Category Archives: Yezidism

Multi-Ethnic Fascism?

Hasbrudal writes: Isn’t fascism just a kind of ultra-nationalism, the most important thing is what defines the nation, if it’s a multi-ethnic nation, the fascism will reflect that. If the nation is defined in very narrow terms, e.g. how the Croatian fascists during WW2 viewed Serbs, despite having much more in common on the surface than a Tartar and a Slav from St Petersburg, then it can get very granular. I don’t think Mussolini or Franco gave too much thought to the “Jewish Question” without prompting from Berlin.

There is no such thing as multi-ethnic fascism as far as I can tell. There has never been one single case of multi-ethnic fascism recorded in history. This is probably because the phrase is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron. If it’s fascism, it’s not multi-ethnic. If it’s multi-ethnic, it’s not fascism. Period.

In a fascist state, when there are multiple ethnicities, religions or languages spoken, the fascists always, always, always, try to wipe out all of the ethnicities and turn them into a single ethnicity and wipe out all the religions and get everyone to speak one national language. For instance, Franco tried to turn everyone in Spain into a Spaniard who spoke Spanish. Hence he waged war on all of the other ethnicities and their languages. Mussolini waged war on all of the other languages in Italy (falsely called Italian dialects), not to mention the non-Italian languages in Italy. I think he went easy on the Germans in the north so as not to anger Hitler.

Fascism is a sort of nation-building run wild, or you can think like I do and say that all nation-building in the modern era is basically fascist, which it is. This is because all nation-building projects try to dissolve all of the ethnicities in the country and turn them all into one ethnicity and try to wipe out all of the languages in the country and make everyone speak one language.

In the case of religion, fascists would probably try to wipe out all of the other religions and force everyone to be a particular religion. The Croatian Ustashe actually ordered Serbs to convert to Catholicism or die in a similar way that Islam was converted by the sword (convert to Islam or die). ISIS is practicing this sort of convert or die Islam right now. This convert or die method of spreading Islam is very much in the Muslim historical tradition no matter how much Muslims lie and say it isn’t.

As you can probably tell, I do not think too much of nation-building projects. However, I have met people from the 3rd World who justified nation-building projects in strong terms. One man I know was an Iranian Azeri who spoke Azerbaijani but justified the Iranian government’s attempt to wipe out the Azeri language as a necessary step that Iran would have to go through in order to build a nation.

Nation-building projects are also often accompanied by mass killings. The emergence of the state of Israel, birthed in blood like so many new nations, is a good contemporary example of bloody nation-building.

Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Abkhazia, Kurdistan, Lithuania and Latvia are all modern examples of it. The first four were all quite bloody. One of the disgusting things about nationalism and nationalists is that when the nationalists are a minority in state dominated by another ethnic group, they are all about minority rights, decentralization, regionalism, federalism, autonomy, etc.

Then as soon as these nationalist punks get their independence, what’s the first thing they try to do? The first thing they do is persecute all of the new minorities in the land where they are now a majority. Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, and Kurdistan are excellent examples of this. Kurdistan is a particularly awful example, as in Southern Kurdistan only Sunni Muslim Kurds have full rights. Non-Kurds? Of course not. Kurdish Yezidis? Nope. Kurdish Christians? No. Kurdish Shabakis? No. Kurdish Shia Muslims? Nope. Assyrian Christians? Are you kidding? They are not even Kurds. Sunni Muslim Arabs? Not at all. Shia Muslims Arabs? Even worse.

In the first elections in Southern Kurdistan, everyone except for Sunni Muslim Kurds was seriously disenfranchised. I mean in a lot of places they were actually denied the right to vote. Non-Kurdish Sunni Muslims were also driven out of many villages in order that they could be populated by Sunni Muslim Kurds.

With independence, Georgia immediately said that everyone in Georgia was a Georgian and revoked the ethnic and linguistic rights of everyone else. This was the cause of the Ossetian and Abkhazian rebellions. Russia had nothing to do with either of them, especially as they started back in 1991 when Gorbachev was President.

