‘Adi, Sufism and the Kurds
II. Analysis of Primary and Secondary Sources
II.1. Primary Kurdish Sources
II.2. Primary Arabic Sources
III. Biography of Shaikh ‘Adi
III.1. Inedequate Attempts to Identify Shaikh ‘Adi in the Past
III.2. Data on ‘Adi's Origin
III.3. The Baghdad Period
Authorities who Influenced ‘Adi's Views and are worshipped by Yezidis
IV.1. al-Hasan al-Basri
IV.2. Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya
IV.3.1. The impact of al-Hallaj's image on ‘Adi b. Musafir
IV.3.2. Yezidi religious poetry on al-Hallaj
IV.3.3. al-Hallaj's followers amongst the Kurds
IV.5. al-Gilani and Shaikhs of his circle
IV.6. Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i
IV.7. Abu ‘l-Wafa al-Hulwani
V. Religious And Philosophical Ideas of
V.1. Attitude towards Religion and Cognition of God
V.2. Criticism of Bid‘a
V.3. Conception of Sufism
V.3.1. Mortification of the flesh and cult of poverty (Faqr)
IV.3.2. Eschatological views
IV.3.3. Self-Deification. Faith of Shaikh ‘Adi's disciples
VII.1. Primary Sources
VII.2. Studies Containing Primary Sources
te kir, kesa nekiro!"
‘Adi, [son of] Musafir,
you succeeded in doing, nobody else could!"
From Religious Poetry [5:26]
Yezidism is one of the denominations to be found in Kurdistan and amongst the Kurdish communities outside their homeland. To the best of my judgement, the figure of the Yezidi Kurds varies between 500,000 and 600,000. Their backbone lives in Iraqi Kurdistan (300,000), Armenia (60,000), Republic of Georgia (40,000), the Russian Federation (up to 30,000) and Syrian and Turkish parts of Kurdistan (15,000-20,000). The Yezidi population in Europe, chiefly in Germany, is around 50,000.
In the former Soviet Union, the major waves of Yezidi Kurds appeared in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They had left the Ottoman Empire and settled in Transcaucasia and, after the break-up of the USSR, in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, too. It should be noted that since the earliest contacts of the Yezidis with the Russian reality, there has always been a great interest towards the community by Russian intellectuals [10:515; 5:I,5-49; 56].
The majority of the Yezidi Kurds try to preserve their identity without over-politicising their demands. At present, various political and cultural circles proudly refer to Kurdish roots of Yezidism. Thus, from an underprivileged community the Yezidis have gradually acquired the prestigious role of ‘genuine’ representatives of Kurdishness.
In this respect one has to bear in mind the central position of Shaikh ‘Adi in the Yezidi tradition: he is perceived in the capacity of one of three incarnations of a lower deity co-existing with the Creator. Consequently, the life and ideas of Shaikh ‘Adi are directly related to Yezidi cosmic beliefs as well as to the evolution of the Kurdish Weltanschauung. However, with the exception of the works of Siouffi, Frank, Lescot and one or two others, the biography and creative activity of Shaikh ‘Adi were not topics of special research.
In my 1993 MA paper at Saint Petersburg State University, I reconstructed the biography of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir and examined general questions concerning Yezidism. The current paper is based on my PhD dissertation defended at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. My prime aim is to expound the religious and philosophical ideas of ‘Adi b. Musafir, to elucidate their parallels with the Yezidi doctrine, and to put them into the context of Sufism and Kurdish spiritual life.
In the present paper, for practical reasons, the dates are given according to the Christian era. I also use simplified transliteration of Arabo-Islamic names and terms; the terms are translated in such a way as to express the idea of a particular word or expression rather than to present their formal, perfunctory notion. For instance, the term bid‘a (Pl. bida‘) is translated as ‘unlawful innovation’, therefore ahl al-bid‘a means ‘those involved in unlawful innovations’. This is justifiable since Muslim tradition distinguishes ‘good’ bida‘ from ‘bad’ ones.
During the course of this work I have been fortunate to work with Prof. Dr. Alexander Fodor from the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and Dr. Stanislav Prozorov from Saint Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies.
I also want to express my gratitude to all those who
gave me constructive suggestions.
Primary Kurdish Sources
The problem of the authorship and the time of creation of the Yezidi ‘Sacred Books’ is important for the current paper because for a long period, the discussion was whether Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir participated in their composition [32; 38; 39; 48; 24].
As far back as in the eighteenth century, a Mufti referred to the Yezidi Sacred Book entitled Cilwe with the authorship ascribed to Shaikh ‘Adi [12:84; 20:121-122].
Similar hearsay connected with ‘Adi's authorship were
to be repeated later on. Then, in 1842, the American missionary Grant, in
Nineve, learned about the Yezidi Book known as Furqal.
This might have been is a distorted form of the word furqan meaning in Arabic ‘discerning Virtue and Evil’ and if
with the definite article - ‘The Scriptures’, ‘The Bible’ or ‘The Qur’an’
In 1846, the famous Armenian writer and scholar Khachatur Abovyan published his essay Ezidy (The Yezidis) in Russian, in which he mistakenly concluded that the Yezidis were the Kurdisised Armenians from the sects of Arevordik and Tondhraki. According to Abovyan, the followers of Yezidism claimed that their main Shaikh from the religious centre, Lalish, knew Arabic script, owned the Gospel and some other special books that only he was allowed to read [54; 56].
While visiting Kurdistan in the midst of the nineteenth century, the British archaeologist Layard came upon the tracks of certain Yezidi books, but he did not succeed to get hold of them [40; 54].
In 1884, Egiazarov, the author of several publications in Russian and Armenian on the Transcaucasian Yezidi Kurds, referred to two ‘Sacred Books’: Zambur and Cilwe. Egiazarov suggested that the latter must have been a collection of the basic principles of Yezidism and the works of Shaikh ‘Adi. Here Zambur may be a distorted Arabic word zabur meaning ‘psalms’ and ‘Psalter’ [37; 54].
In 1879-1886, the Russian Consul to Mosul, Kartsev managed to look through the contents of the Yezidi ‘Sacred Texts’. His publication caused a great interest, especially since it was evident that he had had an opportunity to read the Arabic translation of the texts .
Subsequently, in 1895, in London missionary Perry published fragments of the Yezidi books translated by Browne. Later, on the basis of this publication, French (1896) and Italian (1900) translations were prepared .
Some Yezidi texts, including those regarded as sacred were published in 1909, in the American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures. The author of that publication, Isya Joseph, obtained the collection of Yezidi manuscripts in Arabic from Dawud as-Sa’igh in Mosul. The latter was a retainer to the family of Haydar, the custodian of Yezidi texts and tradition. Here it may be appropriate to mention that the interesting work of Semionov, referred to in the present paper, is based on Joseph's publication [18; 24].
Finally, in 1911, the Carmelite priest Anastase Marie of Baghdad for the first time, alongside the French translation, published the Yezidi texts written in Kurdish in a special alphabet. In the Introduction Marie describes the difficulties he had in obtaining those texts. There might have been personal sentiments for Anastase Marie (1866-1947) in dealing with the Yezidi sources going back to his Lebanese roots .
Nevertheless, Maximilian Bittner in 1911 and Alphonse Mingana in 1916, made critical analyses of the texts and expressed their doubts about their authenticity [32; 48].
Later, the supposed texts would be translated into other languages. Thus, in 1989, Asatryan and Poladyan on the basis of German and French translation issued the Armenian translation .
Here, however, it should be noted that these two Armenian authors largely shaped the ideology of the movement endeavouring to create a new ethnic group - ‘the Armenian Yezidis’ - as distinct from the Kurds.
Today, we know about two Kurdish religious books in Yezidi alphabet: Cilwe (The Book of Revelation) and Meshefê Reþ (The Black Scripture). Although they are composed in the southern Kurdish dialect, their contents do not differ from the Yezidi oral stories in the northern Kurmandji dialect. Moreover, in oral tradition, there are frequent referrals to Meshefê Reº. Thus, a funeral prayer - Talqîna Êzdîyan - warns those who do not accept ‘The Black Scripture’ that the time will come when people would not utter the names of Jesus, Moses or Muhammad: they would ask Sultan Yazid and Shaikh ‘Adi to be merciful upon them [52:122-123].
At present, the majority of the scholars appear to share the opinion that although "failed to meet the criteria normally adopted to judge the authenticity" of written texts, "the contents of the ‘Sacred Books’ could be valid even if these were not based on a lengthy written tradition" [19:viii,ix,10-16].
‘The Balck Scripture’ consists of a few-line Introduction and five chapters. In the Introduction the author states that, before all other beings, he
existed together with his lord Melekê
The image of Melekê Taus (Tausî
Melek of the Caucasian Yezidis) is full of enigma. The term is usually
translated as ‘Peacock Angel’, though the ‘Peacock King’ might be
another possibility: the loan-word for angel in the northern Kurdish dialect is milîyak'et;
then melek could have a notion of
Since in the Yezidi doctrine, God-Creator entrusted earthly matters to Melekê
Taus, the latter may be viewed as the alter-ego
of God, the fact which would testify for the monotheistic nature of Yezidism
and conform with the view that Melekê
Taus is a derivation from Malik-Theos [28:82-83;
In addition, in Iraq, the word malak
designates evil spirit per se.
At any rate, the image of Melekê
Taus under the similar names can be found in the religious traditions of the
groups having historical and cultural links with the Yezidis: Mandaeans
[35:257-258; 36:6], Ahl-e Haqq Kurds [17:46,169], Druzes [49:227; 58:261], and
The Introduction to the ‘Balck Scripture’ proceeds with informing us that the Melekê Taus sent the author to the world to herald the Truth to the elected people. The Truth was firstly stated in a voiced way, and after that was expounded in the Cilwe, which cannot be seen by those not belonging to the elected people.
The first chapter begins with the words: "I was, I am and I know no end". It is remarkable that the first sentece of the Kurdish Ahl-e Haqq sacred book is: ""I was the first qalandar, and the last I am too" [17:11].
Then the writer of the text stresses his omnipotence and urges humans to obey him, in exchange promising them pleasure and happiness.
The second chapter informs us that the owner of the book, appearing in different images, establishes limits for human life and sends a man to other worlds through metempsychosis.
In the third chapter, having once again emphasised his power over all the treasures and concealed things, the author makes an interesting remark:
" All of my precepts are applicable to all the periods and situations".
The most essential words in the fourth chapter are that he allowed creation of four substances, four kinds of time and four parts of the world.
In the last chapter the believers are anew warned against showing the texts to the followers of other faiths lest they should pervert them: the Yezidis are advised to learn their books by rote.
Previously, it was widely believed that the only reliable material for Shaikh ‘Adi's life and ethical views are medieval Arabic sources while the extremely valuable Yezidi poetry was left out. The reason was that, until not long ago, the oral hymns and poetical stories remained inaccessible for recording: they could not be heard by outsiders.
In this respect I agree with Philip Kreyenbroek: "The Yezidi tradition can only be understood as the product of a long period of oral transmission. The lack of a written tradition has ... prevented the development of a formal ideology, or the emergence of a single, monolithic system of beliefs. It has helped to shape a tradition whose underlying assumption may seem strange to outsiders, but make excellent sense in a relatively isolated and non-literate environment" [19:19].
In a similar way, many scholars seemed to have been confused by the fact
that such a Muslim thinker, whether traditionalist or Sufi, as Shaikh ‘Adi b.
Musafir could have become the key figure worshipped by the community with strong
anti-Islamic sentiments. This made some of them insist on Islamic origin of
Yezidism with stress upon Arab descend of Yezidi rulers [12; 16].
Others were prompted to look for Zoroastrian or rather pre-Islamic
background of ‘Adi b. Musafir. He was once believed to have even been a native
of Zoroastrian milieu from the Kurdish district of Merîwan which would shed a light on the posible resemblance between
the contents of the Cilwe and an
Avestan Yasna’ [38; 39; 54].
Moreover, even the secret nature of the Yezidi alphabet used in the Cilwe
and Meshefî Reþ would correspond to the Zoroastrian principle: writing
is a receptacle of secret wisdom, and sacrament of faith should be kept away
from both laymen and outsiders [41:18,43].
In addition to search for old Iranian, Islamic and Armenian origins of the Yezidi religion, there even exists an opinion about certain links between Turkic cultures and Yezidism with the Yezidis being a continuously present element throughout the history of Turkey [60:9-12].
Therefore, in order to avoid various speculations, sometimes politically and psychologically motivated, I intend to disclose the evolution of ‘Adi b. Musafir's views together with the changes which occurred in Yezidi understanding of his image.
There is some desultory information of Shaikh ‘Adi
and his teaching in the religious canticles. Thus, in the Prayer and Confession in the
Yezidi Religion, Yezidi the name
of the Shaikh is mentioned four times: ‘Bread is from Shaikh ‘Adi's
storehouse’; ‘Shaikh ‘Adi sits on the throne’; ‘My religion is [from]
Sharf ad-Din’ (one of the components of his complete name); and ‘ Shaikh
‘Adi is the One God’.
The research made by Iraqi Yezidi authors, Xewrê Silêman and Xelîlê Cindî, provides us with the Yezidi texts including the discussion between Shaikh ‘Adi and the famous Sufi Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i who came to Lalish accompanied by his forty disciples and a story about al-Hallaj. Some of the texts contain laudation of Shaikh ‘Adi, narrate his biography and describe his miracles - karamat .
The Yezidi Religious Poetry, collected in the former USSR by two brothers-scholars, Ordîxanê Celîl and Celîlê Celîl, is often referred to the name and image of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir. ‘The Conversation between Shaikh and Aqub’ may be especially interesting: presumably the Biblical/Qur’anic personage - Aqub (Yaqub) - answers the questions of Shaikh ‘Adi concerning rules of the universe. At the end, when the last question nonplussed an avowed prophet, the Shaikh exclaims:
"By one word I made Aqub ... an [ordinary] mortal human" [5:II,44-49].
Another substantial collection of Yezidi texts, recorded, translated into English and commented on, is the research by Philip Kreyenbroek: Yezidism - its Background, Observances and Textual Tradition. This is the best and the most complete study on Yezidism, also because the author, twice during 1992, had a chance to visit Iraqi Kurdistan Safe Heaven enjoying co-operation from Yezidi scholars and spiritual leaders.
Other oral sources were recorded and translated into Russian by
Margarita Borisovna Rudenko: Kurdish
Ritual Poetry and The Kurdish New Year
festivals. To pay a tribute to this outstanding scholar, it may be reminded
that Rudenko was born in Tbilisi and had the first-hand knowledge of the
Caucasian Kurds. It is her who largely contributed to Kurdish literary studies
by translating and publishing Mam û Zin by
Ahmedê Xanî, Shaikh San‘an by Feqî
Teyran and Yusuf û Zelikha by Selîmê
The Kurdish sacred poetry abounds in Sufi terms and notions, which, however, have been ‘Kurdisised’ up to almost out of all recognition. The oral poetry of the Yezidis, and that of the Kurds in general, staggers by wealth of linguistic colours and figurative and picturesque account of events. It undoubtedly represents one of the brilliant folklorist phenomena, which was noted by many researchers. Thus, Nikitine discussed in details that instantaneous sketching and quick, laconic poetical stories express the essence of the Kurdish folklore, in which a poetic tissue of verse is barely constrained by the strict rules of versification [49:268-273].
In general, the Yezidi hymns, qewls, "are chanted by trained bards (qewwal) on occasions of a religious nature" [19:ix].
There is a number of Kurdish sources of auxiliary role used in the current paper.
In his famous Sharaf-name, Bidlisi speaks of tribes who followed Yezidi teaching and mentions Shaikh ‘Adi, but sadly the chapters 7-9 are missing: they would have been dedicated to Yezidi tribe called Dasni/Tasni [3:83-84,177-314,326-327 etc.].
Another source is connected with the originally Yezidi, but Islamised tribe, Dunbuli, which played an important role in medieval history of Iranian parts of Kurdistan and Azerbaijan [61:12-17].
The Yezidi memory should have been so strong that the son of the ruler of city of Khoy (Iranian Kurdistan), Rustam-khan b. Ahmad-khan Dunbuli wrote a book dedicated to the Yezidi religion [51:229-248].
On the basis of his own sources and experiences, the Kurdish author of the nineteenth century, Mela Mahmud Bayazidi wrote the ‘Adat u rasumat-name. He was inspired by Alexander Jaba, Russian Council to Erzerum, who himself largely contributed to Kurdish studies. Unfortunately, Bayazidi restricts himself in describing Yezidi religion and presumably Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir by stating that "if I speak about them, my book will be very long" [2:64,189b].
Some other sources in Kurdish - Divan of Melaê Cezîrî and a collection of fairy tales and legendary stories prepared by the family of Celîl - profile the degree of interrelation between Yezidi religion, Sufism and Zoroastrian survivals.
II.2. Primary Arabic Sources
A number of distinguished medieval historians and geographers mentioned Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir: Ibn al-Athir (1160-1234), the author of al-Kamil fi t-tarikh on the atabeks of Mosul; Ibn Khallikan (1211-1282) who wrote about Shaikh ‘Adi in his Wafayat al-a‘yan, as well as Ibn al-Futi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn al-Wardi, Abu l-Fida’, adh-Dhahabi, as-Sam‘ani and many others. The best bibliography on Yezidism composed by Kurkis ‘Awwad addresses all the names and titles in this respect [30:esp.677-679, 689, 691, 693].
These sources are well studied and luckily for the modern students of Yezidism, they have been extensively quoted by al-‘Azzawi, al-Hasani and other researchers.
In 1911 the brilliant textual research was published by the German scholar Rudolf Frank: Scheikh 'Adi, der grosse Heilige der Jezîdîs. It was based on both the legendary and historical data concerning Shaikh ‘Adi as well as his works. Frank's study is of a particular significance for the current paper especially since I obtained and worked on the microfilms of the manuscripts discussed in the monograph.
