Yarsanism

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Yarsanism is a syncretic religion, its followers, known as the Yarsani, Ahl-e Haqq , Ali-Allahi [1] or Kaka'i (in Iraq) (Kurdish: یارسان‎, Yārsān,[2][3] Persian: اهل حق‎‎ Ahle Haqq "People of Truth") are an ethno-religious group primarily found in western Iran and eastern Iraq, and are mostly ethnic Goran Kurds,[4][5][6] though there are also smaller groups of Turk, Persian, Lori, Azeri and Arab adherents.[7] The total number of Yarsanis is about 5,000,000, of which an estimated 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 are in Iran,[8] because many Yarsanis hide their religion due to fears of persecution by the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is no exact count of their population.[9] The central religious book of Yarsanis is called the Kalâm-e Saranjâm.

The goal of Yarsanism is to teach humans about how to achieve ultimate truth.[10] Yarsani believe sun and fire are holy things and follow the principles of equalization, purity, righteousness, and oneness, which leads some researchers to find Mithraic roots in this religion.[11]

Yarsanism is barely mentioned in historical religious books as its mysteries are to be protected as secrets,[12] the followers of Yarsanism perform their rituals and ceremonies in secret, but this has not relieved the harassment of many of the Yarsani by Islamic or other governments over the centuries. The followers of this religion say that after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, pressure on the Yarsani community has increased and they have been deprived and discriminated against for over 30 years[13]

Beliefs[edit]

The Tambur is a sacred symbol of Yarsanism and is played during religious ceremonies

The Yarsani follow the mystical teachings of Sultan Sahak, from the Yarsani point of view, the universe is composed of two distinct yet interrelated worlds: the internal (Bātinī) and the external (zāhirī), each having its own order and rules. Although humans are only aware of the outer world, their lives are governed according to the rules of the inner world, this aspect of the Yarsani faith can be identified as Kurdish esoterism which emerged under the intense influence of Bātinī-Sufism during the last two centuries.

Among other important pillars of their belief system are that the Divine Essence has successive manifestations in human form (mazhariyyat) and the belief in transmigration of the soul (dunaduni in Kurdish). Yazidis believe that every man needs to do what is written within their holy book, the Kalâm-e Saranjâm, otherwise they are not part of Yarsan. There is no compulsion or exclusion in Yarsan - anyone who chooses to follow its precepts is welcome, the Yarsani faith's features include millenarism, Innatism, egalitarianism, metempsychosis, angelology, divine manifestation and dualism. Many of these features are found in Yazidism, and they also have many things in common with Zoroastrians and Christians. Unlike other indigenous Persian faiths, the Yarsanism explicitly reject class, caste and rank, which sets them apart from the Yezidis and Zoroastrians.[14]

Epochs of Evolution[edit]

According to Yarsani philosophy, the universe is evolving in through different Epochs[15][better source needed] and that these Epochs are:

1. First Epoch, or Shari'at, which includes the period from Adam and Eve until Muhammad, also known as the "Prophet" period.[16]

2. Second Epoch, or Tariqat, which includes the period from Ali ibn Abi Talib until Shah Khoshin, also known as the "Doctrine" period.[17]

3. Third Epoch, or Marefat, which includes the period from Shah Khoshin until Sultan Sahak, also known as the "Mystical" period.[18]

4. Fourth Epoch, or Haqiqat, which includes the period from Sultan Sahak until today, also known as the "Truth" period.[19]

Another view is that Yarsanism went through 8 cycles of formation level, the minimum cycles was about 300 years, Sultan Sahak was the last cycle of it in the 14th century, [20]

Divine manifestations[edit]

The Yarsani are emanationists and incarnationists, believing that the Divine Essence has successive incarnations known as mazhariyyats (similar to the Hindu avatars). They believe God manifests one primary and seven secondary manifestations in each epoch of the world, in either angel or human form, these seven persons are known as "Haft tan" which means "The Seven Persons"[21]

The primary mazhariyyat of the First Epoch was the Divine Essence known as Khawandagar, who created the world.

