in battle.

If I had not adopted such deceitful ways in battle, victory would never have been yours […] You should not take it to heart that this foe of yours hath been slain deceitfully.”

Let us once again apply Arthur Danto’s principle in determining the moral validity of Krishna’s actions. It would seem that the morality of Krishna’s actions rest heavily on the existence of Dharma. If Dharma exists, and if its existence is threatened, then agents must do everything in their power to prevent this catastrophe. It would seem that Krishna’s actions would then be moral. However if Dharma does not exist, Krishna’s actions are clearly opportunistic.

Let us now examine another feature of Hindu morality: The lack of intent. Ralph again explains Danto’s point of view:

“The infamous story of Arjuna is the key, the sophistical argument that Arjuna fight and kill with detachment. (88) One must perform one’s actions according to one’s calling, to be true to it without extraneous motivation. (91) This attitude is enabled by the detachment of self from body, so that one does not identify with the necessary actions of one’s body.

Danto finds this to be bone-chilling, Nietzschean and inhuman. The factual beliefs postulated are radically at odds with morality. (94-5) Danto ponders possible points of comparison of this notion of detachment with Kant, but insists that morality has no meaning without systems of rules. (96) Intention is decisive; it ties the agent to the action. The Gita robs actions of their moral qualities by detaching them from their agents. (98) This has some resemblance to Nietzsche’s position. (99)”

A look at the Ramayan story of Shravan Kumar should illustrate this point clearly. I had read this story in Hindi class when I was in grade 5 and the chapter was aptly named: आज्ञाकारी पुत्र (The Obedient Son). The protagonist Shravan Kumar embarks upon a pilgrimage with his blind aged parents who are unable to make the journey alone. En route they grow weary from thirst and request a drink of water from their son.

Shravan wanders over to a nearby stream and begins to draw water. Unfortunately, King Dashratha (Ram’s father) happens to be hunting nearby, mistakes Shravan for a deer, and fires. A wounded Shravan requests that the horrified king complete Sharavan’s task and bring water to the blind parents.

The king complies but is recognized by the blind parents as an impostor; whereupon the king sadly confesses his accidental misdeed. Distraught beyond measure, the parents curse the king that he too would die a lonely death pining for his son. The parents then perish. The curse comes to pass as the king lies on his deathbed longing for his son who is in exile. Thus the king is punished for his action (karma) without his intention even being considered.

The moral maxim of letting the punishment fit the crime cannot be applied if intention is divorced from action. In Western morality, intention is a key variable and the Bible confirms this in numerous places:

“Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.” Joshua 20:1-3

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus adds an additional dimension of intent when proclaiming:

“But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

Also consider the following story from the Mahabharat which is included in Dowd’s paper:

“In one passage, the Pandavas trick Drona, a warrior for the Kauravas, into thinking that his son Asvatthaman is dead. At Krsna’s suggestion, they kill an elephant named Asvatthaman and then tell Drona, “Aswatthaman hath been slain” (Ganguli, 1883-1896a).

As a result, Drona withdraws from the war to grieve. Now, whether or not the Pandavas had killed the elephant, the outcome would have been the same: Drona would have been tricked into thinking that Asvatthaman was dead.

However, truthfulness is a supreme norm in Hindu thought (Buitenen, 1975, p. 177; Goldman, 1997, p. 189; Khan, 1965, p. 204). By killing the elephant, the Pandavas ensure that they are technically speaking the truth when they say, “Aswatthaman hath been slain.”

From a Hindu perspective, the actions of the Pandavas are moral, however from a western point of view, this still amounts to lying as the intent was to deceive.

Morals Versus Dharma

In his brilliant and succinct article Anatomy of an Indian, Aakar Patel states:

“Is Shri Ram’s murder of Vali and his treatment of Sita moral? Is Shri Krishna’s advice to Arjun on Karna moral? Is his action on Jayadrath moral? Is Acharya Drona’s behavior with Eklavya moral? Our texts say: “Yes.” They are right according to dharma (if the question is asked in an Indian language). But they are wrong morally. Dharma is opportunistic, while morals are not.”

Lets expand upon this point with the Ramayan story of Ram’s murder of Vali. At the behest of Vali’s younger brother Sugriva, Ram agrees to murder the latter’s older brother Vali, who has threatened the younger brother’s life. Ram executes a ruse where Sugriva issues a challenge to Vali, whereupon Vali accepts and emerges forward to participate in the duel. Ram ambushes Vali from behind and kills him with an arrow.

A dying Vali questions Ram’s morality, and the latter responds that Vali failed in his obligation of forgiving his younger brother’s past transgressions. This was evil, and Ram was tasked with eradicating evil.

Clearly Vali did violate his dharma as an older brother by not making amends with Sugriva, and the significance of brotherly duties are clearly illustrated in the Mahabharat story of Arjun’s wow and Yuddistira. So dharma was satisfied, but what about morality? Indeed, from a western point of view this murder was indeed cowardly and immoral; and what further compounds Ram’s duplicity is that he had committed this deed in exchange for Sugriva’s troops which were needed for the siege of Lanka.

Dharma is concerned with duty and not morality where the emphasis is on fulfilling obligations or risking misfortune. Dharma is radically at odds with Western morality.

Conclusion

The purpose of this essay was not to prove the inherent superiority of the western moral system over the Indian one, but to alert Westerners of the folly of imitating a foreign set of beliefs without understanding them. Western morality is a highly developed and universal code which is adaptable, humane and has evolved beyond the Bible from which it originates. Upon it the modern world stands, and it cannot be replaced by any code of the Orient.

For the purpose of fair discourse I would also like to recommend Hindu Ethics: A Philosophical Study by Roy Perret, who challenges many of Danto’s interpretations and his central argument.

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Filed under Comparitive Religion, Culture, Ethics, Guest Posts, Hinduism, Philosophy, Religion

Why A “European Islam” Is Not Possible

From French commenter W. I edited it a bit for style, as English is his second language:

You said that “there is a fundamental incompatibility between liberal democracy and sharia-obedient Islam”. Of course I agree with your statement. But I don’t think a non-Sharia obedient Islam exists.

In my opinion, we Westerners have a biased view of Islam. When we think about religion, we think about Christianity. And we misunderstand Sharia. We often see it as some kind of civil code, an innovation added to a pure Islam. But Sharia is not an innovation.

Sharia is part and parcel of Islam, because Islam is a law and Sharia its expression. And in this law, there is no separation between what is private and what is public, between what is spiritual and what is political. So even if many Muslims try to create differences between the spiritual and the political, I don’t think Islam itself can do the same one day.

If I’m not mistaken, this is what Wafah Sultan and Ayaan Irsi Ali say, and this is not far from what Geert Wilders says. I can’t imagine how Muslims can deal with this contradiction. So I don’t think we will have an European Islam, because an Islam compatible with Western values will be a heresy according to Islam’s own rules, and Islam doesn’t tolerate rules other than its own. So even though it can sound like a trite “clash of civilizations theory”, nevertheless, I think that’s the way it always has to be and it can’t be any other way.

