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Title: Yâresân  
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Subject: Yazdânism
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For the related religio-cultural community in Turkey, see Alevi. For the Turcoman Shī‘ah militant groups who helped found the Safavid dynasty of Iran, see Qizilbash. For the esoteric Ṣūfī sect, see Hurufism.

The Yârsân or Ahl-e Haqq (Kurdish: یارسان‎, Yarsan,[1][2] Persian: اهل حقAhl-e Haqq "People of Truth"), is a syncretic religion founded by Sultan Sahak in the late 14th century in western Iran.[3] The total number of members is estimated at around 1,000,000,[4] primarily found in western Iran and Iraq, mostly ethnic Kurds,[5][6][7] though there are also smaller groups of Persian, Luri, Azeri and Arab adherents.[8] Some Yârsânî in Iraq are called Kaka'i.

The Yârsân have a distinct religious literature primarily written in Gorani and partly in Persian, although few modern Yârsânî can speak or read Gorani, as their mother tongues are Gorani and Soranî. The Sarl living near Eski Kalak are adherents, as Edmonds (1957: 195) surmised and Moosa (1988: 168) observed. Their central religious book is called as Kalâm-e Saranjâm, written in the 15th century based on the teachings of Sultan Sahak.

Up to the 20th century, the Yârsânî faith was strictly for Kurds who were born into it, called checkedea ("a drop of"), as opposed to individuals who married into a Yârsânî family, called chasbedea ("attached"). Adherents today are mainly found among the Kurdish tribes of the Guran, Qalkhani, Bajalani and Sanjabi, located in western Iran, forming approximately a third of the population in the religiously diverse province of Kermanshah.[9] There are some groups located around Kirkuk in Iraq. The Arabic-speaking adherents are based in the Iraqi cities of Mandali, Baquba, and Khanaqin.[10][11] According to Encyclopædia Britannica, "The chief source of information about the Ahl-e Haqq is the Firqan al-Akhbar, written in... early 20th century by Hajj Nematollah"[12]

Religious beliefs

From the Ahl-e Haqq point of view, the universe is composed of two distinct yet interrelated worlds: the internal (batini) and the external (zahiri), each having its own order and rules. Although humans are only aware of the outer world, their lives are governed according to the rules of the inner world. Among other important pillars of their belief system are that the Divine Essence has successive manifestations in human form (mazhariyyat, derived from zahir) and the belief in transmigration of the soul (or dunaduni in Kurdish). For these reasons, the members of "Ahl-e Haqq" faith cannot be considered as part of the religion of Islam. Eventually, the "Yâresâni faith" has no common belief with Islam other than the Ghulat Shia Islamic belief of assertion of the divinity or godhead/godhood of Ali.

Ahl-e Haqq (Yârsân) faith

The Yârsân faith's unique features include millenarism, nativism, egalitarianism, metempsychosis, angelology, divine manifestation and dualism. Many of these features are found in Yazidism, another Kurdish faith, in the faith of Zoroastrians and in Shī‘ah extremist groups; certainly, the names and religious terminology of the Yârsân are often explicitly of Muslim origin. Unlike other indigenous Persianate faiths, the Yârsân explicitly reject class, caste and rank, which sets them apart from the Yezidis and Zoroastrians.[13]

The Yârsân have a famous saying about death: "Men! Do not fear the punishment of death! The death of man is like the dive which the duck makes." Human beings go through a cycle of 1001 incarnations. During this process, they may become more purified based on their actions.

The Yârsânî are emanationists and incarnationists, believing that the Divine Essence has successive incarnations in human form known as mazhariyyats (similar to the Hindu avatars). They believe God manifests one primary and seven secondary manifestations in each of the seven epochs of the world. The mazhariyyats of the First Epoch closely matched by name the archangels of the Semitic religions; the mazhariyyats of the Second Epoch, which begins with ‘Alī as the primary avatar, also includes all Muslim figures except for one, Nusayr - either referring to the "Nazarene" (i.e. Jesus), or Nârsh, the minor avatar who later came to be known as Theophobus. (See Nazarene (sect), Mandaeism)

