Iraq: Yazidis are predominantly ethnic Kurds whose religion blends elements of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Small communities of Yazidis can be found in Syria, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia, but the majority of the estimated 100,000 believers live in Iraq. Most Yazidis, even young people, choose to live in these isolated communities, though they are often face extreme poverty.
Yazidis worship an angel figure, Malak Ta'us, or Peacock Angel, who is considered to be the devil by some Muslims and Christians. Yazidis - who don't believe in hell or evil - deny that.
Many Yazidi rituals center on Sheik Adi, a Sufi Arab who lived in northern Iraq in the 12th century and is considered the religion's chief saint. Pilgrims hold festivals near his tomb, north of Mosul.
Many Yazidi traditions are shrouded in such secrecy that most have never been witnessed by outsiders.
They believe that they were created quite separately from the rest of mankind, not even being descended from Adam, and they have kept themselves strictly segregated from the people among whom they live.
Yazidis are antidualists; they deny the existence of evil and therefore also reject sin, the devil, and hell.
The Yazidi relate that, when the devil repented of his sin of pride before God, he was pardoned and replaced in his previous position as chief of the angels; this has often resulted in Yazidis being described as devil worshippers.
Sheikh Adi, the chief Yazidi saint, was a 12th century Muslim mystic whom the Yazidi believe to have achieved divinity through metempsychosis.
Yazidis regard marriage outside their faith as a sin punishable by ostracism or even death to restore lost honor.
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