He’s right, no? Feel free to weigh in.

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Filed under Christianity, Comparitive Religion, Culture, Europe, Islam, Regional, Religion, Social Problems, Sociology

Has Catholic Theology Always Believed Life Begins at Conception?

The answer to that question is apparently not! Most people don’t know this, but for many centuries, official Catholic doctrine held that abortion was allowable up until “quickening.” That’s when mother senses the fetus kicking in her stomach. Quickening occurs around the third or fourth month of pregnancy, around the end of the first trimester in modern phrasing. So the Church allowed abortion until the first trimester.

At that point, it was assumed to be alive, or human, or something. Thing was, abortion was rare back in those days, just like Hillary Clinton wants it to be. Before the age of antibiotics and disinfectants, abortion was not common, it was quite dangerous, and women often died during the procedure. Nevertheless, it was done. The era of surgery began long before the 20th Century.

I don’t have access to any Church doctrine from those days, so I’m not sure what they based it on.

But if you read Dante, you get some glimpses into what they may have been thinking. Dante, writing in the early 1200’s, was not a Pope or a Church father, but he was an extremely religious Catholic. That is clear in all of his writings. He lived his life this way too, and after he moved away from Florence to the east, he was well-known for cursing and throwing stones at fellow citizens who he thought were sinning for some reason or another.

Hence, Dante’s works are good for glimpsing Church doctrine in the early days, since Dante won’t support any teachings not sanctioned by the Church.

In Dante, there are passages which discuss the development of human life and the soul. They are very interesting for a peek into what the early Church felt about human life and its beginnings. Dante’s version, like much of his thinking, is very Aquinian – via St. Thomas Aquinas, the great early Christian philosopher who wrote in the 1100’s.

Dante’s version of the beginnings of human life (and the development of the human soul) is not exactly in accord with modern science, but nevertheless, it is straight from Aquinas. Early peoples had some knowledge of conception and the development of the fetus in the womb. Women miscarried back then, and when you look at the material, you can see the fetus in the rejected uterine matter. From there, they could postulate various things.

First of all, soon after conception, the beginnings of human life take shape.

******
Stage 1: Dante says that in the beginning, the fetus is animate, but it is not even yet an animal. It is more like a plant; it is “vegetative.” This seems strange, but what he means is in terms of consciousness. To say it is like a plant means it is alive, but it can’t think. Plants are alive, but they don’t seem to think. In other words, it has the soul of a plant. I assume that killing a fetus at this stage would be as sinful in Church terms as killing a plant.

Stage 2: Later the fetus changes into a form that is part-animal and part-plant. This seems odd again, but he’s again speaking in terms of consciousness, or soul. Dante describes this fetus as being like a sea anemone, or as having the soul of a sea anemone. A sea anemone is an animal that looks and somewhat acts like a plant. It probably has a brain, but clearly it’s none too bright. It’s nearly transitional between plant and animal metaphysically speaking.

It’s vegetative (alive) and it has elementary sensory abilities, but not much beyond that. Killing a fetus at this stage would be as sinful in Church terms as killing a sea anemone.

Stage 3: After that, the fetus changes into an animal. But it is a non-human animal. Once again he speaks metaphysically. This means that it can’t really reason or think intellectually, or that it has no consciousness. It’s like a dog or a cat, or it has the soul of a cat or a dog. Killing a fetus at this point would be as sinful in Church terms as killing a dog or a cat.

Stage 4: Finally, at some point, the fetus is touched by God through some sort of mechanism and it is given a soul. At that point, it becomes a human being, since non-human animals lack souls.
******

It follows from this that the Church believed that in Stages 1-3, the fetus was not yet a human being. It was presumably for this reason that abortion was allowed until quickening.

The Catholic Church is derided as reactionary, but in some ways it is more progressive than at least fundamentalist Protestantism. Recall that the original Protestants rebelled because they thought that the Church had drifted too far away from Biblical teaching. They were a back to basics movement sort of like the Salafists in Islam.

There is a corollary between the Muslim Shia and Catholicism and between the Muslim Sunni and Protestants. The Sunni are also, like Protestants, a back to basics faction, this time of Islam, that traditionally believes that everything we need to know about Islam was codified in the Quran and Hadiths back in 800 or so. Anything else is deviation at best, heresy at worst. The Shia, on the other hand, feel that Islam is open to continuous interpretation by the high priest caste, which are the Ayatollahs or mullahs.

Ayatollah is derided as a reactionary, but he made some interesting judgments. One was that transsexualism is compatible with Islam, but homosexuality is not. Homosexuality was felt to be a choice and hence a sin, while transsexuals were created by God. There is a top Ayatollah who used to be a man and turned into a woman. Some other big Ayatollah has married her and they are now man and wife.

There is also the phenomenon of temporary marriage. In the religious city of Qom in Iran, there are many institutes of Islamic studies. Religious students come there from all over Iran to study. The city is teeming with female prostitutes. In some areas, the prostitutes gather, and young male students hook up with them. Then they go find a friendly neighborhood Ayatollah who gives them a temporary marriage of one or two days. Then they go off to do the deed in the local cemetery or some such place.

In Lebanon, the Ayatollah Fadlallah is said to be rather progressive as these fellows go. He issued a famous ruling that said that female masturbation was allowed by Islam that caused quite a stir in Lebanon.

It’s things like temporary marriage and the transsexual Ayatollah that drive Sunnis up the wall. The Sunnis, like Protestants, have no religious leaders who make official interpretations or reinterpretations of doctrine. There’s nothing to be interpreted. All the interpretation has already been done.

Sometimes mullahs issue rulings of clarification, mostly to say that this or that is a sin, or to condemn this or that. Some of these come out of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. They carry a lot of weight, but most Sunnis don’t pay much attention to such rulings. A lot of fatwas get issued, but those are just condemnations. And most of the folks issuing fatwas, like Osama bin Laden, have no right to do so. Mr. bin Laden is no scholar of Islam, hence he’s not allowed to issue fatwas, and if he does, they carry no weight.

The Catholic Church is similar to the Shia in that they also have church leaders who reinterpret doctrine for the faithful. In this case, it is the Papacy. The Catholic Church reserves the right to reinterpret religious doctrine as times change. Hence they changed course and endorsed Galileo after initially opposing him.

And recently the Pope declared that evolution is compatible with Catholicism, whereas tens of millions of Protestants are still Creationists. Catholic Creationists probably don’t even exist. Why are there so many Protestant Creationists? There’s nothing in Protestant doctrine telling them it’s nonsense, and there’s not much, if any, official Protestant doctrine anyway.

So neither the Shia or Catholics are necessarily as reactionary as they are often made out to be.