The primary mazhariyyat of the Second Epoch was Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph and first imam of Shia Islam. This explains the alternative name for Yarsanis Ali-Allahi, 'Believers in the divinity of Ali'.

The primary mazhariyyat of the Third Epoch was Shah Khoshin.

In the Fourth Epoch, the primary mazhariyyat is held to be Sultan Sahak, it is said that he was given birth by Dayerak Rezbar or Khatun-e Rezbar, a Kurdish virgin, and as in the case of Mary, it was a virginal conception. While sleeping under a pomegranate tree a kernel of fruit fell into her mouth when a bird pecked the fruit directly over her.[22]

Kurdish Yarsani men in Suleimaniyah, Kurdistan Region. The picture on the wall contains religious symbolism of the sacred Kurdish tanbur.

According to Yarsani legend [23] after Sultan Sahak had completed the revelation of his esoteric teachings (haqiqat) to his first disciples among the Guran he took his leave of them. Disappearing from the Guran country without a trace, he reappeared in Anatolia in the form of Haji Bektash Veli, he taught mystical doctrines and techniques (tariqat) in those lands for almost a hundred years, and then returned to the Guran country. In the perception of his disciples there, he had been away for only an hour.[24]

Haft Tan or seven persons[edit]

Each Epoch in Yarsani belief saw the appearance of the seven secondary divine manifestations or Haft Tan; in the First Epoch they appeared in their true angelic form, while in subsequent Epochs they appeared in human incarnations. The "Haft Tan" are charged with responsibility for the affairs of the internal realm.

The secondary mazhariyyats of the First Epoch include the archangels Gabriel, Michael, Israfil and Azrael, and a female angelic being.

The mazhariyyats of the Second Epoch include Salman, Qanbar, Mohammed, Nusayr (who is either Jesus Christ or Theophobus) [25] and Bahlool. It also includes Fatimah, the daughter of Mohammed as the incarnation of the female angel.

The mazhariyyats of the Third Epoch include Shah Fazlullah Veli, Baba Sarhang Dudani and Baba Naous.

In the Fourth Epoch, the Haft Tan or 'seven persons' charged by Sultan Sahak with responsibility for the affairs of the inner realm consist of the following: [26] [27]

  1. Pir Benjamin, the incarnation of the archangel Gabriel; he has the title 'Master of the Pact' and is the Eternal Pir or Spiritual Master to all.
  2. Dawud Koswar (David), the incarnation of the archangel Michael; he has the title the 'Eternal Guide' for all. He is also called Daoo or "Dalil" in Kurdish. [28]
  3. Pir Musi, the incarnation of the archangel Israfel; he has the title 'Holder of the Golden Pen' and is known as the Recording angel , scribe of all thoughts and deeds.
  4. Mustafā'Dawudan, the incarnation of the archangel Azrael, seizer of souls
  5. Baba Yadegar, also known as "Ahmad" and "Reza"
  6. Shah Ebrahim or Shah Husain
  7. Khatun-e Razbar (Ramzbar), the incarnation of the female angel of selfless communal service. The mother of Sultan Sahak.

Transmigration of the soul[edit]

Yarsanis also have a belief in transmigration of the soul (dunaduni in Kurdish). The Yarsani have a famous saying about death; "Men! Do not fear the punishment of death! The death of man is like the dive which the duck makes."[29] Human beings go through a cycle of 1001 incarnations, during this process, they may become more purified based on their actions. This process is confined however, only to Yarsanis - the zarda-gel or people created of yellow clay. Everyone else belongs to the ḵāk-e sīāh or people created of black earth, and are eternally damned. [30]

Holy Texts[edit]

The traditions of the Yarsani are preserved in poetry known as Kalam-e Saranjam (The Discourse of Conclusion), divinely revealed narratives passed down orally through the generations, these traditions are said to have been written down by Pir Musi, one of the seven companions of Sultan Sahak (also the angel in charge of recording human deeds).[31] The collection consists of the epochs of Khawandagar [God], ‘Alī, Shah Khoshin and Sultan Sahak, the different manifestations of divinity, the epoch of Shah Khoshin takes place in Luristan and the epoch of Sultan Sahak is placed in Hawraman near the Sirwan River, the land of the Goranî. Also important to the Goranî is the Daftar-e kezana-ye Perdivari (Book of the Treasure of Perdivar), a collection of twenty six mythological poems or kalams. [32]