With the new fascist Nazi coup in the Ukraine, the rights of Russian speakers were revoked, and their supporters and politicians were murdered. Keep in mind that the CIA was up their knees in all of this. Everyone was a Ukrainian. No one else had any rights. Hence the declarations of independence in Crimea and the Donbass. Russia had nothing to do with those declarations of independence. Those are Russian speakers in those areas, and they despise Ukrainian nationalists who they call Nazis (because they are).

Keep in mind that Crimea never agreed to become a part of an independent Ukraine. As soon as Ukraine declared its independence, the Crimeans said they were not a part of this new country. Several referenda were held in Crimea early on, and the votes were 80-90% for independence.

The new Ukrainian state subsequently calmed them down, and for the next 20-some years the Ukraine was in a stalemate with maybe half the population supporting radical Ukrainian Nazi nationalists and the other half more pro-Russian or wanting a federal state, including all of the non-Russian minorities in Ukraine, of which there are quite a few. So Crimean independence has nothing at all do with Putin, as it started way back in 1991 under Gorbachev as with the Georgian separatist splits.

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New Islamic State Videos

This one is from just today, and it shows ISIS engaged in heavy fighting against the Syria Arab Army (SAA) in the east of Homs. Look at all the equipment they must have seized from the SAA.

Warning: There are a lot of dead bodies from the middle of the video on. There is also corpse desecration where two SAA fighters bodies’ are dragged behind a truck.

The next one is from ISIS Afghanistan and is called The Raid of Opening Goodness – Wilāyat Khurāsān. It just came out, but it was shot before mid-October because the mullah who is preaching throughout the video was killed at that time. Wilāyat Khurāsān is the name of the ISIS province that encompasses Afghanistan, part of Iran and Pakistan. This region is historically known as “Khorasan.”

Nangharhar is a far eastern province of the country where Jalalabad is located. At the far end is the Khyber Pass. This area has long been radical. The Taliban had a huge force here, and Yunus Khalis’ group was also headquarted here. Tora Bora is located in the far south of the province, and it is from here that Osama bin Laden made his escape after 9-11.

This area is all Pashtun, and Pashtuns are the backbone of the Taliban insurgency. In fact, you could almost say that the Taliban are an ethnic army of Pashtuns that pursues Pashtun ethnic interests. Although Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group in the country, there are also a number of other ethnic groups in Afghanistan, and ethnic tensions are long-lasting. The Karzai government was also Pashtun, so you can see that the Pashtuns are split between supporting the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The radical nature of the Taliban’s rule was based not so much on Islam as on the conservative norms of rural Pashtun villagers. This is why the girls were thrown out of school and whatnot. The extreme secreting away of women is also related to a part of Pashtun culture, a system of beliefs known as Pashtunwala. The hiding of women is a part of this legal code called purdah. Once a girl reaches 12 years old, she goes into purdah in which she hides herself away from the rest of the community. I believe women stay hidden for the most part even as adults.

Nangharhar is also reportedly the headquarters for ISIS in Afghanistan. In October, ISIS overrun a number of Afghan government bases and checkpoints in Nangharhar.

This video shows the overrunning of an Afghan army base in the desolate terrain of Nangharhar. The base was completely overrun, and all of the defenders were killed. Then all of the equipment was looted. Look at the classic attire of these fighters especially at the end when the mullah is giving his speech. They look exactly like the Taliban. The man with the long robe and scarf to the left wears an outfit remarkably like that worn by Mullah Omar, former head of the Taliban. There are a couple of very young males to the right who look like teenagers with their tousled curly hair. I felt that the Whiteness of some of these fighters was remarkable, and in fact, Afghans in this part of the country are quite White.

Warning: there are a number of dead bodies in this video from about the middle on.

Here is another one called Aspects of the Progress of the Battle in Sinjār Mountain – Wilāyat al-Jazīrah. This part of the far northwestern Iraq and far northeastern Syria near the Syria-Iraq border is also kn own historically as Jazirah, especially the Syrian part. I feel like this fighting probably took place a long time ago when ISIS was overrunning this area and the tragedy of the Yazidis occurred.

There is only one dead body seen in this video.

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Slavery in the Muslim World: The Tradition Is Not Yet Dead

From here.

