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Yezidis

god, name, devil and religion

YEZIDIS, yez'e-dCz. The name given to a sect known as 'Devil-Worshipers' found in Kur distan. Armenia, and the Caucasus. They speak of themselves rather as Dasni, after the name of certain tribes in the vicinity of Mosul. The term Yezidi itself is of uncertain derivation. The Mohammedans associate it with the name of Yezid. the second Ommiad Caliph (A.D. 7 20 724), lint the religion is undoubtedly older. Some have sought to connect it with the city of Yezd in Persia. Others again derive it from the Kurdish and Persian razdan. God, for the Yezidis unquestionably believe in a god, de spite their veneration of the devil. The sym bol of their faith is a peacock, which they call Malik Taus, the term by which they designate the devil. The devil is a creative agent of the supreme god and he is the author of evil. Ile was a fallen angel. but God reinstated him to heavenly rank and forbade the angels to scorn him. For this reason mankind should not ven ture to treat the power of evil with contempt. The Yezidis never use the name of Satan and they shrink from any mention of the devil. It is largely this that gives the idea that they are devil-worshipers, although it is possible, owing to their geographical position, that the Yezidis may actually show some surviving traces of the old devil-worship in Mazanderan anathematized by Zoroaster (q.v.). In numbers the Yezidis are

not large, although there are said to be some 12, 000 in the Caucasus region alone. Throughout history they have suffered much from persecu tion. The religion shows traces of old Iranian and Assyrian beliefs, such as dualistic traits and regard for the fire, the sun, and the elements, combined with some Mohammedan traits and influenced likewise by Manichieism and Nestorian Christianity. They recognize Mohammed as a prophet beside Abraham and the Patriarchs; and they consider that Christ was an angel in human form. The belief in a future life forms part of their faith. The rites of baptism and general ly of eireintwision are practiced among them, and there are special offices connected With and death. Polygamy is not common among them. Their chief book of divine revelation is entitled .11-1a/rah, and its great interpreter was Shaikh Adi, who lived about A.D. 1200. For the main points of their religion, consult: Layard, Ninerch and 1 I's Remains (London, 1850) ; mint. Les Wzidi8 (Paris, 1802).