The sayings attributed to Sultan Sahak are written in Gorani Kurdish, the sacred language of the Ahl-e Haqq, which also is known as Hawrami dialects. However, few modern Yarsani can read or write Gorani (a Northwestern Iranian language belonging to the branch Zaza-Gorani) as their mother tongues are Southern Kurdish and Sorani Kurdish, which belong to the other two branches of the Kurdish language family, some Yarsani literature is written in the Persian language.[33]

Worship[edit]

Holy Sites[edit]

The Holy Tomb of Dawoud is one of the sacred shrines of Yarsinism

Two important sanctuaries of the Yarsani are the tomb of Bābā Yādgār about 40km away from Sarpol-e Zahab in Kermanshah Province [34] and the tomb of Dawoud at Zarde about three kilometres east of Sarpol-e Zahab. [35] [36] Another important shrine is that of Sultan Suhak in Sheykhan near Perdīvar bridge in Kermanshah Province. [37] [38] Also important are the tombs of Pir Benjamin and Pir Musi in the town of Kerend in Kermanshah Province, Iran. [39]

Customs[edit]

One of Yarsani men's apparent signs is to have a full moustache, because in the holy book Kalâm-e Saranjâm it says that every man has to have a moustache to take part in their religious rites.[40] the concourse of Yarsanis is called the " jam khana", they gather there and they use "Tambour" for meditation[41]

Organisation[edit]

Khandans or spiritual houses[edit]

Yarsanism is organised into spiritual houses or Khandans, seven of which were established at the time of Sultan Sahak, and four afterwards, making eleven Khandans in all, the Khandans were established when, along with the Haft Tan, Sultan Sahak also formed the Haft Tawane, a group of seven holy persons charged with the affairs of the outer world. [42] They were Say-yed Mohammad, Say-yed Abu'l Wafa, Haji Babusi, Mir Sur, Say-yed Mostafa, Sheykh Shahab al-Din and Sheykh Habib Shah, each of the Haft Tawane was charged with responsibility for the guidance of a number of followers, and these followers formed the original seven Khandans, namely Shah Ebrahim, Baba Yadegar, Ali Qalandar, Khamush, Mir Sur, Sey-yed Mosaffa and Hajji Babu Isa. After Sultan Sahak's time another four khandans were established, namely Atesh Bag, Baba Heydar, Zolnour and Shah Hayas . [43] [44]

Every Yarsani therefore belongs to one specific khandan, which is led by a spiritual leader called a say-yed, to whom each member must swear obedience, the say-yed is the spiritual leader of the community and is normally present during the ceremonies attended by the followers. Say-yeds are the only ones allowed to have full access to the religious texts of Yarsanism, and have traditionally competed with each other to have the largest number of followers, the position of Say-yed is hereditary, being passed down through the generations from the original founders. As the say-yed are considered spiritual 'parents', it is the tradition for them not to marry their followers.

Demographics[edit]

The majority of Yarsanis are found in the Kurdish areas of Iran and Iraq, especially in Hawraman and the Kermanshah province of Iran.

In Iran[edit]

The Yarsani in Iran are mostly found in Lorestan and Kermanshah provinces [45] There are also large communities of Yarsanis in some regions of Iranian Azerbaijan, the town of Ilkhichi (İlxıçı), which is located 87 km south west of Tabriz is almost entirely populated by Yarsanis.[citation needed] For political reasons, one of which was to create a distinct identity for these communities, they have not been called Goran Kurds since the early 20th century.[citation needed] They are called various names, such as Ali-Ilahis and Ahl-e Haqq. Interestingly, both the Dersim (Zazaki / Zaza) people and the Gorani, who speak a language that is considered to belong to the Hawramani branch of the North West Iranian languages, adhere to a form of Kurdish Alawi faith which resembles the religions of the Yezidi,[46] Ali-Ilahians or Druze.

