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


In the beginning God created the White Pearl out of his most precious essence. He also created a bird named Angar. He placed the White Pearl on the back of the bird, and dwelt on it for forty thousand years. On the first day, Sunday, God created Melek Anzazîl, and he is Ṭâ’ûs-Melek, the chief of all, On Monday he created Melek Dardâel, and he is Šeiḫ Ḥasan. Tuesday he created Melek Israfel, and he is Šeiḫ

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[paragraph continues] Šams (ad-Dîn). Wednesday he created Melek Miḫâel, and he is Šeiḫ Abû Bakr. Thursday he created Melek Azrâel, and he is Sajad-ad-Dîn. Friday he created Melek Šemnâel, and he is Naṣir-ad-Dîn. Saturday he created Melek Nurâel, and he is Yadin (Faḫr-ad-Dîn). And he made Melek Ṭâ’ûs ruler over all. 8

After this God made the form of the seven heavens, the earth, the sun, and the moon. But Faḫr-ad-Dîn created man and the animals, and birds and beasts. He put them all in pockets of cloth, and came out of the Pearl accompanied by the Angels. Then he shouted at the Pearl with a loud voice. Thereupon the White Pearl broke up into four pieces, and from its midst came out the water which became an ocean. The world was round, and was not divided. Then he created Gabriel and the image of the bird. He sent Gabriel to set the four corners. He also made a vessel and descended in it for thirty thousand years. After this he came and dwelt in Mount Lališ. Then he cried out at the world, and the sea became solidified and the land appeared, but it began to shake. At this time he commanded Gabriel to bring two pieces of the White Pearl; one he placed beneath the earth, the other stayed at the gate of heaven. He then placed in them the sun and the moon; and from the scattered pieces of the White Pearl he created the stars which he hung in heaven as ornaments. He also created fruit-bearing trees and plants and mountains for ornaments to the earth. He created the throne over the carpet. 9 Then the Great God said: "O Angels, I will

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create Adam and Eve; and from the essence of Adam shall proceed Šehar bn Jebr, and of him a separate community shall appear upon the earth, that of Azazîl, i.e., that of Melek Ṭâ’ûs, which is the sect of the Yezidis. Then he sent Šeiḫ ‘Adî bn Musâfir from the land of Syria, and he came (and dwelt in Mount) Lališ. Then the Lord came down to the Black Mountain. Shouting, he created thirty thousand Meleks, and divided them into three divisions. They worshiped him for forty thousand years, when he delivered them to Melek Ṭâ’ûs who went up with them to heaven. At this time the Lord came down to the Holy Land (al-Ḳuds), and commanded Gabriel to bring earth from the four comers of the world, earth, air, fire, and water. He created it and put in it the spirit of his own power, and called it Adam.

Then he commanded Gabriel to escort Adam into Paradise, and to tell him that he could eat from all the trees but not of wheat. 10 Here Adam remained for a hundred years. Thereupon, Melek Ṭâ’ûs asked God how Adam could multiply and have descendants if he were forbidden to eat of the grain. God answered, "I have put the whole matter into thy hands." Thereupon Melek Ṭâ’ûs visited Adam and said "Have you eaten of the grain?" He answered, "No, God forbade me." Melek Ṭâ’ûs replied and said, "Eat of the grain and all shall go better with thee." Then Adam ate of the grain and immediately his belly was inflated. But Melek Ṭâ’ûs drove him out of the garden, and leaving him, ascended into heaven. Now

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[paragraph continues] Adam was troubled because his belly was inflated, for he had no outlet. God therefore sent a bird to him which pecked at his anus and made an outlet, and Adam was relieved.

Now Gabriel was away from Adam for a hundred years. And Adam was sad and weeping. Then God commanded Gabriel to create Eve from under the left shoulder of Adam., Now it came to pass, after the creation of Eve and of all the animals, that Adam and Eve quarreled over the question whether the human race should be descended from him or her, for each wished to be the sole begetter of the race. This quarrel originated in their observation of the fact that among animals both the male and the female were factors in the production of their respective species. After a long discussion Adam and Eve agreed on this: each should cast his seed into a jar, close it, and seal it with his own seal, and wait for nine months. When they opened the jars at the completion of this period, they found in Adam's jar two children, male and female. Now from these two our sect, the Yezidis, are descended. In Eve's jar they found naught but rotten worms emitting a foul odor. And God caused nipples to grow for Adam that he might suckle the children that proceeded from his jar. This is the reason why man has nipples.

After this Adam knew Eve, and she bore two children, male and female; and from these the Jews, the Christians, the Moslems, and other nations and sects are descended. But our first fathers are Šeth, Noah,

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and Enosh, the righteous ones, who were descended from Adam only.

