Yazdânism

Yazdânism

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Yazdânism is a neologism (derived from Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

  yazdān "worthy of worship", a cognate of Avestan Yazata
Yazata
Yazata is the Avestan language word for a Zoroastrian concept. The word has a wide range of meanings but generally signifies a divinity...

) introduced by Mehrdad Izady
Mehrdad Izady
Mehrdad Michael R.S.C. Izady , is a contemporary writer on ethnic and cultural topics, particularly the Greater Middle East, and Kurds. He was born to a Kurdish father and a Belgian mother, and spent much of his youth in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Korea, as his diplomat parents moved from one...

 in 1992 to denote a group of native Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 monotheistic religions: Alevi
Alevi
The Alevi are a religious and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, constituting probably more than 15 million people....

sm, Yarsan
Ahl-e Haqq
The Ahl-e Haqq or Yârsân , are members of a religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran. The total number of members is estimated at around 1,000,000, primarily found in western Iran and Iraq, mostly ethnic Kurds and Laks, though there are also smaller groups of Luri,...

 and Yazidi
Yazidi
The Yazidi are members of a Kurdish religion with ancient Indo-Iranian roots. They are primarily a Kurdish-speaking people living in the Mosul region of northern Iraq, with additional communities in Transcaucasia, Armenia, Turkey, and Syria in decline since the 1990s – their members emigrating to...

sm.

The Yazdâni faiths were the primary religion of the inhabitants of the Zagros Mountains
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

, including Kurds, until their progressive Islamization
Islamization
Islamization or Islamification has been used to describe the process of a society's conversion to the religion of Islam...

 in the 10th century. The three traditions subsumed under the term Yazdânism are primarily practiced in relatively isolated communities, from Khurasan to Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and southern Iran.

Definition


Izady proposes the term as denoting a belief system which "predates Islam by millennia" which is in its character "Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

" rather than "Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

".

Many Muslim Kurds insist that they are in fact Muslim, in spite of being classified as "Yazdanist" by
Izady. But Izady, of course, does not suggest that the 'Muslim' Kurds are Yazdanis, rather that Yazdani Kurds are not Muslim, and would identify themselves as such only to avoid harm
Taqiyya
Taqiyya , meaning religious dissimulation, is a practice emphasized in Shi'a Islam whereby adherents may conceal their religion when they are under threat, persecution, or compulsion...

 and discrimination. (Izady 1992, 172, passim)

The concept of Yazdanism is thus a product of Kurdish ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the "nation" is defined in terms of ethnicity. Whatever specific ethnicity is involved, ethnic nationalism always includes some element of descent from previous generations and the implied claim of ethnic essentialism, i.e...

 rather than a religious self-designation, and the validity of the term is not recognized by other authors. Ziba Mir-Hosseini evaluating Izady's work, unabashedly states:


The view on non-Islamic identity of the Yazdanis is shared by Mohammad Mokri
Mohammad Mokri
Mohammad Mokri was an Iranian Kurdish scholar and author born in Kermanshah. He wrote over 100 books and 700 articles during his lifetime. Most of his work dealt with the subject of the Kurdish people and the Ahl-e Haqq religious order...

, the well-known Kurdish folklorist and historian, who states this religion to be "[L]ess Islamic than Baha'ism, which everybody is agreed to be non-Islamic."

Principal beliefs


Yazdânism believes in the cyclic nature of the world with reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

 of deity and people being a common feature, traversing incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 of the soul of a man into human form or an animal or even a plant. There are seven cycles to the life of this universe. Six of these have already happened, while the seventh one is to yet unfold. In each cycle, there is a set of six reincarnated persons (one female, five male) who will herald the new cycle and preside over it (the seventh one in the set being the ever-lasting, the ever-present Almighty). The reincarnation of the deity could be in one of the three forms: a reflection incarnation, a guest incarnation, or the highest form, embodiment incarnation. Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, Ali
Ali
' |Ramaḍān]], 40 AH; approximately October 23, 598 or 600 or March 17, 599 – January 27, 661).His father's name was Abu Talib. Ali was also the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661, and was the first male convert to Islam...

 and the three leaders of the three primary branches of Yazdânism are all embodiment incarnations, meaning Godhead actually born in a human body, not different from the Christian belief in the divine birth of Jesus as "God the Son
God the Son
God the Son is the second person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus of Nazareth as God the Son, united in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit...