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Many Books, One Author

Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga, 5:18;

Christianity: “All things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them.” In Matthew 7:12;

Confucianism: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Analects 15:23;

Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not unto others that which would cause you pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517;

Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” Hadith;

Jainism: “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara;

Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. That is the law; all the rest is commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a;

Zoroastrianism: “That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatsoever is not good for its own self.” Dadistan-I-Dinik, 94:5.

As a Theist of course, I say that that one author of those many books is God, the One, the Supreme.

And what is God?

Let us turn to the Kabbalah of the Jews (I paraphrase): God is endless, pure, White light, stretching for infinity in all directions. God is that which can never be known. In fact, God is that concept that is so beyond our understanding that we cannot even entertain it in our minds.

A famous cosmologist, astronomer and yet still a Theist, said, “God is hydrogen.” A Deist view, also summed up in what has been called the Deus Obtusa concept that many California Indians had pre-contact, is that God created the world, and he has not done much since. The Deus Obtusa concept is one of the “lazy God,” a creator who nevertheless plays little to no importance in our lives.

Lack of an active parental, law enforcement or judicial role does not mean that God lacks an intelligence or a spirit which cannot be tapped into. It can be, and that’s what the authors below did. God can also be seen as a manifestation of the spirit of pure Good or pure Righteousness in the Universe.

As Christians (and I am a Christian), this can help us to explain some things. Some wonder how Jesus was resurrected, and I believe he was. This is said to be unscientific. A friend who is a physician offers a response: “If one is tapped into God, then God can transcend physical laws, at least temporarily.”

Christianity and Hinduism are also compatible, since Hindus can follow any guru they wish. A friend of mine had a Hindu teacher who followed Jesus Christ as his guru. The Hindutvas will go insane if you mention that, since they hate Christianity, but I think it’s a cool concept.

According to this teacher, people like Jesus are missionaries from God. They are floating down from the spiritual world all the time, and they come to teach us things. I agree with this concept, and also that of Deux Obtusa. How can they be reconciled? If God only worked one day in his life, and has been a slacker ever since, how did he resurrect Jesus?

I figure God is like this guy who never gets old. He sleeps most of the time, and when he wakes up, he takes bong hits and drinks wine. Sort of like Robert Lindsay! He also does a few lines of coke sometimes, and he definitely loves psychedelics. Those are his favorite drugs of all, right? What else does God do, read the great books? What for? He’s already read em all, and he pretty much wrote most of them anyway.

He also spends a lot of his time screwing this hot young angel chicks. This is a cool metaphysics. In this way, whenever we hit the bong or drink some booze, we are essentially communing with God the same as kneeling in a pew on Sunday. I haven’t screwed any hot young chicks in a while (it gets harder as you age) but if I ever do again, I figure I can skip church the next four Sundays. After all, I just went to the Super Mass.

In this way, we turn the tables on traditional Christian no-fun morality, which never had much to do with Jesus anyway. Partying and screwing all you want are, instead of Evil, manifestations of the Good.

Every now and then God feels guilty for being such a good for nothing slacker, and he decides to get off his ass for once. That’s when he does stuff like resurrecting Jesus. Then he says screw it and goes back to Supreme Apathy. So, he intervened in our lives then, but he ain’t doing much now. That’s obvious. Look around the world. Obviously either no one’s in charge, or whoever is is a total asshole.

If God exists as a manifestation of pure Good or pure Righteousness in the Universe, then the Devil must exist too. The Devil, then, is simply the manifestation of pure Evil in the Universe. Since such evil exists the same as the good of God, if God exists, then so must the Devil.

One theory suggests that God and the Devil are necessary for each other. That is, one cannot exist without the other. Certain things existence, then, are related to the existence of their opposite. Their presence is defined by and necessitated by the existence of their opposite. The existence of a God requires the existence of His polar opposite, a Devil. The existence of a Devil requires the existence of his opposite, a God.

Taoism has a lot to say about complementary opposites requiring each other for their existence. Surely we only know what Good is, and how to define it, since we know what evil is. And we only know what Evil is since we can define good. Without the presence of their opposites, the terms are essentially undefinable.

Metaphysics class is dismissed!

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Filed under Buddhism, Christianity, Comparitive Religion, Confusionism, Daoism, Deism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Religion, Satanism, Zoroastrianism

Do the Yezidis Worship the Devil?

Repost from the old site. This is a very, very long piece, so be warned. But the subject, the Yezidi religious group, is extraordinarily complex, as I found out as I delved deeper and deeper into them.

They are still very mysterious and there is a lot of scholarly controversy around them, mostly because they will not let outsiders read their holy books. However, a copy of their holiest book was stolen about 100 years ago and has been analyzed by scholars.

I feel that the analysis below of the Yezidis (there are various competing analyses of them) best summarizes what they are all about, to the extent that such an eclectic group can even be defined at all. The piece is hard to understand at first, but if you are into this sort of thing, after you study it for a while, you can start to put it together. There are also lots of cool pics of devil and pagan religious art below, for those who are interested in such arcana.

See also the companion piece, The Yezidis, a Mysterious Kurdish Religious Sect. This piece was written two years after that one when I realized that the prior piece had barely touched the surface of this very strange religious sect.

The Yezidis, a Kurdish religious group in Iraq practicing an ancient religion, have been accused of being devil worshipers by local Muslims and also by many non-Muslims. I wrote about the Yezidis in depth in a previous post; see them for more background on these interesting people.

The Yezidis appeared in Western media in 2007 due to the stoning death of a Yezidi teenage girl who ran off with a Muslim man. The stoning was done by eight men from her village while another 1000 men watched and cheered them on. Afterward, there has been a lot of conflict between Muslim and Yezidi Kurds.

As Western media turned to the Yezidis, there has been some discussion here about their odd religion. For instance, though the local Muslims condemn them as devil worshipers, the Yezidis strongly deny this. So what’s the truth? The truth, as usual, is much more complicated.

The Yezidis believe that a Creator, or God, created a set of deities that we can call gods, angels or demons, depending on how you want to look at them. So, if we say that the Yezidis worship the devil, we could as well say that they worship angels. It all depends on how you view these deities.

In the history of religion, the gods of one religion are often seen as the devils of another. This is seen even today in the anti-Islamic discourse common amongst US neoconservatives, where the Muslim God is said to be a demonic god, and their prophet is said to be a devilish man.

Christian anti-Semites refer to the Old Testament God of the Jews as being an evil god. Orthodox Jews say that Jesus Christ is being boiled alive in semen in Hell for eternity.

At any rate, to the Yezidis, the main deity created by God is Malak Taus, who is represented by a peacock. Although Yezidis dissimulate about this, anyone who studies the religion closely will learn that Malak Taus is actually the Devil.

On the other hand, the Yezidis do not worship evil as modern-day Satanists do, so the Satanist fascination with the Yezidis is irrational. The Yezidis are a primitive people; agriculturalists with a strict moral code that they tend to follow in life. Why do they worship the Devil then?

