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S)vjo-ejdt ^olhA. 


History of Christianty, in 4 
Volumes. By Andrew Stephenson 

Sex Worship and Symbolism of 
Primitive Races. By Sanger 
Brown, II. 

Devil Worship, the Sacred 
Books and Traditions of the 
Yezidiz. By Isya Joseph. 

Zoroastrianism and Judaism. 
By George William Carter. 

Messiahs: Christian and Pagan. 
By Wilson D. Wallis. 

The Deeper Aspects of Roman 
Emperor-Worship. By Louis 
Matthews Sweet. 












Copyright, 1919, by Richard G. Badger 
All riffhtB reserved 

The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A. 
Made In the United States of America 






Chapter Page 

Introduction — The Origin of the Manu- 
script II 

Notes on the Introduction 22 


Preface, in the Name of the Most Com- 
passionate God 29 

I. Al-Jilwah — The Revelation . . 30 

II. Mashaf Res — The Black Book . . 36 

III. Appendix to Part 1 53 

IV. The Poem in Praise of §eih *Adi . 70 

V. The Principal Prayer of the Yezidis 73 

VI. Seven Classes of Yezidis .... 75 

VII. The Articles of Faith . . . . yy 

Notes on Part 1 83 



I. The Religious Origin of the Yezidis . 89 

I. The Yezidi Myth 89 

II. The Christian Tradition 96 

III. The Speculative Theories of Western 

Orientahst-s 103 

IV. The Dogmatic View of Mohammedan 

Scholars and the Writer's Own Ex- 
planation 118 

Notes on Part 1 138 


II. The Essential Elements in Yezidism . 145 

I. The Yezidi View of God 145 

II. The Deity of the Second Degree . .147 

1. Melek Ta'us 147 

2. §eih *A*di 158 

3. Yezid 166 

Notes on Chapter II 167 

III. Other Deities and Festivals .... 169 

I. The So-Called Seven Divinities . . . 169 

II. The Day of Sarsal or New Year . . .174 
Notes on Chapter III 177 

IV. Sacraments, Religious Observances /nd 

Sacerdotal System 178 

I. Sacraments ........ 178 

II. Some Other Religious Practices . . 180 

III. The Sacerdotal Orders 182 

Notes on Chapter IV. . . . . . . . 185 

V. Their Customs 186 

I. Marriage 186 

II. Funerals 192 

III. Nationality 194 

IV. Locality 195 

V. Dwellings 197 

VI. The Language 198 

VII. Occupation 198 

Notes on Chapter V 200 

VI. List of the Yezidi Tribes 201 

The Tribes Across the River from Mosul . 201 

The Tribes at Sinjav and Jezireh . . . 202 

The Tribes of Midyat Region .... 203 

VII. Persecution , 205 

Notes on Chapter VII 210 

Bibliography 213 

Index 219 




The Arabic manuscript here translated was pre- 
sented to me before I left Mosul by my friend Daud 
as-Saig as a memento of our friendship. Hawaja 
as-Saig was a man of culture, in sympathy with 
western thought, and an intimate acquaintance of 
M. N. Siouffi, the vice-consul of the French Republic 
in Mosul. From the first page of the manuscript it 
appears that through some Yezidis he had access to 
their literature. I know he was in close touch with 
many of them, especially with the family of MuUa 
Haidar, which is the only Yezidi family that can read 
and guard the sacred tradition of the sect. 

The manuscript comprises a brief Introduction, the 
Sacred Books, and an Appendix. In the first, the 
compiler indicates the sources of his information and 
gives a sketch of the life of §eih *Adi, the chief saint 
of the Yezidis. 

The Sacred Books comprise Kitdb al- Jilwah (Book 
of Revelation), and Mashaf Re^ (Black Book) — so 
named because in it mention is made of the descent of 



the Lord upon the Black Mountain (p. 32). 
Al Jilwah} is ascribed to Seih 'Adi himself, and would 
accordingly date from the twelfth century a. d. It is 
divided into a brief introduction and five short chap- 
ters. In each, *Adi is represented as the speaker. In 
the Preface the Seih says that he existed with Melek 
Ta'us before the creation of the world, and that he 
was sent by his god Ta us to instruct the Yezidi sect in 
truth. In the first chapter he asserts his omnipresence 
and omnipotence; in the second he claims to have 
power to reward those who obey him and to punish 
those who disobey him; in the third he declares that 
he possesses the treasures of the earth; in the fourth 
he warns his followers of the doctrines of those that 
are without; and in the fifth he bids them keep his 
commandments and obey his servants, who will com- 
municate to them his teachings. The Black Book,^ 
which perhaps dates from the thirteenth century, is 
larger than the Book of Revelation, but is not divided 
into chapters. It begins with the narrative of creation: 
God finishes his work in seven days — Sunday to Sat- 
urday. In each day he creates an angel or king 
{melek). Melek Ta'us, who is created on Sunday, is 
made chief of all. After that Fahr-ad Din creates 
the planets, man, and animals. Then follows a story 
about Adam and Eve, their temptation and quarrel ; 
the coming of the chief angels to the world to establish 
the Yezidi kingdom; the flood; the miraculous birth of 
Yezid bn Mu'awiya ; and certain ordinances in regard 
to food, the New Year, and marriages. 


The Appendix contains the following: 

1. A collection of materials concerning the Yezidi 
belief and practice. 

2. A poem in praise of §eih 'Adi. 

3. The principal prayer of the Yezidis, in the 
Kurdish language. 

4. A description of the Yezidi sacerdotal system. 

5. A petition to the Ottoman government to exempt 
the sect from military service, presented in the year 
1872 A. D. 

An analysis of the texts shows that the material is 
taken from different sources: part of it is clearly de- 
rived from the religious books of the sect; another 
part from a description of the beliefs and customs of 
the sect given by a member of it to an outsider; a 
third, partly from observations by an outsider, partly 
from stories about Yezidis current among their Chris- 
tian neighbors. Unfortunately the compiler does not 
specify whence each particular part of his information 
is obtained. On closer examination it is evident that 
part, at least, of the Arabic in hand is a translation 
from Syriac. 

The Yezidis, frequently called "Devil-Worshippers," 
are a small and obscure religious sect, numbering 
about 200,000.^ They are scattered over a belt of ter- 
ritory three hundred miles wide,^ extending in length 
from the neighborhood of Aleppo in northern Syria 
to the Caucasus in southern Russia. The mass of 


them, however, are to be found in the mountains of 
northern and central Kurdistan and among the Sinjar 
Hills of Northern Mesopotamia. 

By reason of their mysterious religion, the Devil- 
Worshipers have been an object of interest and inves- 
tigation for several generations. Our chief first-hand 
sources of information in regard to the manners, cus- 
toms, and practices of these people are: Sir Henry 
Layard, Nineveh and its Remains (1849), Nineveh 
and Babylon (1853); G. P. Badger, The Nestorians 
and their Rituals (1852); my honored teacher, Rev. 
A. N. Andrus, veteran missionary of the A. B. C. F. 
M., resident in Mardin, Mesopotamia, "The Yezidis," 
in the Encyclopaedia of Missions; P. Anastase, "The 
Yezidis," in the Arabic periodical, Al-Mahik, Vol. II 
(1899) ; Professor A. V. Williams Jackson, of Colum- 
bia University, Persia Past and Present (1906) ; "The 
Yezidis," in the International Encyclopaedia, s. v.; 
also in JAOS, XXV, 178; M. N. Siouffi, in the Journal 
Asiatique, 1882 (vii^ serie, T. 20), p. 252, and 1885 
(viii® serie, T. 5), p. 78. Siouffi was the first to dis- 
cover and establish the historical character of §eih 
*Adi, about whom the scholars had been puzzled. He 
published an extract relating to 'Adi from Ibn Halli- 
kan's Wafaiyat 'al-Ayan (bibliographical work). Of 
the second-hand sources of information may be men- 
tioned Les Yezidis, by J. Menant (Paris, 1892), and 
the article by Victor Dingelstedt, "The Yezidis," in 
the Scottish Geographical Magazine, Vol. XIV, pp. 

259 ff.* 


In addition to these descriptions, several manuscripts 
have come to light of recent years which give a great 
deal of information about the beliefs and customs of 
the Yezidis 

Two of these manuscripts are in the Bibliotheque 
Nationale, in Paris • (Fond Syriaque, Nos. 306 and 
325). A translation of the Arabic (Carshuni) texts in 
these manuscripts relative to the Yezidis was published 
by Professor E. H. Browne in an appendix to O. H. 
Parry, Six Months in a Syrian Monastery, 1895. 
Professor Browne at that time proposed to edit the 
Arabic text (see J.-B. Chabot, Journal Asiatique, 
1896, ix® serie, T. 7, p. 100) ; but so far as I can as- 
certain this intention has not been carried out. 

The manuscript translated by Browne, which ac- 
cording to Parry {loc. cit., p. 357) was written by a 
native of Mosul, seems to be closely related to that 
translated below. There are, however, some differ- 
ences in contents and arrangement : my copy is divided 
into the Book of Revelation, the Black Book, and an 
Appendix; while Browne's embraces the Book of Re- 
velation which corresponds to that in my manu- 
script), and two other "Accounts," the greater part 
of which is contained in the Black Book of my text, 
and the rest in the Appendix. Further, in my manu- 
script Al-Jilwah immediately follows the Introduction; 
while in Browne's the discussion of the sacerdotal sys- 
tem, the petition to the Ottoman government, and 
some other matters, are inserted between the Intro- 
duction and Al-Jilwah. In Browne's, moreover, the 


Poem in Praise of §eih 'Adi, and the Principal Prayer 
(in Kurdish) are absent, while the petition to the 
Turkish government is briefer, and lacks articles iv 
and xiv. The text of this petition, in its original form, 
was published by Lidzbarski in ZDMG, LI, 592 if., 
after a manuscript in Berlin which was procured from 
Sammas Eremia Samir. 

Two Syriac texts have also been printed. The first, 
edited and translated by J.-B. Chabot in the Journal 
Asiatique, 1896 (ix® serie, T. 7), p. 100 ff., from the 
Paris manuscripts referred to above, corresponds, with 
slight variations, to the second "Account," of Browne 
(Parry, loc. cit., pp. 380-87). 

The second was published with an Italian transla- 
tion, by Samuel Giamil, under the title, Monte Singar; 
Storia di un Popolo I gnat (Rome, 1900), from a 
manuscript copied for him in 1899 from an original 
in the monastery of Rabban Hormizd. The author of 
this work, a Syrian priest, Isaac, lived for a long 
time among the Yezidis, and not only had unusual 
opportunities of observation, but, as is evident from 
several anecdotes, possessed their confidence and es- 
teem in a singular degree. His work is in catechetical 
form: a youthful Yezidi inquirer questions a teacher 
about the beliefs, traditions, and customs of his people, 
and the answers contain the fullest exposition of these 
matters we at present possess. Occasionally the au- 
thor falls out of his role, and lets it appear that the 
questioner is no other than Priest Isaac himself. 

The work is divided into ten sections, which treat 


respectively of the works of God and his abode (p.3) ; 
the creation of Adam and Eve (p. 8) ; the wonderful 
deeds of the god Yezid (p. 16) ; the Yezidi saints 
(p. 2^)'^ the New- Year (p. 32) ; marriage customs 
(p. 46) ; death and burial (p. 53) ; the pilgrimage to 
Seih 'Adi's shrine (p. 67) ; the festivals and assemblies 
at Seih 'Adi (p. 80) ; and the Yezidi kings (p. 87). 

Apart from the Kitah al-Jilwah, Priest Isaac's work 
is clearly the source from which is derived most of 
the material in the Syriac and Arabic manuscripts that 
have hitherto come to light. 

Beside the Arabic manuscript from Daud as-Sai^ 
which is translated below, I have in my possession two 
others, which were sent me by the Rev. A. N. Andrus. 
The first of these written by Sammas Eremia Samir 
(designated in the notes hereafter as SS), seems to 
be a duplicate of that from which Browne's translation 
was made. They agree in contents and arrangement, 
and in certain readings in which they differ from the 
other texts. At the close of SS the writer says that 
he compiled it (chiefly from Al-Jilwah) for the benefit 
of some of his friends who wished to acquaint them- 
selves with the Yezidi religion. 

The origin of the Yezidi sect has been the subject 
of much discussion, but no satisfactory solution of the 
problem has as yet been reached. There are those 
who assert that the Yezidis are the remains of the 
ancient Manichaeans ;^ others entertain the view that 
the Yezidis were originally Christians, whom progres- 
sive ignorance has brought into their present con- 


dition^ — some even going so far as to connect the 
name "Yezidi" with "Jesus" !^ Some think that the 
Yezidi sect takes its name from the Persian word 
yazd, 'god, or good spirit/ over against Ahriman, the 
evil principle;^ while others associate it with Yazd or 
Yezid, a town in central Persia, the inhabitants of 
which are chiefly Parsees.^ Some finally maintain that 
the sect was founded by Seih 'Adi.^'^ 

The Yezidis themselves had a curious legend con- 
necting the name with the Caliph Yezid bn Mu'awiya^^ 
(seep. 37). 

In a dissertation presented for the degree of Doc- 
tor of Philosophy in Harvard University I called at- 
tention to a statement of as-Sahrastani the importance 
of which seems hitherto not to have been appreciated, 
but which appears to me to give the most probable ex- 
planation of the name and of the original affinities of 
the sect. The passage is as follows (Kitdb al Milal 
wan-Nihal, ed. Cureton, I, lOi): 

The Yezidis are the followers of Yezid bn Unaisa, 
who kept friendship with the first Muhakkama, before 
the Azarika; he separated himself from those who 
followed after them with the exception of the 
Abadiyah,^^ for with these he kept friendly. He be- 
lieved that God would send an apostle from among the 
Persians, and would reveal to him a book that is al- 
ready written in heaven, and would reveal the whole 
(book) to him at one time,^^ and as a result he would 
leave the religion of Mohammed, the Chosen One — 


may God bless and save him ! — and follow the religion 
of the Sabians mentioned in the Koran. ^* (These are 
not the Sabians who are found in Haran and Wasit.^^) 
But Yezid associated himself with the people of the 
Book who recognized the Chosen One as a prophet, 
even though they did not accept his (Mohammed's) 
religion. And he said that the followers of the ordin- 
ances are among those who agree with him; but that 
others are hiding the truth and give companions to 
God, and that every sin, small or great, is idolatry.^® 

The statement of As-Sahrastani is so clear that it 
can bear no other interpretation than that the Yezidis 
were the followers of Yezid bn Unaisa. He calls 
them his 'ashdh, that is, his followers, a term by which 
he designates the relation between a sect and its 
founder.^' The statement comes from the pen of one 
who is considered of the highest authority among the 
Arab scholars on questions relating to philosophical 
and religious sects.^* This precise definition of the 
position of Yezid bn Unaisa in the sectarian conflicts 
of the first century of Islam seems to show that he had 
exact information about him. 

The prediction about the Persian prophet is quoted, 
almost in the same words, by another great Moham- 
medan authority on religious sects, Ibn Hazm, who 
lived a century before As-§ahrastani. (The Egyptian 
edition of Ibn Hazm, Vol. IV, p. 188, reads Zaid bn 
Abi Ubaisa; but that Unaisa should be restored is evi- 
dent from the fact that Ibn Hazm is at pains to dis- 
tinguish the author of this unorthodox prediction from 


the well-known traditionist of the name — e. g., Tabari, 

1, 135" 

The prophecy was perhaps preserved among the 
leaders of the Abadiya, with which sect Yezid bn 
Unaisa is associated. As-Sahrastani's statement, the 
significant part of which we have found also in Ibn 
Hazm was doubtless derived from an older written 

Who is intended by the coming Persian prophet — 
if, indeed, any particular individual is meant — it is not 
possible to determine. Kremer ^° cannot be right in 
identifying him with Seih *Adi, for the supposed pre- 
diction was in circulation a century or more before 
his time. He is said to have been, not a Persian, but 
a Syrian from Baalbek or elsewhere in the West ; and 
both in Arabic authors ^^ and in his own writings ^* he 
appears as a Moslem, a Sufi saint in good standing. 
The Yezidis to this day await the appearance of the 
Persian prophet. ^^ 

On the basis of these scanty bits of fact, it appears 
that: The Yezidis were originally a Harijite^* sub- 
sect, akin to the Abadiya, bearing the name of their 
founder, Yezid bn Unaisa. Certain distinctive Hari- 
jite peculiarities seem indeed to have outlived among 
them the common faith of Islam; such as the tolerant 
judgment of Jews and Christians; the condemnation 
of every sin as implicit idolatry. In their new seats 
in Kurdistan, whither they migrated about the end of 
the fourteenth century ^^ they were drawn into the 
movement of which Seih 'Adi was in his life time the 


leader and after his death the saint, and ended by 
making of him the incarnation of God in the present 
age. ^® With this they joined elements drawn from 
Christianity, ^^ with here and there a trace of Judaism, 
and with large survivals of the persistent old Semitic 
heathenism, many of which they share with their 
neighbors of all creeds. 

Difficult problems, ^® however, remain unsolved, es- 
pecially the origin and nature of the worship of Melek 
Ta'us. ^® The certain thing is that the actual religion 
of the Yezidis is a syncretism, to which Moslem, 
Christian (heretical, rather than orthodox), pagan, 
and perhaps also Persian religions have contributed.^" 


^ Al-Jilwah is said to have been written in 
558 A. H., by Seih Fahr-ad-Din, the secretary of 
leih 'Adi, at the dictation of the latter. The original 
copy, wrapped in Unen and silk wrappings, is kept in 
the house of MuUa Haidar, of Baadrie. Twice a year 
the book is taken to Seih 'Adi's shrine. (Letter from 
Sammas Jeremia Samir to Mr. A. N. Andrus, of 
Mardin, dated October 28, 1892.) 

2 The Black Book is said to have been written by 
a certain Hasan al-Basri, in 743 A. H. The original 
copy is kept in the house of Kehyah (chief) *AH, of 
Kasr 'Az-ad-Din, one hour west of Semale, a village 
east of Tigris. The book rests upon a throne, having 
over it a thin covering of red broadcloth, of linen, and 
other wrappings. Then is disclosed the binding, which 
is of wood. 

^ The exact number of the Yezidis is unknown 
See also Societe de Geographie de I'Est, Bulletin, 1903, 
p. 284; Al Masrik, II, 834. 

* For a fuller account of the literature on the 
Yezidis, consult J. Menant, Les Yezidis, and Paul 
Perdrizet, Societe de Geographie de I'Est, Bulletin, 
1903, pp. 281 ff. 

^ Societe de Geographie de TEst, Bulletin, 1903, 

P- 297- 

® Fraser, Mesopotamia and Persia, pp. 285, 287 ; 

Rich, Residence in Kurdistan, II, 69; Al Masrik, II, 

396; Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, I, iii ; 

Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, III, 439. 



^ Michel Febvre, Theatre de la Turquie, p. 364 ; 
Societe de Geographic de I'Est, Bulletin, 1903, pp. 299, 
301; cf. also J. Menant, Les Yezidis, pp. 52, 86, 132. 

^ Oppenheim, Vom Mittelmeer zum persischen 
Golf, 1900, II, 148; Victor Dingelstedt, Scottish Geo- 
graphical Magazine, XIV, 295 ; Southgate, A Tour 
through Armenia, II, 317; A. V. Williams Jackson, 
"Yezidis," in the New International Encyclopedia, 
XVII, 939; Perdrizet, loc. cit., p. 299. 

®A. V. Williams Jackson, Persia Past and Present, 
p. 10, New International Encyclopedia, "Yezidis;" 
Perdrizet, loc. cit. 

^° Dingelstedt, loc. cit. ; Revue de VOrient Chretien, 

I, "Kurdistan." 

^^ Societe de Geographic de TEst, loc. cit. ; En- 
cyclopedia of Missions, "Yezidis"; A. V. Williams 
Jackson, loc. cit. 

^2 On these sects consult As-§ahrastani, I, 86, 89, 

^^ Not like Mohammed, to whom, according to 
Moslem belief, the Koran was revealed at intervals. 

^* On the Sabians of the Koran, see Baidawi and 
Zamahsari on Suras 2, 59; 5, 73; 22, 17. 

"On the Sabians of Harran, see Fihrist, p. 190; 
on the Sabians in general consult As-Sahrastani, II, 
203 ; on the location of Harran and Wasit, see Yakut, 

II, 331, and IV, 881. 

^^ To get more particular information in regard to 
Yezid bn Unaisa, I wrote to Mosul, Bagdad, and Cairo, 
the three centers of Mohammedan learning, and 
strange to say, none could throw any light on the 

^^ Al-Haratiyah he describes as Ashah Al- 
Haret (I, loi), al-Hafaziyah, Ashab Hafez {ihid.)y 




Ibn Hallikan says: "As-Sahrastani, a dogmatic 
theologian of the Asarite sect, was distinguished as an 
Imam and a doctor of the law. He displayed the high- 
est abilities as a jurisconsult. The Kitdb al-Milal wa- 
n-Nihal (this is the book in which As-Sahrastani traces 
the Yezidi sect to Yezid bn Unaisa) is one of his works 
on scholastic theology. He remained without an equal 
in that branch of science." 

^^ It is to be noticed also that the name "Unaisa** 
is very common among the Arabs; cf. Ibn Sa'ad (ed. 
Sachau), III, 254, 260, 264, 265, 281, 283, 287, 289; 
Musnad, VI, 434; Mishkat, 22, 724. 

"° Geschichte der herrschenden Ideen des I slams, 

P- 195- 

^^ Ibn Hallikan (Egyptian edit., A. H. 1310), I, 

316; Mohammed al-'Omari, al-Mausili, "§eih 'Adi," 

quoted by M. N. Siouffi, Journal asiatique, 1885, 80; 

Yakut, IV, 374. 

22'Itikad Ahl as-Sunna, "Belief of the Sunnites," 
the Wasaya, "Counsels to the Califs"; cf. C. Huart, 
History of Arabic Literature, p. 273. 

2^ See p. 61 of this book. 

^* As-§ahrastani regards them a Harijite sub-sect. 

^^ Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, II, 254. 

^® Mohammxd al-*Omari al-Mausili and Yasfn al- 
Hatib al-'Omari al-Mausili, "§eih 'Adi," quoted by 
M. N. Siouffi, Journal asiatique, Serie viii, V (1885), 

2' George Warda, Bishop of Arbila, Poems, edited 
by Heinrich Hilgenfeld, Leipzig, 1904. 

^* Such as their ceremonies at Seih 'Adi (Badger, 
The Nestorians, I, 117), which have obtained for them 
the name Cherag Sonderan, "The Extinguishers of 
Light." Bar Hebraeus (Chronicon Eccles., ed. 
Abeloos-Lamy, I, 219) speaks of similar practices 


among what he calls "Borborians," a branch of the 
Manichaeans, and calls them "The Extinguishers of 
Light." This name is applied to other eastern sects 
also; see Abhandlungen fur die Kunde des Morgen- 
landes, V, 124. 

^^ Professor Jackson, of Columbia University, 
seems to trace it to the "old devil-worship in Mazan- 
deran" (JAOS, XXV, 178). But it is not certain that 
the Yezidis believe in Melek Ta'us as an evil spirit. 
In the history of religion the god of one people is the 
devil of another. Asura is a deity in the Rig Veda and 
an evil spirit only in later Brahman theology. In Islam 
the gods of heathenism are degraded into jinns, just 
as the gods of North Semitic heathenism are called 
se'irim (hairy demons) in Lev. 177; or as the gods 
of Greece and Rome became devils to early Christians. 
See W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 120; 
Fihrist, pp. 322, 326. 

Professor M. Lidzbarski {ZDMG, LI, 592), on the 
other hand, aigues that Ta'iis is the god Tammuz. His 
contention is based on the assumption that the word 
Ta'us must embody the ancient god; that in Fihrist, 
322, the god Tauz has a feast on the 15th of Tammuz 
(July) ; that in Kurdish, the language of the Yezidis, 
m is frequently changed to w. This theory also is 
untenable, for one might guess at any ancient god. 
The exact form of the name "Tauz" is uncertain (see 
Chwolsohn, Die Ssahier, II, 202; the statement that 
in Kurdish m is frequently changed to w is not true, 
if one would set it up as a grammatical rule to explain 
such phenomena; the Kurdish-speaking people never 
pronounce Tammuz, "Tauz ;" and, finally, in the 
Yezidi conception of Melek Ta'us there are no traces 
of the notion held respecting Tammuz. 


^° Such a state of affairs finds a historical parallel 
in other religions. Take, for example, Christianity. 
In it we find that the distinctive characteristics of the 
founder have been wrapped up in many foreign ele- 
ments brought in by those who came from other 



In the Name of the Most Compassionate God! 

With the help of the Most High God, and under his 
direction, we write the history of the Yezidis, their 
doctrines, and the mysteries of their religion, as con- 
tained in their books, which reached our hand with 
their own knowledge and consent. 

In the time of Al-Muktadir Billah, A. H. 295, there 
lived Mansur-al-HallajV the woU-carder, and §eih 
*Abd-al-Kadir of Jilan.* At that time, too, there ap- 
peared a man by the name of §eih *Adi, from the 
mountain of Hakkari,* originally from the region of 
Aleppo or Baalbek. He came and dwelt in Mount 
Lalis,^ near the city of Mosul, about nine hours dis- 
tant from it. Some say he was of the people of 
Harran, and related to Marwan ibn-al-Hakam. His 
full name is Saraf ad-Din Abu-1-Fadail, 'Adi bn 
Musafir bn Ismael bn Mousa bn Marwan bn Al-Hasan 
bn Marwan. He died A. H. 558 (A. D. 1162-63). His 
tomb is still visited; it is near Ba'adrei, one of the 
villages of Mosul, distant eleven hours. The Yezidis 
are the progeny of those who were the murids (dis- 
ciples) of §cih 'Ad!. Some trace their origin to 
Yezid,* others to Hasan-Al-Basrl. 



Before all creation this revelation was with Melek 
Ta'us, who sent 'Abd Ta'us to this world that he 
might separate truth known to his particular people. 
This was done, first of all, by means of oral tradition, 
and afterward by means of this book, Al-Jilwah, 
which the outsiders may neither read nor behold. 



I was, am now, and shall have no end. I exercise 
dominion over all creatures and over the affairs of 
all who are under the protection of my image. I am 
ever present to help all who trust in me and call upon 
me in time of need. There is no place in the universe 
that knows not my presence. I participate in all the 
affairs which those who are without call evil because 
their nature is not such as they approve. Every age 
has its own manager, who directs affairs according to 
my decrees. This office is changeable from generation 
to generation, that the ruler of this world and his 
chiefs may discharge the duties of their respective 
offices every one in his own turn. I allow everyone 
to follow the dictates of his own nature, but he that 
opposes me will regret it sorely. No god has a right 
to interfere in my affairs, and I have made it an 
imperative rule that everyone shall refrain from wor- 
shiping all gods. All the books of those who are 
without are altered by them; and they have declined 
from them, although they were written by the prophets 
and the apostles. That there are interpolations is 
seen in the fact that each sect endeavors to prove that 
the others are wrong and to destroy their books. To 
me truth and falsehood are known. When temptation 



comes, I give my covenant to him that trusts in me. 
Moreover, I give counsel to the skilled directors, for 
I have appointed them for periods that are known to 
me. I remember necessary affairs and execute them 
in due time. I teach and guide those who follow my 
instruction. If anyone obey me and conform to my 
commandments, he shall have joy, delight, and 


I requite the descendants of Adam, and reward 
them with various rewards that I alone know. More- 
over, power and dominion over all that is on earth, 
both that which is above and that which is beneath, 
are in my hand. I do not allow friendly association 
with other people, nor do I deprive them that are my 
own and that obey me of anything that is good for 
them. I place my afifairs in the hands of those whom 
I have tried and who are in accord with my desires. 
I appear in divers manners to those who are faithful 
and under my command. I give and take away; I 
enrich and impoverish; I cause both happiness and 
misery. I do all this in keeping with the characteris- 
tics of each epoch. And none has a right to interfere 
with my management of affairs. Those who oppose 
me I afflict with disease ; but my own shall not die like 
the sons of Adam that are without. None shall live in 

this world longer than the time set by me; and if I so 
desire, I send a person a second or a third time into 

this world or into some other by the transmigration 

of souls. 


I lead to the straight path without a revealed book; 
I direct aright my beloved and my chosen ones by un- 
seen means. All my teachings are easily applicable to 
all times and all conditions. I punish in another world 
all who do contrary to my will. Now the sons of 
Adam do not know the state of things that is to come. 
For this reason they fall into many errors. The 
beasts of the earth, the birds of heaven, and the fish 
of the sea are all under the control of my hands. All 
treasures and hidden things are known to me; and 
as I desire, I take them from one and bestow them 
upon another. I reveal my wonders to those who seek 
them, and in due time my miracles to those who receive 
them from me. But those who are without are my 
adversaries, hence they oppose me. Nor do they know 
that such a course is against their own interests, for 
might, wealth, and riches are in my hand, and I be- 
stow them upon every worthy descendant of Adam. 
Thus the government of the worlds, the transition of 
generations, and the changes of their directors are 
determined by me from the beginning. 



I will not give my rights to other gods. I have al- 
lowed the creation of four substances, four times, and 
four comers; because they are necessary things for 
creatures. The books of Jews, Christians, and Mos- 
lems, as of those who are without, accept in a sense, 
i. e., so far as they agree with, and conform to, my 
statutes. Whatsoever is contrary to these they have 
altered; do not accept it. Three things are against 
me, and I hate three things. But those who keep my 
secrets shall receive the fulfilment of my promises. 
Those who suffer for my sake I will surely reward in 
one of the worlds. It is my desire that all my follow- 
ers shall unite in a bond of unity, lest those who are 
without prevail against them. Now, then, all ye who 
have followed my commandments and my teachings, 
reject all the teachings and sayings of such as are with- 
out. I have not taught these teachings, nor do they 
proceed from me. Do not mention my name nor my 
attributes, lest ye regret it; for ye do not know what 
those who are without may do. 



O ye that have believed in me, honor my symbol 
and my image, for they remind you of me. Observe 
my laws and statutes. Obey my servants and listen 
to whatever they may dictate to you of the hidden 
things. Receive that that is dictated, and do not carry 
it before those who are without, Jews, Christians, Mos- 
lems, and others ; for they know not the nature of my 
teaching. Do not give them your books, lest they alter 
them without your knowledge. Learn by heart the 
greater part of them, lest they be altered. 

Thus endeth the book of Al-Jilwah, which is fol- 
lowed by the book of Mashaf Res, i. e., the Black 

Mashaf Res (The Black Book) 

In the beginning God created the White Pearl out 
of his most precious essence. He also created a bird 
named Angar. He placed the White Pearl on the back 
of the bird, and dwelt on it for forty thousand years. 
On the first day, Sunday, God created Melek Anzazil, 
and he is Ta'us-Melek, the chief of all. On Monday 
he created Melek Dardael, and he is Seih Hasan. 
Tuesday he created Melek Israfel, and he is Seih 



Sams (ad-D!n). Wednesday he created Melek Mihael, 
and he is Seih Abil Bakr. Thursday he created Melek 
Azrael, and he is Sajad-ad-Din. Friday he created 
Melek Semnael, and he is Nasir-ad-Din. Saturday he 
created Melek Nurael, and he is Yadin (Fahr-ad- 
Din). And he made Melek Ta'us ruler over all.® 

After this God made the form of the seven heavens, 
the earth, the sun, and the moon. But Fahr-ad-Din 
created man and the animals, and birds and beasts. 
He put them all in pockets of cloth, and came out of 
the Pearl accompanied by the Angels. Then he shouted 
at the Pearl with a loud voice. Thereupon the White 
Pearl broke up into four pieces, and from its midst 
came out the water which became an ocean. The 
world was round, and was not divided. Then he 
created Gabriel and the image of the bird. He sent 
Gabriel to set the four corners. He also made a ves- 
sel and descended in it for thirty thousand years. 
After this he came and dwelt in Mount Lalis. Then 
he cried out at the world, and the sea became solidified 
and the land appeared, but it began to shake. At this 
time he commaned Gabriel to bring two pieces of the 
White Pearl; one he placed beneath the earth, the 
other stayed at the gate of heaven. He then placed in 
them the sun and the moon; and from the scattered 
pieces of the White Pearl he created the stars which 
he hung in heaven as ornaments. He also created 
fruit-bearing trees and plants and mountains for orna- 
ments to the earth. He created the throne over the 
carpet.® Then the Great God said: "O Angels, I will 


create Adam and Eve; and from the essence of Adam 
shall proceed Sehar bn Jebr, and of him a separate 
community shall appear upon the earth, that of Azazil, 
i. e., that of Melek Ta'us, which is the sect of the 
Yezidis. Then he sent §eih *Adi bn Musafir from the 
land of Syria, and he came (and dwelt in Mount) 
Lalis. Then the Lord came down to the Black Mount- 
ain. Shouting, he created thirty thousand Meleks, and 
divided them into three divisions. They worshiped 
him for forty thousand years, when he delivered them 
to Melek Ta'us who went up with them to heaven. 
At this time the Lord came down to the Holy Land 
(al-Kuds), and commanded Gabriel to bring earth 
from the four corners of the world, earth, air, fire, 
and water. He created it and put in it the spirit of 
his own power, and called it Adam. 

