What is the Yazidi Religion?


I consider myself someone who’s learned
a lot about the middle-east and world religions over the years, so when I heard about the
brutal oppression of the Yazidis, I had several questions. First of all, who were these Yazidis? The idea of a non-Abrahamic religion with
roots all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia was, to say the least intriguing, I had to
find out more. The first I heard of them was when the UN
declared ISIS was committing genocide against this religion due to their belief the Yazidis
worshipped the Devil. I knew there was a story here of a people
who had experienced so much pain and suffering because of ignorance. Quickly, I found out about peacock angels,
fire worship, and strict bans on marrying outside of the faith. I could already sense this was a syncretic
religion. We talked about syncretism before on Step
Back, long long ago when I spoke about Voodoo. It’s when religions develop as a mix of
various traditions. Now, every religion is to some extent syncretic,
but the Yazidis did seem like a unique combination. TO THE INTERNET! Yazidis are under the umbrella of an ethnic
group in the middle-east called the Kurdish people. There’s some debate on this, but they live
in the region of Kurdistan which straddles Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, and they speak
a form of the Kurdish language. However, their genetic lineage seems to connect
this group all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia, seriously old fertile crescent stuff. The name Yazidi comes from the old Umayyad
Caliph Yazid I. The Umayyads were a powerful line of rulers
at the beginning of the Islamic empire. One of the significant figures in Yazidi history
traces his origins to this house. The Yazidi religion is a blended mix of all
sorts of Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic faiths. That being said, they’re distinctly not
an Abrahamic religion, or at least, they haven’t been treated as such by their neighbours. There’s a lot of Islamic influence in their
language, especially their more esoteric thinking, which seems to borrow heavily from Sufi thought,
a movement of Islamic mysticism. However, that is where the similarities end. Their myths about the foundations of the universe
seem to have more links with the religious beliefs of ancient Mesopotamia and Iran as
well as Zoroastrianism. They seem to have borrowed the Zoroastrian
reverence for fire, but if you are lost as to what Zoroastrianism is about you’re in
luck. I made a video exploring them which you can
watch here. So really, it’s a locally focused religion
endemic to a specific group of people. You can’t convert, you must be born into
it. That group of people have then absorbed religious
ideas and traditions from the various religions which moved through the region of Northern
Iraq they originate from since… well as long as people have been farming. The roots of this region are preposterously
old, perhaps one of the oldest on earth. It’s a hierarchical religion, led both by
a secular prince or Emir, and a religious Sheikh authority. They also follow a strict caste system. Yazidis are not only strictly forbidden from
marrying outside of their religion but even their caste under penalty of death. This comes from the Yazidi obsession with
purity. They have internalised a bit of Zoroastrianism
about the elements of fire, water, air and earth, and have strong taboos about mixing
elements. Actions like spitting on the ground or into
a fire are considered very off limits. They have also considered even association
with non-Yazidis a form of pollution, so until relatively recently, they didn’t join the
military. It comes from a part of their creation myth
in which they believe the world is populated by descendants of Adam and Eve, but that the
Yazidis were made of only the… reproductive fluids of Adam. Also, because of an outdated conception about
the use of human waste as fertiliser, they can’t eat lettuce. This is all a fascinating find, but it sounds
as if these are a people who more or less keep to themselves. It doesn’t explain why they have experienced
such targeted hatred over the years, and especially from the Islamic State. Then, I began to look into their beliefs and
found out what was going on. Like Christians, Muslims, and even Zoroastrians,
the Yazidis are monotheists, believing in a distant God, who had delegated the tasks
of goding up to a pantheon of seven angels. The most prominent amongst these angels is…
uh, this name. He also goes by the cool nickname of the peacock
angel. It comes from an ancient belief that peacock
meat doesn’t decompose. Tawûsê Melek in the mythology of the Yazidis
at a point defied the creator god but later attained redemption. He’s not a source of evil to them and is
even one of the holiest of holy figures in their faith, but one of the other names they’ve
used for him is Shaytan, which is the name in the Qur’an for the devil. It’s because of this similar name the Yazidis
have spent centuries accused as being devil worshippers. That’s right, because of a similar name,
these people have experienced by their own accounts 73 genocides. Damn, that’s fucked up! The Yazidis experienced multiple attempts
to persecute and force convert them. They used to have a prominent place in Syria,
until the Ottoman empire led several campaigns to try and force the Yazidis to convert to
Islam, driving them into Northern Iraq where the vast majority of them live today. And every so often, some sort of event would
flare up and cause violent mobs to attack Yazidi communities. Such as in 2007 when a Yazidi honour killing
sparked violence. The Muslim public suspected that the Yazidis
killed this girl because of their conversion to Islam. This sparked a series of suicide bombings
against the Yazidi communities in Mosul, killing about 500. There are only about 700,000 Yazidis in the
world. But that doesn’t come close to the untold
horrors inflicted upon them by ISIS. Under their occupation, thousands of Yazidis
have either died or been forced into sex slavery, to the point the UN has declared it a genocide. Many thousands even today, after ISIS has
been defeated in the region, are internally displaced, or living all over the world as
refugees. And they have been the targets of Islamophobic
hatred anywhere they go in the west. Because, Islam isn’t a race, but Islamophobia
sure seems racist. This is doubly compounded by the fact that
because of these long-standing misunderstandings, often Yazidi refugees need to be given special
protection, and because of their cloistered culture, much more resources and training
once they arrive. It’s been a humanitarian disaster, and only
when some of the worst people in history tried to eliminate them from the earth did ignorant
old me ever find out about them. Just thinking about the deep roots of the
Yazidi people makes me really appreciate the gravity of what the chain of dominos set off
by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to. Here are people who have ties all the way
back to the time of Ur, Nineveh, and Babylon, disappearing from the earth, and finding themselves
without help. The Yazidis are also part of the larger issue
of the greater injustice done to the Kurdish people. They’ve been persecuted, displaced, and
torn apart because of a bunch of old men in 1919 who drew this part of the map. We really need to find a way to build a space
for the Kurdish people. The misunderstanding about the Peacock Angel
shows ignorance can be deadly. Curiosity and education have real impacts
on how we get along. You sometimes hear when people go off to get
an education they come back all lefty and stuff. Maybe it’s because reading about other people,
and trying to understand those different from you changes you in a way. I’d argue for the better, and to make my
case I’d point to the tragedy of the Yazidis. Anytime we’re all convinced a group of people
are evil, think of them, and as the Green brothers would say, see people complexly. Thank you to 12tone for the Step Back theme
as well as patrons Don and Kerry Johnson, Michael Kirschner, Martin King, Scott Smith,
Luis Eneas Guarita, Mary D’Onofrio, James McNeice, and Garrick Kwan. Like, Share, Subscribe, and come back next
time for more Step Back.




