Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why the Yazidis Worship the Devil (And Why That's OK) -Sitting Now

Originally published August 28, 2014 via

Dedicated to Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj, executed for heresy

In the past month, an estimated 500,000 Yazidis have fled Sinjar, the site of one of the largest Yazidi communities in Iraq, to escape the invading threat of ISIS. The crime they are accused of is devil worship, one that Muslims have been flinging at the Yazidis since the 16th century.

The Yazidis deny the accusation, of course. But it’s hard to do when one of only two holy books known to your faith says, “Neither is it permitted to us to pronounce the name of Shaitan (because it is the name of our God)” (Meshaf Resh).

Shayṭān (Shaitan) is one of the names given to Iblis, the Islamic version of Satan. That the Meshaf Resh (The Black Book) names him as the god of the Yazidis could be a bit confusing. But it should be kept in mind that Meshaf Resh and the other Yazidi holy book, Ketēbā Jelwa (Book of Illumination), though revered by the Yazidis themselves, are considered to be forgeries written by outsiders in 1911 and 1913, respectively. So, using them as primary sources is misleading.

Much of the “confusion” (not counting that particularly damning piece of scripture) stems from connections traditionally made between peacocks and Shayṭān in Islam.

The Yazidis are a monotheistic culture, but they also venerate seven archangels (the heft sirr), chief among them being Tawûsê Melek (translated as “King Peacock” or more commonly, “Peacock Angel”). Although they believe that a supreme deity created and ruled over the heft sirr, Tawûsê Melek still plays the role of creator in Yazidi cosmology, filling the earth with animals and plants.

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