Then he commanded Gabriel to escort Adam into 
Paradise, and to tell him that he could eat from all 
the trees but not of wheat.^° Here Adam remained 
for a hundred years. Thereupon, Melek Ta'us asked 
God how Adam could multiply and have descendants 
if he were forbidden to eat of the grain. God an- 
swered, "I have put the whole matter into thy hands." 
Thereupon Me^ek Ta'us visited Adam and said '"Have 
you eaten of the grain?" He answered, "No, God 
forbade me." Melek Ta'us replied and said, "Eat of 
the grain and all shall go better with thee." Then 
Adam ate of the grain and immediately his belly was 
inflated. But Melek Ta'us drove him out of the gar- 
den, and leaving him, ascended into heaven. Now 


Adam was troubled because his belly was inflated, for 
he had no outlet. God therefore sent a bird to him 
which pecked at his anus and made an outlet, and 
Adam was relieved. 

Now Gabriel was away from Adam for a hundred 
years. And Adam wa-s sad and weeping. Then God 
commanded Gabriel to create Eve from under the left 
shoulder of Adam. Now it came to pass, after the 
creation of Eve and of all the animals, that Adam and 
Eve quarreled over the question whether the human 
race should be descended from him or her, for each 
wished to be the sole begetter of the race. This quar- 
rel originated in their observation of the fact that 
among animals both the male and the female were 
factors in the production of their respective species. 
After a long discussion Adam and Eve agreed on this : 
each should cast his seed into a jar, close it, and seal 
it with his own seal, and wait for nine months. When 
they opened the jars at the completion of this period, 
they found in Adam's jar two children, male and fe- 
male. Now from these two our sect, the Yezidis, are 
descended. In Eve's jar they found naught but rotten 
worms emitting a foul odor. And God caused nipples 
to grow for Adam that he might suckle the children 
that proceeded from his jar. This is the reason why 
man has nipples. 

After this Adam knew Eve, and she bore two chil- 
dren, male and female ; and from these the Jews, the 
Christians, the Moslems, and other nations and sects 
are descended. But our first fathers are §eth, Noah, 


and Enosh, the righteous ones, who were descended 
from Adam only. 

It came to pass that trouble arose between a man and 
his wife, resulting from the denial on the part of the 
woman that the man was her husband. The man 
persisted in his claim that she was his wife. The 
trouble between the two was settled, however, through 
one of the righteous men of our sect, who decreed 
that at every wedding a drum and a pipe should be 
played as a testimony to the fact that such a man and 
such a woman were married legally. 

Then Melek Ta'us came down to earth for our sect 
(i. e., the Yezidis), the created ones, and appointed 
kings for us, besides the kings of ancient Assyria, 
Nisroch, who is Nasir-ad-Din ; Kamush, who is Melek 
Fahr-ad-Din, and Artamis, who is Melek Sams- (ad-) 
Din. After this we had two kings, Sabur (Sapor) 
First (224-272 A. D.) and Second (309-379), who 
reigned one hundred and fifty years; and our amirs 
down to the present day have been descended from 
their seed. But we hated four kings. 

Before Christ came into this world our religion was 
paganism. King Ahab was from among us. And the 
god of Ahab was called Beelzebub. Nowadays we call 
him Pir Bub. We had a king in Babylon, whose name 
was Bahtnasar; another in Persia, whose name was 
Ahsuras; and still another in Constantinople, whose 
name was Agrikalus. The Jews, the Christians, the 
Moslems, and even the Persians, fought us; but they 
failed to subdue us, for in the strength of the Lord 


we prevailed against them. He teaches us the first 
and last science. And one of his teachings is : 

Before heaven and earth existed, God was on the 
sea, as we formerly wrote you. He made himself a 
vessel and traveled in it in kujisiniyaf "of the seas, 
thus enjoying himself in himself. He then created the 
White Pearl and ruled over it for forty years. After- 
ward, growing angry at tlie Pearl, he kicked it ; and it 
was a great surprise to see the mountains formed out 
of its cry; the hills out of its wonders; the heavens 
out of its smoke. Then God ascended to heaven, soHd- 
ified it, established it without pillars. He then spat 
upon the ground, and taking a pen in hand, began to 
write a narrative of all the creation. ' 

In the beginning he created six gods from himself 
and from his light, and their creation was as one lights 
a light from another light. And God said, "Now I 
have created the heavens; let some one of you go up 
and create something therein." Thereupon the second 
god ascended and created the sun ; the third, the moon ; 
the fourth, the vault of heaven; the fifth, the farg 
(i. e., the morning star); the sixth, paradise; the 
seventh, hell. We have already told you that after this 
they created Adam and Eve. 

And know that besides the flood of Noah, there was 
another flood in this world. Now our sect, the Yezidis, 
are descended from Na'umi, an honored person, king 
of peace. We call him Melek Miran. The other sects 
are descended from Ham, who despised his father. 
The ship rested at a village called 'Ain Sifni,^* distant 


from Mosul about five parasangs. The cause of the 
first flood was the mockery of those who were with- 
out, Jews, Christians, Moslems, and others descended 
from Adam and Eve. We, on the other hand, are 
descended f rom- Adam only, as already indicated. This 
second flood came upon our sect, the Yezidis. As the 
water rose and the ship floated, it came above Mount 
Sinjar," where it ran aground and was pierced by a 
rock. The serpent twisted itself like a cake and 
stopped the hole. Then the ship moved on and rested 
on Mount Judie. 

Now the species of the serpent increased, and began 
to bite man and animal. It was finally caught and 
burned, and from its ashes fleas were created. From 
the time of the flood until now are seven thousand 
years. In every thousand years one of the seven gods 
descends to establish rules, statutes, and laws, after 
which he returns to his abode. While below, he so- 
journs with us, for we have every kind of holy places. 
This last time the god dwelt among us longer than any 
of the other gods who came before him. He confirmed 
the saints. He spoke in the Kurdish language. He 
also illuminated Mohammed, the prophet of the Ish- 
maelites, who had a servant named Mu'awiya. When 
God saw that Mohammed was not upright before him, 
he afflicted him with a headache. The prophet then 
asked his servant to shave his head, for Mu'awiya 
knew how to shave. He shaved his master in haste, 
and with some difficulty. As a result, he cut his head 
and made it bleed. Fearing that the blood might drop 


to the ground, Mu'awiya licked it with his tongue. 
Whereupon Mohammed asked, "What are you doing, 
Mu'awiya?" He repHed, "I hcked thy blood with my 
tongue, for I feared that it might drop to the ground." 
Then Mohammed said to him, "You have sinned, O 
Mu'awiya, you shall draw a nation after you. You 
shall oppose my sect." Mu'awiya answered and said, 
"Then I will not enter the world; I will not marry." 
It came to pass that after some time God sent scor- 
pions upon Mu'awiya, which bit him, causing his face 
to break out with poison. Physicians urged him to 
marry lest he die. Hearing this, he consented. They 
brought him an old woman, eighty years of age, in 
order that no child might be born. Mu'awiya knew 
his wife, and in the morning she appeared a woman 
of twenty-five, by the power of the great God. And 
she conceived and bore our god Yezid. But tlie for- 
eign sects, ignorant of this fact, say that our god came 
from heaven, dispised and driven out by the great 
God. For this reason they blaspheme him. In this 
they have erred. But we, the Yezidi sect, believe this 
not, for we know that he is one of the above-mentioned 
seven gods. We know the form of his person and his 
image. It is the form of a cock which we possess. 
None of us is allowed to utter his name, nor anything 
that resembles it, such as seitdn (Satan), kaitdn 
(cord), sar (evil), sat (river), and the like. Nor do 
we pronounce maVun (accursed), ^or la'anat (curse), 
or na'al^'^ (horseshoe), or any word that has a sim- 
ilar sound. All these are forbidden us out of respect 


for him. So hass (lettuce) is debarred. We do not 
eat it, for it sounds like the name of our prophetess 
Hassiah. Fish is prohibited, in honor of Jonah the 
prophet. Likewise deer, for deer are the sheep of one 
of our prophets. The peacock is forbidden to our 
§eih and his disciples, for the sake of our Ta'us. 
Squash also is debarred. It is forbidden to pass water 
while standing, or to dress up while sitting down, or 
to go to the toilet room, or to take a bath according to 
the custom of the people.^^ Whosoever does contrary 
to this is an infidel. Now the other sects, Jews, Chris- 
tians, Moslems, and others, know not these things, be- 
cause they dislike Melek Ta'us. He, therefore, does 
not teach them, nor does he visit them. But he dwelt 
among us; he delivered to us the doctrines, the rules, 
and the traditions, all of which have become an in- 
heritance, handed down from father to son. After 
this, Melek Ta'us returned to heaven. 

One of the seven gods made the sanjaks'^^ (stand- 
ards) and gave them to Solomon the wise. After his 
death our kings received them. And when our god, 
the barbarian Yezfd, was born, he received these 
sanjaks with great reverence, and bestowed them upon 
our sect. Moreover, he composed two songs in the 
Kurdish language to be sung before the sanjkas in this 
language, which is the most ancient and acceptable 
one. The meaning of the song is this: 

Hallelujah to the jealous God. 


As they sing it, they march before the sanjaks with 
timbrels and' pipes. These sanjaks remain with our 
emir, who sits on the throne of Yezid. When these 
are sent away, the kazvwdls assemble with the emir, 
and the great general, the seih, who is the representa- 
tive of Seih Nasir-ad-Din, i. e., Nisroch, god of the 
ancient Assyrians. ^^ They visit the sanjaks. Then they 
send each sanjak in care of a kawwdl to its own place; 

one to Halataneye, one to Aleppo, one to Russia, and 
one to Sin jar. These sanjaks are given to four kaw~ 
wdls by contract. Before they are sent, they are 
brought to Seih 'Adi's tomb, where they are baptized 
amid great singing and dancing. After this each of 
the contractors takes a load of dust from Seih 'Adi's 
tomb. He fashions it into small balls, each about the 
size of a gall nut, and carries them along with the 
sanjaks to give them away as blessings. When he 
approaches a town, he sends a crier before him to 
prepare the people to accept the kawwdl and his sanjak 
with respect and honor. All turn out in fine clothes, 
carrying incense. The women shout, and all together 
sing joyful songs. The kawwdl is entertained by the 
people with whom he stops. The rest give him silver 
presents, everyone according to his means. 

Besides these four sanjaks, there are three others, 
seven in all. These three are kept in a sacred place 
for purposes of healing. Two of them, however, re- 
main with Seih *Adi, and the third remains in the 
village of Bahazanie, which is distant from Mosul 
about four hours. Every four months these kawwdls 


travel about. One of them must travel in the province 
of the emir. They travel in a fixed order, differing 
each year. Every time he goes out, the traveler must 
cleanse himself with water made sour with summak 
(sumac) and anoint himself with an oil. He must also 
light a lamp at each idol that has a chamber. This is 
the law that pertains to the sanjaks. 

The first day of our new year is called the Sersdlie, 
i. e., the beginning of a year. It falls on the Wednes- 
day of the first week in April ^^ On that day there 
must be meat in every family. The wealthy must 
slaughter a lamb or an ox ; the poor must kill a chicken 
or something else. These should be cooked on the 
night, the morning of which is Wednesday, New 
Year's day. With the break of day the food should 
be blessed. On the first day of the year alms should 
be given at tombs where the souls of the dead lie. 

Now the girls, large and small, are to gather from 
the fields flowers of every kind that have a reddish 
color. They are to make them into bundles, and, after 
keeping them three days, they are to hang them on the 
doors ^^ as a sign of the baptism of the people living 
in the houses. In the morning all doors will be seen 
well decorated with red lilies. But women are to feed 
the poor and needy who pass by and have no food; 
this is to be done at the graves. But as to the kawwdls, 
they are to go around the tombs with timbrels, singing 
in the Kurdish language. For so doing they are en- 
titled to money. On the above-mentioned day of 
Sersdlie no instruments of joy are to be played, be- 


cause God is sitting on the throne (arranging decrees 
for the year),^" and commanding all the wise and the 
neighbors to come to him.. And when he tells them 
that he will come down to earth with song and praise, 
all arise and rejoice before him and throw upon each 
the squash of the feast. Then God seals them with his 
own seal. And the great God gives a sealed decision 
to the god who is to come down. He, moreover, grants 
him power to do all things according to his own will. 
God prefers doing good and charity to fasting and 
praying. The worship of any idol, such as Seyed-ad- 
Din or §eih Sams is better than fasting. Some layman 
is to give a banquet to a kochak after the fasting of 
the latter forty days, whether it be in summer or in 
winter. If he (the kochak) says this entertainment is 
an alms given to the sanjak, then he is not released 
from his fasting. When it comes to pass that the 
yearly tithe-gatherer finds that the people have not 
fully paid their tithes, he whips them till they become 
sick, and some even die. The people are to give the 
kochaks money to fight the Roman army, and thus 
save the sect (Yezidis from the wrath of the man of 
the year. 

Every Friday a load of gifts is to be brought as an 
offering to an idol. At that time, a servant is to call 
the people aloud from the roof of a kochak's house, 
saying, it is the call of the prophet to a feast. All are 
to listen reverently and respectfully; and, on hearing 
it, every one is to kiss the ground and the stone on 
which he happens to lean. 


It is our law that no kawwdl shall pass a razor over 
his face. Our law regarding marriage is that at the 
time of the wedding a loaf of bread shall be taken 
from the house of a kochak and be divided between 
the bride and the bridegroom, each to eat one-half. 
They may, however, eat some dust from Seih 'Adi's 
tomb instead of the bread for a blessing. Marriage 
in the month of April is forbidden, for it is the first 
month of the year. This rule, however, does not apply 
to kawwdls; they may marry during this month. No 
layman is allowed to marry a kochak's daughter. 
Everyone is to take a wife from his own class. But 
our emir may have for a wife any one whom he pleases 
to love. A layman may marry between the ages of 
ten and eighty; he may take for a wife one woman 
after another for a period of one year. On her way 
to the house of the bridegroom, a bride must visit the 
shrine of every idol she may happen to pass; even if 
she pass a Christian church, she must do the same. 
On her arrival at the bridegroom's house, he must hit 
her with a small stone in token of the fact that she 
must be under his authority. Moreover, a loaf of 
bread must be broken over her head as a sign to her 
that she must love the poor and needy. No Yezidi 
may sleep with his wife on the night the morning of 
which is Wednesday, and the night the morning of 
which is Friday. Whosoever does contrary to this 
commandment is an infidel. If a man steal the wife 
of his neighbor, or his own former wife, or her sister 
or mother, he is not obliged to give her dowry, for 


she is the booty of his hand. Daughters may not in- 
herit their father's wealth. A young lady may be sold 
as an acre of land is sold. If she refuses to be mar- 
ried, then she must redeem herself by paying her 
father a sum of money earned by her service and the 
labor of her hand. 

Here ends Kitab Res, which is followed by several 
stories, some of which are told secretly, some openly. 



They say our hearts are our books, and our seihs 
tell us everything from the second Adam until now 
and the future. When they notice the sun rise, they 
kiss the place where the rays first fall ; they do the 
same at sunset, where its rays last fall. Likewise they 
kiss the spot where the moon first casts its rays and 
where it last casts them. They think, moreover, that 
by the multiplication of presents to siehs and idols they 
keep troubles and afflictions away. 

There is a great difference among the kochaks, they 
contradict one another. Some say, *'Melek Ta'us ap- 
pears to me and reveals to me many revelations." 
Others say, "We appear to people in many different 
ways." Some believe that Christ is §eih Sams himself. 
They say that they have had prophets in all times ; the 
kochaks are the prophets. One of the kochaks says in 
one of his prophecies: "I was in Jonah's ship, where 
a lot was cast in my presence. It fell on Jonah ; and 
he was thrown into the sea, where he remained forty 
days and nights." Another said: "I was sitting with 
the great God, who said, 'I hope the time will come 
when I shall send Christ to the world.' I said to him, 
'Yes.' Then he sent him. After making a sign in the 
sun, Christ came down to the earth." He appeared to 



our sect only, and made for us seven circles, which are 
at §eih *Adi. Now he appeared to us because we ob- 
serve the necessary order, which the other sects do 
not observe. Their origin and race are unknown ; ours 
are known. We are emirs and sons of emirs; we are 
seihs and sons of seihs; we are kochaks and sons of 
kochaks, etc. But Christians and Moslems make 
priests and muUas for themselves out of those who 
had none of their kindred in those offices before, and 
never will have afterward. We are better than they. 
We are allowed to drink wine; our young men also 
may desire it when they, in company with women, 
engage in religious dancing and playing. Some of 
the kochaks and seihs, however, are not allowed to 
drink it. When one is about to die, he is visited by a 
kochak, who places a bit of §eih 'Adi's dust in his 
mouth. Before he is buried his face is anointed with 
it. Moreover, the dung of sheep is placed on his tomb. 
Finally, food is offered on behalf of the dead. The 
kochaks pray for the dead at the graves, for which 
service they are paid. They tell the relatives of the 
dead what they see in dreams and visions, and the 
condition of their dead, whether they have been trans- 
lated to the human or to the animal race. Some people 
hide silver or gold coins that they plan to take out in 
case they are born the second time in this world. Some 
believe that the spirits of many righteous persons 
travel in the air. Those spirits make revelations to the 
kochaks, who are acquainted with the world of mys- 
teries and secrets. Life and death are in their hands. 


Hence the fate of the people depends on the gratitude 
and honor which they show the kochaks. According 
to Yezidis, hell has no existence. It was created in 
the time of the first Adam, they say, when our father, 
Ibrik al-Asfar, was born.^^ By reason of his gener- 
osity and noble deeds, Jbrik had many friends. Now, 
when he viewed hell he became very sad. He had a 
small bakbuk asfar,^^ into which, as he kept weeping 
his tears fell. In seven years it was filled. He then 
cast it into hell, and all its fires were put out that man- 
kind might not be tortured. This incident relates to 
one of the noble deeds of our first father, Ibrik-al- 
Asfar. They have many more such upright men of 
noble deeds. Such an one is Mohammed Rasan, whose 
resting place is behind the mount of §eih Mattie.^' 
He (Rasan) is exceedingly strong, so that the most 
sacred oaths are sworn by him. If any one becomes 
sick, he takes refuge in making vows to hasin, i. e., 
pillars of idols. Now there is a place of religious 
pilgrimage which is called Sitt Nafisah. This place 
is a mulberry tree in the village of Ba'asika. An- 
other such place is called 'Abdi Rasan, and is in the 
village of Karabek. A third place of pilgrimage is 
in the village Bahzanie, which is called §eih Bakd. 
Nearby is a spring, and beside this is a mulberry tree. 
Whoever is afflicted with fever, goes to that tree, 
hangs on its branches a piece of cloth from his clothes, 
and casts bread in the spring for. the fish. All this 
he does that he may be cured. They entertain the be- 
lief that whoever unties or shakes off one of the shreds 


of cloth will catch the disease with which the man 
was afflicted when he hung it up. There are many 
such trees in the village of Ba'asika, and in some other 
places. There is also a spring of water, called in 
the common language 'Ain as-Safra (Yellow Spring). 
The Yezidis call it Kani-Zarr.^* In this swim those 
who are afflicted with the disease of ahu-safar (jaun- 
dice.) But those who are troubled with dropsy go 
for cure to the house of the Pir that lives in the village 
of Man Res. 

When they assemble at §eih 'Adi's, no one is allowed 
to cook anything. Everyone is to eat from §eih 'Adi's 
table. As to the kochaks, every one of them sits on a 
stone, as one sits in prayer. To them, the laity go, 
seeking succor. They give them money while making 
their petition, and vow to the stone on which the 
kochak sits, sheep and oxen, everyone according to 
his means. Now, at the New Year the places are given 
in contract. When they assemble at the New Year, 
they dance and play with instruments of joy. Before 
eating the kahdiis, i.e., the vowed ox, they swim in the 
water of Zamzam, a spring coming from beneath the 
temple of §eih *Adi. Then they eat in haste, snatching 
meat from the pot like fanatics, so that their hands 
are frequently burned. This practice is in accordance 
with their rules. After eating, they go up the moun- 
tain, shooting with their guns, and then return to Seih 
'Adi. Everyone of them takes a little dust and pre- 
serves it for the times of wedding and death. They 
wear entwined girdles which they call the ties of the 


back (belt). They baptize these and the sanjaks with 
the water of Zamzam. He who is called Jawis ^^ 
wears a stole which is woven from the hair of a goat. 
It is nine spans in length and around it are sansuls 

When the gathering' comes to an end, they collect 
the money from the kochaks and the contractors, and 
bring it to the emir. After everyone has taken ac- 
cording to his rank, the remainder goes to the emir. 

They have another gathering which takes place at 
the feast of Al-Hijajj. At this pilgrimage they go 
up to the mountain which is called Jabal al-*Arafat.^^ 
After remaining there an hour, they hasten toward 
§eih *Adi. He who arrives there before his com- 
panions is praised much. Hence everyone tries to 
excel. The one who succeeds receives abundant 

They still have another assembly. This is called 
"the road of the kochaks/' when each, putting a rope 
around his neck, goes up the mountain. After col- 
lecting wood they bring it to §eih *Adi, carrying it on 
their backs. The wood is used for heating purposes 
and for the emir's cooking. 

During these assemblies the sanjaks are passed 
around. In the first place they are washed with water 
made sour with sumac in order to be cleansed from 
their rust. The water is given away in drinks for 
purposes of blessing. In return money is taken. In 
the second place, the kochaks go around with the 
sanjaks to collect money. 


In their preaching, the seihs tell the people that all 
kings have come from their descent, such as Nisroch,^^ 
who is Nasr-ad-Din, and Kamus who is Fahr-ad-Din, 
and Artamis, who is §ams-ad-Din, and many others, 
as Shabur and Yoram; and many royal names of the 
ancient kings, together with their own (Yezidi) kings, 
are from their seed. The sign of the Yezidi is that he 
wears a shirt with a round bosom. It differs from 
that of the other people, the bosom of whose shirts 
are open all the way down. 

There is one occasion when no Yezidi will swear 
falsely, viz., when one draws a circle on the ground, 
and tells him that this circle belongs to Ta'us-Melek, 
§eih *Adi, and Yeztd, and baryshabakei. He places 
him in the middle of the circle, and then tells him that 
Melek Ta'us and all those who were mentioned above 
will not intercede for him after his death, and that 
the shirt of the Jewish Nasim^^ be on his neck, and 
that the hand of Nasim be on his neck and eye, and 
that Nasim be his brother for the next world, and let 
him be to him for a seih and a pir if he does not tell 
the truth. Then if he swears to tell the truth, he can- 
not conceal anything. For an oath made under such 
conditions is considered greater than that made in the 
name of God, and even than that made in the name 
of one of their prophets. 

They fast three days in a year from morning till 
evening. The fast falls in December, according to the 
oriental calendar. They have no prayer^" except what 
is mentioned above, such as that referring to the sun 


and the moon, and asking help from seihs and holy 
places when they say, "O Seih *Adi, O Seih Sams," 
and the like. They are all forbidden to teach their 
children anything, with the exception of two stanzas 
which they teach their children out of necessity and 
because it is traditional. 

A story is told about them by reliable people. Once 
when §eih Nasir was preaching in a village at Mount 
Sin jar, there was a Christian mason in the audience 
who, seeing the house filled with people, thought they 
were going to pray. He then pretended to take a nap, 
that he might amuse himself with what he should hear. 
He knew the kurdish language. When the Christian 
seemed to be asleep, but was really awake and listen- 
ing, §eih Nasir began to preach saying: "Once the 
great God appeared to me in vision. He was angry 
at Jesus because of a dispute with him. He therefore 
caught him and imprisoned him in a den which had no 
water. Before the mouth of the den he placed a great 
stone. Jesus remained in the den a long time, calling 
upon the prophets and the saints for help and asking 
their aid. Every one whose succor Jesus asked went 
to beg the great God to release him. But God did not 
grant their requests. Jesus therefore remained in a 
sorrowful state, knowing not what to do." After this 
the preacher remained silent for a quarter of an hour, 
and thus a great silence prevailed in the house. Then 
he went on to say: "O poor Jesus, why are you so 
forgotten, so neglected? Do you not know that all 
the prophets and all the saints have no favor with 


the great God unto Melek Ta'us? Why have you 
forgotten him and have not called upon him?" Say- 
ing this, the preacher again remained silent as before. 
Afterward he again continued: "J^sus remained in 
the den till one day when he happened to remember 
Melek Ta'us. He then sought his aid, praying, *0 
Melek Ta'us, I have been in this den for some time. 
I am imprisoned; I have sought the help of all the 
saints, and none of them coud deliver me. Now, save 
me from this den.' When Melek Ta'us heard this, he 
descended from heaven to earth quicker than the 
twinkling of an eye, removed the stone from the top 
of the den, and said to Jesus, 'Come up, behold I have 
brought thee out.' Then both went up to heaven. 
When the great God saw Jesus, he said to him, *0 
Jesus, who brought thee out of the den? Who brought 
thee here without my permission?* Jesus answered and 
said, 'Melek Ta'us brought me out of the den and up 
here.' Then God said, 'Had it been another, I would 
have punished him, but Melek Ta'us is much beloved 
by me; remain here for the sake of my honor.' So 
Jesus remained in heaven." The preacher added, 
"Notice that those who are without do not like Melek 
Ta'us. Know ye that in the resurrection he will not 
like them either, and he will not intercede for them. 
But, as for us, he will put us all in a tray, carry us 
upon his head, and take us into heaven, while we are 
in the tray on his head." When the congregation heard 
this, they rose up, kissed his clothes and feet, and re- 
ceived his blessing. 


Now the view-s of the Yezidis regarding the birth 
of Christ and the explanation of the name of the 
Apostle Peter, are found in one of their stories, which 
runs thus: "Verily Mary the Virgin mother of Jesus, 
begat Jesus in a manner unlike the rest of women. 
She begat him from . her right side,^^ between her 
clothes and her body. At that time the Jews had a 
custom that, if a woman gave birth, all her relatives 
and neighbors would bring her presents. The women 
would call, carrying in their right hand a plate of 
fruits which were to be found in that season, and in 
the left hand they would carry a stone. This custom 
was a very ancient one. Therefore when Mary the 
Virgin gave birth to Jesus, the wife of Jonah, who is 
the mother of Peter, came to her; and, according to 
the custom, carried a plate of fruit in her right hand 
and a stone in her left. As she entered and gave Mary 
the plate, behold, the stone which was in her left hand 
begat a male. She called his name Simon Cifa, that is, 
son of the stone. Christians do not know these things 
as we do." 

They have a story explaining the word heretic. It 
is this : When the great God created the heavens, he 
put all the keys of the treasuries and the mansions 
there in the hands of Melek Ta'iis, and commanded 
him not to open a certain mansion. But he, without 
the knowledge of God, opened the house and found a 
piece of paper on which was written. "Thou shalt 
worship thy God alone, and him alone shalt thou 
serve." He kept the paper with him and allowed no 


one else to know about it. Then God created an iron 
ring and hung it in the air between the heaven and 
the earth. Afterward he created Adam the first. 
Melek Ta'us refused to worship Adam when God 
commanded him to do so. He showed the written 
paper which he took from the mansion and said, "See 
what is written here." Then the great God said, "It 
may be that you have opened the mansion which I for- 
bade you to open." He answered, "Yes." Then God 
said to him, "You are a heretic, because you have dis- 
obeyed me and transgressed my commandment." 

From this we know that God speaks in the Kurdish 
language, that is from the meaning of this saying, 
"Go into the iron ring which I, thy God, have made for 
whosoever does contrary to my commandment and 
disobeys me." 

When one criticizes such a story as this by saying 
that God drove Melek Ta'us from heaven and sent 
him to hell because of his pride before God the most 
high, they do not admit that such is the case. They 
answer: "It is possible that one of us in his anger 
should drive out his child from his house and let him 
wait until the next day before bringing him back? 
Of course not. Similar is the relation of the great 
God to Melek Ta'us. Verily he loves him exceedingly. 
You do not understand the l- cks which you read 
The Gospel says, *No one ascended up to heaven but 
he who came down from heaven.* No one came down 
from heaven but Melek Ta'us and Christ. From this 
we know that the great God has been reconciled to 


Melek Ta'us, who went up to heaven, just as God came 
down from heaven and went up again." 

The following is a story told of a kochak : It is re- 
lated that at one time there was no rain in the village 
of Ba'asika. In this village there was a Yezidi whose 
name was Kochak Beru. There were also some saints 
and men of vision dwelling there. They (people) 
gathered to ask Beru to see about the rain. He told 
them, "Wait till tomorrow that I may see about it." 
They camx to him on the next day and said, "What 
have you done concerning the question of rain? We 
are exceedingly alarmed by reason of its being with- 
held." He answered: "I went up to heaven last night 
and entered into the divan where the great God, Seih 
'Adi, and some other seihs and righteous men were 
sitting. The priest Isaac was sitting beside God. The 
great God said to me, 'What do you want, O Kochak 
Beru; why have you come here?' I said to him, *My 
lord, this year the rain has been withheld from us till 
now, and all thy servants are poor and needy. We 
beseech thee to send us rain as thy wont.' He re- 
mained silent and answered me not. I repeated the 
speech twice and thrice, beseeching him. Then I 
turned to the seihs who sat there, asking their help 
and intercession. The great God answered me, 'Go 
away until we think it over.' I came down and do not 
know what took place after I descended from heaven. 
You may go to the priest Isaac and ask him what 
was said after I came down." They went to the priest 
and told him the story, and asked him what was said 


after Kochak Beru came down. This priest Isaac 
was a great joker. He answered them, "After the 
kochak came down, I begged God for rain on your 
behalf. It was agreed that after six or seven days 
he would send it." They waited accordingly, and by 
a strange coincidence, at the end of the period it rained 
like a flood for some time. Seeing this, the people 
believed in what they were told, and honored the priest 
Isaac, looking upon him as one of the saints, and 
thinking that he must have Yezidi blood in him. For 
more than twenty years this story has been told as 
one of the tales of their saints. 

Once Seih *Adi bn Musafir and his murlds were 
entertained by God in heaven. When they arrived, 
they did not find straw for their animals. Therefore 
Seih *Adi ordered his murids to carry straw from his 
threshing floor on the earth. As it was being trans- 
ported, some fell on the way, and has remained as a 
sign in heaven unto our day. It is known as the road 
of the straw man. 

They think that prayer is in the heart; therefore 
they do not teach their children about it. And in 
their book neither is there any rule regarding prayer, 
nor is prayer considered a religious obligation. 