Bottom line is, yes, slavery has been present in the Islamic World from Day One. In fact, one can make a case that slavery was an inherent and even emblematic aspect of Islam since its inception. It only left the Muslim World due to pressure from the West when the West emancipated its own slaves in the late 1800’s. Officially, most of the Muslim World dumped theirs. Yet the practice continued. Saudi Arabia only outlawed slavery in 1962. An advertisement for a castrated Black slave for sale recently appeared in a Saudi publication. Mauritania only outlawed slavery a few years ago, and the ban is hardly enforced.

As societies collapsed, the peculiar institution experienced a recrudescence. Libyan ports now export many slaves destined for Europe. Syrian teenage girls in Jordanian refugee camps are trafficked to brothels in Amman and sold to visiting Gulf men for $140-175 for a “temporary marriage.” In Northern Nigeria, even before Boko Haram kidnapped scores of teenage Christian girls, Muslim men had been importing concubine slave girls from the north to serve as “fifth wives.” The abuse and rape of female domestics in the Gulf who are little more than slaves of their owners has been documented for years.

Worst of all is the migrant labor scam that the Gulf states have been running for decades involving workers from South Asia, especially Pakistan and India,  and Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines. For all intents and purposes, work which is tied to contracts with the employer is little more than slavery, let’s face it. Gulf employers of these men have referred to them as slaves. They are housed in the most miserable conditions in a very wealthy country and worked to exhaustion and sometimes to death in ferocious heat with little protection or rest. A number of deaths have occurred to poor working conditions. Some poor countries to the east have forbidden their workers from going to the Gulf to work. There has been a bit of a crackdown, but it was mostly fake. Kuwait gave its “slaves” rights recently, but the Emir has not yet signed the bill. Qatar is worried about its reputation as the Olympics are coming soon, but its response instead of cleaning up its act has been to cover the whole mess up and beat up and detain the protesters. Any progress elsewhere in the Gulf has been frozen in recent years. Instead we get the predictable fake backlash whereby the Gulf states say that critics of their Slave System are “Islamophobes.”

The progress for serious progressive change for alleviating remaining vestiges of slavery in the Arab World seem dim at the moment as the region undergoes a retrenchment, a backlash and a hardening of reaction.

The link between Islam and slavery goes back from the start, so ISIS is not doing anything new. The fact that the formal Muslim states of the world continue to refuse to clean up their mess is most discouraging, but it too may be blamed on tradition.

“Spoils of war,” snaps Dabiq, the English-language journal of Islamic State (IS). The reference is to thousands of Yazidi women the group forced into sex slavery after taking their mountain, Sinjar, in August last year. Far from being a perversion, it claims that forced concubinage is a religious practice sanctified by the Koran.

In a chapter called Women, the Koran sanctions the marriage of up to four wives, or “those that your right hands possess”. Literalists, like those behind the Dabiq article, have interpreted these words as meaning “captured in battle”.

Its purported female author, Umm Sumayyah, celebrated the revival of Islam’s slave-markets and even proffered the hope that Michelle Obama, the wife of America’s president, might soon be sold there. “I and those with me at home prostrated to Allah in gratitude on the day the first slave-girl entered our home,” she wrote. Sympathizers have done the same, most notably the allied Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, which last year kidnapped an entire girls’ school in Chibok.

Religious preachers have responded with a chorus of protests. “The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus,” declared an open letter sent by 140 Muslim scholars to IS’s “caliph”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, earlier this year. “You have taken women as concubines and thus revived…corruption and lewdness on the earth.”

But while IS’s embrace of outright slavery has been singled out for censure, religious and political leaders have been more circumspect about other “slave-like” conditions prevalent across the region. IS’s targeting of an entire sect for kidnapping, killing and sex trafficking, and its bragging, are exceptional; forced labor for sexual and other forms of exploitation is not.

From Morocco, where thousands of children work as petites bonnes, or maids, to the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan where girls are forced into prostitution, to the unsanctioned rape and abuse of domestics in the Gulf, aid workers say servitude is rife.

Scholars are sharply divided over how much cultural mores are to blame. Apologists say that, in a concession to the age, the Prophet Muhammad tolerated slavery, but—according to a prominent American theologian trained in Salafi seminaries, Yasir Qadhi—he did so grudgingly and advocated abolition.