In Iraq[edit]

The Yarsani are known in Iraq as the Kaka'i. There are Yarsani in Iraqi Kurdistan, around Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah,[47] the speakers of Sarli, living near Eski Kalak in Iraq, are adherents, as Edmonds (1957: 195) surmised and Moosa (1988: 168) observed.

In Turkey[edit]

Yarsanis are also found in some rural communities in southeastern Turkey.[48]

Relationship with similar groups[edit]

Rock carving at Dukkan-e Davood

A group of native, allegedly Iranian, but archaeologically Mesopotamian, monotheistic religions practiced by Kurds consisting of Yarsani and Êzidî along with Chinarism/Ishikism (Ishik Alevism) are claimed as "Yazdânism" by Mehrdad Izady.[49]

An excerpt from the French Review of the Muslim World[50] describes the difficulty in nomenclature for Yarsanism and related Shi'ite mysticism, the English translation reads:

First of all, we must clear up the confusion resulting from the variety of names given to the sect of "Ahlé-Haqq", which are liable to be misunderstood. Like any religion, the one we are dealing with considers itself to be the only true and orthodox one, and it is natural that its adherents give themselves the name of "People of Truth" (Ahlé-Haqq or Ahlé-Haqîqat). This term lacks precision, as other sects, for example the Horoufis, occasionally apply it to themselves. Still, the name Ahlé-Haqq to refer to the sect of our particular interest has every advantage over appellations such as "Gholat", "Alî-Allâhi", and "Noséïri" that the Muslims and most European travellers use in speaking of them. The first term, which encompasses all of the extremist Shi’ites, is too broad and too vague, the second term, "deifiers of Ali", has the same fault and emphasizes what is only a detail in the religious system under discussion. Finally, the name "Noséïri" belongs to that well-defined Syrian religion, which, despite some resemblances with the doctrines of the Ahlé-Haqq (the worship of Ali, the communion, etc.), appears to present a complex of quite different old beliefs.

Relations with Islam[edit]