Some assert that at one time Seih *Adi, in company 
with Seih *Abd-al-Kadir, made a pilgrimage to Mecca, 
where he remained four years. After his absence 
Melek Ta'us appeared to them (the two seihs) in his 
symbol. He dictated some rules to them and taught 
them many tilings. Then he was hidden from them. 


Four years later Seih 'Adi returned from Mecca; but 
they refused him and would not accept him. They 
asserted that he had died or ascended to heaven. He 
remained with them, but was without his former re- 
spect. When the time of his death came, Melek Ta'us 
appeared to them and declared, ''This is Seih 'Adi 
himself, honor him." Then they honored him and 
buried him with due veneration, and made his tomb 
a place of pilgrimage. In their estimation it is a more 
excellent spot than Mecca. Everyone is under obli- 
gation to visit it once a year at least ; and, in addition 
to this, they give a sum of money through the seihs 
to obtain satisfaction (that Seih *Adi may be pleased 
with them). Whoever does this not is disobedient. 

Moreover, it is said that the reason why the pil- 
grimage to his tomb is regarded as excellent by us and 
by God is that in the resurrection §eih *Adi will carry 
in a tray all the Yezidis upon his head and take them 
into paradise, without requiring them to give account 
or answer. Therefore they regard the pilgrimage to 
his tomb as a religious duty greater than the pilgrimage 
to Mecca. 

There are some domes, huts, around the tomb of 
§eih *Adi. They are there for the purpose of receiving 
blessings from the tomb. And they are all attributed 
to the great Seihs, as the hut of 'Abd-al-Kadir-al- 
Jilani;" the hut^of Seih Kadib-al-Ban ; the hut of 
Seih Sams-ad-Din ; the hut of Seih Mansur-al-Hallaj, 
and the hut of Seih Hasan-al-Basri. There are also 


some other huts. Each hut has a banner made of 
calico. It is a sign of conquest and victory. 

Eating of deer's meat is forbidden them, they say, 
because the deer's eyes resemble the eyes of Seih *Adi. 
Verily his virtues are well-known and his praiseworthy 
qualities are traditions handed down from generation 
to generation. He was the first to accept the Yezidi 
religion. He gave them the rules of the religious sect 
and founded the office of the seih. In addition to this, 
he was renowned for his devotion and religious ex- 
ercise. From Mount Lalis, he used to hear the preach- 
ing of 'Abd-al-Kadir-al-Jilani in Bagdad. He used 
to draw a circle on the ground and say to the religious 
ones, "Whosoever wants to hear the preaching of Al- 
Jilani, let him enter within this circle." The following 
custom, which we have, began with him: If we wish 
to swear to anyone, a seih draws a circle, and he who 
is to take an oath, enters into it. 

At one time, passing by a garden, Seih *Adi asked 
about lettuce ; and, as no one answered, he said, 
*'Huss" (hush). For this reason lettuce is forbidden 
and not eaten. 

As regards fasting, they say about the month of 
Ramadan that it was dumb and deaf. Therefore, 
when God commanded the Moslems to fast, he like- 
wise commanded the Yezidis, saying to them in the 
Kurdish language, "sese," meaning "three." The 
Mohammedans did not understand it; they took it for 
"se," "thirty." For this reason, they (Yezidis) fast 
three days. Moreover, they believe there are eating, 


drinking, and other earthly pleasures in the next 
world. ^^ Some hold that the rule of heaven is in God's 
hands, but the rule of the earth is in Seih 'Adi's hands. 
Being exceedingly beloved by God, he bestowed upon 
him according to 'Adi's desire. 

They believe in the transmigration of souls. This 
is evinced by the fact that when the soul of Mansur- 
al-Hallaj parted from his body when the Caliph of 
Bagdad killed him and cast his head into the water, 
his soul floated on the water. By a wonderful chance 
and a strange happening, the sister of the said Mansur 
went to fill her jar. The soul of her brother entered it. 
Without knowing what had happened, she came with 
it to the house. Being tired, she felt thirsty and drank 
from the jar. At that moment the soul of her brother 
entered her, but she did not perceive it until she be- 
came pregnant. She gave birth to a son who resembled 
§eih Mansur himself. He became her brother accord- 
ing to birth and her son according to imputation. The 
reason why they do not use drinking-vessels which 
have narrow mouths, or a net-like cover, is that when 
one drinks water from them they make a sound. When 
the head of §eih Mansur was thrown into the water 
it gurgled. In his honor they do not use the small 
jars with narrow necks. 

They assert that they expect a prophet who will 
come from Persia to annul the law of Mohammed and 
abrogate Islam. They believe that there are seven 
gods, and that each god administers the universe for 
ten thousand years; and that one of these gods is 


Lasiferos, the chief of the fallen angels, who bears 

also the name Melek Ta'us. They make him a graven 

image after the form of a cock^* and worship it. They 

play the tambourine and dance before it to make it 

rejoice with them. They {kawwdls) travel within the 

Yezidis* villages to collect money, at which time they 

take it into the houses that it may bless and honor 
them. Some say that §eih *Adi is a deity ; others that he 

is like a Vizier to God. To him all things are referred. 
This is Melek Ta'us age. The ruling and administra- 
tive power is in his hands until the thousandth year. 
When the time comes to an end he will deliver the 
power to the next god to rule and administer until 
another thousand years shall be ended, and so on until 
the seventh god. And yet there is accord and love 
among these gods, and none is jealous of the one who 
may rule and administer the world for a period of 
ten thousand years. They have a book named Al 
Jilwah that they ascribe to Seih *Adi, and they suffer 
no one who is not one of them to read it. 

Mention is made in some of their books that the 
First Cause is the Supreme God, who before he created 
this world, was enjoying himself over the seas;^^ and 
in his hand was a great White Pearl, with which he 
was playing. Then he resolved to cast it into the sea, 
and when he did so this world came into being. 

Moreover, they think themselves not to be of the 
same seed from which the rest of mankind sprung, 
but that they are begotten of the son of Adam, who 
was born to Adam of his spittle. For this reason they 


imagine themselves nobler and more pleasing to the 
gods than others. 

They say they have taken fasting and sacrifice from 
Islam; baptism from Christians; prohibition of foods 
from the Jews; their way of worship from the idol- 
aters; dissimulation of doctrine from the Rafidis 
(Shi'ites) ; human sacrifice and transmigration from 
the pre-Islamic paganism of the Arabs and from the 
Sabians. They say that when the spirit of man goes 
forth from his body, it enters into another man if it 
be just; but if unjust, into an animal. 


Peace Be unto Him 

My understanding surrounds the truth of things, 

And my truth is mixed up in me, 

And the truth of my descent is set forth by itself. 

And when it was known it was altogether in me. 

And all that are in the universe are under me. 

And all the habitable parts and deserts. 

And everything created is under me, 

And I am the ruling power preceding all that exists. 

And I am he that spoke a true saying. 

And I am the just judge and the ruler of the earth. 

And I am he that men worship in my glory, 

Coming to me and kissing my feet. 

And I am he that spread over the heavens their height. 

And I am he that cried in the beginning. 

And I am he that of myself revealeth all things. 

And I am he to whom came the book of good tidings 

From my Lord, who burneth the mountains. 

And I am he to whom all created men come 

In obedience to kiss my feet. 

I bring forth fruit from the first juice of early youth 

By my presence, and turn toward me my disciples. 

And before this light the darkness of the morning 

cleared away. 
I guide him that asketh for guidance. 
I am he that caused Adam to dwell in Paradise 
And Nimrod to inhabit a hot burning fire. 



And I am he that guided Ahmed the Just, 

And let him into my path and way. 

And I am he unto whom all creatures 

Come for my good purposes and gifts. 

And I am he that visited all the heights, 

And goodness and charity proceed from my mercy. 

And I am he that made all hearts to fear 

My purpose, and they magnify the majesty and power 

of my awfulness. 
And I am he to whom the destroying lion came 
Raging, and I shouted against him and he became 

And I am he to whom the serpent came. 
And by my will I made him dust. 
And I am he that struck the rock and made it tremble, 
And made to burst from its sides the sweetest of 

waters. ^^ 
And I am he that sent down the certain truth; 
For me is the book that comforteth the oppressed. 
And I am he that judged justly, 
And when I judged it was my right 
And I am he that made the springs^* to give water, 
Sweeter and pleasanter than all waters. 
And I am he that caused it to appear in my mercy, 
And by my power I called it the pure. 
And I am he to whom the Lord of heaven hath said. 
Thou art the just Judge and Ruler of the earth. 
And I am he that disclosed some of my wonders. 
And some of my virtues are manifested in that which 

And I am he that caused the mountains to bow, 
To move under me and at my will.^^ 
And I am he before whose majesty the wild beasts 

cried ; 
They turned to me worshiping, and kissed my feet. 
And I am *Adi as-§ami, the son of Musafir. 


Verily the All-Merciful has assigned unto me names, 
The heavenly throne, and the seat, and the (seven) 

heavens, and the earth. 
In the secret of my knowledge there is no God but me. 
These things are subservient to my power. 
O mine enemies, why do you deny me? 

men, deny me not, but submit. 

In the day of judgment you will be happy in meeting 

Who dies in my love, I will cast him 
In the midst of Paradise, by my will and pleasure; 
But he that dies unmindful of me 
Will be thrown into torture in misery and affliction. 

1 say I am the only one and the exalted; 
I create and make rich those whom I will. 
Praise it to myself, for all things are by my will, 
And the universe is lighted by some of my gifts. 
I am the king that magnifies himself, 

And all the riches of creation are at my bidding. 

I have made known unto you, O people, some of my 

Who desireth me must forsake the world. 
And I can also speak the true saying. 
And the garden on high is for those who do my 

I sought the truth and became a confirming truth; 
And by the like truth shall they, like myself, possess 

the highest place. 


Amen, Amen, Amen ! 

Through the intermediation of Sams-ad-Din, 

Fahr ad-Din, Nasir-ad-Din, 

Sajad ad-Din, Seih Sin (Husein), 

§eih Bakr, Kadir ar-Rahman. 

Lord, thou art gracious, thou art merciful ; 

Thou art God, king of kings and lands, 

King of joy and happiness, 

King of good possession (eternal life). 

From eternity thou art eternal. 

Thou art tlie seat of luck (happiness) and life; 

Thou art lord of grace and good luck. 

Thou art king of jinns and human beings, 

King of the holy men (saints). 

Lord of terror and praise, 

The abode of religious duty and praise, 

Worthy of praise and thanks. 

Lord! Protector in journeys, 

Sovereign of the moon and of the darkness, 

God of the sun and of the fire, 

God of the great throne. 

Lord of goodness. 

Lord ! No one knows how thou art. 

Thou hast no beauty; thou hast no height. 

Thou hast no going forth ; thou hast no number. 

Lord! Judge of kings and beggars, 

Judge of society and of the world. 

Thou hast revealed the repentance of Adam. 

Lord, thou hast no house; thou hast no money; 



Thou hast no wings, hast no feathers; 

Thou hast no voice, thou hast no color. 

Thou hast made us lucky and satisfied. 

Thou hast created Jesus and Mary. 

Lord, thou art gracious, 

Merciful, faithful. 

Thou art Lord; I am nothingness. 

I am a fallen sinner, 

A sinner by thee remembered. 

Thou hast led us out of darkness into light. 

Lord ! My sin and my guilt, 

Take them and remove them. 

O God, O God, O God, Amen! 



They are divided into seven classes, and each class 
has functions peculiar to itself that cannot be dis- 
charged by any of the other classes. They are : 

1. Seih. He is the servant of the tomb, and a des- 
cendant of Imam Hasan al-Basri. No one can give a 
legal decision or sign any document except the seih 
who is the servant of Seih 'Adi's tomb. He has a 
sign by which he is distinguished from others. The 
sign is a belt which he puts on his body, and net-like 
gloves, which resemble the halters of camels. If he 
goes among his people, they bow down and pay him 
their respects. The seihs sell a place in paradise to 
anyone who wishes to pay money. 

2. Emir. The emirship specifically belongs to the 
descendants of Yezid. They have a genealogical tree, 
preserved from their fathers and forefathers, which 
goes up to Yezid himself. The emirs have charge of 
the temporal and governmental affairs, and have the 
right to say, "Do this and do not that." 

3. Kawwal. He has charge of tambourines and 
flutes and religious hymns. 

4. Pir. To him appertain the conduct of fasts, the 
breaking of fasts, and hair-dressing. 

5. Kochak. To him appertain the duties of religious 



instruction, and sepulture, and interpretation of 
dreams, i. e., prophecy. 

6. Fakir. To him appertain the duties of instruc- 
tion of boys and girls in playing on the tambourines, 
in dancing and religious pleasure. He serves §eih 'Adi. 

7. Mulla. To him appertain the duties of instruct- 
ing children. He guards the books and the mysteries 
of religion and attends to the affairs of the sect. 


At one time (A. H. 1289; A. D. 1872), the Ottoman 
power wanted to draft from among them an army 
instead of takmg the tax which was its due. They 
presented to the government all the rules that pre- 
vented them from complying. These all pertain to 
religion and are moral obligations upon them. They 
are as follows : 

Article I 

According to our Yezidi religion every member of 
our sect, whether big or little, girl or woman, must 
visit Melek Ta'us three times a year, that is, first, from 
the beginning to the last of the month of April, Roman 
calendar; secondly, from the beginning to the end of 
the month of September; thirdly, from the beginning 
to the end of the month of November. If anyone visit 
not the image of Melek Ta'us, he is an infidel. 

Article II 

If any member of our sect, big or little, visit not his 
highness §eih *Adi bn Musafir — may God sanctify his 
mysteries ! once a year, i. e., from the fifteenth to the 
twentieth of the month of September, Roman calendar, 
he is an infidel according to our religion. 



Article III 

Every member of our sect must visit the place of the 
sunrise every day when it appears, and there should 
not be Moslem, nor Christian, nor any one else in that 
place. If any one do this not, he is an infidel. 

Article IV 

Every member of our sect must daily kiss the hand 
of his brother, his brother of the next world, namely, 
the servant of the Mahdi, and the hand of his seih 
or pir. If any one do this not, he is regarded as an 

Article V 

According to our religion it is something intolerable 
when the Moslem in the morning begins to say in 
prayer, God forbid! "I take refuge in God, etc."^^ If 
any one of us hear it, he must kill the one who says it 
and kill himself ; otherwise he becomes an infidel. 

Article VI 

When one of our sect is on the point of death, if 
there be no brother of the next world and his seih, or 
his pir and one of the kawwdls with him to say three 
sayings over him, viz. ; "O servant of Melek Ta'us, 
whose ways are high, you must die in the religion of 
the one we worship, who is Melek Ta'us, whose ways 
are high, and do not die in any other religion than his. 
And if some one should come and say to you some- 
thing from the Mohammedan religion, or Christian 
religion, or Jewish religion, or some other religion, do 
not believe him, and do not follow him. And if you 
believe and follow another religion than that of the 
one we worship, Melek l^a'us, you shall die an infidel," 
he becomes an infidel. 


Article VII 

We have something called the blessing of Seih 'Adi, 
that is, the dust of the tomb §eih *Adi — may God sanc- 
tify his mystery! Every member of our sect must 
have some of it with him in his pocket and eat of it 
every morning. And if he eat not of it intentionally, 
he is an infidel. Likewise at the time of death, if he 
possess not some of that dust intentionally, he dies 
an infidel. 

Article VIII 

Regarding our fasting, if any one of our sect wish 
to fast, he must fast in his own place, not in another. 
For while fasting he must go every morning to the 
house of his seih and his pir, and there he must begin 
to fast ; and when he breaks his fast, likewise, he must 
go to the house of his seih and his pir, and there break 
the fast by drinking the holy wine of the seih or the 
pir. And if he drink not two or three glasses of that 
wine, his fasting is not acceptable, and he becomes 
an infidel. 

Article IX 

If one of our sect go to another place and remain 
there as much as one year, and afterward return to his 
place, then his wife is forbidden him, and none of us 
will give him a wife. If anyone give him a wife, that 
one is an infidel. 

Article X 

Regarding our dress, as we have mentioned in the 
fourth Article that every one of our sect has a brother 
for the next world, he has also a sister for the next 
world. ^® Therefore if any one of us make for himself 
a new shirt, it is necessary that his sister for the next 


world should open its neck band, i. e., the neck band of 
that shirt, with her hand. And if she open it not with 
her hand, and he wear it, tlien he is an infidel. 

Article XI 

If some one of our sect make a shirt or a new dress, 
he cannot wear it without baptizing it in the blessed 
water which is to be found at the shrine of his highness 
Seih *Adi may God sanctify his mystery! If he wear 
it, he is an infidel. 

Article XII 

We may not wear a light black dress at all. We 
may not comb our heads with the comb of a Moslem 
or a Christian or a Jew or any other. Nor may we 
shave our heads with the razor used by any other 
than ourselves (Yezidis), except it be washed in the 
blessed water which is to be found at the shrine of his 
highness Seih *Adi. Then it is lawful for us to shave 
our heads. But if we shave our heads without the 
razor having been washed in that water, we become 

Article XIII 

No Yezidi may enter the water-closet of a Moslem, 
or take a bath at a Moslem's house, or eat with a 
Moslem spoon or drink from a Moslem's cup, from a 
cup used by any one of another sect. If he does, he is 
an infidel.*^ 

Article XIV 

Concerning food, there is a great difference between 
us and the other sects. We do not eat meat or fish, 
squash, bamia (okra), fasulia (beans), cabbage, or 
lettuce. We cannot even dwell in the place where 
lettuce is sown.*^ 


For these and other reasons, we cannot enter the 
military service, etc. 

The names of those who affixed their signatures : 

The Head of the Yezidi Sect, the Emir of 
Seihan, Husein. 

The Religious Seih of the Yezidi Sect of the 
District of Seihan, Seih Nasir. 

The Chief of the Village of Mam Resan, 
Pir Suleiman. 

The Village Chief of Muskan, Murad. 





Hatarah, Ayy<jb. 





Beiban, Husein. 





Dahkan, Hassan. 










Bakasra, 'All 





Ba'asika, Jamo. 





H6§ABA, Ilias. 





Krepahin, Sagd. 





Kabareh, Kochak. 










SiNA, 'AbDO. 





*Ain Sifni, Gurgo 















Kiberto, Tahir. 




These are they whose names were in the petition 
above mentioned, and from which we copied a few 

The result was that when they presented this 
petition, they were exempted from military service, 
but they paid a tax in money as did the Christians. 


^A. H. 295 (A. D. 807-8). This is the date of 
Al-Muktadir s accession, who reigned till A. H. 320 
(A. D/932) ; cf. W. Muir, The Caliphate, p. 559. 

^ The life of Mansur-al-Hallaj is given in Fihrist 
(ed. Fliigel), p. 190. 

^ The life of *Abd-al-Kadir of Jilan is given in 
Jami's Nafahat (ed. Lee)* p. 584. 

* The Hakkari country is a dependency of Mosul, 
and inhabited by Kurds and Nestorians; cf. p. 104. 
Ibn Haukal, Kitab al-Masalik wal-Mamalik (ed. M. 
J. De Goeje), pp. 143 f. 

^ Yakut, IV, 373, calls it Lailes and says that §eih 
*Adi lived there. 

® Presumably Yezid bn Mu'awiya, the second 
caliph in the Omayyid dynasty, who reigned, A. D. 
680-83; cf. W. Muir, The Caliphate, p. 327. 

^ The life of Hasan al-Basrt is given in Ibn 
Hallikan. He is not to be identified w'th Hasan al- 
Basri (died no A. H., who, according to Mohamme- 
dan tradition, first pointed the Koran text, with the 
assistance of Yahya bn Yamar. 

® In Menant's Yzidis, 48, the names of these 
seven angels are somewhat differently given. Accord- 
ing to Mohammedan tradition Zazil or Azazil was the 
original name of the devil. 

® By the "throne" here is meant the throne cf God, 
and by the "carpet" the earth; cf. Sura 60: 131. 

^° According to Moslem belief, wheat was the for- 
bidden fruit; see Baidawi on Sura, ii, 33. 



^^ Kunsiniyat is an obscure term. 

^^ *Ain Sifni is about five miles from Ba'adrie; cf. 
Layard, Nineveh, I, 2^2. 

^^ Yakut (III, 158) mentions a similar tradition. 

^* These are indications of Mohammedan influence 
and censorship, for no Yezidi will ever write in his 
sacred book such words as Seitan, §ar, etc. 

^^ That is, those of other religions. 

^^ Sanjak is a Turkish word, meaning banner; it 
is the name by which the Yezidis generally designate 
the sacred image of Melek Ta'us. 

^^ See note 2y. 

^^ The Harranian New Year fell on the first day 
of April, and on the sixth day they slaughtered an ox 
and ate it; cf. Fihrist, 322. 

^^ A similar practice is found among the Parsees 
of India, who hang a string of leaves across the en- 
trances to their houses at the beginning of every New 

2° According to Babylonian mythology, human 
destiny was decreed on the New Year's day and sealed 
on the tenth day; cf. the Hibbert Journal, V, January, 
1907. And according to Talmud (Misna, Ros hasana, 
1 :2), New Year's is the most important judgment day, 
on which all creatures pass for judgment before the 
Creator. On this day three books are opened, wherein 
the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and those of the 
intermediate class are recorded. Hence prayer and 
works of repentance are performed at the New Year 
from the first to the tenth days, that an unfavorable 
decision might be averted; cf. Jewish Encyclopedia, 
'Penitential Day." R. Akiba says : "On New Year 
day all men are judged; and the decree is sealed on 
the Day of Atonement ;" cf. ibid., "Day of Joudgment." 

^^ Ibrik al-Asfar means "the yellow pitcher." 

^^ Bakbuk is a pitcher with a narrow spout. 


^^ Mar Mattie is a Syrian monastery about seven 
hours' ride east of Mosul, generally known by the 
name of §eih Mattie, in accordance with the general 
custom of sheltering a Christian saint beneath a 
Moslem title. Elijah is known as Al-Huder, "the 
green one." Aphrates was bishop of §eih Mattie. The 
church of this rrionastery is a large building, chiefly 
interesting as containing the tomb of the great Bar 
Hebraeus, known as Abu-1-Faraj, who was ordained 
at Tripolis, and became in 1246 A. D. Metropolitan 
of Mosul. He lies buried, with his brother Barsom, 
in the "Beth Kadiseh (sanctuary) of the church, and 
over them is placed the inscription : "This is the grave 
of Mar Gregorias, and of Mar Barsome his brother, 
the children of the Hebrew, on Mount Elpep" (the 
Syriac name for Jabal Maklub). 

^* Kani in Kurdish means a spring ; zarr, yellow. 
In Kurdish, as in Persian, the adjective usually follows 
the modified noun ; cf . Tartibi Jadid, Ta'alimi Faresi. 
The New Method for Teaching Persian (in the Turk- 
ish language, ed. Kasbar, Constantinople, A. H. 1312), 
p. 18. 

^'^ Jawis is a Turkish word, signifying a sergeant. 

^^ This ceremony, as well as the names 'Arafat, 
Zamzam, etc., seems to be a mere copy of the Meccah 
Pilgrimage. 'Arafat, "The Mount of Recognition," 
is situated twelve miles from Mecca, a place where 
the pilgrims stay on the ninth day of the day of the 
pilgrimage, and recite the midday and afternoon 
prayer. The Mohammedan legend says, that when 
our first parents forfeited heaven for eating wheat, 
they were cast down from the Paradise, Adam fell on 
the Isle of Ceylon, and Eve near Jiddah (the port of 
Mecca) in Arabia ; and that, after separation of 200 
years, Adam was conducted by the Angel Gabriel to 
a mountain near Mecca, where he found and knew 


his wife, the mountain being then named 'Arafat, 

^^ The god Nisroch of Scripture, II Kings 19:37; 
Isa. 37: 38. 

^^ A superstitious name signifying an ill omen. 

^® That is, public prayers like those of the Mo- 
hammedans and of the Christians; cf. Al Masrik, II, 


31 The text has "her hand." 

32 While the Yezidis venerate *Abd al-Kadir of 
Jilan, the Nusairis curse him; cf. JAOS, VIII, 274. 

33 This belief is taken from Mohammedanism. 

3* The Arabs worshiped a deity under the form 
of a nasr (eagle), As-§ahrastani, II, 434; Yakut, IV, 
780; The Syriac Doctrine of Addai (ed. George 
Philips), p. 24. 

35 Cf . Gen. 1 : 2, and the Babylonian Creation Epic. 

3^ That is the spring of Seih 'Adl. 

3^ The reference is to Jabal Makliib, which, ac- 
cording to the Yezidi belief, moved from its place near 
Lalis to enable every Yezidi, wherever he may be, to 
direct his morning prayers toward the tomb of *Adf. 

3^ The Moslem begins his prayer by cursing the 

3* That is a person of the same faith, a Yezidi. 

*® A Nusairi, on the contrary, may become a Mo- 
hammedan with a Mohammedan, a Christian with a 
Christian, and a Jew with a Jew; cf. JAOS, VII, 298. 

*^ The Sabians did not eat purslane, garlic, beans, 
cauliflower, cabbage, and lentis; cf. Bar. Hebraeus, 
At-Tarfh, ed. A. Salhani, Beirut, 1890, 266. 


The Religious Origin of the Yezidis 

The origin of the devil-worshippers has been the 
subject of much controversy; but aside from an 
expression of views, no satisfactory solution of the 
problem has as yet been reached. The different theories 
which have been advanced may be classified under 
four general heads : The Myth of the Yezidis them- 
selves; the tradition of Eastern Christians; the dog- 
matic idea of the Mohammedan scholars ; and the 
speculative theory of the western orientalists. 

The Yezidi Myth 

The Myth of the Yezidis concerning their origin 
may be derived from three different sources: from 
their sacred book, from the appendix of the manu- 
script, and from actual conversation of travellers 
with them or with natives dweling among them. One 



noticeable fact is that this tradition assumes the 
religion of the sect as existing long before the time of 
their chief saint, Seih *Adi. Al-Jilwah begins with 
the statement that Melek Ta'us sent his servant, i. e., 
the Yezidis, that they might not go astray. Starting 
from this assumption, the writer of the revealed book 
goes on to trace the origin of the "elect** to the very 
beginning of human history. He asserts that from 
the start God created them as a peculiar people of 
'Azazil, '%. e.y Melek-Ta'us. In the main, this idea 
finds expression in the oral traditions. But here we 
have a mass of material so clouded by superstition 
and ignarance that it is next to impossible to come to 
any conclusion as to the history of this interesting 
people. One point the myth repeatedly emphasizes, 
as an explanation of the origin of the sect, is that it 
was descended from Adam alone; while the other 
sects were descended from Adam and Eve. For this 
reason, the same tradition implies, the Yezidis are 
nobler than the others. But how they have come to 
be such unique descendants is a question not easily 
answered. One account has it that when Adam and 
Eve disputed as to the generation of the human race, 
each claiming to be the sole begetter of the race, they 
finally agreed to put their seed in separate jars and 
seal them with their own seals. After nine months 
they opened the jars, and in Adam's jar they found 
two children, a male and a female. From these two 
the Yezidis were descended. Another explanation is 
that from Adam's essence was bom Seher bn Jebr, 


of whom nothing is known; and of him, a separate 
community, which is the sect of Melek Taus. We 
have, moreover, the tradition that the Yezidis are 
descendants of a son born to Adam of his spittle. 
Now whether this son be identical with Seher bn Jebr 
is not certain. Writing in one of the oriental period- 
icals, an eastern scholar quotes a Yezidi seih in 
a statement which seems to corroborate the tradition 
that the Yezidis are a noble progeny of Adam; but the 
quotation differs from the instance previously cited in 
stating that the quarrel which took place between 
Adam and Eve led to their separation to places distant 
from each other a journey of forty days.^ There, it 
is said, Adam miraculously gave birth to a son. Dis- 
tressed by this incident, Eve asked God that she might 
find favor in her husband's eyes by giving birth to a 
child. Thereupon, it continues, she begot a very 
pretty daughter. Attracted by her beauty, Adam 
married her to his son. Now, the Yezidis, we are 
told, are the blessed seed of these two children.^ 

Not only when the tradition, tracing the origin of 
the Yezidis as a race, asserts that, as a religious body, 
they come from a very ancient time ; but also when 
it speaks of them as a nation, it points out their 
antiquity. On this latter, as well as on the former 
point, their book and their oral tradition agree. The 
Yezidis are said to have sprung from a noble per- 
sonage, the King of Peace, whose -name was Na-*umi, 
but whom they now call Melek-Miran.^ The rest of 
mankind, however, are from the seed of Ham, who 



mocked his father. Whom they signified by Na-'umi 
or Miran it is hard to say; but it is likely that they 
regard him as one of the other two sons of Noah. 
They claim also that the ancient Assyrian kings were 
members of their race, and that some of the Persian, 
Roman and Jewish kings were appointed for them by 
Melek Ta'us. They likewise seem to trace their origin 
to the prophets and other personages of the Old Testa- 
ment; as Seth, Enoch, Noah, etc. Their rehgion 
furthermore, they assert, antedates Christ.* 

There is still another tradition that traces the devil- 
worshippers to a different origin. I refer to the state- 
ment which Masehaf Res makes regarding Mu'awiya, 
Mohammed's servant.^ Mu'awiya was asked by his 
master to shave his head. While performing the duty, 
he cut the prophet's scalp, and began to lick the bleed- 
ing spot. When he was told that this act would result 
in his giving birth to a nation which would oppose the 
followers of his master, Mu'Awiya declared that he 
would not marry. He was afterwards, however, 
bitten by a serpent, and was told that he would die 
unless he married. He therefore consented to marry, 
but chose an old woman in order not to have children. 
But she miraculously became a young woman of 
twenty-five. And from her the God Yezid was bom. 
The story, of course, is a myth, and it is of such a 
nature that no historic fact can be derived from it. 
It is further complicated by the fact that this Yezid 
is indentified with Melek Ta'us ; and, in another myth, 
is represented in form as being half angel and half 


man and as remaining a bachelor long after the mar- 
riage of Adam. He was, however, finally possessed 
of a desire to marry, and, unable to marry a mortal's 
daughter, being himself half angel, sought the assist- 
ance of Melek Ta'us, who presented to him an houri, 
and from this union there sprang a pious people, the 

But the devil-worshippers have still another story, 
which goes to show that Yezid bn Mu'awiya is not 
their founder. This myth asserts that they are the 
progeny of Adam's son who was married to Eve's 
daughter; that the descendants continued worshipping 
God and Melek Ta'us without bringing a foreign 
element into their religion; and that, at first, the sect 
did not bear the name Yezidis, which, in their own 
opinion, is a comparatively new appellative. As to 
how they came to be called by this new name, it is 
explained that when, in the course of time, some 
corruption entered the Yezidi religion, there arose a 
certain Calif by the name of Yezid who wrought 
miracles. Since then, his followers have been called 

Yezidis. This Yezid, it is said, is the son of 
Mu'awiya bn Sufian, and his mother was of Christian 
origin. To accomplish his desire, bn Mu'awiya went 
to Seih *Adi, who was a learned and devout but cun- 
ning person, and had instituted a religious innovation. 
Yezid, the tradition continues, learned 'Adi's religion 
and taught it to his followers ; and, from that time on, 
the sect came to be called after him.® But while 
some, considering this legend as authoritative, yen- 


erate the man bearing the name, others deny all 
connection with him/ 

The testimony of some travellers offers another 
explanation of the origin of the sect in question, an 
account which has perhaps more historical significance 
than the preceding theories. It is stated that the 
Yezidis have a tradition to the effect that they came 
from Basrah and from the country watered by the 
lower part of the Euphrates; that after their emigra- 
tion they first settled in Syria, and subsequently took 
possession of the Sinjar Hill and the district now 
inhabited in Kurdistan. As to the date of their settle- 
ment in Mesopotamia, no positive information can be 
obtained. Some scholars infer that it took place about 
the time of Tamerlane, toward the end of the four- 
teenth century.® It is related that the devil-worship- 
pers hold that, among their own number, the ancient 
name for God is Azd, and from it the name of the 
sect is derived f that the conviction that they are 
Yezidis, i. e., God's people, has been their consolation 
and comfort through the ages in their tribulations ;^° 
and that they have taken many religious observances 
from different bodies — Mohammedans, Christians, 
Jews, Pagan Arabs, Shiites, and Sabalans. 

