The Yezidi, also known as Yezidi, Ezidi, or Daasin, are an ethnoreligious minority mainly based in Iraq. The community is based in near Sheikh Adi ibn Musafirs tomb. The Yazidi religion is also found in Turkey, Syria, and Iran. The Yezidi pray while facing the Sun. The Yazidi religion has been influenced by pre-Islamic indigenous traditions of the Middle East, Nestorian Christianity, and Islam. In the duration of its wealthy and diverse history, the Yazidi religion is among the religions that have been misunderstood and disliked by other religions. The Yezidi have experienced many massacres and genocides from other ethnic and religious groups. The unusual cosmology and primary oral traditions of the Yezidi have provided a focus for discrimination and social rejection of this unique religion, shaping its status today. Muslims do not prefer Their beliefs and ideologies. The lives of the Yezidi remain in danger of being a Yezidi religion follower. In history, no schools and education have been offered for the Yezidis, and most Yezidis are uneducated making the religion to misunderstand while remaining unknown. Because of lack of education, no Yezidi has come up to clarify the Yezidi religion, making it hard to be introduced in the world. Their beliefs and ideologies have remained ambiguous, and all oppressions, wars, and massacres that they face are because of Melek Taus, the god of the Yezidi. Melek Taus is considered the head of the Angles whom Yezidi people believe in. Melek Taus is the central conflict between the Yezidis and Muslims because Muslims consider Melek Taus as the devil. Thus, most Muslims believe that the Yezidis worship the devil and most religions have rejected them for this reason. Besides, the Yezidis do not have a Bible or Quran or any holy book like other religions. Muslims believe that as long as the Yezidis cannot convert to Islam, they must be killed, their property destroyed, their women taken as slaves and their children converted to Muslims as they grow. This paper looks into the history of the Yezidi religion, its unusual cosmology and primary oral traditions of the Yazidi have provided a focus for discrimination and social rejection of this unique religion, shaping its status today.
History of Yazidi Religion
The map above shows the map of Iraq and the regions of Kurds. Yezidis people live in the northern villages as shown in the map. The map on the right shows areas in pink colors that Yezidi people live. Nonetheless, the discrimination and social rejection of this unique religion have displaced Yezidis from their villages. Today, they are scattered around Kurdistan in Iraq. Iraq, Yezidis speak Kurdish as their main language. While most Kurds living in Iraq are Sunni Muslims, they are not Muslims. Yezidis live with the Kurds on the mountains of Kurdistan even before Christianity. Most Jewish were exiled in the mountains of Kurdistan. This explains while some Yezidis practice some Jewish rituals like Passover celebration. Some Kurds believe that their origin is traced back to the Medes descendants who were influential in overthrowing the Assyrian empire in 163 BCE. The Yezidis are the Kurds living in the mountains. Thus, Yazidism remains their religion and ethnicity.
The traditions and culture of the Yezidis are rich, and they are considered peace seekers by other religions and ethnic groups. Yezidis work hard to support their family, and they show hospitality to their visitors and friends outside the community. Yezidis practice the holy killing, where the Yezidi rules and regulations show that their religious leaders should kill or stone individuals who break the following traditions: Sexual conduct before marriage and the Yezidis who convert to other religions. Yezidi women face a double problem when ISIS rapes them: first the trauma of the culture of Yezidis and that of rape. However, not all Yezidi practice honor killings and it is a responsibility of all Yezidis to reject honor killings.
Theology and Cosmology
Most theologize that Malak Taus, the god of Yazidis is a fallen Angel who tried to ask God to forgive him through repenting. Yazidis sees this as a twisted claim about the story of Malak Taus, their god. They see Malak Taus as a good god and not a fallen Angel whom God made to act and represent God as the co-creator. The perception of Malak Taus is the same as the concept of pre-existent Logos in Christianity, where Christians consider Jesus as their Logos incarnated, of God, and a representative of God. The most logical theological reasons that explain why ISIS traumatized Yezidis is because they believed that they are devil worshipers. Thus, the concept of Melek Taus is the reason the community has suffered through persecutions. The Muslims believe that God Malak Taus refused to bow to Gods creations contrary to Gods expectations. Malak only believed that he should be only one person, God as the Supreme Being. As a result, Malak Taus was thrown into hell. However, he reconciled with God after his remorseful tears quenched the fires. Thus, Malak Taus now became an intermediary between humanity and God.The story is similar to the account of Iblis-the Satan and Muslim. According to Muslims, The Satan is a fallen Angel and just as Malak Taus, Jinn refused to bow down to Adam because of Pride. Jinn was banished from heaven, and today he exists as the devil tempting humanity into evil.