It came to pass that trouble arose between a man and his wife, resulting from the denial on the part of the woman that the man was her husband. The man persisted in his claim that she was his wife. The trouble between the two was settled, however, through one of the righteous men of our sect, who decreed that at every wedding a drum and a pipe should be played as a testimony to the fact that, such a man and such a woman were married legally.

Then Melek Ṭâ’ûs came down to earth for our sect (i.e., the Yezidis), the created ones, and appointed kings for us, besides the kings of ancient Assyria, Nisroch, who is Našir-ad-Dîn; Kamush, who is Melek Fahr-ad-Dîn, and Artâmîs, who is Melek Šams-(ad-)Dîn. After this we had two kings, Šabur (Sapor) First (224-272 A. D.) and Second (309-379), who reigned one hundred and fifty years; and our amirs down to the present day have been descended from their seed. But we hated four kings.

Before Christ came into this world our religion was paganism. King Ahab was from among us. And the god of Ahab was called Beelzebub. Nowadays we call him Pir Bub. We had a king in Babylon, whose name was Baḫtnasar; another in Persia, whose name was Aḥšuraš; and still another in Constantinople, whose name was Agriḳâlus. The Jews, the Christians, the Moslems, and even the Persians, fought us; but they failed to subdue us, for in the strength of the Lord

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we prevailed against them. He teaches us the first and last science. And one of his teachings is:

Before heaven and earth existed, God was on the sea, as we formerly wrote you. He made himself a vessel and traveled in it in kunsiniyat 11 of the seas, thus enjoying himself in himself. He then created the White Pearl and ruled over it for forty years. Afterward, growing angry at the Pearl, he kicked it; and it was a great surprise to see the mountains formed out of its cry; the hills out of its wonders; the heavens out of its smoke. Then God ascended to heaven, solidified it, established it without pillars. He then spat upon the ground, and taking a pen in hand, began to write a narrative of all the creation.

In the beginning he created six gods from himself and from his light, and their creation was as one lights a light from another light. And God said, "Now I have created the heavens; let some one of you go up and create something therein." Thereupon the second god ascended and created the sun; the third, the moon; the fourth, the vault of heaven; the fifth, the farġ (i.e., the morning star); the sixth, paradise; the seventh, hell. We have already told you that after this they created Adam and Eve.

And know that besides the flood of Noah, there was another flood in this world. Now our sect, the Yezidis, are descended from Na‘umi, an honored person, king of peace. We call him Melek Miran. The other sects are descended from Ham, who despised his father. The ship rested at a village called ‘Ain Sifni, 12 distant

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from Mosul about five parasangs. The cause of the first flood was the mockery of those who were without, Jews, Christians, Moslems, and others descended from Adam and Eve. We, on the other hand, are descended from Adam only, as already indicated: This second flood came upon our sect, the Yezidis. As the water rose and the ship floated, it came above Mount Sinjar, 13 where it ran aground and was pierced by a rock. The serpent twisted itself like a cake and stopped the hole. Then the ship moved on and rested on Mount Judie.

Now the species of the serpent increased, and began to bite man and animal. It was finally caught and burned, and from its ashes fleas were created. From the time of the flood until now are seven thousand years. In every thousand years one of the seven gods descends to establish rules, statutes, and laws, after which he returns to his abode. While below, he sojourns with us, for we have every kind of holy places. This last time the god dwelt among us longer than any of the other gods who came before him. He confirmed the saints. He spoke in the Kurdish language. He also illuminated Mohammed, the prophet of the Ishmaelites, who had a servant named Mu‘âwiya, When God saw that Mohammed was not upright before him, he afflicted him with a headache. The prophet then asked his servant to shave his head, for Mu‘âwiya knew how to shave. He shaved his master in haste, and with some difficulty. As a result, he cut his head and made it bleed. Fearing that the blood might drop

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to the ground, Mu‘âwiya licked it with his tongue. Whereupon Mohammed asked, "What are you doing, Mu‘âwiya?" He replied, "I licked thy blood with my tongue, for I feared that it might drop to the ground." Then Mohammed said to him, "You have sinned, O Mu‘âwiya, you shall draw a nation after you. You shall oppose my sect." Mu‘âwiya answered and said, "Then I will not enter the world; I will not marry!'