Comments
  1. Go on a tour of the world's religions with this whole series! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNh7QNRUVp0&list=PLnpoOo7lhNnG64vN6y07lLqQzYaiNDqwK

  2. As a Yazidi, I have to say you got some stuff wrong and out of context and even some just wrong like when you said they also identify Melek Tawus as Shaytan. No Yazidi ever referred to him as Shaytan

  3. I think this goes to show that the conduct of the Iraq War and its immediate aftermath was probably one of the worst disasters in the history of US foreign policy since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 given that Iraq fell in what could be described as 2 civil wars in less than a decade and this genocide was committed by a terrorist organisation that was previously thought to have been largely beaten by the end of 2011.

  4. To everyone commenting here about them being satanists, no, Yazidis aren't devil worshippers, it's just fake news started by Muslims to discriminate and convert them
    Yazidis are related to pre-Vedic Hindus and have lot of similarities, they probably split from the pre-vedic Indo-Europeans in the year 5000 BC (the date of the start of their religion) and came to Mesopotamia
    Staying in the middle East for millenias they have gotten syncretic but they still retain pre-vedic practices if you look closely which has no connection to even Zoroastrianism
    They worship a Hindu God called Kartikeya/Murugan who is related to both peacocks and snakes and is the son of Lord Shiva
    Watch this video – https://youtu.be/puL4gwNhXMI

  5. (100% proved)Yazidis worship "peacock" as their god which directly relates to Ancient God of South India that is Lord MURUGAN (Hindu God) !!! Lord Murugan was an ancient siddha predates more than 5000 yrz BC by Tamil peoples and worshiping till now and many other countries likes (Malaysia,sri lanka,indonesia,China& japan) ♥️ if anyone has doubt… Plz google for furthur proofs !