First of all, Frank analyses two manuscripts from the Königl. Bibliothek zu Berlin (at present, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) under the codes We 1769 and We 1743. The latter manuscript was composed in 1509 in Damascus. A certain person in some places changed the name of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir by the name of the above-mentioned Ahmad ar-Rifa‘i. Nevertheless, by an oversight of the falsifier, the manuscript keeps the name of the real author: ‘Adi b. Musafir b. Isma‘il b. Musa al-Amawi. Apparently, as Frank thinks, the main purpose to conceal Shaikh ‘Adi's name was to prevent the popularisation of his ideas, since he is being revered by ‘the anti-Islamic religious sect’ [31:464].
The only reason of why this 'guardian of the ideological purity' did not obliterate the manuscript is because he detected no reprehensible maxims [15:10-11].
The manuscript We 1743 (fol. 29b-43a) contains the work of Shaikh ‘Adi called I‘tiqad ahl as-sunna (‘Dogma of the People of the Sunna’). In three chapters of the treatise, Shaikh ‘Adi reasons Oneness and the absolute power of God, while criticising ‘unlawful innovations’ (bid‘a, Pl. bida‘). The opponents of Islamic ‘traditionalists’ (ahl as-sunna) were ‘those involved in unlawful innovations’ (ahl al-bid‘a), or, in the Shaikh's view - Shi'ites, Qadarites, and Mu'tazilites. The manuscript ends with variants of well-known hadiths, mostly concerning split of Islam into sects. Frank notes the impact of al-Ghazali's philosophy on this treatise [15:11-19].
The following work in the same manuscript, also occasionally with the interpolated name of Ahmad ar-Rifa‘i, is entitled Kitab fihi dhikr adab an-nafs (‘The book in which discourse is how to train soul with beautiful’). Frank maintains that similarly to the first work, this treatise can be characterised as a popular one yielding to the level of al-Ghazali's works. Nonetheless, both Shaikh ‘Adi's Sufism and that of al-Ghazali get along with the Qur’an and sunna [15:19-24].
This work in the manuscript follows by the short text, that is, Wasaja ash-shaykh ‘Adi b. Musafir ila l-khalifa (‘Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir's admonition of the Caliph’). This text urges the Muslims to disdain the transitory life and to follow the way of faith bewaring of ‘unlawful innovations’ [15:24-26].
The last prosaic work has a heading Wasaja li muridihi ash-shaikh Qa’id wa li sa'ir al-muridihi (‘The admonition of his disciple Shaikh Qa’id and of other disciples’). On the basis of the Qur’anic verses Shaikh ‘Adi warns against passion for mundane deeds and calls for control over emotions. In another way, he teaches his disciples how to follow Sufi life [15:26-28].
All the four works in the manuscript We 1743 are written by the same handwriting. The copyist, Muhammad b. Ahmad al-‘Adawi, as it follows from his name, belonged to the tariqa ‘Adawiya. The date indicated in the manuscript, 915/1509, makes evident that the tariqa founded by ‘Adi b. Musafir existed as long as until the early sixteenth century [15:28].
This fact confirms the opinion that after the death of the Shaikh, his followers divided on two groups. The first group settled in Egypt and Syria and continued the Islamic history of the tariqa. The others, chiefly the members of ‘Adi's family and the accomplice Shaikhs, joined the Kurdish religious community in holding the position of its spiritual leaders [49:226].
Frank lists a number of arguments for Shaikh ‘Adi's authorship, or at least, that he was an inspirer and exponent of the ideas expressed in these treatises. The most important fact is the coincidence of maxims in these works with those ascribed to Shaikh ‘Adi in another source, Bahjat al-asrar, composed one and a half century after the Shaikh's death.
The handwriting of Ahmad b. Muhammad al-‘Adawi may also be detected in two qasidas from the same manuscript We 1743. An anonymous falsifier, in addition to inserting the name of Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i, made some other amendments [15:28-29].
The first qasida is written in the tawil metre with certain deviations, meanwhile the second one, consisting of five lines, is composed in the basit metre. Both works correspond to the Sufi poetical tradition of the twelfth century, and their authorship might almost certainly be ascribed to Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir [15:29-31].
The third poetical work is contained in the manuscript under the code We 1769. In this qasida the name of Shaikh ‘Adi is found in both the title and the text. One of two cumbrous titles of the qasida is: Li saiydi ‘Adi bin Musafir afada Allah ‘alaina min barakatihi. Amin (Belonging to my Lord ‘Adi b. Musafir. The Most High shed lavishly from His Benediction. Amen). This is uncommon of Sufi poetry when a prayer appears in the heading. The copyist of the qasida is a Shafi‘i Shaikh ash-Shafuni, but we do not have any information whether he belonged to the ‘Adawiya or whether the latter still existed in the eighteenth century. This poetical text consisting of nineteen basit-metre beits is also a Sufi one. No miracle mentioned in the qasida - neither of the rider on the boulder, nor of a magic serpent - shows analogues in other legends of Shaikh ‘Adi.
According to Frank, the form of the qasida is characterised by ‘the metric uncertainty’ [15:33].
Thus, in order to follow metre ‘an ash-shaikh (‘from/about the Shaikh’) is reduced to ‘ash-shaikh, and ya ummi (‘O my mother’) transfers to yamm. Therefore this qasida patently yields to the two above-mentioned poetical works [15:33-36].
The fourth qasida is contained in the British Museum, and is also analysed by Frank. One more qasida, well known to scholars, is being ascribed to Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir, although it is not contained in the Berlin manuscript. As early as in the midst of the nineteenth century, this poetical work was quoted by Layard and Badger [13:113-115]; then other researchers also included it into their studies.
Although having neither a common rhyme, nor the certain metre, the Eulogy nevertheless was highly evaluated by Frank for its ‘poetical flight’ [15:33].
The Madihat shaikh ‘Adi begins with the authors self-proclamation as the bearer of the Truth (haqq) and the creator of everything by the will of God. The culmination of the poem comes with the words of the Shaikh's self-identification as God; later this idea became an integral part of the Yezidi tradition:
"I am ‘Adi, ash-Shami, [son of] Musafir ...
In the depth of my knowledge there is no God but me.
These things are subservient to my power.
How, then, can ye deny me, O my enemies?" [13:114]
Interestengly enough, Badger, having been in doubts that the real
personality with the name of Shaikh ‘Adi had ever existed, refused to
translate ash-Shami as ‘the
Syrian’, suggesting instead the literal interpretation of the name Musafir: ‘a wanderer’.
Many places in this qasida are consonant to the first poetical work, mentioned above: for instance, in both poems the author calls himself a ruler (hakim) of the earth whose followers will escape hell. However, there are some differences with other qasidas. Thus, the ‘Eulogy’ does not mention the effect of the Mystical wine, and here the Shaikh uses the Iranian term firdaws for ‘paradise’ instead of the Arabic jinna which appears in his other works.
I shall discuss it later whether the Madihat was composed in the Baghdad period of ‘Adi's activity or whether the Shaikh wrote it in his early Kurdistan period. At any rate, there is resemblance between the ideas and disposition of the author of the 'Eulogy' and Shaikh ‘Adi's maxims and deeds in the Hakkari mountains.
Other maxims and deeds of Shaikh ‘Adi are mentioned in different works, which have also been analysed by Frank [15:46-101]. These are:
1) A short text on the last pages of one of the Berlin manuscripts. Its conceivable author is the great-grandson of ‘Adi's brother: Shaikh Hasan b. ‘Adi b. Abi l-Barakat b. Sakhr b. Musafir;
2) The Kitab Manaqib ash-shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir (The Book of Merits of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir) on twenty-six pages from the same manuscript. This work speaks of the Shaikh's miracles (karamat) and contains a list of his forty disciples. The date of its composition is unknown;
3) The Bahjat al-asrar (Gladness of the Concealed) written in 1313 in Cairo. The author of the work is ‘Ali b. Yusuf ash-Shattanaufi. The Bahjat al-asrar contains the description of the life of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani together with data concerning other Sufis. The stories of Shaikh ‘Adi in general correspond to those in the Kitab manaqib. Frank holds the opinion that in both cases they are derived from an earlier source that had not passed to us;
4) The work of the fecund Sufi writer ash-Sha‘rani Lawakih al-anwar fi tabaqat al-ahjar composed in 1545 in Cairo. The information concerning Shaikh ‘Adi is derived from the Bahjat al-asrar.
II.3. Secondary Sources
First of all, I want to mention major studies in Arabic written both by Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, which I use in my current paper: ‘Abbas al-‘Azzawi's Tarikh al-yazidiya wa asl aqidatihim, ‘Abdarrazzaq al-Hasani's Al-yazidiya fi hadirihim was madihim, the Yezidi ruler's, Isma‘il-bak Çol's Al-yazidiya qadiman wa hadithan and Shaikh ‘Ali's Hawla al-yazidiya.
Both Iraqi scholars, al-‘Azzawi and al-Hasani, present a detailed information about Yezidism in general and ‘Adi b.Musafir in particular. With regard to the works of Çol and Shaikh ‘Ali, they could be regarded as a primary material since both authors hold special social and spiritual positions in the Yezidi community.
Isma‘il-bak Çol, as early as in 1908, drew up a document which was aimed at revitalising and modernising the Yezidi community for the upcoming twentieth century [19:8,60ff,126].
He comes from the family of Mîr, the secular rulers of the Yezidi Kurds. This position is being held by Çol family at least from the early eighteenth century: according to the legend, when Shaikh ‘Adi was dying, the three branches of Yezidi Shaikhs "were quarrelling about his succession". Then in answer to ‘Adi's prayers, God sent the Peacock Angel (Melekê Taus) to the earth and the latter created a man from the void, which is in Kurdish, ’çol’. Thus the offspring of the Çol family are believed to be the secular rulers of the community under the title of Mîr.
Even the belief that the void, nothingness is more powerful than something is a well known ancient view. For to be something means not to be all other things: the latter is bigger and covers more objects. This explains why the theologians had an intuitive pre-feeling that absolute nothingness equals omni. John Scott Eriugena would even declare that God is an initial Nihil in creatrio ab nihilo [4:737-739].
Apparently, on the grounds of the similar logical premises, the Yezidis
believe that the family created from the void must have more power in their
society than others.
Majority of Kurdish scholars from the former Soviet Union naturally published their studies in Russian. Among those, either directly or indirectly elaborating the image of Shaikh ‘Adi, are Pashaeva's Relgious and caste prohibitions in marriage and the two studies of Kurdoev on the alphabet, author and language of the Yezidi texts. One work, in Kurdish, referred in the current paper is Sacred Books by Çerkezê Reþ.
As is was said before, the serious interest towards Yezidism in Europe was marked by the first half of the nineteenth century. A couple of the works of that period, among other things mentioning ‘Adi b. Musafir, are referred to: The Nestorians and their Rituals by Badger and Nineveh and its Remains by Layard.
Important studies of the scholars of the twentieth century, first of all, Bittner, Mingana, Menzel and Semionov are also widely used in the current paper.
Roger Lescot, the most outstanding French Kurdologist, in 1930s visited
Yezidi communities in Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan. According to Kreyenbroek,
"his work was to prove the last major contribution to Yezidi Studies for a
long time" [19:17].
At the same time, it was "perhaps ironic that, although his book
made enormous contributions to our knowledge of Yezidi lore, Lescot's
fundamental approach to his subject must in its turn furthered the decline of
its study" [19:17].
The research material on Mandaean, Ahl-e Haqq and other regional religions, while discolsing their links with Yezidism, also reveal to us how Islamic values were adopted to both Kurdish and non-Kurdish societies and what the role of personalities in this process, was. The studies in question are: Drower's Mandaeans and Peacock Angel, Ivanow's Truth-Worshippers of Kurdistan and Bartold's Muslim sect of the Merwanites. Especially worthy of note are fundamental studies Zoroastrians by Mary Boyce and Die Renaissance des Islâms by Adam Mez.
With regard to Basile Nikitine's book, Les Kurdes, it is the first comprehensive study on the Kurds. The author, the former Russian Council to Persia and a member of prestigious international academies and diplomatic societies, wrote numerous works on the Kurdish topic. In his conclusive study, Nikitine devoted several subchapters to the issue of Yezidism and emphasised the support he enjoyed from Louis Massignon, who, in turn, wrote the preface to Les Kurdes.
Massignon's outstanding study, La Passion de Husayn Ibn Mansûr Hallâj, is also used in the current paper since al-Hallaj plays an important role in Yezidi world outlook and, presumably, had an impact on ‘Adi b. Musafir's life and teaching. I also refer to the study of Masud Ali ogly Mamedov, himself a Khallaj Kurd from Azerbaijan, dedicated to the language of his community.
Some of the latest works have been quoted because they
conclude results of studies on such topics as Baghdad in the Middle Ages (Mikhailova) and A History of Medieval Syria in the Seldjuk Period (Semionova). I
believe that social and economic factors need to be incorporated into the
research about the religious figures who influenced Kurdish spiritual and
OF SHAIKH ‘ADI
III.1. Inadequate Attempts to Identify Shaikh ‘Adi in the Past
In the past there existed a number of suggestions about Shaikh ‘Adi's identity: they later proved to be erroneous [13:110,112-113; 15:6; 24:76; 62:104].
With regard to the information in two Christian sources dated by the fifteenth century, that of the archbishop of Arbil Jeshu ‘Ayyab, and that of the monk Ramishu‘, the case is as follows: in the early thirteenth century Shaikh ‘Adi al-Kurdi expelled monks and occupied the Christian monastery in Lalish, transforming it into his sanctuary [16:12,20-21; 26:101-102; 28:81].
First of all, those sources, either deliberately or otherwise, identify Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir with his brother Sakhr's grandson, whose full name was Shaikh ‘Adi b. Abi l-Barakat al-Kurdi. The latter indeed lived in the thirteenth century and, for some reason, was engaged in a struggle with the monks quartered in his patrimonial (at least, as it appeared to him) abode. Having been driven out, the Christians from Lalish complained to the Mosulian authorities. Then, after a years-long conflict Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’ succeeded in defeating the Yezidi Kurds headed by the son of Shaikh ‘Adi the Second, Shaikh Hasan (the likely author of one of the above-mentioned texts).
The ruler of Mosul treated the Kurds in a most brutal way: Shaikh Hasan was dungeonned and then beheaded and many of his people were executed. Moreover, the warriors of Badr ad-Din Lu’l’u dug up ‘Adi's tomb and incinerated his remains [16:22-23].
Secondly, the interior layout of the tomb of Shaikh ‘Adi does not have elements characteristic of Christian monasteries [13:110].
Wigrams maintain that the architecture of Yezidi buildings is evidence that they had been erected in pre-Christian times; then, during the late Roman age Christian monks settled in them [62:94].
Thirdly, it is no coincidence that anti-Yezidi trends in these Syrian manuscripts fall within the fifteenth century. It was a time when the Mesopotamian Christians, enjoying the patronage of the Muslim rulers, were engaged in activity against the ‘infidels’.
The situation with the Yezidis was aggravated by the
fact that they always were "against all men and every government"
Data on ‘Adi's Origin
Nowadays, the scholars maintain that ‘Adi b. Musafir came to the Kurdish mountains of Hakkari from ash-Sham (historical Syria). The Yezidi tradition says:
" Shaikh ‘Adi came from [ash-] Sham
In the East [of his homeland he] started to work,
Virtue is upon the houses of [our] fathers,
Shaikh ‘Adi himself is a gift of the Light,
[He is] Light from the house of the Shaikhs" [5:II,18; See also 26:100,104].
The genealogy of a historical figure consists of two lists: of his/her ancestry and descendants. In case of Shaikh ‘Adi both genealogies are to be viewed.
The complete name of ‘Adi is: Sharaf ad-Din Abu l-Fada’il ‘Adi b. Musafir b. Isma‘il b. Musa b. Marwan b. al-Hasan b. Marwan [16:15].
With regard to the Shaikh's ancestry line, the issue is still debated. The researches adduce the two most wide-spread ones:
1) ‘Adi b. Musafir b.
Isma‘il b. Musa b. Marwan b. al-Hasan (or b. al-Hakm) b. Marwan;
2) ‘Adi b. Musafir b.
Ibrahim b. al-Walid b. ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwan b. al-Hakm b. al-‘As b.
‘Uthman b. ‘Affan b. Rabi‘a b. ‘Abd ash-Shams b. Zuhra b. ‘Abd Manaf
Although both Marwan I and Marwan II could have been ‘Adi's direct ancestors, the genealogy is incomplete: the Umayyad rulers lived in the eighth century, whereas ‘Adi b. Musafir was born in the second half of the eleventh century.
At any rate, the Umayyad origin of Shaikh ‘Adi is almost beyond any doubt. Moreover, for a long period the scholars agreed that Shaikh ‘Adi had carried out the reorganisation of ‘the ultra-Umayyad sect of the Yezidis’ [34:II,776].
The Shaikh ‘found a warm welcome in the Kurdish mountains, where the Kurds were in any case inclined to look favourably upon a descendant of the Umayyad dynasty’ [19:29].
This fact, on the one hand, explains the sensitivity of his followers to Yazid b. Mu‘awiya, and, on the other hand, makes us think of the connections between ‘Adi's, or his successors’, teaching and the ideas of the Merwanites [24:78-79; 31].
The last Umayyad ruler and possible direct ancestor of Shaikh
‘Adi, Marwan II, before ascending the throne (740-750), ruled over
Northern Mesopotamia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. These were provinces with sizeable
Kurdish population. His mother was Kurdish, too. According to al-Baladhuri, from
his father Marwan II "inherited as a private property the fishing incomes
from the lake of Van" [31:464].
Bidlisi informs us that in the Kurdish tribe, Sulaymani, mostly
consisting of the adherents of the Marwanians, a part "chose an iniquitous
Yezidi persuasion" [3:314].
It is noteworthy that as late as in the early twentieth century, the sect of the Merwanites in Badahshan was also called Yezidiya [24:79; 31:465].
Consequently, with some reservations, I conclude that Shaikh ‘Adi b.
Musafir was an Arab from the once powerful dynasty of Umayyads with Kurdish
blood running in his veins.
We know that prior to Shaikh ‘Adi's arrival, many Umayyad descendants
lived in Kurdish mountains in the capacity of Sufi Shaikhs. There is
"detailed evidence to show that after the fall of the Umayyad dynasty, a
religious movement was prominent in the Kurdish mountains which taught an
excessive worship for that dynasty, not least for Yazid b. Muawiya" [19:28;
See also 20:21].
