Yazidis have existed and, in fact, nurtured themselves in the middle East for many centuries. But, in the last decade, they have been a centre of persecution at the hands of Islamic terrorism. Let’s take a look into the story of Yazidis.
Who are the Yazidis?
Yazidis are a monotheistic minority community residing mainly in northern Iraq and nearby regions of the Middle East. Their population is limited to 700,000 to 1,000,000 in the whole world. Yazidis mainly speak Kurmanji or Kurdish language.
What is the history and origin of Yazidis?
The term “Yazidi” derives from the word “Ez da”, meaning “I am created”. They also refer to “Xwede ez dam” meaning, “God created me”.
The origins of Yazidis can be traced to ancient mesopotamian civilization, Mithraic religion and Zoroastrianism.
Mesopotamians were people residing in the middle East and North Africa before the Abrahimic religions started taking control. They dominated the area from as early as 10,000 BC to 5th Century BC. They were mainly polytheistic people worshipping nature gods. The Abrahimic religions in the area are influenced by the mesopotamian philosophy and faiths.
The Mithraic and Zoroastrian faiths which are also said to have influenced the Yazidis are pre Abrahimic faiths and philosophy. There are dualistic, polytheistic as well as monotheistic ideas which developed within them.
The Yazidis believe in one God who created the world and left it in care of seven mysteries known as “heft sirr”. They believe in Tawuse Melek or Melek Taus who is also referred as Peacock angel.
Melek Taus is considered as a messenger of God sent by him to take care of the people.
How are the Yazidis Connected with Hindus?
There are many similarities in philosophies and traditions which suggests that Yazidism traces its roots to the Sanatana Culture. For instance, “heft sirr” or the seven mysterious figures might have been influenced by the Seven Sages or Sapta Rishis. They are born from Lord Brahma who again produced the world and propagated the knowledge in form of Scriptures and texts.
Vaivasvat Manu, who is son of Vivaswan or Surya Dev, is the leader of humans who guides the them to a better life and takes care of them as a father and king. Melek Taus is such a figure who can be compared with Manu.
Zoroastrians, who are said to have influenced the early Yazidis, are strongly linked to the Vedic Culture. The “Ahur” is said to have descended from Asur (which Zoroastrians despise) and “Daevas” are Devas or deities in Sanatana Culture.
Mithraism which is also an ancient faith in that area and proposed influencer of Yazidis revolves around Supreme God Mithra, who is the God of Light and truth, who shows light to nomads. Mithra is very much similar to Mitra, or Surya in Vedic tradition. I don’t think I need to explain about Mitra here to you guys.
Similar to Hindus, Yazidis respect and worship nature and it’s members like trees, snakes and other creatures. They too believe in rebirth and karma.
What we can say is that Yazidis are the long lost brothers of Hindus whose ancestors were probably separated from us at some point back in antiquity.
How Islam has affected Yazidis?
After Islamic Conquest of forced conversions and Caliphate began, many Yazidis succumbed to the atrocities and converted to Islam. They were known as Kurds. Today, they are so much in percentage that few Pro Islamic Scholars identify Yazidis as a subgroup of Kurdish tribe. That is certainly not the case.
Ottoman Empire has played an important role in limiting the number of Yazidis in the area during Medieval period by the means of mass conversion to Sunni Islam and Massacre when failing to do so.
Yazidis, at general, hate Kurds for the fact that they gave up the fight and converted to Islam. More than that, Kurds have been waging the “Holy war” against Yazidis and have been trying to convert them.
The Sufi missionaries and Catholic Christian missionaries have been trying to convert the Yazidis by maligning their tradition. They term Melek Taus as Satan who was thrown out from heaven — which is certainly not acceptable to Yazidis.
It is the constant persecution at the hands of Kurds and the Islamic terrorists that Yazidis are at the verge of extinction. The genocide of 2014 at the hands of ISIS was most gruesome act to wipe out them from middle East.
In 2014, when Islamic State took over the regions of Iraq and Syria, thousands of Yazidis were executed by ISIS. Many succumbed to death while trying to flee.
The plight of Yazidi women has been most haunting for human civilization. They are systematically raped and torchered to death by the terrorists. They are sold in market with a price tag as a sex slaves. Many girls have narrated these haunting stories to the world. All of this persecution is justified with the verses in a certain “book” which cannot be named. The United Nations estimated the figure of those killed to be 5000 in 2014.
Why Hindus should take a cue from Yazidis story?
Yazidis have let themselves to be diluted and digested by Islam and Kurds for a larger period. This led to their persecution by the same converted Kurds. The weakened remaining Yazidis were then wiped out by Islamic terrorism.
Hindus though are in majority in India and yet they are facing similar issues in many parts of the nation. In Pakistan, Hindus have been almost wiped out by the same forces. So is the scenario of Hindus in Bangladesh.
It is high time that We take note of this and start recognizing our roots and revive our tradition. Else, we will be digested by the missionaries from two of the biggest vultures in the present world.