First of all, we need to understand that before the Abrahamic religions, many polytheistic peoples worshiped gods of both good and evil, worshiping the gods of good so that good things may happen, and worshiping the gods of evil so that bad things may not happen. The Yezidis see God as a source of pure good, who is so good that there is no point in even worshiping him.

In this, they resemble Gnosticism, in which God was pure good and the material world and man were seen as polluted with such evil that the world was essentially an evil place. Men had only a tiny spark of good in them amidst a sea of evil, and the Gnostics tried to cultivate this spark.

This also resembles the magical Judaism of the Middle Ages (Kabbalism). The Kabbalists said that God was “that which cannot be known” (compare to the Yezidi belief that one cannot even pray to God), in fact, the concept of God was so ethereal to the Kabbalists that mere men could not even comprehend the very concept. A Kabbalist book says that God is “endless pure white light”. This comes close to my own view of what God is.

Compare to the Yezidi view that God “pure goodness”. The Yezidi view of God is quite complex. It is clear that he is at the top of the totem pole, yet their view of him is not the same as the gods of Christianity, Islam, Judaism or of the Greeks, although it is similar to Plato’s conception of the absolute.

Instead, it is similar to the Deists. God merely created the world. As far as the day to day running of things, that is actually up to the intermediary angels. However, there is one exception. Once a year, on New Years Day, God calls his angels together and hands the power over to the angel who is to descend to Earth.

In some ways similar to the Christian Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, the Yezidis believe that God is manifested in three forms.

An inscription of the Christian Trinity, the father, or God, as an old man with a beard; Jesus, a young man, and the Holy Ghost, here depicted as a winged creature similar to Malak Tus, the winged peacock angel. Compare to Yezidi reference for Šeiḫ ‘Adî, Yazid and Malak Tus (Father, Son and Holy Ghost)

The three forms are the peacock angel, Malak Tus; an old man, Šeiḫ ‘Adî (compare to the usual Christian portrayal in paintings of God as an old man with a long white beard); and a young man, Yazid (compare to the usual Christian paintings of Jesus as a healthy European-looking man with a beard and a beatific look – a similar look is seen in Shia portraits of Ali).

Since there is no way to talk to God, one must communicate with him through intermediaries (compare to intermediary saints like Mary in Catholicism and Ali in Shiism). The Devil is sort of a wall between the pure goodness of God and this admittedly imperfect world.

This is similar again to Gnosticism, where the pure good God created intermediaries called Aeons so that a world that includes evil (as our world does) could even exist in the first place. On the other hand, Malak Tus is seen my the Yezidis as neither an evil spirit nor a fallen angel, but as a divinity in his own right.

One wonders why the Malak Tus is represented by a bird. The answer is that worshiping birds is one of the oldest known forms of idol worship. It is even condemned in Deuteronomy 4: 16, 17: “Lest ye corrupt yourselves and make a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air.”

More likely, the peacock god is leftover from the ancient pagan bird-devil gods of the region. The ancient Babylonians, Assyrians both worshiped sacred devil-birds, and carvings of them can be seen on their temples. The Zoroastrians also worshiped a sort of devil-bird called a feroher.

A winged demon from ancient Assyria. Yezidism appears to have incorporated elements of ancient Babylonian and Assyrian religions, making it ultimately a very ancient religion. Note that devils often have wings like birds. Remember the flying monkey demons in the Wizard of Oz?

The pagan Phoenicians, Philistines and Samaritans worshiped a dove, and the early monotheistic Hebrews condemned the Samaritans for this idol-worship. The pagans of Mecca also worshiped a sacred dove. Pagan Arabian tribes also worshiped an eagle called Nasar.

What is truly odd is that peacocks are not native to the Yezidi region, but instead to the island of Sri Lanka. The Yezidis must have heard about this bird from travelers and incorporated it into their religion somehow.

In the Koran, both the Devil and the peacock were thrown out of Heaven down to Earth, with the Devil and the peacock both suffering similar punishments. So here we can see Islam associating the peacock with the Devil also.

In popular mythology, peacocks tend to represent pride. Note that the Koran says that the Devil was punished for excessive pride (compare with a similar Christian condemnation of excessive pride). Peacocks are problematic domestic fowl, and tend to tear up gardens, and so are associated with mischief.

The Yezidis revere Malak Tus to such a great extent that he is almost seen as one with God (compare the Catholic equation of Mary with Jesus, the Christian association of Jesus with God, and the Shia Muslim association of Ali with Mohammad).

Malak Tus was there from the start and will be there at the end, he has total control over the world, he is omniscient and omnipresent and he never changes. They do not allow anyone to say his name, as this seems to imply that he is degraded. Malak Tus is the King of the Angels, and he is ruling the Earth for a period of 10,000 years.

They also superstitiously avoid saying an word that resembles the word for Satan. When speaking Arabic, they refuse to use the Arabic shatt for river, as it sounds like the word for Satan. They substitute Kurdish ave instead. Compare this to the Kabbalist view of God as “that which can not even be comprehended (i.e., spoken) by man.

In addition to Malak Taus, there are six other angels: Izrafael, Jibrael, Michael, Nordael, Dardael, Shamnael, and Azazael. They were all at a meeting in Heaven when God told them that they would worship no one other than him. This worked for 40,000 years, until God mixed Earth, Air, Fire and Water to create Man, as Adam.

God told the seven angels to bow before Adam, and six agreed. Malak Taus refused, citing God’s order to obey only Him. Hence, Malak Taus was cast out of Heaven and became the Archangel of all the Angels. Compare this to the Christian and Muslim view of the Devil, the head of the angels, being thrown out of Heaven for the disobedience of excessive pride.

In the meantime, Malak Taus is said to have repented his sins and returned to God as an angel. So, yes, the Yezidis do worship the Devil, but in their religion, he is a good guy, not a bad guy. They are not a Satanic cult at all. In Sufism, the act of refusing to worship Adam (man) over God would be said to be a positive act, one of refusing to worship the created over the creator, as in Sufism, one is not to worship anything but God.

The Yezidis say that God created Adam and Eve, but when they were asked to produce their essences, Adam’s produced a boy, but Eve’s was full of insects and other unpleasant things. God decided that he would propagate humanity (the Yezidis) out of Adam alone, leaving Eve out of the picture. Specifically, he married Adam’s offspring to a houri.

We can see the traditional views of the Abrahamic religions of women as being sources of evil, tempters, sources of strife, conflict and other bad things. The Yezidis see themselves as different from all other humans. Whereas non-Yezidis are the products of Adam and Eve, Yezidis are the products of Adam alone.

Eve subsequently left the Garden of Eden, which allowed the world to be created. So, what the Abrahamic religions see as man’s greatest fall in the Garden, the Yezidis see as mankind’s greatest triumphs. The Yezidis feel that the rest of humanity of is descended from Ham, who mocked his father, God.

Compare this to the Abrahamic religions’ view of women as a source of corruption. Christians say that Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden, causing them to be tossed out. In Islam, women are regarded as such a source of temptation and fitna (dissension) that they are covered and often kept out of sight at all times. In Judaism, women’s hair is so tempting to men that they must shave it all off and wear wigs.