  6. Sorry my friend. What you say is very wrong about the Yezidian origin. They are not a copy of Islam, Christianity or Judaism, as you claim. It is what Muslims in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey claim, r and they do not want to recognize them as the Kurdish's original religion. (The Kurdish has 2 directions as an original rligion, the first being the Yezidians for the Kirmanji dialect covering Kurdistan in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Armenia and the other direction is Yarsani religion that covers Iran, and Iraq Kurdistan for Mokriani an Goran dialect). Both of the religions have been suppressed politically, religiously and extinctly as indigenous people in the Middle East. Unfortunately, they have to infiltrate something from Islam in their religion to escape the suppression of the Middle East from the Muslims.

    Example: The Yezidians in Armenia have not introduced anything from Islam in their religion, they have retained their origins.

    These two Orginal Kurdish religions, the Yezids and Yarsanians, have managed to take care of our Kurdish history and traditions for thousands of years, despite the brutal attacks of Muslims in the Middle East.

    It's a pity for us, Kurds. Unfortunately, we are not the ones who write our histore. It is our enemies Arabs, Persians, and Turks who write our history and decorate what suits them best.

    I send you a link as you can read more about the Yezidies before you go out and tell our enemies' history to the whole world in English. Keep in mind that this is also an attack on our culture and ethnic origin when we are misrepresented and quoted in social media.

     I do not think this is your purpose, but I hope you correct your mistakes after reading more about what I send you.

    http://www.yeziditruth.org/yezidi_religious_tradition

    Regards

    Kane Mahrof

  7. we are Yazidis we have nothing to do with Kurds Why did you end up saying Kurdish Yazids I as a yezide we have nothing to do with Kurds Kurds are Muslim but we Yazidis are not Muslim

  8. Awesome video with good info.
    Though, I wouldn’t tie curiosity and education to a political party. I’m more intelligent and rational than the majority of people that I know who depict themselves as left sided. Yes, I do agree that everyone, of any race, ethnicity or political affiliation, should encourage themselves and others to seek education; The world could be a better place if we would practice reasoning and tolerance.

  9. The Yezidi faith is older than any abrahamic religion and their roots are connected with the ancient Indian dharmic practices. If you are closely compare the Yezidi worship style with Indian style you found significant similarities. I think that the Yezidi people were migrated from India.
    one more thing the peacocks are not inhabited in middle East they are only found in India and some parts of South East Asia.

  10. Thanks for a such a illuminating video on such a little-known religion. The more information on Yezidism the better. There's not much resources out there about the Yezidis and Yezidism. Even if there is, those works are difficult to obtain or are of dubious quality (I know far too well personally considering I'm a student of Kurdish and Zoroastrian studies). Again, Thanks a bunch.

  11. Yezidism is very fascinating but perplexing. It has remnants of ancient Kurdish/Iranian religion, Zoroastrainism (Probably influenced most strongly during the Sassanian perioid) and Sufism. It's a shame we have so little information of the history of this faith during the 14th right up to the late 17th century. So many gaps and questions.

  12. Their beliefs and rituals relate mostly to Hinduism and since Hinduism/Zoroastriasm originated around the same time in Iran/Greater India (included present day Afghanistan), I suspect Yezidi religion may be offshoot of either of those 2 religions. They have nothing in common to Abrahamic religons which came much later.

  13. Their culture, traditions and belief systems are very very similar to that of Hindus. Especially the peacock lamp (peacocks are not found anywhere in the middle east).

  14. There are more of Hindu Religion in India. Peacock found in India, Hindu worship fire, and water, earth, fire and air are also worshiped in Hindusim, cast base sosciety is the basis of Hindusim.

