Yazidi Religion: People, Beliefs & Practices

Instructor: Margaret Moran
The people, beliefs and practices of the Yazidis faith will be explained in this article. Ever hear of the Peacock Angel? Well that is one of this faith's primary deities, but you'll have to read on to find out how.


The Kurdish speaking peoples that make up the Yezidi faith are members of a unique religion. They are not Christians, nor do they claim the Muslim beliefs of the region. They are a people who originated in the Basra area of Syria, but would later in history migrate towards the Sindjar regions of the Iraqi Kurdistan. Many of the historical scholars of the region still belief that Yezidism was actually the national religion of the Kurds during the Middle Ages.

Today, the Yazidi faithful are mostly located in current day northern Iraq, Germany and Syria, but with the crisis of the 20th century in the regions, the actual locations and estimations of the number of faithful is difficult due to mass emigrations. Iraq houses the bulk of the Yazidi people; two primary communities in Shekhan and Sinjar make up the majority of the faithful.

Postcard depicting Yazidi men in the 19th century

The people of the faith refer to themselves as the Ezidi and in some area's as Dasini, which is more of a tribal name. Many of the faithful believe their name to come from the word Yezdan or God, although those of Western scholarly circles believe it comes from Yazid bin Muawiyah, who as Sultan Ezi, is revered by the faithful.


Seven Holy Beings were given the care of this world by the Yazidi's one God. These seven beings, or Angels were given the names of Melek Taus, Gabra'il, Mikha'il, Rafa'il, Dadra'il, Azraf'il and Shemna'il. Melek Taus is seen by the Yazidi as the ruling Angel among the seven, and his name is also the Peacock Angel.

This actually causes some friction with other faiths, and makes some see believers of Yazidi as evil, since Melek Taus is also seen as the Muslim Shaitan, which is the name in the Koran for Satan. Now, the Yazidi do not see the Peacock Angel as the source of evil or a fallen angel, they revere him as the highest of the archangels of God.

Adam's Descendants

One of the unique beliefs of the Yazidi is that they trace their lineage back to a descendant of Adam, through his son Shehid bin Jer. The unique part is it is of only Adam, not of Adam and Eve. Their belief is that before they were told to mate together, they were advised by Melek to attempt to reproduce independently. This was achieved by the use of a Jar and their reproductive fluids. They would remain contained in the jar for several months. Upon opening these jars, Eve's contained only vermin and insects while Adam's would contain a son, who would be named Shehid bin Jer, who would become the founding ancestor for the Yazidi.

This founding belief of only tracing itself back to Adam and not of Eve as well, is believed to be the reason that clans of Yazidi belief do not intermarry with those not of the faith, and they do not accept any who try to convert to the faith, since this would make the faith impure by the introduction of Eve's influence.


Like most religious faithful, prayer is an important cornerstone of the Yazidi religion. Their practices are more specific than some including saying prayers five times a day at specific times, dawn, sunrise, noon, afternoon, and sunset prayers. The two days that these prayers are the most important are Wednesday and Sunday, which are considered the holy days of the week or the days of worship.

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