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Cultural Traces Around the World

The Peaceful Êzîdî People of the Middle East

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Religion plays a significant role in the lives of many Êzîdî people. Their religion, Yazidism, is considered to be one of the oldest religions from the fertile area of Mesopotamia. According to some manuscripts, it dates back to the third millennium BC. It is an oral tradition whereby one generation passes on religious knowledge to the next.

The overarching Êzîdî belief is in one God who has seven angel representatives. Some stories recount that God created the angels from Hes own light, similar to the way in which one candle flame lights many others. A specific angel, Melek Tawus, which can be spelled in many different ways, is considered to be the chief angel. God is considered to be omnipotent. The following excerpt from the Kitab al-Jilwah, that was published in The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures in April 1909, underscores this point: “I was, am now, and shall have no end. I exercise dominion over all creatures and over the affairs of all who are under the protection of my image. I am ever present to help all who trust in me and call upon me in time of need. There is no place in the universe that knows not my presence.”

The Êzîdî make pilgrimages to and worship at sacred sites in the Middle East. One of the most revered sites is that of the Lalish Temple or Lalish Noorani. The temple is located in the Sheikhan district in the Nineveh Governate in northern Iraq. The Iraqi government has submitted an application to UNESCO for it to be added to the list of World Heritage sites. Traditionally, it has been a requirement that each Êzîdî makes a pilgrimage here within their lifetime. The temple is also the burial site of Sheikh Adi Ibn Musafir, who was considered to be an incarnation of Melek Tawus. The architecture of this and other Êzîdî temples is visually beautiful and holds deep meaning. The four corners at the base of temples represent chapters of peace. The conical spires (or quba) are representative of an Êzîdî holy figure. The circular base of the spires represents the Earth that receives the sun’s rays. The columns supporting the seven pillars at Lalish represent each of the seven holy angels.

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