Monday, September 1, 2008

Sect of the Week

Well, okay, I don't have the attention span to have a regular feature, but for today, let's pretend that I do, and give a warm welcome to the Yezidis!

If the Wikipedia knows what it's talking about, the opening of The Exorcist was filmed in Sinjar, a Yezidi village in Iraq. And who, we might ask, are the Yezidis? Of course, I was duty-bound to click on the link, and subsequently plunk some new books on my Wish List. They seem to use "Yezidi" and "Yazidi" interchangeably, but believe me, I understand the problems of going back and forth from non-Roman alphabets.

The whole section on "Religious Beliefs" is worth reading. First off, the fact that their primary supernatural connection is with a "Peacock Angel," when there's an embossed peacock on the puja plate I bought not long ago. Coincidence? (Well, probably).

"The Yazidi story regarding Tawuse Melek's (the Peacock guy's) rise to favor with God is almost identical to the story of the jinn Iblis in Islam, except that Yazidis revere Tawuse Melek for refusing to submit to Adam, while Muslims believe that Iblis' refusal to submit caused him to fall out of Grace with God, and to later become Satan himself."

Basically, their story goes that God had first ordered his angel not to submit to anyone. So later, when he ordered Tawuse Melek to bow to Adam, it was really a test. The point (besides acknowledging an arbitrariness in the Almighty that's certainly reminiscent of various Old Testament stories) seems to be that God gave him the will to choose, and it was correct for him to use it.

Because the Muslim version, Iblis, "fell" and became Shaytaan over the incident, they apparently think of the Yazidis as devil-worshipers. (Most of us know the name Iblis, of couse, because of the Patrick Macnee character on the old Battlestar Galactica).

Anyway, the "Yazidis believe that good and evil both exist in the mind and spirit of human beings. It depends on the humans, themselves, as to which they choose. In this process, their devotion to Tawuse Melek is essential, since it was he who was given the same choice between good and evil by God."

Good call on the good and evil, guys!

(PS, my friends at Sacred Texts have Isya Joseph's book on the Yezidiz online:

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