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Sacred Books and Traditions of the Yezidiz, by Isya Joseph, [1919], at

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While the Yezidi myth regards the sect as descendants of Adam, of Yezîd 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 Yezîd bn Mu‘awiya, others that they are of Persian origin, etc., the Mohammedan dogmatics, on the other hand, assert that they are Murtaddoon, that is, apostates from Islam. To understand 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 mission of Mohammed; Dahri is an atheist; Watani is a pagan or idolator; and finally Murtadd is one who apostasizes from Islam. The Yezidis are put in the category of those who, after once accepting the religion 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 Šeiḫ ‘Adî, the Mosulian goes

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on to say, "God tried him (i.e., ‘Adî) by a calamity, to wit, the appearance of Al-Murtaddoon, called the Yezidis because they pretended to have been descended from Yezid. 43 Another Mohammedan scholar that mentions these people is Yasin Al-Ḫatib-al-‘Omari-al Mausili. Writing on Šeiḫ ‘Adî, 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 Šeiḫ is God, and who have made his tomb the object of their pilgrimage. 44

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 Yezid.

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 Aš-Šahrastani. He is the only Mohammedan writer that I could reach that, in a clear language, traces this most interesting sect to its founder.

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

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exception of Al-Abaḍia, for with these he kept friendship. 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, 45and 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 Ḥaran 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. 46

It is clear, then, that Aš-Šahrastani finds the religious origin of this interesting people in the person of Yezîd bn Unaisa. He calls them his Aseḥab, i.e., his followers, a term by which he designates the relation between a sect and its originator. At-Ḥaratiyah he describes as "Aseḥab al-Haret," and "Al Ḥafeziyah 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 Aš-Šahrastani 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

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with the first Muḥakkamah before the Azariḳa. Now, the first Muhakkamah is an appellative applied to the Muslim schismatics called Al-Ḫawarij, because they disallowed the judgment of the Hakaman, i.e., the two judges, namely ‘Abd Mousa al-Aš-‘Aree and Am ibn-al-‘As; and said that judgment belongs only to God. And Al-Azariḳa were a heretical Muslim sect called Al-Ḫawarij or Ḥeroriyah, so named in relation to Nafi‘ ibn-Al-Azraḳ. 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 companions (of the Prophet) were guilty of infidelity. Yezid moreover, is said to have been in sympathy with Al-Abaḍiyah, 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 exposition the Yezid in question was one of Al-Ḫawarij, 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 originally a Ḫarijite sub-sect. They still hold to the Ḫarijite principle. (Cf. their position to the Ottoman Government, pp. 71-74). As we said some Mohammedan writers other than Ashahr-Astani also (pp. 118-119) regard them as apostate Moslems, Aš-Šahrastani himself classes them with the Moslem heretics. Now Al-Ḫawarij were the first to rebel against ‘Ali at Ḥaroora, a certain suburb of Al-Koofa,

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from which it is distant two miles. They are called also Al-Ḥeroriyah, because they first assembled there .and accepted the doctrine that government belongs only to God. And one sect of Al-Ḫawarij was An-Nâṣibiyah who made it a matter of religious obligation 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. 47

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

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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 Resurrection. But from some Arab writers we learn more of these Ṣabian beliefs than the Prophet of Islam has mentioned. According to some the Ṣabians 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 Ṣabi, the son of Seth, the son of Adam; while others said they resembled the Christians, except that their ḳiblah was toward the South, from whence the wind blows. In the Kamûs it ii said that they were of the religion of Noah. Al-Baiḍawi says that some assert that they were worshippers of angels, and that others say that they are the worshippers of stars. Al-Bertuni 48 calls the Manichaeans of Samarḳand Sabians. Bar Hebraeus 49 asserts that the religion of the Sabians is the same as that of the ancient Chaldeans. In commenting on Surah 2, 59, Zamaḫšari (Al-Keššaf) says that the name Ṣabian comes from a root meaning one

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who has departed from one religion to another religion, and that the Ṣabians were those who departed from Judaism and Christianity and worshipped angels. On this same verse, Šams Ad-Din Mohammed Al-Ḥarrani (Jami Al-Bijan fi Tafsir Al-Koran) says: "The Sabians, i.e., those who departed from one religion 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 Ṣabians 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 Zamaḫšari remarks, "The Ṣabians were those who departed from all religions."

