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The Religion of Yazdânism

Yazdânism is a neologism introduced by Mehrdad Izady in 1992 to denote a group of native Kurdish monotheistic religions: Yazidi, Yârsân, and Chinarism/Ishikism (Ishik Alevism). The Yazdâni faiths were the primary religion of the inhabitants of the Zagros Mountains, including Kurds, until their progressive Islamization in the 10th century.

The three traditions subsumed under the term Yazdânism are primarily practiced in relatively isolated communities, from Khurasan to Anatolia and southern Iran. One of the common characteristic of these three distinct group of people is that they frequently call themselves as “Kurdish Alawites” and distance themselves from TwelverShiaMuslimTariqat of the Anatolian TurkishQizilbashAleviBektashis in such a way that the prophecy ofMuhammad as it was revealed by the verses of the holy book of Qoran does not constitute a part of their fundamental religious faith.

Yazdânism believes in the cyclic nature of the world with reincarnation of deity and people being a common feature, traversing incarnation 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, an “embodiment incarnation”. Jesus, Ali 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”.

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 of the Spirit in the Ahl-i Haqq/Yârsânism branch of the religion – Nur Ali Elahi (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 of Islam; nor do they have mosques or frequent them. The Quran to them is as respectable as is the Bible, 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 Yârsânism and Yazidism, in Chinarism (Ishik 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 Alawites) as well.

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