Western Journalism reports:
Last week, CNN reported that a new mass grave filled with the bodies of mainly Yazidi women and children has been discovered in the city of Sinjar in northern Iraq. Mayor Mahama al-Shangali showed CNN reporter Nima Elgabir the new mass grave that contained the remains of 130 young men, women, and children. The Yazidis were murdered after they refused to convert to Islam or to cooperate with the Islamic State. The Iraqi Minister for Human Rights Affairs [sic!], Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, claims that ISIS terrorists buried more than 500 Yazidis alive in Sinjar.
On August 3 2014, Islamic State jihadists overran and captured the town of Sinjar, in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province, sending tens of thousands of Yazidis fleeing before them to the supposed safety of Mount Sinjar.
Kurdish forces managed to retake the town in November 2015. The liberators found one grave filled with 78 elderly women and another with at least 50 people.
Who are the Yazidis? What do they believe?
Here is a slightly re-edited version of our April 4, 2010 post on this obscure religion:
The Yazidis worship The Peacock Angel, Malak Taus. He’s identified by Muslims and Christians with Shaitan/Satan, so the Yazidis are held to be devil-worshipers.
They are ethnic Kurds, most of them settled in Mosul, Iraq. There are some in Iran, Kurdistan, Armenia, and the Caucuses. In all, it’s estimated, there are [were] about half a million of them. Their cult is in part an offshoot of Sufism, with various accretions.
They build small temples, shrines with conical white spires, and they keep sacred snakes. They practice circumcision. The eating of lettuce is forbidden.
They have an hereditary priesthood under a High Priest, and sacred books.
There is no need, they believe, to worship the Supreme God, because he is all good and so will never do you harm. The Peacock Angel, on the other hand, must be propitiated. He is capable of doing harm or good, and so must be won over to doing you good. Eventually he will be reconciled with the Supreme God, and that eventuality could come about at any moment.
In their cosmogony, the Supreme God created the world, which is watched over by 7 lesser divinities or “mysteries”, chief among whom is the Peacock Angel, Malak Taus. God created him first, out of his own light, and ordered him never to bow to other beings. Then God created the other six angels, and ordered them to make Adam out of the dust of the earth. God took the inanimate body of Adam and breathed life into him, and instructed the angels to bow down to him. Of course Malak Taus did not bow. “I cannot submit to him because,” he reminded God, “I am made of your own light, while he is made of dust.” This pleased God who then appointed him his vicar on earth.
As its ruler, Malak Taus visits the earth on the first Wednesday of Nisan (March/April – roughly the same time as Easter), which is the Yazidi New Year’s Day, and the anniversary of the day on which God made the Peacock Angel. On that day they feast, make music, dance, and decorate eggs.
God made the earth by first making a pearl, which remained very small for some forty thousand years, and was then expanded and reworked into its present state. From time to time the 7 angels are incarnated in human form and dwell among the living on earth. Their main annual festival is a week-long pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheikh Adi, their founder, who they say was the incarnation of one of the 7 angels. The tomb is at Lalish, north of Mosul.
All Yazidis are descended directly from Adam, not through Eve. At first the sexual roles of Adam and Eve were not fixed. Each produced a seed which was was sealed in a jar. Eve’s seed bred creepy-crawly things, but Adam’s developed into a boy-child who grew up, married a houri [no word on who made her- ed], and fathered the Yazidis.
As Adam’s seed, they are different from all other peoples. They permit marriage only within the sect, and members of each caste of their social and religious hierarchy can only marry among themselves.
They pray five times a day facing the sun. Their holy day is Wednesday, but their day of rest is Saturday.
In 2007, al-Qaeda suicide bombers drove oil tankers into two Yazidi communities near Mosul which they exploded, killing more than 500 and injuring about 1,000 more. This sent thousands of Yazidis to the Syrian border to seek asylum.
They are safe nowhere in the region. It is unlikely that the sect will survive the current wars and persecutions in the Middle East.