Repeatedly in the Koran the Prophet calls for the manumission of slaves and release of captives, seeking to alleviate the slave systems run by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Jewish Himyarite kings of Yemen. He freed one slave, a chief’s daughter, by marrying her, and chose Bilal, another slave he had freed, to recite the first call to prayer after his conquest of Mecca. His message was liberation from worldly oppression, says Mr Qadhi  – enslavement to God, not man.

Other scholars insist, however, that IS’s treatment of Yazidis adheres to Islamic tradition. “They are in full compliance with Koranic understanding in its early stages,” says Professor Ehud Toledano, a leading authority on Islamic slavery at Tel Aviv University. Moreover, “what the Prophet has permitted, Muslims cannot forbid.”

The Prophet’s calls to release slaves only spurred a search for fresh stock as the new empire spread, driven by commerce, from sub-Saharan Africa to the Persian Gulf.

To quash a black revolt in the salt mines of southern Iraq, the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad conscripted Turkish slaves into their army. Within a few generations these formed a power base, and from 1250 to 1517 an entire slave caste, the Mamluks (Arabic for “chattel”), ruled Egypt.

A path to power

Their successors, the Ottoman Turks, perfected the system. After conquering south-eastern Europe in the late 14th century, they imposed the devshirme, or tribute, enslaving the children of the rural poor, on the basis that they were more pagan than Christian, and therefore not subject to the protections Islam gave to People of the Book. Far from resisting this, many parents were happy to deliver their offspring into the white slave elite that ran the empire.

Under this system, enslaved boys climbed the ranks of the army and civil service. Girls entered the harem as concubines to bear sultans. All anticipated, and often earned, power and wealth. Unlike the feudal system of Christian Europe, this one was meritocratic and generated a diverse gene pool. Mehmet II, perhaps the greatest of the Ottoman sultans, who ruled in the 15th century, had the fair skin of his mother, a slave girl from the empire’s north-western reaches.

All this ended because of abolition in the West. After severing the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 19th century, Western abolitionists turned on the Islamic world’s, and within decades had brought down a system that had administered not just the Ottoman empire but the Sherifian empire of Morocco, the Sultanate of Oman with its colonies on the Swahili-speaking coast and West Africa’s Sokoto Caliphate.

With Western encouragement, Serb and Greek rebels sloughed off devshirme. Fearful of French ambitions, the mufti of Tunis wooed the British by closing his slave-markets in 1846. A few years later, the sultan in Istanbul followed suit.

Some tried to resist, including Morocco’s sultan and the cotton merchants of Egypt, who had imported African slaves to make up the shortages left by the ravages of America’s civil war. But colonial pressure proved unstoppable. Under Britain’s consul-general, Evelyn Baring, Earl of Cromer, Egypt’s legislative assembly dutifully abolished slavery at the end of the 19th century. The Ottoman register for 1906 still lists 194 eunuchs and 500 women in the imperial harem, but two years later they were gone.

For almost a century the Middle East, on paper at least, was free of slaves. “Human beings are born free, and no one has the right to enslave, humiliate, oppress or exploit them,” proclaimed the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam in 1990. Early jihadist groups followed the trend, characterizing themselves as liberation movements and, as such, rejecting slavery.

But though slavery per se may be condemned, observers point to the persistence of servitude. The Global Slavery Index (GSI), whose estimates are computed by an Australian NGO working with Hull University, claims that of 14 states with over 1% of the population enslaved, more than half are Muslim. Prime offenders range from the region’s poorest state, Mauritania, to its richest per head, Qatar.

The criteria and data used by GSI have been criticized, but evidence supports the thrust of its findings. Many Arab states took far longer to criminalize slavery than to ban it. Mauritania, the world’s leading enslaver, did not do so until 2007. Where bans exist, they are rarely enforced. The year after Qatar abolished slavery in 1952, the emir took his slaves to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Government inspections and prosecutions are rarities. “The security chiefs, the judges and the lawyers all belong to the class that historically owned slaves,” says Sarah Mathewson of London-based Anti-Slavery International. “They are part of the problem.”

