I can't quite figure out what KurdishMedia.com had in mind when it published this -- chapter excerpt? essay? -- by Mehrdad Izady, who is probably the most authoritative scholar on the indigenous Kurdish religions, but I'm glad nevertheless that it did. I've noted that Yezidi, along with Alawite and Druze, is among the search terms that most frequently bring new visitors to the site, and I can understand why -- there's not an overwhelming amount of information about them on the Web.
Izady tells us, among other things, that the Yezidis, who are quite few today, were once more numerous:
The relative smallness of the current Yezidi community can be misleading. At the time of Saladinís conquest of Antioch, the Yezidis were dominant in the neighboring valleys in the Amanus coastal mountains, and by the 13th and 14th centuries Yezidis had expanded their domains by converting many Muslims and Christians to their faith, from Antioch to Urmi‚, and from Siv‚s to Kirkuk. They also mustered a good deal of political and military power. In this period, the emirs of the Jazira region (upper Mesopotamia) were Yezidis, as was one of the emirs of Damascus. A Yezidi preacher, Zayn al-Din Yusuf, established Yezidi communities of converts in Damascus and Cairo, where he died in 1297. His imposing tomb in Cairo remains to this day. Of 30 major tribal confederacies enumerated by the Kurdish historian Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in Sharafnama (1596), he contends seven were fully Yezidi in times past. Among these tribes was the historic and populous Buhtans (the Bokhtanoi of Herodotus).
The whole piece is worth reading, although I wish it had been better edited.Posted by Ideofact at May 26, 2004 11:37 PM