Religion with near 800,000 members worldwide (other estimates set this as low as 100,000, but the higher figures are more likely). The largest group of Yazidis live in Iraq, near Mosul, but there are small communities in Syria, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia.
The Yazidis call themselves Dasin, while the term ‘Yazidism’ probably comes from the Persian word ‘īzed’, ‘angel’. The name Yazidism is, moreover, connected to the 6th caliph, Yazid (680-83), from Shi’i point of view one of world history’s most hated men, and highly disliked by most Sunnis, as well.
There is, however, little evidence to show what role Yazid may have played in the founding or development of Yazidism.
The acting forces are represented by Malak Ta’us and Shaykh Adii. Shaykh Adii may have been the caliph, Yazid (there are many theories here), a man who rose to divinity through transmigration and is now an acting and benevolent deity.
Shaykh Adii acts in cooperation with Malak Ta’us, the peacock angel who fell into disgrace but then repents.
Malak Ta’us filled 7 jars of tears through 7,000 years. His tears were used to extinguish the fire in hell. Therefore, there is no hell in Yazidism. Yazidism has 6 other minor deities, which are also honored.
Death and afterlife
Information on Yazidism‘s ideas about an afterlife is very limited. In Yazidism burial happens immediately after death. The corpse is placed in conical tombs, with hands crossed.
Cult and Worship
Prayers in Yazidism must be performed some distance from non-Yazidis, twice a day, and in the direction of the sun. Prayer is dedicated to Malak Ta’us. Saturday is the day of rest, but it is Wednesday that is the holy day. In December, a 3 day fast is performed.
There is an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of Shaykh Adii, north of Mosul in Iraq, for 6 days in late August. This pilgrimage is the most important ritual of Yazidism.
Central to this celebration are bathing in the river, washing of figures of Malak Ta’us, processions, music, hymns, ecstatic songs, and dances performed by the priests.
Other elements are the lighting of hundreds of oil lamps at the tombs of Shaykh Adii and other saints‘ tombs, offerings of special foods, and cooking of a sacrificed ox. Important parts of the rituals here have never been seen by outsiders, and are therefore unknown.
Childhood baptism is important and is performed by a Shaykh, a religious leader. Circumcision for boys is performed soon after the baptism, but it is not compulsory. Burials are done immediately after death, and the hands are crossed, pointing in an eastern direction.
The Yazidis are organized much like the Kurds, with tribes headed by a chief. There are very strong ties between the laity and the religious leaders. Almost all Yazidis speak Kurdish. The Yazidis practice no intermarrying with other Kurds, and have no relationships with them.
The Yazidis believe that they are the descendants of Adam only, while the rest of the world are descendants of Eve, hence inferior. It is impossible to convert to Yazidism; you must be born one.
The strongest punishment among Yazidis is expulsion, which means that your soul is lost forever. Monogamy is practiced, but the chief has the right to take several wives. Divorce is difficult to get, as this only comes from adultery, and three witnesses are needed.
But if a husband stays abroad for more than a year, he is automatically divorced from his wife and has also lost the right to remarry inside the Yazidi community.
But there is little suggesting that the Yazidis worship Malak Ta’us as if he were equal to the Koran’s or the Bible‘s devil. The Yazidis have never been regarded as Ahlu l-Kitab, people of the book, and they have suffered much hardship from their Muslim neighbours.