‘Adi b. Musafir was born between 1073 and 1078 in Beit-Far in Baalbek that is situated in the Beqaa valley of the present-day Lebanon. Baalbek was surrounded by marvellous ruins. In his childhood, ‘Adi must have been visiting the grand Sun-God temple in Tadmur, not totally destroyed. At the main gates of the Bacchus temple, he could have seen the gracious portrayals of poppy and wheat symbolising alternation of life and death. One cannot exclude that all this contributed to ‘Adi's mystical way of thinking when he would settle in the peaceful haven in the Kurdish mountains, with severe winters and long springs [36:151-152].
Afterwards, ‘Adi's birth would be described through picturesque legends. One legend said that before his birth he had been foreseen as a pre-eminent person. Another legend speaks of ‘Adi's wise speeches in his early childhood. According to the third one, ‘Adi's future as a Sufi was pre-determined by events with his father [16:15-16].
"Musafir b. Isma‘il, the father of ‘Adi, went to a forest and remained there for forty years. Once he had a dream that someone told him: "O Musafir! Come out and copulate with your wife, and a Friend of God [i.e. Sufi] will come to you, whose fame will spread in the East and the West".
Then, Musafir came out from the forest and went to his wife. She remonstrated with him saying: "I shall not do it unless the Luminary arises." Then Musafir appealed: "O residents of the city! I am Musafir, I came because I received an order to mount my mare, and Friends of God will come to those who mount their mares". And thus three-hundred-and-thirteen Friends of God were born to him" [16:15-16].
Since to be proven miraculous, events require a number of eye-witnesses, Musafir had to appeal to the residents of his settlement. With regard to the number of Friends of God, it may allude to three-hundred-and-thirteen associates or successors of ‘Adi b. Musafir.
In general, all the legends about ‘Adi b. Musafir are
characterised with clear aesthetic merits and bewitching sequence of events.
This common feature of stories about saints in Islam was well described by
Goldziher, who would compare them with Iranian and Indian fairy tales [15:81].
I can add that the same sense of aesthetic beauty and archaic tradition of narration is also very strong in Yezidi religious poetry.
III.3. The Baghdad Period
A young person, ‘Adi b. Musafir moved to Baghdad and spent the first half of his life there. In this centre of culture and education, ‘Adi learned from the esteemed figures such as Ahmad al-Ghazali and ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani; he also won respect for his good manners [15:86-87; 16:15-16; 49:226].
In Baghdad, the Shaikh wrote several treatises and qasidas which, in the following Chapter, serve as the basis of my review of ‘Adi b. Musafir's religious and philosophical ideas.
However, the economical and political situation in Baghdad in the late eleventh-twefth centuries was anything but stable. The constant violence in relations between the Sunni majority and the dynamic Shi'ite minority occurred every year, with the exception of short-lived reconciliation in 1095 and during 1109-1116. This conflict predominantly acquired the form of opposition between the Shi'ite Karkh and the Sunnite Bab al-Basra quarters. It is remarkable that the religious intolerance mainly referred to inter-communal Muslim relations, which was also caused by economical hardships, namely problems with water supplies. At the same time, other religious groups, mainly Jews and Christians did not experience any organised persecution.
Resistance of the inhabitants against the Seldjuk rulers was sometimes accompanied by the actions of the militant ‘Ayyars (‘Ayyarun), a self-styled militia, who also would not disdain to plunder in the city. The contemporary Muslim sources, including Ibn al-Jawzi's Talbis Iblis, speak of the ‘Ayyars' Code of Honesty and behaviour in no positive way. Such a situation of anarchy could not and did not promote cultural progress .
Moreover, as is known, befoe long, Cairo took the place oif Baghdad in the capacity of the cultural and political centre of the Islamic world.
In due course, Shaikh ‘Adi's personal experience in Baghdad must have contributed to his non-confrontational views concerning Jewish and Christian faiths as well as to his observable anti-Shi'ite sentiments.
Data on ‘Adi b. Musafir's life in Baghdad alongside his works may explain why ‘Adi b. Musafir was prompted to leave Baghdad for Kurdish region.
First of all, in a devastated city he could hardly continue with his theological studies. Neither did ‘Adi have relatives or close friends, the fact which could have had smoothed the negative effect of political and economical hardships.
Secondly, ‘Adi's interest in Sufism and his ancestral homeland must be mentioned. Since the names and terms mentioned in ‘Adi's qasidas may well be explained by his acquaintance with Kurdish life, it is possible that while living in Baghdad, he visited the Hakkari mountains and established contacts with the locals. ‘Adi might also have been acquainted with the Kurds living in and around Baghdad. That is why, ‘Adi b. Musafir mentions the very name Lalish and alludes to Ahmad (b.) ar-Rifa‘i's visit to Lalish in one of his qasidas, the motive appearing in Yezidi tradition, too.
Thirdly, as many Kurds assert, Shaikh ‘Adi might have had an intention to propagate Islam amongst the Kurds in Hakkari. In doing so, he might have been following al-Hallaj's example [44:I,51].
Forthly, we know that a hundred years after al-Hallaj's execution some people in Baghdad still believed in his divine returning. According to Abu l-‘Ala al-Ma‘arri (d. 449/1057), in 399/1008 there were people in Baghdad who "still waited there on the banks of the Tigris, in the hope that he would arise from it", and one of them saw him there [46:289].
It is not, therefore, excluded that ‘Adi b. Musafir had a first-hand knowledge of such an expectation. Therefore, one of the reasons for ‘Adi's departure from Baghdad, besides social and economical ones, might have been his awareness of al-Hallaj's fate: he wanted to avoid the learned people who envied him or disliked him, especially since he had given up normative Islamic theology and had turned to Sufism.
III.4. In the Kurdish Mountains of Hakkari
One way or another, ‘Adi b. Musafir desired to attain a Sufi life and thus secluded himself from the mundane world. He found a quiet haven in Hakkari, the Kurdish region, once ruled by Marwan II. In the observed period, it lost its independence and became subordinated to the rulers of Mosul [16:15-16].
The population there was predominantly transhumant. However, there were cultivated lands with grape, sugar-cane, cotton, mulberry (introduced from China in ancient times), sorts of fruits, grain and other cultures.
Certainly, continuos military operations in the region and waves of refugees after the advance of the Crusaders badly affected regional economy. However, the Seldjuk rulers carried out moderate attitude towards peasants and created conditions for further development [25:36-51].
The low affect of military actions on rural population and traders in the Seldjuk period was expressed by Ibn Gubayr: "People of war are busy with their war whereas population is in prosperity" [25:92].
Another important element is the role of the Kurds on the political scene of that period. In addition to Kurdish principalities and chieftains in Mesopotamia, Armenia and Azebaijan, the most active Kurdish groups and figures found their composure in the Holy Land events. This may be a reason why sources describe Shaikh ‘Adi's arrival as a lone act to peaceful Kurdish nomads in an idyllic environment.
Here, close to the regal nature the Kurds were living. With regard to their religion, the medieval Arab historians relate them to the Zoroastrian sect Tayrahiya. According to the mentioned Aramean source by the monk Ramishu‘, the local Kurds used to spend summer with their herds in nomadic camps returning to the environs of Mosul in winter; the number of their tents exceeded one thousand [16:12-13].
There exists more than sufficient evidence that the territory of the present-day Kurdistan was the important Zoroastrian centre from the ancient times until the Islamic age [6:6-7; 23:123-124; 33:49-50,96; 41:33; 49:166-167].
As it appears to me, the term Behdînan in the historical Hakkari traces back to the word: behdin/vehdin with the literal notion ‘the good faith’ and the Plural suffix an. The former is the self-definition of Zoroastrians: ‘the heirs of Behdin/Vehdin’ [41:12; 53:150].
In other words, the place-name Behdînan could have a descriptive meaning as ‘the residence of the Zoroastrians’.
At first, Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir followed a life of
solitude, and the local population invented implausible stories concerning his
way of living. By way of illustration, there were legends that the Shaikh did
not eat and never drank. And one day, in order to refute these rumours, Shaikh
‘Adi ‘ate something in the presence of people’ [16:7].
Here, ‘Adi b. Musafir appears to carry out the mortification of the flesh and the cult of poverty (faqr), of which he wrote in Baghdad in his Kitab fihi dhikr adab an-nafs.
Gradually, Shaikh ‘Adi won respect from the local population thanks to his self-tortures, fasting and miracles - karamat [49:226].
Then with their questions and problems, the people started to come to this dark-complexioned, medium height person whose speeches "fascinated emotionally rather than rationally" [16:8; See also 12:29; 15:52].
Surrounded by his disciples, ‘Adi b. Musafir preached
in both Arabic and Kurdish [15:103].
Before long, Christians, Muslims, and the members of
other ethno-religious communities of the region joined the Yezidi Kurds, who had
already regarded Shaikh ‘Adi as their teacher [24:77].
fact could have promoted the syncretic nature of Yezidism. At least other two
factors also contributed to the syncretism of the Yezidi creeds:
1) The Near Eastern region in general and the Kurdish homeland in
particular, from a time immemorial was an attractive centre for religious
teachings and movements;
2) The most powerful empires of the past, starting
with that of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire, dynamically exercised in
this region the policy of unification and smoothing over socio-economical,
political and cultural differences.
Albeit waging a peaceful life, ‘Adi b. Musafir could not be isolated from the military events of his epoch. His sympathy must have been with the Muslims who were on the defence against Christian armies. Thus, the book of ‘Adi's miracles - Kitab manaqib - proves a tangible impact of the Crusades on his life as well as the fact that many Kurds fought against the ‘infidel Franks’. According to one of the legends, ‘Adi's miraculously saved Muslim prisoners of war from their forced labour captivity in Syria [15:69-77].
Another miracle testifies the Shaikh's miracle in the presence of two Muslim soldiers [15:77].
With regard to ‘Adi's disciples, we find their names in sources: amongst his forty murids there are both unequivocally Kurdish names, confirmed by Yezidi poetry, and non-Kurdish ones [20:232-234].
Amongst his non-Kurdish followers, the sources mention ‘Abdallah with the laqab ‘Abd al-Masikh. According to another disciple of the Shaikh, Lahiq, once his master interrupted his speech by turning to the West and shouting out: "Here, to us!" Then he explained that God had sent a man from Constantinople to his abode, and on the third day he ordered his disciples to come out and welcome their ‘brother’ in a Sufi clothe. This man, ‘Abdallah, would later become the first disciple who would popularise ‘Adi's fame in the land of non-Arabs [15:77-78].
We also can take a note that another murid of Shaikh ‘Adi- Bashir b. Ghunaym - was of Dumbuli tribe
The Dumbuli tribe is an example of the steady decline of the adherents
of Yezidism: originally Yezidis with the name derived from the mountain near
Diyarbakir, the Dumbuli rulers of Khoy of the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries
became close to the Persian Shah's
family, and, by now, they have been assimilated in the Shiite milieu of Iranian
Azerbaijan [3:83,357; 28:80; 59:334,1229; 61].
Yet, there is a possible survival of that tribe amongst the Yezidi qewwals,
who tour Iraqi Kurdistan with the sanjaq,
recite Yezidi qewls, play sacred music
and preach to the congregation. They are drawn from two families, one of them
being the Kurmandji-speaking Dimlî, seemingly a later variant of Dumbuli
Thus, we find Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir appearing in the Kurdish history as a solitary pious person. He won fame amongst the Kurds and their neighbours alike, and in Mosul and Baghdad, too [15:66-67; 26:103].
In Hakkari, the Shaikh had founded his tariqa, whose members would split into two groups after his death. The first one settled in Egypt and Syria and existed as an Islamic tariqa until at least the sixteenth century. The others, chiefly the members of ‘Adi's family and the other Shaikhs, joined the Kurdish religious group through filling the position of its spiritual leaders [49:226].
In his declining years - when he was about ninety years old - Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir passed away in Lalish. The exact year of his death is not known for certain: either 555, or 557, or 558 in hijrah, that is, about 1162 AD [12:29; 15:88; 16:15,17].
In the thirteenth century, as is known, Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’ defiled his tomb. Twice during his life, Shaikh ‘Adi went to the hajj to Mecca: once, as I have written, in 1116 from Hakkari joining ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani. In general, the Yezidi tradition contains many legends concerning these pilgrimages [15:86-87; 55:326-327; 62:105].
The faith of numerous followers of Shaikh ‘Adi in his holiness was, in
the words of Ibn Khallikan, "so infinite that praying to him they took him
as their qibla and imagined that in the future life they would have him as the
most precious treasure and the best support" [24:75; See also 3:83-84;
It is important to note that in the sources created during ‘Adi's life there are sufficient motifs both to prove his Islamic piety and his deviation from normative Islamic concepts. Thus, he appreciates that a certain Hasan al-Husuri refused the deal of another wandering Sufi: the latter wanted to give Hasan eight hajjes to Mecca in exchange of one hajj to ‘Adi's place [15:78-79].
It is also worthy of note that the way the tomb of Shaikh ‘Adi functions, reminds us a Sufi cloister, zawiya, which in the twelfth century became the structural and economical basis of the tariqas [13:105-110; 16:20-24; 24:76; 36:14-16,156,159-168,196; 58:263-268].
This is a general re-construction of Shaikh ‘Adi b.
Musafir's biography. Other views and suggestions do not appear to
have solid arguments.
While speaking of ‘Adi b. Musafir's activity in Baghdad, one has to pay particular regard to the Sufi Shaikhs who influenced his treatises and his subsequent life in general. It is moreover significant since most of them, due to ‘Adi's role in Yezidi tradition, are now venerated by the Yezidi Kurds. In this chapter I mention these Sufis in chronological order: at this point it is hard to make a full assessment of their influence on Shaikh ‘Adi's teaching.
As was established by Frank, two treatises of ‘Adi b. Musafir - I‘tiqad ahl as-sunna and Kitab fihi dhikr adab an-nafs - are permeated with the ideas of al-Ghazali.
In different ways, other Sufis also influenced Shaikh ‘Adi's teaching, as hinted in the Yezidi Sacred Book, the Meshefê Reº. Although ‘Adi b. Musafir is not a likely author of the text, the latter reflects some of his concepts.
Yezidism supposes that historical personalities are represented in the
capacity of seven angels/deities, ruling the universe, each in turns, through
the will of God [14:77].
Some Yezidis imagine those beings as angels, whereas the others see them
as similar to immortal spirits from the Avesta, Zoroastrian Amshaps.
Such an understanding shows that people's
fantasy always reflects their appeal to humanity [24:77].
According to Menzel, the Yezidi reverence to a number of Sufi Shaikhs
resembles the tradition of the tariqa Rafidiya
The Meshefê Reº discloses the names of those ‘Sufi angles’:
"In the beginning God created the White Pearl from His own beloved essence, and He created a white dove whom He named E´nfer. He placed the pearl on its back and sat on it for forty thousand years.
The first day which He created was Sunday. On that day He created an angel whose name was ‘Azra’il. This is Melekê Taus, who is the greatest of all.
On Monday He created the Angel Darda’il, who is Shaikh Hasan.
On Tuesday He created the Angel Israfil, who is Shaikh Shams.
On Wednesday He created the Angel Mika’il, who is Shaikh Abu Bakr.
On Thursday He created the Angel Gibra’il, who is Sagad ad-Din.
On Friday He created the Angel Shimna’il, who is Nasir ad-Din.
On Saturday He created the Angel Nura’il, who is Yadin [Fakhr ad-Din].
And God made Melekê Taus the greatest of them.
After this He created the form of the seven heavens, the earth, the sun and the moon.
Fakhr ad-Din created man and animals and birds and beasts, and placed them in the folds of His habit. Together with the angles He came out of the Pearl. He uttered a tremendous cry over the Pearl. It came apart into four pieces. Water gushed forth from its inside, and became the sea. The world was round and without holes" [19:55-56].
Except for the Yezidi Peacock Angel - Melekê Taus - five other personalities have already been identified: ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani, al-Hasan al-Basri, al-Hallaj, Qadib al-Ban, and Fakhr ad-Din Tabaristani al-Qaydi.
With regard to Shaikh Shams, he is identified with Þêþemsê Tewrêzî - Shaikh Shams of Tabriz, the mystic who inspired Jalal ad-Din Rumi [19:43ff].
The Yezidi Hymn underlines the universalism of Shams Tabrizi: not only the Yezidis have hopes on him, but their Jewish and Christian neighbours in Bohtan are also said to have gone in his search [19:256-262].
The last historical personality represented in the Meshefê Reº in the capacity of an angel is the famous Sufi Fakhr ad-Din Tabaristani al-Qaydi (Ibn ‘Abdallah Muhammad b. ‘Ammar al-Husayn b. al-Hasan b. ‘Ali at-Ta‘im al-Bakri). He was born in the place called Kay, in Tabaristan, and died in Herat in 1210. He is said to be one of the most outstanding Sufis of his epoch [24:77].
Since Fakhr ad-Din Tabaristani al-Qaydi lived after ‘Adi b. Musafir, the degree of his contribution to Yezidi world outlook must have been comparable to that of Shams Tabrizi: both lived after him and both were incorporated into the Yezidi tradition later.
In their holy cite of Lalish, the Yezidi Kurds have seven sanjaqs, or statutes of their supreme angel/an incarnation of the lower deity, Melekê Taus. They are named after the seven angels and the last one - that of Mansur al-Hallaj - is the main sanjaq situated near the tomb of Shaikh ‘Adi. The remaining six sanjaqs in the past were yearly taken by special Yezidi groups, qawwals and kochaks, throughout the territories of the Yezidi Kurds' habitat [44:I,91;II,470; 45:1165 ].
Lescot provides the source with the whole isnad of Shaikh ‘Adi's initiation: it also includes other Sufis and - in line with tradition - goes back to ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, Prophet Muhammad, Angel Jabra’il and the Most High [20:231].
Ibn Khallikan mentions several Sufis were linked to both ‘Adi b. Musafir and al-Gilani. The last of them, Abu l-Wafa’ al-Hulwani is more prominent in Yezidi tradition. The images of a famous woman Sufi, Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya, and Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i are also well elaborated in Yezidism and are directly connected with ‘Adi b. Musafir's theology. Therefore, I dedicate to al-Hulwani, Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya and Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i special sub-chapters.