Now what Mohammed Aš-Šahrastani really means by the Ṣabians of the Koran, I am unable to state. In his general discussion of Ṣabianism however (vol. 2, pp. 201-250), he seems to speak of two main Ṣabian sects. He refers to one together with the ancient philosophers; and declares that the Ṣabians 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 quoting

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calls this sect "the original Sabian sect," and says that it followed Seth and Enoch. In another place (vol. 1, p. 24) he writes, "The Jews and the Christians follow a revealed Book; the Magians and the Manichæans, a like Book; the original Ṣabian sect, ordinances and judgments, but accepts no Book; the original philosophers, the atheists, the star-worshippers, the idol-worshippers, and the Brahmans believe in none of these."

The other main Ṣabian sect is mentioned together with the Jews, the Christians, and the Moslems. The difference between these religious bodies, according to Aš-Šahrastani, 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.

Aš-Šahrastani, moreover, derives the name Ṣabian (p. 203) from a root meaning one who turns aside, deviates; and declares that the Ṣabians 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 approaching God, and that therefore he is in constant need of intercessors and mediators, as a controlling idea in Ṣabianism. This belief, the writer points out, has manifested itself in three different forms: in the veneration of angels among what he calls the followers of angels; the adoration of stars among the followers of stars; and in the worship of idols among the followers of idols, heathens (pp. 203, 244). The

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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 be--Abraham--'Do ye serve what ye hew out?--Surah 37, 93. When he--Abraham--said to his father, 'Oh 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 Aš-Šahrastani makes mention of another Ṣabian sect which he names Al-Ḫarbâniyah (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 Resurrection of which the prophets had spoken was only the

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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 promised,--there is only our life in the world! We die and we live and we shall not be raised.")--Surah 23, 37-39.

Now I cannot say which of the Ṣabian sects are those that "are mentioned in the Koran," which Yezîd bn Unaisa says, the Persian Apostle will follow; nor can I say which are those that "are found in Ḥarran and Wasit." One thing, however, is clear: according to Aš-Šahrastani the Ṣabians of the Koran differ in their faith from those of Ḥarran. The Ḥarranians were remnants of the old heathen of Mesopotamia; they were polytheistic, and star-worship hid 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-Mamûm, 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. 50 Another thing to be noticed is that there is a close resemblance between the belief of the Ṣabian sect which Aš-Šahrastani calls Al-Ḫarbaniyah and that of the Yezidi sect.

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

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[paragraph continues] Apostle and is logically the religion of Yezîd bn Unaisa which announces the coming of such a messenger. 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 51 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 scandalous crime of parleying with Muawiya, 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 Yezîd bn Unaisa. The statement of our authority, Mohammed Aš-Šahrastani (see pp. 119-120), 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

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highest authority among the Arab scholars on questions relating to philosophical and religious sects. In his bibliographical work Ibn Ḫallikan speaks of his profound scholarship in the highest terms: "Aš-Šahrastani, a dogmatic theologian of the ‘Ašarite sect, was distinguished as an Imam and a doctor of the law. He displayed the highest abilities as a jurisconsult. The Kitab al-Milal wa n-Niḥal (treatise on religions and sects) is one of his works on scholastic theology. He remained without in equal in that branch of science." Now, Mohammed Aš-Šahrastani (A. H. 467-549) A. D. 1074-1133 was a contemporary of ‘Adî (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 Šeiḫ ‘Adî's reputation, they joined his movement and took him for their chief religious teacher; that in the early history of the sect and of ‘Adî 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

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[paragraph continues] 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 followers 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 honored among the Moslems of Persia than his son Husein is; and consequently any contemptuous attitude 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 Yezîd bn Mu‘awiya and not to Yezîd bn Unaisa. Three explanations may be given. One is that their ignorance led them to mistake the former for the latter, as they have identified many of their šeiḫs with angels and deities. Among ignorant people, as these are, without record and without any one who can read, the

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occasion of such an error is not strange. Another answer is that they intentionally made the identification in order to escape the persecution of the Sunnites, 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 ignorance 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 preëminence, 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, consequently, led many fire, or devil-worshippers and the followers of Zoroastrianism to embrace the new religion (Al-mašrik, vol. 2, p. 35). And if the predicted teacher arose, we can imagine the great success which he must have had among his countrymen.

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[paragraph continues] 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 Yezidism.

