During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Yazidis, whose religion dates back
to the time of the Umayyad caliphate (A.D. 661-750), migrated from southern Iraq and
settled in their present mountainous stronghold - Jabal Sinjar in northern Iraq.
Although some are scattered in Iran, Turkey, and the Caucasus, Iraq is the center of
their religious life, the home of their amir, and the site (north of Al Mawsil) of the
tomb of their most revered saint, Shaykh Adi.
In 1964, there were about 10,000 Yazidis in Syria, primarily in the Jazirah and at
Aleppo; population data were not available in 1987. Once seminomadic, most Yazidis now
are settled; they have no great chiefs and, although generally Kurdish-speaking,
gradually are being assimilated into the surrounding Arab population.
Yazidis generally refuse to discuss their faith which, in any case, is known fully to
only a few among them. The Yazidi religion has elements of Judaism, Christianity, and
Islam, as well as of paganism. Yazidis consider the Bible and the Quran as sacred.
Sometimes inaccurately called "devil worshipers" by other Syrians, Yazidis
go to considerable lengths to placate a fallen angel symbolized as a sacred peacock
called Malik Taus.
Library of Congress Country Studies