  15. Sanatan religion(dharma/धर्म) is bedrock of Hindu Buddhist Kirati sikh jainism yajidi haan chinese Japan mongolia iraq iran israel tajakistan, red indians indonesia. Lord shiva used 2 rule 108 planetarium/ तारामंडल from Nepal. Later lord shiva gave throne 2 indra (lord of heaven) later lord indra gave his throne 2 his son masto. Masto is ancestor's god of khas pahadi/ पहाड़ी peolpe of Nepal and Himalyan people. Khas peole of Nepal are not aryan but when hinduism entered nepal khas people mix with indian aryan. God masto is worship by Mongol Haan chinese iraq tajakistan israel Nepal and India. But god masto is known n worship by different name in different parts of world. Masto is not Hindu god but a Sanatan god. Many hindus do not know about Masto god. Yajidis worship sanatan gods but practice hindu style worship. 90% japanese gods r hindu n sanatan gods. All humans r same respect everyone. Sanatan religion is 1st and most practical religion.

  16. If you want know about yajidi religion it will connect to South Indian State Tamil Nadu, Tamil Nadu people warships Lord murugan , he was peacock god,if you people want to investigate please go and ask Tami people, some of the yajidi religion culture same as tamilan

  17. Yazidis symbol is a wing spread peacock, just like Hindu god Shiva's son, Subrahmanya's mount. The most important point to note is that peacock, the national bird of India, is a native of south and south east Asia or Africa. Not found in the area of Iraq or Syria at all. 

    Yazidi mural on wall of their holy Lalish temple is unmistakably Hindu. You can see saree, which is an unofficial national dress of India.

    Yazidi temple at Lalish has snake symbol at the entrance. You won't find this among other tribes of Arabia or Mesopotamia. For Hindus, Subrahmanya is the other avatara of snakes and worshiped very closely for all snake related pujas like Naga Panchami. 

    Yellow sun Yazidi symbol 21 rays.
    Number 21 is sacred to Hindus (Ganesha). Offerings are in 21 count like Modaka (sweet). 
    Yazidi marry within their castes like Murids, Sheikhs and Pirs.
    Hindus marry within castes.  Yazidis could have something like Gotra system (researching).

    Any Hindu with even basic understanding of aarti plate, will see Yazidis as their own.

  18. Yazidis believe in continuous rebirth and reincarnation.
    Same as Hindu Punar Janma concept.

    Yazidis do not circumcise, a very rare thing in the middle east.
    Hindus do not circumcise.

    Yazidis pray with folded hands. Hindus pray very similarly to their Gods and Goddesses. 
    Yazidis pray at sun rise and sun set, just like Hindus. Both face the rising or setting sun when praying to sun. 

    Yazidis have a symbol similar to Bindi or Tilak during temple prayer, very similar to Hindu forehead custom. 
    For big celebrations, lighting lamp by females common to both Yazidis and Hindus.

    Yazidis men worship Melek Taus by lighting fire in temples.
    Hindus' do similar fire based worship to their Gods, with high regard for agni the fire.

  19. First we are not a mixture of other religions, because we are simply the most ancient religion throughout history. Second we are not dev.. worshipers and we don’t identify ourselves like that. Third almost everything u said about Tausi Melek was wrong e.g. we don‘t call him shayta.. and we are even not allowed to say that. Further we don’t believe that devi.. has ever existed. And eventually i would like to consider that i feel really bad to see this FALSE information spreading about us

  20. I have heard that it has many similarities with Hinduism. Does anyone know something about it? Thanks in advance.

  21. Great piece, thanks for covering this. The Yazidis are 1 of 3 ethno-religious Kurdish groups who practice ancient, non-Abrahamic, Kurd-only religions. Yarsanism (also known as Kaka'i or People of the Truth) is another; it is practiced by between 3 to 6 million Kurds, and it is avery spiritual and musical religions which has its roots in Mithraism.

    Culturally, religiously, and linguistically, the Kurds are the most diverse nation in the Middle-East. We are the only nation in the Middle-East who still *widely* practice our ancient pre-Abrahamic religions, and that despite not having a country of our own, and despite the attempts of the Turks and Arabs to wipe us out (not only our ethnicity, but our religions as well). And to think about the greatest and most justful warrior in the entire history of Islam was the noble Kurd Saladin… this shows the diversity, tolerance, and important role Kurds have played in history.

  22. Yazidis faith is like mixture of Abrahamic religion and ancient Mesopotamian religion.
    Fun fact: The peacock might also come from Sufi teachings, there is a belief in some sects that before the creation G-d made the prophet Muhammad as a peacock of light, that is why some sufis view white peacock as pure. There is also a story where it said that peacocks were guardians/Guards of the heaven but the Satan in form of snake tricked it/them.