The remarkable observation is that all of those Sufis either themselves belonged to ecstatic trend in Islamic mysticism or, as was the case with al-Ghazali, displayed sympathy towards ecstatic Sufism. Emotional impact of their images in Yezidism is obvious: by means of theories and treatises Shaikh ‘Adi would be unable to gain veneration of the Yezidi Kurds, nor would Islamic elements have been incorporated into Yezidi tradition. In general, Kurdish nature is inclined towards beauty, poetry, miracles and ideals of justice.
Thus, Nikitine found reflection of national characters in Kurdish and Arabic poetries: the Arabs, as a Semitic people, prefer order and rational setting, while the Kurds are more free in their thoughts and emotions [49:271-273].
Abovian wrote about unlimited poetical improvisations of the Kurds, their musical talent and faithfulness to patriarchal values calling them ‘knights of the East’. He asserted: ‘every Kurdish man and woman is a poet by birth’ [27:58,70].
IV.1. al-Hasan al-Basri (642-728)
[He is] Shaikh Hasan, [like] a Lion,
[He] appeals to the throne above us:
"O my God, visit us [here]"
From Religious Poetry [5:II,41]
Apparently, for the sake of confirming the prestige of the Yezidi community through the fame of al-Hasan al-Basri, his ‘grave’ is situated in the Yezidi holy cite of Lalish: the ‘graves’ of al-Hasan al-Basri are dispersed throughout the Islamic world.
Another explanation of this ‘grave’ could be a mytho-mystical identification of al-Hasan al-Basri with Shaikh Hasan b. ‘Adi b. Abi l-Barakat b. Sakhr b. Musafir Shamsaddin Abu Muhammad (1194/95-1246/47), who played, as I have indicated, a crucial role in Yezidi political and religious history. Such an identification was noticed by scholars as early as in the nineteenth century [37:249-252].
Thus, according to the Yezidi mytho-historical stories, al-Hasan al-Basri (in Kurdish Hesenê Basrai) was the follower and successor of Shaikh ‘Adi.
To hallow the Yezidi chief with the image of al-Hasan al-Basri was politically significant: in 1254 (some sources name 1246) Shaikh Hasan was executed by Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’, the Zangid Atabeg of Mosul, who had also burned the bones of Shaikh ‘Adi. According to al-Kutubi, the real reason behind that was to avoid the threat to the authorities of Mosul posed by the large number of the Kurds [19:31].
Another ground for such an identification might have been the pious images of both al-Hasan al-Basri and Shaikh Hasan b. ‘Adi. The latter, for instance, is said to have secluded himself in order to write a work entitled Kitab al-jilwa li arbab al-halwa, which reminds us the title of the ‘Sacred Book’ discovered in the nineteenth century - Cilwe. Moreover, Shaikh Hasan is said to have composed a treatise on Sufi practice which had not passed to us [19:32; 20:34].
One Kurdish fairy tale speaks of Hesenê Basrai alluding to Shaikh Hasan. In this story, Hesenê Basrai lost his ‘crown of wisdom’ and therefore was no longer able to understand the tongues of birds and animals (which allegorically equals to being a Sufi) unless a certain seer, Kulê ºaê Qehreman, interfered [6:324-328,581ff].
One can hardly disagree with the view that the ‘grave’ of al-Hasan al-Basri, quotations from the Qur'an at his and ‘Adi's shrines together with other attributes were designed to protect the Yezidi sanctuaries from Muslim desecration [13:112].
Such measures must have been especially topical since cruel anti–Yezidi campaigns were repeatedly carried out by the Muslim authorities starting from the fourteenth century [28:78-79; 42:97,126,176,208,210,223,286].
Thus, the images of both persons are strongly interrelated and mutually confused in Yezidi tradition. This may be a good evidence for how important al-Hasan al-Basri was for Shaikh ‘Adi: due to ‘Adi's preaching, the Yezidi Kurds must have learned about al-Hasan al-Basri, who otherwise lived in a different epoch, space and cultural context.
Kreyenbroek well demonstrates this cultural specificity: Yezidi historical stories are "relatively simple, since detailed accounts full of accurate but pointless facts are plainly impossible to remember". In Yezidism, "questions of time and of separateness of individual identities are often disregarded" so that figures "who lived in centuries apart can easily be represented as being essentially the same person" [19:19,36].
The personality of Abu Sa‘id b. Abi l-Hasan Yasar al-Basri was of special attraction for the Sufis. Shaikh ‘Adi could have been impressed by his principle that moderate political position together with compromise speeches would promote unity in Islamic society and thus would prevent intestine military conflicts [53:275-276].
We know that in Baghdad ‘Adi b. Musafir followed the same principle.
The particular element of influence is the role of ‘Isa/Jesus. The Prophet ‘Isa plays an important role in the world outlook of many Sufis, but al-Hasan al-Basri must havee been the first in this by asserting that ‘there is no mahdi but ‘Isa’ [44:I,248].
Besides, al-Hasan al-Basri was regarded as one of the founders of Islamic mysticism, having been a delicate psychologist and the author of the theory of ‘hearts and designs’ and of human intentions - niyat [53:225].
In general, the fame of al-Hasan al-Basri was so powerful that many regarded him as their teacher: ahl as-sunna (traditionalists), the rationalist al-Mu‘tazila and Sufis alike [53:275].
The Yezidi situation shows that the Yezidi Kurds also venerate him and pretend that he was buried in their holy place.
IV.2. Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya (710s - 801)
The news is spread over so many countries,
The news is spread towards countries,
It is said: "[Listen] Rabi‘a became capable of
so many miracles"
From Religious Poetry [5:II,31]
The Yezidi folklore has a number of fascinating poetical stories concerning the miracles - karamat - worked by a woman Sufi Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya [5:29-33].
Borne into a poor home, Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya al-Qaysiya was stolen as a child and sold into slavery, but due to her piety she managed to obtain freedom. This fact might have contributed to her sensitivity in social questions [53:195; 57:354].
Rabi‘a was said to have been one of the three most celebrated female mystics of Basra. Nonetheless, we know very little of her teachers: her later biographers name her as al-Hasan al-Basri's disciple. In turn, she was believed to have disciples: Rabah b. ‘Amr, Malik b. Dinar, Sufyan b. ath-Thauri and others [53:195; 57:354].
Rabi‘a's views may only be proceeded from her maxims and poetical strophes that passed to her biographers and Sufis. It is remarkable that al-Ghazali would later treat and interpret them in his Ihya ‘ulum ad-Din [57:354-355].
She seems to be a radical asceticism (zuhd) by teaching a total indifference towards the earthly joys and troubles: a Sufi, in her opinion, must serve God for His own sake. Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya was famed for her dominant ideas of mahabba - all-absorbing and unselfish love of God - and the fellowship with God (uns). According to Rabi‘a, rigorous religious rules and strict asceticism were a precondition for understanding Divine love and for meeting and talking to Him. Thus, Rabi‘a's mystical interpretation, grounded on the Qur’an (2:165/160,222; 5:54/59 etc.), was a continuation of ascetic behaviour of earlier ascetics - Zuhhud [53:195-196].
Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya influenced theological views of Bayazid al-Bistami, al-Hallaj, Ibn al-Farid, Ibn al-‘Arabi and others who regarded her as a wali (saint). Rabi‘a's image became legendary and didactic due to her supernatural capabilities and impressive miracles [53:196].
According to Nikitine, a more thorough analyses of Rabi‘a's activity in Jerusalem in 752 would explain much about sources of Sufism in the Seldjuk period [49:234].
As far as Yezidi poetry is concerned, it alludes to her image and even some facts of her life, certainly, in a way characteristic of Yezidi mythological constructions. Thus, the Yezidi story refers to Rabi‘a's Arab descent calling her ‘Rabi‘a the Arab’, the fact which corresponds to her origin [5:II,33].
According to Yezidi story, Rabi‘a welcomes outstanding Sufi Shaikhs who witness her achievements: al-Junayd, who would play an important role in the story of al-Hallaj, Ma‘ruf al-Karkhi and Bayazid (Abu Yazid) al-Bistami [5:29-32].
With regard to al-Bistami (Þêx Bazîd of the Yezidi story), he tells Rabi‘a:
"We are [your] Shaikhs [and] you are [our] murid" [5:31].
Rabi‘a replies that the only Shaikh whom she recognises is the Lord. Moreover, after that she overruns ªêx Bazîd in working miracles [5:32].
Here again, Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya is placed in the Yezidi setting: she stresses that everything in this world happens as is written by Sultan Yazid, a Yezidi incarnation of a lower deity, alongside Shaikh ‘Adi and Melekê Taus [5:33].
Furthermore, Shaikh ‘Adi himself, probably in the capacity of a deity, in the presence of a group of women, thrice accepts Rabi‘a's miracles: three times are needed to prove the complete of acceptance [5:33].
Evidently, her fame passed to the Yezidi Kurds due to ‘Adi b. Musafir, who belonged to the same ecstatic trend in Sufism. Following the habit of some Sufis, both Rabi‘a and ‘Adi would retire to a life of seclusion and celibacy and gather disciples and associates around them [57:354].
Not only would ‘Adi follow her teaching of mystic love (mahabba), but he would also deny his desire for Paradise as the motivation of his sanctity. Moreover, contemplation is also important in the teachings of both Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya and ‘Adi b. Musafir. I shall discuss this issue in the sub-chapter V.1. Of this issue Rabi‘a said the following:
"I am contemplating my own heart, not mere clay".
"I have not served God from fear of Hell...; nor from love of Paradise".
"O my Lord... if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me thence" [57:355].
Shaikh ‘Adi must also have appreciated Rabi‘a due to the facts that she was regarded as al-Hasan al-Basri's disciple and al-Hallaj was believed to be one of her followers.
At the same time, Rabi‘a's disagreement with Abu Yazid al-Bistami and seemingly al-Junayd - according to the Yezidi story - may refer to her disapproval of al-Bistami's tradition as such. It is moreover possible since the Yezidi story of al-Hallaj does not describe al-Junayd's image in a positive way. Meanwhile, we know that al-Junayd translated al-Bistami's sayings into Arabic and compared his role amongst humans with that of Jabra’il amongst angles [53:42].
Since working a miracle is an exclusive subject to the
prophets and saints, the Yezidi stanzas are an evidence of the admiration and
respect for Rabi‘a. As a particular case, a Persian source mentions her
referral to al-Haqq [57:355].
”He was joyous Husayn
[He] knew the way to Haqq”
From Religious Poetry [26:139]
Even though many Sufis influenced ‘Adi b. Musafir and consequently the world outlook of the Yezidi Kurds, al-Hallaj has been assigned to one of the most expressive positions in their folklore and religious beliefs: he is represented in the capacity of one of those seven angels responsible for world matters.
I suggest two hypotheses: of al-Hallaj's impact on the life and conduct of ‘Adi b. Musafir, and of links between the Kurdish-speaking community called the Khallajs and the descendants of al-Hallaj's followers. I also present my comments on Yezidi poetical stories about him, which have not been subjects of studies.
IV.3.1. The impact of al-Hallaj's image on ‘Adi b. Musafir
On the bases of ‘Adi's works in Baghdad and his speeches, miracles, fasting and self-tortures in Hakkari, I come to the conclusion that he belonged to a highly ecstatic trend in Sufism. Not surprisingly, many such ecstatic Sufis are popular amongst the Yezidi Kurds as Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani and, of course, al-Hallaj, all of them having a special respect for al-Hasan al-Basri.
It is therefore remarkable that no single theologian who criticised al-Hallaj belonged to the circle of ‘Adi's teachers or companions. Even modest al-Ghazali believed in al-Hallaj's holiness [53:270].
Therefore, it is highly possible that al-Ghazali might have contributed to ‘Adi's sympathy with al-Hallaj's teaching.
Shaikh ‘Adi might have been impressed by al-Hallaj's refusal to be identified with an elite Sufism, his reliance upon indigent social strata, his strict asceticism and his miracles. Even a hundred years after al-Hallaj's execution, some people in Baghdad still believed in his divine return. According to Abu l-‘Ala al-Ma‘arri, in 1008, there were people in Baghdad who "still waited there on the banks of the Tigris, in the hope that he would arise from it", and one of them saw him there [46:289].
During his life in Baghdad, ‘Adi b. Musafir had first-hand knowledge about - if not sympathy with - such hopes. Some facts recorded from al-Hallaj's son, Hamd, have direct parallels with ‘Adi's life. Presumably, since al-Hallaj was so important for ‘Adi, the latter might have tried to imitate his actions, although this cannot be firmly proven.
A particular element which must have impacted ‘Adi's views is the image of ‘Isa/Jesus as an ideal prophet: similarly to al-Hasan al-Basri, al-Hallaj was preoccupied with the theme ‘Isa-Mahdi and the prophet’s actions [44:I,659;II,231,397 etc.; 46:285].
According to an expressive story of al-Hallaj's asceticism, once he was dressed pitifully and was given an old- cast-off robe. Then, al-Hallaj recited his verses denouncing the importance of cloth for Divine Freedom [44:I,46].
In this respect, I shall later present a story written by Shaikh ‘Adi's nephew and successor as ruler of the Yezidi community, Abu l-Barakat, which demonstrates that being without clothes was a crucial element in ‘Adi's strict cult of faqr [16:8].
Another legendary feature of ‘Adi's asceticism is fairly common for the majority of ecstatic Sufis including al-Hallaj: after having resided on Hakkari, ‘Adi himself cultivated his plot of arable land, sowing cotton and manufacturing his own clothes. He never drank anyone else's water, neither did he eat anyone's food, nor used anyone's goods. This gave birth to the legends of ‘Adi's ability to manage without food. Even the fact that ‘Adi b. Musafir was said to have died in the lone house that he had built himself has a parallel with al-Hallaj: after his third pilgrimage al-Hallaj purchased property in Baghdad and built himself a house for receiving people [16:7; 44:I,52].
‘Adi must have learned of the vicissitudes of al-Hallaj's life, especially the fact that while ordinary people welcomed him, some Sufis hated him for his popularity. ‘Adi b. Musafir himself experienced similar hatred because of his popularity, or, at any rate, he pretended to compare his fame with that of al-Hallaj by stressing that those who envied him did not succeed to put his religious erudition into a question [15:66-67].
I also believe that one of the reasons for ‘Adi's departure from Baghdad, besides social and economical ones, may be his awareness of al-Hallaj's fate: he wanted to avoid those who envied or disliked him, especially since he had turned to Sufism.
Another reason for ‘Adi's settlement in Hakkari is his intention to teach Islamic values to non-Muslims. Here again, we have a case comparable to that of al-Hallaj: according to Hamd, after staying in Baghdad for a year, al-Hallaj decided to go to Khorasan to call ‘the land of idolatry’ to God [44:I,51].
With regard to ‘Adi's anti-Shi'ite views, I have already mentioned his
personal experience in Baghdad and his theological position. Presumably, he was
also aware of hostile relationships between al-Hallaj and the Shi'ites.
The Shi'ites accused al-Hallaj with da‘wa
ila 'l-rububiya‘ - ‘public claiming of the supreme power of God’ -
implying political aims at replacing Imam. Besides, initial terms of the
execution of al-Hallaj have been worsened under a Shi'ite influence who at any
cost attempted to punish him: it was the time when after al-Mahdi’s
disappearance in 873-74, emotions among the Shi'ites ran high
‘Adi b. Musafir also wrote against Mu'tazilites, the fact which was, surely, partly based on their disbelief of miracles of saints and thus led to their scolding of al-Hallaj [44:II,26].
Even ‘Adi's pro-Hanbalite position is partly to be explained by the devotion of al-Hallaj for Ibn Hanbal. Moreover, two Baghdadian Hanbalites - Ibn ‘Aqil and Ibn al-Gazzal - were staunch defenders of al-Hallaj, to the point even of endangering themselves [44:I,323].
After ‘Adi b. Musafir's death, the Yezidi Kurds started to believe that he was one of three incarnations of a lower deity ruling the universe. The sources tell us that the doctrine of the deification of the saint was typical of al-Hallaj's teaching and thus attracted to him the veneration of a whole group of state secretaries, dignitaries of the Court and governors of towns in Iraq, al-Jazira, al-Jibal, and beyond [44:I,68].
In other words, his fame largely spread over territories with sizeable Kurdish populations and where Shaikh ‘Adi would later preach. Moreover, according to Massignon, Yezidi beliefs of Shaikh ‘Adi's re-incarnation may go back to the role of the image of ‘Isa in al-Hallaj's teaching [44:II,107].
These parallels are more than a mere coincidence: both
al-Hallaj and ‘Adi belonged to highly ecstatic trend in Sufism and both play
substantial roles in the religious culture of the Yezidi Kurds. Then, one will
be right to identify ‘Adi b. Musafir as a Hallajian.
Yezidi Religious Poetry on al-Hallaj
The Yezidis might have understood al-Hallaj's universalism in general and his attempts to exempt an ordinary Muslim from some ritual duties (for instance, replacement of the hajj) as an indication to non-Islamic character of his teaching. Therefore, according to the Yezidi interpretation, al-Hallaj was not a faithful Muslim: he took the Qur’an in his hands and claimed he was Muslim only when somebody approached him [26:135].
Yezidi poetry is also an evidence of the psychological climate of the society during and after al-Hallaj's trial and execution. The emotional impact of al-Hallaj on the Yezidis is enforced with social motifs in his teaching and behaviour: he was a supporter of poor and indigent people. Separately, there exists a legend about the conversation between al-Hallaj and al-Junayd: the former tries to understand why so many people are very poor while the minority enjoys wealth, but al-Junayd does not propose a satisfactory explanation referring to the world order. Then, al-Hallaj exclaims that if he could he would have eliminated poverty and make everyone happy [26:133-134].
The Yezidis viewed al-Hallaj's trial as an act of mullahs, the rich and the caliph on their top against the representative of the miskin (the poor), or the population in the broader sense. In Yezidi poetry, enemies of al-Hallaj are aware that he spends his time with the underprivileged strata of Baghdad:
"Those [being] Baghdadians,
Were rejoicing and laughing,
[They] said: "We shall go [for this] Husayn [who] is with the poor" [5:II,38].