Besides these different explanations of the origin of 
the devil-worshippers as descendants of Adam, of 
Yezid bn Mu'awiya, as being of the colony from the 
north, as taking their name from Azd, God, there is 
another account. I refer to a myth which is current 
among the people of Seistan, an eastern province of 


Persia, where there are a considerable number of these 
Shaitan parasts (devil worshippers) : 

"In former times there existed a prophet named 
Hanalalah, whose life was prolonged to the measure 
of a thousand years. He was their ruler and bene- 
factor ; and as by his agency, their flocks gave birth 
to lambs and kids miraculously once a week, though 
ignorant of the use of money, they, with much grati- 
tude to him, procured all the comforts of life. At 
length, however, he died, and was succeeded by his 
son, whom Satan, presuming on his inexperience, 
tempted to sin by entering a large mulberry tree, when 
he addressed the successor of Hanalalah, and called 
on him to worship the prince of darkness. Astonished, 
yet unshaken, the youth resisted the temptation. But 
the miracle proved too much for the constancy of his 
flock, who now began to turn to the worship of the 
devil. The young prophet, enraged at this, seized an 
axe and a saw, and prepared to cut down the tree. 
He was arrested in this by the appearance of a 
human being, who exclaimed, 'Rash boy, desist! 
Turn to me and let us wrestle for the victory. If you 
conquer, then fell the tree.* 

"The prophet contended and vanquished his oppo- 
nent, who, however, bought his own safety and that 
of the tree by the promise of a large weekly treasure. 
After seven days the holy victor again visited the tree 
to claim the gold or fell it to the ground ; but Satan 
persuaded him to hazard another struggle on the 
promise that, if he conquered again, the amount 


should be doubled. This second encounter proved 
fatal to the youth. He was put to death by his 
spiritual antagonist, and the result confirmed the 
tribes over whom he had ruled in their worship of the 
tree and its tutelary demon."" 

According to this legend, the Satan parasts are the 
victims of their young prophet who, as long as he was 
actuated by a disinterested zeal for religion, was 
victorious over the principle of evil; but failed as 
soon as that zeal gave place to a sordid cupidity for 
earthly treasure. 

I have dwelt upon the superstitious theories of the 
Yezidis themselves regarding their religious origin, 
not because these theories have an importance in 
themselves, but because of their bearing upon the 
views advanced by modern scholars. The scholars 
have based their theories on some of these conflicting 
stories without sufficient criticism. I shall dwell upon 
this more at length later on. 


The Christian Tradition 

But the myth of the Yezidis is not the only account 
that attempts to trace their religious origin ; the eastern 
Christians have a tradition that gives a different 
interpretation. It is to the effect that the people in 
question were originally Christians, but that ignorance 
brought them into their present condition. The tradi- 


tion runs that the shrine of §eih *Adi was formerly a 
Nestorian monastery which was noted for the devo- 
tion of its monks, but that these were tempted by the 
devil and left their convent. The Church of the 
Monastery was dedicated to St. Thaddeus or Addai,^^ 
one of the seventy-two disciples who, after the ascen- 
sion of our Lord, was sent to King Abgar of Edessa. 
It is said that the temple of 'Adi has a conventicle 
resembling that at Jerusalem.^^ The story of how the 
cloister was deserted is as follows: 

On a great feast day, while the hermits bearing the 
cross went in procession around the church, they 
saw, hanging on a tree, a piece of paper with this 
inscription : "O ye devout monks ! Let it be known 
to you that God has forgiven all your sins, great and 
small ; cease to undergo religious exercises ; leave your 
hermitage; disperse, marry and rear children. Peace 
be unto you !" On the second day they observed the 
same thing, and were led to dispute among themselves 
whether this were a device of God or of a devil. 
When on the third day the same incident was 
repeated, they agreed to leave the abbey and follow 
what seemed to them a divine order. §eih *Adi, the 
legend goes on, had foretold to the Yezidis of that 
district that the monks of this monastery would desert 
their place, would become Yezidis, would marry and 
beget children; that he would die during that time; 
and that he wishes his followers to pull down the 
altar of the church in that priory and bury him there. 
Shortly after the fulfilment of his prophecy, the §eih 


died, and was entombed in the place of the altar. And 
since that time, it is asserted, the spot has become the 
sanctuary of the devil-worshippers. In support of 
this statement, it is argued, that there was a Syriac 
inscription in the temple mentioning the name of the 
founder of the monastery and the patriarch in whose 
time it was built; that some of the Yezids themselves 
bear testimony to this fact, and say they have removed 
the writing from its former place and have hidden it 
at the entrance to 'Adi's temple, a spot the where- 
abouts of which only a few of them know. The 
reason why this record is hidden, it is explained, is 
the fear that the Nestorians may see it and reclaim 
the church.^* 

Such is the eastern Christian's tradition relative 
to the origin of the Yezidis. It is, of course, merely 
a legend ; but its character is such as to require careful 
examination and critical study. It may embody a 
measure of truth that will indirectly throw some light 
on the subject in hand. 

One noticeable thing regarding this current view is 
that it is not a recent invention; else it might be said 
to be the creation of ignorance at a time far removed 
from the event which it records. Assemani, himself 
an oriental of distinguished scholarship, in that part 
of his book wherein he treats of the religion of 
Mesopotamia, according to the natives of the country, 
says that the Yezidis were at one time Christians, who, 
however, in the course of time, had forgotten the 
fundamental principles of their faith.^® This state- 


ment is incorporated in the writings of all western 
orientals that have travelled in the East.^® 

Another thing worthy of notice is that the Chris- 
tians should have such a sacred regard for his tradi- 
tion as to hand it down to posterity at the risk of their 
own reputation. Certainly the Christians are not 
cherishing this theory with any expectation of receiv- 
ing honor by assuming relation with the Yezidis. 
The devil-worshippers are utterly d'^spised by all their 
neighbors. Nor do they do it out of love, that they 
may arouse the sympathy of the dominating race for 
this degraded people. Oriental Christians themselves 
despise the Yezidi sect. They would not, and could 
not, help them. There must then be some truth in a 
legend that leads the church to regard a despised 
people as having been at one time co-religionists. 

Were the antiquity of the tradition, and the un- 
favorable result which its entertainment causes, the 
only two reasons for its consideration, we might just 
as well dismiss it. But there are other things which 
go to point out some historic facts underlying the cur- 
rent theory. One such fact is that the family name 
of the Yezidis around Mosul is Daseni, plur Dawasen. 
The Christians and the Mohammedans know them by 
this name, and they themselves also use it, and say 
it is the ancient name of their race, existing from 
time immemorial. ^^ Now Daseni, or Dasaniyat, was 
the name of a Nestorian Diocese, \he disappearance of 
which is simultaneous with the appearance of the 
Yezidis in these places.^® 


It is stated, moreover, that all the people of Sin jar 
were formerly Christians, belonging to the ancient 
Syriac Church and having a very prominent diocese, 
which was called the diocese of Saki, i. e., Sinjar; and 
that the diocese continued to exist till the middle of 
the eighteenth century : What goes to verify this tra- 
dition is that, at present, there is a library at Jabal 
Sinjar, under the control of the Yezidis, that consists 
of ancient Syriac books. They are kept in a small 
room guarded by a Yezidi. On Sunday and Friday 
of every week they burn incense and light lamps in 
honor of the manuscripts ; and once a month they take 
them out in the sun to dust and to preserve them from 
destruction by dampness. After the door is locked, 
the key is kept by the Seih, besides whom and his son 
no one else is allowed to touch the books. What is 
more interesting, the people of Sinjar say they have 
inherited the library from their forefathers, who were 
Christians.^^ It is pointed out, furthermore, that the 
names of the principal to*vns of the Yezidis are 
Syriac. Ba'sika comes from **the house of the 
falsely accused, or oppressed"; Ba'adrie from "the 
place of help or refuge"; Bahzanie from "the house 
of visions or inspiration" ; Talhas from "the hill of 
suffering," where many Christians were martyred by 
Persians. These are a few of many Yezidi villages 
having Syriac names. 

The Yezidis have religious practices which are to 
be found only in the Christian Church. I mean the 
rites of baptism and the Eucharist. It is true that 


the use of water as a rite is practised by other non- 
Christian sects, such as the Mandeans; but it is 
argued that this ordinance as observed by the Yezidis 
is so similar to that of the Christians that its origin is 
to be traced back to Christianity, rather than to any 
other system. Like their neighbors, the Dawaseni 
must if possible baptize their children at the earliest 
age. In performing the rite, the Seih, like the Chris- 
tian priest, puts his hand upon the child's head. In 
regard to the sacrament of the Lord's supper, it is 
strictly Christian in character. The Yezidis call the 
cup the cup of Isa (Jesus) ; and when a couple marry, 
they go to a Christian town to partake of Al-Kiddas 
(the Eucharist) from the hand of a priest, a custom 
which prevails among eastern Christians. What 
requires special note is that this practice is observed 
where the Yezidi influence is not very strong, a fact 
which seems to indicate that the Apostate Nasara, 
who lived remote from strongly Yezidising influences, 
were able to retain some of their originally much fav- 
ored practices, and vice versa.^'' 

Finally, the Dawaseni entertain great reverence for 
Christianity and the Christian saints. They respect 
the churches and tombs of the Christians, and kiss the 
doors and walls when they enter them ; but they never 
visit a Mohammedan mosque. In the Black Book a 
statement is made that on her way to the house of 
her bridegroom, a bride should, visit the temple of 
every idol she passes by, even if it be a Christian 
Church." They have also professed reverence for 


'Isa (Jesus). They affect more attachment to An- 
Nasara than to Mohammedans. Such a religious 
affinity cannot be fully accounted for on any other 
ground than that of their sincere respect for Chris- 
tainity, a feeling which clearly indicates that these 
people must at one time have had a very close con- 
nection with Christianity. This intimate relation 
cannot be explained by their ignorance, or by kindred 
experiences, as some scholars seem to think.^^ It is 
true the Christians have been co-sufferers with them; 
both have lived for generations under the same yoke 
of bondage and oppression and under similar circum- 
stances. But this alone could not create sympathy 
between them. Such an assumption cannot be veri- 
fied by the facts collected through our observation of 
the Yezidis' character as a religious body. They are 
sincere in their beliefs, and never compromise in 
religious matters. History has shown again and again 
that they have suffered martyrdom for their faith, in 
which they have been as sincere and unshaken as have 
been the heroes of any religion. No matter how un- 
educated they may be, they are not hypocrites in their 
faith. The theory is also refuted by our understand- 
ing of the nature of the affinity in question between 
the Yezidis and the Christians. It is not a matter of 
sympathy but of religion. They believe in some 
forms of Christianity; and when they visit a church, 
they want to exercise their faith and not to express 
their sympathy. What is more, the eastern Christians 
have no sympathy for the devil worshippers, at least, 


not more than they have for any other religious body. 
Such an affinity is wanting between the Jews and the 
Christians or the Yezidis, yet they all live under the 
same conditions. 

I am not here advocating the theory, or implying, 
that the Yezidi sect is a corrupt form of Christianity, 
but am simply aiming to show that if the similarity 
of a certain religion with another in some phases be 
taken as a ground for the explanation of its origin, 
the Christian tradition can be regarded as a more 
probable theory to account for the rise of Yezidism 
than any other view : And, hence, to point out, what 
seems to me to be the best position, that the explana- 
tion must be found ultimately in some historical docu- 
ment which will give us a reasonable clew in the 
tracing of the sect in question to its founder. 


The Speculative Theories of Western 

Thus far we have been dealing with the different 
theories regarding the origin of the Yezidis held in 
the East: the myth of the devil-worshippers them- 
selves, the Christian tradition. Now we turn our 
attention to the West, which also has expressed itself 
on this subject. The degree of interest shown in this 
particular case, however, differs with different 
nationalities. The English-speaking scholars come 


first; next come the French; then the Russians; and 
finally the ItaUans. The German scholars seem to be 
interested mainly in certain words and festive events. 
And, in the discussion of these, they go so far in their 
unbounded speculation that one cannot tell whether 
the people they deal with are the Yezidis in question, 
Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Greeks, Romans 
or Jews. The German writers do not seem to be 
interested so much in the problem of the origin of this 
people as a sect, unless they regard the question as 
settled on the ground of the Yezidis' own statement 
that they are the descendants of Yezid bn Mu'awiya. 
To tell the truth, the rise of the interest in the 
inquiry about the founder of this sect on a scientific 
basis, is due, without question, to the scholarship of 
the West. And any solution of the problem (and it 
does not matter who does the work), in the last 
analysis, must be accredited to the influences emanat- 
ing from these scholars and these scholars only. 
Nevertheless modern orientalists have been far from 
approaching the solution of the question. This may 
be due in part to the extreme interest which they 
have taken in the matter, an interest which led them 
to accept the phenomena without critical examination. 
But the inductive study of their respective writings 
tends to show that this is due to their method of pro- 
cedure rather than to anything else. They have em- 
ployed the philosophical and not the historical 
method.^^ I do not mean to deny the value of such 
a course of investigation in questions pertaining to 


religion, but what I do mean to say is that the method 
of the scholars in question is almost purely specula- 
tive, and they do not seem to appeal to historical facts 
in support of their assumptions. The inevitable con- 
sequence has been, therefore, that in their theories 
there exists an uncertainty and indefiniteness that 
puzzles the student of history. 

Another fact which the inductive study of the views 
of the western scholars reveals is that their theories 
are nothing more nor less than the expression of the 
Yezidis' tradition in terms of modern scholarship, 
without, however, the showing of reasons for so do- 
ing. This fact will be proved presently when we shall 
examine their respective writings. 

Western orientalists are divided into three schools 
of opinion on the question of the religious origin of 
the Yezidis. There are those who hold that the sect 
takes its rise from Yezid bn Mu'awiya. This view is 
advocated by a modern writer, who says, "The Arabs 
who accepted Mohammed called those who did not 
Al-jahaleen, i. e., the ignorant ones. Among the latter 
was Yezid bn Mu'awiya who refused to accompany 
Mu'awiya, his father, as an attendant upon his person. 
Many of the ignorant ones rallied around Yezid, and 
he became the nucleus of the sect that appropriated 
his name. The Yezidis possess a genealogical tree by 
means of which they trace their religious origin back 
to him."" 

Now, the ground for this assertion, the writer does 
not give; he is entirely silent as to the source of his 


information. It is evident, therefore, that he is 
regarding the superstitious theory of the Yezidis as a 
fact without making any reflection upon it. He also 
seems to be confusing this Yezid with his uncle of 
the same name, who, with Mu'awiya his brother came 
in company with their father Abu Sofian, to Mo- 
hammed to receive presents from the Prophet. But 
the Arab historians tell us that not only Abu Sofian 
and each of his two sons received a hundred camels 
but that they were each presented with forty ounces 
of silver.^^ 

Then, too, many scholars deny that the name 
Yezidis is the original appellation. Some assert it was 
put upon them by the Mohammedans as a term of 
reproach.^^ Others maintain that the sect adopted the 
name Yezid, son of Mu'awiya to secure toleration at 
the hands of the Mohammedans.^^ But the scholar 
quoted may entertain the view of those who say that 
the Yezidis are really the followers of Ibn Mu'awiya ; 
but that they deny it for fear of persecution on the 
part of Shiites. These latter hate Yezid, because he 
murdered 'Ali's son, Husein, who is regarded by them 
as their true Imam. This inference is founded on the 
theory that the Mohammedans of Persia consider the 
people in question as descendants of the Calif whose 
name is odious to them.^^ But it is not certain that 
the followers of *Ali entertain such a view regarding 
the origin of the Yezidis. And, if they do, they have 
no historical facts to justify them in their opinion. 
Their hatred of the sect can be better explained on 


the basis of the relation of the devil-worshippers to 
Yezid bn Unaisa. For he was one of those who most 
bitterly hated *Ali; see pp. 121, 122, 128 of this book. 

Furthermore, the theory of this school is neutral- 
ized by the fact that none of the Arab historians men- 
tions the son of the first Calif in the Omayyid 
dynasty as a founder of any heretical sect. On the 
contrary, they all agree that he was not only a 
Mohammedan but a successor of the prophet, being 
the second calif in the Omayyid dynasty. Ibn 
Hallikan mentions his name two or three times, and 
says that his works were collected. He says nothing, 
however, as to his founding any religious schism. 

There is still another school among the western 
orientalists. I mean those who hold that the religion 
of the devil- worshippers is of Persian origin. They 
are of two wings. There are those who take their 
method of procedure from the name Yezid or Yazd. 
They argue that this term in Persian, Yazd (pla 
Yazdan), Avestan Yezata, 'worthy of worship*, means 
God, or good spirit, over against Ahriman, the evil 
principle. Hence, the name Yezid, according to them, 
indicates the people that believe in this good god. To 
the objection that the Yezidis worship the evil spirit, 
answer is made that Yezid Ferfer is the name of the 
attendant of the evil spirit among the Parsees.^® 
Others believe that the word "Yezid" signifies God. 
It indicates in the plural the observers of superstitious 
doctrines as may be seen by the idol Yezid, which the 
Bishop of Nagham overthrew.*^ Still others say that 


in the tradition of these people Yezid must have been 
an abbreviated form of Aez-da-Khuda, that is, created 
of God. In support of this theory, it is claimed that 
in reality the Yezidis worship God and not the devil. 
It is thought by many, too, that the Yezidis derive 
their name from Yazd, or Yezid, a name of a town 
in Central Persia, of which the Parsees form the 
principal part of the inhabitants.^^ 

The other wing of the second school attempts to 
trace the origin of the devil-worshippers to a Persian 
source on the basis of certain resemblances between 
the two religions. Conspicuous among the representa- 
tives of this school is Professor A. V. Jackson, of 
Columbia University. This distinguished scholar is 
considered an eminent authority on Iranian religions, 
and particularly an eye-witness authority on the 
Yezidi question. His views, therefore, not only 
deserve careful consideration, but they demand their 
full share in solving such an important problem as the 
one under discussion. I have preferred his discussion 
of this theory to that of others because he has ex- 
pressed himself clearly and consistently and without 
rendering himself liable to misapprehension on the 
part of the reader. Briefly stated. Dr. Jackson's 
position is as follows : "The Yezidis may actually 
show some surviving traces of old devil-worship in 
Mazandaran, which Zoroaster anathematized so bit- 
terly," and "some old reminiscences of common 
Iranian faith." To verify this hypothesis, he pro- 
ceeds to point out many instances. One example he 


cites is that "the Yezidis are shocked if one spits upon 
the earth, because they interpret this as an insult to 
the devil." He traces this abhorrence to "Zoroastrian 
prescription, forbidding the earth in any way to be 
defiled." "The Daevayasna or devil-worshippers in 
Avesta," he goes on to say, "may indirectly have had 
a kindred notion, L e., not mentioning the name of 
Satan." Moreover this American critic is informed 
that the Yezidis "believe in a father primeval, that 
lived before Adam, and did not fall into sin." And 
this information leads him to think that such a notion 
helps "the Zoroastrian student to recognize at once a 
far-off reminiscence of Avestan Gaya-Mashai, the 
Iranian Adam and Eve."*^ 

One noticeable thing in favor of the two schools is 
that their method is strictly scientific, in the modern 
sense of the term. It is a posteriori and not a priori; 
it is inductive. Yet however scientific their method 
may seem to be their conclusions cannot be accepted 
as final. For the inductive method, according to the 
great French scientist, Poincare, cannot give us exact 
knowledge because its experiments do not cover all 
the instances in a given case. There can be only a 
partial verification. There will always remain some 
phenomena that cannot be brought within the sphere 
of a particular observation.^^ Now, this is exactly 
the case in the subject under consideration. Only in 
some phases does the Yezidi religion resemble that of 
the old Persians. There are other beliefs which do 
not come under this category, and which seem to bear 


the traces of some other religions. What are we to 
do with these ?^^ The advocates of the theory in 
question admit that such is the case, but they assert 
that "the resemblances of the Yezidi religion to Chris- 
tianity and Islam are accidental"; that "owing to the 
residence of the Yezidis among the Mohammedans, 
the sect naturally has much in common with Islam."^* 
But why are the resemblances to Iranism not to be 
accounted for in the same way as those to other reli- 
gions? Why may not equally strong inference be 
made from the likeness to Christianity? And what 
is the basis of such a discrimination? On these ques- 
tions we are left entirely in the dark. Now, it is this 
lack of ground for their method of procedure that 
leads one to seek the solutirn of the problem on some 
other verifiable hypothesis. 

There is still another school among the western 
orientalists. I refer to those who maintain that the 
Yezidi sect was founded by Seih *Adi. A modem 
writer who holds this theory, after critically review- 
ing the views held by the different scholars, proceeds 
to advance his own idea. To emhasize it, and leave 
no room for further criticism, he claims that the 
theory has been "generally" accepted. To quote: 

"It is generally agreed upon that the sect of the 
Yezidis was founded by §eih 'Adi. He is a historical 
personage, but it is exceedingly difficult, and almost 
impossible, to establish any historical facts out of the 
mist of verv fantastic stories current about him."^' 

He supports his notion by an appeal to an Arab 


author, Kasi Ahmad ibn-Hallikan, from whom, 
according to this writer, an extract relating to Seih 
*Adi was published by one who for years was a resi- 
dent of the city of Mosul.^® This statement that Ibn 
Hallikan gives the biography of *Adi is a fact that 
cannot be questioned; but that *Adi founded the 
Yezidi sect is a theory that is by no means "generally 
agreed upon." Nor can it be substantiated. To 
justify this position, let me quote in full what the Arab 
biographer and two other Mohammedan scholars have 
to say on the problem. 

I What Ibn Hallikan has to say on §eih *Adi: 
"The §eih *Adi Ibn Masafir Al-Hakkari was an 
ascetic, celebrated for the holiness of his life, and the 
founder of a religious order called after him Al- 
'Adawiah. His reputation spread to distant countries, 
and the number of his followers increased to a great 
multitude. Their belief in his sanctity was so exces- 
sive that, in saying their p-ayers, they took him for 
their kibla; and imagined that in the next life they 
would have in him their most precious treasure and 
their best support. Before this, he had as a disciple a 
great number of eminent seihs and men remarkable 
for their holiness. He then retired from the world 
and fixed his residence among the mountains of the 
Hakkari, near Mosul, where he built a cell (or a 
monastery) and gained the favor of the people in that 
country to a degree unexampled in the history of the 
anchorites. It is said that the place of his birth was 
a village called Bait Far, situated in the province of 


Baal-bek, and that the house in which he was bom is 
still visited (as a place of sanctity). He died a- h. 
557 (a. d. 1 162), or as some say a. h. 555, in the town 
where he resided (in the Hakkari region). He was 
interred in the monastery that he had erected. His 
tomb is much frequented, being considered by his 
followers one of the most sacred spots to which a 
pilgrimage can be made. His descendants continue to 
wear the same distinctive attire as he did and to walk 
in his footsteps. The confidence placed in their 
merits is equal to that formerly shown to their ances- 
tor, and like him they are treated with profound 
respect. Abu Ibarakat ibn Al-Mustawfi notices the 
§eih *Adi in his history of Arbela, and places him in 
the list of those persons who visited that city. 
Muzaffar Ad-Din, the sovereign of Arbela, said that 
when a boy he saw the §eih *Adi at Mosul. According 
to him, he was a man of medium size and tawny com- 
plexion ; he related also many circumstances indicative 
of his great sanctity. The seih died at the age of 
ninety years."^^ 

2 What Mohammed-Amin-Al-'Omari has to say 
on Seih 'Adi: 

"They say that the §eih 'Adi was one of the 
inhabitants of Ba'albek; that he transported himself 
to Mosul, and from thence to Jabal Las, a dependency 
of this city (Mosul), where he resided until his death. 
They also say that he was from Hawran, and that his 
lineage goes back as far as Marwan bn al-Hakam, also 
that he is Saraf ad Din Abou'l Fadail 'Adi bn Masafir 



bn Isma'il bn Mousa bn Marwan bn al Hasan bn 
Marwan bn Mohammed bn Marwan bn al Hakam, 
who died in the ear 558. His grave, which is well 
known, is the object of pious pilgrimages." 

"God tried him by a calamity, to wit, the appear- 
ance of a sect of apostates, called the Yezidis, because 
they claim to be descended from Yezid. They adore 
the sun and render worship to the devil. The follow- 
ing are some of the precepts of their faith that I found 
in a small tract made by one of the inhabitants of 
Aleppo, who knows their religion: 

I. Adultery becomes lawful when committed by 
(mutual) consent. 

n. They pretend that when the day of judgment 
comes, the seih 'Adi will put them into a wooden 
basin which he will place on his head in order to cause 
them to enter into Paradise while uttering these con- 
temptuous words : *I do this (or, I make them do 
this) by compelling God or in spite of him.' 

HI. The visit which they pay to the tomb of §eih 
'Adi is for them a pilgrimage which the devotees 
accomplished no matter how far distant the country is 
that they inhabit, and without being concerned about 
the expenses that the journey carries with it."^^ 

3 What Yasin Al-Hatib-al-Omari-Al-Mausili has 
to say on Seih 'Adi : 

"In this year 557 died the saint and the pious 
devotee *Adi bn Musafir, who performed miracles. 
His death took place in the city Hakkariya, one of the 
dependencies of Mosul. His origin is from Ba*albek, 



which he left in order to come to Mosul, that he might 
consecrate himself to God. He passed a solitary life 
on the mountains and in caverns where lions and 
other wild beasts visited him often." 

"It is said that he was descended from the family 
of Omayyids, and this is the lineage which he 
attributed to himself: 'Adi bn Musafir bn Isma'il bn 
Mousa bn Marwan bn al-Hasan bn Marwan bn al- 
Hakam bn Al-'Ass bn Omayya." 

"He was versed in the knowledge of the divine law. 
God tried him by a calamity by raising the Yezidis, 
who pretended that this seih is God, and who have 
made his tomb the object of their pilgrimage. They 
arrive there every year at the sound of drums in order 
to give themselves to games and debauchery." 

"The Christians of the land, and especially the 
partisans of the Nestorians are far from having the 
same opinion of the §eih *Adi as have the Moslems 
or the Yezidis. The following passage which one reads 
in a Chaldean manuscript entitled 'Awarda'^® and which 
I saw some time ago in the Church of Karmalis,*'' 
proves this sufficiently. This is the translation of the 
passage which I have extracted from a song composed 
by a bishop of Arbil, in honor of Rabban Hormuzd** 
and other saints, and in which the author makes men- 
tion of 'Adi in these terms: 

" 'Great misfortunes have followed, falling upon 
us ; a formidable enemy came to torment us. He was 
a descendant of Hagar, the slave of our mother. This 
enemy who made our life unfortunate was a Moham- 


medan, called 'Adi. He deceived us by vile tricks, 
and has finished by taking possession of our riches 
and of our convent, which he consecrated to things 
that are illicit (to have a strange worship). An 
innumerable multitude of Mussulmen have attached 
themselves to him and have vowed to him a blind 
submission. The renown of his name, which is Seih 
*Adi, has spread down to our days in all the cities of 
all the countries.' "*^ 

These are the accounts which we have of Seih *Adi 
in his relation to the Yezidis, and they deserve our 
special attention. For not only are the writers scholars 
of the highest authority, but they are to a certain 
extent eye-witness authorities. The last two are from 
the city of Mosul, which is the only city in the Mo- 
hammedan world whose widely spreading scholarship 
has acquired for it the name "Dar-al-'Ulum," i. e., 
the home of sciences. Moreover, they come from a 
family whose members are known as 'Olama, highly 
intellectual, broad-minded Mohammedan gentlemen. 
While at Mo-sul, I had the honor of calling often on 
Hasan, Efendi al 'Omari, and especially on Suleiman 
Efendi al Omari. Ibn Hallikan as a trustworthy 
biographer needs no further introduction than the 
mere mentioning of his name. What adds to his repu- 
tation as a scholar is the fact that, being a resident of 
Arbila in the province of Mosul^ he had at his com- 
mand firsthand information. 

Another noteworthy fact is that all three of these 
scholars agree in their account of Seih *Adi, in their 


tracing of his genealogy, in describing him as the most 
perfect model of hermits, in praising him for his 
manner of life, which they regard as a life of holiness. 
They agree also in their definition of the common 
people's attitude toward the Seih : that he was deified 
and that his tomb has been made the object of pil- 
grimage. And finally they are silent about his sup- 
posed founding of the sect in question. There is no 
intimation that he was a heretic, or that he established 
such a schism. To be sure, Ibn Hallikan makes men- 
tion of a religious order which was called after the 
Seih's name, but he designates them as 'Adawia and 
not as Yezidis. This might have been such an order 
as the Brotherhood of Assanusi, called after 
Mohammed ibn *Ali as-Sanusi, or as many other 
orders of dervishes and seihs of mystical type, that 
have taken rise from time to time in the religious 
history of Islam. The other two speak of the appear- 
ance of the Yezidis, but they look at the incident as 
a calamity to the seih because they deified him and 
worshipped at his tomb. Their remarks tend to show 
that the Yezidi sect were known as such before the 
time of *Adi ; that their appellation was based on the 
pretension that they were descendants of Yesid; that 
they were apostates from Islam; that they were some 
of those who weer attached to *Adi by reason of his 
wide reputation as a saint, and were led by their 
ignorance to take him for a god; and that they were 
worshippers of the sun and the devil. It is incon- 
ceivable to us, if we apply the principles of modem 


criticism to what we know of the character of the 
Mohammedan historians, that they should write the 
life of one who is responsible for the rise of a sect, 
the foundation of whose religion is the devil, and not 
curse him and the devil with him a hundred million 

Such are the theories that have been advanced in 
the discussion relating to the religious origin of the 
Yezidi sect, and we have found not only that they are 
far from reaching the solution of the problem, but 
also that the method that they employ does not seem 
to be the proper one for solving such a question. The 
tradition of the Yezidis that they are descended from 
Yezid bn Mu'Awiya which has been accepted as the 
fact by some western scholars is only a myth, without 
historical justification. As to the Christian tradition, 
all that can tell us is that some Yezidis might have 
been at one time Christians; but as to who was the 
founder of the sect it gives us no light. Likewise, all 
that we can learn from the theory advocated by the 
second school is that some phases of the Persian reli- 
gion might have survived with that of the devil- 
worshippers. We may admit, I think, that some 
Yezidis are Persian in their origin. But as to who 
was the originator of their religion this theory helps 
us not a whit. So also we have found that the relation 
of §eih 'Adi to this sect is not that of a founder. He 
is only one of many whom their ignorance led to class 
as deities. 



The Dogmatic View of Mohammedan Scholars 

While the Yezidi myth regards the sect as descend- 
ants of Adam, of Yezid bn Mu awiya, or of a colony 
from the north, while the Christian tradition of the 
East traces them to a Christian origin, while among 
the western orientalists some say that they were 
founded by Yezid bn Mu awiya, others that they 
are of Persian origin, etc., the Mohammedan dog- 
matics, on the other hand, assert that they are 
Murtaddoon, that is, apostates from Islam. To under- 
stand the significance of this term, I must mention 
the several words used for those who are considered 
as infidels according to Mohammedan theology. 
Kafir is one who hides or denies the truth; Mushrik 
is one who ascribes companions to God; Mulhid is 
one who has deviated from the truth; Zandik is one 
who asserts his belief in the doctrine of dualism; 
Munafik is one who secretly disbelieves in the mis- 
sion of Mohammed; Dahri is an atheist; Watani is a 
pagan or idolator; and finally Murtadd is one who 
apostasizes from Isalm. The Yezidis are put in the 
category of those who, after once accepting the reli- 
gion of Islam, later rejected it. 