No labor practice has drawn more international criticism than the kafala system, which ties migrant workers to their employers. This is not slavery as IS imposes it; migrants come voluntarily, drawn by the huge wealth gap between their own countries and the Gulf. But the system “facilitates slavery”, says Nicholas McGeehan, who reports for Human Rights Watch on conditions in the desert camps where most such workers live.

The Gulf’s 2.4m domestic servants are even more vulnerable. Most do not enjoy the least protection under labor laws. Housed and, in some cases, locked in under their employer’s roof, they are prey to sexual exploitation.

Irons and red-hot bars

Again, these workers have come voluntarily; but disquieting echoes persist. Many Gulf nationals can be heard referring to their domestics as malikat (slaves). Since several Asian governments have suspended or banned their female nationals from domestic work in the Gulf out of concern for their welfare, recruitment agencies are turning to parts of Africa, such as Uganda, which once exported female slaves. Some domestic servants are abused with irons and red-hot bars: resonant, says Mr McGeehan, of slave-branding in the past.

Elsewhere in the region, the collapse of law and order provides further cover for a comeback of old practices. Syrian refugee camps in Jordan provide a supply of girls for both the capital’s brothels and for Gulf men trawling websites, which offer short-term marriages for brokerage fees of $140-270 each. Trafficking has soared in Libya’s Mediterranean ports, which under the Ottomans exported sub-Saharan labor to Europe. Long before Boko Haram kidnapped girls, Anti-Slavery International had warned that Nigerian businessmen were buying “fifth wives”—concubines alongside the four wives permitted by Islam—from neighboring Niger.

Gulf states insist they are dealing with the problem. In June Kuwait’s parliament granted domestic servants labor rights, the first Gulf state to do so. It is also the only Gulf state to have opened a refuge for female migrants. Qatar, fearful that reported abuses might upset its hosting of the World Cup in 2022, has promised to improve migrant housing.

And earlier this year Mauritania’s government ordered preachers at Friday prayers to publicize a fatwa by the country’s leading clerics declaring: “Slavery has no legal foundation in sharia law.” Observers fear, though, that this is window-dressing. And Kuwait’s emir has yet to ratify the new labour-rights law.

Rather than stop the abuse, Gulf officials prefer to round on their critics, accusing them of Islamophobia just as their forebears did. Oman and Saudi Arabia have long been closed to Western human-rights groups investigating the treatment of migrants. Now the UAE and Qatar, under pressure after a wave of fatalities among workers building venues for the 2022 World Cup, are keeping them out, too.

Internal protests are even riskier. Over the past two years hundreds of migrant laborers building Abu Dhabi’s Guggenheim and Louvre Museums have been detained, roughed up and deported, says Human Rights Watch, after strikes over unpaid wages. Aminetou Mint Moctar, a rare Mauritanian Arab on the board of SOS Esclaves, a local association campaigning for the rights of haratin, or descendants of black slaves, has received death threats.

Is it too much to hope that the Islamic clerics denouncing slavery might also condemn other instances of forced and abusive labor? Activists and Gulf migrants are doubtful. Even migrants’ own embassies can be strangely mute, not wanting criticism to curb the vital flow of remittances. When Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, visited the UAE this week, his nationals there complained that migrant rights were last on his list. Western governments generally have other priorities. One is simply to defeat IS, whose extreme revival of slavery owes at least something to the region’s persistent and pervasive tolerance of servitude.

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Iraq Sitrep August 10, 2014

The US has 800 troops in Iraq right now. There are calls to “move them out” and up to the front lines in Irbil to fight with the peshmerga.

Mosul Dam does indeed appear to be captured by ISIS.

Many of the Yezidis trapped on Mt. Sinjar have made it off the mountain. 30,000 made it out via a passageway carved out of ISIS lines to the north and northeast. It was carved out by Yezidi militias and YPG Syrian Kurdish forces. It crosses the Syrian-Iraqi border at a little known town of Fishkhabour, Iraq, near where Syria, Iraq and Turkey all come together. It is not located on many maps. It is on the Tigris were Turkey, Syria and Iraq all come together. 30,000 Yezidis have made it through this border checkpoint.