In Yezidi stories, al-Hallaj has a sister named Xecê (shortened
Khadidja) who is from Khorasan: Xeca Xuristanî in the first story or Xecîca
Xuristanî in the second one. We know that al-Hallaj had a sister and his
contacts with the region of Khorasan are also known: he himself at least twice
visited that place [44:I,50,64,66 etc.].
However, the second poetical story calls Xecê ‘a sister of the hereafter’ just as al-Junayd calls him ‘my sworn brother of the hereafter’, the institution which is very essential in Yezidi tradition, has parallels in the religion of Ahl-e Haqq and some Sufi circles and may well trace back to old Iranian cults [19:136; 29].
Xecê mentions a guest from Khorasan who is waiting for her at home and must soon leave. I have three suggestions concerning this reference.
First, Xecê may mean a Sufi, a disciple of al-Hallaj, who must have
gone to Khorasan to call for support. For instance, when al-Hallaj’s papers
were confiscated, it turned out that two of the already arrested Sufis were
indeed his agents in Khorasan [44:I,515].
My second suggestion is that she hints that al-Hallaj himself must immediately leave for Khorasan.
With regard to the third suggestion, it may or may not allude to the story narrated by Massignon: ash-Shibli, who threw a rose at al-Hallaj assumed that the latter transgressed the Law prematurely and recited from the Qur’an (15.70): "Have we not forbidden you from receiving any Guest, whether man or angel" [44:I,537-538].
Thus, the Yezidis might have merely preserved a saying from the legend, and this is what Xecê refers to.
In Yezidi poetry, al-Hallaj behaves similarly to the real story: in spite of Xecê's advice, he does not endeavour to avoid torturers and execution refusing to give up his ideas. On the contrary, he calmly accepts what is going to happen as if it were nothing extraordinary or, putting it otherwise, something which has to be expected. Therefore, it is likely that there were Kurds amongst the witnesses of al-Hallaj's execution.
In Yezidi poems, al-Hallaj rebukes al-Junayd for failing to support him. We know that although relationships between the two were not always cloudless, in reality, al-Junayd had broken with al-Hallaj much earlier than the attacks against him started, namely, in 910 [44:I,50,118-119].
Thus, the Kurdish tradition, like some other ones, replaced ash-Shibli by al-Junayd: ash-Shibli's legendary gesture of throwing a rose at al-Hallaj, when the crowd was stoning him, is rethought as if al-Junayd did it. According to the Yezidis, this was the reason of why al-Hallaj rebuked al-Junayd.
It is interesting that the image of ash-Shibli is high in Kurdish
written literature which may or may not be linked to Kurdish sympathy with
al-Hallaj. For instance, the classic of Kurdish gazelle of the seventeenth
century Mela Ahmed Cezîrî wrote:
"[ash-] Shibli, Sa‘adi and Ali Farkh
[In them] Love [of God] revealed itself" [7:43].
The tenor of the poetical stories is: although al-Hallaj always thought of and wanted to help people, during his trial no single person stood by him. Even his sister Xecê reprimanded him.
The blood theme, so significant in the real story, is also mentioned in the Yezidi religious poetry. Allah fi dami (‘God answers for my blood’) was a leading motif during al-Hallaj's trial and execution by which he expressed his innocence.
There is a popular legend of al-Hallaj’s blood as physical attestation
of his innocence. The blood writes Allah on
the ground, at the time of al-Hallaj’s dismemberment, eighty-four times
standing for the eighty-four shuhud
who sanctioned his sentence [44:I,599-600,668].
In the Yezidi story, the infidels profane Husayn's corpse, his blood splashes upwards and then the mystic pronounces his phrases of the essence of secret, pride and Truth:
"The seas postponed [the revealing] of the truth,
Then kafirs profaned Husayn's corpse,
[His] blood splashed upwards, [and] Husayn said: "[It is] the essence (‘ayn) of secret, by which pride was increasing".
"The seas [then] said that [it] is true,
Then kafirs tore Husayn's corpse to pieces,
[His] blood splashed upwards, [and] Husayn said: "[It is] the essence (‘ayn) of secret, the (‘ayn) essence of pleasure, the essence (‘ayn) of the Truth [of God]" [5:II,39].
Apparently, here the poetical story refers to the thesis ‘ayn al-jam‘, shared by al-Hallaj and connoting the union of divine essence with essence of the human nature [44:I,157,319,391,433,541, etc.].
According to the Yezidi poetry, al-Hallaj also tries to find a spiritual consolation for his pain:
"He [is] Husayn, beloved Husayn,
To qadis and mollas [he] is a fight, a confrontation,
[He] said: "Whatsoever you will do, your joy is vain joy" [5:II,39].
By ‘joy’ (both Yezidi texts have sur, an Arabic loan-word) al-Hallaj may mean the Sufi joy of contact with God: malicious joy of al-Hallaj's enemies is nothing in comparison with the genuine joy the mystic had already experienced.
The river or rather waters theme is of great importance in Yezidi version of al-Hallaj's story. First of all, it must be noted that the Tigris is called Geber probably referring to an old name. After the mystic's execution, which showed no miraculous sides, his disciples started to wait for his arrival on the fortieth day. Not surprisingly, they linked the flooding of Baghdad with that unjust sentence: in this particular year the flooding of the Tigris was high.
The Yezidi poetry animises water in narrating that it is water which learned of al-Hallaj's execution and informed the world:
"The waters heard [and] said: "Husayn has been killed in Baghdad" [5:40].
Xecê tries to stop the flooding of the Tigris, begging it not to destroy the city because of evil of ‘those Baghdadians’ who executed al-Hallaj. She asks the river: "Do we [not] have a brother, older than you?" Then, the waters stepped back and Baghdad before her became two parts. This image may be a symbol of the two Baghdads - enemies and worshippers of al-Hallaj. Otherwise, there exist many legends of the effect of his ashes on the flooding of the Tigris [44:II,368-369].
It is remarkable that Xecê addresses the waters with words which remind us of one of the popular verses attributed to the Kurdish classical poet Feqi Teyran (1307-1375):
Qewl about al-Hallaj
" Xecê went to the waters
[She] said: "Go from me, waters, go..."
Feqi Teyran and the Waters
"Go from me, waters, go,
For whom do you trouble yourself..." [5:II,40,69].
In both cases: "Herê avê, herê avê ..." (Go from me, waters, go).
Another theme linked to river is popular amongst the Yezidis and Muslims alike, although there is no indication on it in the examined Yezidi poetry. According to variants of the legend, al-Hallaj's sister swallowed his ashes from the Tigris, became pregnant and nine months later gave birth to a son [35:100; 44:I,674-675].
Among other parallels which may be found in Mandaean and other regional cultures, the following are worth of mentioning.
According to one variant of the popular Kurdish epic story of Mem
û Zin, Mem's mother was living near the sea and once she met riders
approaching her so that horses were moving on the surface of the sea. These were
the riders of Success and Luck. They took her with them, in the middle of the
sea she felt thirsty and drank some sea-water. Then the riders took her back,
she became pregnant and in nine months, nine days and nine minutes she begot a
son from her mouth [9:66-67,183-84].
The seemingly earliest indication on such an interrelation is given in
the Zoroastrian messianic belief of Saoshyant.
According to the Avestan book, when the end of time approaches a virgin will
bathe in this lake and become with child by the prophet; and she will in due
course bear a son, named Astvat-ereta,
‘he who embodies righteousness’ [33:42].
In general, from time immemorial immersion in waters is immersion in a life-fluid, and gives physical well-being, protection against the powers of death, and promise of everlasting life to the soul [35:100].
According to the Yezidi Kurds, after al-Hallaj was executed, or, as they descriptively put it - after he "went away from this world, [he] left the delusive world", he arrives back in the image of horsemen, ready to destroy the whole hostile people. Then the Caliph (presumably, although not stated in the poetry, Muqtadir bi l-Lah), who instigated his execution, regrets by saying "For us hereafter is time [for] repentance". Here the Yezidi Kurds anticipate what the whole generations of al-Hallaj's followers would be hoping for. In actual fact, during the last days of the trial the situation in Baghdad was ready to explode and there even took place an official public mourning, including during the first Friday [44:I,678-680].
The emotional atmosphere of grief and expectations is evident:
"What a horseman who came black-weaponed,
With body and cape [he] came black-weaponed,
He on Friday even' dug himself into Baghdad,
He made qadis and mollas all six hundred and sixty six" [5:II,40].
As for the number of six hundred and sixty six which occurs in the last poem, it may be either a Christian element, or an indication to numerousity. It also occurs in one of the variants of Mem û Zin [5:I,47].
The number refers to the Devil, although in al-Hallaj's teaching, the role of Iblis was of rather positive implication. Certainly, the interrelation of this subject with Yezidi beliefs requires separate studies. For instance, al-Hallaj's popularity amongst the Yezidi Kurds is said to be partly dependent on his justification of Iblis [26:134].
There is another Christian allusion in the Yezidi version of al-Hallaj's story. Thus, at the very beginning of one of recorded stories al-Hallaj appears with the crown which is another evidence of al-Hallaj's worship of Christ who wears a wreath/crown as a symbol of Divine Kingship:
"[He is] Husayn, Husayn-i [al-] Hallaj,
On his head is a crown ..." [5:II,37].
(With the rhyme: Hallaj - taj).
The analysed qewls prove that Yezidi traditional stories are an apt illustration of the genesis and function of legendary history in a non-literate society [19:39].
IV.3.3. al-Hallaj's followers amongst the Kurds
Some Kurds believe that al-Hallaj was a native from the Kurdish region of Urmiya [26:135].
It is important to note that the ethnicity of no other Sufi, except for Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya whom Yezidi poetry correctly calls ‘Rabi‘a the Arab’ [5:II,33], is stressed in the Yezidi tradition: normally it would be irrelevant for a religious culture. Thus, the claims of Kurdish origin for al-Hallaj must not be disregarded.
We know that al-Hallaj was born in 857-58 in the district of Bayda which was colonised by the Harithiya, clients of an Arab tribe from Yemen: the Balharith, descendants of the Madhij, a legendary family of Turks and Islamised Kurds. Furthermore, al-Hallaj's grandfather was an Iranian - moreover, a Zoroastrain, and his father was a convert to Islam, probably, as a client of the Balharith [44:I,61].
Administratively, Bayda was at that time one of five territorial districts of Istakhr. There, as well as in Fars, there were pasturage lands for the Kurd transhumants. It is remarkable that Bayda is now populated by the Lur peasants who are ethnically very close to the Kurds [44:I,96-97].
Around 898, al-Hallaj travelled and stayed in Dinawar and Nihawand where local religious authorities did not seem to have bothered him [44:I,207].
This is the territory of the present-day Iranian Kurdistan, and therefore, as Massignon indicated, the memory of al-Hallaj still persists today among the Kurds of the region, and as much among the extremist Shi'ites (Qizilbash) as among the anti-Shi'ite Yezidis, the fact which is an evidence of the very old survival [44:II,288].
Not only did al-Hallaj's popularity spread over territories within and around Kurdistan, but there are indications of devotion to al-Hallaj in its specially Kurdish form [44:I,207].
As a particular case, there is the isnad of Bektashi descent goes back, via Ahmad al-Yasawi, to Yusuf Hamadhani (d. 1140-1141), a Kurd, who settled at Marw and who was a Hallajian. There also is a symbolism of two initiatory small cords, which is common for Bektashi and Yezidi faqiran traditions alike. Remarkably, except for devotion to al-Hallaj there is no shared element between the Yezidi Kurds and Bektashis. Another fundamental point, the damnation of the saints through love - and thus the sanctity of Iblis - is unanimous in the Hallajian tradition in Khorasan as well as in Kurdistan and Daylam [44:I,232-233].
With regard to the Khallaj ethnic group, I basically refer to the
linguistic study by Masud Aliaga ogly Mamedov from Lenkoran State University,
Republic of Azerbaijan. In 1967-1973, he worked with their linguistic and
cultural material on the Caspian Astara region near the border with Iran. At
that time, there were about three-hundred people in Azerbaijan calling
themselves Khallaj and their language - zovani
khallaj (‘the language of the Khallaj’). Since Mamedov's book was
published in Russian, the etnonym Khallaj
contained one ‘l’ and the first sound was reflected as ‘kh’.
There is also some Khallaj population on the Iranian territory. Their main professions are fishery and vegetable-growing [43:3].
Mamedov established certain facts which appear to be topical for al-Hallaj's image amongst the Kurds.
First of all and most importantly, the Khallaj speak a Kurdish dialect. Earlier, other scholars also supposed that the language of the Khallajs was an Iranian one, close to the southern Kurdish Sorani dialect [43:4,9,16,71-73 etc.].
Thus, Mamedov denies that they are a Turkic group in terms of language despite the fact that popular etymologies link their etnonym to either Turkic or Pashtu words [43:15-17].
The second important point is where the Khallaj people came from. Mamedov refers to Dittel who wrote that the Khallaj was one of many Kurdish tribes near Mardin, in the eyalet of Hakkari, and they had three-hundred tents [43:18].
Thus, the Khallaj tribe of the Kurds lived in Hakkari, in the same region where the Yezidi Kurds lived and where Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir settled and established his tariqa. It is remarkable that there is a Hakkari district in Azerbaijan which is populated by the Kurds who claim that the Khallajs arrived there from historical Hakkari.
As is known, when
Kurdish tribes migrated to the present-day Armenia and Azerbaijan they brought
with them some names of their native settlements. For instance, the capital of
Kurdish autonomous province in Soviet Azerbaijan between 1923-1929 was the city
of Lachin. There is another Lachin in Iranian province of Kurdistan, near the
capital of Mehabad, in which the great modern Kurdish poet Hêmin (1921-1986)
In any event, Mamedov refers to the book entitled Modern Iran which mentions the Khallajs as a Kurdish group [43:18].
As for their settlement in Hakkari, it is known that after al-Hallaj's execution some of his followers found refuge in the Kurdish mountains. Thus, in the eleventh century a Persian al-Hujwiri saw in the territory of modern Iraq "four thousands people calling themselves adherents of al-Hallaj" [46:287].
I believe that we can proceed the way which the Khallaj Kurds crossed before settling the Kurdish-speaking regions of the modern Azerbaijan. Thus, Zhukovsky referring to an earlier study writes of an old dialect of the people called Kal(l)aji in the village of Koshka, on the way between Tehran and Hamadan. Since Mamedov had in his disposal Kal(l)aji words, he compared them with the words and phonetic structure of the Khallaj vernacular and came to the conclusion that these are essentially the same language [43:18-19].
Thus, it appears that the Kurdish Khallajs moved from Hakkari through temporary stationing in the district of Urmiya to their present-day habitat [43:19-20].
As for the reference to ‘the wool-carver’, as suggested by Mamedov, it may go further and suggest al-Hallaj himself.
Thus, I suggest that the Khallaj Kurds are linked with the followers of al-Hallaj who escaped in Kurdish mountains:
1) For a long time the Khallaj ethnic group was inhabiting the region of Hakkari where the Yezidi Kurds lived, where Shaikh ‘Adi taught and where followers of al-Hallaj found refuge. Even when migrating to another territory which is now Azerbaijan, the Kurds from Hakkari took with them the name of their previous country;
2) Despite the fact that the Khallaj Kurds lived with the Yezidis, who speak the northern Kurmandji dialect, the former spoke and speak a southern dialect which is territorially closer to Baghdad;
3) Their name is said to have been borrowed from ‘the wool-carver’;
4) al-Hallaj's image is very popular amongst the Kurds, both Muslim and Yezidi, and he had adherents in Kurdistan. Moreover, some of al-Hallaj's followers were said to have escaped in the Kurdish mountains after his execution.
Yet, there is a source of caution: we know very little about the religious and cultural views of the Khallaj Kurds which must be expressed in their folklore.
Thus, Kurdish interrelation with al-Hallaj is grounded on the following: religious and social motifs especially amongst the Sufis popular im Kurdistan, Kurdish inhabitants of his homeland and his followers amongst the Kurds. All this resulted in the creation of the powerful image of al-Hallaj in Yezidi tradition.
I also want to advance an idea that even the northern
Kurdish dialect, Kurmandji, spoken by the Yezidis, has a word with possible
traces to al-Hallaj's famous phrase: derheqa
(‘about’, ‘concerning’) consisting of der
(‘out’/‘around’) and heq
(‘truth’/ ‘right’). Meanwhile, in the southern dialects, the word with
the notion ‘about’, ‘concerning’ is spelled as either derbarêyê
(seemingly borrowed from Persian), or lebarei.
Thus, the word heq in Kurdish has a
special significance and even a covert idea (‘truth’ and ‘right’) which
might echo al-Hallaj's al-Haqq.
It might have been in Baghdad where Shaikh ‘Adi had got acquainted with Abu Hamid Muhi ad-Din Muhammad b. Muhammad at-Tusi al-Ghazali, apparently the greatest representative of the qalam. Moreover, in the year of al-Ghazali's death, Shaikh ‘Adi moved or, which is also possible, returned to Hakkari.
Another version is that Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir knew al-Ghazali's brother, Majd ad-Din Ahmad al-Ghazali: Shaikh ‘Adi attended his lectures in Baghdad, including those concerning Iblis. Ahmad al-Ghazali taught that the Islamic Devil was the master of the monotheists because he refused to bow before anyone but God.
Since the issue of Yezidi demonology is a specific subject, I must note that Shaikh ‘Adi's views in this respect were in accordance with traditional Islamic theology. However, Ahmad al-Ghazali's teaching reveals to us the ideas common of many Sufis (the most famous of them being al-Hallaj and Ibn al-‘Arabi) which, in Yezidism, have apparently been accumulated on the ancient understanding of Evil and Virtue. Moreover, the Sufis have borrowed explanations about Satan's love of God from the early Egyptian Fathers of Church - Saint Clement of Alexandria and Origen.