One author, of those to whose writings I had access, 
in an explicit statement regards these people as 
apostates. I refer to Amin-al-*Omari-al Mausili (of 
Mosul). After praising Seih 'Adi, the Mosulian goes 


on to say, "God tried him (i. e,, *Adi) by a calamity, 
to wit, the appearance of Al-Murtaddoon, called the 
Yezidis because they pretended to have been de- 
scended from Yezid.*^. Another Mohammedan 
scholar that mentions these people is Yasin Al-Hatib- 
al-'Omari-al Mausili. Writing on Seih *Adi, and 
praising him as the former writer does, he says, "He 
was versed in the knowledge of the divine law. God 
tried him by a calamity by raising up the Yezidis, who 
pretend that this Seih is God, and who have made 
his tomb the object of their pilgrimage.** 

While these authors throw some light on the subject 
that the sect in question derives its appellation from 
a historic person, they leave us entirely in the dark 
as to who that person was, as the Arab historians 
mention many prominent men who bore the name 

This obscurity regarding the person of the founder 
of the sect is made clear by one whose work is 
equally, if not more, authoritative than that of any 
other Mohammedan scholar on matters pertaining to 
religious and philosophical sects. This authority is 
Mohammed As-§ahrastani. He is the only Moham- 
medan writer that I could reach that, in a clear 
language, traces this most interesting sect to its 

"The Yezidis are the followers o| Yezid bn Unaisa, 
who [said that he] kept friendship with the first 
Muhakkama before the Azarika, and he separated 
himself from those who followed after them with the 


exception of Al-Abadia, for with these he kept friend- 
ship. He believed that God would send an apostle 
from among the Persians and would reveal to him a 
book that is already written in heaven, and would 
reveal the whole (book) to him at one time/^ and as 
a result he would leave the law of Mohammed, the 
Chosen One, may God bless and save him! — and 
follow the religion of the Sabians mentioned in the 
Koran. But these are not the Sabians who are found 
in Haran and Wasit. But Yezid kept friendship with 
the people of the book who recognized the Chosen 
One as a prophet, even though they did not accept 
his (Mohammed's) religion. And he said that the 
followers of the ordinances are among those who 
agree with him; but that others are hiding the truth 
and give companions to god and that every sin, small 
or great, is idolatry.^® 

It is clear, then, that As-Sahrastani finds the reli- 
gious origin of this interesting people in the person of 
Yezid bn Unaisa. He calls them his Asehah, i. e., his 
followers, a term by which he designates the relation 
between a sect and its originator. Al-Haratiyah 
he describes as "Asehab al-Haret," and "Al Hafeziyah 
Asehab Hafez,** and so on. We are to understand, 
therefore, that to the knowledge of the writer, bn 
Unaisa is the founder of the Yezidi sect, which took 
its name from him. 

Mohammed A§-§ahrastani states also, in a logical 
way, the theological views of the head of the Yezidis. 
Yezid, he says, is on the positive side, in sympathy 


with the first Muhakkamah before the Azarika. Now, 
the first Muhakkamah is an appellative applied to the 
Muslim schismatics called Al-Hawarij, because they 
disallowed the judgment of the Hakaman, *. e., the 
two judges, namely *Abd Mousa al-As-'Aree and Am 
ibn-al-'As; and said that judgment belongs only to 
God. And Al-Azarika were a heretical Muslim sect 
called Al-Hawarij or Heroriyah, so named in rela- 
tion to Nafi' ibn-Al-Azrak. They asserted that *Ali 
committed an act of infidelity by submitting his case 
to arbitration, and that the slaying of him by Ibn 
Muljama was just; and they declare that the com- 
panions (of the Prophet) were guilty of infidelity. 
Yezid moreover, is said to have been in sympathy with 
Al-Abadiyah, a sect founded by *Abd-Allah ibn Ibad, 
who taught that if a man commits a kabirah or great 
sin he is an infidel and not a believer. 

It is evident, therefore, that according to this ex- 
position the Yezid in question was one of Al-Hawarij, 
and their principle is expressly attributed to him : 
every sin, small or great, is idolatry. According to 
this it might be inferred that the Yezidis were orig- 
inally a Harijite sub-sect. They still hold to the 
Harijite principle. (Cf. their position to the Otto- 
man Government, pp. 71-74). As we said some 

Mohamnnedan writers other than Ashahr-Astani also 
(pp. 118-119) regard them as apoatate Moslems, As- 
Sahrastani himself classes them with the Moslem 
heretics. Now Al-Hawarij were the first to rebel 
against 'Ali at Haroora, a certain suburb of AI-Koofa, 


from which it is distant two miles. They are called 
also Al-Heroriyah, because they first assembled there 
and accepted the doctrine that government belongs 
only to God. And one sect of Al-Hawarij was An- 
Nasibiyah who made it a matter of religious obliga- 
tion to bear a violent hatred to *Ali. Such is the place 
of bn Unaisa among the Moslem heretics, but this is 
only one side of his religious system.^^ 

There is another side to Yezid's doctrine. He held 
that God would send an apostle from Persia, to whom 
he would reveal a book already written in heaven. 
This apostle was to be an opponent of the prophet 
of Islam in that he would leave Mohammed's religion 

and follow that of the Sabians mentioned in the 


Koran. These are referred to by Mohammed, together 
with the Christians and the Jews, in three different 
places in the Book. One such reference is in Surah 
2, 59: "They who believe as well as Jews, Christians 
and Sabeans, whoever believeth in God and in the 
Last Day, and do that which is right, shall have their 
reward with their Lord." 

Surah 5, 73, also: 

"They who believe as well as Jews, Christians and 
Sabeans, whoever of them believe in God and the Last 
Day, and do what is right, on them shall no fear come ; 
neither shall they be put to grief." 

And Surah 22, 17: 

"They who believe as well as Jews, Sabeans and 
Christians and the Magians, and those who join gods 


with God, verily God shall decide between them on 
the Day of Resurrection." 

In these passages Mohammed seems to regard the 
Sabians of the Koran as believers in the true God and 
in the resurrection. And in Surah 22 , 17, he seems 
to distinguish them from Magians and polytheists. 
Hence, we are to infer that the Apostle of whom 
Yezid bn Unaisa says that he will come from the land 
of the 'Ajam (Persian), will identify himself with 
the religion of the .Sabians. This implies that he will 
believe in the true God and in the Day of Resurrec- 
tion. But from some Arab writers we learn more of 
these vSabian beliefs than the Prophet of Islam has 
mentioned. According to some the .Sabians were a 
sect of unbelievers who worshipped the stars secretly, 
and openly professed to be Christians. According to 
others, they were of the religion of .Sabi, the son of 
Seth, the son of Adam; while others said they 
resembled the Christians, except that their kiblah was 
toward the South, from whence the wind blows. In 
the Kamus it is said that they were of the religion of 
Noah. Al-Baidawi says that some assert that they 
were worshippers of angels, and that others say that 
they are the worshippers of stars. Al-Bertuni*^ calls 
the Manichaeans of Samarkand Sabians. Bar 
Hebraeus^® asserts that the religion of the Sabians is 
the same as that of the ancient Chaldeans. In com- 
menting on Surah 2, 59, Zamahsari (Al-Kessaf) says 
that the name Sabian comes from a root meaning one 


who has departed from one religion to another reli- 
gion, and that the Sabians were those who departed 
from Judaism and Christianity and worshipped 
angels. On this same verse, Sams Ad-Din Mohammed 
Al-Harrani (Jami Al-Bijan fi Tafsir Al-Koran) says: 
"The Sabians, i. e., those who departed from one reli- 
gion to another religion, stood between the Magians 
and the Jews and the Christians without having any 
revealed religion of their own. According to some 
they were people of the Book; according to others 
they were worshippers of angels ; while others 
say, they believed in one God but followed no 
Prophet." This same commentator on Surah 5, 73, 
says: "The Sabians were a Christian sect; some say 
that they were worshippers of angels ; others assert 
that they worshipped God alone, but had no revealed 
religion." On this same verse Zamabsari remarks, 
"The Sabians were those who departed from all reli- 
gions. ^■'■'^'V'i^%\ 

Now what Mohammed As-§ahrastani really means 
by the Sabians of the Koran, I am unable to state. In 
his general discussion of Sabianism however (vol. 2, 
pp. 201-250), he seems to speak of two main Sabian 
sects. He refers to one together with the ancient 
philosophers; and declares that the Sabians followed 
rational ordinances and judgments which originally 
they may have derived from some prophetic authority, 
but that they denied all prophecy. The philosophers 
followed their own devices and took their system 
from no prophetic source. The authority we are quot- 


ing calls this sect "the original Sabian sect," and says 
that it followed Seth and Enoch. In another place 
(vol. I, p. 24) he writes, "The Jews and the Chris- 
tians follow a revealed Book; the Magians and the 
Manichseans, a like Book; the original Sabian sect, 
ordinances and judgments, but accepts no Book; the 
original philosophers, the atheists, the star-worship- 
pers, the idol-worshippers, and the Brahmans believe 
in none of these." 

The other main Sabian sect is mentioned together 
with the Jews, the Christians, and the Moslems. The 
difference between these religious bodies, according to 
As-Sahrastani, is that "the Sabians do not follow the 
Law (of God) or Islam; the Christians and the Jews 
believe in these, but do not accept the Law (religion) 
of Mohammed ; while the Moslems believe in them all. 

As-Sahrastani, moreover, derives the name Sabian 
(p. 203) from a root meaning one who turns aside, 
deviates; and declares that the Sabians were those 
who turned aside from the statutes of God), and 
deviated from the path of the prophets. He seems 
to regard the notion that man is incapable of approach- 
ing God, and that therefore he is in constant need of 
intercessors and mediators, as a controlling idea in 
Sabianism. This belief, the writer points out, has 
manifested itself in three different forms: in the 
veneration of angels among what he calls the follow- 
ers of angels; the adoration of stars among the fol- 
lowers of stars ; and in the worship of idols among 
the followers of idols, heathens (pp. 203, 244). The 


last two, we are told, are polytheists, and referred to 
in the Koranic statement : 

("When Abraham said to his father, Azar, 'Dost 
thou take idols for gods?* — Surah 6, 74. Said he — 
Abraham — 'Do ye serve what ye hew out?' — Surah 
37» 93- When he — Abraham — said to his father, *0h 
my sir ! why dost thou worship what can neither hear 
nor see nor avail thee aught?* — Surah 19, 43.") 

And in the following references: 

("And when the night overshadowed him he saw a 
star and said, 'This is my Lord.* And when he saw 
the moon beginning to rise he said, 'This is my Lord/ 
And when he saw the sun beginning to rise he said, 
'This is my Lord, this is greatest of all/ '*) — Surah 6, 

76, 77. 78. 

But Mohammed As-Sahrastani makes mention of 
another Sabian sect which he names Al-Harbaniyah 
(pp. 248-250). Its distinctive feature, he says, is the 
belief that the Creator indwelleth in other beings. 
They held that God is one in his essence, but many 
in his appearances. He dwells in the seven planets, 
and in the earthly beings that are rational, good, and 
excellent in righteousness. Human body is his temple ; 
he may abide within it and live and move as a man. 
He is too good, we read, to create anything evil. God 
is the source of good, and evil is either an accidental 
and necessary thing, or related to the evil source. 
They believed also, our authority informs us, in the 
transmigration of souls, and taught that the Resurrec- 
tion of which the prophets had spoken was only the 


end of one generation and the beginning of another 
here on earth. This doctrine, the Mohammedan 
critics affirm, is alluded to in the passages : 

("Does he promise you that when ye are dead, and 
have become dust and bones, that then ye will be 
brought forth? Away, away with what ye are prom- 
ised, — there is only our life in the world ! We die and 
we live and we shall not be raised.") — Surah 23, 


Now I cannot say which of the Sabian sects are 

those that ''are mentioned in the Koran," which 
Yezid bn Unaisa says, the Persian Apostle will follow ; 
nor can I say which are those that "are found in 
Harran and Wasit." One thing, however, is clear: 
according to As-Sahrastani the Sabians of the Koran 
differ in their faith from those of Harran. The 
Harranians were remnants of the old heathen of 
Mesopotamia ; they were polytheistic, and star- 
worship had the chief place in their religion, as in the 
worship of the older Babylonian and Syrian faiths. 
They were regarded as such by the Mohammedans, so 
that under Al-Mamun, they sheltered themselves 
under the name, Sabians, that they might be entitled 
to the toleration which the Sabians of the Koran have 
because they were considered among the people of 
the Book.^^ Another thing to be noticed is that there 
is a close resemblance between the belief of the 
Sabian sect which As-Sahrastani calls Al-Harbaniyah 
and that of the Yezidi sect. 

Such is, in the main, the religion of the Persian 


Apostle and is logically the religion of Yezid bn 
Unaisa which announces the coming of such a mes- 
senger. We may conclude, therefore, that the founder 
of the Yezidi sect believed in God and in the Day of 
Resurrection; that he, perhaps, honored the angels 
and the stars, and that he was neither polytheistic nor 
a true believer in the Prophet of Islam. This last 
point is referred to also explicitly in the statement 
quoted, that Yezid associated himself with those of 
the people of the Book who recognized Mohammed 
as a prophet though they did not become his followers. 
This is the negative aspect, so to speak, of bn Unaisa's 
religious views. He is also said to have claimed that 
the followers of the ordinances'^ agreed with him. 
This statement tends to indicate that he might have 
accepted some phases of the Muslim faith. And the 
fact that he belonged to Al-Hawarij implies that he 
was one of those who were ''condemning and rejecting 
*Ali for his scandahus crime of parleying with Mu- 
awiya, the first of the Omayyid line, and submitting 
his claims to arbitration." Such are in brief the 
fundamental elements in the religious system of one 
who may be held responsible for the rise of the sect 
in question. 

There can be no doubt, it seems to me, that the 
Yezidis are the followers of Yezid bn Unaisa. The 
statement of our authority, Mohammed As-Sahrastani 
(see pp. 1 19-120), is so clear that it can bear no other 
interpretation. And what is far more important, it 
comes from the pen of one who is considered of the 


highest authority among the Arab scholars on ques- 
tions relating to philosophical and religious sects. In 
his bibliographical work Ibn Hallikan speaks of his 
profound scholarship in the highest terms : **As- 
Sahrastani, a dogmatic theologian of the 'Asarite sect, 
was distinguished as an Imam and a doctor of the 
law. He displayed the highest abilities as a juris- 
consult. The Kitab al-Milal wa n-Nihal (treatise on 
reUgions and sects) is one of his works on scholastic 
theology. He remained without an equal in that 
branch of science." Now, Mohammed As-§ahrastani 
(a. h. 467-549) A. D. 1074-1133 was a contemporary 
of 'Adi (a. h. 465-555) A. D. 1072-1162, yet he makes 
no allusion to him when he refers to the rise of this 
most interesting sect; nor does he make mention of 
any other supposed founder except the one he records. 
For these reasons I accept the historical assertion of 
this distinguished author. 

I am of the opinion, therefore, that the Yezidis 
received their name from Yezid bn Unaisa, their 
founder as a kharijite sub sect in the early period of 
Islam ; that, attracted by Seih 'Adi's reputation, they 
joined his movement and took him for their chief 
religious teacher; that in the early history of the sect 
and of *Adi many Christians, Persians, and Moslems 
united with it ; and that large survivals or absorptions 
of pagan beliefs or customs are to be found in modern 
Yezidism. In other words the actual religion of the 
Yezidis is syncretism in which it is easy to recognize 


Yezidi, Christian, Moslem, especially sufism and 
pagan elements. 

Like the master they believe in the true God and 
in the Resurrection, honor the angels and the stars, 
disbelieve in the mission of Mohammed and ignore 
'Ali, regard every sin, small or great, as idolatry or 
infidelity, and expect the appearance of a prophet 
from Persia. The fact of their connection with such 
a religious leader explains the reason why they are 
hated by both the Sunnites and the Shiites. The fol- 
lowers of bn My'awiya can only be despised by the 
latter; but the believer such a heretical one as the 
son of Unaisa are necessarily condemned by the 
former also. For he was, as I have already stated, 
anti-Mohammed and anti-'Ali. And it is worth 
remembering also that the fourth Calif is more hon- 
ored the Moslems of Persia than his son 
Husein is; and consequently any contemptuous atti- 
tude toward the father will give rise to more bitter 
feeling on the part of his followers than the murder 
of the son would occasion. 

There is one question, however, which does not 
appear to be very easy to answer; namely, how the 
Yezidis came to trace their origin to Yezid bn Mu- 
'awiya and not to Yezid bn Unaisa. Three explana- 
tions may be given. One is that their ignorance led 
them to mistake the former for the latter, as they 
have identified many of their seibs with angels and 
deities. Among ignorant people, as these are, with- 
out record and without any one who can read, the 


occasion of such an error is not strange. Another 
answer is that they intentionally made the identifica- 
tion in order to escape the persecution of the Sun- 
nites, among whom most of them lived. Though 
specious, this idea is not tenable, for it is not their 
habit to deny their origin for the sake of safety. 
Even in that case, they would still be hated by the 
Shiites. The third theory is that they have a notion 
that they are descended from a noble personage, and 
the second Calif being such a personage, their igno- 
rance led them to take him for their founder. And 
the identity of the two names, of course, helped much 
toward the formation of the legend. 

It is to be noticed that the religion of this Yezid 
contained, from its inception, a fundamental doctrine 
which appealed to the pagans of Persia more than it 
did to Al-jahaleen of Arabia. In its very structure 
it insulted the latter country by despising its prophet. 
On the other hand, it expressed its sympathy with a 
prophet from Persia and with his religion. This 
declaration magnified Persia and its inhabitants and 
gave them preeminence, thereby making an impression 
on the attitude of the people toward Yezidism. 
Therefore they looked on it not as a foreign but as a 
native cult. The entertaining of such a view, con- 
sequently, led many fire, or devil-wor-shippers and 
the followers of Zoroastrianism to embrace the new 
religion (Al-masrik, vol. 2, p. 35). And if the pre- 
dicted teacher arose, we can imagine the great success 
which he must have had among his countrymen. 


This fact not only accounts for the existence of traces 
of old Persian religion, but it gives the reason why 
the Kurdish predominates over the Arab element in 

The new sect appears to have existed as a very 
loose organization after the death of its founder: this 
looseness put them in a condition to follow any one 
who would exhibit some qualifications for leadership. 
Therefore, when they heard about *Adi they naturally 
flocked to him. And it is very likely that, entertaining 
the idea of a coming prophet as they still do, they 
might have thought him the promised one. What 
might have added to the confirmation of this notion 
was his fame as a saint, to whom a number of 
miracles were attributed. Even the lions and the 
serpents which lived in his neighborhood and paid 
him frequent visits were endowed, it is said, with 
supernatural sweetness. 

From what we know of 'Adi's movement, we have 
sufficient reason to conclude that many Moslems and 
Christians followed him. The historians of both 
faiths bear witness to the fact that 'Adi's reputation 
was widespread, and that people of every condition 
followed him (see pp. 111-115). The Nestorian bishop 
of Arbela, whom Yasin Al-*Omari quotes (see p. 114) 
asserts that innumerable multitudes flocked to him, 
deplores the situation of the Christian church result- 
ing from this uprising, and complains of the posses- 
sion by the Seih of a monastery belonging to his 
denomination. Moreover, as has been shown, there 


exist among the Yezidis certain Moslem and Christian 
practices which cannot be accounted for on any other 
ground, since, so far as we know their character, they 
make no compromise in matters of religion. 

Not only Yezidi, Persian, Moslem, and Christian 
elements are to be found in modern Yezidism, but 
there are many remains of the old pagan religions 
which find expression in the devil-worshippers of 
to-day. Such is the notion of the sacredness of the 
number seven, an idea which belongs to the common 
stock of the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia. 
The Yezidis have seven sanjaks, each has seven 
burners; their cosmogany shows that God created 
seven angels or gods ; their principal prayer is the 
appeal to God through seven seihs; the sceptre en- 
graved on the front of the temple of their great saint 
has seven branches. This reminds us at once of the 
Sabians who adored seven gods or angels who directed 
the course of seven planets; the seven days of the 
week were dedicated to their respective deities. 
Moreover, we note in the Babylonian-Assyrian poem, 
the seven gates through which I star descended to the 
land without return. Likewise, the number seven 
played an important part in the religious system of 

Further, like the Harranians, the modern Satan- 
parast worship the sun and the moon at their rising 
and setting. The sun was worshipped also in Canaan, 
I Sam. 6: 9. The horses of the sun were worshipped 
in the temple at Jerusalem, II Kings 25: 5, 11. The 


worship of the host of heaven (the sun, the moon, the 
planets), were found in Judea. In Babylon, there 
were at least two shrines to sun-god Samas, one at 
Sippar, and ther other at Larsa. 

Other survivals of the ancient religions found in 
Yezidism are the worship of birds (see p. 150) ; the 
special importance attached to the New Year because 
of its bearing on individual welfare by reason of the 
good or evil decision of the gods rendered them (see 
pp. 46, 174) ; and the belief in occurrences of nuptials 
in the heavens (see p. 174). 

Moreover, many religious beliefs of the Pre-lslamic 
Arabs survive among the modern Yezidis. Such is 
the belief in sacred wells in connection with sanctu- 
aries found in all parts of the Semitic region, the most 
conspicuous of which is that of Mecca. Gifts were 
cast into this holy water of Zamzam, as they were 
cast into the sacred wells of other places. When the 
grandfather of Mohammed *Abd Al-Muttalib cleaned 
out the well, he found two golden gazelles and a 
number of swords. The water of such holy springs 
was believed to possess healing power, and was carried 
home by pilgrims, as the water of Zamzam now is 
(Yakut I, 434).^^ An impure person, furthermore, 
dared not approach the sacred waters. A woman in 
her uncleanness was afraid for her children's sake to 
bathe in the holy water at the sanctuary of Dusares. 
According to Ibn Hisam "A woman who adopts 
Islam breaks with the heathen god by purifying her- 
self in this pool." This was taken to mean that her 


act was a breach of the ritual of the spot. And all 
the pilgrims changed their clothes when they entered 
the sacred precinct. ^^ 

Another common heathen practice in the time of 
Al-jahliya was the worship of holy trees. According 
to Tabari there was a date-palm tree at Nejran. It 
was adored at an annual feast, when it was hung all 
around with fine clothes and women's ornaments. A 
similar tree to which the peop'e of Mecca resorted 
annually, and hung upon it weapons, garments, 
ostriches' eggs, and other things, is spoken of in the 
tradition of the prophet under the name of **dhat 
anwat," or "tree to hang things on."^* The Goddess 
Al-'Ozza was believed to reside in a tree. According 
to Yakut (III, 261), the tree at Hadaibiya, men- 
tioned in the Koran (sura XLVIII, 18) was visited 
by pilgrims who expected to derive a blessing from it, 
till it was cut down by the Calif Omar lest it should be 
worshipped like Al-Lat and Al-*Ozza. It was con- 
sidered deadly to pluck a twig from such sacred 

The prevalence of stone-worship is another sign of 
paganism existing before Islam, and noteworthy is the 
theory advanced by the Mohammedan writers to 
account for its origin. According to Ibn Hisam^'^ the 
beginning of this idolatry was that "the Meccans 
when their land became too narrow for them spread 
abroad over the country, and all took stones from their 
sanctuary, the Kaaba, out of reverence for their 
temple, and they set them up whenever they formed 


a settlement; and they walked around them as they 
used to go about the Holy House. This led them at 
last to worship every stone that pleased their fancy." 

It is to be noticed, furthermore, that poly-demonism, 
i. e., the belief in divine powers, in spirits, is the most 
characteristic feature of the old nomad religions. 
Many traces of this belief have been preserved in the 
Old Testament, and also in the popular religion of 
the Syria and Palestine of to-day. There are many 
instances in the Old Testament of the belief in divine 
powers inhabiting springs, trees, stones. We may 
refer to the sacred wells at Kade§ (Gen. 14: 7) and 
at Beerseba (Gen. 21, 28, 30, 31); to the sacred 
oracular tree at Shekem (Gen. 12, 6; Deut. 11, 3); 
to the sacred stone of Bethel, which gave the place 
its name, as it is called "a house of God" (Gen. 28, 

Now, the traces of all these religious beliefs are 
found in modem Yezidism. In connection with the 
temple of Seih 'Adi, there is a sacred spring, and 
there are similar ones in different parts of the Yezidi 
districts. The water of these springs is held to have 
healing power, and is carried by pilgrims to their 
homes. In these pools, especially in that of 'Adi's, 
the Yezidis cast coins, jewelry, and other presents, 
which, they think, the chief saint takes from time to 
time ; and to this day no one may enter the holy 
valley with its sacred fountain, unless he first purify 
his body and clothes.*^' The devil-worshippers adore, 
likewise, sacred trees. They make pilgrimages to 


them, hang things on them, and entertain the belief 
that whoever unties or shakes off a shred of cloth 
will be afflicted with disease. Again, the Yezidis kiss 
the stones that satisfy their imagination, and make 
vows to them (see pp. 41, 50). Nor is this all. The 
shouting of the Yezidi pilgrims, as they reach the 
sacred territory, and the noisy ceremony of their hajj, 
with its dancing^® and its excitement — a rite which 
has brought against them all sorts of accusations^® 
— are nothing but the remnants of Pre-Islamic 

Such, then, are the steps which the religion of 
Yezid took before it came to shape itself into its 
present form. It is made up of five different ele- 
ments, pagan, that contributed by the founder, 
Persian, Mohammedan, and Christian. Does not 
such a state of affairs find a historical parallel in 
some other religions? Take, for example, Chris- 
tianity. In it we find that the distinctive characteris- 
tics of the founder have been wrapped up in many 
foreign elements brought in by those who came from 
other religions. 


^ This may be traced to the Mohammedan myth that 
when the primal pair fell from their estate of bliss in 
the heavenly Paradise, Adam landed on a mountain 
in Ceylon and Eve fell at Jiddah, on the western coast 
of Arabia. After a hundred years of wandering, they 
met near Meccah, and here Allah constructed for them 
a tabernacle, on the site of the present Kaaba, S. M. 
Zwemer, Arabia, p. 17; As-Sahrastani, II, 430. 

^ Anistase : Al-Masrik, vol. 2, p. 33. 

' Cf . p. 35. 

* Cf. p. 34. 

' Cf. p. 37. 

^Al-Masrik, vol. 2, p. 33. 

^ Scottish Geog. Mag., vol. 14, p. 295. 

^Layard: Nineveh and Its Remains, vol. 11, p. 254. 

® Layard : Nineveh and Babylon, p. 94. 

" S. G. M., vol. 14, p. 300. 

^^ Eraser : Mesopotamia and Persia, p. 287. 

^^ Eraser: Ibid, p. 147. 

^^ Rich : Residence in Kurdistan, vol. II, p. 69. 

^^ Al-Masrik, vol. II, p. 396. 

^5 Ibid, vol. Ill, p. 493. 

^^ Eraser: Ibid; Rich, ibid. 

^^ Badger: Nestorians and Their Rituals, vol. I, 
p. Ill; Eraser, ibid, p. 285. 

18 Al-Masrik, ibid, p. 36. 

'Abdisia was at one time bishop of Sinjar; cf. 
Fardaisa de 'Eden, ed. by B. Cardahi, Beirut, 1889, 

p. 5. 

1^ Ibid, pp. 56, no, 832. 



^° Ibid. This rite is practiced by the Yezidis 
of Halitiyeh, a dependency of Darbeker, where the 
Yezidis are few in number. 

^^Southgate: A Tour Through Armenia, etc., vol. 
II, p. 179. 

^^ See p. 42 of this bock. Badger, ib'd, p. 128. 

^^ I mean by the philosophical method the attempt 
to prove certain assumption by theorizinj^, and by the 
historical method the endeavor to verify a theory by 
obtaining data from historical sources. The former 
method is based on speculation ; the latter on historical 

^* The Enc. of Mission, p. 797. In his letter to me 
of date August 6, 1907, the Rev. A. N. Andrus, of 
Mardin, says: "The Yezidis may be related in religious 
cult with the Guebres of India." 

2^Muir: Life of Mohammed, vol, IV, p. 151. 

'® Eraser: ibid, p. 205. 

^^ Badger, ibid, p. 129. 

28 S. G. M., vol. 14. 

2° Eugene Bore: Diet, des Religions, T. IV, Art. 
Yezidis, South s^ate, ibid, p. 317. 

^° Eraser, ibid, p. 289. 

^^ Jackson : Persia, Past and Present, p. 10 : J. A. 
O. S., 25, p. 178, New Int. Enc. "Yezidis." 

^^ H. Poincare : Science and Hypothesis. Trans., 
G. B. Halsted, p. 5 seq. 

^^The fact that the importance of the method of 
comparative religion has been generally recognized in 
the scientific world has led to the danger of rushing 
into the other extreme of paying attention exclusively 
to points of similarity and resemblance, and of en- 
tirely disregarding, or at any rate "thrusting into the 
background as unimportant that which is di'^'^^imilar. 

^* Southgate, ibid, p. 317; Jackson, J. A. O. S., vol. 
XXV, p. 171. 


8« Victor Dingelstedt, S. G. M., vol. XIV, p. 295. 

*® Siouffi, who was for about twenty years a French 
vice-consul in Mosul. 

*' Ibn Hallikan, vol. I, p. 316. 

8«Manhal Al-Uliya wa Masrab-ul-Asfia, "Seih 
'Adi," quoted by M. N. Siouffi, Journal Asiatique, 
1885, p. 80. 

^^ Warda, "the rose," is the name of a collection of 
hymns composed by George Warda (1224 A. D.), 
Bishop of Arbila; cf. Bar Hebraeus, Chron. Eccl., 
vol. II, p. 402. Warda is one of the most conspicuous 
writers of hymns in the thirteenth century which was 
the age of song with the Nestorian church. His 
poems have entered so largely into the use of the 
Nestorian church that one of their service books is to 
this day called the Warda; Badger, The Nestorians, 
vol. II, p. 25. Some of his hymms speak of the 
calamities of the years 1 224-1 227. A few specimens 
are given by Cardahi in Liber Thesauri, p. 51. 
Badger has translated one in his Nestorians, vol. II, 
PP- 5 1 "57- Warda's poems have been edited by 
Heinrich Hilgenfeld, Ausgewdhlte Gesdnge des 
Giworgis Warda von Arbil, Leipzig, 1904, and by 
Manna, Mosul, 1901. 

*° The village Karmalis is about twelve miles distant 
from Mosul, and is inhabited by Chaldeans, that is, 
Romanized Nestorians. 

*^ Rabban Hormusd is a Chaldean monastery at 
Alkos, a village about twenty miles north of Mosul. 

*2 Al-Der-Al-Makn'un fi-1-Miater Al-Madiyat min 
Al-Kerun, "Seih 'Adi," quoted by M. ISf. Siouffi, 
Journal Asiatique, 1885, p. 81. 

Yakut (vol. IV, p. 374) also regards Seih 'Adi an 
orthodox Mohammedan; "§eih *Adi bn Musafir 
As-§afe'e, seih of the Kurds and their Imam.*' 'Adi's 
orthodoxy is seen also in his writing. He wrote 


'Itikad Ahl Al-Sunna "Belief of the Sunnites," the 
Wasaya "Consuls to the Cailifs," and two odds both 
of them mystic in their conception. They are all pre- 
served in the Berlin Library; cf. Clement Huart, His- 
tory of Arabic Literature, p. 273. 

*^ Manhal-al-Uliya wa Masrab ul Asfiya, "Seih 
'Adi," quoted by M.' N. Siouffi, Journal Asiatique, 
1885, p. 80. 

** Al-Der-Al-Maknun fi-1-Miater Al-Madiyat min 
Al-Kerun, "§eih 'Adi," quoted by M. N. Siouffi, 
Journal Asiatique, 1885, p. 81. 