  23. yezedis according to Idries Shah "the Yezedis were originally a community of Sufis and their rituals are centred around the use of standard and familiar Sufi symbolism……when it is noted that Malak (angel) is used in Ghazzali's sense of 'angels are the higher faculties in man', it can be seen that the supposed idol worship of the Yezedis is merely an allegory of two sufi watchwords – the expansion of the land (tauss), the mind, through the higher faculties (malak). Both of these words are in sufic usage outside of the Yezedi cult. The yezedis are divided into grades which use Sufi initiatory titles such as pir, Fakir and Baba…… The real developmental intention has become subservient to the form, which in turn, is used to produce communal emotion, replacing inner experience." The Sufis- Idries Shah

  24. Shaitan is not a similar name. It is a similiar character. In the yezidi faith he is a fallen, and redeemed angelic figurem

  25. so Yazidis are not christians like Kurds launches them to the world as christians , the believe in peacock

  26. Thank you for your informative video. Over the past few years I have heard occasional mention of the persecution of the Yazidi but no explanation of who they are and why they are persecuted so badly by Isis.

  27. MerokalaingarnubhagwanmeraiosamarachagrnurasabikoaiosamarachagrnubhgwaratipachinagrnumarutaraailiaiosamArChagrnubachanumerpanitastigrirachigruaiosamabachunu

  28. Actually the lettuce thing is that a god in ancient times ejeculated and sort of shit on the growing lettuce and the other god ate it and it killed him or something alone those weird lines

  29. To give context to the persecution:
    I think it would benefit from understanding the Demiurge/Yaldabaoth character in Gnostic sects of the Abrahamic religions. Essentially there is the unknowable "all" supreme divine principle, that manifested a powerful godlike being through thought (God/Allah in christianity/islam). This "God" was therefore lower than the "all" (more like an Archangel, lesser god or archon). This lesser reflection of the supreme all then created the material world and trapped the living creatures within. This hid them from their divine connection to all things universes origin or the "all"/godhead. (The snake was seen as a symbol of wisdom in the Garden of Eden, as eating from the Tree of Knowledge made Eve realise that they were fragments of divinity trapped by a higher being, but that there was a way to transcend and return to the source ["all/god/nirvana/apotheosis/transcendence/anatman").

    According to some of the Gnostics, in the same way we create within our mind, and the thoughts don't escape or manifest materially, those thoughts are still connected to the material source (brain). The material world too is therefore within the mind/mathematics that governs the original primal principle responsible for all things.

    This obviously pisses some Muslims/Christians/[some]Jewish sects off because they are claiming that the god they worship is a deceiver and not the all powerful and that the snake was a source of wisdom and divinity. By being unaware of the Divine Principle "The All" and instead worshiping the middle God, they are irrevocably cut off from the source as they do not even realise they are trapped.

    If the Yazidi claim that there is a primal principle, but they worship the Demiurge or the god of the plane (archon/archangel) then this may trigger the same backlash that Gnosticism did with its hierarchy of divinity. The 'Agnostic' Christians (without wisdom/with faith alone) got pretty enraged at the 'Gnostic' Christians (with wisdom/no need for faith) who believed they were blasphemous against the creator, despite worshipping what was higher.

  30. Its kind awkward yazidis give birth only girls ? Why the hell no yazidi men can be find in all those pictures..why only women yazidis are available internet

  31. I am Yezidis and I have never heard anything like this I have gone mad because of this video It is not true what you say because we are normal people on earth if it were then I would abandon my faith

  32. Ezidism is an old religion of Mesopotamia, they worship God, only God, and they don't even believe in the evil God, they respect all religions and they are very peacefull

  33. Dude, it seems like you got all the wrong information, 'cause Yazidies have nothing to do with that Yazid that you mentioned, and Ezidism is not a mix of other religions, It's older than them, Lalish which is the holy temple of Yazidies is older than Islamic history and also the christians

  34. I am as a Yazidi confirm that many of this stuff what he said in the video are not right. Yazidi (Ezidi) believe in peaceful and are very peaceful people as the history shows that yazidis have never attacked anyone.