Yezidis leave Sinjar Mountain, head into Syria at some point, and then wind back around and re-enter Iraq at Fishkhabour, a Chaldean Christian town. They then apparently move into the Kurdish area.
UK may get involved in humanitarian effort on Sinjar Mountain.
As many as 100,000 Yezidis remain in the area in their towns, armed. They say they will defend their towns against ISIS. Situation with them is grave.

The 400 Yezidi women taken captive may be being used as human shields. They are in various places scattered around Mosul. Other reports say 500 Yezidi families were captured and taken to Tel Afar where they are being stashed around town as human shields.

A top Hezbollah commander was killed in Mosul long after Mosul had fallen to ISIS. This indicates that he was deep behind enemy lines. Also, two high ranking Al Qods officers from Iran were killed in Iraq. Both were killed near Samarra.

Maliki accepted Iran’s offer of 200 Al Qods officers to help fight in Iraq. Quite possibly they are heading up to the Kurdish area. Iraqi Kurds have good relations with Iran.

An anti-ISIS militia has formed in Mosul. They even have a Facebook page. They are carrying out assassinations of ISIS cadre in the city and have caused significant casualties.

ISIS destroyed Saddam Hussein’s grave in Awja, near Tikrit. This will not endear them to the Baathists or even to millions of Iraqis, including many Sunnis.

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Yazidis Want to Leave Iraq

Yazidis want to leave Iraq. Whether they think that Kurdistan is an ok place for them to go, I am not sure. For now, Kurdistan is part of Iraq, and the Deep State seems determined to keep it that way for now anyway. Since Kurdistan is part of Iraq, I assume that the Yazidis do not want to stay there either. Both the Iraqi Christians and the Iraqi Yazidis want to go to Europe. That the Christian cultures of Europe are willing to take in not only like-minded Christians but also the very odd Yazidi sect while Muslims only want to genocide them is a profound indictment of Islam. Islam really doesn’t do the religious tolerance thing very well, does it?

The Yazidis have been genocided 72 times in their history. This is the 73rd. Guess who genocided them, every single time?

Muslims.

Islam. Great religion.

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Iraq Sitrep August 9, 2014

The situation regarding Mosul Dam is very confused. For days, there have been reports that it was in the hands of ISIS, however, there were also reports saying that the Peshmerga had taken it but that they were surrounded by ISIS and things looked grim. The latest report that I heard is that the ISIS flag is flying over the dam, whatever that means.

US jets bombed targets near the towns of Gwer and Mahmour which had just been taken by ISIS. These towns are between Mosul and Irbil. There are many Christian villages in this area. Things look very grim here too.

The US attitude here is unequivocal – they do not want to Irbil to fall, and Irbil could conceivably fall very soon.

There are 36 US advisors and diplomatic personnel in Irbil. The advisors are Special Forces types. They are assisting the Peshmerga with command and control and intelligence targeting. The situation is now very grim for these Americans.

There are 800 US troops in Iraq right now. Pentagon sources say that the time has come to “move them out.” What this means apparently is that these US forces are going to be moving to the peshmerga front lines to fight for Irbil.

Obama had said that he would attack ISIS is they get too close to Irbil via Mosul, and that is what he has done.

The US also dropped a lot of humanitarian supplies on Sinjar Mountain where 200,000 Yezidis may be trapped. Supplies were significant. US forces said, “We need to get them out of there,” so they may be planning to somehow airlift these Yezidis off the mountain to Irbil.

Yezidis fought hard in defense of their towns but were poorly armed. The Peshmerga were completely outgunned in defending all of these towns lately. Retreats were tactical, to retreat back to Irbil and get more supplies. The Iraqi government now helping Kurds with airstrikes.

The Peshmerga are really no better or an army than any other army in Iraq including Maliki’s. It should be little surprise that they are folding as fast as Maliki’s. Peshmerga are poorly armed, and ISIS has lots of looted US, Iraqi Army and Syrian Army weapons looted from depots. The US has not been aiding or supplying Kurds with arms since 2008 due to a policy change to support Maliki instead. Arms to Kurds were seen as strengthening them in favor of secession.