*^ Contrary to Mohammed to whom, according to 
Moslem belief, the Koran was revealed at intervals. 

" Kitab Al-Milal wa n-Nihal, vol. I, p. loi seq. 

Harran was a city in the north of Mesopotamia, and 
southeast of Edessa, at the junction of the Damascus 
road with the highway from Nineveh to Carchamish. 
The moon-god had a temple in Harran, which en- 
joyed a high reputation as a place of pilgrimage. 
The city retained its importance down to the time of 
the Arab ascendency, but it is now in ruins. Yakut 
(vol. n, p. 331) says: "It was the home of .Sabians; 
that is, the Harranians who are mentioned by the 
authors of Kutub Al-Milal wa n-Nihal." As to Wasit 
this same Yakut (vol. IV, p. 881) mentions about 
twenty different places bearing this name. The most 
prominent one is that built by Al-Hajjaj in 83 A. H. 
It is called Wasit "the intermediate" because it was 
situated midway between Kufa and Basrah. Another 
place Yakut (p. 889) mentions is Wasit ul-Rakkat, 
a town on the western side of the Euphrates, and about 
two days' journey from Harran. Perhaps this is the 
Wasit that As-Sahrastanf means. 

*' On these sects. See As-§ahrastani, ibid, vol. II, 
pp. 85, 87, 89, 100 (42). His history, ed. Sachau, 
Leibzig, 1878, p. 207. 



At-Tarih, ed. Alton Salhani, Beirut, p. 266. 

^^ Fihrist, p. 320. The Arabs used to call the 
Prophet As-sabi, because he departed from the reli- 
gion of the Koreish to Al-Islam; cf. Al-Kessaf on 
Surah XXII, 17. 

^^ Hudud, pi. of Hadad, restrictive ordinances, or 
statutes, of God respecting things lawful and things 
unlawful. The Hudud of God are of two kinds : 
First, those ordinances respecting eatables, drinkables, 
marriage, etc., what are lawful thereof and what are 
unlawful. Second, castigations, or punishments, pre- 
scribed, or appointed, to be inflicted upon him who 
does that which he has been forbidden to do. The 
first kind are called Hudud because they denote limits 
which God has forbidden to transgress ; the second, 
because they prevent one's committing again those 
acts for which they are appointed as punishments, or 
because the limits thereof are determined. See Lane's 
Arabic Dictionary in Loco. 

^^ Cf. also W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, 
p. 167. and D. B. Stade's Biblische Theologie des 
Alien Testaments, pp. iii and 290. 

^^ R. Smith, ibid, p. 49 ; cf . Ex. 3 : 5, "And he said. 
Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy 
feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy 
ground"; and Josh. 5: 15, "And the captain of the 
Lord's host said unto Joshua : Loose thy shoe from 
off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is 
holy. And Joshua did so." 

In idolatrous days the Arabs did not wear any 
clothing in making the circuit of the Kaaba. In Islam, 
the orthodox way is as follows : Arrived within a 
short distance of Mecca, the pilgrims put off their 


ordinary clothing and assume the garb of a hajjee. 
Sandals may be worn but not shoes, and the head 
must be left uncovered. In Mandeanism, each person 
as he or she enters the Miskana, or tabernacle, dis- 
robes, and bathes in the little circular reservoir. On 
emerging from the water, each one robes him or her- 
self in the rasta, the ceremonial white garment. — The 
London Standard, Oct. 19, 1894." Prayer Meeting of 
the Starworshippers. 

" Cf. R. Smith, ibid, p. 185, and Stade, ibid, p. iii 

'^^ Weil's translation,' p. 39. 

"Cf. R. Smith, ibid, pp. 203-212; S. I. Curtiss' 
Primitive Semitic Religion To-day, pp. 84-89; Stade, 
ibid, p. 114, seq.; see also II Sam. 5: 24, and John 5: 

2, 3- 

The original idea might have been that the waters, 
the stones, and the trees themselves were divinities. 
In Jud. 5: 21, we have the statement: "The river 
Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river 
Kishon." Now Kais was the name of an Arabian 
god in Pre-Islamic time. In Num. 5: 17 seq., an 
accused woman is tested by a sacred water. In Deut. 
32 : 4, "He is the rock," "rock" is as much a term for 
God as El, or elohim; cf. verses 15, 18, 30, 31 ; II Sam. 
23: 3. In Ps. 18: 2, the word rock is used of God, 
"the Lord is my rock." Jacob took the stone which 
he had put under his head as a pillow, and raised it up 
as a pillar, poured oil upon it and called it the "house 
of God," Gen. 28: 18, 19, 22. "The sound of a going 
in the tops of the mulberry trees" (II Sam. 5: 24), 
for which David was to wait, was nothing less than 
the divine voice speaking to David in accordance with 
ancient conceptions. 

*' Layard : Nineveh and Its Remains, vol. I, p. 280. 


'^ Dancing might have been also a religious cere- 
mony in the Pre-Kanaanitic religion of Israel. 

^® The people in the East are under the impression 
that the Yezidis violate the law of morality during 
their festivals. According to Hurgronje (vol. 2, 
pp. 61-64, immorality is practised also in the sacred 
mosque of Mecca. This practice may be a survival of 
the institution of Kadeshes, who offered themselves 
in honor of the Deity in the sacred places where 
license usually prevailed during the festivals (Gen. 
38: 21, and Deut. 23: 18). 

«° Cf. R. W. Smith, ibid, p. 432. 


The Essential Elements in Yezidism 

Although comparatively few in number, ignorant, 
and practically without a literature of any sort, the 
followers of Yezid are not without definitely formu- 
lated doctrines of faith which bind them together as a 
sect, and distinguish them from every other religious 
body. They cherish two fundamental beliefs. They 
believe in a deity of the first degree, God; and in a 
deity of the second degree, who, they seem to think, 
is composed of three persons in one, Melek Ta'us, 
§eih *Adi and Yezid.^ 

The Yezidi View of God 

It is not easy to discover whether the conception of 
God, which exists to-day among the Yezidis, however 
shadowy, has come from Mohammedan or Christian 
sources, or whether it comes from that primitive 
stage where the worship of God and of inferior 
deities exists side by side. One thing, however, is 
apparent, and that is that the Yezidi notion of God 
does not seem to be influenced by any "positive reli- 



gion" which traces its origin to the teachings of a 
great religious founder, who spoke as the organ of a 
divine revelation, and deliberately departed from the 
traditional religion. The Yezidis' idea of God is 
rather an image left on their mind than the result of 
any reflection. Hence, simple as it is, this conception 
is not so easy to define. The notion, so prominent in 
Greek philosophy, of God as an existence absolute and 
complete in himself, unchangeable, outside of time 
and space, etc., is unknown in Yezidi theology. So 
also the theocratic conception of Jehovah in Judaism 
is foreign to the dogma of this sect. Not even the 
Mohammedan idea of God as an absolute ruler, and 
the distinctive notion which the Christians have of 
God as Christ-like in character, are to be found in 
the religion of the devil-worshippers. And we have 
accustom.ed ourselves to think of the Supreme Being 
in these conventional terms. There is one element, 
however, which may be traced to Judaism, Christian- 
ity and Islam, namely, the belief in a personal God. 
But Yezidism holds that this deity is only the creator 
of the universe and not its sustainer. Its maintenance, 
according to this system, is left to the seven gods. 
Another element which may be said to be a remnant 
of some other religions is the idea of a transcendent 
God. But in this point, as in the other, the notion of 
transcendentalism in the religion of the devil- worship- 
pers is not of the same degree as that of the other 
religions. The former conceives of the Almighty as 
retiring far away, and as having nothing to do with 


the affairs of the world, except once a year, on New 
Year's day, when he sits on his throne, calls the gods 
unto him, and delivers the power into the hands of the 
the god who is to descend to the earth. To sum up, 
the Yezidis' conception of a personal God is trans- 
cendental and static of the extreme type. In this it 
resembles somewhat the Platonic idea of the absolute. 
They call God in the Kurdish Khuda, and believe that 
he manifested himself in three different forms; in the 
form of a bird, Melek Ta'us ; in the form of an old 
man, Seili 'Adi; and in the form of a young man, 
Yezid. They do not seem to offer him a direct prayer 
or sacrifice. 


The Deity of the Second Degree 

I. Melek Ta'us 

A distinguished modem scholar (see the printed 
text, p. 80, lines 12-35) argues that Ta'tls is the god 
Tammuz. His argument is that the word Ta'us must 
embody an ancient god, but owing to the obscurity in 
which the origin of Yezidism and the being of Melek 
Ta'ias are wrapped, it is very difficulty to say which 
god is meant. And to determine this, he assumes 
that the term does not come from the Arabic word 
Ta'us, but was occasioned by some "folk-etymology," 
and that we must look, therefore, for some god-name 
which resembles the word Ta'us. Taking this as a 


startingpoint, the critic calls attention to the fact that 
in Fihrist, p. 322, 1. 2yiy which treats «>f the feasts 
and gods of the Haranians, we read that the god 
Tauz had a feast in middle of Tammuz. He infers 
from this that the god Tauz is identical with Melek 
Ta'us. And to the question who this god Tauz is, he 
answers it is Tammuz. To justify his explanation, 
the writer contends that the Yezidis speak in Kurdish, 
and according to Justi's Kurdische Grammatik, p. 
82ff, the change of meem to waw in this language is 

However plausible this process may seem to be, 
philologically it cannot here yield a satisfactory con- 
clusion. For it is based on wrong premises. It is 
not true that the word Ta'us signifies an ancient 
deity. It denotes the devil and nothing else. This is 
so clear to the Yezidis, or to anyone acquainted with 
their religion, as to leave no need for further discus- 
sion. And to question the religious consciousness of 
a sect is to engage in pure seculation. Likewise, the 
method of determining this supposed god by the name 
of some deity resembling it is objectionable. There 
are many such names. One might also infer that the 
sect worship Christ under the form of the devil. 
This theory has actually been advanced. — Theatre de 
la Turque, 364. The statement that in Kurdish the 
letter meem is changed to waw frequently is unten- 
able, if one would set it up as a grammatical rule to 
explain such phenomena. What is more, the Kurds 
pronounce the name tammuz, and nothing else, unless 


some one has a physiological difficulty which will not 
permit him to close his lips, so that instead of saying 
tammuz, he would mutter taouz. The following are a 
few of many instances to show that meem is not 
changed to waw in Kurdish ,even in words of Arabic 
origin: 'Amelie salih (good works), zamanie aherat 
(the last day), the well of Zamsam, Mohammed, and 
Mustafa (the chosen one), when applied to the 
prophet, Melek (king), when applied to Ta'us. 
Further the assumption that Ta'us does not come 
from the Arabic Ta'us is unverifiable. Unquestion- 
ably the attempt to trace this term to tauz, then to 
Tammuz, was suggested to Professor Lidzbarski by 
the fact that ammuz was the name of an ancient 
Babylonian god, and that Abu Sayyid Wahb ibn 
Ibrahim, quoted by an-Nedim, an Arab author of the 
tenth century, states that the god Tauz has a feast in 
his honor on the fifteenth of Tammuz (Fihrist, p. 
322). But according to the author of ''Die Sabier und 
Sabismus" (p. 202) the original form of this word is 

Not only the inference which identifies Ta'us with 
Tammuz is based on wrong premises ; but, in the Yezidi 
conception of Me^ek T^'^s, there are no traces of the 
notion which is held respecting Tammuz. The latter 
was originally a sun-god, and son of Ea and the god- 
dess Sirdu, and the bridegroom of the goddess Istar. 
The legendary poems of Babylonia described him as a 
shepherd, cut off in the beauty of youth, or slain by 
the boar's tusk in winter, and mourned for long and 


vainly by the goddess I star. The god Tammuz made 
his way to Canaan, Cyprus, and thence to Greece. 
"He had ceased to be the young and beautiful sun- 
god, and had become the representative of the vegeta- 
tion of spring, growing by the side of the canals of 
Babylonia, but parched and destroyed by the fierce 
heat of the summer. Hence in Babylonia his funeral 
festival came to be observed in the month of June, 
and in Palestine two months later. Tammuz had 
changed his character in passing from country to 
country, but the idea of him as a slain god, and of his 
festival as the idealization of human sorrow, a kind 
of "All Souls Day," was never altered wherever he 
was adored."^ Such beliefs are not found in the 
Yezidi view of their King Peacock. On the contrary 
his festival is for them the occasion of joy and 

I conclude, then, that Ta'us is the Arabic word 
meaning peacock, just as Melek is the Arabic word 
meaning king or angel. The sect write it, pronounce 
it, and believe it to be so. The faith of the sect finds 
expression in the fact that they represent their angel 
Azazil in the form of the peacock. 

It seems to me that the real question is not what 
Melek Ta'us is, but how the devil-god came to be 
symbolized by the image of a bird. This question finds 
an answer in the fact that the worship of a bird 
appears to have been the most ancient of idolatry. It 
is condemned especially in Deut. 4: 16, 17: "Lest ye 
corrupt yourselves and make a graven image, the 


similitude of any figure, the likeness of any winged 
fowl that flieth in the air." And Layard, in his 
Nineveh and Its Remains, vol. II, p. 462, gives the 
sketch of a bird from one of the slabs dug up at 
Nimrud. He remarks that the lyuges, or sacred birds, 
belonged to the Babylonian and probably also to the 
Assyrian religion. They were a kind of demons, 
who exercised a peculiar mfluence over mankind, 
resembling the feroher of Zoroastrianism. The 
oracles attributed to Zoroaster describe them as 
powers anointed by God. 

Their images, made of gold, were in the palace of 
the king of Babylonia. According to Philostratus 
they were connected with magic. In Palestine the 
dove was sacred for the Phoenicians and Philistines. 
The Jews brought accusation against the Samaritans 
that they were worshippers of the dove. Sacred 
doves were found also at Mecca. Nasar (eagle) was 
a deity of the tribe of Hamyar.* 

A question suggesting itself is how the Yezidi god 
came to be designated by the form of a peacock. 
This bird is a native of Ceylon, and not of Mesopo- 
tamia or Kurdistan where the Yezidis live.' The 
answer may be found in the Muslim tradition® that 
when the first parents forfeited heaven for eating 
wheat, they were cast down upon earth. Eve descended 
upon 'Arafat; Adam at Ceylon; the peacock at 
Gabul, and Satan at Bilbays. In this myth the devil 
and the peacock are figured as sharing the same 
penalty at the same time. According to Surah 2, 


28-31, the crime of the former was pride, but nothing 
is said about the guilt of the latter. We learn, how- 
ever, from other sources, that the bird in question is 
thought of as a symbol of pride. In his article 
"Peacock," in the Enc. Brit., vol. 18, p. 443, Professor 
A. Newton says: "The bird is well known as the 
proverbial presonification of pride. It is seldom kept 
in large numbers for it has a bad reputation for doing 
mischief in gardens." Hence we may infer that the 
notion of the peacock as a symbol of pride together 
with the Koranic idea of Satan's sin led to the forma- 
tion of the myth ; that this story was current among 
the followers of Yezid bn Unaisa; and that, under 
the influence of the devil-worshippers of Persia the 
old tradition lost its original significance, and came to 
be understood to represent the peacock as a symbol 
of the god-devil. 

Among the three branches of the deity in the second 
degree, Melek Ta'us holds an important place in the 
theology of the Yezidis. The language used in his 
praise is so elevated that one is led to think that he 
is identical with God. Some scholars deny this theory 
on the ground that the principal prayer of these people 
is directed to God and no mention is made of King 
Peacock. Hence they contend also that no direct 
worship is offered to the latter deity.'' It seems to me 
that such a contention is not justifiable. In the first 
place, the people themselves confess their loyalty to 
the chief angels. Moreover, the expression in this 
prayer, "Thou hast neither feather, nor wings, nor 


arms, nor voice" (see p. 74) is more applicable to the 
symbol Peacock than to God. There can be no doubt, 
I think, that in the conception of the sect 'Azazil 
appears to be identical with God. This fact finds 
definite expression in the Book of Jilwah. In Chapter 
I he is represented as being from eternity to eternity, 
as having absolute control of the world, as being 
omnipresent and omnipotent and unchangeable. In 
Chapter II he is said to appear in divers manners to 
the faithful ones; and life and death are determined 
by him. And in Chapter III he is declared to be the 
source of revelation. While this is true, there are 
other phrases which refer to Ta'us is being inferior 
to the great God, but superior to all other gods. He 
was created, and is under the command of God; but 
he is made the chief of ail. 

It is not quite easy to understand the underlying 
idea in worshipping the devil. Some^ explain this by 
supposing he is so bad that he requires constant 
propitiation ; otherwise he will take revenge and cause 
great misery. For this reason, it is claimed,^ they do 
not worship God, because he is so good that he cannot 
but forgive. This is the usual interpretation, and it 
is confirmed by the nature of the religious service 
rendered. It seems to partake much more of a pro- 
pitiatory than of a eucharistic character, not as the 
natural expression of love but of fear. This reminds 
us at once of the Babylonian religion. According to 
this religion, when any misfortune overtook the wor- 
shippers, they regarded it as a sign that their deity 


was angry, and had therefore left them to their own 
resources or had become their enemy. To be thus 
deserted was accounted a calamity because of the 
innumerable dangers to which the soul was exposed 
from the action of the powers seen and unseen. So 
that as a matter of precaution, it was well to main- 
tain a propitiatory attitude. Hence the great object of 
worship was to secure and retain the somewhat 
capricious favor of the deity.^° This is in accord with 
the natural feeling of man in his primitive state, 
which leads him rather to dread punishment for his 
sin than to be thankful for blessings received. 

Others" hold that the Devil-worshippers believe 
that their Lord is a fallen angel, now suffering a 
temporary punishment for his rebellion against the 
divine will because he deceived Adam, or because he 
did not recognize the superiority of Adam as com- 
manded by God. But it is not for man to interfere 
in the relations of God with his angels, whether they 
be fallen or not; on the contrary man's duty is to 
venerate them all alike. The great God will be finally 
reconciled to Ta'us, and will restore him to his high 
place in the celestial hierarchy. 

Still others^^ assert that the sect does not believe in 
an evil spirit but as a true divinity. This theory is not 
generally accepted, but seems more probable than the 
preceding ones. For there is nothing in the sacred 
book to indicate that Melek Ta'us is an evil spirit or 
a fallen angel. On the contrary the charge that he 
was rejected and driven from heaven is repudiated. 


The mentioning of his name is looked upon as an 
insult to and blasphemy against him because it is 
based, the Yezidis think, on the assumption that he 
is degraded. Finally, he is declared to be one of the 
seven gods, who is now ruling the world for a period 
of 10,000 years. 

It is interesting to note that, in the history of reli- 
gion, the god of one people is the devil of another 
In the Avesta, the evil spirits are called daeva 
(Persian Div) ; the Aryans of India, in common with 
the Romans, Celts, and Slavs gave the name of dev 
(devin, divine, divny) to their good or god-like 
spirits. Asura is a deity in the Rig Veda, and an 
evil spirit only in later Brahman theology. Zoroaster 
thought that the beings whom his opponents wor- 
shipped as gods, under the name of dacva, were in 
reality powers by whom mankind are unwittingly led 
to their destruction. "In Islam the gods of heathen- 
ism are degraded into jinn, just as the gods of north 
Semitic heathenism are called seirim (hairy demons) 
in Lev. 17: 7, or as the gods of Greece and Rome 
became devils to the early Christians. "^^ 

The Yezidis' veneration for the devil in their 
assemblies is paid to his symbol, the sanjak. It is the 
figure of a peacock with a swelling breast, diminutive 
head, and widespread tail. The body is full but the 
tail is flat and fluted. This figure is fixed on the top 
of a candlestick around which two lamps are placed, 
one above the other, and containing seven burners. 
The stand has a bag, and is taken to pieces when 


carried from place to place. Close by the stand they 
put water jugs filled with water, to be drunk as a 
charm by the sick and afflicted. They set the sanjak 
at the end of a room and cover it with a cloth. Under- 
neath is a plate to receive the contributions. The 
kawwal (sacred musician) kisses the corner of the 
cloth when he uncovers Melek-Ta'us. At a given 
signal, all arise, then each approaches the sanjak, 
bows before it and puts his contribution into the plate. 
On returning to their places, they bow to the image 
several times and strike their breasts as a token of 
their desire to propitiate the evil principle. 

The Yezidis have seven sanjaks, but the Farik 
(Lieut.-Gen. of the Turkish Army), who tried to con- 
vert them to Mohammedanism in 1892, took five of 
them. Some deny, however, that they were real 
ones; they say they were imitations. Each sanjak is 
given a special place in the Emir's palace, where it 
is furnished with a small brazen bed and a vessel in 
the form of a mortar placed before it. They burn 
candles and incense before it day and night. Each 
sanjak is assigned a special district, the name of 
which is written on a piece of paper and placed on its 
shouMer. On the shoulder of the first the district of 
Seihan, which comprises the villages around Mosul, is 
indicated; on the second Jabal Sin jar; in the third 
the district of Halitiyah, which is one of the depend- 
encies of Diarbeker; on the fourth the district of 
Hawariyah, i e., the Kochers; on the fifth the district 
of Malliah, the villages around Aleppo; on the sixth 


the district of Sarhidar, which is in Russia; and the 
seventh remains at the tomb of Seih 'Adi. 

When sent from village to village of its respective 
district, a sanjak is put in a hagibah^* (saddle-bag) 
and carried on a horse that belongs to a pir (religious 
teacher). On nearing a certain place, a messenger is 
sent to announce in Kurdish "Sanjak hat," "the 
Sanjak has come." Then all the people don their 
fineries and go out to welcome it with tambourines. 
As the representative of Melek Ta'us reaches the 
town, the pir cries out in Kurdish language, "Sanjak 
mevan ki sawa?" (literally: "Whose guest shall the 
sanjak be?"). On hearing this, each person makes 
a bid for the privilege of entertaining it. Finally he 
who bids the highest receives the image. At that 
moment the accompanying pir takes the hagibah off 
the horse's back and hangs it on the neck of the 
person who is to keep the symbol of the devil over 

The Yezidis say, that in spite of the frequent wars 
and massacres to which the sect has been exposed, 
and the plunder and murder of the priests during 
their journeys, no Melek Ta'us has ever fallen into 
the hands of the Mohammedans. When a kawwal 
sees danger ahead of him, he buries the Melek Ta'us 
and afterwards comes himself, or sends some one to 
dig up the brazen peacock, and carries it forward in 

Besides revering the devil by adoring his symbol, 
the Yezidis venerate him by speaking with great 


respect of his name. They refer to him as Meiek 
Ta'us, King Peacock, or Melek al-Kawwat, the 
Mighty King. They never mention his name ; and any 
allusion to it by others so irritates and vexes them 
that they put to death persons who have intentionally 
outraged their feelings by its use. They carefully 
avoid every expression that resembles in sound the 
name of Satan. In speaking of shatt (river) they use 
the common Kurdish word Ave, or the Arabic ma 
(water). In speaking of the Euphrates, they call it 
Ave 'Azim, or ma al-kabir, i. e., the great river, or 
simply al-Frat. 

2. Seih 'Adi 

Next to the devil in rank comes Seih 'Adi. But he 
is not the historical person whose biography is given 
by the Mohammedan authors. He is identified with 
deity and looked upon as a second person in a divine 
trinity. He is sent by Melek Ta'us to teach and to 
warn his chosen people lest they go astray. He is 
conceived to be everywhere, to be greater than Qirist ; 
and, like Melek-Sedek, has neither father nor mother. 
He has not died and will never die. In verse ten of 
the poems in his praise, he is distinctly said 
to be the only God. His name is associated with 
all the myth that human imagination can possibly 
create about a deity. To express the Yezidi dogma 
in terms of Christian formula, Seih *Adi is the Holy 
Spirit, who dwells in their prophets, who are called 


kochaks. He also reveals to them truth and the 
mysteries of heaven. 

The entertaining of such views has led some 
modern critics to think 'Adi the good and Melek 
Ta'us the evil principle. In the poem (30-32), he 
is represented as the good deity and the source of all 
good. Others identify him with Adde or Adi, a 
disciple of Manes or Mani. Still others regard his 
name as one of the names of the deity. In this case, 
his tomb is a myth and the prefix "Seih" is added to 
deceive the Mohammedans, and thus to prevent them 
from desecrating the sacred shrine, just as the Chris- 
tians call Mar Mattie, Sheikh Mattie, and the convent 
of Mar Behnan, huder Elias.^*^ But the most in- 
genious theory is that advanced by the Rev. G. P. 
Badger. He queries whether "the Yezidi 'Adi be not 
cognate with the Hebrew Ad, the two first letters in 
the original of Adonai, the Lord, and its compounds, 
Adonijah, Adonibezek. The writer is aware, how- 
ever, that "This derivative is open to objection on the 
ground that the Yezidis write the word with *ain and 
not with alif ." But he explains : "They write so only 
in Arabic, of which they know but very little, and not 
in their own language (Kurdish) in which they do not 
write it at all. Moreover, they may have assimilated 
the mode of expressing the title of their deity in by- 
gone days to that of 'Adi, one of the descendants of 
the Merawian Califs, with whom, from fear of being 
persecuted by the Mohammedans, they sometimes 
identified him." Having thus expounded his own 


view, this English scholar proceeds to repudiate the 
suggestion that Seih 'Adi "is the same Adi," one of the 
disciples of Mani, since there is no proof, according to 
him, that Mani himself was deified by his followers. 

So far as the application of the method of com- 
parative philology is concerned, Badger's theory is 
more reasonable and tenable than that of Lidzbarski, 
who, by tne same method, attempts to identify Melek 
Ta'us with Tammuz. Nevertheless, the inference of 
the former is beyond any possible justification. For 
such a starting-point is misleading when it is not sup- 
ported by historical proof. A failure to support it 
thus cannot be regarded as other than deficiency in 
treatment. Now, while one may be misguided by the 
Yezidi myth surrounding the personality of Seih 'Adi, 
the critical mind can find much in it to aid him in his 
efforts to discover the true identity of the man. In 
verse fifty of his poem, for our critic draws 
his conclusions in the light of this poem, the 
Seih receives his authority from God who is his lord; 
in verse fifty-seven he is a man, 'Adi of Damascus, 
son of Musafir; in verse eighty he declares that the 
high p^.ace which he had attained is attainable by all 
who, like him, shall find the truth. To justify my 
criticism, I need only ask the reader to recall the 
description by the Mohammedan biographers of the 
person in question. 

The Yezidis offer their worship to Seih 'Adi, 
usually when they assemble at his shrine. This is his 
tomb within a temple. The latter lies in a narrow 


valley which has only one outlet, as the rock rises 
on all sides except where a small stream forces its 
way into a large valley beyond. The tomb stands in 
a courtyard, and is surrounded by a few buildings in 
which the guardians, and the servants of the sanctuary 
live. In the vicinity are scattered a number of shacks, 
each named after a seih, and supposed to be his tomb. 
Toward sunset these sacred places are illuminated by 
burning sesame oil lamps, putting one at the entrance 
to each tomb in token of their respect; the light lasts 
but a short time. There are also a few edifices, each 
belonging to a Yezidi district, in which the pilgrims 
reside during the time of the feast; so that each por- 
tion of the valley is known by the name of the country 
of those who resort, thither. On the lintel of the 
doorway of the temple, various symbols are en- 
graved, — a lion, a snake, a hatchet, a man and a 
comb.^® Their mystical meaning is unknown. They 
are regarded as mere ornaments placed there at the 
request of those who furnished money for building 
the temple. The interior of the temple is made up of 
an oblong apartment which is divided into three com- 
partments, and a large hall in the centre which is 
divided by a row of columns; and arches support the 
roof. To the right of the entrance are a platform, 
and a spring of water coming from the rock. The 
latter is regarded with great veneration, and is 
believed to be derived from the holy well of Znmzam 
at Mecca. It is used for the baptism of children and 
for other sacred purposes. Close by there are two 


small apartments in which are tombs of the saints and 
of some inferior personage. In the principal halls a 
few lamps are usually burning, and at sunset lights 
are scattered over the walls. 

The tomb of ^eih 'Adi lies in the inner room, which 
is dimly lighted. The tomb has a large square cover, 
upon which is written Ayat al-Kursi, that is, the 
verse of the throne, which is the 256th verse of surat- 
al-Bakarah, or Chapter II of the Koran. 

"God. There is no God but He, the Living, the 
Abiding. Neither slumber nor sleep seizeth Him. 
To Him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and what- 
soever is on earth. Who is he that can intercede with 
Him but by His own permission? He knoweth what 
has been before them and what shall be after them; 
yet naught of His knowledge do they comprehend, 
save what he willeth to reveal. His throne reacheth 
over the heavens and the earth, and the upholding of 
both burdeneth Him not. He is the High, the Great." 

It is related (in the Mishkat, Book IV, i. 19, Part 
III) that 'Ali heard Mohammed say in the pulpit, 
"That person who repeats the Ayat al-Kursi after 
every prayer shall in no wise be prevented from 
entering into Paradise, except by life; and whoever 
says it when he goes to his bedchamber will be kept 
by God in safety together with his house and the 
house of his negihbor." §eih *Adi might have been 
in the habit of repeating this verse ; and this, perhaps, 
led to its inscription on the tomb. 

In the center of the inner room, close by the tomb, 


there is a square plaster case, in which are small balls 
of clay taken from the tomb. These are sold or dis- 
tributed to the pilgrims, and regarded as sacred relics, 
useful against disease and evil spirits. It is said that 
there are three hundred and sixty lamps in the shrine 
of *Adi, which are lit every night. The whole valley 
in which the shrine lies is held sacred. No impure 
thing is permitted within its holy bounds. No other 
than the high priest and the chiefs of the sect are 
buried near the tomb. Many pilgrims take off their 
shoes on approaching it, and go barefooted as long 
as they remain in its vicinity. 

Such is the sanctuary of 'Adi, where they offer him 
their homage. Their worship may be divided into 
two kinds, direct and indirect. The former consists 
of traditional hymns sung by the kawwals, the sacred 
musicians of the sect. They are chanted to the sound 
of flutes and tambourines. The tunes are monotonous 
and generally loud and harsh. The latter kind con- 
sists in celebrating their religious rites with great 
rejoicing on the feast day of their great saint. And 
their Kubla, the place to which they look while per- 
forming their holy ceremonies, is that part of the 
heaven in which the sun rises. 

The great feast of §eih *Adi is held yearly on April 
fifteenth to twentieth, Roman calendar, when the 
Yezidis from all their districts come to attend the 
festival celebration. Before entering the valley, men 
and women perform their ablutions, for no one can 
enter the sacred valley without having first purified 


his body and his clothes. The people of the villages 
are gathered and start together, forming a long pro- 
cession, preceded by musicians, who play the tam- 
bourine and the pipe. They load the donkeys with 
necessary carpets and domestic utensils. While 
marching they discharge their guns into the air and 
sing their war cry. As soon as they see the tower 
of the tomb, they all together discharge their arms. 

The seihs and the principal members of the priest- 
hood are dressed in pure white linen, and all are 
venerable men with long beards. Only the chief and 
the kawwals and two of the order of the priesthood 
enter the inner court of the temple, and they always 
go in barefooted. They start an hour after sunset.^^ 
The ceremony begins with the exhibition of the holy 
symbol of Melek T^'us to the priests. No stranger 
is allowed to witness this ceremony or to know the 
nature of it. This being done, they begin the rite. 
The kawwals stand against the wall on one side of the 
court and commences a chant. Some play on 
the flute, others on the tambourine; and they 
follow the measure with their voices. The seibs 
and the chiefs form a procession, walking two by two ; 
the chief priest walks ahead. A fakir holds in one 
hand a lighted torch, and in another a large vessel of 
oil, from which he pours into the lamp from time to 
time. All are in white apparel except the fakirs, who 
are dressed in black. As they walk in a circle, they 
sing in honor of §eih 'Adi. Afterward, they sing in 
honor of Tsa (Jesus). As they proceed the excitement 


increases, the chants quicken, the tambourines are 
beaten more frequently, the fakirs move faster, the 
women make tahlil with a great shouting, and the 
ceremony to an end with great noise and 
excitement. When the chanting is ended, those who 
were marching in procession kiss, as they pass by, the 
right side of the temple entrance, where the serpent 
is figured on the wall. Then the emir stands at this 
entrance to receive the homage of the seihs and elders 
who kiss his hand. Afterward all that are present 
give one another the kiss of peace.^^ After the cere- 
mony the }Oung men and women dance in the outer 
court until early in the morning. 