The Yezidis say they are descended directly from Adam, hence they are the Chosen People (compare to the Jewish view of themselves as “Chosen People”).

Yezidism being quite possible the present-day remains of the original religion of the Kurds, we must acknowledge that for the last 2000 years, the Yezidis have been fighting off other major religions. First Christianity came to the region.

As would be expected, the Nestorian Christians of Northern Iraq, or “Nasara” Christian apostates, as an older tradition saw them, hold that the Yezidis were originally Christians who left the faith to form a new sect. The Nestorians and other ancient Christian sects deny the human or dual nature of Jesus – instead seeing him as purely divine.

This is in contrast to another group also called “Nasara” in Koran – these being the early Jewish Christian sects such as the Ebionites, Nazarenes and Gnostics, who followed Jesus but denied his divine nature, believe only in the Book of Matthew, and retained many Jewish traditions, including revering the Jewish Torah, refusing to eat pork, keeping the Sabbath and circumcision.

Mohammad apparently based his interpretation of Christianity on these sects. The divinity of Jesus was denied in the Koran under Ebionite influence. The Koran criticizes Christians for believing in three Gods – God, Jesus and Mary – perhaps under the influence of what is called the “Marianistic heresy”. At the same time, the Koran confused human and divine qualities in Jesus due to Nestorian influence.

Finally, the Koran denied the crucifixion due to Gnostic influence, especially the apocryphal Gospel of Peter. The local Muslims, similarly, hold that the Yezidis are apostates, having originally been Muslims who left Islam to form a new religion.

There is considerable evidence that many Yezidis were formerly Christians, as the Christian story holds. Šeiḫ ’Adî, one of the tripartite of angels worshiped by the Yezidis, was a Sufi Muslim mystic from Northern Iraq in the 1100’s. He attracted many followers, including many Christians and some Muslims who left their faith to become Yezidis. Yezidism existed before Šeiḫ ’Adî, but in a different form.

Šeiḫ ’Adî also attracted many Persian Zoroastrians, who were withering under the boot of Muslim dhimmitude and occasional massacre in Iran. Šeiḫ ‘Adî (full name Šeiḫ ‘Adî Ibn Masafir Al-Hakkari) was a Muslim originally from Bait Far, in the Baalbeck region of the Bekaa Valley of what is now Eastern Lebanon.

He came to Mosul for spiritual reasons. He was said to be a very learned man, and many people started to follow him. After he built up quite a following, he retired to the mountains above Mosul where he built a monastery and lived as a hermit, spending much of his time in caves and caverns in the mountains with wild animals as his only guests.

His followers were said to worship him as a God and believed that in the afterlife, they would be together with him. He died in 1162 in the Hakkari region near Mosul. At the site of his death, the Yezidis erected a shrine and it became one of the holiest sites in the religion. However, Šeiḫ ’Adî is not the founder of Yezidism, as many believe. His life and thought just added to the many strains in this most syncretistic of religions.

The third deity in the pseudo-“Trinity” of the Yezidis is a young man named Yezid. They say they are all descended from this man, whom they often refer to as God, as they sometimes refer to Šeiḫ ’Adî. In Šeiḫ ’Adî’s temple, there are inscriptions to both Šeiḫ ’Adî and Yezid, each on opposing walls of the temple. In a corner of this temple, a fire, or actually a lamp, is kept burning all night, reminiscent of Zoroastrianism.

There is a lot of controversy about what the word Yezid in Yezidi stands for. The religion itself, in its modern form, probably grew out of followers of Yazid Ibn Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan, the 2nd Caliph in the Umayyad Dynasty of Caliphs. Yazid fought a battle against Mohammad’s grandson, Hussayn, in a battle for the succession of the Caliphate.

Hussayn’s followers were also the followers of Ali, the former caliph who was assassinated. The followers of Hussayn and Ali are today known as the Shia. The Sunni follow in the tradition of the Umayyads. In a battle in Karbala in 680, Hussayn and all his men were killed at Kufa and the women and children with them taken prisoner.

To the Shia, Yazid is the ultimate villain. Most Sunnis do not view him very favorably either, and regard the whole episode as emblematic of how badly the umma had fallen apart after Mohammad died.

Nevertheless, there had been groups of Sunnis who venerated Yazid Ibn Muawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyan and the Umayyads in general in northern Iraq for some time even before Šeiḫ ’Adî appeared on the scene. Šeiḫ ’Adî himself was descended from the Umayyads.

Reverence for Yazid Ibn Muawiyah mixed with the veneration of Šeiḫ ’Adî in the early Yezidis. It was this, mixed in with the earlier pagan beliefs of the Semites and Iranians discussed elsewhere, along with a dollop of Christianity, that formed the base of modern Yezidism. But its ultimate roots are far more ancient. Yezidism had a base, but it was not yet formed in its modern version.

Here we turn to the etymology of the word Yezidi. It is possible that the figure of “Yezid”, the young man-God in the Yezidi trinity, represents Yazid Ibn Muawiyah. By the mid-1200’s, the local Muslims were getting upset about the Yezidis excessive devotion to these two men. In the mid-1400’s the local Muslims fought a large battle against the Yezidis.

To this day, the top Yezidi mirs are all related to the Umayyads. Muslim scholars say that Yezid bin Unaisa was the founder of the modern-day Yezidis. Bin Unaisa was one of the early followers of the Kharijites, an early fanatical fundamentalist sect that resembled our modern-day Al Qaeda and other takfiri Salafi-jihadi terrorists. Bin Unaisa was said to be a follower of the earliest Kharijites.

These were the first Kharijites. Early split-offs from Ali’s army, they took part in the Battle of Nahrawan against Ali’s forces outside Madaen in what is now the Triangle of Death in Iraq. In 661, the Kharijites assassinated Ali, one of the penultimate moments in the Sunni-Shia split.

At some point, bin Unaisa split from the Kharijites, except for one of their early followers who were following a sect Al-Abaḍia, founded by ‘Abd-Allah Ibn Ibad. He said that any Muslim who committed a great sin was an infidel. Considering his fundamentalist past, he developed some very unorthodox views for a Muslim.

He said that God would send a new prophet to Persia (one more Iranian connection with the Yezidis), that God would send down a message to be written by this prophet in a book, and that this prophet would leave Islam and follow the religion of the Sabeans or Mandeans. Nevertheless, he continued to hold some Kharijite beliefs, including that God alone should be worshiped and that all sins were forms of idolatry.

In line with this analysis, the first Yezidis were a Kharijite subsect. The fact that bin Unaisa said that the new prophet would follow Sabeanism implies that he himself either followed this religion at one time or had a high opinion of it.