However, based on Yezidis religious beliefs, Malak Taus was not a fallen Angel, but because his interactions with God are the same as that of Satan in Islamic beliefs, he has been linked to the devil making Yezidis be associated with devil worshipping especially by Christians and Muslims who do not understand their beliefs. As a result of religious persecution, Yazidis are concentrated in remote mountain areas in Iraq. It is important to note that Yazidi religion is rooted in Judaism, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, and Manichaeism. Theology in Yazidis is constructed in a new theological form that is different from Judaism, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, and Manichaeism. They believe that God is the Supreme Being and Malak Taus work under Gods directions. Malak Taus is manifested in the form of a peacock and early Christianity; a peacock was a symbol of immortality and resurrection. The major question that remains unanswered in many forums is whether the Yazidis will one day live in peace without discrimination, social rejection, killed and not regarded as non-devil worshippers because of their religion.
Current Status of Yazidis Religion
Until today, the Yazidis have experienced many Massacres and genocides. Research show there have been about eighty genocides carried out against Yezidis by both Christians and Muslims. The misunderstanding between the Muslims and Yezidis was made them remain unwelcome in Iraq. The first genocide took place in 630AD and today; the genocides are carried by ISIL. It is estimated that about 23 Million Yezidis have been killed since the 7th century. If this population was allowed to grow, it would have become big as Christians or Muslims. They would have got a wider recognition and basic rights. It is believed that the incentives driving the Muslim extremists to kill Yezidis are that God will favor them and awarded in heaven. Muslims believe that by killing Yezidis, they will be awarded in heaven. Not all Muslims believe in these killings because they are tolerant Muslims who do not believe in hurting and killing individuals with different religions. Some Muslims also consider Yezidis a sect of Islam and respect the religion without considering them as devil worshippers. During Saddam Hussein regime, the Yezidis were not able to access medical care, jobs in government and insurance. The worst treatment during Saddam Hussein regime was the consideration of Yezidis as infidels; the Yezidis did not have any rights, and many of them were killed since the goal of Saddam Hussein was mainly cultural genocide. Still, under Husseins rule, Yezidis were removed from their villages and their land was taken. Such treatments and the recent genocides broke down their sense and injured their ego.
The genocide carried out by ISIS against Yazidis justifies their persecution according to the Islamic doctrines. In 2014, the world, especially the US public heard about the Yazidis for the first time due to their traumatization and genocide that happened against them in Iraq by ISIS. In the same year on August 8th, President Barack Obama carried out an airstrike against ISIS in Iraq to save the Yazidis from the democide. This is the time when the media started covering the Yazidis religion and tried to determine who the Yazidis were. President Obama describes the Yazidis as an ancient and small religious sect. Therefore, Yezidis religion remains an ancient religion that has been traumatized by the ISIS and forced to convert to Islam or executed. Pope Francis described the traumatization of Yazidis as both Yazidis and Christians suffered and continued suffering at the hand of ISIS because of religious identity. Yazidis were removed from their homes forcefully and had to run and give up everything to save their lives. The violence tried to remove Yezidis sacred buildings, their cultural heritage, their religious symbols, and their monuments.
Many Yezidis women have been kidnapped for sexual slavery and rape. Many children have been murdered, their men and elderly slaughtered and their homes and land are taken. Yazidi temples have been destroyed, and ISIS even killed their animals, which were Yezidis primary source of food. The Yezidi community is among the living dead because of the traumatization they are experiencing and this continues to affect them today. The trauma has affected their dignity, sense of humanity and identity. Systematic mass murder has attacked their selfhood, safety and they lost their country Iraq. Therefore, most Yezidis lost everything. The picture below shows the Yezidis who were displaced and how they resulted in living in Iraq desert as refugees after they have been sent from their homes.
Fathers and husbands saw their teenage daughters and wives taken by ISIS for rape and sexual abuse. Many Yazidi women is today enslaved for rape and sexually by ISIS. The picture below indicates the manner in which ISIS is selling Yazidi women for sex in a cage at the back of a truck.
Most Yezidi women especially girls have faced sexual violence in their country. This has forced most women to commit suicide rather than being raped and suffer the repercussions throughout their lives. These women lost their rights and power over their bodies and humanity that were abused and threatened with violence. Both children and women had only one power left in their life that is to stop breathing. A Yazidi man shared a story of his sister was to be captured by the ISIS. His sister Jillian killed herself by cutting her wrist in the bathroom. She was beautiful, and she realized she was going to be taken and raped by ISIS.
Executions were witnessed from far regions when ISIS executed Yezidi children, men, cousins, brothers, uncles. All they could do is to cry and pray for the killings of their beloved ones. ISIS executed the following Yezidi men in 2014.
Thousand girls and women continue to stay in slavery camps. The Yezidi community had nothing to do rather than asking God for survival. Their faith remained as their only source of hope as they saw no truth in their justification of genocide. Most Yezidis have lost hope for their dreams and future. Many cemeteries have been found in Sinjar. There is no clear statistics of women, children, and men buried in mass graves in Khanasor and Hardan.
Yezidis, the small peaceful community in Iraq have been facing persecution since the seventh century due to their beliefs. They have faced what...
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