Sacred Books and Traditions of the Yezidiz, by Isya Joseph, , at sacred-texts.com
The history of the Yezidis, like that of the Jews, their has been one of persecution. The causes of their misfortune have been (1) 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 confounding their practices with those of the Nuṣairi of Syria and ascribing to them certain midnight orgies, which obtained for them the name of cheraġ sanderañ 1, i.e., the extinguisher; 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 resisted 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 hands of the local authorities.
One of the most cruel persecutions which the Yezidis have suffered was that brought upon them in the Šeiḫan 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 Alì Beg, the then amir of the Yezidis, were much inferior in number to those of the Khurdish Beg. The latter (Ali Beg) was defeated, therefore, and fell into the hands of his enemy, who put him to death. The people of Šeiḫan fled to Mosul. It was in the spring and the river had overflowed 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 crud 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 Paša 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 Ḥafiz Paša 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 Rašid Pasha of Mosul attacked Sinjar. On both occasions there was a massacre. The Yezidis took refuge in caves, where they were either suffocated 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 Pašas 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 on eye-witness, was perhaps the one which the Yezidis
of both Šeiḫan and Sinjar suffered in 1892 at the hands of Fariḳ Omar Paša, lieutenant-General of the Turkish Army. This Fariḳ 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 Šeiḫan 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 Paša 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-šehâdah 2 with their lips but not from their hearts. Then he sent an army to their villages, and commanded them to choose between Islam and the sword. Omar Beg, his son, who was commanding the soldiers, 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
[paragraph continues] 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 converted Yezidis to pray five times every day and to perform all the religious rites. To make them continue to be Mohammedans, he tore down their shrines, especially those at Baḥzanie and Baašiḳa. 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 affairs, after long imprisonment and torture, did not change his religious belief. That he might not be an example of firmness to the Yezidis, the Fariḳ banished him with soldiers to Katamuni, a place near Constantinople.
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 beginning 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.
205:1 Cherog sonderan is Turkish; sonderan is the participle of the infinitive of to put out, and cherag, literally lamp, is the object of sonderan. In Turkish the object precedes the verb; cf. Yani sarfi Otamani "the New Turkish Grammar" (in the Turkish language, ed. Ahmad Jaudat & Co., Constantinople, 1318 A. H.), p. 77.
208:2 Kalimatu, š-Šehâdah is as follows: "I testify that there is no deity but God and that Mohammed is apostle of God."