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 ‘Adî 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 ‘Adî'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 ‘Adî'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 resulting from this uprising, and complains of the possession by the šeiḫ of a monastery belonging to his denomination. Moreover, as has been shown, there

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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 cosmogony shows that God created seven angels or gods; their principal prayer is the appeal to God through seven šeiḫs; the sceptre engraved on the front of the temple of their great saint has seven branches. This reminds us at once of the Ṣabians 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 Ištar descended to the land without return. Likewise, the number seven played an important part in the religious system of Israel.

Further, like the Ḥarranians, the modern Šatan-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

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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 Šamas, one at Sippar, and the 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-Islamic Arabs survive among the modern Yezidis. Such is the belief in sacred wells in connection with sanctuaries 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). 52 An impure person, furthermore, dare 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 Hišam "A woman who adopts Islam breaks with the heathen god by purifying herself in this pool." This was taken to mean that her

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act was a breach of the ritual of the spot. And all the pilgrims changed their clothes when they entered the sacred precinct. 53

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 people 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." 54 The Goddess Al-‘Ozza was believed to reside in a tree. According to Yakut (III, 261), the tree at Hadaibiya, mentioned 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 considered deadly to pluck a twig from such sacred trees.

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 Hišam 55 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

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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 Ḳadeš (Gen. 14: 7) and at Beeršeba (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, 22). 56

Now, the traces of all these religious beliefs are found in modern Yezidism. In connection with the temple of Šeiḫ ‘Adî, 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 ‘Adî'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. 57 The devil-worshippers adore, likewise, sacred trees. They make pilgrimages to

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.}

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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, 56). 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 58 and its excitement--a rite which has brought against them all sorts of accusations 59--are nothing but the remnants of Pre-Islamic paganism. 60

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 elements, 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, Christianity. In it we find that the distinctive characteristics of the founder have been wrapped up in many foreign elements brought in by those who came from other religions.


119:43 Manhal-al-Uliya wa Mašrab ul Asfiya, "Šeiḫ ‘Adî," quoted by M. N. Siouffi, Journal Asiatique, 1885, p. 80.

119:44 Al-Der-Al-Maknun fi-1-Miater Al-Madiyat min Al-Ḳerûn, "Šeiḫ ‘Adî," quoted by M. N. Siouffi, Journal Asiatique, 1885, p. 81.

120:45 Contrary to Mohammed to whom, according to Moslem belief, the Koran was revealed at intervals.

120:46 Kitab Al-Milal wa n-Nihal, vol. I, p. 101 seq.

Ḥarran 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 Ḥarran, which enjoyed 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. Yaḳut (vol. II, p. 331) says: "It was the home of Ṣabians; 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 At-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-Raḳḳat, a town on the western side of the Euphrates, and about two days' journey from Ḥarran. Perhaps this is the Wasit that Aš-Šahrastanî means.

122:47 On these sects. See Aš-Šahrastanî, ibid, vol. II, pp. 85, 87, 89, 100 (42). His history, ed. Sachau, Leibzig, 1878, p. 207.

123:48 p. 142 At-Tarih, ed. Alton Salhanî, Beîrut, p. 266.

123:49 There is no footnote 49 in the original--JBH.

127:50 Filarist, p. 320. The Arabs used to call the Prophet Aṣ-ṣabi, because he departed from the religion of the Koreish to Al-Islam; cf. Al-Keššaf on Surah XXII, 17.

128:51 Hudud, pl. 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, prescribed, 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.

134:52 Cf. also W. R. Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 167. and D. B. Stade's Biblische Theologie des Alten Testaments, pp. 111 and 290.

135:53 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 p. 143 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 Miškana, or tabernacle, disrobes, and bathes in the little circular reservoir. On emerging from the water, each one robes him or herself in the rasta, the ceremonial white garment.--The London Standard, Oct. 19, 1894." Prayer Meeting of the Starworshippers.

135:54 Cf. R. Smith, ibid, p. 185, and Stade, ibid, p. 111 seq.

135:55 Weil's translation, p. 39.

136:56 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.

136:57 Layard: Nineveh and Its Remains, vol. I, p. 280.

137:58 p. 144 Dancing might have been also a religious ceremony in the Pre-Kanaanitic religion of Israel.

137:59 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).

137:60 Cf. R. W. Smith, ibid, p. 432.

Next: Notes on Chapter I