It is remarkable that the ‘Azrakites, who Yazid b. Unaysa sympathised
with, also indirectly justified Iblis
for his refusal to lie prostrated before Adam owing to the Oneness of God. The
Yazidites, followers of the Kharidjite Yazid b. Unaysa - or b. Abi Unaysa,
according to al-Bagdadi - are described by ash-Shahrastani
The hypothesis exists that the Yezidi teaching has been shaped by those
Yazidites. As an evidence, Yazid b. Unaysa was believed to have disclosed a
secret that he would be gifted ‘The Book of Revelation’, or al-Jilwa
The known fact is that the Kharijiya
movement was popular amongst the Kurds.
IV.5. al-Gilani (1077-1166) and Shaikhs of his Cirlce
''If the prophetic mission were to be gifted for the diligence,
it would be gifted to Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir''.
al-Gilani evaluating Shaikh ‘Adi's piety [16:15]
Muhi ad-Din ‘Abd al-Qadir b. Abi Salih Jangidust al-Gilani (or al-Gailani) went with ‘Adi to hajj in 1116. ‘Adi's utterance of al-Gilani, which is as picturesque poetically, is also worthy of note. Once ‘Adi b. Musafir said to ‘Abd al-Qadir's disciple who visited him in Hakkari:
"Welcome you who left a sea to come to a brook. I can see ‘Abd al-Qadir taking in his hand the rein of all the saints and operating the cavalry of lovers of God [i.e. Sufis]".
Furthermore, Frank finds in one of ‘Adi's qasida expressive Sufi motifs reminding him the poetry of al-Gilani: there is even the coinciding stanza of the two Sufis:
"The troops of Love [of God] are under the command of my will" [1:We 1743 fol. 27b; 15:108-109].
The degree of ‘Adi's respect for ‘Abd al-Qadir is also attested in a story from Bahjat al-asrar. Once, while talking with his disciples in Lalish, ‘Adi suddenly bowed his head so that it touched the earth. Then, ‘Adi b. Musafir told his audience, which was surprised and expecting an explanation:
"Right now ‘Abd al-Qadir said: My foot is on the neck of every saint" [15:86].
‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani, like many thinkers of his time, was also attracted by the issue of malediction of Iblis [49:227].
The tradition says that ‘Abd al-Qadir was a founder and an eponym of the tariqa Qadiriya, although, in reality, this tariqa was founded by his successors as late as in the thirteenth century [53:65].
This tariqa once was the most wide-spread amongst the Muslim Kurds and
presently has followers in Southern Kurdistan: one of the representatives of the
Qadiriya milieu was Rashid ‘Ali
al-Gailani, the active political figure of Iraq in the first half of the
twentieth century. Only in the nineteenth century, due to the activity of the
Kurdish Shaikh Khalid (d. 1829), Naqshabandiya
Khalidiya Mudjadadiya took supremacy over Qadiriya in Kurdistan and neighbouring countries.
The same intention, as in the case with al-Hasan al-Basri, could have been advanced with al-Gilani's ‘grave’, which is located not far away from the grave of Shaikh ‘Adi: al-Gilani, as is well known, is buried in Baghdad [36:156].
Thus, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani plays an essential role in the composition of ‘Adi b. Musafir's theology and is highly honoured by the Kurds, both Yezidi and Muslim.
Ibn Khallikan stresses the role of al-Gilani in ‘Adi's theology when placing him in the following chain of the famous Shaikhs:
Abi (instead of Abu?) an-Najib
‘Abd al-Qadir ash-Shahrazuri
Abu l-Wafa’ al-Hulwani
With regard to ad-Dabbas, the Persian source - Nafahat al-uns - by Jami (d. 1492) says that Shaikh ‘Adi knew Hammad Dabbas [15:92].
We also know that in Baghdad, al-Gilani attended the school of the mystic Abu l-Khayr ad-Dabbas [53:65].
‘Uqayl al-Mambiji resided in Kurdish mountains even prior to the arrival of ‘Adi b. Musafir [20:32,231].
His name may also refer to one of Shaikh ‘Adi's first disciples, Aqîl Muneccî, and may have been associated with Ma‘ruf al-Karkhi [19:28,40ff,123,337,341].
It must be noted that Ma‘ruf al-Karkhi, already mentioned in the story of Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya, was also honoured by the Kurdish classical poet Melaê Cezîrî, apparently in the line with the Persian poetical tradition [7:43].
‘Abd al-Qadir ash-Shahrazuri, as is obvious from his nisba, was a Kurdish Sufi.
IV.6. Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i
I lived at Lalish in glory and happiness.
[i.e. ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani]
came to me and likewise Ibn ar-Rifa‘i...
From Qasida III
As is was written above, in the Berlin manuscripts dated by 1509, which contain ‘Adi's works, a certain person in some places changed the name of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir by the name of Ahmad (b.) ar-Rifa‘i. The manuscripts were composed in Damascus and the attempt was to prevent popularisation of the name of ‘Adi b. Musafir b. Isma‘il b. Musa al-Amawi.
Another confirmation of ‘Adi's links to al-Gilani and Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i is contained in the Bahjat al-asrar. Once the Caliph invited famous Sufi Shaikhs to his palace including ‘Abd al-Qadir, ‘Adi b. Musafir and Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i. The Caliph sent one servant to deliver the letter to ‘Abd al-Qadir and the second one with the letter to Hakkari and Umm ‘Ubayda. Even before the first messenger came close to al-Gilani, the latter told him to go to a mosque, outside Baghdad, where he would meet Shaikh ‘Adi, and then to a certain grave, where Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i would be standing. ‘Abd al-Qadir's words came to be true and all the three companions shared a meal with the Chalif and his guests. After that, al-Gilani, ‘Adi b. Musafir and Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i went to visit the grave of Ahmad b. Hanbal [15:84-85].
There are recorded and translated Yezidi text - Qewlê ªêxadî û mêra (The Hymn of Shaikh ‘Adi and the Holy
Men) - about religious discussion between Shaikh ‘Adi and the famous Ahmad b.
ar-Rifa‘i who came to Lalish accompanied with his forty disciples [19:290-299;
Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i arrived from Baghdad to meet Shaikh ‘Adi and to compete with him. As the story says, when ‘Adi sent his major disciple, Memê Reþan, to invite other Sufis to Lalish:
"Sayid Abu ‘l-Wafa raised his voice:
Let us stop this boasting and let us go [to visit] the poor one" [19:292-293; 26:106.].
The Sufis are surprised that ‘Adi, or as they call him Xudanê Hekarê (‘the Lord of Hakkari’) can live in such a cavern. When Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i requests water for ablutions and pray, ‘Adi first says that contemplation is the best way of purification, but then works a miracle and orders the water from the stream of Zamzam well to appear in his place. The Sufis react to this by exclaiming:
"We have not the power to release water" [19:296-297; 26:108].
After some other miracles, ‘Adi made his superiority evident to his guests. The remarkable final of the text reflects the Yezidi cosmic belief that Shaikh ‘Adi is not only their saint, but also one of Divine incarnations:
" Shaikh ‘Adi called to them:
Kindly let us go to one of the peaks of Mount Mishet.
Let us ponder the explanation: the Sultan [of the world] is Shaikh ‘Adi" [19:299; 26:109.].
IV.7. Abu l-Wafa’ al-Hulwani
''And Abu ‘l-Wafa, o young man, came to me riding a lion''.
From Qasida III
He is apparently the same Abu l-Wafa’ who is referred to in Yezidi tradition and whose name, together with Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i and al-Gilani, appears in ‘Adi's qasidas.
In ‘Adi's qasidas, Abu ‘l-Wafa is being mentioned three times, always together with Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i and al-Gilani [1:We 1743 fol. 27b; 15:112-115,126-127].
However, unlike ‘Abd al-Qadir, both Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i and Abu ‘l-Wafa al-Hulwani could be rather regarded as ‘Adi's contemporaries and companions, not authorities who influenced his teaching. This is seen in the analysed Yezidi story about Abu ‘l-Wafa’ arriving to Lalish together with Ahmad b. ar-Rifa‘i.
According to Lescot, Abu l-Wafa’ al-Hulwani, together with ‘Uqayl al-Mambiji, resided in Hakkari mountains prior to the arrival of ‘Adi b. Musafir [20:32,231].
With regard to his image as a lion-rider, it has unequivocal parallels with the Ahl-e Haqq cosmogony. It has been established that the religion of Ahl-e Haqq, or Yaresan, has a lot of common with Yezidism, at least in terms of myths and legends and in the realisation that both teachings developed on Kurdish soil [19:54].
IV.8. Qadib al-Ban
A native of Mosul, Shaikh Qadib al-Ban, was a companion of Shaikh
‘Adi. He travelled back and forth between ‘Adi b. Musafir and ‘Abd
al-Qadir al-Gilani with letters [19:110].
At present, in Iraqi Kurdistan, at the Sanctuary of Shaikh ‘Adi, there
are two qubb(e), the twin conical
spires: they mean orientation for the Yezidis and thus are analogous of the
qibla of the Muslims. There are smaller qubbe:
one in the Sanctuary and others being nearby. Shaikh Qadib al-Ban has one of the
The Yezidi poetry says:
to the holy men, to Lalish and to Meqlub.
point of orientation on this earth are the Twin Spires.
the worship of prostration
The Yezidi nation turns towards Shaikh ‘Adi [19:227].
At present, the name of Qadib al-Ban (in Kurdish, Qedib el-Ban) is ‘the eponym of a subdivision of the Pirs of Jerwan, the others being Hajji Muhemmed, ‘Omer Khale, and Esibiya’ [19:110,132].
The Yezidis of Iraqi Kurdistan believe that the curative power of the Pîrs of Qedib el-Ban covers internal diseases.
As is known, the Yezidi Pîrs constitute one of the most important ‘castes’ and are the descendants of prominent companions or disciples of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir. Meanwhile, another influential spiritual ‘caste’ - the Shaikhs - belong to ‘Adi b. Musafir's family lineage. The relative purity of the ‘castes’ was achieved due to the Yezidi customary law: intermarriages between ‘castes’ are forbidden and are regarded as a major sin.
With regard to Qadib al-Ban, his theological and
personal influence on ‘Adi cannot be directly proceeded, despite his
significant position in the Yezidi religious culture.
The issue regarding the religious and philosophical ideas of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir is of importance for three main reasons.
First of all, Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir was living at the time of active human brain-waves and spiritual aspirations: the age was characterised by cultural flourishing and religious devotion. History was highly favourable to that closely interwaving various peoples by the events in the Holy Land.
Secondly, the Shaikh's teaching, itself impacted by both rationalistic and ecstatic types of Sufism, found its direct reflection in the religious views of the Yezidi Kurds. The genetic roots of Yezidism are still being studied. Nevertheless, it is evidently can be traced back to an old Kurdish religion which would later adopt Sufi and normative Islamic elements in order to survive and develop under the new historical conditions.
Thirdly, there were Sufi writers who came from ‘Adi's tariqa - ‘Adawiya. Despite the fact that the order was not of utmost importance in Islamic world, it survived until at least the sixteenth century, it contributed to Muslim ideology and especially to the survival of the old Kurdish community. Some of ‘Adawiya theologians are well known. Thus, Khaimat b. ‘Ali (d. 1163), who was a contemporary of ‘Adi b. Musafir and who lived in Hakkari and belonged to the tariqa, is mentioned by Brockelmann amongst outstanding Mesopotamian mystics of his epoch [34:II,180-181].
Another ‘Adawiya writer - Muhammad b. Ahmad al-‘Adawi - lived in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries and, as was already mentioned, compiled Shaikh ‘Adi's works now being kept in Berlin.
And finally, the religious and philosophical principles of Shaikh ‘Adi are important per se. Having been an outstanding personality, the Shaikh could not limit his world outlook within the narrow frame of Islamic ‘traditionalism’. His intellectual potential could satisfy his demands only in the atmosphere where none put strict bounds in cognition of Creator and His creations.
While working on this chapter, I predominantly used the
studies of Frank and al-Hasani. All the additional sources of information are
Attitude towards Religion and Cognition of God
"In that age when internal groups enforced the split, many people made efforts to improve such a situation. One of those was Shaikh ‘Adi who wished good to the Islamic world. He called for an end to outrages, defamation and abuse".
al-‘Azzawi about Shaikh ‘Adi's theological principle [12:195]
In Baghdad, ‘Adi b. Musafir was seriously worried about increased misunderstandings among Muslims and therefore condemned those who furthered the split in Islam, either deliberately or guided by mistaken considerations. Recalling the famous hadith of Muhammad's prediction concerning dissidence of the Islamic community on seventy-three ‘sects’ (milla), Shaikh ‘Adi pointed out that only those would escape who follow the way preordained by God. He considered this reference to the prophet's associates (ashab), the first four imams and those who avoided use of ribaldry and observed the laws.
Speaking of four imams, the Shaikh entered into controversy with Shi'ites. He pointed out that neither Mu‘awiya, nor ‘Ali craved for each other's blood. The struggle was caused not for the sake of power, but for the sake of continuation of Muhammad's activity. Since both understood this task differently, the Muslims, perished in this intestine conflict, together with Mu‘awiya and ‘Ali are in paradise.
The Shi'ites regarded ‘Ali as the only true follower and successor of the Prophet. In order to disapprove such a viewpoint, their opponents attributed to ‘Ali different maxims. Following such an anti-Shi'ite tradition, Shaikh ‘Adi wrote:
"It is said about the ruler of the believers that he said in the pulpit in Kufa [what Muhammad had addressed to him]: Look, God charged me with taking Abu Bakr as father, ‘Umar as an adviser, ‘Uthman as a support, and you, O ‘Ali, as a help. These four imams should succeed to me ... and be my witnesses in the community. Only a believer would love them, and only a contemptible hypocrite would hate them".
The essence of the Creator of the universe, Shaikh ‘Adi taught, is inconceivable to human mind. But there are two ways in cognition of God: the way of audition (sam‘) and the way of rational cognition (‘aql). The first way is simpler: one must perceive information of God in the Qur'an and hadiths. The second way, that of rational cognition, supposes comparison between written statements (reverberation of God) and results of contemplation (reverberation of His creation). The cognition of God, obtained by such a comparison, leads people to reverence to Him. Therefore, there is a fundamental unity between cognition and reverence.
The following passage from the Kitab fihi dhikr adab an-nafs emphasises the importance of contemplation:
"We sought neither Paradise nor its houris,
But contemplation for its own sake".
A similar motif is found in Yezidi story when ‘Adi replies to his guests' request for water for ablutions and pray:
"We have no need of water:
Our purification consists in contemplation" [19:294-295; See also 26:107].
In general, in Sufi tradition contemplation served as an essential element of love of God. According to the Sufis, the Holy Qur’an (17.46) also proves the significance of contemplation when says that there is no single thing which would not declare His glory.
The best reverberation of God and the best prove of His existence are the Qur'an and sunna. Those who realise this are the true believers and ‘the Henchmen of Tradition’ (ashab al-hadith). According to a certain Harun b. Khalid, ‘Adi himself used to read the Qur'an twice every night.
At the same time, ‘Adi b. Musafir warned against often appeals to God both ‘sanctimonious’ and faithful, a reference to his disregard of dhikr:
"You should know that even faithful appeals [to God] extinguish the lamp of [His] cognition".
The integral part of Islamic religion and indeed one of the key notions, as is well known, is faith (iman). Beginning from the eighth century, it becomes a subject of discussions and divergence of opinion [53:100].
The Muslim theologians examined the question of essence and constituent parts of faith. Like them, Shaikh ‘Adi distinguished three basic constituents of the faith:
"Faith is a saying (qawl), a work ('amal) and a good intention (niya). It increases through obedience (ta‘a) and decreases through disobedience (ma‘siya)".
Such an understanding of the essence of iman demonstrates that Shaikh ‘Adi shared the views of Ibn Hanbal and majority of ideologists of Islam [53:100].
However, it must be noted that originally the three constituents of faith were adopted from Zoroastrianism: Zoroastrian ethics is based on the three following principles: good thoughts, good words and good deeds [8:21,34,38,70,75].
The Shaikh sees the proof of the the true of the religious teaching: it is received from our forefathers, they were presented the teaching by Muhammad, the Prophet had it from Jabra’il, who in turn had taken it from God.
According to Frank, in the heart of Shaikh ‘Adi's theology lies the traditional scheme of Islamic dogma: Cognition of God - faith (the Prophet, Qur'an and sunna).
Urging the people not to deviate from the true faith, ‘Adi b. Musafir stressed:
"The Lord has preferred you to His other creations, although He could have done without you; the Lord has preferred you to all of His creations, although you are a pauper before Him. It could cost Him nothing if anyone in your time is above you in might and standing; likewise nothing could cost you if anyone is above you in a good intention and work".
Once ‘Adi's disciple gave him a question whether what would be in store of Jews and Christians on the Day of the Resurrection. He answered:
"On the Day of the Resurrection, God replaces every Jewish man and woman and every Christian man and woman by my disciples confessing the Oneness of God".
The Yezidis believe that Shaikh ‘Adi meant their
community because the term murid (in
has a notion of both ‘disciple’ and ‘layman’: the mirîds
(‘laymen’) constitute a numerical majority amongst the Yezidi Kurds.
Criticism of Bid‘a
"You pray in order to follow the Book of God and the Sunna of His Prophet ... [If] a creature shows no obedience, then for his disobedience towards his Creator ... comes censure. [Such a] censure is gold, silver, the Maundy Week, gihad, and feast alike... It is with every creature who either openly or sinfully committed bid‘a".
From I‘tiqad ahl as-sunna
Amongst the objects of faith (iman) Shaikh ‘Adi underlines the truth (haqq) calling it both Paradise and Fire of Hell. He believes that the way leading a Muslim either to Paradise or to Hell depends on his attitude to the ‘unlawful innovations’ (bid‘a, Pl. bida‘) rather than on his obedience (ta‘a). Moreover, ‘Adi regards ahl al-bid‘a (‘those involved in unlawful innovations’) as the main foes of Muhammad's folk. Thus, he emphasises the opposition: ahl al-hadith wa ’s-sunna vs. ahl al-bid'a.