Muslim historians mention three main Sabean sects. They seemed to have derived in part from the ancient pagan religion of Mesopotamia. They were polytheists who worshiped the stars. After the Islamic conquest, they referred to themselves as Sabeans in order to receive protection as one of the People of the Book (the Quran mentions Jews, Christians and Sabeans and People of the Book).

One of the Sabean sects was called Al-Ḫarbâniyah. They believed that God dwelt within things that were good and rational. He had one essence but many appearances, in other words. God was pure good, and could not make anything evil. Evil was either accidental or necessary for life, or caused by an evil force. They also believed in the transmigration of souls (reincarnation).

It is interesting that the beliefs of this sect of Sabeans resemble the views of modern Yezidis. So Yezîd bn Unaisa believed in God and the Resurrection Day, he probably respected angels and the stars, yet he was neither polytheistic nor a true follower of Mohammad.

At the same time, he lined himself up with those People of the Book who said that Mohammad was a prophet, yet did not follow him (in this respect, he was similar to Western non-Muslims who acknowledge Mohammad as the prophet of the Arabs).

Although most orthodox histories of the Yezidis leave it out, it seems clear at this point that Yezîd bn Unaisa was the founder of the Yezidi religion in its modern form and that the Yezidis got their name from Yezîd bn Unaisa. This much may have been lost to time, for the Yezidis themselves say that Yezidi comes from the Kurdish word Yezdan or Êzid meaning God.

After naming their movement after Yezîd bn Unaisa, the Yezidis learned of Šeiḫ ‘Adî’s reputation, and become his followers, along with many Muslims, Christians and Iranians.

Like their founder, the Yezidis believe in God and the Resurrection, expect a prophet from Iran, revere angels and stars, regard every sin as idolatry, respect Mohammad as a prophet yet do not follow him and at the same time pay no attention to Ali (recall that the early Kharijites assassinated Ali). Being opposed to both Mohammad and Ali, bn Unaisa is logically despised by both the Sunni and the Shia.

The fact that the Yezidis renounced the prophet of the Arabs (Mohammad) while expecting a new one from Iran logically appealed to a lot of Persians at the time. Hence, many former Zoroastrians, or fire-worshipers, from Iran joined the new religion, surely injecting their strains into this most syncretistic of religions.

There is good evidence that many Yezidis are former Christians. The Yezidis around Mosul go by the surname of Daseni, of Dawasen in the plural. It so happens that there was a Nestorian diocese in Mosul called Daseni, or Dasaniyat. It disappeared around the time of Šeiḫ ’Adî. The implication is that so many of its members became Yezidis that the Diocese folded.

Furthermore, many names of Yezidi villages are actually names in the Syriac (Christian) language, more evidence that many Yezidis are former Christians.

Adding even more weight to this theory, the Yezidis retain two Christian customs – the baptism and the Eucharist.

The Yezidis must baptize their children at the earliest possible age and the priest puts his hand on the child’s head as her performs the rite. Both customs mirror the Christian baptism precisely.

When a Yezidi couple marries, they go to a local Nestorian Church to partake of the Eucharist. The cup of wine they drink is called the cup of Isa (Jesus). The Yezidi have great respect for Christian saints and houses of worship, and kiss the doors and walls of churches when they enter them.

When a Yezidi woman goes to the home of her bridegroom on wedding day, she is supposed to visit every every religious temple along the way, even the churches. On the other hand, Yezidis never enter a mosque. Sadly, the Yezidi reverence for Christianity is not returned by the Eastern Christians, who despise the Yezidis as devil-worshipers.

They revere both Jesus and Mohammad as religious teachers, not as prophets. They have also survived via a hefty dose of taqqiya, or dissimulation, in this case pretending outwardly to be some species of Shia Muslims.

This is common for minority faiths around the region, including the Alawi and Druze, who have both proclaimed at the top of their lungs that they are Muslims and have hidden to the aspects of their religion which would cause the Muslims to disown them at best or kill them at worst. The primary Islamic influence on the Yezidis is actually Sufism, not Shiism per se.

There are traces of other religions – Hinduism may possibly be seen in the five Yezidi castes, from top to bottom – Pir, Shaikh, Kawal, Murabby, and Mureed (followers). Mureeds are about on a par with Dalits or Untouchables in Hinduism. Marriage across castes is strictly forbidden, as it has been disapproved in India.

On the other hand, pre-Islamic Iran also had a caste system, and the base of the Yezidi religion seems to be derived from Persian Zoroastrianism. The Yezidi, like the Druze and the Zoroastrians, do not accept converts, and like the Druze, think that they will be reincarnated as their own kind (Druze think they will be reincarnated as Druze; Yezidis think they will be reincarnated as Yezidis).

The Yezidis can be considered fire-worshipers in a sense; they obviously got this from the Zoroastrians. The Yezidis say, “Without fire, there would be no life.” This is true even in our modern era, if we substitute “electrical power” for fire, our lives would surely diminish. Even today, when Kurdish Muslims swear on an oath, they say, “I swear by this fire…”

Many say there is a resemblance between Malak Taus and the Assyrian God Tammuz, though whether the name Malak Taus is actually derived from Tammuz is much more problematic. Tammuz was married to the Assyrian moon goddess, Ishtar. But this connection is not born out by serious inquiry.

Ishtar the Goddess of the Moon, here represented as a bird goddess. Worship of birds is one of the oldest forms of pagan idolatry known to man. What is it about birds that made them worthy of worship by the ancients? The miracle of flight?

Where do the Yezidis come from? The Yezidis themselves say that they came from the area around Basra and the lower Euphrates, then migrated to Syria and then to Sinjar, Mosul and Kurdistan.

In addition to worshiping a bird-god, there are other traces of the pre-Islamic pagan religions of the Arabs in Yezidism.

They hold the number 7 sacred, a concept that traces back to the ancient Mesopotamians. The Yezidis have seven sanjaks, and each one has seven burners of the flame, their God created seven angels and the sculpture carved on the temple of Šeiḫ ’Adî has seven branches.

The Sabeans, another ancient religion of Mesopotamia who are now called star-worshipers by their detractors, also worshiped seven angels who guided the courses of seven planets – it is from this formulation that our seven days of the week are derived. In the ancient religion of Assyria, Ishtar descended through seven gates to the land of no return. The ancient Hebrews likewise utilized the number seven in their religion.

An ancient seven-armed candelabra, a symbol nowadays used in the Jewish religion, with demonic sea monsters drawn on the base.

The Yezidis worship the sun and moon at their rising and setting, following the ancient Ḥarranians, a people who lived long ago somewhere in northern Iraq. Sun-worship and moon-worship are some of the oldest religious practices of Man. The ancient pagans of Canaan worshiped the Sun.

At the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the religion practiced there had little in common with Talmudic Judaism of today. For instance, the horses of the Sun were worshiped at that temple (see II Kings 25: 5, 11). The ancient Judeans, who the modern-day Jews claim spiritual connection with, actually worshiped the “host of heaven” – the Sun, the Moon and the Planets. So much for “the original monotheists, eh?

