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Yazidi

Yazidi or Yezidi Middle Eastern religious community whose beliefs incorporate elements of Zoroastrianism , Sufism , Christianity, Manichaeism , and Judaism. Its members, numbering between 200,000 and one million, are mainly Kurds living in and around Mosul , N Iraq. There are smaller communities in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Georgia, and Armenia and, as a result of recent emigration due to persecution, in Germany and other Western countries.

The Yazidi, whose origins are obscure, believe in a monotheistic God who created the world and assigned its care to seven holy beings, or angels, led by the archangel Malak Ta'us, or the Peacock Angel, a fallen angel who repented and is venerated by the Yazidi. The story of Malak Ta'us, as well as his alternative name of Shaytan, have led Muslims and others to consider Yazidis devil worshippers. Their chief saint is a 12th-century mystic, Sheikh Adi bin Musafir, whose tomb at Lalesh, near Mosul, is the site of an annual pilgrimage and festival. Another important festival is the New Year, which falls in the spring.

The Yazidi have historically been an insular community with oral traditions they marry among themselves, and do not accept outsiders into the faith through conversion. Long viewed with suspicion by non-Yazidi neighbors, the Yazidi have been the victims of numerous terrorist attacks in Iraq in recent years, and in the offensive in Iraq begun by the Islamic State (IS) in 2014 have been slaughtered, enslaved, or forcibly converted if they did not escape capture by IS forces.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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