In the morning the seihs and the kawwals offer a 
short prayer in the temple without any ceremony and 
some kiss the holy places in the vicinity. When they 
end, they take the green ^^ cover of the tomb of Seih 
'Adi and march with it around the outer court with 
music. The people rush to them and reverently kiss 
the corner of the cloth, offering money. 

After taking the cover back to its place, the chiefs 
and priests sit around the inner court. Kochaks at 
this time bring food and call the people to eat of the 
hospitality of Seih *Adi.^° After they have finished 
their meal, a collection is taken for the support of the 
temple and tomb of their saint. All people that come 
to the annual festival bring dishes as oflFerings to their 
living seih. After he has indicated his acceptance 
of them by tasting, these are given to the servants of 


the sanctuary. When the feast comes to an end, the 
people return to their several abodes. 

(3.) Yezid 

The third essential element in the religion of the 
devil-worshippers is the belief that their sect has 
taken its origin from Yezid, whom frequently they 
call God and regard as their ancestral father, to whom 
they trace their descent. No other worship is offered 
him. He is given, however, a place of honor in the 
court of the temple, where, on one side, there is the 
inscription "Melek Yezid, the mercy of God be upon 
him"; on the other side "Seih 'Adi, the mercy of God 
be upon him." In the corner of this court a lamp is 
kept burning all night in honor of the two. 


* P. Anastase: Al-MaSrik, vol. II, p. 151; Bedrus 
Efendi Ar-Ridwani, his letter to A. N. Andrus, April 
22, 1887. 

* Lidzbarski Z. D. N. G., vol. LI, p. 592 ; he is 
followed by Makas Kurdische Studien, p. 35. 

^ See "Tammuz" in Jastrow's religion of Babylonia 
and Assyria, and Cheney's Dictionary of the Bible. 

* R. W. Smith: Religion of the Semites, p. 219; As- 
Sahrastani, vol. II, p. 434. Yakut (vol. IV, p. 780) 
says : Originally nasr was worshipped by the people of 
Noah, and from them was brought to the tribe of 
Hamyar. According to the Syriac doctrine of Addai 
(Ed. George Philips, p. 24) the people of Edessa wor- 
shipped "the eagle as the Arabians." 

" So far as I am aware no writer on the Yezidis 
has ever raised this question. 

•Hughes: Dictionary of Islam, p. 21. 
' Victor Dingelstedt, SGM, vol. XIV. 

•Badger: The Nestorians, vol. I, p. 125; Layard, 
Nineveh, vol. I, p. 297. 

* P. Anastase: Al-Masrik, vol. II, p. 152. 

"The Hibbert Journal, vol. V, No. 2, Jan., 1907, 
P- 337. 

" Layard : Ibid ; Victor Dingelstedt, Ibid, p. 299. 

" Dingelstedt : Ibid. 

^* R. W. Smith: Religion of the Semites, p. 120; 
Fihrist, p. 322, 326, calls the gods of the Harranians 



^* Hagibah is a Turkish word, meaning a saddle- 

" Badger: Ibid, p. 247. (137) Ibid, p. 112. 

Mr. Badger seems to contend that the Kurdish- 
speaking people do not pronounce the letter *ain. This 
is not true, the Kurds pronounce this letter as well as 
other gutterals. They sometimes even change the 
Arabic Alif to ain. This is to be said, however, that in 
some localities the *ain is pronounced alif, just as the 
kaf is changed to a'if, but this is not confined to the 
Kurds, such changes are made by the Arabic- and the 
Syriac-speaking people also. 

^^The figures of the bull and of the serpent, or of 
the bull and of the lion were placed at the right and 
left of the palaces of the Assyrian kings to protect 
their path. Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, p. 162; 
Nineveh, vol. II, p. 315; B. F. Harper, Assyrian and 
Babylonian Literature, pp. 139, 148, 153. The lion 
was both an ornament and support in the throne of 
Solomon, Layard, Nineveh, vol. II, p. 301. The 
hatchet was among the weapons of those who fought 
in chariots, and carried in the quiver, with the arrows 
and short angular bow, Nineveh, vol. II, p. 343. 

^^ The Mandeans, the star-worshippers, also begin 
their rasta ceremony after the sunset, and continue it 
through the night. — London Standard, October 19, 
1994, Al-Mutaktataf, 23, 88. 

^^ The kiss of the peace is a regular part of the 
church service in the East. 

^^ In Mohammedanism, green is the color of seihs. 

^° This is a communal meal. 

Other Deities and Festivals 

The £o-Called Seven Divinities 

Besides their great saint, the Yezidis believe in 
seven other seihs through whose intermediation they 
invoke God. These are also deified and assigned 
places of honor at Seih 'Adi's side. In their case as 
in that of their chief, the tradition has led some 
critics to believe that they are archangels ; others, 
different attributes of God; and still others, the seven 
Amshaps of Zoroaster, or immortal spirits of the 
Avesta. The last conjecture is made by Victor 
Dingelstadt.^ Cholsohn goes a step further in 
making the assertion, "Der Tempel des sheikh Shams 
ist ohne alien Zweifel ein sonnentempel der so 
gebaut ist, dass die ernsten Strahlen der sonne so 
haufig als moglich auf ihn fallen." The ground for 
this positive statement is, we are told "Layard 
berichtet."* Now, the English scholar seems to base 
his contention on the fact that the' building is called 
the sanctuary of §eih Sams; that the herd of white 
oxen which are slain on great festivals at Seih 'Adi's 



are dedicated to Sams ; "that the dedication of the bull 
to the sun" was generally recognized in the religious 
system of the ancients, which probably originated in 
Assyria; and that the Yezidis may have uncon- 
sciously preserved a myth of their ancestors.^ To my 
mind the ground for such a view is the apriori assump- 
tion that the religion of the devil- worshippers is the 
remnant of an ancient cult, and that every phenom- 
enon in it is to be regarded, therefore, a survival of 
the past system. For certain reasons I hold that su„h 
is not the case. 

One reason, as Badger rightly remarks, the 
Yezidis so designate the place for the sake of 
brevity, is the entablature over the doorway records 
the name in full, "Sheikh Shams Ali Beg and Faris." 
Two persons are mentioned in the inscription.* In 
like manner, the word Sams frequently enters into the 
construction of Mohammedan names. The most 
celebrated one that bore this name was Sams u-d-Din 
of Tabriz, the friend and spiritual guide of Jalal ad- 
Din, who flourished during the first half of the 13th 
century of our era. 

Moreover, round about the tomb of Seih *Adi are 
many such abandoned shrines, each of which is 
dedicated to a similar deified seih. Many of these 
seihs are known to be historical personages. Take 
for example, Seih *Abd al-Kadir of Gilan. He is 
Seih Muhiyyu d Din *Abd al Kadir of Gilan in 
Persia, the founder of the Kadiri order of dervishes. 
He was born in a. h. 471 (a. d. 1078-9) and died 





A. H. 516 (a. d. 1 164-5). So also Seih Kadib al-Ban. 
He was from Mosul, and was a contemporary of 
Seih *Adi. In giving the life of Muhi ad Din as- 
Shamozuri, Ibn Hallikan (v. 2,651) says, "His corpse 
was removed to a mausoleum built for its reception 
outside the Maidan Gate of Mosul, near the tomb of 
Kadib al-Ban, the celebrated worker of miracles." 
Further, Mansur al-Hallaj was a celebrated mystic, 
revered as a saint by the more advanced sufis. He 
was put to death with great cruelty at Bagdad in 
A. H. 309 (a. d. 921-2) on a charge of heresy and 
blasphemy, because he had said in one of his ecstacies, 
"Ana-1-Hakk, I am the truth, God." All biographers 
of sufi saints speak of him with admiration. 

There are still others who are mentioned even 
among the seven seihs enumerated in the principal 
prayer. Seih Hasan (written also Seihisin) was 
from Basrah. He was a celebrated theologian and 
died in a. d. 728. His Hfe is given by Ibn Hallikan. 
He was noted for self -mortification, fear of God and 
devotion. And Fahr ad-Din is ibn Abd Allah 
Mohammed Ibn Amar al-Hasain Ibn al-Hasan, Ibn 
*Ali Al-Taim al-Bakri al-Taberstani ar-kai-zi (native 
of Kai in Tabarestan), surnamed Fahr ad-Din 
(glory of faith). He was a doctor of the Shafite sect, 
a pearl of his age, a man without a peer. He sur- 
passed all his contemporaries in scholastic theology, 
and preached both in Arabic and Persian. He would 
draw floods of tears from his eyes. His virtues and 
merits were boundless. He was born at Kai, 25th of 


Ramadan, a. h. 54D (a. d. 1150), and died at Herat, 
the first of Shawal, a. h. 606 (March a. d. I2to) 
(See ibn HalHkan in loco.) 

In the light of these facts, I conclude, then, that 
those who cannot be identified — for many bear the 
same name, and we do not know which is which — 
are also historical personages. 

This is what I mean by the statement that in order 
to yield satisfactory results the inductive method 
must be supported by historical investigations. 

In a question like this, however, the philosophical 
method also, when carried on critically, may yield a 
satisfactory result. Accordingly, observations should 
be made in the sphere of religious consciousness. 
Now one of the characteristics of the human mind is 
the tendency to defy man. This is shown in the 
titles which men gave to their superiors. In the Tell- 
al-Amarna tablets, we find various kinglets of Syria, 
in writing to the king of Egypt, address him as "my 
gods" (ilani-ia). Thus Abimilki of Tyre writes: "To 
my lord, the king, my son, my god." What is more, 
a superhuman character is attributed to the dead. 
This appears from the attitude which the primitive 
mind entertained towards the deceased. At first, the 
relation to the dead was hostile, hence their spirits 
were feared. Gradually, the relation became familiar, 
so that their association was sought and sacrifices and 
gifts were ofifered to them. They came to be looked 
upon as elohim, who knew the future events. Thus 
we find that in the Old Testament, worship was 


offered to the dead, and that the tombs of ancestors 
and heroes frequently appear as places of worship, 
as, e. g., the grave of Miriam at Kadish (Num. 26: i), 
Even to-day tombs of saints are common in Arabia, 
and thousands of people visit them annually to 
ask the intercession of the saints. Likev^ise, the 
Nusairiyeh of Syria have deified 'AH, the Drus their 
chief Hakim, the Babis their Beha, and the Christians 
their saints.^ We cannot, therefore, be surprised that 
the Yezidis have defined their seihs and heroes. They 
have only shown that common trait of the mind — the 
tendency to deify man. 

It is to be noticed, further, that in the historical 
development of religions we find that when the stage 
of the mere belief in spirits is past, individual deities 
stand out from the great mass of the spirits, and these 
are plainly imagined to be personal gods, such as 
Astarte and Ba'al by the side of Hadad and 
Aschirat.® Now this is practically what we find in 
the evolution of modern Yezidism. Out. of many 
seihs and murids, seven, next to seih *Adi, stand out 
as individual divities. 

Yearly festivals in honor of these seihs are com- 
memorated in April at different villages with the same 
rites as those observed at §eih 'Adi's tomb. Lamps 
are nightly lighted and left to burn in the shacks called 
after the names of their respective seihs; and in those 
to which a room is attached, l^awwals assemble at 
sunset every Tuesday and Thursday, when they burn 


incense over each tomb; and after watching a short 
time, and smoking their pipes, they return home. 

An interesting festival is that of Seih Mohammed, 
celebrated by the people of Ba'sika, where his tomb 
exists. They say that they are solemnizing the 
nuptials of Seih Mohammed, whom they believe to be 
married once a year. The men and women dance 
together while the kawwals play on their flutes and 
tambourines. They bring Melek Ta'us in procession 
from Bahazanie to Ba'sika amid rejoicing and sound 
of music. Two pirs precede the bearer of the sacred 
peacock, carrying in their hands lighted candles 
which they move to and fro. As they pass along the 
bystanders bow in adoration and, immersing their 
hands in the smoke, perfume with it their arms and 
faces. They carry the image of Melek Ta'us to the 
house of the one who is the highest bidder for the 
honor of entertaining it. Here it remains two days, 
during which all profane festivals are suspended and 
visits are paid to it. 


The Day of Sarsal 

In addition to the festivals mentioned above is the 
one observed on New Year's day, the first Wednesday 
in April. On this day, the Yezidis say, no drums are 
to be beaten, for God sits on the throne, holding a 
conference at which he decrees the events of the year. 
They also stick wild scarlet anemones to the entrance 


of their houses. The refraining from the sound of 
instruments of pleasure on the part of orientals sig- 
nifies a state of contrition. Hence, it is very likely 
that the Yezidis entertain the view that on this day 
God is decreeing their destiny for the coming year; 
that they must now, therefore, adjust their relation 
to him with sincere sorrow for sin. If this is so, the 
significance of the hanging of the flowers at the 
entrance of their houses can be taken as intended to 
propitiate the Evil Principle, and to ward off calamity 
during the coming year. Such a belief has a parallel 
in many religions. According to Babylonian mythol- 
ogy human destiny was decreed on New Year's day 
and sealed on the tenth day thereafter. It was there- 
fore necessary to placate the deity, or at least to make 
sure of one's relation to him, before this particular 
day. The New Year period was held, therefore, to be 
of special importance because of the bearing on indi- 
vidual welfare by reason of the good or the evil 
decision of the gods. Our modern custom of wishing 
our friends a Happy New Year has perhaps some con- 
nection with this idea.'' 

The Day of Atonement (Lev. 23: 27; 25: 29) had 
a most important place in the Jewish ecclesiastical 
year. This was the occasion of a thorough purifica- 
tion of the whole nation and of every individual 
member thereof in their relation to Yahweh. It was 
designed to deepen afresh the national and individual 
sense of sin and dread of the judgment of God. 
According to Talmud (Misna, Ros hasana, vol. I, 2) 


Ros hasana is the most important judgment day, on 
which all creatures pass for judgment before the 
Creator. On this day, three books are opened 
wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous and 
those of the intermediate class are recorded. Hence 
prayer and works of repentance are performed on the 
New Year from the first to the tenth that an un- 
favorable decision might be averted (Jewish Ency., 
art. Penitential Day). R. Akiba says: "On New 
Year Day all men are judged; and the degree is sealed 
on the Day of Atonement (Ibid, art. Day of Judg- 

Moreover, the red lilies of the doors of the Yezidis 
remind us at once of the blood sprinkled on che door- 
posts of the dwellings of the Israelites in Egypt as a 
sigrn for the Destroying Angel to pass over. This 
notion is found also in a similar practice among the 
Parsees of India, who hang a string of leaves across 
the entrances to their houses at the beginning of every 
new year. 

In the light of what has been said, the Yezidis' idea | 

in giving food to the poor at the grave on the day of | 

Sarsal (New Year day), is to propitiate God on be- 
half of the dead, who are, according to their belief, 
reincarnated in some form or other.® 


^ S. G. M, ibid. 

2 Die Sah'ien, I, 296. 

^ Nineveh and Its Remains, vol. II, p. 239. 

^ Nestor ians and Their Rituals, vol. I, p. 117. 

" S. J. Curtis : Primitive Semitic Religion To-day, 
p. 96; J. A. O. S., vol. 8, 223. 

® Cf. Marti's Die Religion des A, T., pp. 28-29. 

^ The Hibbert Journal, ibid. 

^ For different interpretation of the Yezidi New 
Year, see Brockelmann in Z. D. M. G., vol. 55, p. 388. 



Sacraments, Religious Observances and Sacer- 
dotal System 


Circumcision, the Eucharist and baptism are the 
three rehgious rites administered by the followers of 
Yezid. The first rite is optional. But with baptism 
the case is different; it is a matter of obligation. 
When a child is bom near enough to the tomb of Seih 
'Adi to be taken there without great inconvenience or 
danger, it should be baptized as early as possible after 
birth. The kawwals in their periodical visitations 
carry a bottle or skin filled with holy water to baptize 
those children who cannot be brought to the shrine. 
The mode of baptism is as follows: A seih carries 
the baby into the water, takes off his clothes, and 
immerses him three times. After the second time, 
putting his hand on the child's head, he mutters, "Hoi 
hola soultanie Azid, tou bouia berhe Aizd, saraka rea 
Azid." ("Hoi hola!^ Yezid is a sultan. Thou hast 
become a lamb of Yezid ; thou mayest be a martyr for 
the religion of Yezid.") The parents are not admitted 
to the domed shack of the spring; they remain out- 



side. The seih is paid for his services by the father 
of the child. If the baby be a male, the gift must be 
more valuable than if it be a female. 

Within twenty days from the time of baptism, a 
male child is circumcised. To perform the rite, two 
seihs are employed. One holds the child in his lap, 
the other performs the operation. Before starting, he 
asks the child to say : "As berhe Azide Sarum." ("I 
am the lamb of illuminating Yezid.") If he be too 
small to repeat, the seih who holds him repeats the 
sentence for him. All this is done in the presence of 
the parents, the relatives and the friends, amid 
rejoicing with the sound of the flute and the tam- 
bourine. When the ceremony is ended, the father of 
the child entertains all those present for seven suc- 
cessive days, during which period they dance, sing 
and eat the food sent to them by the friends and 
neighbors of the circumcised child. When this comes 
to an end, the two seihs are presented with gifts. 
Then every one returns home. The reason why they 
observe the two rites, they say, is that if one does not 
work the other may, and neither is harmful. 

As to the Eucharist,^ its observance is local. It is 
usually administered by the Yezidis of a place called 
Halitiyeh, a dependency of Diarbeker. It is observed 
in the following manner: They sit around a table. 
The chief among them holding a cup of wine, asks in 
Kurdish, "Ave Chia." ("What is this?") Then he 
himself answers, "Ave Kasie Tsaya." ("This is the 
cup of Jesus.") He continues, "Ave Tsa naf 


rounishtiya." ("Jesus is sitting and present in it.") 
Having first partaken himself, he passes the cup 
around. The last person drinks all that is left in the 

There is another sacrament among the Yezidis. I 
refer to the rite of repentance. When persons 
quarrel, the guilty one, covering his face with his 
hands, betakes himself to the most venerable seih to 
confess his sin. The latter, giving the penitent 
instructions, enjoins him to kiss the hands of his 
enemy and those of the members of the priesthood. 
This having been done, if still no reconciliation be 
effected, the offending person, whoever he may be, 
must undergo again the same exercises. When peace 
is established, the penitent one slaughters a sheep and 
offers wine to the reconciled one and the clerical body. 
This rite of repentance, however, is not obligatory.^ 


Some Other Religious Practices 
Fasting i-s one of the religious observances. It is 
kept for three successive days in the month of Decem- 
ber, when they profess to commemorate the death of 
Yezid. Some observe also the forty days' fast in the 
spring of the year, when the Eastern Christians cele- 
brate the memory of Christ's abstinence from food 
at the time of his temptation in the wilderness. One 
person in a family may fast for the rest. During this 
period fasters abstain from animal food. The chief 


§eih fasts rigidly one month in the year, eating only 
once in twenty-four hours and immediately after 

Prayer is not considered a religious duty. They 
never pray; they do not even have a form of prayer, 
and acknowledge that they do not pray. It is said 
that when Seih 'Adi came from Mecca, he told his 
followers in one of his sermons : "God commanded 
me to tell you that there is no need of prayer; believe 
in the power of Melek Ta'us and ye shall be saved." 
They have, however, what is called morning recital, 
which the devout among them mutters in Kurdish as 
he rises up from his bed. It is as follows: 

" Chand-il-manhatie sobayaka rosh halatie. Hatna 
mesarmen dou jaladie, meskino raha. Beda ^ade sada 
dina mine eik Allah melek seih-sin Habib Allah 
maklub al-mergle salah maklub w-mergie al-jem's 
salah Al-bani ma-ieh al-jem'sieh wal jot kuobaieh 
Kwa-samsi Tauris zval-Fahra-Dinn, washeikho Pir. 
Kawata deira sor, hanpouteka deira chankulie wa- 
Kabri Zaman wa-ahro douni, Amin."^ 

"How often two executioners came upon me as the 
morning sun arose. O poor man, stand up and bear 
witness ! Witness for my religion. God is one ; the 
angel Seih *Adi and upon his congregation ; upon the 
great shack and the shack of Seih Tauris and Fahr 
ad-Din and to every seih and piT, and the power of 
Deir Zor and Deir Chankalie (two Christian monas- 
teries), and the grave of time (mysterious power), 
and the Last Day." 



The Sacerdotal Orders 

The hierarchical orders of the Yezidi sect are four. 
The head seih is the patriarch of the sect. He directs 
all the religious affairs of the community and leads 
them in their rites. He is also the principal inter- 
preter of their religion, the chief spiritual judge, a 
sacred person, whose hearth is regarded as a sanc- 
tuary, only second in importance to Seih 'Adi's temple, 
and whose will must be obeyed. His powerful 
weapon is excommunication. He presides over a 
tribunal composed of ecclesiastical superiors, which 
has jurisdiction in religious offences, in questions 
relating to marriage, and in disputes between the 
clergy. His charge is hereditary, in direct succession ; 
but if his eldest son be considered unworthy, he may 
appoint another to succeed him. He is said to be 
descended from Seih 'Adi, and is believed to be 
endowed with supernatural power for healing dis- 
eases, and for blessing cattle and crops. Twice a 
year he visits the neighboring villages to collect con- 
tributions, and sends his kawwals to far distant dis- 
tricts for the same purpose. Occasionally he takes 
part in celebrating the marriage of persons of distinc- 
tion in his community. He is also at times solicited to 
preside over funeral rites, which are generally con- 
ducted by the kawwals and seihs. The chief §eih 
wears a black turban and white garments. 


Besides the head selh, the Yezidis have many other 
seihs. Each has a parish to look after. Twice a year 
he visits his parishioners to receive their free-will 
offerings. If a member of a congregation does not 
satisfy his seih, he js anathematized by his spiritual 
leader, and no one will speak to him or eat with him. 
Every one of these seihs is supposed to possess a 
special power, such as the power to drive scorpions 
away by praying over water and sprinkling it in the 
corners of the house. They have one called §eih 
Deklie, that is, §eih of the Cocks. His office is to go 
from village to village to collect chickens. Several of 
these seihs always reside at Seih 'Adi's. . 

The next in dignity are pirs, from the Persian 
meaning an old man. They wear red turbans and 
black garments. Then come the kawwals, from the 
Arabic, meaning one who speaks fluently, an orator. 
And lastly, the fakirs, from the Arabic poor. These 
are the lowest order in the Yezidi priesthood. (For 
the different offices of the last three orders, (see p. 


The clergy of all ranks enjoy particular respect. 
Their pe^-sons and homes are held inviolate. They 
take precedence at public gatherings. And the seihs 
and pirs possess the much dreaded power of excom- 

Besides the above, the Yezidis have a temporal 
chief, who is called amir. His dignity is also heredi- 
tary and confined to one family. He is believed to be 
a descendant of Yezid. He exercises a secondary 


authority over the Yezidis. He is a mediator between 
his sect and the Turkish government. He has the 
power to cut off any refractory member from the 
community. He has charge of fifty kawwals who try 
to collect for him at their annual visits to each 
Yezidi district a certain amount of money. The 
money received by them is divided into two equal 
parts, one of which goes to the support of the tomb of 
§eih *Adi, and the second part is divided, one-half 
being for the amir, the other half being shared equally 
by the kawwals. 

The name of the present amir is 'AH, and he resides 
in Ba'adrie. 


^ Hoi Hola is an interjection, or exclamation, ex- 
pressing sudden emotion, excitement, or feeling, as 
"Oh!" "Alas!" "Hurrah!" "Hark!" in English. 

^ P. Anastase : Al-Masrik, vol. H, p. 309. 

^ Ibid, p. 311. 

*Ibid, p. 313. 


Their Customs 



The Yezidis are endogamic. They forbid union 
between the secular and the reUgious classes, as also 
within certain degrees of relationship. A seih's son 
marries only a seih's daughter; so pirs' sons, pirs' 
daughters. A layman cannot marry a seih's or a pir's 
daughter, but he may take for a wife a kawwal's or 
a kochak's daughter; and kawwals' or kochaks' sons 
may marry laymen's daughters. But if a layman 
marries a seih's or a pir's daughter, he must be killed. 
Marriage is for life, but it is frequently dissolved, 
divorce being as easy to obtain among them as among 
Moslems. When a man wants to get rid of his wife, 
he simply lets her go. Polygamy is allowed, but 
usually confined to rich men, who generally have two 
wives. The number of wives is limited to six, except 
for the amir. A man must have money or cattle in 
order to be able to get married. The price is called 
kalam. A respectable girl will not sell herself at a 
low price. Parents get rich if they have several pretty 
girls; they are the father's property. The kalam, 



dowry, is usually thirty sheep or goats, or the price 
of them. The man must give presents to the relatives 
of his bride, parents, brothers, etc. If a couple love 
each other and cannot marry because the man has no 
money to pay his sweetheart's father, then they elope. 
They usually make arrangements before elopement as 
to where they will stay for a few weeks to escape 
detection. Some strong men accompany them when 
they elope. The father of the girl with his relatives 
follow. If they catch the fugitives, bloodshed may 
ensue. But if they succeed in escaping, they return 
after some time and are then forgiven. According to 
a Kurdish proverb everything is pardoned the brave. 
The couple choose one another. The girl informs 
her mother that she loves so and so. The latter 
informs her husband. The father acquaints the father 
of the young man with the fact. When they agree, 
and the daughter is given to the young man, his kin- 
dred come to the house of the bride's father on an 
appointed day, and give the girl a ring; then they 
dance, rejoice all night, play, wrestle, and eat black 
raisins. After that the young couple are allowed to 
arrange nuptial meetings in the company of a matron, 
who is presented with a gift. 

When the time of marriage comes, the family of the 
bridegroom invites the relatives. Each takes with him 
a silk handkerchief as a present for the bride. For 
three days they drink "arak,"^sing and dance to the 
sound of flutes and drums at the house of the young 
man. After that, the women, two by two, ride on 


horseback together, and likewise the men. The men 
take with them their children, who ride behind them. 
In this manner they go to the bride's house, discharg- 
ing their guns as they proceed. When they reach the 
house they all discharge their guns together. Hear- 
ing the sound, the father comes out and according to 
the custom, asks the visitors what they want. They 
respond "Your daughter," all answering at once. 
Then he goes in and tells his wife. After putting 
upon their daughter a scarlet hailiyah (veil), which 
covers her from head to foot, they bring her out. 
Everyone of the children takes a spoon from the 
bride's house and sticks it in his turban. After being 
brought to the house of the bridegroom, the bride is 
kept behind a curtain in the corner of a darkened 
room for three days, and the young man is not 
allowed to see her during this period. 

On the third day, the bridegroom is sought early in 
the morning, and led in triumph by his friends from 
house to house, receiving at each a small present. He 
is then placed within a circle of dancers, and the 
guests and bystanders wetting small coins stick them 
to his forehead. The money is collected as it falls in 
an open handkerchief held by his companions. After 
this ceremony a number of the young men, v/ho have 
attached themselves to the bridegroom, lock the most 
wealthy of their companions in a dark room until they 
are willing to pay a ransom for their release. The 
money thus taken is added to the dowry of the newly 
married couple. 


On the evening of the third day the seih takes the 
bridegroonT to the bride. Putting the hand of one in 
that of the other, and covering the couple with a 
haiUyah, he asks the bride, "Who are you?" "I am 
the daughter of so and so," responds she. Then he 
asks the bridegroom the same question. After receiv- 
ing an answer, the seih asks, "Will you take this young 
woman as a wife," and "Do you want this young man 
as a husband?" After hearing each say "Yes," the 
seih marks their shoulders and foreheads with red ink, 
and hands them a stick. As each holds one end of it, 
he asks them to break it in the middle, leaving one- 
half in the hand of each. Then the seih says, "So you 
remain one until death breaks you asunder." 

When this is done, he takes the couple to a room 
and locks them in, waiting at the door. After a while 
the bridegroom knocks at the door three times. 
Understanding the signal, the priest discharges his 
gun, and all the bystanders outside follow his ex- 
ample. After shouting and dancing for some time, 
the seih sends them home. When they first meet, the 
newly wedded husband strikes his young wife with a 
small stone as a token of his superiority over her. 
For seven days, they stay at home and do no work. 
Now, if the husband dies first, the wife goes to her 
father's house. 

W^ith the Yezidis, the family bonds are stronger 
than those of the tribe. The family proper consists of 
parents and their children, married, and unmarried, 
living in the same house. Respect for parents and 


elder persons is considered a virtue, as it is among 
all. the eastern people. The head of the family is the 
sole proprietor of the possessions of the family, and 
holds full control over his wife and children, who are 
bound to obey him. Only personal objects and dress 
are the property of the wife. He can punish his wife 
and the children. If a son leaves his father's house, 
he is beyond the father's authority, but not beyond 
his moral influence. A father is to maintain his 
family, defend it, and answer charges brought against 
its members. Next to the father in authority stands 
the eldest son. 

Women are inferior to men; married women must 
obey their husbands. They work like men; they till 
the ground, take care of cattle, fight the enemy and 
are courageous and very independent. This enables 
the young women to choose their sweethearts and run 
away with them. They converse with men freely. A 
woman does not conceal her face unless she is stared 
at, when she draws a corner of her mantle over her 

Married women are dressed entirely in white, and 
their shirt is of the same cut as the man's, with a 
white herchief under their chin, and another over 
their heads, held by the *agal or woollen cord of the 
Bedouins. The girls wear white skirts and drawers, 
and over them colored zabouns, long dresses open in 
front and confined at the waist by a girdle ornamented 
with pieces of silver. They bind fancy kerchiefs 


around their heads and adorn themselves with coins 
as well as with glass and amber beads. 

The men wear shirt? closed up to the neck, and their 
religious law forbids them to wear the common east- 
ern shirts open in front. Their shirt is the distinctive 
mark by which the Yezidi sect is recognized at once. 
They are clothed besides with loose trousers and 
cloaks, both of white, and with a black turban, from 
beneath which their hair falls in ringlets. They 
usually carry long rifles in their hands, pistols in their 
girdles, and a sword at their side. 

In their physical characteristics they are like the 
Kurds, wild, rough, uncultured. They are muscular, 
active, and capable of bearing great hardship. In 
general, they are a fine, manly race : tall or of medium 
stature, with large chest; strong deep voice, audible 
afar ; clear, keen eye ; frank and confident, or fierce 
and angry; nose of moderate length, and fairly small 
head. Their legs are rather short, but the soles of 
their feet are large. Their complexion is usually dark 
and their eyes are black. But there are diflFerent 
types. The predominant type is tall, with black hair, 
fine regular nose, and bluish brown eyes. The rest 
are of shorter stature, with longer features ; light, 
bright eyes; and large, irregular nose. The Yezidis 
sometime shave the hair off their head, leaving only 
a long, thin forelock. 




If a young or well-known man dies, they make in 
his likeness a wooden form and clothe it in the dead 
man's clothes. Then the musicians play mourning 
tunes, while the relatives stand round the model. 
After wailing for a while, they walk in procession in 
a circle around the form, and now and then kneel 
down to receive a blessing from it. Those who come 
to the scene, according to their custom, ask the 
parents of the dead man, **What have you?" They 
reply, "We have the wedding of our son." They 
continue wailing for three days. Afterward they dis- 
tribute food on behalf of the dead. For a year they 
give a plate of food with a loaf of bread daily to some 
person, thinking that thereby they are feeding their 
own dead. On the seventh and fortieth day from the 
time of death, they visit the grave to mourn over their 
lost one. Now, if the dead be a common man, he is 
not honored with such a ceremony. He is usually 
buried an hour or two after his death. 