In Babylonia, there were two temples to the Sun-God Shamas.

Another pre-Islamic Arab pagan belief is the belief in sacred wells and sanctuaries that contain them. The springs contain water that has curative powers. The holy water found at the Zamzam Well in Mecca is an example; even to this day, Muslims bottle the water and carry it off for this purpose. Often sacred clothes are used to make these pilgrimages, because ordinary clothes are thought to contaminate the holy site.

In pre-Islamic days, when the pagans circled the rock at the Kaaba, they were completely naked. In Islam, men and women are supposed to remove their clothing and wear a special garb as they circulate around the rock. In Mandeanism, both men and women go to the Mishkana, or tabernacle, take off their clothes, and bathe in the circular pool. Emerging, they put on the rasta, a ceremonial white garment.

At the temple of Šeiḫ ‘Adî, there is a sacred pool. The Yezidis throw coins, jewelry and other things into this pool as offerings. They think that Šeiḫ ‘Adî takes these things from time to time. And they must remove their clothes, bathe and wear a special garment when they visit the holy valley where this temple resides.

The ancient Arabs also worshiped trees. There were sacred trees at Nejran, Hadaibiya and Mecca. The pagans hung women’s ornaments, fine clothes, ostrich eggs, weapons and other items.

Similarly, the Yezidis also worship trees. They have their favorite trees, and sick people go to these trees and hang pieces of cloth on them, hoping to get well, and believe that whoever takes one of these down will get sick with whatever disease the person who hung the cloth had.

An inscription of a sacred tree from Ancient Babylonian civilization. Trees were worshiped not just in ancient Arabia; they were also worshiped in Mesopotamia.The Christian Trinity combined with the pagan Tree of Life, in an interesting ancient Chaldean inscription that combines pagan and Christian influences. The Tree of Life was also utilized in Kabbalism, Jewish mysticism from the Middle Ages. Nowadays the symbol is used by practitioners of both White and Black Magic. Radical Islam is committing genocide once again on the Christians of Iraq, including the Chaldeans.Yet another Tree of Life, this time from ancient Assyria, an ancient civilization in Mesopotamia. The concept of a tree of life is a pagan concept of ancient pedigree.

The ancient Meccans used to worship stones. At one point the population became so large that they had to move out of the valley where the Kaaba resided, so when they formed their new settlements, they took rocks from the holy place and piled them outside their settlements and made a sort of shrine out of these things, parading around the rock pile as they moved around the Kaaba.

In Palestine, there were sacred wells at Beersheba and Kadesh, a sacred tree at Shekem and a sacred rock at Bethel. As in animism, it was believed that divine powers or spirits inhabited these rocks, trees and springs. This tradition survives to this day in the folk religion of the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.

The Yezidis also have certain stones that they worship. They kiss these stones in reverence.

When the Yezidis reach the goal of their pilgrimage or hajj, they become very excited and start shouting. After fasting all day, they have a big celebration in the evenings, with singing and dancing and gorging on fine dishes.

This hajj, where they worship a spring under Šeiḫ ‘Adî’s tomb called Zamzam and then climb a mountain and shoot off guns, is obviously taken from the Muslim hajj. Mecca has a Zamzam Spring, and pilgrims climb Mount ‘Arafat on hajj.

The shouting, feasting, singing, dancing and general excitement is typical of a pagan festival. The non-Yezidi neighbors of the Yezidis claim that Yezidis engage in immoral behavior on this hajj. No one knows if this is true or not, but if they do, it may be similar to the festivals of the Kadeshes discussed in the Old Testament, where people engaged in licentious behavior in their temples.

Although the Yezidis have a strict moral code, observers say that they allow adultery if both parties are willing. That’s pretty open-minded for that part of the world.

This research takes a lot of time, and I do not get paid anything for it. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a a contribution to support more of this valuable research.

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The Yezidis – A Mysterious Kurdish Religious Sect

About two years after the publication of this post, I wrote an update to this article, Do the Yezidis Worship the Devil? which goes into much more detail about the religion.

Since hardly anyone has any idea about who or what the Yezidis of Northern Iraq are, an introduction is in order. The Yezidis are a minority religious group that lives in Northern Iraq, Eastern Turkey, Eastern Syria, Armenia, Northwestern Iran, Georgia, Russia and Germany.

Some estimates put the number of Yezidis at 100,000. However, Yezidi spokesmen say there are 600,000 Yezidis, mostly in Iraq. Other estimates put the number of Yezidis as high as 2 million. There are 10,000 Yezidi refugees in Germany. German Yezidis have created a home page to help introduce others to their religion, but unfortunately it is all in German.

The Yezidis are more of a religious than an ethnic grouping. All Yezidis are Kurds and they all speak Kurdish. In Iraq, most of them live north of Mosul and in the Sinjar Mountains near the Syrian border. There are also Yezidis in Tel Afar, Mosul and the city of Sinjar. Iraq’s Yezidis are seizing Iraq’s democratic moment to press for their rights for the first time.

Yezidis have long been persecuted by Muslims as heathens and devil-worshipers. Although it’s true that the Yezidis worship a peacock angel they call Lucifer, they are basically good, upstanding, moral people. They are not in any way analogous to the actual devil-worshipers who exist in the West, like Anton Levay’s Church of Satan (COS), etc.

Yezidis do not believe in Heaven or Hell and they do not regard Satan, who they regard as the Chief of the Angels, as evil. Instead, he is sacred. The Yezidis feel the Devil created the world and is de facto in charge right now. From the perspective of my life at the moment, those scenarios seem distinctly possible.

Yezidis are allowed to eat pork, unlike Muslims. But bizarrely, they cannot eat lettuce (because the Kurdish word for lettuce rhymes with their word for devil) or wear yellow. This dietary code is not often followed these days. The restriction on eating lettuce may have been due to outbreaks of E. Coli.

Like the Zoroastrians, Yezidis do not accept converts – a tendency which may result in the end of Yezidism with time. Yezidism shares many things with Zoroastrianism, and some commenters regard it as either a Zoroastrian sect or a religion with roots in Zoroastrianism.

My opinion is that a synthesis between Zoroastrianism, Islam, Judaism and pre-religious paganism is more accurate. It is likely the Yezidism predates all of these – Zoroastrianism, Islam and Judaism – in fact, it may be one of the oldest extant human religions.

Somewhat similar to the caste system of Hinduism, another ancient religion, Yezidis have seven levels of initiation, or classes. The classes are princes, sheiks, senators, seers, ascetics and the community of the faithful. The large faith community class makes up 70% of the community.

This split, with a small elite sect who retain most of the (oral) knowledge of the religion and a large majority of mere followers who are kept in the dark about most of the religion, is also similar to other “secret” religions in the area, including the Sabeans, the Druze and Alawi.

The Alawi of Syrian and Lebanon are a highly divergent Shia sect, a split-off from the extremist Nusairi split early in the history of Shiism. Although the Druze call themselves Muslims, it is probable that they are not Muslims at all, since their religion is so divergent. Instead, like Bahaism, the Druze religion is more properly considered to be related to Islam, rather than part of Islam proper.