It came to pass that after some time God sent scorpions upon Mu‘âwiya, which bit him, causing his face to break out with poison. Physicians urged him to marry lest he die. Hearing this, he consented. They brought him an old woman, eighty years of age. in order that no child might be born. Mu‘âwiya knew his wife, and in the morning she appeared a woman of twenty-five, by the power of the great God. And she conceived and bore our god Yezid. But the foreign sects, ignorant of this fact, say that our god came from heaven, despised and driven out by the great God. For this reason they blaspheme him. In this they have erred. But we, the Yezidi sect, believe this not, for we know that he is one of the above-mentioned seven gods. We know the form of his person and his image. It is the form of a cock which we possess. None of us is allowed to utter his name, nor anything that resembles it, such as šeitân (Satan), ḳaitân (cord), šar (evil), šat (river), and the like. Nor do we pronounce mal‘ûn (accursed), or la‘anat (curse), or na‘al 14 (horseshoe), or any word that has a similar sound. All these are forbidden us out of respect

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for him. So ḫass (lettuce) is debarred. We do not eat it,. for it sounds like the name of our prophetess Ḫassiah. Fish is prohibited, in honor of Jonah the prophet. Likewise deer, for deer are the sheep of one of our prophets. The peacock is forbidden to our Šeiḫ and his disciples, for the sake of our Ṭâ’ûs. Squash also is debarred. It is forbidden to pass water while standing, or to dress up while sitting down, or to go to the toilet room, or to take a bath according to the custom of the people. 15 Whosoever does contrary to this is an infidel. Now the other sects, Jews, Christians, Moslems, and others, know not these things, because they dislike Melek Ṭâ’ûs. He, therefore, does not teach them, nor does he visit them. But he dwelt among us; he delivered to us the doctrines, the rules, and the traditions, all of which have become an inheritance, handed down from father to son. After this, Melek Ṭâ’ûs returned to heaven.

One of the seven gods made the sanjaḳs 16 (standards) and gave them to Solomon the wise. After his death our kings received them. And when our god, the barbarian Yezîd, was born, he received these sanjaḳs with great reverence, and bestowed them upon our sect. Moreover, he composed two songs in the Kurdish language to be sung before the sanjaḳas in this language, which is the most ancient and acceptable one. The meaning of the song is this:

Hallelujah to the jealous God.

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[paragraph continues] As they sing it, they march before the sanjaḳs with timbrels and pipes. These sanjaḳs remain with our emir, who sits on the throne of Yezid. When these are sent away, the ḳawwâls assemble with the emir, and the great general, the šeiḫ, who is the representative of Šeiḫ Nasir-ad-Dîn, i.e., Nisroch, god of the ancient Assyrians. 17 They visit the sanjaḳs. Then they send each sanjaḳ in care of a ḳawwâl to its own place; one to Ḥalataneye, one to Aleppo, one to Russia, and one to Sinjar. These sanjaḳs are given to four ḳawwâls by contract. Before they are sent, the; are brought to Šeiḫ ‘Adî's tomb, where they are baptized amid great singing and dancing. After this each of the contractors takes a load of dust from Šeiḫ ‘Adî's -tomb. He fashions it into small balls, each about the size of a gall nut, and carries them along with the sanjaḳs to give them away as blessings. When he approaches a town, he sends. a crier before him to prepare the people to accept the ḳawwâl and his sanjaḳ with respect and honor. All turn out in fine clothes, carrying incense. The women shout, and all together sing joyful songs. The ḳawwâl is entertained by the people with whom he stops. The rest give him silver presents, everyone according to his means.

Besides these four sanjaḳs, there are three others, seven in all. These three are kept in a sacred place for purposes of healing. Two of them, however, remain with Šeiḫ ‘Adî, and the third remains in the village of Baḥazanie, which is distant from Mosul about four hours. Every four months these ḳawwâls 

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travel about. One of them must travel in the province of the emir. They travel in a fixed order, differing each year. Every time he goes out, the traveler must cleanse himself with water made sour with summaḳ (sumac) and anoint himself with an oil. He must also light a lamp at each idol that has a chamber. This is the law that pertains to the sanjaḳs.

The first day of our new year is called the Serṣâlie, i.e., the beginning of a year. It falls on the Wednesday of the first week in April 18. On that day there must be meat in every family. The wealthy must slaughter a lamb or an ox; the poor must kill a chicken or something else. These should be cooked on the night, the morning of which is Wednesday, New Year's day. With the break of day the food should be blessed. On the first day of the year alms should be given at tombs where the souls of the dead lie.