Ahl-e Haqq view Islam as a product of a cycle of divine essence, which was made manifest in Ali, and established the stage of shai'at (Islamic law). This was followed by the cycle of tariqat (Sufi teachings), then ma'rifat (Sufi gnosis), and finally the current cycle of haqiqat (Ultimate Truth), which was made manifest in Sultan Sahak. The final stage supersedes the previous ones, which frees Ahl-e Haqq from observing the shari'a rules incumbent on Muslims. Ahl-i Haqq class other Muslims as either Ahl-i Tashayyu (followers of Shi'ism) or Ahl-i Tasannun (followers of Sunnism), the Ahl-i Haqq neither observe Muslim rites, such as daily prayers and fasting during the month of Ramadan, nor share Islamic theology and sacred space, such as belief in the day of resurrection and sanctity of the mosque.[51]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahl-e-haqq-people
  2. ^ Hamzeh'ee, M. Reza Fariborz (1995). Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi; et al., eds. Syncretistic Religious Communities in the Near East. Liden: Brill. pp. 101–117. ISBN 90-04-10861-0. 
  3. ^ P. G. Kreyenbroek (1992). Review of The Yaresan: A Sociological, Historical and Religio-Historical Study of a Kurdish Community, by M. Reza Hamzeh'ee, 1990, ISBN 3-922968-83-X. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol.55, No.3, pp.565-566.
  4. ^ Edmonds, Cecil. Kurds, Turks, and Arabs: politics, travel, and research in north-eastern Iraq, 1919-1925. Oxford University Press, 1957.
  5. ^ "Religion: Cult of Angels". Encyclopaedia Kurdistanica. Archived from the original on 2006-08-28. Retrieved 2006-09-01. 
  6. ^ "Yazdanism". Encyclopaedia of the Orient. Archived from the original on 21 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  7. ^ "Ahl-e Haqq - Principle Beliefs and Convictions". Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Yarsan population". 
  9. ^ "Yarsan population". 
  10. ^ ""haghighat time"". 
  11. ^ "Mithraism's roots in Yarsani rituals". 
  12. ^ "why is there no name of Yarsanism in the old religious books?". 
  13. ^ ""discrimination over yarsan"". 
  14. ^ Hamzeh'ee, M Reza (1990). The Yaresan : a sociological, historical, and religio-historical study of a Kurdish community. Islamkundliche Untersuchungen. 138. Berlin: Schwartz. ISBN 3-922968-83-X. 
  15. ^ "levels of evolution In Yarsanism philosophy". 
  16. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  17. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  18. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  19. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  20. ^ Elahi, Bahram (1987). The path of perfection, the spiritual teachings of Master Nur Ali Elahi. ISBN 0-7126-0200-3.
  21. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  22. ^ Nebez, Jamal (1997-09-19). "The Kurds: History and Culture" (PDF). Western Kurdistan Association. p. 23. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2006-09-01. 
  23. ^ http://www.hum.uu.nl/medewerkers/m.vanbruinessen/publications/Bruinessen_Haji_Bektash_Soltan_Sahak.pdf
  24. ^ Moosa, Matti. "Sultan Sahak: Founder of the Ahl-i Haqq". 
  25. ^ http://news-contents.blogspot.ie/2011/12/ahl-e-haq.html
  26. ^ https://archive.org/stream/ZMHFaithRitualCultureAmongAH/ZMH-Faith-Ritual-culture-among-AH_djvu.txt
  27. ^ http://worldebooklibrary.org/articles/eng/yarisan
  28. ^ {{Kalâm-e Saranjâm|title=yarsan holy book}}
  29. ^ Milani, Milad (2013). Sufism in the Secret History of Persia. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-84465-677-6. 
  30. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahl-e-haqq-people
  31. ^ Z. Mir-Hosseini (1994). "Inner Truth and Outer History: The Two Worlds of the Ahl-e Haqq of Kurdistan", International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol.26, pp.267-269.
  32. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahl-e-haqq-people
  33. ^ Leezenberg, Michiel. "Gorani Influence on Central Kurdish: Substratum or Prestige Borrowing?" (RTF). 
  34. ^ http://historicaliran.blogspot.ie/2009/12/baba-yadegar-shrine.html
  35. ^ http://www.let.uu.nl/~martin.vanbruinessen/personal/publications/Bruinessen_Veneration_of_Satan_among_the_Ahl-i_Haqq_of_Guran.pdf
  36. ^ http://www.livius.org/articles/place/dukkan-e-daud/?
  37. ^ http://www.ahle-haqq.com/formation.html
  38. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahl-e-haqq-people
  39. ^ http://www.academia.edu/10772192/The_Cults_of_the_Angels_The_Indigenous_Religions_of_Kurdistan
  40. ^ Template:Yarsanism holy book Kalâm-e Saranjâm
  41. ^ ""tambour in yarsan"". 
  42. ^ https://archive.org/stream/ZMHFaithRitualCultureAmongAH/ZMH-Faith-Ritual-culture-among-AH_djvu.txt
  43. ^ http://looklex.com/e.o/ahl-e_haqq.htm
  44. ^ http://www.ahle-haqq.com/rituals.html
  45. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahl-e-haqq-people
  46. ^ Meho, Lokman I.; Maglaughlin, Kelly L. (2001). Kurdish Culture and Society, an Annotated Bibliography. p. 8. ISBN 0-313-31543-4. 
  47. ^ http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ahl-e-haqq-people
  48. ^ Tore Kjeilen. "Ahl-e Haqq - LookLex Encyclopaedia". Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  49. ^ Izady, Mehrdad R. (1992), The Kurds : a concise handbook, Washington & London: Taylor & Francis, pp. 170 passim, ISBN 0-8448-1727-9 
  50. ^ Minorsky, Vladimir (1920). "Notes sur la sect des Ahlé-Haqq". Revue du Monde Musulman (in French). 40-41: 20. Retrieved 2017-03-25. 
  51. ^ Z. Mir-Hosseini, Inner Truth and Outer History: The Two Worlds of the Ahl-e Haqq of Kurdistan, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol.26, 1994, p.267-268

External links[edit]