."

The term haqq (as in Ahl-i Haqq) is often misrepresented and misinterpreted as the Arabic term for Truth. Instead, its true meaning is clearly explained by the contemporary Avatar
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 of the Spirit in the Ahl-i Haqq/Yârisan branch of the religion - Nurali Ilahi
Nur Ali Elahi
Nur Ali Elahi was a spiritual thinker, musician, philosopher and jurist who dedicated his life to investigating the metaphysical dimension of human beings....

 (died 1975) - as being "distinct from the Arabic term and in fact, should be written as "Hâq" ("Hâq-i wâqi'") instead of "Haqq" and should be understood to be different in meaning, connotation and essence."

Yazdânis do not maintain any of the requisite five pillars
Five Pillars of Islam
The Pillars of Islam are basic concepts and duties for accepting the religion for the Muslims.The Shi'i and Sunni both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts, but the Shi'a do not refer to them by the same name .-Pillars of Shia:According to Shia Islam, the...

 of Islam; nor do they have mosques or frequent them. The Koran to them is as respectable as is the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, and yet each denomination of this religion has its own scriptures that the adherents hold in a higher esteem than any one of the former or others.

The principal feature of the Yazdani faiths is the belief in seven benevolent divine beings that defend the world from an equal number of malign entities. While this concept exist in its purest form in Yârisânism and Yezidism, in Alevism, it evolves into seven "saints"/spiritual persons, which are called Ulu Ozan. Another important feature of the religions is a doctrine of reincarnation. The belief in reincarnation has been documented among the Nusayri (Shamsi Alawi) as well.

Adherents


The adherents of Alevism, Ahl-e Haqq
Ahl-e Haqq
The Ahl-e Haqq or Yârsân , are members of a religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran. The total number of members is estimated at around 1,000,000, primarily found in western Iran and Iraq, mostly ethnic Kurds and Laks, though there are also smaller groups of Luri,...

 and Yezidi are estimated to constitute about one-third of the Kurds. The main body of the followers of Alevism, however, are the Anatolian Turkmens and Turks, while in Syria, Lebanon and Israel, they are Arabs. In Iran, the followers of the Ahl-i Haqq can be as often the Azeris, Persians, and Mazandarani
Mazandarani people
The Mazandarani people are Iranian people of Caucasus origin living primarily in south of the Caspian Sea coast. The Elburz mountains mark the southern limit of Mazandarani peoples .- People:...

 as Kurds.

The adherents of these faiths were referred to as the "Sabians
Sabians
The Sabians of Middle Eastern tradition were a monotheistic Abrahamic religious group mentioned three times in the Quran: "the Jews, the Sabians, and the Christians." In the Hadith they are nothing but converts to Islam, while their identity in later Islamic literature became a matter of...

 of Harran
Harran
Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

" (of Carrhae) in Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

' Guide for the Perplexed
Guide for the Perplexed
The Guide for the Perplexed is one of the major works of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides or "the Rambam"...

. The Sabians are also mentioned in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and in Bahá'í
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 writings.

The distribution of these three beliefs follows geographic boundaries:
  • the Alevi
    Alevi
    The Alevi are a religious and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, constituting probably more than 15 million people....

    may be found in central and eastern Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

     and northwestern Syria
    Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

    .
  • the Ahl-e Haqq
    Ahl-e Haqq
    The Ahl-e Haqq or Yârsân , are members of a religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran. The total number of members is estimated at around 1,000,000, primarily found in western Iran and Iraq, mostly ethnic Kurds and Laks, though there are also smaller groups of Luri,...

    or Yārsāni are located in the eastern (and northeastern) part of Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

     and in western Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

    .
  • the Yazidi
    Yazidi
    The Yazidi are members of a Kurdish religion with ancient Indo-Iranian roots. They are primarily a Kurdish-speaking people living in the Mosul region of northern Iraq, with additional communities in Transcaucasia, Armenia, Turkey, and Syria in decline since the 1990s – their members emigrating to...

    come from the Turkish-Iraqi border region, and many of them reside in Armenia
    Armenia
    Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

    .

Mutual exchange and contacts between these branches are infrequent.