The funeral rites are simple. The body of the 
Yezidi, like that of a Mohammedan, is washed in 
running water. After being laid on a flat board, they 
dress him with his former clothes, close the openings 
in his body with pieces of cotton, place the sacred 
clay of Seih 'Adi in his mouth, on his face and fore- 
head, under his shoulders and eyes, and on his 


stomach. This done, they carry the dead on the board 
to the cemetery. The kawwals, burning incense, lead 
the procession; the immediate relatives, especially the 
women, following, dressed in white and throwing 
dust over their heads, and accompanied by male and 
female friends and- neighbors. If the dead be a man, 
they then dance, the mother or the wife holding in 
one hand the sword or shield of the dead, and in the 
other, long locks cut from her own hair. They bury 
him with his face turned toward the north star. 
Everyone present throws a little dust over the grave 
while saying, "O man, thou wert dust and hast 
returned to dust to-day." Then the seih says, "When 
we say, 'Let us rise and go home,' then the dead man 
will say, 'I will not go home with the people.' And 
when he tries to get up, his head will strike the stone, 
when he will say, 'O, I am among the dead.' " When 
they return home, the family slaughters oxen and 
sheep and gives meat to the poor. The poor kill four 
or five sheep ; the rich, a hundred. The kochaks 
prophesy of the dead, whether he will return to the 
earth or will go to another world. 

They hold that some will be eternally condemned, 
but that all will spend an expiatory period; and that 
the dead have communion with the living, in which 
the good souls dwelling in the heavens make revela- 
tions to their brethren on earth. 




Four different theories have been advanced as to 
the race to which the Yezidis belong. There are those 
who think them to be of Indo-European origin, for 
there is a type among them that has a white skin, a 
round skull, blue eyes and light hair. And there are 
those who suppose them to be Arabs on the ground 
that the color of skin of another type is brown, their 
eyes are wide, their lips are thick and their hair is 
dark. The western writers, moreover, have in the 
past always taken them for Kurds because of the 
close resemblance of the two in appearance and man- 
ners. In his "La Turquie d'Asie," Vitol Cunet says 
that though the Yezidis have been taken for Kurds, 
they can no longer be regarded as such, for in many 
ways they resemble other nationalities. On the other 
hand Hormuzd Rassam, in his "Asshur and the Land 
of Nimrud" seems to agree with those who suppose 
them to be of Assyrian origin. He bases this infer- 
ence on the independent and martial spirit which they 
possess, and their tendency to rebel against their 
oppressors, which, according to him, may be taken 
as an indication of ancestral inheritance.^ 




The Yezidis dwell principally in five districts, the 
most prominent among these being that of Seihan. 
This term is the Persian plural of seih, an old man; 
and it signifies the country where seihs dwell. This 
district lies northeast of Mosul, covering a wide area 
in which are many villages. It is their Palestine. In 
it lies their Mecca, Lalish, where their sacred shrine, 
the tomb of Seih *Adi, is. Lalish is the centre of their 
national and religious life. It is situated in a deep, 
picturesque valley. Its slopes are covered with a 
dense wood, and at the bottom of it runs the sacred 
water. Other notable places here are the two adjoin- 
ing villages, Ba'asika and Bahazanie, at the foot of 
the mountain of Rabban Hormuzd, a six hours' ride 
from Mosul. The former is the center of the tombs 
of their seihs ; the latter is their principal burial place, 
to which bodies are carried from all the various dis- 
tricts. It was formerly a Christian village with a 
monastery. And Ba'adrie, northeast of the City of 
Mosul, about ten hours' ride away, is the village where 
their amir resides. It is close to §eih 'Adi's. 

Next in importance is Jabal Sinjar. The term 
"Sinjar" is Persian, meaning a bird, perhaps an eagle. 
It signifies that its inhabitants are, like the eagle, safe 
and cannot be caught.' Sinjar is about three days' 
journey from Mosul. It is a solitary range, fifty 


miles long and nine miles broad, rising in the midst of 
the desert. From its summit, the eye ranges on one 
side over the vast level v^^ilderness stretching to the 
Euphrates, and on the other over the plain bounded 
by the Tigris and the lofty mountains of Kurdistan. 
Nisibin and Mardin are both visible in the distance. 
One can see the hills of Ba'adrie and Seih 'Adi. 
Among the sacred places of this district are two 
villages : Assofa, where two ziarahs are found, and 
distinguished from afar by their white spires, and 
Aldina, where one ziarah exists. In almost every 
Sin jar village, there is to be found a covered water 
which they use as a fortress during their fights with 
the Kurds or with the Turkish army. The devil- 
worshippers of this locality are commonly called 
Yezidis, while those of Seihan are known both as 
Yezidis and Dawaseni. 

Another district is Halitiyeh, which includes all the 
territory north and northeast of the Tigris in the 
province of Diarbeker. The Malliyeh region includes 
all the territory west of the Euphrates and Aleppo. 
And the Sarahdar section includes the Caucasus in 
southern Russia. Some regard the Lepchos of India 
also as Yezidis, who, in the early appearance of the 
sect, went there to proselyte the Hindoos.^ 



In regard to their dwellings, the Yezidis are divided 
into two classes: Ahl al-hadar, the people of the 
villages or cultivated land, and Ahl al Wabar, the 
people of the tents. The villages are built of clay, 
stone or mud, and unburned brick. A village consists 
of about sixty houses. A house is divided Into three 
principal rooms, opening one into another. These are 
separated by a wall about six feet high, upon which 
are placed wooden pillars supporting the ceiling. The 
roof rests on trunks of trees raised on rude stones in 
the centre chamber, which is open on one side to the 
air. The sides of the room are honeycombed with 
small recesses like pigeon-holes. The whole is plas- 
tered with white plaster, fancy designs in red being 
introduced here and there. The houses are kept neat 
and clean. They say that cleanliness is next to 

Now, the people of the tents are, like the Arab 
Bedouins, nomadic, having no houses and no perma- 
nent place of abode. They form but a small portion 
of the Yezidis, and are called Kotchar. 



The Language 

The language of the Yezidis, in common with the 
Kurds, is Kurdish, which belongs to the Iranian 
group of the Indo-European or Indo-Germanic stock. 
This Kurmanji possesses a number of dialects not 
differing much from one another, except the zaza 
dialect, which is spoken in eastern Mesopotamia by 
the Kurds, called Ali Alia. The main characteristic 
of the Kurmangi are the great brevity of its words 
and the simplicity of its grammatical forms. It is 
fairly rich in vowels, and richer in deep gutteral 
sounds. Though Kurdish is the general language of 
the Yezidis, their religious mysteries are in Arabic. 
Both languages are spoken by those living in the 
Sin jar hills and in Seiban. 



Generally speaking, the Yezidis are an industrious 
people, but they do not engage in business. This is 
due to their belief that any form of business leads to 
cheating and lying, and hence to cursing Melek-Ta'us, 
i. e., the devil. Their usual occupation is agriculture 
and cattle-raising. The Yezidis of Sinjar, who con- 
stitute almost the entire population, raise fruit, such 


as figs and grapes; also almonds and nuts. Jabal 
Sinjar is famous for its figs. Those who live in the 
Russian territory, like the sweeper class of India, are 
mainly engaged in menial work. But those in the 
districts of Redwan and Midyat are given to house- 
breaking and highway robbery ; they are the terror of 
those regions. 

The Yezidis seldom appear in the cities; and when 
they do they conceal their peculiarities as much as 
possible, for the Christians and Mohammedans are 
wont to seek amusement at their expense. When 
they find a Yezidi in their company, they draw a 
circle about him on the ground, from which he super- 
stitiously believes he cannot get out, until some one 
breaks it. They annoy him by crying out, Na'lat 
Saitan, t. e., Satan be cursed. Moreover, city people 
keep aloof from the habitations of these despised 
devil-worshippers. Accordingly the Yezidis have 
little intercourse with their neighbors. 


^ In his letter to me, of date August 6, 1907, the 
Rev. A. N. Andrus, of Mardin, expresses the opinion 
that "many of the Yezidis around Sinjar might have 
come from Indian stock" on the ground that **they 
are darker and more hthe than the Kurds around 

2 P. Anastase: Al-Masrik, vol. II, p. 831. 

3 Cf. Al-Masrik, vol. II, p. 734. 





List of the Yezidi Tribes 

(The materials were collected for me by A. N. 

Andrus, of Mardin) 

The Tribes Across the River From Mosul 

1 The tribe named Seihan lives in the mountains 
of Al-K6s, and has sixteen villages. They are all 
under the orders of Seih *Ali Beg Pasa, the Amir, or 
chief of the Yezidis. This tribe can furnish i,6oo 
guns for war. Said *Ali Pasa has received from the 
Turkish government the order of Amir ul-Umara 
"the Amir of Amirs." He has a brother who has 
received the order of Miry Miran, "the Amirs of 
Amirs." He has a second brother who has received 
the order of Romeli Beglar Begi, "the Beg of Begs." 
These three are all sons of the former Amir Husein 

2 The Denodi tribe lives in Dakoke district. It 
occupies fifteen villages, and can bring 800 guns to 

3 The Howari tribe lives in the region of Zaho. 
This tribe is nomadic, lives in tents, and can furnish 
200 guns for war. It has two chiefs, Bedri Sohr and 
Dar Bazi Husein. They are all shepherds. 




The Tribes at Sinjar and Jezireh Districts 







































































* « « 





• • • 







•  » 





• • • 







• • • 





• • • 






• « • 




Grand total 







The Tribes of Midyat Region, Usually Called 
Jabal Tor Al-'Abedin (Mountain of the 


This region lies one day's journey east of Mardin. 
There are three tribes here. 

1 The tribe of Semmike. This tribe inhabits six 
villages and can produce, when needed, 500 guns. 

2 The tribe called Sohrani. There are fifteen 
small villages to this tribe with 300 guns. These all 
have houses built of stone, and till the ground. 

3 The tribe called Mamila. This tribe has seven 
villages : 

Mazazah, Bajinne, Kochano, Keunos, Taka, 
Harobia, and Namirdani. 

Mr. Andrus writes me that he has learned of this 
tribe from Kas Samuel, a Jacobite Syrian priest of 
Mazazeh near Midyat. 

The tribe of Besreyeh, northwest of Jabal Al-Tor. 

There was only one tribe in this district; it was 
called Haltah. This tribe had five villages : 

Redwan, Dooshah, Selahar, Bimbarik, and Soolan. 

On account of the oppression of the government on 
the one hand, and of the Kurdish tribes around them 
on the other, this tribe has moved to the Sinjar 

The tribes around Weran Sahr or Goran §ahr, "the 
destroyed or the sunken city," because it was de- 
stroyed by earthquake or in war. This district lies 
southwest of Mardin. 


1 The Denodi tribe. This is probably an offshoot 
of the Dahoke tribe of the same name. It occupies 
three villages, and has Hasan Kanjo for the chief. 
He is now the right arm of Ibrahim Pasa of the 
Hamideyeh army. The three villages are Salmi, 
Payamlo and Desi. 

2 The tribe called Serkian. This tribe has seven 
subdivisions : 

a. Turnah lives in one village called Laulanji. 

b. Kupan occupies four villages: (i) Abmazut. 
(2) Nukti. (3) Al-Asehan. (4) Shda Ausman. 

c. Beleki has six villages: (i) Sahda Nasu. (2) 
Mouzan §eih Bersef. (3) Mouzan Auso. (4) Menk- 
suri Minet. (5) Al-Kaureyee. (6) Menmenik. 

d. Adi has three villages : ( i ) Tal Tarik. 
(2) Karmi Apo *Alo Reso. (3) Karmi Sim, u, Kor 
Kahiah. Sim means hoof; u, and; kor, blind; kahiah, 
head man. 

e. Mardanah occupies two villages: (i) Hajj Zain. 
(2) Kara Kuzeye. 

f. Malla Kachar has one village: Malla Kachar 
means the Malla flees. 

g. Maskan occupies two villages : Birj Baluji. 
h. Suhan has one village, Kafar Bali. 


' Persecution 

The history of the Yezidis, Uke that of the Jews, 
has been one of persecution. The causes of their 
misfortune have been (i) the fact that they are not 
regarded as the people of the Book; and with such 
the Mohammedans have no treaty, no binding oath, 
as they do with the other non-Mohammedan bodies. 
For this reason they have to make choice between 
conversion and the sword, and it is unlawful even to 
take taxes from them. Consequently they must 
accept the faith or be killed. (2) Their ceremonies 
have given rise among their neighbors to fables con- 
founding their practices with those of the Nusairi of 
Syria and ascribing to them certain midnight orgies, 
which obtained for them the name of cherag 
sanderan, i. e., the extinguishers of light. (3) Their 
determined refusal to enter the military service. The 
Yezidis with the Christians have been exempt from 
the military service on the general law sanctioned by 
the Koran; namely, that none but true believers can 
serve in the armies of the state. But from time to 
time the Turkish government has endeavored to raise 
recruits for the regular troops among the Yezidis on 
the ground that, being of no recognized infidel sect, 



they must be included like the Druses of Mount 
Lebanon among Mohammedans. But they have re- 
sisted the orders, alleging that their religious law 
absolutely forbids them to take the oath to which the 
Turkish soldiers are weekly subjected, to wear the 
blue color and certain portions of the uniform, and to 
eat several articles of food that are offered to the 
troops. Hence they have suffered severely at the 
hand-s of the local authorities. 

One of the most cruel persecutions which the 
Yezidis have suffered was that brought upon them in 
the Seihan district by the famous Beg Rawmanduz in 
1832, who had united most of the Kurdish tribes of 
the surrounding mountains under his command. His 
cry was to crush the hateful sect of the devil- 
worshipers. The forces of 'Ali Beg, the then amir 
of the Yezidis, were much inferior in number to those 
of the Khurdish Beg. The latter (Ali Beg) was de- 
feated, therefore, and fell into the hands of his enemy, 
who put him to death. The people of Seihan fled to 
Mosul. It was in the spring and the river had over- 
flowed and carried the bridge away. A few succeeded 
in crossing, but the greater multitude of men, women 
and children were left on the opposite side and 
crowded on tal 'Armus. The hostile Beg followed 
and butchered them indiscriminately, showing no 
mercy, while the people of Mosul were witnessing the 
horrible massacre from the other side of the stream 
and hearing the cry of the unfortunate for their help, 
unwilling to render any assistance. For the Christians 


were helpless and Mohammedans rejoiced to see the 
devil-worshippers exterminated. From this cruel 
action of the Beg of Rawanduz, the mounds of 
Nineveh gained the name "Kuyunjik," i. e., "the 
slaughter of the sheep." 

Soon after this Suleiman Pasa of Bagdad sent a 
large army to Sinjar under the command of Lutfee 
Effendi, who set fire to the Jabal Sinjar and caused 
all the inhabitants to flee. Then Hafiz Pasa of 
Diarbeker attempted the subjugation of the Yezidis 
of Sinjar, on the ground that they were plunderers. 
After meeting some resistance, he accomplished his 
purpose in 1837, and appointed a Moslem to watch 
over them. At another time Mohammed Rasid Pasha 
of Mosul attacked Sinjar. On both occasions there 
was a massacre. The Yezidis took refuge in caves, 
where they were either suflFocated by smoke or killed 
by the discharge of cannon. And thus the population 
was reduced by three- fourths. These and other 
similar injustices at the hands of the Pasas of 
Bagdad and Mosul and the Kurdish chiefs led the 
Yezidis from time to time to send a deputation to lay 
their grievances before the agents of the European 
powers, and they have even sent commissioners to the 
Sultan. They finally succeeded in enlisting the interest 
of Lord Stratford in 1847 to obtain at Constantinople 
a proper recognition of their religion and exemption 
from military service. 

But the severest of all persecutions, to which I was 
an eye-witness, was perhaps the one which the Yezidis 


of both Seihan and Sinjar suffered in 1892 at the 
hands of Farik 'Omar Pasa, Lieutenant-General of 
the Turkish Army. This Farik was sent in the 
summer of 1892 as a special commissioner by the 
Sultan to accomplish certain definite things in the 
states of Mosul and Bagdad: to collect twenty years' 
unpaid taxes; to induce the Bedouins to exchange 
their nomadic life for village life; to convert the 
Yezidis of Seihan and Jabal Sinjar from their idolatry 
to the true faith. He was a harsh man in his manners 
and methods. He first invited some of their chiefs to 
Mosul. They came and listened to what the new 
Pasa had to say. They met him when Mijlis al- 
Edarah, council of the state, composed of 'Olama and 
a few Christians, was in session. In the presence of 
these noblemen he began to tell them that if they would 
give up their devil-worship, they would be rewarded 
with high place and rank, and would please the great 
Allah. But they answered not. When the Farik saw 
that his words failed to persuade them, he began to 
apply the weapon of cruelty. He cast them into 
prison; some died; others fled; and a few, through 
the fear of torture and painful death, pronounced 
al-sehadah^ with their lips but not from their hearts. 
Then he sent an army to their villages, and com- 
manded them to choose between Islam and the sword. 
'Omar Beg, his son, who was commanding the sol- 
diers, directed them to slaughter the men, and take 
captives the pretty women and girls and marry them. 
He slew about five hundred men. Many became 


Moslems from fear, among these Merza Beg, their 
civil chief. 

Then he placed mullas among them to teach the 
children the Muslim faith, and ordered the newly con- 
verted Yezidis to pray five times every day and to 
perform all the religious rites. To make them con- 
tinue to be Mohammedans, he tore down their shrines, 
especially those at Bahzanie and Baasika. Such events 
encouraged the Kurds to come down and add greater 
cruelty to what was already done. 

But amir *Ali Beg, their chief in civil and religious 
aifairs, after long imprisonment and torture, did not 
change his religious belief. That he might not be an 
example of firmness to the Yezidis, the Farik ban- 
ished him with soldiers to Katamuni, a place near 

As a consequence of these persecutions, the number 
of the Yezidis has been considerably decreased. In 
the fifteenth century there were 250,000. At the be- 
ginning of the nineteenth century there were 200,000. 
Thy are still declining and remaining under the 
clouds of misconception, and are consequently 
objects of aversion and hatred. But they console 
themselves with the idea that they suffer in the cause 
of their religious convictions. 


^ Cherog sonderan is Turkish ; sonderan is the 
participle of the infinitive of to put out, and cherag, 
hterally lamp, is the object of sonderan. In Turkish 
the object precedes the verb; cf. Yani sarfi Otamani 
"the New Turkish Grammar" (in the Turkish lan- 
guage, ed. Ahmad Jaudat & Co., Constantinople, 
1318 A. H.), p. 77- 

2 Kalimatu, s-Sehadah is as follows : 'T testify that 
there is no deity but God and that Mohammed is 
apostle of God." 



» -N 




A manuscript containing the Sacred Book of the 
Yezidis and their tranditions. 

Two other manuscripts containing the history of 
the Yezidis. 

As-§ahrastani : Kitab Al-Milal wa, n-Nihal (ed. 
Wm. Eureton, London, MDCCCXLIII, vol. i, p. loi 

Yasin Al-Hatib Al 'Omari Al-Mausili: Al Der al 
Maknun fi-1-Miater Al-Madiyat min Al-Kerun, "Seih 

Mohammed Al-'Omari Al-MausiH: Manhal-al- 
Uliya wa Masrab ul Asfiya, "Seih *Adi.'* 

Ibn HaUikan: Wafaiyat-el-'Aiyan (Cairo a. h. 
1310, A. D. 1894), vol. I, p. 316. 

Fihrist: ed Fliigel : The Religion of Hauran, p. 
190 seq. 

Yakout: Lalis. Vol. IV, p. 373. 

Abu-1-Kasim Ibn Haukal: Kitab Al-Masalik Wal- 
Mamalik (ed. M. J. De Goeje, 1873, Lyden) Hakkari, 
p. 144. 

Anistase : Al-Masrik, vol. II. - 

Tabari on Sabeans: The Sixth Session of the 
Oriental Congress. Leide, 1883, PP- 300-340. 




A manuscript containing an abstract about the 
History of the Yezidis. 

Yezidis Songs and Prayers, in manuscript. 


Vital Cunet: Translation of La Turquie d'Asie, 

Turkish Reader (Constantinople, a. h. 1318), Sec- 
ond Part, p. 20 seq. 


G. P. Badger: The Nestorians and Their Rituals, 
vol. I. 

Layard : Nineveh and lis Remains, vol. II. 

Layard : Nineveh and Babylon. 

Ainsworth : Travels and Researches in Asia Minor. 

H. Southgate: A Tour Through Armenia, Persia, 
and Mesopotamia, vol. II. 

J. B. Eraser: Mesopotamia and Persia. 

G. J. Rich: Residence in Kurdistan, vol. II, 1836. 

Fletcher: Notes From Nineveh, 1850. 

F. Parrot : Journey to Ararat. 

J. S. Buckingham: Travels in Assyria, Media, and 


F. Millingen: Wild Life Among the Kurds, 1870. 

Hormuzd Rassam : Asshur and the Land of Nimrod. 

O. F. Pary : Six Months in a Syrian Monastery. 

F. D. Green: The Armenian Crisis in Turkey. 

A. V. Williams Jackson : Persia, Past and Present. 

A. V. Williams Jackson : J. A. O. S., 25, 178 seq. 

A. V. Williams Jackson : The Article, "Yezidis/' in 
New Inter. Enc, vol. 17, p. 939. 

Victor Dingelstedt : Scottish Geog. Mag., vol. 14, 
p. 295. 

Ainsworth : Transactions of the Ethnographical 
Society, vol. i, 1861. 

Forbes: J. R. G. Sc, vol. LX, p. 409; Account of 
Yezidis of Jahal Sinjar. 

Tylor: Journal of Geographical Society, 1868. 

Hextheusen: Transcaucasia: Account of Yezidis in 

Ainsworth : Travels and Researches in Asia Minor, 
Ch. XXXI. 

Transactions of the Syro-Egyptian Society, 1855, 
the article, "Yezidis." 

A. N. Andrus: Missionary Ency. Art. "Yezidis." 

The Independent, January 17, 1895. 

R. Gottheil : Mandeans in J. U. Cycl. 

R. Gottheil : Sabeans in J. U. Cycl. 

K. Kessler: Mandeans, Enc. Brit. 

E. H. Bunbury: Sabeans, Enc. Brit. 

T. H. Hughes: Muslin Sect, in Diet, of Islam. 



J. Menant: Les Yezidis. 

Niebuhr: Voyage en Arable, 1776. 

Olivier: Voyage dans l' Empire Othoman, T. 2, p. 

Ernest Chantre : Le Tour du Monde, de Beyrouth a 

Tiflis, p. 184. 

Nuchel Febore : Theatre de la Turque, Paris, 1682. 

Vital Cunet: La Turquie d'Asie, p. yy2. 

Eugene Bore : Diet, des Religions, T. IV, Yezidis. 

Eugene Bore : Correspondence d' Orient, T. I, p. 
401 ; T. II, pp. 188, 272. 

Siouffi: Journal Asiatique, 1885, p. 78, and 1882, 
p. 252. 

J. B. Chabot: Journal Asiatique, 1896, p. 100. 

M. Tcheraz: Le Museon, T. LX No. 2, p. 194. 

M. Garzoni : Sylvestre de Sacy, 1809, PP- I05> ^9i- 

E. Reclus: Nouvelle Geographic, T. LX, p. 432. 

Spiro: Bulletin Soc. Ncuchatel Geog., Tome 12, 

p. 275. 

Annales des Rois d'Assyria, sail II, No. 39. 

Receu du Monde Musulman, August, 1908. 


Schwolsohn: Dies Sahien, vol. II, p. 201. 
Hugo Makas : Kurdische Studien, p. 35. 
M. Lidzbarski: Z. D. M. G., vol. 51, p. 592. 
C. Brockelmann; Z. D. M. G., vol. 55, p. 388. 


C. Brockelmann : Z. A., vol. 16, p. 399. 
Archie fur Anthropologic, vol. 27, p. 3. 
Das Ausland, 50 Jahrgang, No. 39 und 40 Stutgart, 
1886, p. 790. 


Assemani: Bibliotheca Orientalis, Clementino'Vati- 
can, vol. Ill, p. 493. 

T. Hyde: Historia Religionis vetrum Persarum, 


Abadiya, i8, 20, 120,- 121. 

Ablution, 163. 

Adam and Eve, 12, 17, 38, 
39, 41, 42, 53, 54, 68, 
70, 90, 93, 108, 151. 

Adawiah, iii, 116. 

'Adi, 12, 14, 16, 21, 22, 29, 
38, 45, 48, 54, 55, 56, 
57, 59, 63, 64, 66, 67, 
68, 71, 77, 79, 80, 90; 
temple of, 95, 98, iii, 
112, ff.; 136, 158, ff.; 

tomb of, 112, 113, 115, 
116, 119, 160, ff. ; 
worship of, 160-163; 
feast of, 163-166. 

'Ain Sifni, 41. 

Al Jilwah, II, 12, 14, 17, 
22, 30, 36, 37, 68. 

Al-Lat, 135. 

Al-'Ozza, 135;. 

Andrus, A. N., 14, 17, 22, 
105, 139, 167, 200-201. 

Angels, 37, 92, 93, 123, 
124, 125, 128, 130, 133, 
150, 152, 154, 169. 

Apostle, 120, 122, 123, 
127, 128. 

Arafat, 57. 
Ash-Shahrastam, 19, 24, 

119, ff.; 123. 
As-Saig, II, 17. 
Assemani, 98. 
Assyrians, 40, 45, 92, 170. 
B'aadri, 29, 100. 
Ba'ashika, 56, 63, 100, 

Badger G. P., 158, ff., 170. 
Bahazani, 45. 
Baptism, 69, 100, ff . ; 161, 

178 ff. 
Basra, 94, 171. 
Bath, 80. 
Birds, worship of, 134, 

147, 150, ff. 
Candles, 156. 
Ceremonies, 137, 164 ff. 
Cholsohn, 169. 
Christ, 53, 61. 
Circumcision, 178 ff. 
Comb, 161. 
Cosmogany, 133. 
Creation, 36, 41, 68. 
Dancing, 165, 179, 188. 
Daseni, 99, lOl. 

Devil, 108, 113, 116, 117, 

148, 155- 




Devil worship, io8, 113, 
116, 150, 151, 152, 153- 

Devil Worshippers, see 

Dewish, 116. 
Dowry, 48, 186, ff. 
Emir, 75, 156, 165, 183. 
Eucharist, 178, 179-180. 
Evil, 107, 154, 159, 163, 

Fahkr-ad Din, 12, 22, 37, 

40, 58. 
Fakir, 76, 164 ff. ; 183. 
Family, 189 ff. 
Fastine, 58, 66, 69, 79, 

180 ff. 
Feasts, 57, 135, 148, 149, 

150, 163-165, festivals 

173 ff. 
Funeral, 192 ff. 

Hatchet, 161. 

Heaven, 60. 

Hell, 54, 62. 

Hierarchy, 182 ff. 

Ibn Hazm, 19. 

Ibn Khallikan, 107, iii, 

115, 116, 129. 
Ibn Unaisa, Yezid, 17, 18, 

19, 20, 107, 119, 120, 

123, 127, 128-130. 
Idol, 47, 48, 53, 55, loi, 

107, 125. 
Incense, 174, 193. 
Iranion, 108-110. 
Ishtar, 133, 149. 

Islam, no, 116, 118, 122, 

128, 134. 
Jackson, A. V., 25, 108 ff, 
Jesus, 19, 59, 60, 61, loi, 

102, 164, 180. 
Kawwal, 45, 46, 48, 68, 

75, 78, 156, 157, 164 ff., 

Khawarij, 121, 122, 128 ff. 

Kissing, 165. 

Kochak, 47, 48, 53-57, 63, 

75, 159, 165. 
Koran, 19, 120, 122-124, 

Kreamer, 20. 
Lalish, 29, 37, 38, 112. 
Lamps, 162-164, 174. 
Lettuce, 44, 64, 80. 
Lidzbarski, 22^ 149, 160. 
Mary, 61. 

Marriage, 40, 48, 186 ff. 
Mashaf Rcsh, 11, 12, 21, 

22, 36, 49, 92. 
Melek Ta'us, 12, 21, 30, 

36, 37, 38, 40, 53, 58, 
60, 62, 64; form of, 43, 
44, 68, yy, 78, 90, 92. 

Mohammed, 18, 42, 43, 
67, 71, 92, loi, 106, 
120, 122, 123, 125, 128, 
130, 162. 

Moon, 59, 126, 133 ff. 

Mu'awiya, 18, 42, 43, 92, 
93, 104, 105, 106, 128, 

130. '1 

Mulla Haidar, 11, 22, 78. 



Musicians, 164, 175. 
New Year, 46, 56, 174 ff. 
Noah, flood of, 40-42. 
Oath, 66. 
Oil, 164. 

Omari, 112, 113, 118. 
Orientalists, 103 if., no. 
Peacock, 43, 44, 68, 150- 

153, 155, 157. 
Peter, 61. 

Pilgrimage, 55, 65, 112, 
114, 116, 119, 135 ff., 

Pir, 56, 58, 75, 78, 79» 
157, 183. 

Prayer, 165, 181. 

Priests, 164; Isaac, 16, 
63, 64. 

Prophets, 53, 58, 59; 
from Persia, 67, 95, 
120, 124 ff.; 130, 132, 

Sabians, 19, 69, 120, 122- 

128, 133. 
Sacrament, 100 ff., 178. 
Sacrifice, 69. 
Sanjak, 44-47, 51,1 33,155 

Scholars, 103 ff., 106, 

no, 115, 129. 
Serpent, 42, 71, 92, 161, 

165, 168. 
Shammas Eremia, 17, 22. 
Shaving, 80. 
Sheikh, 75, 78. 79, 164 ff., 

168 ff., 183 ff. 

Sheikh Mattie, 55, 85, 

Shirt, 79-80, 191 ff. 

Sinjar, 42, 45, 59, 94, 100. 

Siouffi, M. N., II, 14, 24. 

Springs, 56, 134, 136, 161. 

Stars, 123, 125-128, 130. 

Stone, kissing of, 47, 56; 
worship of, 135-137- 

Sun, kiss of, 53, 58 ; wor- 
ship of, 116, 126, 133 
ff.; 149, 170. 

Syriac, 100. 

Tahlil, 195. 

Tamerlane, 94. 

Tammuz, 147, ff. 

Tans, see Melek Ta'us. 

Tax, 82 ; Torch, 164. 

Transmigration, 33, 67, 

Trees, 55, 56, 95, i35, ff- 

Vow, 55, 56. 

Wine, 54. 

Woman, 190 ff. 

Yezid, 12, 17, 43, 44, 75, 
92, 93, 104, 105, 106, 
107, 113, 130, 147, 166. 

Yezidis, 11, 12; number 
and locality of, 13-14, 
22, 195 ff. ; manuscripts 
of, 14 ff. ; origin of, 17- 
20, 89, 90, ff., 103 ff., 
129 ff . ; religion of, 21, 
29, 38, 40, 43 ; sign of, 
58, 64; myth of, 89; 
nationality of, 194 ff.; 

222 INDEX 

Yezidis, continued Yezidism, 103, 129, 131, 

tradition of, 94; dwel- 133, 134, 136, 145, ff.; 

lings of, 197 ff.; lang- 173. 

uage of, 198; occupa- Zamzam, 56-57, 134, 161. 

tion of, 198 ff. ; tribes Zoroaster, 108, 109, 131, 

of, 201 ff,; persecution 151, 155, 169. 
of, 205 ff. 








,,,,,3^^5002 00165 5450 

Dev,l worship; the sacred books and trad 

BP 195 . Y5 J6 1919 

Joseph, Isya. 

Devil worship