Now the girls, large and small, are to gather from the fields flowers of every kind that have a reddish color. They are to make them into bundles, and, after keeping them three days, they are to hang them on the doors 19 as a sign of the baptism of the people living in the houses. In the morning all doors will be seen well decorated with red lilies. But women are to feed the poor and needy who pass by and have no food; this is to be done at the graves. But as to the ḳawwâls, they are to go around the tombs with timbrels, singing in the Kurdish language. For so doing they are entitled to money. On the above-mentioned day of Serṣâlie no instruments of joy are to be played, because

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[paragraph continues] God is sitting on the throne (arranging decrees for the year), 20 and commanding all the wise and the neighbors to come to him, And when he tells them that he will come down to earth with song and praise, all arise and rejoice before him and throw upon each the squash of the feast. Then God seals them with his own seal. And the great God gives a sealed decision to the god who is to come down. He, moreover, grants him power to do all things according to his own will. God prefers doing good and charity to fasting and praying. The worship of any idol, such as Seyed-ad-Dîn or Šeiḫ Šams is better than fasting. Some layman is to give a banquet to a kôchak after the fasting of the latter forty days, whether it be in summer or in winter. If he (the kôchak) says this entertainment is an alms given to the sanjaḳ, then he is not released from his fasting. When it comes to pass that the yearly tithe-gatherer finds that the people have not fully paid their tithes, he whips them till they become sick, and some even die. The people are to give the kôchaks money to fight the Roman army, and thus save the sect (Yezidis) from the wrath of the man of the year.

Every Friday a load of gifts is to be brought as an offering to an idol. At that time, a servant is to call the people aloud from the roof of a kôchak's house, saying, it is the call of the prophet to a feast. All are to listen reverently and respectfully; and, on hearing it, every one is to kiss the ground and the stone on which he happens to lean.

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It is our law that no ḳawwâl shall pass a razor over his face. Our law regarding marriage is that at the time of the wedding a loaf of bread shall be taken from the house of a kôchak and be divided between the bride and the bridegroom, each to cat one-half. They may, however, eat some dust from Šeiḫ ‘Adî's tomb instead of the bread for a blessing. Marriage in the month of April is forbidden, for it is the first month of the year. This rule, however, does not apply to ḳawwâls; they may marry during this month. No layman is allowed to marry a kôchak's daughter. Everyone is to take a wife from his own class. But our emir may have for a wife any one whom he pleases to love. A layman may marry between the ages of ten and eighty; he may take for a wife one woman after another for a period of one year. On her way to the house of the bridegroom, a bride must visit the shrine of every idol she may happen to pass; even if she pass a Christian church, she must do the same. On her arrival at the bridegroom's house, he must hit her with a small stone in token of the fact that she must be under his authority. Moreover, a loaf of bread must be broken over her head as a sip to her that she must love the poor and needy. No Yezidi may sleep with his wife on the night the morning of which is Wednesday, and the night the morning of which is Friday. Whosoever does contrary to this commandment is an infidel. If a man steal the wife of his neighbor, or his own former wife, or her sister or mother, he is not obliged to give her dowry, for

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she is the booty of his hand. Daughters may not inherit their father's wealth. A young lady may be sold as an acre of land is sold. If she refuses to be married, then she must redeem herself by paying her father a sum of money earned by her service and the labor of her hand.

Here ends Kitâb Reš, which is followed by several stories, some of which are told secretly, some openly.


37:8 In Menant's Yezidis, 48, the names of these seven angels are somewhat differently given. According to Mohammedan tradition Zazil or Azazil was the original name of the devil.

37:9 By the "throne" here is meant the throne of God, and by the "carpet" the earth; cf. Sura 60: 131.

38:10 According to Moslem belief, wheat was the forbidden fruit; see Baiḍâwi on Sura, ii, 33.

41:11 p. 84 Kunsiniyat is an obscure term.

41:12 ‘Ain Sifni is about five miles from Ba‘adrie; cf. Layard, Nineveh, I, 272.

42:13 Yaḳût (III, 158) mentions a similar tradition.

43:14 These are indications of Mohammedan influence and censorship, for no Yezidi will ever write in his sacred book such words as Šeitân, Šar, etc.

44:15 That is, those of other religions.

44:16 Sanjaḳ is a Turkish word, meaning banner; it is the name by which the Yezidis generally designate the sacred image of Melek Ṭâ’ûs.

45:17 See note 27.

46:18 The Harranian New Year fell on the first day of April, and on the sixth day they slaughtered an ox and ate it; cf. Fihrist, 322.

46:19 A similar practice is found among the Parsees of India, who hang a string of leaves across the entrances to their houses at the beginning of every New Year.

47:20 According to Babylonian mythology, human destiny was decreed on the New Year's day and sealed on the tenth day; cf. the Hibbert Journal, V, January, 1907. And according to Talmud (Mišna, Roš hašana, 1:2), New Year's is the most important judgment day, on which all creatures pass for judgment before the Creator. On this day three books are opened, wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and those of the intermediate class are recorded. Hence prayer and works of repentance are performed at the New Year from the first to the tenth days, that an unfavorable decision might be averted; cf. Jewish Encyclopedia, "Penitential Day." R. Akiba says: "On New Year day all men are judged; and the decree is sealed on the Day of Atonement;" cf. ibid., "Day of Judgment."

Next: Appendix to Part I