is a term introduced by Mehrdad Izady to denote a group of native Kurdish
monotheistic religions: Alevism
. Izady claims that the Yazdâni faiths were the primary religion of the Kurds until their Islamization
in the 10th century. The three religions of Yazdanism are primarily practiced in relatively isolated communities. The adherents of Alevism, Ahl-e Haqq and Yezidi are estimated to constitute about one-third of the Kurds.
Ziba Mir-Hosseini evaluates Izady's theory and states:
The name Yazdānism
derives from Kurdish yazdān
, literally meaning "worthy of worship" and referring to a belief in a great heptad (seven) of divine beings. The three Yazdani traditions are therefore also known as the Cult of Angels
. Adherents themselves refer to the faith as rae haq
, a reference to the primary deity or "universal spirit".
The principal feature of the Yazdani faiths is the belief in seven benevolent divine beings that defend the world from an equal number of malign entities. Another important feature of the religions is a doctrine of reincarnation.
The adherents of the faith were referred to as the "Sabians
" (of Carrhae) in Maimonides
' Guide for the Perplexed
. The Sabians are also mentioned in the Qur'an
and in Bahá'í
The distribution of the three Yazdani religions follows geographic boundaries:
- the Alevi may be found in northwestern Iraq, Turkey and along the Syrian coast.
- the Ahl-e Haqq or Yārsāni are located in the southernmost part of Iraq and in western Iran.
- the Yazidi come from the Turkish-Iraqi border region.
Mutual exchange and contacts between these branches are infrequent.