Translated from HawarNews
The Kurdish people are the most ancient people of the region with a history stretching back thousands of years. The Kurds, who have a major role in history and democratic civilization, have been ignored due to a lack of historical research. Many documents about the Kurds have also distorted facts about them. They have cultural connections with Persians, Arabs and peoples from the Caucasus. Consequently, Yazidi (Êzidî) Kurds have been misrepresented in many historical and contemporary studies.
Yazidi (Êzidî) Kurds have been subjected to genocide and attacks against their identity throughout history due to their beliefs. In this two-part article series, we will shed light on the regions where the Yazidis live, their beliefs, cultures, the genocidal attacks they have been subjected to; their targeting via massacres and other policies and practices by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and their organization in the field of politics after the ISIS massacres.
The Yazidis (Êzidîs) are among the oldest communities of Mesopotamia, also known as the Golden Crescent. According to the religious beliefs of the Yazidis, their history goes back at least 8,000 years. Several studies support the view that their language formed the basis of the Kurdish language. According to Dr. Sadîq Zada Borkî: “The Kurds acquired their language and alphabet. The alphabet they used was the Êzidî Kurdish alphabet”.
There are many historical works and inscriptions written in the Yazidi (Êzidî) language. The Yazidi (Êzidî) holy scripture is also written in this language and examples of this are exhibited in a museum in Austria. Inscriptions belonging to the language are also found on the walls of Lalish (Laleş) Temple. Agatha Christie wrote the following lines about her visit to this temple: “There is a stone at the entrance of Laleş and a snake statue on the right shoulder of that statue. There are writings in the Yazidi language at the door at the entrance of Lalish. However, these writings have become illegible”.
Throughout history, Yazidis (Êzidîs) have lived in several locations: Kurdistan, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran as well as Armenia and Georgia. In the Şerefname, written by Şeref Xanê Şemsedînê Bidlîsî between 1597-1599, it is stated that the Yazidis (Êzidîs) lived in the regions of Cizre (Cizîra), Botan, Musul (Mosul), Duhok, Diyarbakır (Amed), Halep, Urfa (Riha) and Rojhilatê Xoy in Iranian Kurdistan.
Since Lalish (Laleş) Temple is located in Iraqi Kurdistan, a significant population of Yazidis (Êzidîs) live here. According to available data, there are between 500,000 – 700,000 Yazidi (Êzidî) Kurds in Bashur (Başûr). It is stated that this population has spread to Şîxan, Başîqa, Behzanî, Şengal, Zimar and the Alqoş regions of Ninova province and Shariya, Xank and Dêrhebûnê regions of Duhok province.
Yazidis in Syria live in the cities of Serêkaniyê, Tirbespiye, Hesekê and Amûde, Afrin (Efrîn) and Halep (Aleppo) in the Cizre region. According to the census of 1963, the population of Yazidis in Syria was 10,000. However, after the Turkish state’s forced migration of the Yazidis (Êzidîs) during the invasions of Afrin (Efrîn), Serêkaniyê and the attacks on their properties and holy places, there are no accurate figures to draw from.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, it is stated that Yazidis mostly lived in Cizre (Cizîra) and Botan but were subjected to intense massacres by the Turkish state. In addition, Yazidis live in Siirt (Sêrt), Urfa (Riha), Kars (Qers), Ağrı (Agirî) and Ardahan. The Yazidis (Êzidîs) were subjected to massacres in Turkey and therefore their population has remained low. The Yazidi (Êzidî) population, who numbered 30,000 in 1982, decreased to 500 in Turkey in 2009. Most of the Yazidis (Êzidîs) today have settled in Europe due to recent forced migrations. Germany has the highest number of Yazidis (Êzidîs) living in Europe. It is estimated that their population in Europe is over 50,000.
The Yazidi (Êzidî) religion is based on ancient beliefs in Mesopotamia that go back thousands of years. Yazidis (Êzidîs) believe that God is a part of the soul of all living things and they believe in the existence of God. The idea of celebrating universal realities such as the sun, light, and moon comes from God’s miraculous power. The word “zid” is derived from the word root, “Yezda (self-existing)”. The word zidî can be defined as “worshiping God”. There are various holy books of the Yazidis (Êzidîs). ‘Celwe’ and ‘Musafa Reş’ (the Black Book) are amongst these holy books. The Êzidîs call Allah ‘Azdayi’. ‘Azdayi’ means ‘I gave’ in Kurdish.
Yazidis do not believe in the existence of evil spirits. According to their religion, humans possess different powers and have the chance to choose their path in life. Therefore, humans are responsible for what they do. Every human being has a difficult struggle between spirit and mind to face. If the mind prevails in this struggle, the person will find ‘good’.
The sacred place of Yazidism (Êzidîsm) is Lalish (Laleş) in Iraqi Kurdistan. Lalish, where the tomb of Şêx Adi is located, is the spiritual centre for all Yazidis in the world. On 6 October every year, Yazidis (Êzidîs) go there and perform a 7-day pilgrimage. During this worship, they sacrifice an animal to God, washed with the water of White Spring.
Lalish is one of the most important sacred places for all Kurds, especially the Yazidis (Êzidîs). It is located in the Shixan region of Iraqi Kurdistan and is surrounded by mountains – Mount Meşti to the south, Mount Arvat to the north and Mount Hezrtî to the west. It is believed that the name of Lalish is derived from “Lakeş a Guti”. This means “Light, life”. This place is known to be one of the oldest settlements of the Sumerians. Since Yazidi beliefs are unwritten and only verbally conveyed, a lot of misinformation has been put forward about their belief system. Because of propaganda regarding their beliefs, the Yazidi (Êzidî) community has been subjected to ill-treatment throughout history.