The notion of bid‘a
is always defined in accordance with circumstances. Due to this, different
dogmatic schools characterise the same action or opinion in different ways, that
is, describing them either as an ‘unlawful innovation’ or as a faithful idea
hallowed by the Qur'an and Islamic
Therefore, the question of who in ‘Adi's view belonged to ahl al-bid‘a is of big interest. On the basis of the Shaikh's works written in Baghdad, I can conclude that the theologians of his circle criticised the following: Shi'ites (ash-Shi‘a), Mu'tazilites (al-Mu‘tazila), Qadarites (al-Qadariya), and the Anthropomorphists (al-Mushabbiha).
In addition to what has been said of Shi'ites, one must bear in mind the following. The Hanbalite tradition, presumably shared by the Shaikh, as I shall demonstrate later, viewed bid‘a as an contumacy to Muhammad's associates and imams. Since Shi'ites had censured Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman for ‘usurping of power’, Shaikh ‘Adi was ‘justified’ to account the followers of Shi'ism to the rank of ahl al-bid‘a.
The representatives of the first rationalistic school in the Islamic history, the Mu'tazilites, pointed doubts to various opinions. For instance, they taught of the supremacy of reason over faith [53:176].
‘Adi, in contrary, underlines the iman as an extremely important constituent of Islamic religion. However, the main point in criticising them was that the Mu'tazilites did not recognise the Judgement's Day.
The Qadarites, being a group within al-Mu‘tazila, were in favour of the idea that man is a creator (Khaliq) of his conduct [53:125].
According to ‘Adi b. Musafir, they were involved in ‘unlawful innovations’ by alleging that whereas God is the Lord of Virtue, Evil has his own Lord - the Devil. Stressing the omnipotence of God, ‘Adi b. Musafir writes:
"If people, demons, angels and devils agreed without the will and desire of God to put into the peaceful condition or to move even a single atom, they would fail in this. God created devils, Evil, and diseases. The proofs for this, alongside the Qur'an (17.66; 91.7; 4.80 etc.) and hadiths, are the following logical conclusions: if Evil existed independently of the will of God, it would mean that God is powerless. But what is powerless cannot be God".
‘Adi b. Musafir does not set aside the discussions concerning
attributes of God in the Qur'an. He
disagrees with those who conceive God as similar to a man.
Yet, Shaikh ‘Adi describes the term Mushabbiha used by the ahl al-hadith wa ‘s-sunna for the anthropomorphists as an offensive and incorrect one. According to him, all the disreputable nicknames were invented by the pagan Meccans for the Prophet. Therefore, there is no need to repeat those words even against the Muslims with wrong opinions.
As we can observe, in this case, too, ‘Adi b. Musafir demonstrates his tolerance towards differently minded people, though advises the Muslims to beware of contacts with ‘those involved in unlawful innovations’ in order not to find oneself in a misfortune:
"Three kinds of people exist. The first kind is like a break-fast, I shall not eat plenty; the others are like camels, milky female, they are indispensable; and the third kind is like a contagious disease and should be avoided".
Certainly, the ahl al-bid‘a belong
to the third group. However, the important thing here is that the Shaikh did not
call for violence against his opponents.
We observe the essentially similar attitude towards those being in a
‘wrong way’ in the Yezidi tradition, too: the Yezidi Kurds are used to
referring to their opponents in the manner like ‘Let God judge them’.
Presumably, this kind of attitude does not only show the weak military position
in the face of the overwhelming non-friendly surrounding. This must have deeper
genetic grounds. Thus, both ‘Adi b. Musafir, while criticising the ahl
al-bid‘a, and the Yezidi Kurds, while displaying their attitude to their
religious antagonists, follow the same logic which is:
1) the high level of self-confidence and a strong disagreement with
2) calls to refrain from the contacts with ‘wrong-doers’ without advocating violence against them.
Judging from who were blamed for ‘unlawful innovations’, Shaikh ‘Adi must have shared the point of view of the Hanbalites. Nevertheless, as early as in the Baghdad period, ‘Adi b. Musafir took a great interest in Sufism, which contradicts the position of al-Hanabila. Such an ‘inconsistency’, or rather the evolution of his outlook, can be understood by taking into account the following facts.
On the one hand, here we witness the classical phenomenon: in Islam, like elsewhere, there is a constant struggle between conservative and innovatory principles. Evidently, ‘Adi b. Musafir felt cramped and suffocated amongst those theologians who restricted their minds by the Qur'an and the ideas of deceased authorities.
On the other hand, ‘Adi's Sufism did not exceed the limits established by al-Ghazali, that is, it was to be accepted by Islamic theologians and practicing Sufi Shaikhs alike.
In the late eleventh-early twelfth centuries, mysticism attracted many ordinary Sunnis, who highly appreciated such characteristics of Sufi teaching as advocacy of poverty, repudiation of collaboration with authorities and hence - of certain material benefits, secret charitable deeds in order to avoid earthly glory.
And, apparently, the most crucial factor was ‘Adi's
Hallajian affiliation, the topic to be discussed below: al-Hallaj enjoyed
Hanbalites' support throughout his life.
V.3. Sufi Conception
V.3.1. Mortification of the Flesh and the Cult of
"Know that saints do not become saints through eating, drinking, sleeping, and tilting, but they reach sainthood through diligence in belief and asceticism. For who does not die, he does not live, and who suffers death for God and comes nearer to Him through mortification of his flesh, his life will be restored by God".
From Kitab fihi dhikr adab an-nafs
Shaikh ‘Adi understands asceticism as a move against ego. Certainly, his maxims are only addressed to those who seriously desire to subjugate the acme of Sufi life. He indicates that before taking honeycombs one should be ready to suffer many bee-stings.
Substantiating his position by the Qur'an he warns against passion for the earthly life, ‘Adi speaks of the necessity of keeping silence and of ruling over emotions shunning those being greedy of gain and fervent. An abundance of material things in the Shaikh's views is not what a Sufi needs, for Sufism supposes braking comfort off.
‘Adi's special words mean censure when he describes those wearing Sufi clothes and ignorant in pure Islamic principles: all the actions of a Sufi are determined by strict asceticism. He finds convincing arguments for self-tortures and fasting in maxims ascribed to Moses, Solomon, and Jesus. Here is one of those:
Jesus called his disciples to remain hungry, thirsty, and naked in order that they may see the Most High, for "starvation is a key to piety, and there is immortality in it [starvation]". This and other references to the Biblical tradition once more emphasise ‘Adi's ability to be beyond the exclusive Islamic views and limited fanaticism.
The Shaikh's contemporaries and disciples witness him as an example of a strict ascetic, moderate and abstemious. After having resided on Hakkari, ‘Adi himself cultivated his plot of arable land, sowing cotton and manufacturing his own clothes. He never drank anyone's water, neither did he eat anyone's food, nor used anyone's goods. And he died in the lone house that he had built himself.
There is a story written by Shaikh ‘Adi's nephew and successor as a ruler over the Yezidi community, Abu l-Barakat, which shows that the cult of poverty (faqr) was of special significance and success in ‘Adi's Sufism:
"Once thirty poor men came to my uncle Shaikh ‘Adi. Ten of them said: O master! Tell us something about the Truth. He told them, and they melted, and in their place a gulf of water remained. Then the next ten came nearer saying: Tell us something about the essence of Love [of God]. He told them, and they died. After that the last [ten] came nearer and said: O master! Tell us something about the essence of poverty (faqr). He told them, and they rent their garments, and went out naked".
The Highest Truth - al-Haqq - mentioned in the story is one of ninety-nine Qur’anic attributes of God. In Sufi terminology, al-Haqq is the name of God and rather relates to His essence [53:265].
‘Adi b. Musafir's strict asceticism may well be rooted in the teachings and behaviour of those Sufis who influenced his mind and life, as was established in the previous chapter: al-Hasan al-Basri, Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiya, al-Hallaj and ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani.
V.3.2. Eschatological Views
"It was passed down to us from one of the followers of our Shaikh, God hallow his soul, whose [follower's] name was Tarahhum. Once he [‘Adi] asked him: O Tarahhum, when Munkar and Nakir come to your grave and ask you about your Lord, what will you answer? [Then] he [Tarahhum] said: I shall tell them: Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir will tell you who my Lord is".
From the text of Shaikh Hasan
In Baghdad, ‘Adi b. Musafir presents his eschatological views in the two works: Kitab fihi dhikr adab an-nafs and I‘tiqad ahl as-sunna. In the former work, he accounts the favours that man is gifted from different substances as is followed from Islamic creeds. These are:
-Angel of Death ‘Azra'il;
-the interrogating the deceased in the grave beings Munkar and Nakir;
-the bridge of Sirat;
-the Angel of Hell, Malik, and the Angle of Paradise, Ridwan;
-houris gratifying the righteous in the glorious Paradise gardens;
-and the Lord of the Universe.
To illustrate this Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir names the spiritual favours of Angel of Hell, Malik, to a man:
1) Recitation of the Qur'an;
2) Weeping from fear of The Most Merciful;
3) Discontinuance of resistance;
4) Taking down bans (permission-all).
comment on one polint, in Sufism, the houris became symbols of mystical love and
mystical delights [53:283].
‘Adi b. Musafir puts a special emphasis on the Judgement Day. In his I‘tiqad ahl as-sunna, ‘Adi explains that the Mu'tazilites belong to ahl al-bid‘a because they do not recognise the Judgement Day. ‘Adi writes the following:
"That is why they [the Mu'tazilites] will not drink from the haud unless they repent and turn their thoughts to God". (The haud here is the afterlife water-pool).
In the same work, Shaikh ‘Adi makes the [Divine] Truth (haqq) the main topic of the faith: it is haqq which is Paradise, Fire of Hell, and haud at the same time. The Truth is death and the end in the grave after death; then the haqq is Judgement and Muhammad's intercession for his people.
Later, in Hakkari, Shaikh ‘Adi did not focus the attention of his audience on eschatological stories. However, he was preoccupied with such ideas, as the stories from Kitab manaqib demonstrate.
The first story speaks of a written certificate delivered by the Sultan of Constantinople to a disciple of ‘Adi. This certificate is said to contain the petition to the Most High to keep the Shaikh and his accomplices away from the Fire of Hell.
The second story is narrated by Shaikh al-Barisiqi. Once, Shaikh ‘Adi addressed him while they were crossing the village cemetery: "Have you not heard that those buried there appeal to me for help?" Pointing to one of the graves emitting puffs of smoke, Shaikh ‘Adi came nearer to it and began to ask God to take compassion on that man. According to al-Barisiqi, the smoke immediately ceased, and the Shaikh informed him that the deceased was forgiven. To prove this, Shaikh ‘Adi asked the buried person whose name was Hasan: "O Hasan! Do you enjoy your place?" And an astonished al-Barisiqi heard from the grave: "Yes, yes".
Essentially, the last story is about punishment in the afterlife with reminiscences of interrogations and tests in the grave. It is remarkable that here Shaikh ‘Adi is represented as an intercessor - just as in Yezidi beliefs.
As one can see, in his eschatological views, ‘Adi b. Musafir shared Islamic ideas, whatever roots they must have had.
With respect to Yezidi reflection of ‘Adi's, or rather Islamic
eschatological concept, the following elements need to be mentioned.
For instance, the bridge Sirat has
an important function in Yezidi eschatology, too [29:262-263].
In general, the idea of the bridge of forensic investigation goes back
to Zoroastrian concept [33:37-38; 41:22-23; 53:209].
The Zoroastrian Chinwat (The
Bridge of the Requiter) is the genetic
source for the corresponding objects in prophetic religions of Judaism,
Christianity and Islam. At the same time, this Iranian concept must have been
re-introduced into Yezidism through Islamic tradition, and Islamic idea of Sirat
should be seen as a historical source
for the Yezidi afterlife bridge.
Another illustration of the complex mythohistroical processes in Yezidism could be detected in the religious poetry: the Yezidi funeral hymns sometimes identify ‘Azra’il, the Angel of Death, with another retinue to God angel Jabra'il [22:114-115,129].
At the same time, the Meshefê Reº distinguishes these two angelic beings and the marvellous Qewlê Seremergê (‘The Hymn of the Moment of Death’) describes the nature of ‘Azra’il/‘Izra’il:
"‘Izra’il is the angel of death.
He comes to all places, to all lands,
He says: "I have come to vanquish the Seven [mysteries]" [19:316-317].
Apparently, some confusion of ideas must have taken place either due to time separating modern Yezidism from the time of Islamic influence upon it, or because of predominantly popular way of Islamisation of the Hakkari Kurds. At any rate, changes of certain elements of Islamic theology are not unique of Yezidism.
A more direct case of ‘naturalisation’ of eschatological objects are
the two angels in Yezidi hymns: Nakir
would become Nakê whereas Munkar
would be Mankê [22:132,135].
The organic combination of original and introduced eschatological
principles is seen in the already mentioned Qewlê
"Please, raise your voices,
Pray funerary prayers and Yasins over me,
the names of God and Melekê Taus over
of in Shaikh ‘Adi's Disciples and Followers in his Holiness
"I sought out truth, and became the establisher of truth"
Eulogy of Shaikh ‘Adi
"The absolute power is Shaikh ‘Adi.
We are insignificant, Shaikh ‘Adi is absolute,
We are slaves [of God], mortals, a sinful sea,
From morning until even a thousand kinds of words come from our mouths"
From Religious Poetry [5:II,7]
Most probably, Shaikh ‘Adi's Sufism in Baghdad was a private display of devotion and piety. However, in the last years before settling in Hakkari, Shaikh ‘Adi writes qasidas singing of mystical wine and merge with God. His passion for such motifs appears to be a short-term one: we do not find other evidence of ‘Adi's ‘ecstatic flights’ to God during the time while he lived amongst the Kurds. However, such ideas paved a way for the further shaping of his image in Kurdistan.
The Beloved in the qasidas is nobody else but God. In order to merge with Him, a Sufi needs mystical wine. Then he becomes aware of being the master of the universe, honoured by the kings of the earth and the rulers of the Heaven, by angels and by saints:
"And I found myself sitting in the Holy valley
In the mountain of Sinai ...
Angels passed round me from all sides".
Mystical wine described by the Shaikh leads a Sufi to ecstatic condition:
"I do not have an equal one who could in love as I do,
And I dispose a passionate desire to look at Him face to face.
The cup that I drank from intoxicated me,
And the people are unaware of how this insanity came about".
According to Frank, ‘Adi's self-abnegation in his qasidas is characterised by strict monotheistic essential in Islam and reveals no trace of pantheistic Sufi poetry, popular amongst the Persians.
Thus, ‘Adi's qasidas and especially Eulogy reveal new motifs: motifs of self-deification as a result of the ‘union with God’. After Shaikh ‘Adi's death, they developed into the Yezidi idea of incarnation of a lower deity. According to the Yezidis, alongside the Creator (the Kurdish word for God-Creator is Xwedê) there exists the lower deity incarnated in three images: the beautiful bird - Melekê Taus, the young man - Yazid b. Mu‘awiya, and the aged Shaikh - Shaikh ‘Adi [14:77; 24:72-73].
Material on ‘Adi's life in Kurdistan suggests that while he was alive, the idea of his ‘divine nature’ remained in embryo. The unique character of ‘Adi's personality was stressed and limited by his piety and ability to work miracles:
" Shaikh ‘Adi amongst men is a wonderful chief,
[He is] the Light from the house of Shaikhs" [5:II,21].
The stories of the Shaikh's miracles (karamat) and grace (baraka) are characteristic of that period when Sufism slowly becomes a popular religion. The three following expressive stories illustrate ‘Adi's pious erudition and holiness.
Once Shaikh ‘Adi's servant, ‘Umar, made complaints to his master that he knew only two suras from the Qur'an from memory. Then, the Shaikh punched into ‘Umar's breast, and the servant immediately became able to recite the whole Qur'an.
Shaikh Harun b. Khalid narrates that ‘Adi b. Musafir used to linger on caves, mountains, and deserts. There, snakes and wild beasts unsuspectingly and trustfully went up to him.
According to the last story, once, ‘Adi travelled to Mosul at his followers' request. While the whole city was in a joyful excitement, one of Mosul ‘ulama’, called Yunus, envied Shaikh ‘Adi's fame and intended to test his religious erudition. However, Yunus himself was unable to answer a simple theological question of ‘Adi. Later, an ashamed Yunus explained his confusion by a miraculous case: when he was about to answer that question, he saw lions at ‘Adi's right and left hands who opened their mouths wide and would gorge him if he dared to say a word.
As is known, the lions in many cultures are firm guards of divinities. Here lions protect ‘Adi b. Musafir and thus indicate that even his opponents (lest followers and disciples alone) believed in his holiness.
After Shaikh ‘Adi's death, his followers started to believe in his intercession. The mentioned events of the thirteenth century so strongly shocked the Yezidis that they found consolation in beliefs of his ascension, and consequently in his divine essence.
The historian al-Maqrizi describes how the ruler of Mosul, Badr ad-Din
Lu’lu’, defiled Shaikh ‘Adi's grave in 1216:
"They [Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’s people] razed the stone-made vault
to the ground..., dug up his grave, and exhumed his remains. [Then] they
incinerated them [remains] in the presence of those they succeeded
in capturing ... saying: Look, how we burn whom you insisted to be as he
insisted and who is unable to impede us in doing this".
This shocking event may explain the Yezidis' beliefs that after his
death Shaikh ‘Adi ascended to Heaven, leaving behind a
testament. Then a good angel appeared and said that this place should be
regarded as Shaikh ‘Adi's grave [16:22-23].
Another legend also shows that the need of consolation: while ‘Adi b.
Musafir was gone on pilgrimage to Mecca, Melekê
Taus ‘personated him among his disciples; dwelling with them, instructing
them, and at least ascending visibly to Heaven’. When ‘Adi returned,
"he was promptly slain as an impostor"; then Melekê Taus ‘reappearing, confessed the trick that he had played,
and gave orders that the ill-used devotee was henceforth to be honoured as a
saint’ [55:326-327; See also 15:86-87; 62:105].
At present, the Yezidi eschatology explains: after a Yezidi's death, he or she are being put to interrogation by Shaikh ‘Adi on the Sirat bridge. The three questions fully cover the Yezidis' sexual life: they must not marry to someone from other caste or non-Yezidi community, neither are they allowed to have had sexual intercourse with non-Yezidi. If the results are positive, from the Yezidi viewpoint, Shaikh ‘Adi, in the capacity of the intercessor, asks the Most High to place the dead person into Paradise. Since there is no Hell in Yezidi tradition, the punishment means to be left out.
