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

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The hierarchical orders of the Yezidi sect are four. The head šeiḫ 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 interpreter of their religion, the chief spiritual judge, a sacred person, whose hearth is regarded as a sanctuary, only second in importance to Šeiḫ ‘Adî'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 Šeiḫ ‘Adî, and is believed to be endowed with supernatural power for healing diseases, and for blessing cattle and crops. Twice a year he visits the neighboring villages to collect contributions, and sends his ḳawwals to far distant districts for the same purpose. Occasionally he takes part in celebrating the marriage of persons of distinction in his community. He is also at times solicited to preside over funeral rites, which are generally conducted by the ḳawwals and šeiḫs. The chief šeiḫ wears a black turban and white garments.

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Besides the head šeiḫ, the Yezidis have many other šeiḫs. 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 šeiḫs, he is anathematized by his spiritual leader, and no one will speak to him or eat with him. Every one of these šeiḫs 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 Šeiḫ Deklie, that is, šeiḫ of the Cocks. His office is to go from village to village to collect chickens. Several of these šeiḫs always reside at Šeiḫ ‘Adî's.

The next in dignity are pirs, from the Persian meaning an old man. They wear red turbans and black garments. Then come the ḳawwals, 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. 69.)

The clergy of all ranks enjoy particular respect. Their persons and homes are held inviolate. They take precedence at public gatherings. And the šeiḫs and pirs possess the much dreaded power of excommunication.

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

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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 ḳawwals 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 Šeiḫ ‘Adî, and the second part is divided, one-half being for the amir, the other half being shared equally by the ḳawwals.

The name of the present amir is ‘Ali, and he resides in Ba‘adrie.

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