The Yazidi, whose origins are obscure, believe in a monotheistic God who created the world and assigned its care to seven holy beings, or angels, led by the archangel Malak Ta'us, or the Peacock Angel, a fallen angel who repented and is venerated by the Yazidi. The story of Malak Ta'us, as well as his alternative name of Shaytan, have led Muslims and others to consider Yazidis devil worshippers. Their chief saint is a 12th-century mystic, Sheikh Adi bin Musafir, whose tomb at Lalesh (or Lalish), near Mosul, is the site of an annual pilgrimage and festival. Another important festival is the New Year, which falls in the spring.
The Yazidi have historically been an insular community with oral traditions; they marry among themselves, and do not accept outsiders into the faith through conversion. Long viewed with suspicion by non-Yazidi neighbors, the Yazidi have been the victims of persecutions throughout their history, and of numerous terrorist attacks in Iraq in recent years. In the Islamic State (IS) offensive in Iraq begun in 2014 Yazidis were slaughtered, enslaved, or forcibly converted if they did not escape capture by IS forces; perhaps as many as 8,000 died.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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