The Druze date back to the 1100’s and also seem to be the result of a Shia split, similar to the split that birthed Alawism. Both sects persisted via extreme tribalism, refusing intermarriage, accepting no converts, keeping their religion secret, pretending to be Muslims to avoid persecution while still practicing the religion in secret, and especially, seeking shelter in the difficult, mountainous terrain of the Levant.

The Sabeans or Mandeans of Iraq are probably the last remains of the ancient Gnostic religion; they may also be former Diasporic Sephardic Jews who split off from Judaism in Iraq around the year 600. The Mandeans also worship the North Star, revere John the Baptist and consider Jesus Christ as the font of all evil on Earth!

In Yezidism, marriage across classes is strictly forbidden, again reminiscent of Hinduism. However, people do marry across caste nonetheless. Although the new Iraqi regime is basically a puppet regime of US colonialism, at least the Yezidis do have three members of the new Iraqi Parliament, all elected on the Kurdish list.

Saddam’s regime persecuted the Yezidis first for being Kurds and second for their religion as they were viewed as heathens. Yes, Saddam’s regime was not completely secular. Under Saddam’s extremely racist, fascist-like, Sunni Arab Nationalist regime, Yezidis, Kurds, Assyrians, Shia and Turkomen were all persecuted by the Ba’ath Party.

For instance, Assyrian Christians were denied an identity by the Baath and referred to as “Kurdish Christians”. The Baath forbade the use of the Assyrian or Turkoman languages in the schools. Yezidi religious studies have been banned in Iraq since 1963, the year of the Baathist coup.

In its censuses, Baathist Arab nationalist racists called the Yezidis “an Arabic people”, clearly a falsehood. Saddam’s racist Arab regime engaged in ethnic cleansing of the Yezidis on several occasions. Usually, the Yezidis were driven off their land onto other lands, and their land was given to nearby Arabs.

In 1978, 126 Yezidi villages in Sinjar were “collectivized” into 10 villages while 10 villages near Dahuk were destroyed and the villagers were forced into another village. The new villages created for the Yezidis lacked even basic health care, and it was hard to earn a living. Arab invaders who colonized Yezidi lands forbade the Yezidi from herding animals, and the new villages the Yezidis were pushed into lacked decent pasture.

In 1997, two Yezidi teachers from Elqush were arrested by Saddam’s intelligence services and tortured until they agreed to stop teaching the Yezidi religion.

In the same year, in Ayn Sufna, Baathists stole 1,500 Yezidi properties and gave them to Arab and Kurdish tribes in the region. Saddam’s army surrounded a Yezidi village in 2000, but left after the Yezidis staged a defiant demonstration.

In the no-fly zones formed by the allies in the Kurdish Regional Government area of Iraq instituted after the Gulf War, the Yezidis have fared much better than they did under Saddam.

They liberated many villages that were seized by Arab colonists and today in school, classes in the Yezidi religion are even taught in areas where there are good numbers of Yezidi pupils. However, since the US invasion, the Yezidi situation in some ways has worsened.

The entire north of Iraq has come under the control of Kurdish racist fascist parties, the KDP and PUK. These parties are lately promoting a sort of Kurdish Sunni racism which attacks Sunni and Shia Arabs, Shia, Christian and Yezidi Kurds and Assyrian Christians – in short, everyone who is not a Sunni Kurd.

The racist Sunni Kurds succeeded in preventing large numbers of all of these groups from voting in the election in February 2005.

In the case of the Yezidis, Kurdish racists never even allowed polling stations to open in a number of Yezidi zones. Racist Sunni Kurds have been attacking and ethnically cleansing Assyrian Christian villages in the north for decades now, a process which accelerated when the Allies granted the Kurds their Kurdish Zone in 1991.

This is a continuation of long-standing Kurdish Sunni Muslim racism against Assyrian Christians extending back to the 1920’s. In that decade, Kurdish Muslims gleefully slaughtered huge numbers of Assyrians in a naked display of Islamist bigotry that reached genocidal proportions.

Formally, the Yezidi religion was founded in the 1100’s by Sheikh Uday bin Masafel al-Amawi. Uday was born in Damascus but died in Shaikan in northern Iraq. His tomb in Shaikan is now Yezidism’s holiest site. As noted above, many scholars trace Yezidism to one of the world’s oldest extant religions, Zoroastrianism, founded in ancient Persia.

Traditionally, Yezidism is variously regarded as either an offshoot of Zoroastrianism or Shia Islam. Those who say the Yezidis are Shia hold that they are an extreme Shia “Sevener” Ismaili sect similar to the Druze and the Alawi (see discussion of the Alawi and Druze above).

A better analysis is to regard Yezidism as a syncretic mix between Zoroastrianism and Shia Islam.

Others note Judaic traits in the Yezidis; some suggest that the Yezidis are former Jews who broke away from Judaism and formed a new religion. Indeed, some theorists that the Kurds in general are former Jews. See Rabbi Joe Katz’s Eretzyisroel site for more on that interesting theory, which may have some validity.

The best analysis would leaven the Zoroastrian-Shia syncretism of Yezidism with dollops of Judaism and tablespoons of ancient paganism, while noting the Yezidism is probably older than any of its parts, except for the pagan.

Oddly enough, the Yezidis have a monk and nun class, men and women who dress in white and have taken a vow of celibacy. Yezidis are also said to be sun worshipers, in another similarity with Zoroastrianism.

A famous Yezidi, Sharfadin, has a tomb in Sinjar. Sharfadin also serves as a personified sun god. Note that sun-worship is one of the most ancient of human religious tenets, dating back to the Egyptians and probably beyond.

The leader of the Yezidis is a prince called mir, or mireh shekha. The Yezidi religion is passed down orally through families and officially, there are no Yezidi religious texts. However, closer analysis seems to reveal that there are a couple of Yezidi holy books, but they are hidden by followers, and their existence is denied to outsiders.

Outsiders have somehow managed to get a hold of a couple of copies of these holy texts, or at least parts of them, and they have been published, both in print and on the Internet. Some say that these supposed Yezidi holy texts are actually fakes, and that no extant holy texts exist, as all knowledge is oral.

I glanced through the material in these texts along with an analysis of them. Shall we say that Yezidism is an immensely complex religion and that this article does not begin to tickle out an understanding of it?

Kakaism is another Kurdish sect that is very similar to Yezidism. It arose 1000 years ago in northern Iraq due to conflicts between the Umayyad rulers of Islam and the Zoroastrian priesthood. Kakais, like Yezidis, are forbidden from cursing Satan on religious grounds. Hence, many Muslims see them, like the Yezidis, as devil-worshipers. There are 300,000 Kakais in Kurdistan.

This research takes a lot of time, and I do not get paid anything for it. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a a contribution to support more of this valuable research.

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