    Also please if you really like to know more about yazidis to share it then ask yazidi people but not to ask from google, online and other people which cannot clarify religious things.
    Kind regards

  35. The 7 angels in their religion is similar to the 7 sages (saptarishis)of india and their fire worship also matches the lightin of oil lamps in indian temples

    And a correction there is no islamic influence in their culture because their culture is way before the birth of islam so it is the other abrahamic religions which took influence them

    And also the peacock is a native bird to india there's no way they have it as their religious symbol without some influence from india.
    Peacock is also the aboard of deity muruga in hindu mythology and the six pointed stars is also used as lord muruga's yantra.

    Some say that the Indian brahmins migrated to the middle east and was called as yasidis and their practice of strict endogamy also matches with the brahmins but ofcourse endogamy is no longer a big deal in india today

    Also the religious books are actually historical literatures which are often rewritten according to the convenience of the ruling powers then and there,the problem is only when people take those books seriously religious come on dudes do you really think there must not have been any influence of the ruling powers on those scriptures after all these years

  36. All yazidis world all.support for (indian) Tamil people support .yazidis or Tamil culture same .

  37. It's not because of a similar name. Yazidis are not supposed to pronounce the name 'Shaitan'. Historically they were known to be devil worshipers and didn't really deny it. You've used mostly modern sources for your information which are watered down. William Seabrook spent some time among the Yazidis in the twenties and even interviewed their high priest. His account is well worth reading but is rather hard to get. He published it in a book called 'Adventures in Arabia'.

  38. They are not persecuted because White men divided the middle East into countries or even because of the Iraq war, they persecuted because they live amid Muslims…case in point their treatment under the Ottomans.

  39. I think yazidis are linked to hindus. I request yazidis to find the roots and link between Indian Hindus. We will support you and fight with you to protect you guys.

  40. In 2005 I was in Iraq with 3rd ACR and we spent part of the deployment up near the Syrian Border. My platoon spent most of that time in the military base just South of Sinjar and part of the time at the airstrip SW of Tal Afar. I was on top of Mount Sinjar and saw the 40 Men Temple. We patrolled all around the Syrian border, getting information on all of the villages. We were the first Americans most of them ever saw. We found one guy with a perfect condition WW2 German rifle, with the swastika and eagle stamped on it. A British soldier gave it to the man around WW2. The Kurds and Yazidi invited us into their homes, made great meals for us, and we even got invited to a wedding. While in Baghdad we were the hunters of the insurgents. While up with the Kurds, they were hunting the insurgents too. Friendly and interesting people. We helped with security during their historic elections, and they were crazy happy. The whole region was just one big party. I am friends on Facebook with our main interpreter. I remember Baghdad was very Middle Eastern in style and culture, and the Kurds were more "Western" (when compared to Baghdad area). I've worked a lot of helping his family leave Iraq when ISIS moved in. I wish I had more access to information about them while I was there in 2005.

  41. Yazidis and tamils hv lot of similarities , peacock ,their lifestyle , shaytan worship (saathan worship in tamil ) , family orientation , their body language particularly women etc ..need to do deep research on these two groups

  42. We YZD were more than 100 millions in the world and now only one million, The Islamic religious mandated we as by killing to convert to Islamic religious. All Afghanistans were Yazdians but the Islamic religious converted them to Islamic and all Kurdishs were YZD they converted them

  43. You should educate your self with Hindu or Tamil religions or there cultures..🦚remakes the Tamil god murgan,.. fire is main thing him Hindu or Tamil religion..

  44. Sir I have an addition to the content …The line u said about Water Fire air Earth is an Ancient writings in Hinduism 🕉 …Zoroastrians is later version of religion…

  45. Do you want to seperate us from the rest of the Kurds? I have something for you:

    "Kurds developed on subclade J2-M172 an own typical genetic profile called “Modal Kurdish Haplotype” (KMH or

    MKMH for Muslim Kurds)

    The highest % have been meas-

    ured so far in Yezidis in Armenia and in (Muslim) Kurds from

    Northern Iraq (MKMH): Yezidis (in Armenia): 11.9%, MK = Muslim Kurds (N-Iraq): 9.5%"

    Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265947486_The_Origin_of_Kurds

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