Even the absence of Hell shows the old Iranian religious continuity because there was no posthumous afterlife, according to older Zoroastrianism. The Yezidism found a compromise: while recognising the existence of Paradise, the Yesidism explains that Melekê Taus cried for seven-thousand years and thus extinguished the fire of Hell [45:1165].
Afterwards, when the boundaries between the Yezidis and the tariqa of ‘Adawiya had been fixed, the Kurds began to ascribe their own ideas to Shaikh ‘Adi, who could have never preached so. This is a frequent phenomenon in history: to consecrate pre-Islamic (in this case, Kurdish) creeds by the famous Muslim personality. The brilliant example of this are talks between the Shaikh and Aqub (Yaqub/Jakov) [5:II,44-49].
In this poetical production, the Yezidi Kurds put into the mouth of the Biblical/Qur’anic personage the purely Yezidi cosmogonic and philosophical concepts:
"Shaikh asked Aqub:
[In the name of] inherited grace ...
[And] King-Creator ...
You [must] tell me that which is true,
Whether the day when the foundation of the universe was laid,
Which day that was?"
Aqub's answer followed: on Saturday the foundation of the universe was
laid, on Wednesday ‘the shirt was rent’, and on Friday the Creation was
completed. This illustrates a combination of Biblical, Qur’anic, and original Yezidi superstitions. As a particular fact,
the semantic meaning of the expression about the shirt may be: before Wednesday
the world was inactive, ‘chaste’. Some maintain that Wednesday is the sacred
day of the Yezidis because Zarathustra was born on that day.
Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir said about his mission:
"I know that I am given time when nothing soothes
me and supports me. But at this time I soothe everything in me and I support
In this paper I have endeavoured to clarify Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir's biography and to investigate how his views were formed. I also tried to point out how ideas and concepts of Shaikh ‘Adi found their further evolution in the culture and philosophy of the Yezidi Kurds. The crucial factor in this was Kurdish familiarity with Mithraic, Zoroastrian and other Middle Eastern traditions which, in turn, were also important sources in the formation of Islamic world outlook.
I maintain that Yezidism, as well as other Kurdish religious teachings, traces back to the common ancient religious system of the Iranian character that was especially close to the popular Zoroastrian tradition. Since the Kurdish tribal groups were isolated by the mountainous nature of their country and political rivalry, the success and failure of Islamisation were strongly dependent on the disseminators of the new cultural values as well as on the contemporary political situation in different parts of Kurdistan. This complex and long-term process resulted in the once common cultural milieu incorporating different Islamic elements into the Kurdish, basically the popular Indo-Iranian, cults. As a result, a number of local Kurdish religions came into existence such as Yezidism, Ahl-e Haqq and its branches of Yaresan and Kakaism as well as Kurdish forms of Alevism.
The decisive factor in the Yezidi case is the personality and teaching of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir. Thus, the Yezidi case proves that Sufism was one of the main ways of introducing the Kurds to Islamic values and of ensuring the evolution of the Kurdish tradition.
In this respect I cannot agree with those Kurdish scholars and
intellectuals who maintain that Shaikh ‘Adi introduced changes into Yezidi
doctrine in terms of form rather than essence. As proof one can take into
consideration the fact that Yezidi groups of ªęx, Pîr and some
pious Mirîd wear the traditional Sufi
garment - khirqa. Khirqas are woven in the dwelling place of the Yezidi ruler - Mîr
- and only after initiation ceremony the above-mentioned groups are allowed to
wear them. As a symbol of not being initiated, other laymen are not allowed to
touch khirqa [52:128]. The mystical importance of the khirqa
(in Kurdish - xerqe) is evident in the
‘Yezidi Hymn of the Faith’ [19:194-200].
In order to investigate the roots of the Kurdish religion, there is a need to continue reconstructing a sequential history of Yezidism. For similarly to other religions, including the world-wide ones, in the Yezidi denomination changes in cultural and psychological reality were accompanied by dogmatic evolution. This is moreover true since the religions of ancient Iran, like Iranian languages, are distinguished by flexibility in adopting new elements [13:126].
Even depoliticising the issue of Zoroastrian survivals in Yezidism, one must be careful not to confuse the dominant state religion of Persian monarchies with popular cults and sects. There has been a deeper difference between the teaching of Zoroaster and popular religion even in that the Prophet’s ideas were premature for a "spiritually weak man" [41:26].
Another prerequisite here is not to draw a line between ‘high culture’ and ‘popular culture’, which is otherwise a fruitful topic in modern Western historiography. We may deal with the remnants of Kurdish beliefs and rites without putting them into scholarly constructed frames of the ‘marvelous’ religious cultures: be it Mithraism, Zoroastriansim, or any other religion once popular in Kurdish lands.
Comprehension of ‘Adi b. Musafir's biography and theology alongside those of other Islam-oriented figures of the medieval Kurdish history is vital for re-constructing spiritual life of the Kurds. This issue may be notably important since psychological and linguistic energy represents the main defence of Kurdish society against attempts of assimilating them.
Thus, further study of religious, philosophical, and ethic principles of Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir could reveal to us many elements of evolution of Kurdish ethnicity. Eventually, this would disclose the symbiosis of Sufism and old Oriental cultures as contributing to the phenomenon of Kurdishness. This would require a thorough co-operation of various scholarly centres and acceptance of divergence of opinions, albeit some of them might be rather a reaction to modern challenges.
I assume that my translations of Yezidi poetry in the Appendix
would help to demonstrate the aesthetic richness and historical depth of the
1. ‘Adi b.
Musafir. "Works". Microfilms of
manuscripts from Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Orientabteilung, We II 1743
(fol. 1-52a), compiler Muhammad b. Ahmad al-‘Adawi, 915/1509; We 1769 (fol.
106a-111b), compiler ash-Shafuni, 1200/1785 (?).
2. Bayazidi, Mela Mahmud. ‘Adat
u rasumat-nameye akradiya [A description of
Kurdish traditions], trans. into Russian and ed. M.B.
Rudenko. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo vostochnoi literatury,
Sharaf-khan b. Shams ad-Din. "Sharaf-name", trans. from Persian into
Russian and ed. E.I. Vasilyeva, I. Pamiatniki
pis'mennosti Vostoka, XVI. Moscow: Nauka, 1967.
J.L. Obras Completas. 1923-1972.
Buenos Aires: Emecé,
5. Celîl, O.
& C. Celîl. eds. Zargotina Kurda
[Kurdish Folklore], I-II. Moscow: Nauka, 1978.
6. Celîl, O., C. Celîl & Z. Celîl.
trans. into Russian and ed. "Kurdskie skazki, legendy i predaniia"
[Kurdish Fairy Tales and Legends]. Skazki
i mify narodov Vostoka.
Moscow: Nauka, 1989.
7. Cezîrî, Melaê Ahmed. Dîvanî
Melaê Cezîrî [Divan of Melaê Cezîrî], ed. S.B.
Amedî. Baghdad: Kurdish Academy of Sciences, 1977.
8. Chunakova, O.M. texts, trans. into
Russian and ed. "Izvedat'
dorogi i puti pravednykh. Pekhleviiskie nazidatel'nye
teksty" [Consider righteous ways and paths. Pahlavi didactic texts]. Pamiatniki
pis'mennosti Vostoka, XCIV. Moscow: Nauka, 1991.
9. Cindî, H. texts, trans. from Kurdish
into Russian and ed. Kurdskie epicheskie
pesni-skazy [Kurdish epic songs]. Moscow: Nauka, 1962.
10. Pushkin, A.S. "Puteshestvie v
Arzrum vo vremya pokhoda 1829 goda" [A
jorney to Erzerum during the military campaign of 1829]. Sochineniia v triokh tomakh, III. Moscow:
Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1964.
ash-Shahrastani, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karim. "Kniga
o religiyakh i sektakh. Chast' 1. Islam" [The Book of Religions and Sects. Vol. I. Islam], trans. into
Russian and ed. S.M. Prozorov. Pamyatniki
pis'mennosti Vostoka, LXXV. Moscow: Nauka, 1984.
VII.2. Studies Containing Primary Sources
al-‘Azzawi, ‘Abbas. Ta'rikh
al-yazidiya wa asl aqidatihim [The history and
roots of Yezidism]. Baghdad, 1935.
13. Badger, G. P. The Nestorians and their Rituals with the Narrative of a Mission to
Mesopotamia and Coordistan in 1842-1844 and of a Late Visit to these Countries
in 1850; also, Researches into the Present Condition of the Syrian Jacobites,
Papal Syrians, and Chaldeans, and an Inquiry into the Religious Tenets of the
Yezedees, I. London: Joseph Masters, 1852.
qadiman wa hadithan [The Yezidis in the past and
present], ed. C.K. Zurayk. Beirut,
15. Frank, R. "Scheikh 'Adi, der grosse Heilige der Jezîdîs". Türkische
Bibliothek, XIV, ed. G.
Jacob. Berlin: Mayer & Müller, 1911.
16. al-Hasani, ‘Abdarrazzaq. Al-yazidiyun
fi hadirihim wa madihim [The Present and Past of
the Yezidis]. Sayda, 1953.
17. Ivanow, W. "The
Truth-Worshippers of Kurdistan. Ahl-i Haqq Texts". The
Ismaili Society Series, A No 7. Leiden:
E.J. Brill, 1953.
18. Joseph, I.
1908-1909. "Yezidi Textes". The
American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures,
1908-1909/XXV, 2, pp. 111-156.
19. Kreyenbroek, F.G. "Yezidism -
its Background, Observances and Textual Tradition". Texts and Studies in Religion, 62. Lewiston, Queenston and Lampeter:
Edwin Mellen Press, 1995.
20. Lescot, R. Enquéte sur les
Yezidis de Syrie et du Djebel Sindjar. Beirut, 1938.
21. Marie, A.
1911. "La découverte récente des deux livres sacrés des Yêzîdis".
1911/VI, 1. pp. 1-39.
22. Rudenko, M.B. trans. from Kurdish
into Russian and ed. Kurdskaia
obriadovaia poeziia. Pokhoronnye prichitaniia [Kurdish
ritual poetry. Keening], Moscow: Nauka, 1982.
23. Rudenko, M.B. "Novogodnie
obriadovye prazdnestva u kurdov" [Kurdish ritual New Year festivals]. Fol'klor
i etnografiia. Obriady i obriadovyi fol'klor.
Leningrad, 1974, pp. 118-124.
A.A. "Poklonenie satane u peredneaziatskikh kurdov-ezidov"
[Satan-worshipping amongst the Near Eastern Yezidi Kurds]. Biull’eten’ Sredne-Aziatskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta,
L.A. Is istorii srednevekovoi Sirii.
Sel'dzhukskii period [Medieval Syria in the Seldjuk period]. Moscow: Nauka,
26. Silêman, X. & X. Cindî. Êzdîyatî. Li ber roþnayîa hinderan têkstêd aynê êzdîyan [Yezidism as based on religious texts]. Baghdad: Kurdish Academy of Sciences, 1979.
VII.3. Secondary Sources
27. Abovyan, Kh. Kurd. Êzdî [The Kurds. The Yezidis], trans. from Armenian into
Kurdish and ed. W. Eþo. Yerevan: Hayastan, 1986.
Shaikh. "Hawla al-yazidiya" [A study in Yezidism]. ath-Thaqafa
al-jadida, 1989/205, pp. 78-86.
29. Asatryan, G.S. 1985. "O
‘brate i sestre zagrobnoi zhizni’ v religioznykh verovaniiakh
ezidov" [‘The brother and
sister of thereafter’ in the Yezidi beliefs]. Strany i narody Blizhnego i Srednego Vostoka, 1985/XIII.
Yerevan, pp. 262-269.
30. ‘Awwad, Kurkis (Gurgis).
"al-Maraji‘ ‘an al-yazidiya"
[Bibliography on Yezidism]. al-Mashriq.
V.V. "Musul'manskaia sekta mervanitov" [The Muslim Sect of the Merwanites]. Sochineniya,
1966/VI. Moscow: Nauka, pp. 462-466.
32. Bittner, M. "Die beiden heiligen Bücher der Jeziden im Lichte der
1911/VI,3-4, pp. 628-639.
33. Boyce, M.
Zoroastrians. Their Religious Beliefs and
Practices. London, New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987.
34. Brockelmann, C. Geschichte
der arabischen Literatur. I-II. Suppl. 1-3. Weimar, Berlin, Leiden: E.J.
E.S. [E.S. Stevens]. The Mandaeans of Iraq
and Iran. Their Cults, Customs, Magic Legends, and Folklore. Oxford:
36. Drower, E.S. [E.S. Stevens]. Peacock
Angel. Being Some Account of Votaries of a Secret Cult and their Sanctuaries.
London: John Murray, 1941.
37. Egiazarov, S.A. "Kratkii
etnografichesko-iuridicheskii ocherk kurdov Erivanskoi gubernii". Zapiski
Kavkazskogo otdela Imperatorskogo Russkogo Geograficheskogo Obshchestva,
38. Kurdoev, K.K. "Ob alfavite
ezidskikh religioznykh knig" [Report
on the alphabet of the Yezidi religious books]. Pis'mennye pamiatniki i problemy istorii kul'tury narodov Vostoka. VIII
godichnaia nauchnaia sessiia LO IV AN SSSR. Leningrad, 1972, pp. 196-199.
K.K. "Ob avtorstve i iazyke religioznykh knig kurdov XI-XII vv.
predvaritel'noe soobshchenie" [Preliminary report on the Kurdish religious
books of the eleventh-twelfth centuries: their author and language].
VII godichnaia nauchnaia
sessiia LO IV AN SSSR. Leningrad,
1971, pp. 22-24.
40. Layard, A.H. 1849. Nineveh and its Remains with an Account of a Visit to the Chaldaean
Christians of Kurdistan, and the Yezidis, or Devil-Worshippers; and an Enquiry
into the Manners and Arts of the Ancient Assyrians, I-II, London: John
41. Lelekov, L.A.
"Zoroastrizm. Yavlenie i problemy"
[Zoroastrianism: its phenomenon and problems].
Religii v XX veke. Lokal'nye i sinkreticheskie kul'ty, ed. S.A. Arutyunov.
Moscow: Nauka, 1991, pp. 12-46.
S.H. Four Centuries of Modern Iraq.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925.
M.A. Sravnitel'nyi analiz rodsstvennykh
iazykov (na materiale iazyka khaladzhei) [Comparative analysis of cognate
languages as reflected in the language of the Khallajs]. Tashkent:
44. Massignon, L. 1975. La Passion de
Husayn Ibn Mansűr Hallâj,
martyr mystique de l'Islam exécuté á Bagdad le 26 mars 922, vol.
1-4. Paris: Gallimard, 1975.
45. Menzel, Th. "Yazidi, Yazidiya".
The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1931/IV, ed. Th. Houtsma et al. Leiden
& London: E.J. Brill, pp. 1163-1170.
46. Mez, A. Die Renaissance des Islâms.
Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1922.
47. Mikhailova, I.B. Srednevekovyi Bagdad [Baghdad in the Middle Ages]. Moscow: Nauka,
A. "Devil-Worshippers: their Beliefs and their Sacred Books". The
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1916/XV,
49. Nikitine, B. Les Kurdes. Étude
sociologique et historique. Paris: Imprimerie Nationale - Librairie C. Klincksieck, 1956.
50. N[ikolaev], V. Kratkii ocherk religioznykh sekt v Turtsii [A brief survey of
religious sects in Turkey], Petrograd, 1916.
51. Papazyan, A.D. "Novyi istochnik
po istorii kurdskogo naroda" [A
new source on the history of the Kurdish people]. Vestnik Matenadarana, 1967/8. Yerevan, pp. 229-248.
52. Pashaeva, L.B.
"Religiozno-kastovye zaprety v brake u kurdov-ezidov Gruzii v
proshlom" [Religious and caste prohibitions in marriage among the Yezidi
Kurds of Georgia in the past]. Kavkazskii
etnograficheskii sbornik, 1988/VII, ed. M.V.
Kantaria. Tbilisi: Metsniereba, pp. 115-155.
53. Prozorov, S.M. ed. Islam.
Entsiklopedicheskii slovar' [Encyclopaedia of
Islamic Vocabulary]. Moscow: Nauka, 1991.
54. Reþ, Ç. "Ktêbêd dînê êzdîye
buhurtî û problêmêd lêgerîna wan"
[The problems of the discovery of the Yezidi Sacred Books]. Rîya Teze (newspaper), 1991/92.
55. Seabrook, W.B. Adventures in Arabia: among the Bedouins, Druses, Whirling Dervishes and
Yezidee Devil Worshippers. New
York: George G. Harrap & Co, 1928.
56. Serdar, E.
"Fikrdarêd ermenî derheqa kurda û kûltûra wanda" [Armenian
thinkers about the Kurds and their culture]. Rîya
Teze (newspaper), 1991/99.
57. Smith, M. & Ch. Pellat.
"Rabi‘a al-‘Adawiyya al-Kaysiyya". The
Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1995/VIII, ed. C.
E . Bosworth et al. Leiden: E.J. Brill, pp. 354-356.
Springett, B.H. Secret Sects of Syria and
the Lebanon. A Consideration of their Origin, Creeds and Religious Ceremonies,
and their Connection with and Influence upon Modern Freemasonry. London,
C.A. Persian Literature. A
Bio-bibliographical Survey, I. London: Luzac & Co, 1953.
O. "Türk kültüründe Yezidiler" [The Yezidis within the Turkish
culture]. Türk dünyasi. Tarih dergisi,
1997/122, pp. 7-12.
61. Vasilyeva, V.I.
"Ob odnoi rodoslovnoi pravitelei kurdskogo plemeni dumbuli" [A
genealogy of the Kurdish Dumbuli tribe].
Pis'mennye pamiatniki i problemy istorii i kul'tury narodov Vostoka. VIII
godichnaia nauchnaia sessiia LO IV AN SSSR.
Leningrad, 1972, pp. 12-17.
W.A. & T.A. Wigram. The Cradle of
Mankind. Life in Eastern Kurdistan. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1914.