However, secession is probably a foregone conclusion anyway, and even Iran and Turkey are warm to an independent Kurdistan as long as Turkey and Iran are not included and it stays in Iraq. Reasons for the change are uncertain, but Turkey is doing a brisk trade in Kurdish oil these days, and Turkey is also buying a lot of oil from Iran with gold bars. So there are a lot of unusual alliances in that region.

The US has barred Kurdish oil exports from the US. A shipment of Kurdish oil is now held up in the US on these grounds. The reason given is that all Kurdish oil is officially Iraqi state oil; however, Maliki has screwed the Kurds about as bad as he screwed the Sunnis, completely shutting them out of Iraqi oil revenues he is supposed to divide up with them. The US is said to be rushing arms to the Kurds now. There is a new temporary marriage of convenience between Maliki, Kurds and anti-ISIS Sunnis. Let’s see how long it lasts.

1,500 Yezidi men were executed in front of their families in Sinjar on grounds of apostasy. Local Arabs cheered the entry of ISIS into Sinjar, and surrounding Arab villages helped pave the way and set up the groundwork for the ISIS attack, similar to what happened in Mosul earlier.

Many Yezidi women were sold into slavery and public slave auctions. Jihadis bought some as jihad brides, and others may have been purchased as slaves. Local Arabs cheered on the shootings, beheadings and crucifixions of Yezidis and possibly Christians in Sinjar and flocked en masse to the slave auctions where they cheered wildly. Local Arabs helped ISIS round up and persecute Yezidis whom they hate and regard as devil worshipers deserving of death or enslavement.

The Yezidis have extremely complex religion but do not worship the Devil of the Abrahamic religions. In fact there is no Evil God in Yezidism. There is in fact a Devil, or the Devil, but he is a figure of pure good perhaps akin to Jesus Christ to Christians. This Yezidi Devil only does good things and represents pure good. He fights evil like Godheads of many religions. Some Yezidis say they are Muslims, and perhaps a case can be made that they are an extremely schismatic Shia branch.

Bottom line is after what went down in Sinjar today and seeing how the Yezidis witnessed their Arab neighbors cheering their murders and enslavement, I do not think that these Yezidis will ever want to live with Arabs again.

The Yezidis may move to the Kurdistan region to stay. The Kurds have mixed feelings about Yezidis, however they are regarded as Kurdish brothers. Many Kurds feel that the Yezidis were the original Kurds, and their religion is the original Kurdish religion (compare to Zoroastrianism in Iran).

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Iraqi MP Breaks Down in Tears Pleading Parliament to Save Yazidis from Genocide

A true genocide is taking place near Sinjar, Iraq. ISIS conquered the town of Sinjar, home to many Yezidis. Most of them fled, but some were captured by ISIS. 1,500 men were executed in front of their families. The women and children were then sold into slavery. Many of the purchasers were ISIS fighters and presumably the women are to be some sort of sex slaves or possibly wives of the fighters. The problem is that in Yezidism, the penalty for marrying or even dating outside the religion is death by stoning (warning: very graphic video at the link). These poor women are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The Yezidis say they are Muslims, and I do believe that Yezidism can be seen as a highly aberrant form of Shia Islam similar to Alevism, Alawism, and Druze, if Druze can be seen as Islam at all. Yezidism also incorporates from Judaism, Christianity (especially Nestorian Orthodox Christianity) and even Zoroastrianism. At base, it appears to be a split from the original Zoroastrianism or perhaps even a precursor to that religion. Ultimately, Yezidism is a tribal religion of Iran. It may be one of the oldest religions on Earth, with forms of it dating back possibly as long as 8-10,000 YBP.

Local Arab Muslims say that the Yezidis are devil worshippers and they are widely condemned for this. ISIS calls them apostates for leaving Islam, but they were never really a part of formal Islam anyway. Yezidis however did become part of the Islamic religion around the year 1200 following a Shia Sufi prophet-type figure. Perhaps you could argue that they are heretics, but apostasy does not seem to be a correct analogy.

A good overview of the Yezidi religion is here.

Whether or not the Yezidis worship the Devil is an open question. If you ask your average Yezidi, they will insist that they do not worship the Devil. In fact, they are not even allowed to say his name. However, the religion is extremely complex, and my analysis indicated that Yezidis do indeed worship the Devil, but in their theology, the Devil is the good guy, not the bad guy. He represents good and he does only good things, and he spends all his time fighting evil. So the Devil in Yezidi theology is akin to Jesus in Christianity. The  Yezidis certainly do not worship evil in any form. Instead they worship good and hate evil, like most formal religions.

