Vreemde religies: Yazidi. They have

Vreemde religies: Yazidi.

They have adopted Christian rituals like baptism and a smattering of practices from Islam ranging from circumcision to removal of their shoes inside their temples. The importance of fire as a divine manifestation comes from Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian faith that forms the core of Yazidi beliefs. Indeed their very name is likely taken from an old Persian word for angel.

The veneration of their saints’ tombs means few Yazidis have ever wandered far from their Iraqi roots, although there are branches in Turkey, Syria, Iran, the Caucasus and, because of modern migrations, Germany. Estimates on their numbers swing wildly, but are generally put around 300,000 in Iraq.

Yazidis venerate Sheik Adi bin Musafir, a 12th-century Lebanese-born Arab mystic whose tomb, in Lalish in northern Iraq, is their main place of pilgrimage. They say Sheik Adi revived a faith dating back to Adam.

The sect lacks any written text, which helps account for the tall tale aspect of explaining its tenets. Their religious hierarchy is topped by a prince. His title is hereditary, and he can marry only from an upper caste of some 300 families.

Allegations of satanic worship stem from the central figure among the seven angels they worship. Yazidis consider Ta’us, or the Peacock Angel, to be the devil, but worthy of veneration as one of God’s creatures who repented and should be appeased to avert his wrath. His tears on his repentance are said to have doused the flames of hell, putting it permanently out of business.

Yazidis pray three times a day, at dawn, midday and sunset, facing the direction of the sun each time. “The sun is very holy to us,” said Walid Abu Khudur, the stocky, bearded guardian of the temple built in honor of a holy man here. “It is like the eye of God, so we pray toward it.” [New York Times]

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