In the Fourth Epoch, the primary mazhariyyat is held to be Sultan Sahak. It is said that he was given birth by Dayerak Rezbar or Khatun-e Rezbar, a Kurdish virgin, and as in the case of Mary, it was a virginal conception. While sleeping under a pomegranate tree a kernel of fruit fell into her mouth when a bird pecked the fruit directly over her.[14] Though some mistake this as an incarnation of the Virgin Mary and of the mother of ‘Alī, it echoes Mithraic and Zoroastrian beliefs, of the birth of the Saoshyant, the savior of Zoroastrianism born of a virgin, impregnated by the seed of Zoroaster or Zarathushtra in lake Hamun in Sistan. Mithra was also believed to be both Savior and son of God, born out of a rock - wearing only a phrygian cap.

The Haft Tan "Seven Archangels" are key figures in the Yârsân belief system and their history. The only female among them is Khatun-e Rezbar, the mother of Sultan Sahak.

  1. Benjamin, considered the incarnation of the archangel Gabriel;
  2. Dawud (David), the incarnation of the archangel Michael;
  3. Mustafā', the incarnation of archangel Azrael;
  4. Pir Musi, incarnation of the recording angel;
  5. Shah Husain;
  6. Baba Yadegar;
  7. Khatun-e Razbar.

The traditions of the Yârsân are preserved in poetry known as Kalam-e Saranjam "The Discourse of Conclusion", divinely revealed narratives passed down orally through the generations. These traditions are said to have been written down by Pir Musi, one of the seven companions of Sultan Sahak (also the angel in charge of recording human deeds).[9] The collection consists of "The epochs of Khawandagar [God]", "‘Alī", "Shah Khoshin" and "Sultan Sahak", the different manifestations of divinity. The epoch of Shah Khoshin takes place in Luristan and the epoch of Sultan Sahak is placed in Hawraman near the Sirwan River, the land of the Gorani. The sayings attributed to Sultan Sahak are written in Gorani Kurdish, the sacred language of the Ahl-e Haqq. Some of their literature is written in the Persian language.[11]

Relationship with the other closely related groups

A group of native Iranian monotheistic religions practiced by Kurds consisting of Yârsân and Êzidî along with Chinarism/Ishikism (Ishik Alevism) are claimed as "Yazdânism" by Mehrdad Izady.[15]

Main diffrences with Islam

The Ahl-e Haqq does not observe Muslim rites and rituals.[16] They neither believe the Prophecy of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdallah, nor accept the Prophecy of others like Jesus, Abraham and Moses. Furthermore, the book of Islam, namely Qur'an is not considered as the collection of holy verses of Allah. As a result, Druze and Bahá'ís convictions are considered much closer to Islam than the Yâresân faith.

The 12 families of the Ahl-e Haqq

The original 7 families or Sadat-e Haqiqat established during the time of Sultan were Shah Ebrahim, Baba Yadegar, Ali Qalandar, Khamush, Mir Sur, Seyyed Mosaffa and Hajji Babu Isa. The 5 families established after Sultan Sahak are Atesh Bag, Baba Heydar, Zolnour, Shah Hayas and Hajj Nematollah.

Notable adherents

The Iranian musician and mystic, Nur Ali Elahi, was a high-ranking member of Ahl-e Haqq and published a book titled Burhan al-Haqq, one of the major and most reliable sources on the subject.[17][18] Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji, the self-proclaimed King of the Kingdom of Kurdistan after World War I, claimed to be descended from the brother of Sultan Sahak in the twelfth generation.

See also


External links

  • Ali-Ilahis
  • Ahl-e Haqq - "An Oriental Order of Mysticism".
  • Ostad Elahi (Nur Ali Elahi) - official website.
  • Razbar Ensemble - sacred music of Ahl-e Haqq.
  • Ali-Ilahi and Ahl-e-Haq
  • UNCHR.
  • University of Amsterdam
  • The Shabak and the Kakais in Northern Iraq, Syncretistic religious communities in the Near East: collected papers of the International Symposium "Alevism in Turkey and comparable sycretistic religious communities in the Near East in the past and present" Berlin, 14–17 April 1995, Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi, Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, Anke Otter-Beaujean, Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi, Barbara.
  • University of Amsterdam
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