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More On Hinduism, Race, Caste and the “Aryan Invasion”

The comment below is from an Indian poster on this popular post. I agree with most of what he says. First of all, I don’t think that the Aryans pushed the Dravidians to the South. There are Dravidian types and mixed types all over North India.

Points 2 and 3 are self-evident.

I have always felt that Hinduism was nothing more than the ancient religion of India, and there is good evidence for this. Clearly it predates the Aryans. It’s not necessarily as old as India, since India is as old as dirt, but clearly it goes back so far that we can hardly even say when it begins.

Ancient Iran also had a caste system, and so did their ancient religion. Yazidism, one of the oldest major religions known to man, possibly dating back 10,000 years, has caste and origins in Iran. The suggestion is that caste is a regional phenomenon across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Iran and Northern Iraq. Afghanistan lacks caste, but until the Communist revolution was a semi-feudal society.

The fact remains that Aryan languages displaced Dravidian languages to the South, and all of North India is Aryan-speaking in general, and the people of the North are lighter than the people of the South, and this needs to be explained somehow. Obviously, prior to the Aryan Invasion, Dravidian languages were spoken all over North India. Either their speakers dropped Dravidian in favor of Indo-Iranian or they moved south. Possibly both of these occurred.

1) Vedas are not everything in Hinduism, though they form some of the core. There are many books written in ancient mathematics and science in the post-Vedic period which are as relevant to the history of Hindus, if not more than the Vedas. Look at the books written by Bhaskara (there were two Bhaskaras recorded in history), Aryabhatta, Apastamba, Baudhayana, Varahmihira and several other authors.

Some of them have had their base south of the Vindhyas, which indicates the migration of the culture of the Vedic people southward. I am guessing the actual migration of Vedic people might also have taken place either before or after the completion of the writing of the Vedas (500-1000 BCE). Read about the myth of Agastya and his followers and the Vindhyas.

2) Skin color depends on the climate and gradually over generations (maynot be 3 but lets say about 30 generations) it is sure to change.

3) People speaking different languages derived from a root language (or speaking the root language itself) need not share genetic origins or race. For example, I am an Indian, and if I speak or write in English, a European-originated language, that does not make me European. I bet the same applies to speakers of Indo-European languages.

4) Based on several references in the Vedas against dark-skinned tribes, one cannot assume that all the scriptures of the Hindus (the Sruti and Smriti) were written by the highly-advanced fair-skinned race-preserving cohort known as Aryans who came down from central Asia and pushed the locals down south.

One severe contradiction to this simplistic theory is how come there are references of lower-caste tribals getting upgraded to the higher caste of Brahmins (like Valmiki, Vishwamitra) in the epics written by these same racially-finicky people (the Aryans) that was allowed to be published without censorship. The racial references in the Vedas are at best ambiguous. If the Aryans were the vanguards of Hinduism and they were the creators of the scriptures, how did dark-skinned gods like Vishnu and Shiva find their ways into the texts.

More likely they should have been shown as demons given the benchmarks by which they would have decided. Given all these, there surely exists a possibility of a fair-skinned race coming down from Afghanistan or central Asia and contributing to the creation of Hindu scriptures and merging with the locals, in fact there could be several races of this type migrating in at different points of time. But to say that they did this at the expense of a dark-skinned race or an indigenous race is pure baloney, given the facts.

In fact the genesis of Hindu scriptures could have come from different parts (including the non-Indo-European parts which may include Sanskrit speakers of Dravidian origin) of the Indian subcontinent. Likewise, tribes that had originally entered from the northern borders of India (one of them being the Aryans) must have migrated all over the country giving an inseparable and indistinguishable genetic mixture that we know as the people of India today.

Also the caste system in ancient India up to a period must have been rather fluid and based more on occupation than ancestry as is the popular notion. Hinduism (at least the history and references from Hinduism) seems to have a much greater tolerance for skin color and caste than is touted to be.

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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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